BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
14th of July 2014

Why Do Women Want These Things In Men?

Introduction:

Tucker and Dr. Miller talk about the evolutionary psychology behind what women find attractive, i.e., why women pick the traits they pick. Dr. Miller explains what sexual selection is and how it impacts female mating choices, the dating issues of a 17-year old hunter gatherer, and intra-gender competition.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • You are the direct descendant of the minority of men who managed to reproduce throughout history.
  • Women’s evolutionary pressures created their current mating preferences.
  • The universal female preferences – height, strength, health, emotional stability, emotional maturity, intelligence, kindness, status etc. – all map on to what a 17 year old hunter-gatherer woman would look for in a mate.
  • These preferences are as much about finding good attributes as they are about avoiding poor attributes (neediness, creepiness, social ineptitude and so on).

Links from this episode

Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
Alright so we’ve already covered basically what women want, how they think, kind of understand their mindset and their preferences, right? Which is obviously the first thing guys think they need. But I think most guys don’t really understand that these preferences are not arbitrary, they didn’t just, you know, women didn’t just get together and decide “Hey we’re only going to like muscular guys and to hell, you know, with other types of dudes.” So let’s talk about – just really quickly – what the evolutionary background is that sort of mating occurs in, you know what I’m talking about? There’s been three and a half billion years of life and all that kind of stuff, let’s just get a broad overview from your perspective of this sort of hierarchy of how you come down to understand mating.

Geoff:
The key thing for young men is just to realize: to you, life seems new and mysterious and confusing, but life’s been going on a really long time – three billion years of organic evolution. You’re the outcome of a very, very long sequence of millions of generations of organisms finding mates, courting them, choosing them, reproducing. All the genes that end up in your body are the outcome of that process. All the preferences that women have, as you say, Tucker, they don’t fall from the sky, they’re not arbitrary, they’re not just invented by culture – they’re there for a reason.

Tucker:
Right. So three and a half billion years of life, right? About 1.2 billion years of sexual reproduction give or take, we think, at least a billion, right? About half a billion years, 500 million years, of mate choice vision and hearing. Literally animals selecting other mates through sort of the way humans do. Seventy million years of mammals living in groups, social groups the way primates do. About four million years of quasi-human-like hunter-gatherers, australopithecines…

Geoff:
Yeah, upright, walking around, two legs…

Tucker:
Exactly. About 120 to 150 thousand years as modern homo sapien sapiens, right? Ten thousand years, maybe even a little bit more, of civilization – which includes marriage, money, agriculture, etc. Then 100 years – actually maybe even less at this point – 70 to 50 years of contraception, feminism, modern media, bars, things like that. Right, so you’re talking like literally this massive, you know, the world the guy interacts in is the tiniest, tiniest tip of the iceberg and there’s 99.9% of it below the ocean and most guys have no idea that it exists. I think the main point that you’re making, and correct me if I’m wrong, is: understand that you are one tiny data point in this massive array of information and your job is not to figure out why everything serves your needs; it’s figuring out what the system that you operate in is, so that you can get out of it what you want, right?

Geoff:
Yeah, it’s just like to navigate through space you need a map of the surrounding area; to navigate through human mating you need a map that goes back in time, you need a time map of where you are now, how did you get here, how did women get where they are. Civilization is just a tiny little veneer on top of millions of years of instinct. But, most guys misunderstand prehistory, they misunderstand the instincts. They don’t really have an accurate picture of, you know, caveman life, and that’s a problem. They think “Oh, well, the instincts can only do this or that, and then everything else that happens it’s all complicated…” is a new invention. No, no, no. Mating, for humans, for all social primates, has been complicated already for tens of millions of years.

Tucker:
So let’s deal with one thing I think a lot of guys don’t understand, a lot of people don’t understand: Most people, when they think of evolution, they think of natural selection, meaning that like either you get the food or you are food. That makes total sense, people usually understand that. What people don’t really understand, a lot of people, is sexual selection. Can you explain a little bit, sort of for a lay man, what is sexual selection and why is it important to this discussion?

Geoff:
Yeah. So natural selection is typical survival of the fittest. How do you eat food, avoid being eaten by predators, avoid being eaten from the inside by parasites and pathogens – those are the big ecological challenges. It’s about the energy cycles that you’re engaged in. How do you keep your body going? How do you get energy to sustain life and grow? Sexual selection is different, it’s about how do you reproduce, how do you pass on your genes, how do you – if you’re a male – get females pregnant, hopefully the maximum quantity and quality of females. If it’s females, how do you choose the best mates you can who are going to give you good genes, be good parents, be good partners. You can survive for thousands of years and process all the calories you want, but if you never reproduce you’re an evolutionary dead end; your genes do not pass on. So, sexual selection looks like it’s just kind of icing on the cake, but actually for sexually reproducing species like us and like all the millions of other mammals, reptiles, birds – every animal bigger than a millimeter in length is sexually reproducing – all of that, mating, parenting, is absolutely crucial, and surviving without mating is pointless. That’s sexual selection. It’s how you’re shaped in terms of your body, your mind, your behavior, to be sexually attractive to get mates.

