Should I Have Sex With Him?
Sex is a woman's choice. This simple fact arises from the principle of least interest. Roughly stated, the principle of least interest says "whoever has the least interest in a deal has the most power".
When measured from almost any angle, men consistently show more interest in sex than women. For example:
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Sexual desire is mediated by testosterone acting on part of the hypothalamus. More testosterone equals stronger sexual desires. This is true even in women, although they have much lower levels of testosterone than men.
We can see that male demand for sex transfers the decision making power to women. This blog is about what women do with that power.
Enter one girl's infamous 72-point dating checklist: smart, funny, wealthy, tall, not too tall, ambitious, nice, totally devoted to me, must get along well with Hilary... ad naseum. These sorts of impossible checklists are the norm for women. But the problem is not actually that there are no men who fit the criteria. The problem is that emotions don't have checklists. Our criteria are generated by rational thought which has nothing to do with how we actually behave.
I decided to take a shot at building the real female mate-choice checklist. One that is consistent with their behaviour. It's based on my reading and my experience (you'd be astonished at how well psychology papers predict what I have experienced in real life). As you go through the checklist, you'll see how each item can be considered adaptive. These strategies developed because they helped her survive.
So here it is:
Should I have sex with him? The real female mate-choice checklist.
Check #1: Other girls want to have sex with him. This is called mate-copying (Dugatkin, 1992). It is nature's shortcut to solving a difficult problem. All you need to do is copy the decisions of other women, and you're done. Since all women have roughly the same criteria, her decision is as good as yours. Mate copying saves a woman valuable energy on the problem of mate choice.
Check #2: He initiates. You would have thought that since women have more to gain from romance than men (Campbell, 1999), they would initiate. This is not what happens in real life. In real life, only drunk girls and prostitutes will overtly hit on you. Normal women create demand by marking up their mate value and issuing receptivity signals. This strategy forces men to invest, allowing her to demand even more. It seems to work; the data shows that relationships that are initiated by women have a shorter average life-span (Kelley et al, 1981).
Check #3: He does not seek my approval. A male who is getting sex does not usually seek other people's approval. In that respect, this strategy is derived from mate copying. Approval-seeking signals low mate value and kills romance. This is a double-whammy, because acceptance is an intrinsic human motive and important for our survival by itself. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. Nevertheless, at the opposite end of the scale, you'll find 'bad boys' successfully employing disapproval-seeking to signal high mate value.
Check #4: He will not get angry if I reject him. A woman always needs an escape route, before and after sex. This is the reason you don't invite her to your apartment to have sex. Instead, you invite her up for a drink or to listen to music. That way she feels comfortable backing out if she changes her mind. More generally speaking, if she thinks you can't handle rejection, she will reject you. This is basic self preservation at play, since women are physically more vulnerable in sexual liaisons.
Check #5: It could be my only chance. Even if she is aroused, and you get this far, she still might decide not to have sex with you... yet. Deferring sexual decisions as long as she can costs her nothing and only gains her more information. It could go on indefinitely if she does not experience loss anxiety. With the possibility of losing you hanging over her, delaying her decision becomes a risk rather than a benefit. In this situation, her natural decision will be to have sex with you.
-- End of checklist.
But what about age, income, and physique? I hear you saying. Actually, they're all covered by Check #1. Or, at least, they should be. You might argue that logistics have to come into play somewhere. And yes, logistics matter. But technically, the question was "Should I have sex with him?", not "Will I have sex with him?".
I've been staring at this post for half an hour now, and I can't come up with any examples from my own life experience that break these rules. Sexually confident women might not need particularly high levels of loss anxiety (#5), and perhaps alcohol could blind her of her susceptibility (#4), but they are the only exceptions I can come up with. If you have any others, or perhaps some counter-examples, let me know in the comments below.
Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 2(1), 39-55.
Buss, D. M. (1994). The strategies of human mating. American Scientist, 82(3), 238-249.
Ard Jr, B. N. (1977). Sex in lasting marriages: A longitudinal study. Journal of Sex Research, 13(4), 274-285.
Klusmann, D. (2006). Sperm competition and female procurement of male resources. Human Nature, 17(3), 283-300.
Dugatkin, L. A. (1992). Sexual selection and imitation: females copy the mate choice of others. The American Naturalist, 139(6), 1384-1389.
Campbell, A. (1999). Staying alive: Evolution, culture, and women's intrasexual aggression. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22(02), 203-214.
Kelley, H. H. (1981). Marriage relationships and aging. Aging--stability and change in the family/edited by Robert W. Fogel...[et al.]; James G. March, editor-in-chief.Should I Have Sex With Him?
Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. He has no fixed address and has left footprints on 40-something different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, the proper use of semicolons, and finding good food.
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