Human evolution: A Look Towards the to Past
“Time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe: women!” -Dr. E. Brown (Back to the Future III)
In his work The Origin of Species, Darwin claims that animals choose their sexual partners based on criteria related to survival and reproduction. It is believed that due to evolution, both men and women have developed different attraction mechanisms, so that they will be able to perpetuate the species efficiently. Those mechanisms, which were formed over the course of thousands of years, are still extant today, even though our lifestyle has radically changed.
That is why men tend to agree on many points when they describe what they consider to be attractive women: they are usually young, her features are symmetrical, they have soft skin, and they have more or less the same hip-waist ratio. This is a trace of the evolution of our species, which dates back to an age in which sex was associated exclusively with reproduction. A man can feel attracted to a woman by just looking at her, and thus “biologically sensing” her ability to reproduce.
In those times, women were in a dramatically different position. They had no contraceptives, and when choosing a partner, pregnancy was an important issue. They knew that in those nine months they would be in a vulnerable state. The best way to guarantee their survival was choosing a man that would protect them during that period. Therefore, what she searched for in this man was not just that he had the right genes for their offspring, but also that he had the necessary resources to care for her during pregnancy. Today, there are a number of methods to prevent pregnancy, and women don’t necessarily associate sex with reproduction, but selection mechanisms still work in a similar manner.
We could say that what women evaluate in men is, on the one hand, their position in society (meaning rank, power, social status, and position in the eyes of others), and on the other hand, the resources they possess (in relation to personality, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, wealth, etc.).
However, it doesn’t follow that a rich man will be able to successfully seduce any woman he wants. Working as a coach, I encountered hundreds of wealthy men who had problems seducing women. That is to say that when we refer to social position and resources, we are not talking about being the president of a company, ranking high in the social hierarchy, or being extremely rich. Because of the characteristics of our evolution, women perceive the status and value of men mainly through their behaviour.
In the following chapters we will discuss in depth what kinds of behaviours are more attractive, but for now let us say that a man who shows potential for success is found to be just as attractive as those who are actually successful. What has to be borne in mind is that the potential exhibited by a man will be measured by a woman according to her own set of values and beliefs. What this means is that every woman measures potential in her own way (we will come back to this point in the following chapters).
As we said before, back then women’s choice of a partner was directly related to survival. A woman may also experience sudden feelings of deep attraction, but given our species’ evolutionary history, they usually take longer to decide whether the “investment” is worth it.
One of the mechanisms which can help precipitate that choice is what is known as preselection. If a woman has already rated a certain man as a potential partner, other women will be more willing to consider him as a potential partner. It frequently happens that when a woman enters a relationship with a man, he suddenly becomes more attractive in the eyes of her friends; it is also common for men who are engaged or in a relationship to be found more attractive.
The traces of our evolutionary history could also account for the anxiety and the fear of rejection we experience when we approach an attractive woman. Men of old probably did not have contact with as many women as there are today. Getting rejected by a woman could cause preselection to work against him, and hence dramatically reduce his chances to reproduce. For this reason, many authors consider this issue to be the main cause behind our fear of rejection, also known as approach anxiety.
Nowadays, however, we do not face any real danger if a woman rejects us, there will be no actual danger threatening our lives (unless her boyfriend is a gangster or her family belongs to the mafia). We can simply turn away and search for another woman. But our emotional system does not know this, so we still experience the feeling that for thousands of years helped perpetuate the species.
Now, try to picture one of those moments we see a woman we find attractive. It could happen in a pub or even in a means of public transport. At those moments, we try to come up quickly with something smart to say. Usually, all phrases that come to mind seem silly, so we finally end up rationalizing about why it was not a good time to go talk to her. We feel the full power of approach anxiety working on us.
A very effective technique to help us overcome this feeling and not fall into those rationalizations is the three-second rule which appears in the book Mystery Method. It’s very simple: if we see a girl and we like her, we must start a conversation with her before three seconds elapse. In this way, we prevent the feeling of anxiety from appearing.
There is a very interesting analogy which compares approach anxiety with the feeling we have before jumping into a pool of cold water. Every time we are about to jump into a pool with a temperature we are not used to, we are bothered by even the slightest splash. But after we jump into it a few times, we start to get used to it and enjoy ourselves. The same happens with approach anxiety. The first woman we talk to in a pub (or anywhere for that matter) may make us feel uncomfortable or uneasy, and it may always be so, but once we are in the game, it starts being fun. So, if you want to write your own story, go out and get splashed!