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Relationships/How Men Select Women


You have the most marvelous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having,someday when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it. You will feel it terribly.

Now, wherever you go you charm the world. Will it always be so? You have a wonderfully beautiful face, Mr. Gray and beauty is a form of genius-is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is one of the great facts of the world, like sunlight or springtime or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the Moon.

It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it. You smile-ah, when you have lost it you won't smile. People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. That may be so, but at least it is not so superficial as thought is.

To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Women with high reproductive value attract men. 19-year-old women are likely to produce the greatest number of children, twice as many as 30-year-old women.

Teenage boys, on average, prefer girls a year older. Men in their middle twenties usually prefer women a year or two younger. Thirty-something men prefer women 5 to 10 years younger. Many men in their 40s and 50s prefer women 10 to 20 years younger.

In the past women of all ages up to about 45 prefer, on average,

a man a few years older. However, this has slowly been changing. Time magazine reports that when it comes to online dating, a woman is five times more likely to show interest in a man five years her junior than one who is five years older.

Read more: Online Dating: Women Want Younger Men |


These statistical findings are broad generalizations and many exceptions to the rule exist. In reality, age preferences vary widely from individual to individual, and sometimes from one stage of life to the next. There are many women who prefer younger men and many men who prefer older women.

Neoteny is the retention of juvenile characteristics into adulthood.

In other primates, chimpanzees, and gorillas, both male and female adults have tough skin, coarse body hair, Adam's apples, and deep voices.

Humans, however, have characteristics of neoteny. Some of them appear in men, but most appear in women.

Adult women, for example, usually have higher voices like children. Men and women agree that attractive women have the large eyes and lips and small noses and chins of children. Attractive women's faces have the proportions of 11-to-14-year-old children.

Women further neoteny by using cosmetics, shaving their legs, and wearing children's clothing, Mary Jane shoes.

However, the attraction of men toward pre-pubescent girls has no reproductive value. Mature women have features that distinguish them from pre-pubescent girls, yet are different from men.

These secondary sexual characteristics include prominent breasts, clearly defined waists, and full hips. They reflect sexual maturity and fertility, offsetting the pre-pubescence that neotenous characteristics could otherwise suggest.

Children's long dependency on their fathers is associated with neoteny. Fatherless children a million years ago or today were less likely to learn adult skills, inherent social status, and reproduce. Women who appeared young and remained strong were able to keep a man for twenty years, instead of losing him to a younger woman.

A young-looking widow could find a second husband, whereas an older-looking counterpart of the same chronological age might not. Some statistical extrapolations suggest that someone is more likely to stay with one partner, the longer the partner continues to appear young.

A hypothesis has been given to suggest that children with mothers who retain youthful characteristics were more likely to have both parents throughout their childhood and grow up to reproduce and have descendants.

Parents with neotenous characteristics would pass them on to their offspring. a mother who has certain features that cause her to look younger than other women her age is likely to have daughters having that appearance as well.


Many beauty standards are universal across cultures. People around the world have 91-94% agreement about the facial attractiveness of Asian, Hispanic, black, and white women. Even native people unexposed to mass media agree with the rest of the world.

Infants gaze longer and show more pleasure when looking at pictures of attractive male and female faces. One-year-olds play longer with facially attractive dolls than with unattractive dolls.

Beauty standards are cues to a woman's health: clear, smooth skin; full, lustrous hair; full lips; bright eyes; and symmetrical features.

Composite faces, made by combining many photographs on a computer, are more attractive than any individual face. Beauty is "average" looks, not unusual or "striking" features.

Men, in general, don't judge women as being fat or thin. Rather, men tend to consider women with a 70% waist-to-hip ratio to be beautiful. E.g., a woman with a 21-inch waist and 30-inch hips, a woman with a 24-inch waist and 35-inch hips, and a woman with a 28-inch waist and 40-inch hips are equally attractive. The 70% or higher waist-to-hip ratio, and the Golden ratio (62% waist-height-to-total-height ratio) indicate health and fertility.

The golden ratio also plays a role in facial beauty. The distance from hairline to the tip of the nose, divided by the distance from the hairline to the tip of the chin, equates to the golden ratio (0.62) on beautiful faces. There are many other proportions in beautiful faces that obey the golden ratio.

