david_m_buss's picture
Professor of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin; Author, When Men Behave Badly
Psychologist, University of Texas, Austin; Author, The Murderer Next Door

The Future of Human Mating

Each one of us has descended from a long and unbroken line of ancestors who mated successfully. They all found love or at least a liaison. Evolution has forged a motivation to mate so powerful that it propels us to surmount impressive, daunting, and demoralizing obstacles. The first problem is prioritizing conflicting mate preferences, compromising on some to attain others. Searchers must then sift through hundreds of options, limiting pursuit to potentials within shouting distance of attainability. Desirable mates bring out determined rivals, forcing fierce competition. Complex and subtle attraction tactics must succeed in unlocking minds and melting hearts. After making it through these mine fields, there is no rest for the weary. Post-mating, sexual conflicts erupt, undermining months or years of effort. Mate poachers abound, threatening to lure our lovers.

Infidelity diverts precious resources to interlopers and rips families apart.
Treachery runs rampant, spurned lovers rage, and divorce rates rise. The modern world compounds these problems, from discerning deception in internet dating to bridging cultural gaps created by cross-continental mating. Despite the obstacles, both ancient and novel, I remain optimistic that humans in every generation will continue to succeed gloriously.