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



Ive been married once in my life; a dismal failure, except for two beautiful children. I was married at 23, ripe with dreams of shining knights rescuing damsels in distress, and other erroneous fanciful designs I had about love and marriage. I believe our society, the media in particular, "sets us up" to expect flowers, fantastic sex, being in love, and living "happily-ever-after" when we marry. My reality was a little different, however. Nine years later, it was like a bad dream that I was living, standing before a judge, pleading to be released from my marital vows, losing my home, and single parenting.

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?

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. Specifically, evolutionary psychology believes, men seek out, and are attracted to pretty, healthy women, while young women are attracted to men who are ambitious, who can provide well for a family. Evolutionary psychology theorizes that men seek attractive, healthy women, because these women's genes will provide the best chance at producing a healthy, attractive child, and that women choose the best provider over physical attractiveness in a mate, because during the nine months of pregnancy and raising an infant, women may need to be provided for. Or at least, according to this theory, that's what our ancient genetic code seems to be saying.

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 Individualistic 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) and basically 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," and impregnate as many women as possible, again, for the purpose of evolution; to propagate our species. Women, they say, are driven to homestead, to nest, to produce young, and to ask for monogamy from their mate (what use is a wandering father?). It 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 repressive 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 culture, where my parents chose my mate for me. As horrifying as that sounds to my 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 large numbers, while arranged marriages out-last them.

Personally, given the choice, I will always favor freedom of choice in the mating game. However, now 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, I found out. 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 of the human race. 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 didn't, 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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