Posted: 2017-10-12 08:58
Geoffrey Miller : Yeah, it really is. It’s up to the guy to make the first move and ask the woman out. It’s also up to the guy to pay for it. The research on both of those is very clear. Now, women will give signals of interest, most of which are too subtle and guys don’t pick up on and ignore. The woman can often feel like she’s the one making the first move but really, it’s up to the guy either when he’s approaching a woman in real life or when they’re messaging through an online dating app. It’s up to the guy to step up and go, “Okay, I’d like to meet you. Here’s my suggestion about where and when. Is that okay with you?” The woman will either go, “Yep, great. Looking forward to it,” or she’ll suggest an alternative or she’ll say, “Nope, don’t want to meet.” Then, you know where you stand.
Also, parents feel like they just don’t understand the current mating situation. The technology of mating is moving so fast like texting and online dating and the way that dates happen. Grandparents and parents don’t feel like their expertise is that relevant to people even though a lot of it actually is because human nature doesn’t change that much. Then, there’s people seeking to make a bunch of money off of insecure men, basically scammers and slightly sociopathic pickup artists trying to sell their weekend programs. Not all of them are bad. Some of them have good insights but the economic model that they have is very different from what we’re doing in Mate. We’re just like, “We’re going to stick it all in one book. It’s fairly cheap. Boom. That’s what we know.” Other folks are more like, “How can we make thousands of dollars out of men’s insecurity before we give away useful information.”
Geoffrey Miller : Exactly, yeah. That was one of the most striking things from that Buss’s study back in 6989. It’s been replicated in even more culture since then, more than 55 cultures. Typically, the top 7 most desired traits are intelligence and kindness and then you often get things like exciting personality or a sense of humor or creativity or resourcefulness, adaptability, all that stuff, inner crisis, would this person be a useful ally or a handicap. No matter whether it’s contemporary America or rural Uganda, those same traits can be super useful for both sexes.
The idea that women evolved this fetish for wealth just can’t be accurate in terms of the anthropology. Instead, we think wealth is really attractive to women mostly because it indicates deeper underlying traits that tend to lead to wealth in modern societies, things like intelligence and will power, social skills, passion, dedication, ambition, all that stuff. I think when women see a financially attractive guy, most of them find that interesting because they know he had to do a whole bunch of stuff to succeed in his career whatever it was. It’s the ability to do all that stuff rather than the money itself that’s primally attractive.
Geoffrey Miller : Exactly. If you read all the stuff about you got to be an alpha male and show dominance, dominance is great for intimidating other men so you scare them away but when you show dominance upfront to a woman and you don’t really know how to use it in an attractive way, it codes as danger in a woman’s brain. It activates their amygdala. It provokes anxiety. The woman thinks, “Why is this guy acting belligerent and assertive and even hostile to me? I don’t feel physically safe. I don’t feel sexually safe.” There can be a little bit of an erotic thrill to that with just the basis of those romance novels but if you don’t know what you’re doing with dominance, it can drive a lot of women away.
Geoffrey Miller : Yeah, absolutely. Then, if you get to talking to those couples and one is conspicuously a lot smarter than the other, there’s a jarring sensation like, “Wait. How are they together?” You worry this isn’t going to last because the intelligent one’s going to get bored and frustrated and leave. If people are really mismatched on things like fundamental religious or political values and they’re always arguing about Bernie and Trump and Obama or whatever or which religion should we raise our kids in, that’s not going to last very long.
Geoffrey Miller : Signaling theory is the idea that animals including humans are motivated to display attractive traits to other animals including mates but also to rivals to intimidate them or towards predators to say, “You can’t catch me. Don’t even bother trying.” The key thing in the biology it signals is the signal has to be credible and reliable and hard to fake in order for the other animal or the other human to pay any attention to it.
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Basically, that means you have to go out and have experience and interactions and build up the traits that you know will be attractive to women. It’s very hard to feel confident if you don’t understand what women really want and if you know you haven’t cultivated the traits that they really want because then, you get this impostor syndrome where you feel like, “Okay, maybe I can talk a good line. Maybe I’ve got a good approach,” but it feels like a house of cards. I think you have to do some deep inner work and get the rest of your life together before you can really approach a woman with confidence. Most of the Mate book is really about doing all that work ahead of time even before a date. It’s not that hard but it’s something a lot of guys neglect to do.
