Pairing Up People

When we write erotica, it’s a usual given that two people will be attracted to each other strongly enough they end up doing the dirty at some point.  The story is about how and when that attraction came about and the result.  We all know that, but in some erotic stories the “how” seems a far distance from reality.  

It’s difficult for most readers to believe a woman would be so strongly attracted to a man that she entices him into bed as soon as they meet.  It’s also difficult for a reader to believe a woman would accept such a proposal from a man unless she knew him very well and had some feelings for him.  

While most men have probably fantasized about such a relationship, it’s not the norm because women usually aren’t that easy.  They have too much at stake, both physically and emotionally, to hop into bed before knowing the guy is at least a possible mate.  That’s especially true about the fabled “first time” for a woman.  She can only give that once, and she’ll want to be sure it’s with the right man.  

To be believable, that “how” has to seem plausible to readers, and that means the “how” has to mesh with that the reader knows as the “why”.

So, what is that “why” that really causes attraction?

Many noted scholars of the subject maintain it’s just biology, that instinct bred into us over the millennia of human existence to pick a mate based on perceived fertility and competency to provide for and nurture children to adulthood.  To them, selection of a partner is just Nature acting to continue the species and has nothing at all to do with our logical minds.

According to this theory, men evaluate all women for clear skin, the width of their  hips relative to their waists, and the size of their breasts.  Clear skin and a small waist indicate good health, wide hips infer the woman’s ability to carry children to term, and large breasts will surely produce more than enough milk to guarantee those children are well fed and grow up strong and healthy.  

Men evaluate women by age as well, and as one might expect from the biological theory, will usually select young, fertile women over older women who are either approaching infertility or have already reached that age.  The selection does change somewhat as a man ages, but usually not until a man reaches the age where his own fertility is failing.

Also according to this theory, women evaluate all men for physical stature and confidence so they’ll be well protected and will always have food.  That allows them to produce as many children as possible.  In the days when we first became humans, both were critical for women.  Unlike almost all other mammals, pregnant women become more and more restricted in the activities they can perform as the pregnancy progresses.  They needed a man to protect them and bring them meat to supply the extra protein they needed.

The theory says women evaluate the age of potential partners as well, though the evaluation changes with the age of the women.  For a young, fertile woman, a very young man may appear to be able to sire many children, but not have the experience to be a good protector and provider.  An older man may have that experience, but probably not the fertility.  For these reasons, fertile women will tend to select men their age or a little older than themselves.  

Women nearing the end of their fertility may choose a younger but successful man.  These women can already provide for themselves and do not want to wait for the reduced sperm count of an older man to finally cause pregnancy.  They are racing against their biological clock and want to be fertilized now, not later.  That the man is successful as well as fertile means he will support them when they can not.

Women past the age of fertility will usually select experience over youth as the protection and care factors override the need to reproduce.

There is an excellent YouTube video by Jordan Peterson where he details the biological reasons for this behavior and some of the consequences.  Data shows that fertile women tend to marry men who are four or five years older and with intelligence equal to or greater than their own.  The reason is women are biologically hard-wired to be cared for while they produce and raise children.  They will actively seek out a man with sufficient virility to accomplish fertilization, but they will not accept a man they will end up supporting.

Men tend to seek out and marry women four to five years younger because they have more years left for bearing children, and hence present a greater probability the man can pass on his genes.  They also prefer women of equal or lower intelligence because that allows them to assume the biologically traditional role of leader and protector.  This isn’t to say that intelligent men favor dumb women.  The supposed appeal of the “dumb blonde” is just a myth.  Men will usually pick women with intelligence near to theirs.  

In the last twenty or so years, these biological drives have clashed with the so-called feminist belief that women should pursue careers just as actively as do men.  The women who succeed in this endeavor tend to be very intelligent, driven, and dominant, and therein lies the rub.  Since the percentage of the male population that is both single and very intelligent is very small, the available pool of potential mates for these extremely successful women is also very small.  Another complicating factor is that by virtue of the attributes that contribute to their success, such women can be very intimidating to the very men they want to attract.  