Beautiful faces are also average faces. In a well-known study, hundreds of photographs were presented, together with one synthetic photograph that was the digital average of all the other photographs. The panelists were most likely to identify the "average" photograph as the most beautiful photograph in the entire set.

Cultural Beauty Standards

Some beauty preferences vary between cultures, light or dark skin.

When a society experiences rapid change, it values youth and new, iconoclastic ideas. The 1920s and 1960s preferred thin, flat-chested, youthful women.

Conservative societies, the Victorian era, or the 1950s value of old ideas, and full-figured, mature women. Large metropolitan cities such as New York value very thin women; in contrast, small, rural towns prefer full-figured, fertile adult women. Agricultural areas prefer tall, strong, robust, fertile women.

American women chose thinner-than-average women as the most beautiful. American men prefer average-size women. Fashion models are thinner than porn stars.

Media Effects on Beauty Standards

Our grandparents saw relatively few people. They saw even fewer beautiful people. In contrast, today we turn on a television and see nothing but attractive people made up to look their best, with the bad shots discarded.

Since the 1930s the beginning of mass media men have increased the importance of "good looks" in a wife by 40%. Women have increased the importance of a good-looking husband almost 80%. Women in 1996 valued "good looks" in husbands more than men in 1939 valued "good looks" in wives.

Photos of beautiful women made men rate their wives as less attractive, and feel less committed to their marriages, compared to men who looked at photos of "average" women.

The media also affects men. Performers such as Jerry Seinfeld raise expectations of men's entertainment skills. As media images make women feel inadequately attractive, media entertainers make men feel inadequately entertaining. These men give up and say that they can't dance, sing, or tell jokes. The positive side is less competition for men who try to entertain women. Older men have an advantage here over younger men. Many young women have never had a man make them laugh, lead them on the dance floor, or play Chopin for an audience of one.

Beautiful Young Women Don't Have It Easy

For beautiful young women, the problem is sorting the wheat from the chaff. Finding a quality mate is no easier for them than for anyone else. They spend as much effort rejecting the wrong men as others spend finding men.

In the animal world, females initiate 80% of matings (see Flirting). Males who initiate mating are the males that no female will approach. Men who approach women pick young, beautiful women. Thus, beautiful young women meet more than their share of losers.

If women are too attractive, men stay in their cerebral cortexes. They'll date beautiful women to feel envy from their male friends. They have no reason to shift into their limbic brains and emotionally connect. When men are jerks and women are shallow, they're stuck in their cerebral cortexes.

Putting effort into clothes and make-up will get you more dates, but impair men's vision of your inner beauty, and attract the "wrong" kind of men (those who don't look deeper than the level of physical appearance). The ideal, is to look nice, but don't overdo it. If you're getting many dates but aren't meeting quality men, work on improving yourself, not your wardrobe.

Encourage self-selection of potential mates. Tell suitors that you can't go out on a date, but they're welcome to join you volunteering, e.g., with Habitat For Humanity. The few men who show up to work are the ones worth dating.

Education, employment,

and relationships are problematic for women. On the one hand, school and work are the most common places where couples meet (see Where Couples Met). Women who go to college and choose a professional career are more likely to meet men (especially if they choose traditionally male fields, e.g., science). And men prefer to marry women with good educations and good jobs.

On the other hand, career women sometimes must sacrifice relationships. E.g., a job may require moving to a new city. Women who choose professional careers to postpone marriage until they're out of college and have started their careers by which time they find that many of their male classmates and co-workers are married.

Conversely, women whose primary goal is to be a mother are least likely to meet men. Such women forego higher education and professional careers. a woman who loves children may seek employment in childcare where she works with other women.

Emotional connection,

makes women want sex. Emotional connection makes men want long-term relationships.

Emotional connection makes men and women switch gender roles (see Becoming a Couple). Individuals who use masculine sexuality (usually, but not always, men) want to have sex with many partners. Individuals who use feminine sexuality (usually, but not always, women) want long-term committed relationships. Emotional connection makes women switch to masculine sexuality, and makes men switch to feminine sexuality.

A man using masculine sexuality shows off his social status, physique, and money to attract women's attention. But that's all stereotyped gender roles can do (attract attention). Once he has a woman's attention, she'll look for relationship skills, entertainment skills (e.g., a sense of humor), and, above all, the emotional connection of "chemistry."

A woman using feminine sexuality shows off her youth and beauty to attract men's attention. But that's all her stereotyped gender role can do. If they don't emotionally connect, he'll date her only as long as he thinks he might get to have sex...

