(and Why She’ll Never Admit It)

*Note: This post is a carryover from an old blog. It’s the post that played a large part in the impetus for this site, but looking back now, parts of the theory and explanation kinda make me cringe. I’ve included it in its unedited original version because it still may be of interest to some.
Forget everything you know about society. Forget everything you know about culture. Forget everything you know about psychology. Forget everything you know about relationships. If the topic of this article doesn’t destroy your conception of reality, I’ll be forced to keep writing until it happens.

How’s that for an opening salvo, eh? The problem is that claims such as these have been recited so many times that their potency isn’t what it should be. Since you probably haven’t forgotten everything I told you to forget, you may not realize the irony there.

“Hey Andrew, I’m trying to find out why my girlfriend wants to cheat on me with four entire categories of dudes, what’s up with the socio-cultural-whatever nonsense?”

The Zillion Dollar Question

Gentlemen, let’s face it, the reason you’re reading this is because you know that on some level, your girlfriend has cheated on you wants to cheat on you. Deny it publicly all you want; you’ve seen the footage of the girls practically fainting by the thousands in the proximity of Elvis and The Beatles and… um… The Jonas Brothers? I’ve certainly taken a girl to a concert and looked over at her to see her eyes locked in a distant, creepy trance as her sweat-drenched, dancing body bounces around while she gazes in the generally undistinguishable direction of the singer, guitar player, or (gasp) drummer.

We all know the stereotypes of girls being strangely attracted to painters, basketball players and anyone who can even fake a Scottish, English, Australian, Spanish, Italian, South African (et al) accent. It’s easy enough to write this all off as a phase or a quirk or something. It’s also easy to launch into jealousy though. When was the last time you had this thought process:

My girlfriend (wife) is a sweet girl of high moral standing who’s totally in love with me. Sure, she talks about how hot the singers of her favorite bands are, but even if she had the chance to act on that, she wouldn’t. She’s in love with me and she knows that that guy wouldn’t love her like I do. It’s just a fantasy.

Newsflash: Multiple studies have confirmed that women are overwhelmingly more likely to cheat on their partner during the two or three days of ovulation. During this time, hormones alter a woman’s behavior to the point that otherwise rational and emotional arguments against cheating are fundamentally altered. Emotions, culture, and society may be telling her that cheating is bad, but her body is telling her to mate with the best man she can get. Here’s the rub: The idea of what constitutes “the best man” also changes during that time. The good news is that you’re pretty safe for about 27 days of most months. To be fair, if her body chemistry is artificially altered by birth control pills, this instinct may be tempered.

Disclaimer: To my knowledge, I’ve never been cheated on by someone I was in a relationship with so don’t try to write this all off as some sort of personal vendetta. But… who knows what will be revealed in the comments!

So what is it that inspires the loveliest of girls to want the sex with the boys they wouldn’t give the time of day if they were working behind the counter at Starbucks? I mean really… Are we to just write this off as hormones?

Okay, confession time: The first paragraph in this article wasn’t really me talking. I mean… It does use the fine art of paraphrasing to describe the mashed potato effect my brain experienced when I started learning about this “new science”, but I’m not the first to stand on the mountaintop and hurl such declarations at the content masses. The paradigm shattering message was first trumpeted in 1871 by one of the titans of psychology. You know, that guy you’ve only seen in sepia toned photographs. Yeah yeah, they’ve probably since been edited to appear in black and white, but the OG photographers shot the dude in sepia. Let’s not quibble. Anyway, this chap you’ve seen a zillion pictures of came up with the basis for this science and published it in 1871. Nobody listened. His ideas were patently rejected on moral arguments veiled in scientific rationalizations.

So now the questions you’re asking are: “Okay Andrew, if nobody listened to Freud, how did he go on to become the titan of psychology we know him as today? Why have I seen him over and over in the disputed black and white photographs?”

Evolutionary Psychology

Wait… You thought we’ve been talking about Freud? Silly rabbit… Most of Freud’s theories have since been debunked. Let’s not mention his name again please. The mad genius who attempted to destroy the realities of everyone based on his new understanding of human psychology was Charles Darwin. That’s right… He tried to pull off the ultimate and change the entire understanding of humanity… twice. The guy who had already destroyed everyone’s reality by publishing The Origin of Species in 1859, sought to do it again with The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. We’ve been watching religion squirm to adapt ever since.

If put to the task, you could roughly sum up Darwin’s famous work in four words: “Survival of the Fittest”. Despite Darwin obliterating the foundations of culture and religion in this work, the idea was adopted rapidly in the scientific community. It was one of those ideas that a scientist could look at, relate experiences to, intuit, and successfully test. It resonated. It clicked. However, it wasn’t good enough for Darwin. Despite shifting paradigms and proving it, he couldn’t get peacock feathers out of his head.

When most people talk about evolution the conversation tends to focus on survival related issues, otherwise known as natural selection. Diagrams of primates hunched over a little less over time are tossed about to illustrate the point. However, this is only one of the two main components Darwin espoused. The other biggie was organisms’ focus on reproduction, otherwise known as sexual selection. In The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Darwin laid the foundation for explaining sexual selection in a little less than a thousand pages. To him, it was his most important work ever because it explained the formation of the mind. When I say the mind, I’m not talking about why gray matter is gray. I’m talking about the mechanisms in the brain that do the thinking. Darwin tackled the explanation of why a peacock’s feathers came to be in terms of brains evolving to select sexual partners on the basis of sexual fitness rather than the simple natural selection of utilitarian fitness.

One way we might describe Darwin’s (second) masterpiece in just four words is “reproduction of the sexiest.” Sure, the strong survive, but it’s the sexy that reproduce. And yes, those often overlap.


So let’s get back to the question posed in the title. Survival of the fittest style natural selection describes why your girlfriend wants to cheat on you with an athlete to a large degree. However, in the strictest sense, it doesn’t explain the thought process involved in choosing to mate with someone with visually recognizable survival cues. Natural selection stops short by basically saying that an unhealthy mate would be dead before they have a chance to reproduce in sufficient numbers. This is where Darwin and sexual selection come in. Brains evolved thought processes to recognize cues for reproductive fitness to allow mate selection to occur on an active evolutionary scale. Your girlfriend wants to cheat on you with an athlete because her brain is evolved to recognize cues that indicate an athlete has favorable advantages in both survival and reproduction. Reproductive selection doesn’t stop at offspring. It also involves the ability to enable the offspring to survive.

