Posted by: zyxo | June 18, 2008

How do women select their partner?

Diagram of ABO blood groups and the IgM antibodies present in each. Created by me on Adobe Illustrator on 8/25/06 and released into the public domainImage via WikipediaLet me begin with a real-life story.

A friend of mine once told me of a visit to a couple who had a newborn child. Proudly they showed him the first baby-book with pictures of mum, dad, first babypicture, weight etc. There was also a page about blood groups : blood groop of mammy, blood group of daddy, blood group of baby. At that point my friend (a biologist) managed to show no obvious reaction, but it was clear that the three blood groups formed an impossible combination! The beloved woman had been “playing elsewere”.


A lot is written about love and finding the best partner. But as we know, love is just a chemical means of establishing and maintaining a relationship long enough to have one or more children together.
What are the underlying mechanisms, evolutionary advantages, survival-of-the-fittest reasons for a woman to select their partner ?

In a recent scientific study on barn swallows it was shown that changing just the red color of their feathers not only had an impact on the behaviour of the other swallows, but also on their own testosterone levels. Meaning that the looks are important, not only in humans.
Another important factor seems to be body odor (another article)

I looked for some articles about partner selection. There is a lot of crap but this one is interesting about the female mate selection in the darwinian way of looking at it.

Before going further looking at what characteristics of man are important to women in a maximise-reproduction meaning, there is one very important thing that is allways forgotten in any article I read : a woman has to make TWO choices in partner selection:

  1. choose the best partner as to optimise the genetical blueprint of her childeren
  2. choose the best partner to help her raise her childeren up to adulthood

And what is very important : these two partners do not have to be the same person !
Indeed, it is much more easy for a woman to get a man to be the biological father of her child (a one night stand is sufficient) than to get him into years of commitment to raise this child. Apparently 25% of women cheat on their jusband !

Let us look at the first choice : optimisation of the genetical blueprint, which is the easy one. What are the characteristics ? Healthy, tall (but not exaggerated), athletic, intelligent, sociable. In short : the popular guy of the neighbourhood. Since this popular guy has plenty of choice, it depends on her own “characteristics” whether she can get him or not. If not, she has to aim a bit lower on the popularity hierarchy. Anyway, she has to aim at the best she can get.

Now the second choice : finding a partner to raise her children. Characteristics : 1)faithful, loving dedicated etc.. and 2) having the means (as much as possible) of providing all that is necessary for her children. Ideal type : a stupid rich guy who she can dominate.

It all seems simple but it is not.

All sorts of combinations between the desired characteristics are possible and she has to pick the best combination, either in one or two partners.
Ideally : the popular guy who is at the same time rich and faithful to her.
Other solutions : a not so faithful rich guy who leaves her with plenty of money after the divorce.
I am sure you can come up yourself with all sorts of possible solutions and find some real life examples.
Do not hesitate to put them in a comment.

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