Tucker:
Right. So the basic idea is that for most living creatures, past a certain point staying alive isn’t super difficult. It’s always a struggle every day, but it’s a struggle that you generally have solved. Then the question becomes sort of how do you pass your genes on? Which is a very different struggle. I think one of the iconic examples of sexual selection is peacocks, right? So the peacock’s tail exists because it’s a signaling mechanism for peahens that they find attractive, right? Whereas, clearly it’s super, super bad for their survival because it’s a massive waste of resources. I mean, it takes a lot of energy to create all those feathers and all those sort of display mechanisms that can easily be used for survival: growing bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, et cetera, right?

Geoff:
It makes it easier for tigers to catch them and eat them.

Tucker:
Right. It displays you, it slows you down, makes you a more conspicuous target so it makes it harder for you to live, actually. That’s something I think people don’t really understand too, is that often sexual selection can trade off with natural selection. The peacock is the prime example. Don’t peahens live much longer than peacocks, generally speaking?

Geoff:
On average, yeah. I mean, peacocks certainly have a higher risk of being eaten, they have bigger problems with parasites, it’s easier for them to starve to death, and typically this is what you see: males die younger in nature because they’ve got these sexual ornaments that are costly.

Tucker:
So that’s the question: why do they have to have sexual ornaments? Why can’t they just not have peacock tails?

Geoff:
There are lots and lots of peacocks. In prehistory you had, you know, shitty little asymmetrical tails that had no color and they probably survived better, but the peahens went “I don’t want that.” They didn’t mate. They didn’t leave the genes for the shitty little peacock tails in any sons. So the genes from the bad tails die out and what you are left with is a species burdened by sexual ornaments that are big, conspicuous, costly, colorful, amazing, romantic, sexy, that attract the females, even at the cost of survival.

Tucker:
So in a very real way, women’s choices over time, the aggregate choices of the female group of a species create what the males becomes then, right? Whether it’s birds, or dinosaurs, or rats, or humans. Men either become or do what the women select for sexually, right?

Geoff:
Yeah. Absolutely. The males come to embody the preferences of the ancestral females. So everything that a human male is now, apart from some stuff about male-male competition we can get into later, for the most part, every part of the male: face, body, behavior – is that way because women liked it or were attracted to it or found it irresistible.

Tucker:
Women had sex with those guys.

Geoff:
Women had sex with those guys who had those traits.

Tucker:
And had kids by them.

Geoff:
And we, the men of today, are the descendants of those successful males. We are not the descendants of…

Tucker:
The guys who didn’t get laid.

Geoff:
…the literally billions of males that did not get laid and were not attractive to women.

Tucker:
Which is actually I think a very important point. So how many – because of genetic research I think we have a pretty good idea – about how many men in history reproduce versus women?

Geoff:
I think the best current estimates are probably at least 80% of women in prehistory would’ve reproduced, had at least one baby.

Tucker:
So 80% of the women that have ever lived have had at least one kid?

Geoff:
Yeah. In our lineage, we’re talking about bipedal hominid females. If a female’s born, she’s pretty likely to survive infancy, if she survives infancy she’s pretty likely to reach puberty, she’s pretty likely to get some kind of guy to mate with her, she’ll probably give birth okay, she’ll have at least one or probably two, three, four offspring. But for guys it’s different.

Tucker:
So how many guys have reproduced in history?

Geoff:
The best genetic estimates now are maybe 40%, maybe a little higher, but what we’re looking at is possibly the majority of guys in any given generation not reproducing even having one baby, right? A lot of them are dying in infancy because they’re more vulnerable; a lot of them are dying in violence in their adolescence; probably a substantial portion of them are dying from homicides and warfare by age 30; and then even among the remainder a lot of them are just not attracting women.

Tucker:
So in the history of sort of upright, bipedal hominids, 80% of women have reproduced and 40% of men?

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
That’s crazy!

Geoff:
So, if you’re a guy living today, good for you, you know?

Tucker:
You came from the 40%.

Geoff:
You lucked out. You were from the minority of males in each generation that actually mated and were evolutionary success stories. And most of our ancestors who were males failed, they did not pass on their genes.

Tucker:
Alright, so I know this is one of those discussions, that seems academic but it’s actually not it’s very, very important, understanding this stuff. So let’s talk a little bit about, when you think of a lot of times – I know I’ve talked to guys who think “Oh well sexual selection, that’s women judging me,” – they impose a very anachronistic sort of modern take. They think of themselves at a bar and girls giggling at them. That’s not really how sexual selection worked at all, at least not for basically all of human history. So, why don’t you talk for a second about the evolutionary pressures that women face and have dealt with and sort of how those created women’s current mating preferences?

Geoff:
I think something that’s absolutely crucial for guys to understand is why women want the things that women want. It’s just, cast your mind back in prehistory and ask “Okay what would it have taken to be one of those females who could actually get pregnant with a high quality guy who has good genes, who could get enough social support from that guy or your sisters or clan mates, to actually deal with the pregnancy, to deal with two to three years of breastfeeding, to take care of this vulnerable baby and toddler and kid for two decades,” right? You have to be socially savvy, you have to choose a guy not just because he’s cute, not just because he’s physically big, but because he is socially capable, he’s got status, he’s got allies, he can understand your needs and desires, he’s a tender defender, he can take care of the kid and you but also defend you from threats. If you just think about that logically, a lot of what women are looking for in guys nowadays you can trace back to all those pressures of survival and reproduction that females faced earlier.