Be Seen in Different Venues

Make your suitor feel emotionally connected by letting him see you in a variety of situations.

a volunteer with a non-profit organization, take a continuing education class and participate in a new sport. When a man approaches you in one venue, invite him to do the other activities with you. If you met him in a business computers night class, suggest that he join you volunteering with Habitat For Humanity on Saturday, or at a rock climbing class on Sunday.

He'll see you using a variety of emotions. You may be confident and professional in the business computers class, caring and nurturing with the non-profit organization, and scared and then triumphant;


  1. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology (Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN 0-205-19358-7), 136-137.
  3. Brin, David. "Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution."
  4. Rhodes, G. Hickford, C., Jeffrey, L. Sex-typicality and attractiveness: ); Johnson, V.S., Franklin, M. "Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?" Ethology and Sociobiology 14 (1993): 183-199.
  5. Brin, David. "Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution."
  6. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology (Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN 0-205-19358-7), p. 140.
  7. Singh, D. "Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 293-307.
  8. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology (Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN 0-205-19358-7).
  9. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology (Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN 0-205-19358-7), p. 145.
  10. Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology (Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN 0-205-19358-7), p. 154.
  11. Lloyd, K.M., South, S.J. "Contextual Influences on Young Men's Transition to First Marriage," Social Forces, 74 (1996): 1097-1119.


the Human Brain · Relationships · How Women Select Men

Relationships/How Women Select Men

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Women have two, conflicting instincts when choosing men. On the one hand, women have the natural imperative to select optimal genetic traits, one way of making that selection easy is through hierarchically superior men, a.k.a. "alpha" males. On the other hand, women want men who can materially provide for their families, commit to a long-term relationship, and enjoy interacting with children, a.k.a. "good relationship skills."

Relationship Skills Women want men who'll stay in a faithful, long-term relationship. But a woman can't predict a man's behavior twenty years in the future. Women instead look for signs that a man is relationship material.

(see The Great Male Hierarchy).

Extramarital sex isn't unusual among the Aché. When asked who had fathered their children, Aché women named, on average, 2.1 possible fathers for each child. On the list of possible fathers, the best hunters' names came up most often.

Confidence and Stress

Aché men gamble on bringing home a deer one day in ten, instead of choosing the safety of helping their wives gather food. Gambling&

;and a man's life in general&
;is stressful.

Mammals produce glucocorticoid hormones in stressful situations. Too much glucocorticoid causes health problems. In male and female primates, high-status individuals produce minimal glucocorticoid in stressful situations. Low-status individuals produce too much glucocorticoid. Stress&

the fear of fear itself physically hurts low-status individuals. Stress doesn't affect the health of high-status individuals.

Confident men&

who believe that their powers or circumstances can handle stressful situations attract women. To attract women and improve your health, take a stress-reduction class. Learn to handle stressful situations with confidence.

The common belief that men are hardwired to be alone ("go to their caves") after a stressful day and that women are hardwired to talk to a supportive partner is a misconception. The former is the avoidant attachment style and the latter is the secure attachment style. It's true that attachment styles are hardwired in adults, and it's true that this distinction is of paramount importance in relationships (mismatched partners have more relationship difficulties, and avoidant individuals have more relationship difficulties in general) but the hardwiring results from the individual's genetics and childhood peer influences. Men and women can have either attachment style.

Looks, Height, and Strength

Women rate tall, strong, athletic males as "very desirable" marriage partners. Women are almost twice as likely to value physical strength in men, as men are to value physical strength in women.

However, most women have to be realistic and would settle for a male just slightly taller than themselves, whilst prefer men with feminine-looking faces. E.g., women prefer Leonardo DiCaprio to Tom Selleck.

American women prefer men 5'11" (180.34 cm) or taller. Tall men receive more personal and responses than short men.

Never-married women are more likely to prefer physical attractiveness. Conversely, divorced and widowed women are more likely to select good character over physical attractiveness.

Language Skills

Men with good language skills attract women. Women love talking. To improve your language skills, take a creative writing class. Or memorize a few romantic poems.

Or learn a foreign language. Foreign women will think that a man who can conjugate verbs correctly in their language will make a good husband.


Women select personal ads primarily by age. Women select men who are, on average, three and a half years older. Older men, in general, have more social status and emotional maturity.

