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.
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.
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.
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.
The immune system genes known as major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, are genes that code for proteins, this helps the immune system recognize pathogens. In a study about MHC, the smell of their favorite shirts reminded women of their past and current boyfriends, suggesting that MHC does indeed influence women's dating decisions in real life.
If you have cycled through numerous unsuccessful relationships, you may ask this question with a feeling of victimization. Why is the world treating you so poorly? You may, however, be operating under any number of self-sabotaging behaviors including harboring a closed mindset, putting up defenses to protect yourself, isolating yourself, fearing intimacy, being too picky, being too rigid.
While much of attraction is beyond conscious control, research has demonstrated the value of sexual selection and assortative mating—finding a partner who is your rough match in attractiveness, intelligence, and other qualities. Such partners are more likely to stay together for the long term. In addition, studies show that relationships tend to be more stable when partners share similar values and life goals.
Finding a mate suitable in an array of qualities is a matching task tailor-made for computers, and computers have been applied to mating since they first left the laboratory in the 1950s. In the U.S., approximately 40 percent of couples now meet online.
Online dating has helped fuel the belief in a "soulmate"—that somewhere there exists a person who is the one and only perfect match for you. Some surveys show that the majority of adults subscribe to such a belief. Yet researchers are less sure that there is only one soulmate for you.
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.
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.
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.
With exceptions in some cultures, most people are monogamous. Researchers have found that monogamy developed so that males could protect their offspring from unrelated males. Infants are subject to harm when under the care of only one parent, the mother. The unrelated male wipes out offspring of the female’s previous mate to ensure that his own sperm will survive.
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.
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.
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.
More men than women seek short-term mating, and for a reason. Evolutionarily speaking, males seek sexual access to fertile women to spread their sperm far and wide. This will ensure that a male’s genes are reproduced.
This controversial hypothesis suggests that a woman should mate with a masculine and healthy man, bear his offspring, and then have a tender, caring man raise the child of the masculine man. She would then benefit from healthy genes of a healthy mate, as well as the nurturing qualities of a caring mate.
People are often drawn to what other people have. If a woman sees a flock of friends around a certain man, she may well want what her friends want, even if he may be bald and squat. Here, sexual selection is dictated by someone else’s preference.
This term, coined by evolutionary psychologist David Buss, takes mate-copying a step further. This entails a person stealing another’s partner. Psychopaths and extraverts are more commonly known to mate poach, and more men than women are inclined to chase another’s partner.