Tucker:
Let’s think about that. So, think about like a twenty-year-old woman living in a hunter-gatherer society, actually that’s kind of old let’s think seventeen or eighteen. A seventeen or eighteen-year-old hunter-gatherer would be something like twenty now, right? In modern times.

Geoff:
Right.

Tucker:
So we’re thinking reproductive prime, coming out of puberty and adolescence, a full woman ready to have kids looking for a mate, right? We’re just talking generic hunter-gatherer, the sort of basic environment that humans evolved under. So what are the day-to-day pressures that this woman faces? Either survival, social, whatever.

Geoff:
Yeah. Well, for one thing, she’s had involuntary intermittent fasting, she’s starved, she’s been hungry, she hasn’t taken food for granted and she’s seen other women get pregnant and then not get enough food and lose the kid. She’s seen babies starve to death.

Tucker:
Food matters.

Geoff:
Food matters. She’s got physical threats. You know most of the species that threatened our ancestors, thank God, are extinct now: saber-toothed cats, dinotheria, and mammoths and mastodons. We hunted them to extinction, but if you think about being a little clan around a campfire and there are actually packs of wolves and hyenas…

Tucker:
They can fucking kill you!

Geoff:
They can kill you and everybody you know, right? So there’s real threats, there’s natural disasters, there’s wildfires, there’s storms, there’s droughts…

Tucker:
Tornados, hurricanes, same shit as today.

Geoff:
There’s disease, there’s injuries. So…

Tucker:
What about social pressures too?

Geoff:
And social pressures. There’s potential for ostracism, your group decides that you suck and they hate you and they say…

Tucker:
Get out!

Geoff:
…go away.

Tucker:
Which basically means death.

Geoff:
It’s a death sentence.

Tucker:
Or there’s other groups that can kidnap and rape you, right? So if you’re a seventeen-year-old woman, chances are you have a father who’s strong, capable, whatever, has protected you, but you’re reaching the point where it’s time for you to do your own thing, right? So obviously other social groups or other human groups that aren’t your group, so some group that lives 20 miles away, 100 miles away, or whatever, they can abduct you, rape you, kill you, fight you, whatever, right? And there’s even problems with that possibly in the group.

Geoff:
Yeah, if you’re a seventeen-year-old girl in prehistory, you’ve been sexually harassed for years already. All the local adult males who aren’t closely related to you have had their eye on you for a decade.

Tucker:
Maybe as a wife, maybe as a victim.

Geoff:
Maybe as a wife, maybe as a, you know, date rape victim, whatever.

Tucker:
Date rape? Prehistory date rape. I know what you’re saying but how funny is it to think of that, that’s like a Saturday Night Live skit.

Geoff:
Yeah. Rohypnol in prehistory. And the guys in the other clans will have heard about you, right? We’ve had language at least half a million years, there’s gossip. You would’ve heard about the eligible bachelors on the other side of the hill but they would’ve heard about you too. They might want to court you but they might want to just abduct you and take you away and steal you. That’s pretty common. So, one major thing you want is a boyfriend who can protect you against harassment, stalking, and rape.

Tucker:
Let’s think about this for a second. Let’s be more systematic. So, you’re a seventeen-year-old woman, you have to worry about getting food, you have to worry about protection from natural predators, from fucking shit that will kill you, lions, whatever, depending on where you live, wolves…

Geoff:
Teeth and claws.

Tucker:
Teeth and claws, right? You have to worry about natural disasters, so basically random acts of God. I mean, they’re bad enough now in modern society, imagine when there aren’t buildings and shit, right? So, you have to worry about that. You have to worry about other humans fucking with you, right? You have to worry about social norms of your own group, you know. So those are five major fucking pressures, any of which can kill you or damage you substantially. So now, those five cover basically everything?

Geoff:
That’s enough to worry about for most people.

Tucker:
Those are such big things. Alright, so those five things, now let’s think about if you’re a seventeen-year-old woman, what are you looking for in a guy that can… Now, let’s make this clear: this is not Disney princess shit. This seventeen-year-old woman, at this point, is very capable. She’s been raised by a family or group that’s taught her how to gather food, how to dig for food, probably how to hunt to some extent, no doubt – female hunters are not unusual at all in hunter-gatherer societies – she probably has some working understanding of medicine, definitely understands her terrain, definitely understands animals, definitely understands her environment, understands probably basic land nav; she is probably on a skill-by-skill basis far more capable and intelligent than most modern men or women actually. Like her field craft is probably way better than mine, you know?

Geoff:
Yeah, for sure. And she’s also taken care of younger siblings: nieces, nephews, babies; she’s seen people give birth…

Tucker:
She’s seen people die. She’s slaughtered animals.

Geoff:
…she’s seen women die in childbirth, she’s been surrounded by women breastfeeding, she knows what it takes to be a successful mother.

Tucker:
She could slaughter an animal better than a butcher for the most part. This is not some wilting flower who needs a protector, she’s very capable, right? So what is that seventeen-year-old, very capable, but also facing very many threats, what’s that woman looking for in a partner? A mating partner.

