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Looking at Romantic Relationships from an Evolutionary Psychology Perspective

Updated on July 3, 2011

From an evolutionary psychology point of view - one of the primary concerns that humans have is to reproduce, and pass on their genes so as to survive. This concern has different ways of manifesting in the different sexes. In this hub I hope to look at relationships from the lens of evolutionary psychology.

Women have to pick their sexual mates carefully. As they have to ensure that their mate will be committed and able to care for their offspring in the long term. As women have to carry the baby for 9 months before delivering, breastfeed, and play the nurturing role more than man, they need to know that their partner will be capable of providing for them and the child in the long run, lest they have to raise their child single handedly. In the past, in the hunter and gatherer society, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers, as it was easier for mothers to stay with their infants while their husbands would venture off (sometimes for days) in search of food. Thus in evolutionary psychology terms, women tended to look for good providers who could ensure a high chance of survival for their offspring.

Man, on the other hand, are concerned NOT with quality, but with quantity of sexual partners. As men are designed differently without a womb but with many sperm, they are then concerned with finding as many partners as possible to impregnate, with the hopes that they will be able to bear offspring that will survive. In fact, men are often concerned with beauty, as beauty is an indication of how healthy the women is. This would then be a good indicator of the health of his offspring, and its chances of survival.

From this viewpoint, men might get jealous knowing that another guy has the chance of spreading his sperm into his ex-girlfriend instead of him. The thought of someone else bearing offspring with a partner that once belonged to him, (despite the fact that he might have initiated the break up) still gives rise to the possibility that he might lose out on the chance of continuing his line - thus he gets jealous. This also helps us understand why men will be more upset if they found their wives cheating on them, while women would be more jealous if they discovered they their husbands had fallen in love with someone else.

A women will feel more jealous if she finds out that the father of her child has fallen in love with someone else, as this threatens the source of provision for herself and her child. To her, love is a sign of commitment and losing that means that her security in the future is now shaky. It is counted a a big loss, considering the fact that she spent months pregnant with the child, and spent months or even years nurturing and feeding the infant - a huge investment compared to the male.

I hope this hub has given us a different perspective that we can use to understand our relationships and the dynamics that go on between couples.


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    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey Denise,

      Indeed I thought it was one of the more interesting topics in schools which was hub worthy. I love to read your comments, you are always so encouraging!

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey Apostle Jack,

      In evolutionary psychology is when we look at the psychological aspects of evolution.

      Compared to a biological perspective that places more emphasis on the biology (cells, microorganisms...) involved in evolution, a psychologists might come up with theories about mate selection, sexual variation, altruism that involves the thought processes, behaviors and feelings of the organism.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Ahh yes, I recall this info/study when I was doing my undergrad psych degree. It is interesting and amazing stuff how inately we pick our mates. Thanks and rated it useful.

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 6 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      Question:How can psychology be evolutionary? But in response to your question,I think the Flesh rule both ways,each one is caught up on and with the outside.According to the increase.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey Alastar,

      thank you so much for dropping by! It is such an interesting topic, and there is so much research out there that needs to be discovered too.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      There are two books out that explain the latest findings on this topic: 'The Male Brain' and 'The Female Brain.' They support what you've written here. In the male's case the two factors that determine when a man chooses a mate are this: When his 'Lust' and 'Love' bio-chems come into union that's the lady. Of course the 'wander' factors still there. And you couldn't be more correct Charlotte than about a man's jealousy of a straying partner or a woman's anguish with her mate falling in love with another. Both happen and life should go on though.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey Zavala!

      Thank you for dropping by. I will go read your hub now.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      An interesting take on reproductive fitness. I had also written on the subject on my hub:

      There are many fascinating theories regarding mate selection!