Men are also of the belief that these very successful women are flooded with potential suitors.  They believe they won’t have a chance so they don’t try.

The result is many successful women pass into their thirties and forties still without partners.

According to the biological theory, the ultimate goal of both sexes is proliferation of their genes, and the process, though mostly an unconscious one, is very methodical.  The romantics among us would say it’s a mystical mental process called “chemistry” or “love” that makes the decision. There is no recognition of the desire to pass on one’s genes, but there is a very strong feeling this person is the person one wants to be with more than any other person.  

It can happen, as those romantics are fond of describing, “at first sight”, or it may develop over time, but either way, something triggers the mind to say, “this is the one”.  That “something” is like scent – it can’t be seen or touched, but it is there and can be detected by the mind, well, unless humans do emit pheromones and the scent can be unconsciously detected.

The biological theory makes logical sense especially when one considers how humans lived when we were as much prey as predator.  Life spans weren’t very long and the dangers were many, so replicating our genes was a primary concern.  Survival of humanity depended upon having as many children as possible and raising them to be adults.  A strong instinct to select the best partners to that end was a necessity.  

Anthropologists would argue that this instinctual selection of mates is still in use by humans today, and is evidenced by several indicators.

In spite of the anorexic models used by fashion designers, when women’s faces are hidden, most men favor wide hips, small waists, and large breasts.  The explanation for this choice is that faces are important, but take secondary position to body type.  A man can live with a woman who isn’t gorgeous, but not with a woman who can’t produce children.  

Faces do enter into the decision.  When men are shown only faces, they tend to prefer women with child-like features such as a small nose, large eyes, and rounded chin.  That preference isn’t as strong a deciding factor as body type, but a woman displaying both is more desirable than a woman displaying only one.  

The drive to reproduce is still present in modern man.  Even though a man is firmly attached to one partner, he will continue to evaluate all other women for the characteristics that indicate her suitability as a mate.  In spite of the social mores that dictate he remain faithful to one woman, some men will attempt to couple with as many women as possible just as our distant ancestors no doubt did.  The advent of reliable birth control reduces the likelihood of passing on his genes, but the biological motivation is still there.

Women in today’s situation seldom have to be concerned about becoming prey to some wild animal.  As a result, they tend to be more pragmatic than men in many instances and will consciously select a mate based upon income potential or social status over physical stature. The biological drive for virility and protection is still there though.  Women still fantasize about that tall, strong man on the movie and TV screen.  It’s the instinct that was passed on to them by their mothers and grandmothers.  

That’s also the same reason for the attraction of some women to the “bad boy” type of man.  “Bad boys” are confident and make their own rules, something that millennia ago could have meant the difference between food or no food and living or dying.  The fact such behavior is not condoned in today’s society has no impact upon generation after generation of biology.

As for the “love” thing, does it happen instantly or develop over time?  Is it like it frequently used to be where couples married to share the work of life and “love” developed only after years, not weeks or months?  Is that really love, or just feeling comfortable and secure with a spouse?

The evolutionary theory applies very well to heterosexual individuals, but what about individuals who favor other relationships?  Is the attraction between gay men or lesbian women based upon “love” or just a vestige of the need to go through the mechanics of reproduction even though there can be no naturally produced offspring?  

What about the “cuckold” lifestyle?  Do those men really want their wife to be “bred” by another man?  Does the wife really fantasize about carrying a child that’s not her husband’s or is she just indulging his fantasy?  Psychologists maintain that a cuckold is playing out a variant of masochism, but is it really his fantasy, or is he just playing along with her fantasy involving being taken by men stronger and more virile than her husband?

The development of relationships is at the very heart of any type of story involving two people.  I would be interested in reading what some readers believe relative to the questions that have stumped each and everyone of us at some time or another.  Do you believe it’s love, or just our genes driving us?  Are we smart enough now to overcome biology in favor of love, or are we really just deluding ourselves?