BY TAYLOR WADE
Men and women strive to fall head-over-heels in love, form mutually exclusive relationships, and have a happy, healthy family to call their own. But we don’t want these things with just anyone. Finding a suitable partner with whom to spend the rest of our lives is arguably the most important decision we will ever make. But do we ever stop to ask ourselves why we are attracted to certain suitors and dismiss others? Our past may provide the answers.
1. Women are attracted to men with rank, money, self-confidence, assertiveness.
From an evolutionary standpoint, men with rank and money are the equivalent of dominant ancestors who acted as providers for their partners and families by having better access to food and resources.
2. Men are drawn to women with youthfulness, health and beauty.
This comes as no surprise, however, rarely do we stop to think about the evolutionary reasons. These qualities (youth, health, and beauty) are signs of good genes and childbearing aptitude. Good genes are what gives us good looks, good health, and so forth.
3. People are sexually attracted to those who show signs of facial symmetry.
Symmetrical faces are commonly perceived to be “handsome” and “beautiful.” Symmetry is associated with health and genetic fitness. An attractive face is a sign of good health and resilience toward ravages of time and disease. Therefore, a symmetrical face shows the ability to produce healthy offspring from a strong genetic link.
4. We choose partners with immune systems very different than our own.
This is an evolutionary strategy to ensure healthy reproduction. Children born to parents with different immune systems have a better chance of fighting off disease. Genetic variability is known to be an advantage for offspring and improving the efficiency of the immune system.
In 1995, Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern in Switzerland, asked a group of women to smell unwashed T-shirts worn by different men. What he discovered was that women consistently preferred the smell of men whose immune systems were different from their own.
5. Commitment is a top priority for men and women, but for very different reasons.
From an evolutionary perspective, both men and women want to maximize their contribution to the gene pool by producing as many offspring as possible. Commitment is a top priority for women because a partner can provide important resources while time is spent caring for children.
However, for males, time spent providing for a pregnant partner could be better spent fathering children with other women. Therefore, a commitment from a male’s perspective is linked to paternity certainty. A man who is having multiple offspring needs to know that a child is his, and not those of his competitors.
It seems the one unvarying motive driving our attraction to certain men and women is to find a partner able to give us healthy children. It may sound very unromantic to believe the only reason we fall in love is to make our contribution to the gene pool. Yet, it doesn’t mean we have to remove romance from the dating process.