The point here isn’t to scientifically prove evolutionary psychology. The point is to introduce you to my new favorite science by answering the question in the title. Because of that, I’ll just go ahead and admit that the athlete in the title was a bit of a red herring. No, I’m not saying that athletes have the personalities of fishes. Stop reading so far between the lines.


This is where things get less obvious. What do guitars, vocal chords, and standing on a stage a few feet higher than the crowd have do do with natural selection or reproductive fitness?

The lack of an obvious and rational connection between women’s affinity for musicians and any sort of evolutionary benefit makes it easy for guys to pass off passing comments and crushes as innocent flirtation. To compound the matter, these guys really are totally the opposite of what she’s looking for in a relationship. So when you call her on it, she’ll think you’re overreacting and claim that she’s honestly into you and would never even want a relationship with a guy like that. And that’s the sticky part… She’s telling you the truth. However, there are two or three days every month that she’s not going to joke about it.

The answer to the zillion dollar question is the answer that plagued Darwin after releasing The Origin of Species. What about the peacock feathers!? Peacock feathers don’t help them survive. Not only is there no survival benefit, they make it more difficult to survive. They make their owners easier targets for predation. They require the exertion of extra energy to maintain them. Carrying them around requires extra energy. Growing them requires extra energy. All of these things are exactly contrary to natural selection. Darwin was a mess.

As it turns out, the line between a peacock’s feathers and the outlandish hair, clothing, and tattoos of musicians is short and direct. Both are tactics specifically designed to fly a middle finger at natural selection. Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to describe ostentatious displays of wealth, but didn’t get around to explaining it to its fundamental levels. Just as conspicuous consumption defies tact and reason by displays of wealth merely as demonstrations of financial wealth, peacock feathers defy natural selection by demonstrating the surplus wealth of a bird’s genes. Only the individuals capable of wasting energy on the growth of cumbersome, easily recognizable feathers could afford to taunt the economy required by strict natural selection. The females (the peahens that nobody ever talks about) don’t have flamboyant feathers. They don’t need them. The females use the feathers of the males to select them as mates. The males don’t have a choice. All they have to do is look pretty and be chosen. See, I told you to forget everything you know about culture and society.

With rockstar level musicians, the peacock type of selection works in an external conspicuous consumption level as well. With increased success comes increased wealth that allows for visible displays far beyond the average individual’s capabilities. I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you of this. You tell me… How many seasons of “Celebrity Cribs” have aired so far?

But that’s not the end of the story. If it was, the dude with the rad hair and tattoos making your latte would have a less surly demeanor and a lot longer line out the door. To understand the rest of it, you’re going to have to swallow the pill that Darwin’s contemporaries couldn’t. That was in a different millennium, I think you’re ready.

Darwin didn’t stop at physical traits. He included another affront to religion by surgically removing the necessity for God as a foundation for morality. The rejection of his new theories by science was unfortunate, but predictable. Unlike natural selection, reproductive selection rendered large swaths of other sciences irrelevant by suggesting that our thoughts and behaviors are genetically evolved and optimized to perform tasks related to identifying a myriad of cues relating to reproductive fitness.

One of the biggest ideas to come from this is the concept of social proof. Many species have evolved shortcuts to determining the value of mates through social cues. Just like the peacock’s feathers are a shortcut to determining the reproductive fitness of a bird, the rockstar guitar player’s legions of adoring fans are a shortcut to determining his reproductive fitness via the social realm.

In the 1,600,000 years or so of hominid evolution before recorded history, most human interaction took place in small groups and tribes. Under this social framework, brains evolved based on selections within these groups. Genetic and archeological evidence points to an environment in which fewer males had access to females for reproduction. Before language, the easiest way to know what someone was thinking was to watch their actions. If you were a female and saw that multiple females chose a certain male for sex, it was easier to assume they knew something you didn’t. This is especially important because a female’s investment in the reproductive process is significant. A male can get away with a few minutes of investment, but a woman’s investment is measured in terms of years.

The behavior of selecting males based on the mating habits of other females within the species has been observed and documented in a wide range of species including many non-primates.

The importance here is that these shortcuts are selected by minds. The concept of a mind as a determining component of selection explains the rapid growth and current size of human brains much more convincingly than accidental natural selection. The notion of hard-wired social circuitry is also what makes it tough for social scientists to stomach evolutionary psychology despite evidence.

One of the other factors at play with rockstars is that men giving attention to other men is also a useful cue for selection. In the human evolutionary framework, multiple men consistently giving attention to one man in particular tended to indicate leadership and dominance. Women are even more attracted to rockstars that garner attention from both males and females. Predictably, women are less attracted to rockstars in bands that are primarily followed by only men.

Your girlfriend wants to cheat on you with a musician because he stands out in his personal appearance, displays wealth by external conspicuous consumption, and must truly be great because everyone else thinks he’s great.

There’s one other characteristic that applies to some musicians more than others, but it fits more appropriately in the next section.


Yes, artists sometimes embody many of the characteristics discussed above. Stop being so technical so we can get back to the stereotypes and generalizations.

The defining characteristic of the artist is the creativity that springs from individuality. This is a more advanced characteristic of sexual selection because it involves the mind selecting others based largely on others’ minds. This sort of selection can rapidly spread through species. Humans do mind-based selection better than any other animal.

Artistic creativity and expression also serves as survival cues in ways similar to those above. Creativity isn’t a direct requirement for reproductive fitness, but an indicator of the reproductive fitness of the individual. Creativity also implies problem solving ability that is helpful in natural selection and the resource sharing dynamics of reproduction.

From another angle, art represents an external reflection of the mind of the artist. While the rockstar seeks to proclaim uniqueness through personal adornment and external displays of wealth, the artist makes a de facto declaration of intellectual uniqueness with each piece of art produced. As we’ll see in the next section, uniqueness for the sake of uniqueness is an underlying them in evolutionary psychology. The mind has adapted selection preferences based on uniqueness cues to proliferate DNA diversity.

