Evolutionary Psychology & Dating Intelligence
Top Post Insights:
Understanding Mate value.
Necessities vs luxuries.
Dating is a process of self-discovery.
How can we increase our dating iq?
Evolutionary psychology studies human thoughts and behaviours, based on biological and primitive history. Dr David Buss, one of the founders of the field, has spent decades studying the human psyche in mate selection. Aka. why we choose assholes, gold diggers, fall in love, cheat or live happily ever after. In an interview on The Art of Charm, the evolutionary psychologist dropped dating bombs on why we fail or succeed in the dating arena. Here are three insights and tips I found... ah, interesting lol.
1. Mating Value
Humans are judgemental fu*kers aren't we?
We've all rated someone, given them a number out of 10 or something eg. she's a solid 10 or he's about a 6.5 but super funny. Psychologists refer to 'mating value' as the sum of all the qualities one brings to the table. Things like beauty, personality, youth, wealth or status. A healthy relationship is when two numbers are matched. Ah duh, right? But it's not that simple is it?
"We assume when there's a hot girl with an average guy, that the guy has high status and resources. Because the 8, 9 and 10s aren't with guys who are flipping burgers at Burger King." -Dr. David Buss.
According to Dr Buss, a woman's physical appearance is more important to their mate value than a male's. OUCH. He dates this back to our primitive behaviours. Where men 'were' attracted to perceived beauty which will benefit their bloodline. On the flip side, men have more room to move on the scale. If he's a 6, he can improve in other areas like wealth, status, humour or getting more in shape. Doesn't seem fair, then again, this is the reality of life (*rolls eyes*) .
Mate value is also contextual. It fluctuates based on environment, status perception or life stage. Men and women may peak at different times too. For men, the arc of their career corresponds their value (ie. better job, higher income, status). Which is why they may take longer to commit. For women, we peak during 'youthful' years (f*ck, no surprise there!). It goes back to our primitive dispositions, women look for 'providers' men look for 'reproductive' partners.
Environment also has a factor to play. Your quirky hot uni lecturer is probably perceived differently in a popular bar on a Friday night. In one environment he's the authority, in the other, he's one of 40 guys in a bar. Status perception is a manipulative thing isn't it?
2. women and their lists
the education complEx
The more educated a woman is, the more stronger her mating preferences are.
Women don't want to date someone who is less intelligent or successful than them,' says Dr. Buss.
It doesn't mean women have to compromise education to get a dude. But they need to be realistic. To look at their 'list of 58 things I want in a man' and evaluate what are necessities and what are luxuries.
3. The illusion of online dating
Quantity & Vanity
Before Tinder or Grindr, you'd be lucky to go on 10 dates a month. Today, you can go on 10 dates a week. Online dating hasn't just increased the amount of dates you can go on, it's also given us the illusion that what we are looking for (those 58 things on your list) is available. When in reality population ratio hasn't vastly changed, our perception of 'what's out there' has.
It's also upped the anti on vanity. We give someone a 2 second window to impress us based on their physical appearance. We swipe right or left based on superficial tendencies. Then again, if you're just after a free meal or one night stand, online dating is the bomb-diggity.
Ok thanks Dr Buss, so how can WE get better at dating?
Here's some dating tips from the evolutionary psychologist:
1. Necessities vs luxuries
You probably know someone who has an unrealistic partner 'wishlist'. Dr Buss recommends we take this list and organise them into necessities vs luxuries. Ask ourselves what are deal breakers and what can you live without. eg. I can live without a 6.3ft Thor look a like, but I definitely would prefer someone who makes health and fitness a priority.
2. Expanding your pool
If you're struggling to date, change the context and expand your pool. Most of us have our favourite cafes or bars. We become creatures of habit and expect things to happen for us. Dr Buss recommends expanding your pool of candidates by going to places where your mate value is most valued. Or at the very least, go and do something different. For example, going to different bars, changing gyms, taking up a sport, joining a hobbyist group etc.
By widening the catch, you meet new people. This doesn't mean you need to 'lower your standards,' it just gives you more of an opportunity to 'test' which things on your 'list' truly work for you.
3. Long Term Relationships
Physical attraction, intelligence range, aligned political views and religious orientation. The 4 cornerstones Dr Buss says will increase your chances at a longer relationship.
4. personality values
Look out for emotional stability and narcissism.
They could be everything you want but if they don't have emotional stability, you're building a house on water. Narcissism can be disguised as charming. Dr Buss says to watch out for how a 'charming' person treat others and observe if they're treat you the same way they would treat themselves. People change, values don't. Make sure you find the values which align to you.
5. Characteristics of a cheater
Apparently, low consciousness, low agreeableness and high in openness is a recipe for a cheat. Whilst compatibility on openness to new experiences is a relationship strength, if they are low in consciousness (eg. unable to acknowledge and recognise thoughts and feelings of others, untrue to their word etc), chances of infidelity are higher.
Dating offers more than a free meal or casual sex, it's a process of self discovery.
A piece of homework Dr Buss recommends is to write out your best and worst dates and describe how you felt (nb. I did this and it was surprisingly entertaining). The exercise aims to strengthen our emotional wisdom. By increasing our dating IQ, we enhance the quality of our mating decisions.
But at it's core, dating is a communication and social skill. Evolutionary psychology, teaches us how to better identify our own emotions and behaviours in social contexts. Self awareness, empathy and emotional intelligence are all transferable skills in other aspects of our lives. So whether you're looking to improve platonic, romantic, professional or personal relationships, have a listen to this podcast with Dr Buss. Who knows, you might find answers to mammoth questions like 'why am I single, why do I attract stage 20 clingers or why do I enjoy one night stands?'... regardless, I'm sure you'll enjoy it! xx