Attraction In Men and Women — Current Dating Trends & Sociological Changes Shaping The Game
I had a class earlier this semester in social psychology, where we discussed attractiveness and inter-sexual dynamics - this is a topic I find extremely interesting for many reasons. This is relevant to those in the dating space, for those in relationships or marriage. Shockingly, the deeper you dig into this topic, the more political it gets. And that's exactly where it becomes interesting.
According to Buss (1995), the most attractive traits in a man from a female perspective are ambition and intelligence. This finding did not surprise me at all. It makes perfect sense. Why are ambition and intelligence in a man the most attractive of traits? - because ambition and intelligence signal competence.
The preference for competent men is a survival mechanism. Competence in a male in the form of intelligence and ambition sends the message to a female that the male can provide and protect. Providing resources and protection are the traditional roles of the male, and from an evolutionary perspective, are necessary roles for the provisioning, providing and protection of infants in their earlier years.
We discussed how gender roles have changed in modern-day society; however, I like to stress that these changes are sociological; they have no basis in our biology. Gender roles began changing about 50 or 60 years ago, and on the evolutionary timeline, that would be like 5 or 6 seconds ago. Furthermore, no sociological change or social conditioning will be enough to change the foundational basis of who we are. We are talking about differences in chromosomes, hormones, and even how our brains are wired. And when I say wired, I mean that literally. The composition and connectivity of neurons in the brain differ between men and women. These are hard-wired, cellular and chemical differences maintained despite social conditioning or sociological revolution.
Some studies show that cross-culturally, women tend to go for men, either equal to or higher in socioeconomic status. Women are hypergamous creatures and seek male partners who are generally more competent and higher in status than they are. In modern-day terms, that translates to higher income levels, but this has always come down to the amount of resources a man can acquire at some point in the future. This is not to suggest that women are materialistic—quite the contrary. Women are far more egalitarian than their male counterparts and generally get more satisfaction from generous acts instead of actions that benefit their own. Men are typically the more materialistic of the two sexes, which has some survival mechanism underlying it. Men tend to care more about status and the accumulation of resources because, traditionally and naturally, they have provided the necessary resources to ensure the health and longevity of their young.
The societal change in recent decades has shaken up these natural tendencies and attraction trigger points. As more and more women enter the workforce and earn money, their standards increase. You can't undo the natural tendency of a female to be hypergamous. The more a woman makes, the higher status male she seeks for a partner. You see this play out in the workplace, whereby a male manager dates a female staff member. There is an issue that arises with all of this, however. As a woman increases her socioeconomic status, she decreases her pool of selection of potential mates. If you're a woman making $150,000 or above, the number of men you will find making the same or more starts to thin out—a woman's chances of finding a partner after graduating with a degree decrease significantly. If you graduate with a degree from a university, you are more intelligent than about 85% of the population. And because of hypergamy, whereby women date across or up in status, the more intelligent and ambitious they are, the smaller their selection of more competent men. Its been found that a woman's chances of marrying decreased by 40%, with every 16 IQ points above the average of 100. This worked the other way around for men - a man's chances of marrying increase by 35% with every 16 IQ points above the average of 100. A study from tinder shows that male desirability peaks at around the age of 40. These are the men who are having the most success on tinder - I believe this is because at 40, a man has established himself in his career, he has acquired resources, he is more confident in himself and as a result, he is more desirable to his female counterparts as a potential mate.
There's a separate study on divorces that further support this notion of hypergamy. It suggests that women initiate 80% of divorces today. Some experts theorise that this has to do with the fact that the woman ends up out-earning their male partner, as she is more ambitious and competent. As a result, she loses her attraction towards her partner and moves on. This runs so deep into our biology that one study found that when the female starts making more money than the male, he is more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction because his levels of testosterone decrease. That's how biological this is.
As a matter of opinion, these modern-day dynamics are excellent for women who want to prioritise their careers; however, they will leave many women single and childless in the future. A study from Morgan Stanley was released that projected that by 2030, 45% of women between the ages of 25-44 will be single, with no kids. This may be one of the results of hypergamy combined with these massive sociological changes. I mean, this is good for the big corporations, as they get more manpower, or should I now say, womanpower. However, is this the path towards happiness and fulfilment for females? We will find out in the coming decades.
So, does attraction work the other way around? - are men primarily attracted to intelligence and ambition in a woman? The answer is - no. The top quality that a man looks for in a woman is typically her physical attractiveness. This, too, is a survival mechanism—physical attractiveness in females signals good genetics and high fertility levels.
There are many exceptions to the rule, and I am using generalisations. However, exceptions don't make the rules; therefore, I have no choice but to use these generalisations because those are the most common.
Many of these concepts and findings are triggering and controversial, which is why a lot of evolutionary psychology is frowned upon by many in academia. While they may be controversial, they are grounded in empirical truth. They are not necessarily pleasant realities; they are nonetheless a reality. Your happiness and fulfilment depend on it, and so does the maintenance of the nuclear family and the unity of man and woman. And we should carefully consider these things so that we can pave a suitable way forward.