The value derived from the assertion of individual difference varies greatly within the realm of the artist. Picasso created an entire category of painting, attracted legions of women, and died with an estate valued in the billions. On the other hand, Bob Ross attempted to show how easy it was for anyone to duplicate the art he produced and his enduring legacy is his hair. The Artist’s allure comes from the implicit assertion that he is creating something nobody else can create.

Your girlfriend wants to cheat on you with an artist because he proves he can produce something no other man is capable of producing.


How does an average guy like me become the number one lover-man in his particular postal district?” Rob Gordon (played by John Cusack) in “High Fidelity”

If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll no doubt deduce that the only category left for me to boldly insert myself into is that of the guy with the foreign accent. Most of my readers probably have the same accent, in which case that alone is a stretch. The important thing here is that it’s all relative. When I lived in Alaska, I was the kid from Seattle. When I moved to Oregon, I was the kid from Alaska. When I moved back to Seattle, I was the kid from Oregon. When I moved to Austin, I was the guy from Seattle. When I moved to Panama, I was the guy from Seattle again. When I sail into your town, there’s only one certainty… I’ll be the guy that’s new to everyone… If I’m in the right mood that will equate to novelty. Don’t worry, I’m not there to steal your girl.

Differences in accents imply genetic variance through outside groups. This made complete sense in the living conditions of our ancestors. In the small groups of people that people saw every day and even the tribes with upper limits around 150, inbreeding was a problem by default. Any indicator of genetic variance is hugely valuable. Language, eye color, skin color, and hair color all come into play. The specifics aren’t as important as the overall cue of standing out.

The answer to the High Fidelity quote above is difficult to answer correctly and difficult to reproduce. It’s much easier to become the number one lover-man in someone else’s particular postal district.

Your girlfriend wants to cheat on you with me because nomadic strangers represent the ultimate opportunity for genetic diversity.

No offense to Antonio Banderas, but your girlfriend doesn’t have a crush on him for his accent or his looks per se. Her mind is biologically compelled to provide selection preference to men with genes that vary significantly from hers for reproductive success. Don’t feel bad about it… It’s nothing personal… It’s for the children. Unfortunately, they might be someone else’s.

Why She Won’t Tell You About It

I briefly discussed this above, but I’ll recap it again. If you think your girl is amazing and adorable and madly in love with you, she probably is. Her emotional attachment to you and conscious appreciation of you aren’t in question. I mean sure, if there are problems in your relationship, all of these scenarios are much more likely to occur. They’re also much more likely to occur if you’re not attractive.

The things I’m talking about are impulse level reactions. She doesn’t have an evolved, runaway train necessity to cheat on you. However, she is genetically predisposed to not only reproduce, but also to reproduce with the highest quality DNA possessing male she can get her… um… hands… on.

Here’s another potentially related issue (Translation – another rub): The man with the best DNA is not always the same as the man best suited to contribute resources and/or invest time and resources into raising children. These cases can get tricky because in this case, it’s in the best interest of her DNA to reproduce with someone different than the person she’s in a relationship. Yes, this is code for… If she cheats on you, it may be in her best interest for you not to find out.

Your girlfriend won’t tell you she wants to cheat on you because she doesn’t consciously want to cheat on you and/or if she does cheat on you, she still wants to utilize the dependability and resources you provide.

Yes, the “but” that follows “I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger,” is sometimes a big one.

So What? Who Cares?

As it pertains to my aims on this site, the implications of environmental psychology (EP) run deep. In this introductory expose on my new-found crush for evolutionary psychology, I picked something that all guys feel and wonder about directly. I asked the question from the man’s perspective in large part because there is no real equivalent to Cosmopoliltian and its ilk for men. Wait… did I just call Cosmo a good thing? That wasn’t my intent. The point is that it’s culturally acceptable for women to have public conversations about guys all day long, but guys are supposed to talk about everything in secret.

Did you know that most murders are committed by men in circumstances surrounding reproductive selection (sex)? As it turns out, murder is also an evolved psychological response to sexual selection. Seriously… this stuff goes deep, involves serious subjects, and connects everything.

The more immediate implications are that morals, culture, and society are artificial layers painted over our true nature. Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of perspective. Lifestyle design is about constructing the life that best allows you to express your best self. If you’re stifled by cultural assumptions, socialization, and a framework of rules based on the brushed on facade of society, your personal lifestyle design project will fail.

I stumbled on EP in research following up my articles about The Bigotry of Nationalism and The Curious Virtuosity of Ignorance. Since then I’ve been reading books on it at the exclusion of almost everything else. That has lead to a zillion little questions that have been rattling around in the bank of my mind being answered and explained. It has seriously re-framed my view of the world. As someone who’s pretty diligent about examining all the options, that wasn’t something I expected.

Related Stuff I’m Working On

I’ve been noticing quite a few other people and even entire genres that draw much of their underlying theories from EP. I’m working on articles about:

  • How Neil Strauss, Author of The Game; Erik von Markovik (a.k.a. Mystery), creator/star of VH1’s “The Pickup Artist” and author of The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed; and the rest of the “pickup community” base almost all of their techniques on evolutionary psychology.
  • The Steve Pavlina – Evolutionary Psychology connection

In addition, I’m working on pushing evolutionary psychology farther into the applied areas of:

If you made it this far you have to be looking for an angle on lifestyle design that’s far from the all too common “5 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of the Dark” style blogs out there. Here’s where to Get Free Updates. Since you probably took the musician section above seriously and now refuse to pay attention to anyone without fans, here’s what some respectable people have said about/to me:

  • Lifestyle designers, entrepreneurs: Follow [Andrew] & read his blog… It’s seriously smart.” -David Walsh of muselife.com
  • I really, really, really like (non-sexually) this guy = @evolvify check Andrew’s blog.” -Derek Johanson (Also listed me in his Favorite Blogs of the Moment)
  • Why you should check this blog out: Andrew livesaboard a sailboat, runs an ad agency and is on a quest to explore moreof planet earth than anyone in history using only human, wind, andsolar power.” -Corbett Barr (from 44 Creative and Adventurous Bloggers You Should Know)
  • My fiance doesn’t want me to hang out with you anymore.” -An Ex-Girlfriend 

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A closer look at the guys »

  1. Ara 15 years ago

    Right. Reading this made me have a million questions, internal comments of a "nuh uh" nature followed by "actually…", and "well then I've scored relationship wise". Later, thoughts of "what if…" came along and my last thought was that I wish we could go for coffee or beer and go deeper in the subject, my perspective/experiences vs. your studies. Although not necessarily, I think that the lack of direct real time responses would break the flow of communication… no?

