The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating

The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating


How we choose- and lose- our mates has always been a source of fascination. This controversial book is the first to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. The Evolution of Desire is based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 peoples of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide. If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question, we must look into our evolutionary past, according to David M. Buss. For in attracting, keeping, and even breaking up with our mates, we are closer to our ancestral forebears than many of us think.


We have never quite outgrown the idea that somewhere, there are people living in perfect harmony with nature and one another, and that we might do the same it not for the corrupting influences of Western culture.

--Melvin Konner, Why the Reckless Survive

HUMAN MATING BEHAVIOR delights and amuses us and galvanizes our gossip, but it is also deeply disturbing. Few domains of human activity generate as much discussion, as many laws, or such elaborate rituals in all cultures. Yet the elements of human mating seem to defy understanding. Women and men sometimes find themselves choosing mates who abuse them psychologically and physically. Efforts to attract mates often backfire. Conflicts erupt within couples, producing downward spirals of blame and despair. Despite their best intentions and vows of life- long love, half of all married couples end up divorcing.

Pain, betrayal, and loss contrast sharply with the usual romantic notions of love. We grow up believing in true love, in finding our one and only." We assume that once we do, we will marry in bliss and live happily ever after. But reality rarely coincides with our beliefs. Even a cursory look at the divorce rate, the 30 to 50 percent incidence of extramarital affairs, and the jealous rages that rack so many relationships shatters these illusions.

Discord and dissolution in mating relationship are typically seen as signs of failure. They are regarded as distortions or perversions of the natural state of married life. They are thought to signal personal inadequacy, immaturity, neurosis, failure of will, or simply poor judgment in the choice of a mate. This view is radically wrong. Conflict in mating is the norm and not the exception. It ranges from a man's anger at a . . .

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