Geoff:
She is looking for a guy with, number one, good genes.

Tucker:
So what does that mean?

Geoff:
All female animals, ever since the origins of sexual reproduction, 1.2 billion years ago, they want to get the best genes they can into their offspring so their offspring, in turn, can survive and reproduce as best they can. What is good genes? It basically means the fewest possible harmful mutations. Every animal species has…

Tucker:
So, we talked about signaling.

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
What’s an honest signal that shows few harmful mutations?

Geoff:
Well if you’ve got a lot of mutations in your body when you’re growing you tend to grow unhealthy, small, asymmetrical, uncoordinated, small-brained, brain doesn’t work very well, you can’t learn skills very well, you don’t tend to attain high social status if you’re in a social species. So, by contrast, if you’ve got a big, symmetrical…

Tucker:
So, if you’re symmetrical, like the facially, body-wise right? If you’re intelligent, if you’re skilled, if you can do at least the shit she can do if not more…

Geoff:
Capable and effective.

Tucker:
…you have some sort of decent social status in your group, these are all things that represent good genes, they are honest signals of good genes.

Geoff:
Yeah, they’re hard to fake. If, for example, you’ve got bad genes because your mom and your dad were brother and sister…

Tucker:
Your ears are on weird different places on your head, your eyes are all…

Geoff:
…you’ve got the inbreeding problem. We know inbreeding reduces physical attractiveness, it reduces intelligence, it reduces your capability to do everything related to surviving, socializing, reproducing. So, if you’re choosing a male, you know female animals pay a lot of attention to those signals of genetic quality because it’s absolutely a waste of time if you get pregnant with a baby that is going to die at age two or age five.

Tucker:
Or that’s not even going to do well at reproducing.

Geoff:
Or that actually even worse, if it does survive, and requires a huge amount of investment, but then it doesn’t reproduce – that’s a lifelong drain on your resources.

Tucker:
It’s the worst evolutionary situation actually, isn’t it? Taking care of an invalid. This is only evolution, we’re not talking about human empathy or compassion or anything like that, this is just from the gene’s eye view.

Geoff:
Yeah. This is not about morality it’s just about what worked effectively in evolution. So, in a way, the worst of all possible worlds is to get pregnant by a really ugly rapist with bad genes, right?

Tucker:
And then the kid survives but can’t reproduce. Because you’ve got to use all of your resources and it’s a genetic dead end.

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Alright, so let’s talk about how these factors map onto… Well, first actually map onto what guys need to understand. Let’s think for a second, what are the universal female preferences? We’re talking about all humans, right? Height, strength, health, emotional stability, emotional maturity, intelligence, kindness, status, prestige and fame, whatever, courage… Now think about those traits, and think about what that seventeen-year-old hunter-gatherer is looking for, and think about how they map onto each other. So describe the guy that that seventeen-year-old is going to fall for.

Geoff:
Well, it’s all those traits and also think about how they cash out in terms of what that guy looks like, what she’s heard about him from her friends and family, right, he’s the guy who “Oh my god, he went off on the mammoth hunting expedition and he was the one who stood his ground and jumped on top of the mammoth and speared it and brought back a literal ton of meat.”

Tucker:
Social proof. And providing resources, two things right there. Courage.

Geoff:
Courage, yeah. And let’s say also “Oh maybe your dad and uncle have already talked with respect about him even though he’s still young.”

Tucker:
More social proof.

Geoff:
Social proof. If he can impress experienced warriors and hunters like her own older relatives, that’s awesome. That would get her attention. If he’s big, handsome, healthy, that means he has good genes, he’s going to live a long time probably…

Tucker:
Protect her…

Geoff:
…he’s going to protect her, he can intimidate other males before they even try to harass you, and if he’s got a circle of relatives and friends, he’s got a social network, that’s even more powerful.

Tucker:
Because even if he’s injured, there’s other people helping. Or if he doesn’t take home meat, his buddy takes home meat who owes him a favor.

Geoff:
Yeah. It’s far more effective to be with a medium-sized guy who’s got a strong clan, a strong set of friends and relatives, than to be with the biggest guy in the world…

Tucker:
Who’s a total asshole…

Geoff:
Who’s a loner and an asshole who nobody trusts and nobody will stand up for.

Tucker:
Absolutely true. No doubt. I’ve talked with a lot of guys who say “Yeah evolution, I get it. Tell me how to get laid.” And I’m like “Guys, back up. This is actually super important.” It’s very interesting, it’s not just important for interesting reasons, it’s because if you want women to like you, which is how you get them to select you and to sleep with you – even if that’s your only goal, which obviously is not the only thing we’re talking about – you need to understand not just what they want, but why they want it. Then it makes sense and now you can be like “Okay, I get it.” Now, you have a vision in your head if you’re a young guy. Alright, that seventeen-year-old hunter-gatherer is really only different on the surface from the twenty-two-year-old college senior who uses Instagram and Snapchat and whatever. The differences are really only on the surface, they are absolutely surface differences and you can’t treat the two the same. If you bring a dead deer carcass to a college senior, she’s going to freak out and think you’re a total fucking weirdo, must of them. But, if you bring her something she values, it’s the same idea, it’s no different. Something she values could be a dead deer carcass or, I don’t know, tickets to One Direction or whatever-the-fuck, I don’t know. But the idea is the same, you’re showing you can provide resources.