    • Andrew 15 years ago

      Hey Ara, Yeah… I would prefer discussing this stuff over tasty beverages. For some reason, I have a sudden craving for a club sandwich and coffee at that Cuban place. But since we're probably not going to be on Via Argentina at the same time soon… We'll have to adapt.

      I'm especially interested in your thoughts since you're a victim of the English accent. 🙂

      Did you notice that Google Maps added the streets in PTY? Not that anybody knows the streets anyway, but I thought it was kinda cool.

  2. Sarah 15 years ago

    This makes me wonder if anyone's done a study regarding whether women on hormonal birth control are less likely to cheat, and if they do still cheat, if their mate selection choices are different. (Hormonal birth control eliminates that monthly ovulational hormonal shift, thus it would seem logical to conclude within the confines of this theory that it would alter incidence rates and/or selection choices). Hmmm. Very interesting.

    • NomadicNeil 15 years ago

      I haven't read those specific studies Andrew, but I've read about a study that basically says that women that are on birth control pills become attracted to men they would otherwise not like. When they come off birth-control pills they go back to their original state. They've done this by asking women to smell the sweat of men. Women are most attracted to the sweat of men who have the genes that best complements their own. This is thrown out of wack by birth control pills.

      • Andrew 15 years ago

        That scent attraction study sounds super familiar, but I think I saw it referenced to something other than birth control. Interesting. Let me know if you bump into it.

  3. James NomadRip 15 years ago

    It's a fascinating subject, and it is all tied together to most of what us monkey-people do. Most people would never admit that those PUA guys really have a huge leg up on basic human psychology and most of what has been practiced since psyche was a field, but they sure do.

    That last quote had me choking on my drink. 😀

    • Andrew 15 years ago

      There was a Dr. Phil episode about some of these guys. When they asked the women in the audience who would be offended by their tactics, the initial response was that about 50% would. By the end of the segment after Dr. Phil broke it down, he asked the audience again and almost zero objected.

      Now… the stuff in the video doesn't closely relate to EP, but it's a great example about how people's opinions shift when they understand the underlying structure of things.

      In this clip, the two responses are at about 5:50 and 7:19
      [youtube jNAi1Lso1IU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNAi1Lso1IU youtube]

    • Dave Doolin 15 years ago

      Most people don't "enjoy" the success those PUA guys have.
      My recent post Static Versus Dynamic Websites – Operational, Informational, Interactional

  4. Derek 15 years ago

    And now Andrew's girlfriend wants to cheat on him with me because he used me as social proof.

    I had a communications professor in college studying 'group theory', and one aspect he was looking at was bands, and why we like them so much. In a nut shell, his idea was that music is a communication, and when a band plays together they're communicating with each other, and with their audience. And we all know girls drop their panties for guys that are the best communicators.

    And, it's got to have something to do with how the musician makes her feel. She experiences tons of emotions listening to the band, so by the association principle, she'll attach those emotions to the band member.

    Man, I'm glad you're writing about this stuff because it fascinates me. At the moment I'm exploring the direct correlation of EP to marketing. Good F*ing article.

    • Andrew 15 years ago

      I don't know if I buy the communications angle, but I may very well wake up in the middle of the night and have an epiphany because of it.

      The emotional connection has to be a factor. For me, the question would be what levels the various inputs play in that mix. If the band was playing in an empty venue or garage, the emotional stimulation would probably be less… but would it be less linearly, or exponentially?

      I'm working on the marketing correlation as well. I was super excited for a few days about writing an actual book made out of paper and ink and everything. Then I found out that Geoffrey Miller is already in progress on one and lost my pitch angle. I have some catching up to do.

  5. Ash 15 years ago

    Okay, *deep breath*

    This is going to require numbering.

    1. What I like about this theory, based on the interpretation you've presented, is its search to identify and explain underlying psychological COMMONALITIES among the human race, which, in my opinion, deserves much greater attention than the ever-popular, let's-examine-all-the-ways-we-are-different-from-one-another-and-then-hate-each-other-for-those-differences. Throw in a douche-bag for good measure. So, two points from the get-go.

    2. "The more immediate implications are that morals, culture, and society are artificial layers painted over our true nature." For me, this was the most salient point of the article – while the rest certainly proved worthwhile, I think that the practical piece is what interests me most…how, if at all, can we apply something like this?

    3. That said, I'm interested in two things. The first is what you said related to why peacock feathers are desirable contrary to natural selection. "Only the individuals capable of wasting energy on the growth of cumbersome, easily recognizable feathers could afford to taunt the economy required by strict natural selection." This instantly reminded me of cultural preferences for body type, and the select cultures in the world that regard heavy set women as the societal ideal. I read an article that discussed force feeding a 4 year old girl 14 gallons of camel's milk a day, and if she vomited, she'd be beaten. Cruelty aside, the ideal set forth sounds like it's more in line with the EP theories than the ideals we currently have here in the United States. That raises two questions for me: a) If this were the case, would the implication be that American males, for example, are actually genetically attracted to larger females, but suppress that attraction as a result of widespread social constructions regarding the ultimate in female beauty, i.e. thin is in? b) Assuming the above question held water, then that speaks volumes about the sheer power that social constructs actually have over us – way more than we could ever imagine. (Scary, when you think about how many ways this could actually be applied.)

    Last but not least, here's a random but related thought: Why is it that we are attracted to tanned skin, when, in reality, that is actually just radiation damage..which doesn't exactly cater to natural selection. But what about sexy selection? How would this fit?

    4. The second thing I was interested in was also in relation to the power of social constructs. You made this point: "Any indicator of genetic variance is highly valuable." This actually frames racism in a positive light; the term only gains its negative connotation through social constructivism. (I can't get enough of social constructs.) Furthermore, it would serve to debunk any douchebags that try and promote racism as an innate trait. Sure, we can see the color differences, but the attachments that get assigned to those different colors are 100% fabricated, in my opinion.

