What Women Want
“Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children.
Life is the other way around.” - DAVID LODGE
Study after study has shown that women are pickier when consenting to mate than men. In the world of science, this phenomenon is called female choice and it has been making
the difference for women in areas such as available nutrition, protection, genetic quality of their children, and paternal investment for at least two million years. In his study across thirty-seven cultures, psychologist Dr. David Buss documented that one of the highest priorities that women have in terms of long-term mate qualities is the ability to procure resources. Again, during the Paleolithic, this could mean the difference between life and death. Related traits in a young, up-and-coming potential mate would be qualities like ambition, work ethic, social status, IQ, emotional maturity, and chronological age.
While there are certainly benefits that come with those characteristics, there’s also a challenge. A man with those aggressive acquisition characteristics may also be inclined to seek casual sex with many different women. In other words, their willingness and ability to commit may be lacking. That puts a high priority on men who have all of the above characteristics but are also sincere and can show acts of love directed at just one woman.
On the other hand, for our female ancestors, having the love and commitment of a man who could be pushed around by other men physically would have been a mixed blessing. Women who mated with smaller, non-physical men would have never had security from other men. Men during the Paleolithic who were taller, athletic, and equipped with a muscular build could give their wives protection from animals, as well as other men who acted like animals. The women who selected men based on their ability for physical protection had a better chance of surviving and producing children. The desire for this type of man was (and is) genetically encoded in women, even though societal conditions have changed today.
Even if a man manages to have all of the above characteristics, if he gets sick or passes away, he is no longer able to team with a woman to produce a family. Therefore, potential husbands are also judged on their health status and long-term health prospects. Women in the study of thirty-seven cultures said that good health in men was anywhere from important to indispensable in a mate. Markers for this, again, are symmetrical faces and bodies and higher masculinity. Asymmetrical features show mistakes the body made in self-construction. These may be evidence of other errors the body has made in systems such as the immune system. It turns out that symmetrical men have fewer illnesses than asymmetrical men over their lifetimes, and men that are masculine also signal that they have good physical health. Men with bigger, lower jaws, pronounced brow ridges, deeper voices, and V-shaped torsos show development during adolescence that was influenced by major amounts of testosterone. However, too much testosterone can be bad for men’s health in the long run. Only men with strong immune systems can afford to carry that testosterone load for long periods of time. Men with weaker immune systems unconsciously cut back on testosterone production.