November 24, 2013 / Evolution Theory And Dating
Evolution drives a lot of our dating behavior. Here are some of my favorite observations about it.
While I believe that societal pressures have trumped a lot of evolutionary theory, there are still many remnants which remain. I am going to introduce evolutionary theory and discuss where it remains applicable in the dating world today. Note, I have not actually researched the points in this article, many are my own explanations for observed behavior based on evolutionary theory and/or the explanations of others I have come across. I believe everything here is true and will turn out to be true if it could be properly studied, but I don’t know this for a fact. If you find research that suggests anything in here is wrong (or right), e-mail me! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Introduction to Evolution Theory
Evolution theory, as it relates to dating, hinges on idea that our main purposes on this planet is to survive and reproduce offspring that is likely to survive. From this very simplistic assumption, one can explain a surprising amount of dating and sexual behavior of both men and women that may seem illogical at first.
2 Basic corollaries that follow from evolution theory
1. Men and Women Want Sex
The most obvious corollary that follows from evolution theory is that both men and women should want to have sex. It’s hard to reproduce without having sex (at least over the many millions of years that survival and reproduction instincts were learned) so there must be some desire from both men and women to have sex.
2. Partner quality matters
Given that, per evolution theory, men and women want to ensure the survivability of their offspring, the genetic (and potentially societal) benefits conferred by the partner is important. This is why physical attributes matter (signs of health/strength/etc.) and why societal factors such as power and resources matter (increased odds of offspring survivability due to protection and resource availability). There are also genetic traits that play a role both ways, such as intelligence (high correlation to ability to protect and find resources, but it is likely a largely genetic trait).
Other interesting evolution theory observations
The simple basic evolution theory, that we are here to survive and reproduce offspring likely to survive can explain many more interesting dating and courtship dynamics. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Men want to sleep with many women
When a woman gets pregnant, there is no doubt that she has "reproduced". However, a man has no way of knowing (remember, this behavior developed before DNA tests) whether or not the woman he had sex with is actually pregnant with his child. For this reason, men are driven to have sex with more partners, and have sex more often, in order to maximize the odds that out of all the women they have slept with, at least one of them will be pregnant with HIS child (and not the child of another man who also had sex with the woman).
2. Men turned off by promiscuity.
What follows from (1) is that men are likely to be turned off by promiscuous women. The reason is simple: the more men a woman sleeps with, the less likely that the sperm that impregnates her will be yours. It is much more efficient to sleep with a woman who is unlikely to sleep with anyone else than to sleep with a woman who will likely sleep with several other men in a short period of time (sperm can live in the vagina for days). I would argue that most religions emphasis on wives being virgins, a honeymoon, and the importance of the first born all come from a desire to maximize the odds that a man’s wife’s child is actually his own.
3. Commitment is more important to woman
While commitment is important to men as a strong family can help increase the survivability of offspring, a man is more concerned with (1), making sure offspring is his to begin with. A woman does not have this issue: if she gives birth, the child is hers. For this reason, she can place more emphasis on the survivability of the child. This means she will care more that the man’s resources become available to HER offspring and not any potential offspring of some other woman. Many women will not even care, from an evolutionary point of view whether or not the ‘father’ of her child is the actual biological father. (Which explains another common dynamic of women making the distinction between a boyfriend and a fuck buddy).
4. Men get more jealous
Sorry ladies, but as jealous as you think you get, men get more jealous. This is a natural function of evolution theory, in particular (1) versus (3). Men have a much harder time ensuring that offspring is actually theirs and their partner having sex with another man directly reduces the odds of them reproducing. This is not the case with women, where their partner can have sex with many women and still hardly if at all reduce the odds that he will impregnate them. They will still get jealous because of (3), allocation of resources, but this is more second order than just ensuring offspring in the first place.
There is much more that follows straight from the core assertion of evolution theory, but these form the basic building blocks of many other theories that follow.