    The only other thing I'm going to say is this:

    I've decided that clearly there was a huge nerd conspiracy going on. Technology was invented by nerds so eventually the world would become less and less dependent upon physical labor, ultimately reducing the effects of natural selection. That way, females would be forced to rely on their emotional attachments as more of a basis for selecting a mate than a biological pull. 😉

    Fantastic article, Andrew. Thanks for making me think this evening!

    • Andrew 15 years ago

      1. I didn't realize it, but you're right. Thanks for pointing that out. In undergrad, I must have spent every social science class debating everyone about their incessant need to draw lines between everything. EP totally levels the playing field. It's hard to tell from the surface level stuff I wrote in the post, but it also does a total switcheroo on gender roles. Since so many divisions are hammered into our minds by the cultural milieu, it's refreshing to be able to question social constructivism from a more fundamental level that isn't myth-based.

      2. This is the part that ties the idea into the original intent of this site. The applications of this are still in very early stages of development. EP remained largely the dark until almost the 90's. That should have been the 1890's, but… at least history left something new for us to consider!

      3. I'll put some thought into that article, but it deviates from the norm. Studies indicate that men across a range of cultures generally prefer a low waist to hip ratio (Singh, 1993). Due to research in fertility clinics, it's also know that there's a relationship between low waist to hip ratio and higher fertility. So… Men's beauty preferences actually line up with physical cues without consciously understanding why. Like you said, "that speaks volumes about the sheer power that social constructs actually have". Perhaps fortunately, it's the 4-year old girl beating culture that's deviated.

      I haven't seen tanning related studies. That one sounds like a cultural influence as well, but it could have a resource fitness cue component in relation to being outdoors as would have been required for survival in ancestral societies. Obviously I'm totally guessing. The emo and goth scenes indicate a strong bias in the opposite direction as well.

      4. This one probably differs depending on long-term or short-term mating preferences. In long-term situations, there's likely a preference for physical similarity to reflect the extreme adherence to familiar group life. Short-term mating opportunities, especially those driven by ovulation, would be different. Also, these tendencies get flipped around in males because of the competition required to mate with the best females. So… EP probably doesn't totally squash every racist argument, but it does put a heavy burden on social constructs.

      Your last point about the shift in physical dependence is an interesting one. How each of us grapple with minds evolved under extremely different conditions than those in which we live is the dilemma. The fascinating part is that the female mind started selecting based on men's minds long before the physical labor paradigm shifted.

      Love the ultra-thought-out comment. Thanks tons!

      • NomadicNeil 15 years ago

        Hey Andrew, this topic is of great personal interest to me. I've read quite a lot around this subjetc. I'll send you an e-mail with some ideas.

        I would also dispute the idea that the 'bigger' girl is the more natural. I think Andrew is right, it's mostly about the hip-waist ratio, quality of hair and hair line (pregnant that are pregnant or have been have a slightly receded hair line), firmness etc. Sure in Africa they like bigger women because there are so many people starving.

        The fact is that the average woman is attractive, dare I say hot, to the average man. Duh, how could we have kept reproducing for thousands of years if that weren't the case!

        And by average I don't mean what is now average in North America, UK and Australia (and any other country that likes fast-food). I mean the average woman from say, Brazil, Northern and Eastern Europe, Asia.

        When you get a tan you are actually getting more melanin in your skin to protect you from the sun. Getting a nice tan means you are less likely to get skin cancer.

        • Andrew 15 years ago

          The point about the average man and average woman being seriously attracted to each other is an important perspective. It's easy to get caught up discussing the theoretical top of the gene pool and ignore the reality that reproduction isn't a scarce resource in most modern cultures. That fact has an interesting impact on evolution.

          I'm not so sure on the tan = skin cancer protection point. I've also read that the damage that increases sun cancer risk is the most intense during the transition between pasty ass white and tan. That said, I've kind of started tuning that out because it seems to be one of those popular science topics like diets that has a new (and contradictory) study out every 5 minutes.

  6. Andrew 15 years ago

    The point about the average man and average woman being seriously attracted to each other is an important perspective. It's easy to get caught up discussing the theoretical top of the gene pool and ignore the reality that reproduction isn't a scarce resource in most modern cultures. That fact has an interesting impact on evolution.

    I'm not so sure on the tan = skin cancer protection point. I've also read that the damage that increases sun cancer risk is the most intense during the transition between pasty ass white and tan. That said, I've kind of started tuning that out because it seems to be one of those popular science topics like diets that has a new (and contradictory) study out every 5 minutes.

  7. Dave Doolin 15 years ago

    Oh boy… where to start…

    In short, yes.

    I have a shelf of books on this topic. I've read dozens (at least) academic papers on it. I've written on the topic (pen name of course). James Nomad hints at it, I'll go even further: the community is way ahead of the science. I could go even further than that… but without formal credentials that would be too much.

    But none of that really matters.

    What matters is I have game on the ground.

    Here's a little test you can run. Ask a woman about Dr Phil:
    You: "Dr Phil, tell me what you like about him"
    Her: "Blah blah blah sensitive interesting etc etc etc"
    You: "Would you sleep with him?"
    Her: "Ewwww"

    Try it.

    My recent post Static Versus Dynamic Websites – Operational, Informational, Interactional

    • Andrew 15 years ago

      Side Note: Credentials Schmredentials.

      I don't think anyone is going to argue that the PUA community knows more about pick-up than the science of evolutionary psycology in practical terms. It's a matter of perspective… Pick-up isn't limited to EP in pick-up. EP isn't limited to pick-up in EP. I'm putting EP in front because I think its applications in other areas is going to explode… and I think that's cool.

      My point in writing this article isn't to convince people that pick-up works or that they should try it. This site definitely isn't a how to become a PUA site. I simply chose it as example because I wanted to introduce the topic of evolutionary psychology and pick-up happens to be the most well known application in pop-culture. Admittedly, it isn't known very well by pop culture. It certainly isn't understood en masse.

      Dr. Phil is old and unattractive in terms of reproductive fitness. He possesses some of the value cues discussed above, but also so many negative reproductive value cues that using him in your proposed test is too easy. There are limits to this. I'm trying to think of another example to try that will prove the point, but as soon as you start taking away the age and/or negative physical cues, Dr. Phil starts to get attractive pretty quickly.