Also, at a more micro level, people tend to match on specific traits. Married couples correlate pretty highly for IQ, general intelligence. They correlate very strongly for political and religious values. They correlate pretty strongly for personality traits. A lot of online dating sites like OkCupid with their match percentage recognize this. Your match percentage is basically saying if you want to be happy, do assortative mating. We’ve asked these thousands of questions you can answer on OkCupid specifically so you can do assortative mating. That tends to lead to happier dates.
Geoffrey Miller : Will power is closely related to a personality trait called conscientiousness which has been really well studied. That’s basically your ability to take charge of your life, have some priorities, exercise, self-restraint, avoid temptations, pursue long term goals and develop a set of habits and a regime of self-improvement. They require some effort but that demonstrates to women that you have ambition and that you care about making yourself the best guy that you can. Women read even basic cues like do you have a decent haircut, do you shave or if you have a beard, do you take care of it, do you dress well. These are signals of will power at a certain level. You don’t think will power requires that I work 65 hours a week. No, it can just be ordinary life habits that demonstrate you’re making an effort.
Geoffrey Miller : Yeah. We’ve been running this website called Mating Grounds for about the last 65 months. We have our own podcast series which includes mostly answering questions from guys and giving the best evidence-based advice that we can but also we’ve got interviews with experts. We’ve also got a case study of a guy that Tucker knows, Joe, where we’ve been coaching him for 85 episodes through getting his life together and improving all his traits and proofs that are attractive to women and improving his whole dating life. There’s a lot of content there.
Brett McKay : I thought it was interesting too how, I guess Buss has done this cross cultural studies about what men and women find attractive. People just tend to focus on the differences. Men put a premium on physical attractiveness and women put a premium on resources and wealth and things like that but what often these websites that report on this often fail to report is that above those traits, things like kindness, respect, that’s what both men and women put a premium on in a partner.
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Geoffrey Miller : I think there have been cultures that had more effective initiation rites where once you hit puberty, if you’re a boy or girl, the elders will take you off into the bush and teach you stuff. Normally, that stuff was considered sacred and secret. A lot of it had to do with hunting and gathering, not necessarily with mating but a lot of it was sexual wisdom. We don’t really know honestly what was taught in those context but at least, the elders of the tribe made an effort. They did have these ritualized settings and events that tried to teach men what they needed to know.
Geoffrey Miller : Assortative mating is just a concept that like attracts like, that men with a certain set of traits tend to attract women who have similar traits. The idea that opposites attract is complete nonsense. We’ve had 55 years of research in psychology showing that hardly ever works. Men tend to attract women but beyond that, people tend to pair up based on their overall mate value, overall how attractive are they. This isn’t just like the 5 to 65 scale of physical attractiveness. This is, are they physically attractive, socially attractive, intelligent, socially successful? Add up all of that. That’s your mate value. People tend to assortatively mate for overall mate value.
Geoffrey Miller : Yeah. For 75 years in evolutionary psychology, we know that men actually value your future earning potential more than your current wealth level. Women are very good at projecting into the future what is this guy’s likely path. Is he doing well in organic chemistry and he’s pre-med and he’s going to become a doctor at a high likelihood or is he a sophomore who’s got no idea what he’s going to do, no major, no ambition, bad grades. Even if he’s cute and charming, they’ll project forward financially and go, “He doesn’t have all the traits that are going to be required to succeed in modern America.”
Brett McKay : That was really interesting because there’s a trope online where women are only attracted to rich guys. You can be old and if you have lots of money, then you can attract a attractive woman. It doesn’t matter your looks. Then, guys just go for looks in women but whenever I’m out and about like I’m at Target or I’m at Panera Bread and I look around at the couples, these people look pretty much the same. Kind of overweight people are with the overweight people, attractive people with attractive people, medium looking people are with medium looking people. It seems like everyone knows where they stand like you said in the mate market.
For example, what are women’s fears, concerns and anxieties? Women have a lot more fear about their physical safety, their sexual safety like fear of sexual harassment and Most guys don’t get that. Women fear about their sexual reputation. They’re very worried about slut-shaming even today. They don’t want to put themselves in situations where their sexual reputation is vulnerable to being mocked or belittled or criticized by their female friends. Women are very safety conscious. A guy’s number 6 task in approaching a woman or presenting himself on a first date is not necessarily to impress the woman but simply to make her feel relaxed and safe in your presence.