The worldwide average age difference between brides and grooms is three years. Americans marry closer in age.

In 1890, the average age at which men first married was 26. Women married at 22.

During the first half of the twentieth century, increasing affluence enabled younger men to support families. Secondary education and increased leisure time facilitated dating. Dating sometimes led to sex, pregnancy, and early marriage. In 1956, men married at 22, women at 20.

The FDA approved oral contraceptives in 1956. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. Women delayed motherhood to start careers. In 1998, men married at 27, women at 25.

Couples now live together from the age that their parents' generation married. The average man now first lives with a woman, either in marriage or as an unmarried couple, for the first time at 22. The average woman moves in with a man at age 20 or 21.

Couples that marry younger than 25 have dramatically higher divorce rates. Our brains' prefrontal lobes don't mature until 25. This "executive decisions" brain area is where we make good judgments. Automobile insurance rates drop at 25 because drivers with mature prefrontal lobes get into fewer accidents. Similarly, men and women make better relationship decisions after 25. (If you want to marry younger than 25, and you live in a culture where it is acceptable to ask your parents to arrange a marriage for you, then give it a try; That idea sounds radical but it has worked for thousands of years.)

Entertainment Skills

Entertainment expresses emotions. Effective entertainers emotionally connect with their audiences.

Entertainment integrates limbic brain emotions with cerebral cortex imagination. When an entertainer expresses an old emotion in a new way, we applaud.

Other animals do the same mating rituals generation after generation. peahens never get bored watching peacocks show off their tail feathers. Like peahens, older women enjoy 300-year-old operas. But,

Young Women want only new music, the latest clothes, and the coolest actors. Their greatest put-down is "that's so ten minutes ago."

Mankind might well be a tool-making and tool-using species, but nothing so separates us from the lower animals than our almost comic enthusiasm for the new, new thing.
—Nick Schultz, editor of

Effective entertainers have integrated brains. Conversely, to improve your brain integration, develop your entertainment skills.

Entertaining men attract women.

When a man's performance makes a woman feel emotionally connected, her limbic brain tells her that she's in a long-term relationship with him.

A woman with an integrated brain responds, "I want a long-term relationship with this man. I'll buy his CDs (or watch his movies). I'll feel as if I've known him for years."

A woman with a poorly integrated brain might try to have a physical relationship with the man, even though her cerebral cortex tells her that he'll never commit to a relationship with her. In a conflicted brain, the older area wins.

Entertainment skills can make women ignore a man's faults. Woody Allen's sense of humor attracts women, even though he's small, scrawny, and married his stepdaughter. (At least he's a family man.)

Women's Entertainment Skills

Male entertainers, in general, have both male and female fans. Female entertainers, until recently, had only female fans and had fewer fans than male entertainers. your local ballet company has fewer fans than your professional basketball team.

Masculine individuals (generally, but not always, men) use entertainment skills to attract sexual partners. Feminine individuals (generally, but not always, women) use entertainment skills to keep a partner in a long-term relationship.


a woman who makes her husband laugh each day, and makes his heart-ache when she sings lullabies to their children, has a husband who's not going to leave her.


Legendary King Shahryar took a new woman to bed each night and then killed each woman in the morning. One woman saved herself by telling a story with a cliffhanger ending. Shahrazad kept this up night after night, spinning Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad the Sailor, and other stories into One Thousand and One Arabian Nights (circa A.D. 1000).

Truth and Lying in Art and Entertainment

Entertainment skills increase reproductive success so effectively

(get women to have sex with men, and get men to stay with women) that sexual selection for entertainment skills may have driven our ancestors to evolve larger cerebral cortexes.

Art and entertainment are lies, from the point of view of the performer. when an actor playing Hamlet says that he's going to kill his stepfather, the actor isn't threatening his stepfather's life. A painter creates an image that looks real but isn't.

A poem makes us visualize a scene we don't see.

Novels and movies take us into worlds we've never experienced.

But art and entertainment are truthful, from the point of view of the audience. Effective artists and entertainers communicate emotions that "strike a chord" in the listener or viewer. They tell the truth not about themselves you don't want to know that an actor is afraid of forgetting his lines, or is hoping that a movie producer might be in the audience and offer him a better-paying job but instead quiet their own emotions and emote the audience's feelings.