Geoff:
So you just have to go one level of abstraction up. It’s not about actually bringing back the mammoth meat, it’s about resources that matter to her. It’s necessarily about your fame as a warrior in a tribal society, it’s a little more abstract: how much respect do you get among the peer group that she knows, right? And as long as you can make that abstractive leap which, I hope most of our fans can do…

Tucker:
We’re trying, we’re teaching them hopefully!

Geoff:
…then suddenly you have the insight, right? You’ve got a window into a woman’s soul so that you cannot just understand her preferences but – this is crucial – respect them.

Tucker:
Just for a second, I know we’ve talked about this before and we’re going to talk about it again, why is it so important to respect women’s preferences? Because, here’s the thing, I don’t think either of us are sitting at this table wagging our finger at guys saying that you have to respect women or whatever. Yes, respecting women is great, but that’s actually not what you’re saying. A lot of guys take, whenever someone says to respect women, they map that on to act like an obsequious coward which is the last thing you’re saying. I know what you’re saying, but explain what you mean when you say respect their preferences.

Geoff:
Respect their preferences means understand as a deep evolutionary logic to why they want the things they want and that by feeling romantic and erotic attraction to the guys they feel attracted to, they’re actually embodying the millions of years of female wisdom about how to succeed in life and how to reproduce effectively. You can have this patronizing attitude that goes “Oh my god, women they read these romance novels and they’re attracted to these pirate captains,” and all this bullshit and what’s going on there is just irrational.

Tucker:
Except it’s not.

Geoff:
It’s not. The more you understand this and the more you see that hidden adaptive logic behind what women want, the more seriously you take it and the more you think “Oh my god it’s actually my job as a man, maturing, to respect those preferences and fulfill them as best I can,” rather than “Oh women are irrational and I have to find some seduction tactic that doesn’t end on or around their preferences,” in some manipulative, sociopathic way.

Tucker:
Well at the very least you’re understanding them so that you can be effective in pairing up with them, right? I think here’s another thing we didn’t talk about yet, that explains why women’s preferences should be respected and why they’re rational. It’s not just about seeking out good genes or good attributes, it’s also about avoiding shitty attributes. You talked about avoiding genetic mutations, people with bad genes, right? But there are people who have good genes who are fucked up too though. I mean, like psychopaths, narcissists, crazy people, rapists, et cetera. Talk a little bit about why women’s preferences, how women’s preferences have evolved to protect them from those types of people.

Geoff:
Yeah there’s some misunderstanding that evolution gives women attraction to certain physical traits in males, right? Height and handsome face. But then all this weird concern that women have about a man’s character, or his moral virtues, oh that’s just civilization. No, no, no. Women have always cared about character because what you do not want is a guy who seduces and abandons you.

Tucker:
That’s actually almost worse in some ways than a guy with maybe not optimal genes who’s going to stay. Depending.

Geoff:
Yeah. Even if he’s got great genes, if he promises commitment and love and romance and to be there once you’re pregnant and you’re breastfeeding and you’re dependent and then he flakes out on you, that’s a disaster. We know from anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies that if a guy abandons a woman or he has a hunting accident and he’s killed, the likelihood of her baby surviving drops from like 80% to about 30%. It’s a huge cost. So any guy who actually proves to be a sociopath, a psychopath, a manipulator, just in it for the short-term, that’s a disaster and that’s why women have this exquisite radar…

Tucker:
For creeps.

Geoff:
…a creep detector.

Tucker:
Yeah. I think that’s something that a lot of young guys don’t understand at all is they, and most people do this, I did this for years and this is what most people do, you just project your wants, needs, desires onto someone else. So, some weird nineteen-year-old guy who comes off as very creeper – even though he doesn’t mean to, he might be a nice guy – he just doesn’t realize that he’s coming off totally creepy, he’s setting off all the alarms, the natural sort of in-born unconscious alarms that women have that “Oh this guy is fucking weird,” or “He’s socially inept.” Then guys are like “Who cares? I’m a good person.” But women are designed to evaluate ‘good person’ by, well social ability is a huge part of that. Actually men are too but it’s a little different. We evaluate things different. But a lot of guys don’t understand that, they’re like “Oh well fuck this girl. She’s awful because she thinks I’m a nerd.” It’s like no dude, if you don’t have any friends it’s a bad sign and she’s making a rational decision by avoiding you because you don’t have any friends.

Geoff:
And women are risk averse, they’re weary of risk, right?

Tucker:
Especially sexually risk averse, for the most part.

Geoff:
It’s hard for guys to get into that mindset of what it would be like to grow up being kind of stared at and kind of sexually harassed every day of your life from age ten or twelve onwards. As soon as you get hips and boobs and as soon as you’re pretty. Women have to live with this and by the time they meet you, if they’re eighteen, they’ve lived with creeps and weirdoes hitting on them for years and years and years and they’re sick of it.