      Also, asking someone what they'd do and observing what they do when presented with a situation yield totally different results. This is especially true regarding sexual choices because of the potentially intense social ramifications of verbally expressing sexual intent. This is especially true of women because of the reproductive investment differential leading to increased social emphasis on them making good sexual choices without deviation to low quality mates.

      I don't want to make it sound like the point you're making with the test isn't valid. I just think that most people will read it and get your point without having to try it. It would be more fun if it was harder, but yielded the same results. Suggestions for running a similar test with a apparently more attractive guy? I also wonder how the experiment would change depending on who's asking the question. If a girlfriend is asking her girlfriend, the results would have to be more honest.

      Thanks for the comment(s) Dave!

      • Dave Doolin 14 years ago

        Dr Phil old: Maybe. Maybe not. Consider Jack Nicholson.

        I agree very much with: "asking someone what they'd do and observing what they do when presented with a situation yields totally different results."

        But not completely. There's a trust issue involved. I've found the best way to get the "real deal" is when the discussion is completely anonymous. The truth emerges when there is little risk of social consequences.

        Excellent discussion.

        My recent post Forget Resolutions 2010: Less Talk More Action (& Week in Review!)

  8. David Foust 15 years ago

    First comment on your blog. No addition besides i like what you have to say. (I'll try to get more in depth in future posts)
    My recent post Purple Lights: A Stripper Adventure

  9. @brandyphilip 14 years ago

    Tangent: British, European, and North American women previous to the 20th Century did all sorts of things… like apply lead white powder to their skin… to appear more pale. Oh yeah, it killed them… but… wow, were they pale before they died. Only the lower and working classes were "tanned" from their exposure to the sun while they were working out of doors. Before the 1920's made outdoor sports like tennis and golf popular, being outdoors without proper sun protection was not popular or socially desirable. After the cultural shift, it became a *positive* status symbol. A tan suddenly identified you as a member of the leisure classes who can afford to behave like any number of people in a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Still, I don't believe that anyone goes into a tanning booth to get a "farmer's tan". You wear a bathing suit to mimic the "I can afford to go somewhere warm and sit on the beach" tan. We are still divided into social groups based on clearly developed… tanlines.

    A quick glance at any drug store's skincare section will reveal a quantity of skin bleaching creams. This reveals a different contemporary view of tanned skin in which there is still a definite premium still placed on "pale". Like Andrew said, there are also social groups like Emos and Goths, that exist side-by-side with the cult of tanning. The first opposing group is the direct product of a tangle of socially-produced racial identifiers, and the other two are strongly counter-cultural social groups. This all goes off an entirely different tangent of cultural signs, but I needed to interject it here to show that there are contemporary groups interlaced and in direct opposition to the group that is obsessed with "getting a nice tan". Primarily, finding a tan to be attractive is a social thing and does not solve any biological problem. It is not an adaptation, it is only a cultural socioeconomic sign.

    So: the tan is like the "thin is in" thing… it makes contemporary people in a certain cultural group "read" you as a member of the leisure classes who live healthy lifestyles doing fancy things out of doors. You are lithe and tan = you are attractive and desirable. In almost all European-based societies previous to the 20th Century, however, you would have been "read" as a malnourished person who labored out of doors. "Tan" only functions as relation between signifier and signified in a pretty clearly defined contemporary cultural group.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled discussions. Hopefully dealing with Andrew's topic. 🙂

  10. Andrew 14 years ago

    Oh how I wish i could do a "ba da… ching" drum impression every time someone reads "clearly developed… tanlines." Hilarious.

    The tanning/bleaching issue touches on about five hundred different things. There's an evolutionary and a cultural argument for the entire range of skin tones…. There's an evolutionary and a cultural argument for skin tone manipulation. There's a positive evolutionary and a positive cultural argument for skin tone darkening as an indicator of surplus time and resources to pursue outdoor leisure activities. There's a negative evolutionary and a negative cultural argument for skin tone darkening because of an indicator of time scarcity and resource scarcity requiring outdoor labor.

    Before we're all finished with this thread, I do expect us to have obliterated racism and created a cultural utopia in which both tanning and not-tanning make us all sing and dance. Fair enough?

    • Brandy Philip 14 years ago

      If we all bring a 1.75 liter bottle of red wine or "the really insanely huge" bottle of Maker's Mark, I think this could be accomplished. For at least three hours. Six if we all bring Maker's Mark. Twelve if we can't all get a taxi. If Stalin shows up with a few cases of vodka, we'll have to do the five-year-plan–some of those only lasted for three years–but it's okay: we will all be off in search of french fries within hours. Singing to each other according to their needs, and dancing with each other according to their ability. Rules optional. (Dancing optional, as well. I've seen some people "dance" at weddings and this must not be encouraged.)

      About halfway through this "cultural utopia" I suspect that we'll all find out if Andrew's title is true or not. Andrew didn't specify, but I have a feeling that old dictator with the case of Stoli will not be lonely. So, Andrew… what about politicians? How DO the great silverbacked apes fare in this? Clinton and Obama (we/a)re not sex symbols because women want them as boyfriends. There is a "power" category you have left out. Is this the *communications* angle that guy was talking about several people up from here? They're not like Dr. Phil… but they're a similar age group… and they are *communicators*.

      P.S. I have never before had to question if the period should come before or after an asterisk. This has been fun.

      • Andrew 14 years ago

        Yeah, there’s something to the politician thing. But I don’t think most guys sit around and wonder if their girlfriend is going to cheat on them with the Governor or the President. The short answer is that I think it has less to do with communication and more to do with the particular blend of power and celebrity. The allure of Clinton and Obama’s was certainly less before they were elected as president. National elections are social proof on a massive scale. Maybe they got elected because of being great communicators, but I don’t think that’s the root of the attraction.

        You raised an interesting point about booze. The beer goggles theory deserves its own post though. Since it’s 1pm on a Saturday and I have a mystery headache, I probably shouldn’t write my “Ode to Whiskey” for another hour or three.

    • Ash 14 years ago

      This reply is $#&@*! hilarious.

      • Ash 14 years ago

        Oops, it didn’t thread my comment. I was referring to where you discuss the implications of tan versus non skin and how by the end of the thread we’re going to have eradicated racism. HA.

  11. Andrew 14 years ago

    Rationalization is definitely an important strategy. Plausible deniability comes into play at some point as well.

