Most Tom Cruise fans probably remember this exchange from Top Gun.
Iceman: You can be my wingman anytime.
Maverick: Bullshit! You can be mine.
Reckless fighter pilot Maverick believes himself to be too skilled to require the support of a wingman. Later in the film, he learns firsthand that ditching teamwork is a surefire path to failure.
According to a new video published by ASAP Science, the benefits of having a friend at your side is rooted in science–At least when it comes to dating.
In the military, the term ‘wingman’ refers to the pilot who is flying beside or slightly behind the lead aircraft in a flight formation. It’s both an offensive and defensive role. Not only does the wingman offer additional support and firepower to their leader, but they also can warn their leader of incoming threats.
In the civilian realm, a wingman is your backup while you are searching for a potential date. As ASAP Science explains in its video, the responsibilities of this breed of friend is very similar to that in the military.
1) Strength in numbers. Studies consistently find that people will find you more attractive in a group than alone. It’s a sign that you have a healthy social life and are a good friend, both traits that people are looking for when appraising a mate.
2) Offensive support. ASAP Science points out that turkeys find their mates in pairs. A ‘helper’ turkey wear drab feathers in order to help their ‘dominant’ friends look more colorful by comparison. Likewise, your wingman will help prop you up as the more likable and attractive option your date.
3) Defensive support. Sometimes, you will attract a person you aren’t interested in. Like a fighter pilot hovering behind you, your friend deflect the attention of unwanted suitors and help you carry out your mission. ASAP Science points out that women rely on their friends to keep creeps at bay more often than men.
4) Wingman promotion. Being a wingman may seem like a thankless task, but it pays off in the long run. A study that tracked 457 ‘beta’ birds found that after spending one year relegated to the role of wingman, those birds were more likely to be bumped up to an ‘alpha’ role the next year. Helping a friend succeed gives you a chance to see how it’s done and improve your own game.
Just because you look cool in a pair of aviators doesn’t mean you can ditch your wingman and strike out on your own. Let your friends help you find a fun date, or else risk your lovelife flaming out.