Tucker:
Right, exactly. We kind of talked about that before about understanding a woman’s perspective just even in a modern way. But what we’ve talked about is basically not competition between men and women for mates but just competition against entropy, against life. Let’s talk for a second about male-male competition and how male-male competition over history has impacted female mate choice. This really ties into the fact, what we just talked about, how women have radars for bad guys. So what is male-male competition and how has that impacted female mate choice?

Geoff:
Well, you know, in most animal species males will compete for females but also for any resources that females need and want. Often that’s food, often it’s territory. So, part of sexual selection is not just males attracting females but males getting those things but doing it through violence or the threat of violence against other males, right? That’s been in issue in human evolution too. We know that prehistoric warfare was common, deadly, serious, terrifying, high-stakes, endemic, you know? And there was no government or police force to protect you; your group had to protect itself. It’s just like Walking Dead or any post-apocalyptic movie: you’ve got to have your own group sorted out and they’ve got to do everything you need to keep the group safe. So, constant threat of warfare with other tribal groups, constant threat of fights and homicide within your group, because the males even within the group are going to be competing for food, resources, reputation, women. A lot of the males were dying from within tribal fights and conflicts, just like in more violent areas where there’s lots of bar fights. They were kind of like prehistoric bar fights. So a male who can handle himself – either get a reputation as the guy you don’t fuck with, or get a group of guys around you who are intimidating enough that nobody fucks with you. Or you simply raid the other clans and eliminate your rivals, that works. So violence and the threat of violence and the need to project capacity for violence has always been an issue for most male primates, but especially humans, and it kind of intersects in complicated ways with female choice.

Tucker:
We’re going to talk about this later but it’s one of the main reasons that that tender defender dynamic is so important for women, we’ll get to that later. Let’s also talk about female-female competition because this also matters in terms of understand female mate choices and mate preferences. So what is female-female competition and what does it do to women?

Geoff:
Well just like males compete for resources that matter to females, females compete for resources that matter to them and to males. Typically female-female competition is more about actual food or actual energetic resources that you need to reproduce, but – if you’re in a mating market that’s competitive, if there’s a limited number of males that are attractive and desirable that all the women want, the women are going to compete to get and keep those males, against each other. And they are going to use any tactics that work. Seduction, manipulation, gossip, physical violence, verbal violence, anything that works to get those guys and get them to stick around. So that’s female-female competition and honestly science has only started to really delve into that in the last five years or so. We still don’t understand the intricacies of it very well.

Tucker:
I’ll tell you that’s one, you know I’ve written a lot about this, that’s one area where I feel like a lot of the manosphere writers are leading the charge actually. A lot of things that I write are very anger-based or ridiculous or whatever, but there are people writing – and they’re not really mainstream scientists, they’re a little bit more fringe a little bit more manosphere types – who are writing really great stuff about female-female competition. And I’m not even sure how right they are, but the point is these questions haven’t even really been asked. I think we’re going to talk a lot more about this is part three of the book, but I think the reality is that, especially in a modern environment, I would say at least a third to maybe a half of women’s mating decisions are made by how they think their female friends are going to see it or impact them. It’s far less about the man than it is about the women.

Geoff:
Yeah. Absolutely. This is one thing that took me years to understand: I wanted status and prestige and reputation, especially among other males, right…

Tucker:
All men do.

Geoff:
…I invested a lot of time and energy in getting that, at least in the academic sphere. So status mattered a lot to me as a guy. When women competed with each other for status, it made no sense to me. Shoes and handbags, what? Who cares? But then I realized, “Oh my god, to women, their status among other women matters as much to them as our status among other guys.” They compete in slightly different ways for it, but it really matters to them. And one function of getting a great boyfriend is, yeah, it raises your reputation among your female relatives and friends and clan mates. So are you going to be that guy who she can be proud to show off?

Tucker:
That’s a big part of attraction. A woman doesn’t just think… Geoff, I’m sure you know this, you would not believe how many girls when I was single going on book tours or whatever, like some girl would email me and be like “Hey I can’t come to your book signing because my boyfriend…” or whatever because this or that, “but can I just show up at your apartment and like fuck you?” At first I thought it was me, I thought I was just that awesome, of course it’s not me dude, no it’s not. It’s that these girls knew that I was attractive, or at least they found me attractive – they saw a picture or whatever, so that was there. Once you’re famous you actually become safe because where am I going to hide? Like I’m not going to rape them, God knows I have a target on my chest. Then also, I’m not going to talk about them or write about them, and even if I do I’ll use a nickname and no one will ever know, but surely I don’t ever write stories about girls that showed up and blew me and left, right? But they know they can fuck me and not be judged, no one knows, whatever. There was a time in my life where I basically had like Ludacris’s song, like hoes in different area codes, I had two or three girls in every city that it didn’t matter, married, dating – that was totally irrelevant. They were very sexual, and they wanted – it probably wasn’t me it’s not like I’m some special dude I’m just another penis to them – they wanted some place they could go or some guy they could fuck that they’d feel safe, accepted, they could be sexually free with and totally unjudged. No one knows in their little circle. I can’t tell you how many girls.

Geoff:
Or they could kind of brag about it, selectively.