    But um… It might be in your best interest to not exclude Ara, Sarah, and Brandy from the girl category.

    Now that you mention it… I am kinda thirsty…

    • Brandy Philip 14 years ago

      Actually, add me to the "sexy librarian" category not the "girl" category… although I am wearing black nail polish with holographic sparkles at the college reference desk today.

  12. Matt Muller 14 years ago

    Hey! Many years ago I was an exchange student in Japan and was ten times the ladies man I had been before at home in the states. It was fun, but I also felt like the women didn't like me for 'me', but rather as a passing fancy. I called it being anonymously famous. Your article helped me understand why. Thanks

  13. Mike Norris 13 years ago


    Great stuff here. I'm looking forward to seeing EP applied to business/brand development and sales.

  14. Wyat 13 years ago


  15. David Lovell 13 years ago

    Nice one, Andrew!
    – just read this. Fascinating stuff. As a Brit living in Oregon, with the accent thing, my first thought was, “damm, I should get into music.” but fuck-my-luck, I’m more of the drummer type.

  16. MissChievousRN 13 years ago

    as a 40 something woman who has gone thru my share of personal evolutionary phases within the repressive social constructs of midwestern christian society, i have found that the more i accept, embrace, and understand my primal instincts and universal truths, the happier i am as a person and the more i understand others.
    great blog, as usual…
    intellect is sexy;)

  17. primalmovers 13 years ago

    Brilliant post Andrew!, so glad I cam across this, as it is a topic quite close to my heart for a number of reasons!. Stemming mainly from being he new guy in the post-code, to the not so new guy, to the not so novel guy… I´ve been trying to work out a strategy for making a blog article on the psychology of selection processes based upon novelty vs. normality and the inherent dumping process based upon some new logic that even women cannot explain. I just don´t know where to start!, but you have given me some ideas, and I like your style a lot!. I think this thread has opened a box of worms, I´ll keep on working on my piece in the jigsaw, not that I reckon I´ll find a solution!.
    Cheers, keep up the good work! Tom

  18. soahc 13 years ago

    When I was in high school I used to hang out sometimes with a guy a few years ahead of me. He got laid a lot by many women, and was notorious for it. I looked up to him and tried to figure out what it was bout him that the ladies liked so much, so I could emulate that.

    He really never accepted me as a friend or peer, in fact he picked on me a little and even tried to steal one of my two (brief) girlfriends I had in high school (I was a virgin).

    Anyways, I was jealous of his popularity with women (never cared much about male-male peer status), and I would try and cut him down sometimes. One time I was talking shit to him and he simply asked me "How many women have you had sex with?" That was his ace card.

    Sure, you can theorize all day and think you have women figured out, but when it comes down to it, how many of them have you fucked? From an evolutionary perspective, this seems like the ultimate proof.

    Since then I went on to have sex with many women. I lost count. I'm not proud of it. Many were desperate women who probably would have slept with almost any guy. But also many were women I managed to attract. Some were women who chose me, and didn't make me work for it at all.

    Now as I get older I am not so much in to having sex with easy women who are more desperate or damaged psychologically in some way. I want to match up with an intelligent, articulate, genetically fit woman.

    But I think what this comes down to also is value. High value and low value. A high value woman, with fitness, socialization, intelligence, and beauty, probably will not feel much urge to have anonymous liasons with hyper-masculine loggers or construction workers, when she can meet one anywhere who is not only masculine but intelligent.

    Even when she is ovulating, I just can't see her doing it. The highest value women are in New York and LA where there is a host of high value men with more going for them in addition to their masculine traits.

    So this might be another variable. The value a woman at peak ovulation seeks in a man does not have to stop at simply hyper-masculine. It can go beyond that, and from an evolutionary perspective, it seems logical. Genetic fitness includes intelligence too. Brains and brawn will trump brawn without brains. I have heard bodybuilders who's brains swim in androgenic soup talking philosophy, so one does not necessarily cancel out the other.

    Oh, and by the way, if anyone wonders what the cassanova at my high school looked like, all they need to do is look up a picture of the actor Taye Diggs. It was his little brother.

  19. Yasmine 13 years ago

    Interesting. What about the girlfriends/wives of these very sexually attractive specimens?

    It seems I married the person I would have wanted to cheat with! I'm originally Lebanese and I married an Egyptian who is very well-built, very much admired by most women AND men he meets, there's the accent of course, and he is a very original artist (photographer/designer/writer/etc.) not to mention that he is very smart.

    Now, the "rub" is I actually, from time to time, find myself very attracted to men who have the quality he lacks which is the ability to… well, "take good care" of me? As in, show extreme interest in keeping me happy, men who are usually friends but who I can't help but be attracted sexually to because of their strong care for me and those are men who are far more suitable as family men (we already have kids, by the way and he's not really family man material).

    I'm not really one who cares for social constructs. I live in a Muslim Arab society where all norms are against my social practices (or should I say vice versa), but I was wondering if social constructs could have anything to do with this attraction toward more "stable" men or if it's merely about one missing "for the children" quality and is it strange that this attraction is not platonic, but actually very sexual too?

    This is the first time I read about evolutionary psychology, very interesting stuff.

  20. Peter Davis 13 years ago

    1 word.. the coolidge effect..
    i doubt it's very much about the 'value' of the man/men a woman wants to have sex with.. i suspect it's about trying spread the genes in order for them to survive..
    and i suspect it goes both ways.. men and women both cheat..

    "she is genetically predisposed to not only reproduce, but also to reproduce with the highest quality DNA possessing male she can get her"
    i'm not sure how true this is.. or at least how much it matters.. until lately.. humans didn't have a pick of the crop of mates.. when we came accross an opportunity.. our 'reward centers' would make us wanna spread our genes.. there simply wasn't many opportunities compared to now, so we are programmed to take what we can get.. has anyone else seen the stunning girl cheat with a douch?

    • Andrew 13 years ago

      "until lately.. humans didn't have a pick of the crop of mates..
      All animals, humans included, tend to assort by aggregate mate value in any size group. Increasing the size of the group increases the fidelity of the matching, but it occurs in small groups as well.

      when we came accross an opportunity.. our 'reward centers' would make us wanna spread our genes.. there simply wasn't many opportunities compared to now"
      What you call 'reward centers' are not indiscriminate. Attraction is necessary to activate them in men and women, but particularly in women. Women don't exhibit a heuristic tendency to haphazardly spread their genes.

      so we are programmed to take what we can get
      If by "we" you mean "men". See parental investment theory for why this doesn't apply symmetrically to men and women. Long-story short, women's much higher inherent biological cost in pregnancy and lactation give them a very different mating strategy than men.