Developing Awareness of Choices

Cerebral cortex activity won't get you out of an internal conflict. E.g., repeating positive statements (affirmations) while blocking awareness of your emotional state won't help.

Instead, connect to your limbic brain. Feel your emotional state.

Slow down. When you react quickly, your brain selects myelinated or habitual responses. Instead of going with your first reaction, pause and breathe.

Imagine your choices. Imagine alternative responses.

No one needs to be completely hemmed in by circumstances; no one needs to be the victim of his biography.
—George Kelly, The Psychology of Personal Constructs (1955)

Think through your general fear of specific fears. you fear that she'll say that you're too old for her. Imagine different responses you could make to that rejection:

When Hugh Hefner first asked Barbi Benton out, she said, "Well, I've, uh, never dated anyone over 23 before." she responded without hesitation, "That's okay. Neither have I."

You'll no longer feel fear. What seemed like an insurmountable problem now looks like a variety of choices, each leading to a positive conclusion.

Imagining different possible futures is a cerebral cortex activity. Feeling emotions is a limbic brain activity. Imagining your emotions in various scenarios connects your cerebral cortex and limbic brain. You unblock your internal conflicts.

Play a Game

When an unexpected event upsets you, the problem isn't the event. The problem is that you don't know how to respond. When you're upset you fail to see positive opportunities. You see only that your plans are blocked. Instead, stay flexible and look for opportunities in unexpected events.

a man sees a woman sitting in a bar booth. He walks over, bends down to talk to her, and bonks his head on a lampshade hanging over the table. Momentarily stunned, he stands there while the lampshade swings back and bonks his head a second time.

He says, "Excuse me. Let me do this again." He returns to his bar stool. He comes back to the woman, puts his hand calmly on the lampshade, bends down, and introduces himself.


This happened to one of my friends. He and the woman dated for several months. He managed his fear by playing a game. Play boosts emotional experience and develops relationships with other individuals.


Children play obvious games. Adults play subtle games. Let's make my friend's game more obvious:

The shift to a pretend world. He said, in effect, "I'm going to pretend to meet you." In pretend worlds we're less afraid of showing emotions.


Focus on a bipolar construct. Psychologists call a pair of opposite ideas a bipolar construct. A literature major would say irony. Whatever you call it, when an individual does two, opposite things at the same time, we laugh. In this game, the bipolar construct was being cool vs. being clumsy.

Exaggerate emotions. If my friend had played the game to entertain a child, he would've amplified his emotions. he returns to his bar stool. Then he pretends to see the woman for the first time.

eyes pop open and his jaw drops. His hand shakes and he nearly spills his beer in his lap. He exaggerates preening in the bar mirror, then swaggers over. Repeat the game If he were playing the game to entertain a child,

he'd bonk his head on the lampshade three times. Then he'd repeat the skit. He could repeat it thirty times and the child would laugh every time.

Exchange roles. If he were entertaining a child, he'd trade places with the child. The child would pretend to be clumsy Joe Cool. Make your game physical and unstructured.

Children play physical, unstructured, non-competitive games. Adults play abstract, non-physical, structured, competitive games, spectator sports, casino gambling, ballroom dancing, and board games.
My friend's game was physical (bonking his head on the lampshade) and unstructured (he didn't hand out a sheet of rules).Schedule playtime. For your next party, tell your guests that the first hour will be games, Twister.


Laugh to Connect Your Limbic Brain and Cerebral Cortex

Only humans laugh. Other animals express emotions as they occur. Our emotional regulation stops us from suddenly expressing unexpected emotions.

Our cerebral cortex sends emotions it doesn't know how to regulate to our speech area, and we laugh. We associate laughter with humor because humor is always unexpected. But humor isn't one emotion. Humor is an emotion we can't regulate. Because different individuals regulate different emotions well or poorly, different individuals laugh at different events.

A sense of humor attracts women. Laugh in emotional situations, when you do something embarrassing. Laughing connects your limbic brain and cerebral cortex, enabling better awareness of your emotions.


Emotional Connection

The prefrontal lobes (part of the cerebral cortex) enable affect-regulation or the

ability to regulate our emotional reactions, control our impulses, or moderate the survival reflexes of our ancient reptilian system.

—Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Biology of Transcendence (2002)

The prefrontal lobes are our most recently evolved brain area. This is also the last area to develop in each individual maturing between the ages of 15 and 25.