Tucker:
Right. Well that’s a different one. The ones that wanted to brag were not the ones that wanted to just come to the hotel room. The ones that wanted to brag were the ones that would show up at the book signings and they get a picture with me and then they’d flirt with me. For them it was like sort of like game: “I got Tucker Max to…” A lot of them didn’t even want to fuck they just wanted me to hit on them. Which fine, I don’t give a shit you’re pretty I’ll hit on you, do you want to hook up? No, alright, nice to meet you. You know, I hope to see you again or whatever. That was definitely… Absolutely those are two totally different ones but right, either one can confer status to women. So we’re going to get into that later, part three is going to be the application of these lessons. But the point is that female-female competition is very real and very important. I mean the iconic example, I think, is slut shaming. Guys don’t slut shame. The only time guys call women a ‘whore’ is when they’re mad at her and they don’t know what else to say so they just go “fucking whore” or whatever, right? A slut or a whore is usually not a bad thing for a guy. It’s girls that slut shame because that’s female-female competition, they’re trying to ruin that girl’s reputation to prevent her from… Obviously these operations exist in your deep mammalian brain, it’s not something you’re thinking about, although sometimes they are, you’re not thinking about competing for boyfriends. So let’s talk a little bit about, what should we do next? There’s so much to cover in this area. Let’s go over this real quick because I know this is something you want to talk about: the idea that monogamy is modern. I think there are a lot of people… We had Chris Ryan on our podcast already and Chris is fantastic, I love Chris. Some things I think you and I disagree with him on but we probably disagree about different things with him, but overall I think Chris is really good. But there’s sort of two camps, I think, in America: there’s you have to be monogamous, monogamous is natural or there’s no such thing as monogamous we’re all just fucking living in an orgy all the time and society represses us. Where do you fall in that continuum?

Geoff:
Kind of in the middle. I mean…

Tucker:
Me too.

Geoff:
It’s clear that humans evolved in a way that males invested a lot more in kids than any other mammal does, right? We pair bound, we fall in love, we stay committed, we create relationships. There’s a whole physiology of emotional bonding and oxytocin that happens where people kind of, not just feel constrained to be committed, but actually – at least for a few weeks, really in love – they want to be exclusive. So, romantic love is not a cultural invention, it’s cross-cultural, it’s universal, it’s found throughout history. We know that now. But on the other hand, our prehistoric ancestors did not have life-long formal marriage that’s religiously sanctioned and socially enforced and legally binding. They did not have that. They formed relatively long-term relationships. Probably most babies were born, including most of our ancestors, were born to boyfriends and girlfriends who were in a relationship at least for a few years, maybe not decades, at least a few years.

Tucker:
Enough to get the kid to where it was functional. Four to eight years old, something like that.

Geoff:
Yeah. Where the kid has got some autonomy and, you know, maybe the woman gets tired of him and she switches mates and finds another guy…

Tucker:
Right. Or he gets injured…

Geoff:
…he dies, he gets injured, he gets a disease…

Tucker:
Or he could have multiple wives. I think most, not most, but there’s a large number of ancestral societies that are polygamous.

Geoff:
Yeah. And there’s a lot of flexibility. It depends on things like sex ratio, how many males per female are there, how much variation is there in the male wealth? If there’s a lot of variation, it might be better to be the fourth wife of a rich man…

Tucker:
…of the number one guy as opposed to the first wife of number fifty.

Geoff:
So both sexes are quite adaptive and flexible and they pay attention to what’s the local economics and the mating market and all that, but we do tend to form these at least medium-term relationships and that seems to be pretty typical.

Tucker:
So, let’s cover this real quick because you and I obviously know this but I think a lot of people don’t. There’s this idea in society that, not only that we can’t learn from cavemen – I think enough people eat paleo now and whatever, that’s kind of not dismissed but not necessarily considered important – but there’s the idea that the average age of death was like thirty and that cavemen were dirty and short and gross and whatever, why don’t you talk to that a little bit?

Geoff:
Yeah. There’s all these stupid stereotypes of cavemen that really create a mental block where you think they’re more different from you than they really are. So first, grooming, dirtiness: every self-respecting mammal whose nervous system works grooms itself…

Tucker:
Dude the baboon spends hours every day!

Geoff:
…hours every day, cleaning themselves, cleaning each other, taking care of their teeth, their nails, their fur, their hair.

Tucker:
They’re obsessive about it, it’s weird.

Geoff:
So, our ancestors would’ve been the same.

Tucker:
And in fact, all studies on ancestral society show this. Like all of them. They’re not grubby, gross, dirty. Most people, actually in America, are way dirtier than ancestral humans.

Geoff:
Yeah. So, you know, they had hairstyles, they had fashions, they had body ornamentation, red ochre and jewelry and worried about how they looked. They didn’t have mirrors but they could ask each other, they could look in still water, they can inspect everything except their face. So that all mattered to them, so the stereotype that our ancestors were kind of grubby and messed up and disheveled like street people – completely inaccurate.

Tucker:
It’s stupid, especially the idea that cavemen are just grunting apes is just not remotely correct.

Geoff:
No. They’ve had brains as large as ours for at least 120 thousand years. They were probably smarter than most of our farmer ancestors whose growth was stunted by a grain-based agriculture diet.

Tucker:
That’s the reason why the Mongols took China. Because they all ate meat and milk and blood.