      • Jayne 13 years ago

        I'm glad you mentioned pregnancy and lactation, because I feel that this post only considers young childless women when you say women. Which is fair enough, because those are generally what girlfriends are, and you ARE talking about why/when girlfriends cheat….

        anyways I wanted to offer my n=1.
        My boyfriend and I broke up, and not long after I found out I was pregnant. I hadn't slept with anyone else in that window, and actually didn't have any strong desires to sleep with anyone UNTIL i was about 20 weeks pregnant. The only thing holding me back from going wild with any guy off the street was the fact that I thought it was inappropriate. I did try to sleep with my ex, but he wasn't interested. I can't understand why my hormones and body would be so hell bent on sex at that particular time? It's of zero biological use….. maybe its to ensure there is a male around to provide/protect postnatally?

        So anyway, then he moved back to the US (I'm Australian), I gave birth to my daughter, and had absolutely no interest in sex at all ever. I think this is because I breastfeed her and it alters women's hormone levels/ratios to space pregnancies further. Also not breastfeeding makes your body think your baby might have died. The only times in the last 2 years that I have wanted sex was when we have travelled to the US to see him, which has been twice for 3-4 weeks each time.
        Even when I'm ovulating, the desire is just not that compelling. Except for in his company. Which I find bizarre because he has already proven that he is not a candidate for father of the year. Although, now that I think about it, maybe my body is going along the lines of "I know I can raise a child alone so who cares if he's a good dad or not, and he does provide very healthy and attractive offspring…."

        So in conclusion (haha) I think that all of your theories are awesome and interesting and apply really well to childless women, and that it's a little more complicated (maybe?) when you add kids in the mix.

  21. Peter Davis 13 years ago

    "Multiple studies have confirmed that women are overwhelmingly more likely to cheat on their partner during the two or three days of ovulation"
    this alone shouldn't make her want to cheat.. it should just make her want to have sex(horny)(correlation/cause).. but why does she want another guy? even if her guy is a buff.. dominant.. tall.. straight teeth.. or has more/better resources.. or whatever.. why is she thinking someone else compared to the awesome guy she already has? what i'm saying is.. what about when the women 'take a step down' genetic and resource wise and cheat with a less attractive (in the sense of survival/genes) male? if they have a choice to take a 'step up'.. i think they will.. but it doesn't seem to be a necessary component of cheating..

  22. Peter Davis 13 years ago

    i'm not saying there isn't something to the arguments you present here.. but i think some necessary points are missing..
    reward center/dopamine.. scientists leave a rat with 1 female to party with.. and they are less excited/attracted with every copulation.. even if they're exhausted and aren't into it anymore.. drop a new female in the cage.. dopamine surges.. the guys instantly ready to go(and he does..) and when he's exhausted and over it again.. drop a new female in.. he's raring to go..
    this is the coolidge effect at work..

    • Andrew 13 years ago

      ah yes, i forgot your point about the coolidge effect. the coolidge effect. this article is about women cheating on men, not the converse. i don't disagree with what you've said in this comment, but it just speaks to the ubiquitous availability of potential mating partners when a woman wants to cheat. since men are theoretically 'always' available, a woman may still exercise female mate choice via sexual selection.

  23. baidu 13 years ago

    Check with apple, you should not have any problems as I have many readers who use the ipod.

  24. Putri Sarinande 13 years ago

    first of all, i ike this one: and Why She’ll Never Admit It 😀
    next, i'm still on my way (quite takes longer time – because i guess i have that ADHD – LOL) on Reading That "Killing Freud". oh come on people, don't get Too Freud 😀
    last one is, it's from the chat among the ladies last night *on a cafe, with beers and cigarettes and lotta fun, surely*
    what was that Last One? it is, female (perhaps) is naturaly born to serve, or else: dedicate – so, female cheating sounds like such a huge mistakes while male cheating sounds like, mistakes happen anytime anywhere; which also means, just get it.. FYI, we were, Indonesian. sometimes that matter 😀

    dunno what else, so – please continue the discussion 😀

  25. Jay 13 years ago

    Once a woman has “chosen” a mate wouldn’t there be a theory of mind component for the man? He would have to observe her cues and take action or coordinate with her. If a woman was to cheat and keep it a secret for reasons Andrew posted, then for her to “succeed” the man would have to understand the situation. I think the process of inferring the thoughts and motivations of others (women) would have been important for men because women tend to be much more subtle and less aggressive in communication. Or are those traits cultural/social adaptations?

  26. PuaHate 12 years ago

    The author has been reading too much pickup artist material, and devolded into being shallow social robot.
    Case dismissed.

  27. Author
    Kajee Devan 12 years ago

    So many big words in many "phrase" that could be simplified. I like your theory on why "women" cheat. Women cheat , but what in the world have you been smoking to prove that women would cheat on me (without knowing me )? If I was a "rockstar " (by the way , a rockstart is an artist ) , she will cheat with athlete? See what I just did there :)?
    Hahaha , thanks for the laugh though..

  28. Author
    Leon Fitzroy Dawson 12 years ago

    Admittedly, I began reading this with a mix of both critical, fearful and somewhat angry emotions, with the intent to dismiss your proclomation within the first two paragraph's or so. But admittedly, I was wholly compelled to absorb the entire article with an ever increasing interest. Indeed Evolutionary Psychology is an intriguing topic indeed, and I look forward to reading you write about it again.

  29. Author
    Michelle Oberg 12 years ago

    I have to agree with this, you wont find any bitter lashing out from my perspective. Since going paleo a year ago I have become more in-tune with my bodys natural rhythyms and it is actually noticable to me when I am ovulating. Not by appearance, but thought process. I actually notice the increase in sex drive and attractiveness to people I would otherwise not be interested in. My wonderful husband gets to reap the rewards of a heightened sex drive for that week and I'm sure he could care less if it is some other attractive male in a movie that brought me to that state.

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