Women want emotionally mature men. An emotionally mature man changes his emotions as situations change or to change a situation. Although his limbic brain experiences a wide range of emotions, his higher self (his prefrontal lobes) stays constant.

Such an individual is capable of a long-term relationship.

in Roxanne (1987), a man insults Steve Martin. Martin at first shows anger at the insult.

But then he switches to humor. Martin first makes jokes about himself. Then he switches the subject of his wit to the other man, making a crowd laugh at the man.

The other man shows only one emotion anger in response to each of Martin's changing emotions.


Imagine that your emotions are like a car with a standard transmission. To shift from one emotion to another,

you shift through neutral. In neutral, you quiet one emotion before shifting to another emotion.

When you quiet your own emotions, you can feel your partner's emotions. Buddhists call this state egoless. Christians say selfless.

When you feel your partner's emotions, you can select the best emotion for the situation.


Reveal a Secret to Emotionally Connect

In 1957, a young man arrived in Nashville. He stuttered, but played guitar, and could sing without stuttering.

Soon he had a job performing with Minnie Pearl, the country comedienne. Pearl encouraged him to talk on stage. He refused, afraid that the audience would laugh at his speech.

Pearl replied:

Let 'em laugh. Goodness gracious, laughs are hard to get and I'm sure that they're laughing with you and not against you, Melvin

The singer developed humorous routines about his stuttering. Audiences laughed. His career took off.

Word began to circulate around Nashville about this young singer from Florida who could write songs and sing, but stuttered like hell when he tried to talk. The next thing I knew I was being asked to be on every major television show in America.
—Mel Tillis

Don't be afraid to share a secret. Women share secrets with girlfriends to emotionally connect (see Women's Support Circles). But don't whine about your problems. Instead, talk confidently about a secret to show that you've turned a weakness into a strength.


Women prefer men who have a steady job, are dependable, and are emotionally stable. A predictable man is boring and a woman will soon get bored with you to leave you for another. Unpredictable men are a good thing because it will keep her guessing and interested in the mystery that you are. Don't be predictable, you're better than that.

if you want to date a certain waitress, talk to her for 5-15 minutes and then ask for her phone number and shut up. If she is interested, she will help give it to you, on the contrary, if she talks about how her sister just got into town and hands you a business card then flush that number fast as you can.

A woman who is secure will look for the stability of a more sensible man who understands the predictability of a secure relationship but realizes how romance can be used for emotional intimacy.

Home Ownership

One of the highest factors correlating with the likelihood of a man to marry is home ownership.

Family Relationships

Another sign that a man will be a good husband and father is his relationship with his family. Show women photos of yourself playing with your nieces and nephews. Invite your date to meet your siblings or cousins and their nieces and nephews (meeting your parents and grandparents is less effective).

Men positively interacting with children attract women. Men who ignore a child in distress turn off women. Women's favorite pinups show bare-chested, muscled men holding smiling babies.

In contrast, men have no preference for women interacting with children versus women alone. men like pinups of bare-chested women, but not holding babies.

How Our Ancestors Lived

Women Go For Tail Feathers

Among the Aché hunter-gatherers of Paraguay, the men hunt big-game animals. They bring home a big animal for about one day in ten. They return empty-handed the other days. Men, on the median, bring in 4,663 calories per day.

Aché women gather plants and small animals and care for their children (see How Our Ancestors Lived). The amount of food a woman brings home depends only on how many hours she spends laboriously picking and processing foods. Women, on average, bring in 10,356 calories per day.

When an Aché man brings home a deer, he shares it with other families, not only with his wife and children. Why do Aché men hunt large animals, only to give away this relatively rare food?

Why not help their wives gather food? Such a man could easily bring home enough plants and small animals for two wives and their children.

Aché women view big-game hunting like peahens view peacocks' tail feathers. Big-game hunting shows that a man is physically and mentally fit. Giving away meat shows that he has more than enough strength and skill to survive. Women like men with many friends, and giving away meat maintains friendships. Men give meat to lower-status individuals to show their superior place in the social hierarchy

"Alpha" Males

What kind of "alpha" male are you?

If you're a gorilla, you establish your physical dominance over any male you meet.

If you're a gibbon, you mate monogamously for life. You live with your mate and your children. You sing to your mate and your mate sings back to let you know their location. You and your mate are the same sizes and look identical.

You start each morning with a half-hour of loud hooting to frighten other gibbons away from your forty acres of forest.