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
That’s what they ate. And they’re fucking fighting against Chinese peasants who all like grain-based diets who were short and weak, in terrible shape. The mongols learned really quickly – I could talk about this for hours – they learned really quickly that all they had to do was essentially persistence hunt the Chinese. Engage them in battle and pull off and let them run after them for a while, turn back in on them, they were exhausted and their supply lines were fucked up they had terrible… They were disasters! I mean the Han Dynasty – three of the five major Chinese dynasties are Mongolians, essentially, or they’re Turkics or Tartars, whatever, they’re tribesmen, plain tribesmen.

Geoff:
Yeah. So that’s our free Chinese history lesson for the podcast. Yeah absolutely, so the ancestors were well-groomed, they were typically pretty healthy, they were big, paleo diet and cross fit is really how they lived pretty much.

Tucker:
Dude you know the idea that old people, or that ancestral people, used to be short is actually modern, not ancestral. If you look at pictures or you walk into something that was built in the 19th century, it feels really small because those people were. But why were they small? They were eating grain-based diets. Ancestral people tend to be six feet and over, and actually pre-agricultural cultures were like the Masai. Masai warriors are badasses; they’re 5’10”, 6’2”, with long limbs, that’s what people looked like, that’s what ‘cavemen’ looked like.

Geoff:
And they live a long time. This is another crucial thing, the stereotype that “Oh all the ancestors were dead by 30.” No, no, no, no.

Tucker:
Because they’re averaging in infant mortality.

Geoff:
They’re averaging in infant mortality. And yeah, maybe half the babies were dying before age two, but if you make it to age two you’re really pretty likely to make it to 30, absent violence and warfare. If you make it to 30 you’re actually pretty likely to make it to 60 or 70. And remember evolution doesn’t squander resources. If most people were dead by 30, we would’ve evolved to hit puberty at age six.

Tucker:
Yeah and not twelve.

Geoff:
And start reproducing at age eight, right? The fact that we have a later puberty than any other ape means we also live longer than any other ape.

Tucker:
So I think this brings up an important point, that there is one sort of argument about this specific episode that okay, even if you’re buying everything we say, I think a good point to make is that we don’t live in a hunter-gatherer civilization anymore. Food is important, like you’re going to eat, I mean, homeless people are fat. Calories are not a problem anymore, tigers aren’t fucking killing us anymore. So, maybe the argument that how we evolved doesn’t matter is kind of foolish, but what about the argument that we’ve been agricultural for ten thousand years and that we’ve had a different societal structure so that maybe some things are different. What would you say to that?

Geoff:
There’s been a big shift in thinking in my field, evolutionary psychology, where like 15 years ago we would’ve said that there’s probably no significant differences, genetically or psychologically, between humans now versus humans 50 thousand years ago. I think, on the contrary, now there is a lot of evidence that evolution has continued and evolution has even accelerated after civilization.

Tucker:
You mean physical, genetic evolution, right?

Geoff:
Physical, genetic…

Tucker:
And the epigenetic and memetic, which we’ll cover later…

Geoff:
Not just cultural evolution. Actually hardcore genetic evolution has accelerated in the last 10 thousand years. I think what’s probably likely is that it shaped women up a little bit more to understand the intricacies of how is a guy going to be a good mate and provider in a really complicated society, a complicated, multi-cultural society with high population density and status hierarchies that are kind of formalized.

Tucker:
Yeah, that are shifting.

Geoff:
And where a guy might not attain his peak status now until maybe age 60. Whereas in prehistory it might’ve been, yeah, he attained peak status at 35. So, there’s probably a lot of intricate little change like that about human psychology and sort of how we deal with strangers, how we deal with larger groups, how we do social networking with high population densities.

Tucker:
You don’t mean how we use Twitter, you actually mean real-life social networking.

Geoff:
Yeah, how we think about it. I’m sure that if you took 30 bright people and threw them together in a psychology department like I’m in now, and you had faculty meetings every month, we do better now in those meetings than our ancestors probably would’ve done 50 thousand years ago because we’re probably adapted more to dealing with those political intricacies.

Tucker:
You think, on a genetic level? Culturally, I get it, but really?

Geoff:
I think in terms of the evolution of social intelligence, communication abilities inhibiting gut level responses, yeah I think we are better at that stuff. That’s a little bit of a tangent but, we’re better at it and, crucially, I think women notice.

Tucker:
So there’s a lot of research in this area and it’s starting to show these results. You’re not the type to just pull shit out of your ass, like you’re talking about actual, empirical… Wow, I didn’t know that, that’s cool.

Geoff:
Yeah. I was pretty convinced by the Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending book The 10,000 Year Explosion which is…

Tucker:
I think we’re going to have Greg… I’ve got that book back there somewhere. But hopefully we get Greg on the podcast, that’s good. They’re in New Mexico, right?

Geoff:
Greg Cochran lives in Albuquerque.

Tucker:
Right, is he not a professor at UNM?

Geoff:
He’s like a physicist, self-employed consultant, he’s got five brilliant kids.

Tucker:
He’s a renaissance man.

Geoff:
He’s a renaissance man.

Tucker:
Cool, I think that was great for covering that subject. The environment that women evolved in, men and women, and how that impacts female mate choices. Fantastic.

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