Flipped Notes

Last Updated: January 5, 2021


In various studies about initiating and keeping relationships, researchers tell us how being bad at dating goes beyond shyness and anxiety only.

Actually, being poor in relationships is linked to biological evolution, and more specifically, the evolution of mating!

This is after sobering statistics indicate how a growing number in our midst have continued to become poor at embracing relationships.

One study showed that 50 percent of us find it hard to either start or keep a relationship and 1 out of 5 struggles to sustain an intimate relationship. Also true, 1 out 5 finds it completely hard to sustain an emotional relationship.

Ultimately, failure to start and keep relationships may lead to failure to mate and reproduce.

Those incapable of starting relationships find themselves in a class battle of survival of the fittest, while those that succeed will likely reproduce as many offsprings and ultimately lead to dominance.

This then begs the question, what exactly links our mating anomalies to evolutionary science. How are the two related?


The dating evolution

(Photo by Jasmine Carter from Pexels)

For starters, our ability to court persons of the opposite sex is determined by how suited we are to the current dating environment compared to previous environments.

Well, a journey back in history should help us gain insight into the puzzle.

Only about 200 years ago, dating and mating activities were matters handled by parents and elders, and not the couples to be. Young men and women sat back and waited for their parents to find the best suitors.

While at it, parents and elders were always on the lookout for what they considered necessary qualifications in the spouses to be.

In what one would call sexual selection, the healthy, intelligent, witty, hardworking, and rich males always had an upper hand and got betrothed to healthy and beautiful women.

Fast forward to the 21st century and men are tasked to seek suitors without the helping hand of parents and elders. They now discover on their own what was a regulated practice in the past.

This comes at a price since many lack the necessary skills and qualities to deal with dating competitions.

In the process, those endowed with preferred skills and qualities are bound to succeed while the unprepared will flounder.

The whole complex insight into mating is better explained by Charles Darwin, who in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, noted that sexual selection is dependent on the success of some people in propagating over others.

He writes,

We are, however, here concerned only with that kind of selection, which I have called sexual selection. This depends on the advantage which certain individuals have over other individuals of the same sex and species, in exclusive relation to reproduction.

In these circumstances, men harboring heritable traits, better survival genes, and other traits mentioned above are predisposed to mate with healthy and beautiful females. This, in order to give birth to desired off-springs, fitting for future reproduction and generations.

The ability to succeed in attracting mates and therefore propagate is determined by two selective criteria for males and females:

  • Intrasexual selection
  • Intersexual selection

Intrasexual selection

The concept of intrasexual selection explains the competition that men have to go through in a bid to attract females – and therefore mate with them.

On the one hand, men are can choose to have a direct fight against each other in order to win a female, or on the other hand, they can influence female decisions by use of material things.

Intrasexual selection between males is probably best explained by animals who have to fight off competition in order to mate.

Strong males amongst the deer antlers, cocks, and beetles will succeed in procreating after out-competing rivals by fighting them and/or controlling a colony of females.


Intersexual selection

The concept of intersexual selection explains the criteria females use to make a choice on the kind of men they wish to mate with.

Females will want to mate with healthy males in order to secure preferred genes and other benefits.

They want men that can provide for livelihood, protect them from other males, and harbor Fisherian runaway traits such as

prominent plumage, elaborate courtship behaviours, or extreme body ornamentation—are so strongly preferred by females of certain species that they will mate only with those males possessing the strongest expression of the trait. 

To show their male preference, females will exude physical and other signs such as color, and other attractive features.


Dating in the 21 century

But dating is changing and pretty fast in the 21st century.

Having evolved from regulated dating and face-to-face interactions, many are now opting for online dating in order to bypass shyness and anxiety.

After exchanging texts, photos, and videos online, many learn to martial up the courage to meet face-to-face, and hopefully, start to mate.

The problem with this approach is the prospect of evolutionary mismatch and having to deal with fake partners, cheating, and online sexual predators.


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