If you're a chimpanzee, you live in a group of fifty individuals.

When a female is ovulating, she has sex with every male in the group. Males have a large penis, large testicles, and ejaculate lots of sperm.

Males reproduce not because they dominate females or other males, but because their sperm is more active than other males' sperm healthier than other males).

If you're a baboon, you live in a troop that varies from 10 to 200 individuals, depending on habitat, time of year, and predation. Males make friends with other males. When another male threatens a male, their friends back them up. The threatened male avoid fighting. Fighting leads to injuries, and lions eat injured baboons. Males and females also form friendships. Female baboons mate with their male friends. They like males who have many friends.

Consumerism as Runaway Sexual Selection

For our ancestral fathers, entertainment was "do it yourself."

Dinner was killing and roasting an animal. After dinner, they played music, danced, or told epics of their heroes...

Now consider what happens in modern courtship.
We take our dates to restaurants where we pay professional chefs to cook them great food,

or to dance clubs where professional musicians excite their auditory systems, or to films where professional actors entertain them with vicarious adventures.

The chefs, musicians, and actors do not actually have sex with our dates. They just get paid. We get the sex if the date goes well. Of course, we still have to talk in modern courtship,
and we still have to look reasonably good. But

the market economy shifts much of the courtship effort from us to professionals. To pay the professionals, we have to make money, which means getting a job.

The better our education, the better our job, the more money we make, and the better the vicarious courtship we can afford. Consumerism turns the tables on ancestral patterns of human courtship.
—Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind (2000)
I can't stand dinner and a movie.
Onstage, I make love to 25,000 people;then I go home alone.
—Janis Joplin

Consumerism hotwires our brains' relationship circuits.

Women are especially susceptible to consumerism. on eBay, women described 11% of their shoes as "sexy." Men described only 0.005% of their shoes as "sexy."

Consumerism makes us work longer hours to buy more stuff for our mates. Women have less time to exercise and look attractive. Men have less time to practice entertainment skills. Couples have less time together.

The effects of consumerism range from environmental Runaway consumerism is the greatest threat to human survival. Focus on relationships, not buying stuff. You'll be happier and your grandchildren will have a planet to live on...

Fear Reduces Us to Reptilian Responses

You meet an attractive woman. Your cerebral cortex imagines your friends' envy if she goes out with you.

Your limbic brain fears that she'll reject you.

Your reptilian brain wants to have sex with her.

In a conflicted brain, the older brain area wins. You're capable of having sex with her. Your reptilian brain is perfectly functional.

Your limbic brain is warning, "Don't emotionally connect with her! You'll get hurt!" You're unable to feel her emotional state. She seems like a beautiful statue in a museum.

You've locked out your cerebral cortex. Language is a cerebral cortex activity, so you can only stare at her breasts and mumble incoherently.

When integrated, [the triune brain] offers us an open-ended potential; an ability to rise and go beyond all constraint or limitation. But when that integration fails, our mind is a house divided against itself, our behavior a paradoxical civil and we become our own worst enemy.
—Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Biology of Transcendence (2002)


Women prefer high-status men. In workplace affairs, men are equally likely to have sex with a superior or subordinate woman. Women, in contrast, are seven times more likely to have sex with superior, rather than subordinate, men.

Many societies expect the sons of leaders to become leaders. Women who want "alpha" sons marry "alpha" husbands. the 2000 presidential election was between the son of a president, the son of a senator, the son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, and the son of a wealthy banker (George W. Bush, Al Gore, John McCain, and Bill Bradley).

To attract women, improve your social status. Give away stuff to make friends. Help less-fortunate individuals, to show that you're above average. Lead groups, e.g., captain your softball team. Dress well, Speak well.


If money attracted women, Bill Gates would be sexier than the Beatles in 1965.

Women are conflicted about money. Women want "alpha" males who show off their money like peacocks show off their tail feathers, e.g., buying a round of drinks in a bar. But women also want "relationship" men who put their paychecks into a mortgage.

Show off your money to attract a woman's attention. Then talk about the home you're buying to make her want a relationship.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors owned nothing but what they could carry to the next campsite. Accumulation of wealth wasn't possible. Women's cerebral cortexes have learned to appreciate accumulated wealth, but their brains aren't hardwired for this. In a conflict, women tend to choose their more basic instinct; love, instead of their newer appreciation of wealth.



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