The Mating Game

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Current statistics reveal that more marriages end in divorce than succeed. And of the couples who are married, how many can say they are truly happy in their marriage? So why do we do it--the mating game, that is?

Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Ive been married twice in my life, both dismal failures, except for three beautiful children. I was married first at age 23, ripe with dreams of shining knights rescuing damsels in distress and other erroneous and fanciful designs I had about love and marriage. I believe I am not alone. In our society the media in particula, "sets us up" to expect flowers, fantastic sex, being "in love", and living "happily-ever-after" when we marry. My reality has been a little different, however. Marriage turned into a bad dream. Standing before a judge, pleading to be released from my marital vows, losing my home and single parenting was the result of my first foree into matrimony. And I know I am not the only one because statistics reveal that more marriages end in divorce than succeed. Of the couples who are married, how many can say they are truly happy in their marriage? So why do we do it--the mating game, that is?

I have a theory. Its not my theory, it's evolutionary psychology which explains, in scientific, non-romantic terms, why young people marry and have children. The theory goes like this: Like an unconscious light-switch, young adults "turn-on" to the idea of sex and bearing children during the young adult phase. Specifically, evolutionary psychology believes that men seek out, and are attracted to pretty, healthy women, while young women are attracted to men who are ambitious and who can provide well for a family. Evolutionary psychology theorizes that men seek attractive, robust women because their genes will provide the best chance at producing healthy, attractive children, and women choose the best provider rather than physical attractiveness in a mate, because during the nine months of pregnancy and raising an infant women may need to be provided for. According to evolutionary psychology that's how our ancient genetic code seems to motivating us.

So what does mating by romance have to do with evolutionary psychology's theory? Nothing! That is the irony. While Hollywood produces movies about the ideal of romantic love, EP (evolutionary psychology) flies in the face of Valentine's Day, flowers and candy. It points to the ancient human drive to reproduce. There is further compelling "evidence" that men and women are less "romantic" than they'd like to believe. According to EP, men are naturally (minus the sociological or cultural conditioning) poly-amorous. It is why men have higher sex drives, they explain, why men "chase" multiple women, and have a higher infidelity rate than women. Men are genetically programmed to "spread their seed," impregnating as many women as possible. Again, for the sake of survival of the species. Women, they say, are driven to homestea- to nest, to produce young and to ask for monogamy from their mate (what use is a wandering father?). EP makes perfect sense to me. Men and women are motivated differently when it comes to mating, each sex doing what it should do to propagate the human race. Darwinism at it's finest!

If Evolutionary Psychology has explained the human drive to reproduce accurately, then is arranged marriage such a terrible idea? I am all for freedom of choice, and because I was raised in the U.S. I am an individualist and would be remorse not to make my own poor choices in a mate! For argument's sake, let's pretend I was born in a collectivist Asian culture where my parents chose my mate for me. As horrifying as that sounds to Western ears, EP would support the idea that romantic love is only a flimsy wrapper disguising humanity's real need: to propagate. It might argue in favor of arranged marriages, as Western romantic marriages fail in such large numbers while arranged marriages out-last them.

Personally, given the choice, I favor freedom of choice in the mating game. However, I do not fool myself into believing it will be as Hollywood promises: a bed of roses. Sometimes what started out "perfect" turns into the war of the roses. So marriage, either romantic or arranged, isn't always a lifelong proposition. We ought not fool ourselves into believing that the mating game is anything other than biologically and evolutionarily what it is: a method of propagation. If we bear children and raise them, is it such a crime to go our separate ways when the task is complete?

Everybody wants a happy ending. Everybody wants a life-long love. But few people can sustain that dream and be truly happy. To those who can, bravo! For those of us in the majority who couldnt find a way to make it last, we didn't fail. We simply did what we were evolutionarily programmed to do: live and let live.
  • Human Mating Strategies Article.pdf(1048.9kb)


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