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The Science of Mating

As psychology and science see it, mating is the entire repertoire of behaviors that animals—including humans—engage in the pursuit of finding a partner for intimacy or reproduction. It encompasses acts from flirting to one-night stands to marriage and more. Some mating behaviors are deeply ingrained, hard-wired into the nervous system, and operate without conscious awareness—attractions, for example—and some, like marriage ceremonies, are highly scripted, with every detail worked out in advance.

Humans thrive in social relationships, and a great deal of enterprise and energy are generally devoted to mating—seeking potential partners, courting them, gauging the compatibility and suitability of partner candidates, maintaining the bonds that develop—because nothing less than the continuation of the species depends on it. Around the world, finding a mate is regarded as one of the primary tasks of adulthood.

The Mate and Attraction Market

Dating is an experiment, a process of trial and error, of setting up appointments for spending time with potential mates, getting to know them inside and out, and assessing their suitability. Are you even attracted to the person? Some desirable qualities in a mate are highly visible, such as beauty, but qualities that tend to be more important to the quality and durability of a relationship, such as a person's character, take time to reveal themselves.

How will I know if I am meant to be with someone?

There are many factors that signal whether you should be with the one you’re with. Here are some general signs: This person listens to you, is supportive, doesn’t want to change you, wants you to succeed and doesn’t hold you back, is happy for you, gets along with your family and friends, feels trust, never insults you, and is appreciative. And you are your best self with this person.

What is compatibility?

Most relationship researchers demonstrate that the most reliable element of compatibility is partners sharing and supporting each other's life dreams. Some additional signs of compatibility include: You share the same values, know how to handle conflict, support each other's needs, feel secure, take responsibility and are accountable, among other factors.

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Understanding Commitment and Monogamy

There is evidence that the desire to pair off, and especially on what terms, changes dramatically as the number of available candidates changes. Researchers have found that men are more apt to be single when men are rare in a geographical area than when men are abundant.

Why are men commitment-phobic?

Although they may be surrounded by potential partners, they have little interest in committing to or marrying them; they turn promiscuous, preferring casual sex, and engaging in multiple relationships. They spawn babies out of wedlock, and sexual assault rates rise. When males are abundant, they invest considerable effort into finding a mate and settling down.

Is monogamy natural?

As the average human lifespan lengthens, debate rages as to whether people were meant to mate with one partner for life or to have multiple partners, serially or even simultaneously. No one knows what the answer is, but most people in the modern world seek a partner for emotional closeness, however fragile a foundation that might be for a lifetime of companionship or establishing a family.

Mating Strategies
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Mating behavior is influenced by many factors, some within individuals, some within their culture or community. Scientists as diverse as biologists and economists, demographers and anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists devote extensive research to understanding all the factors that influence mating and contribute to stable human relationships.

How do male and female mating strategies differ?

The differences are biologically rooted. Males produce millions of sperm daily. However, female eggs are precious. A woman ovulates one egg during her monthly menstrual cycle, and the egg lives for only 24 hours. A woman looks to conserve her resources, while men do not have to conserve.

Who is choosier, men or women?

Men desire and seek numerous sex partners and they are generally quick to consent to sex. However, when women pursue short-term mates, they appear to be motivated more by partner quality than by partner quantity.

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