Evolutionary psychology is an interesting but controversial area of science. It offers bold and general theories about human sexuality, and as such, leaves itself open to the charge of essentialism and sexism. What it has to say about what men and women find attractive about each other, however, makes for intriguing reading.
Men, apparently, go for women that ‘display’ sexual fertility. This tends to be younger women with a good hip to waist ratio, larger breasts, full lips, etc. In other words, ‘fit’ women.
Women, on the other hand, tend to go for men who are reliable and can financially support her family. These men tend to be slightly effeminate, of high status and a good earner. That is to say, for most of the time. Experiments reveal, however, that at the time of ovulation (about 1 day a month), women tend to go for men based more on looks. At ovulation women fancy men who are more muscular, aggressive with more masculine features.
In other words when women are most fertile and likely to conceive, they tend adopt a sexual strategy similar to men. This can help to account for why 10% of men unwittingly bring up other men’s children, a phenomenon known as ‘cuckolding’.
This information leads to some interesting conclusions for men who build muscle in order to attract women.
The first thing is, by making themselves look fitter and more masculine, they will be more attractive to gay men as gay men, being men, select their mates on the basis of physical fitness.
The second thing is, by making themselves look fitter and more masculine, they are moving themselves from the ‘reliable and dependable’ camp, to the ‘fit and masculine’ camp. This means, paradoxically, that they may get more one night stands, but are reducing their ability to get a long term mate.
So what should we make of this information? Well there are lots of reasons to keep yourself fit and healthy. But if you are one of those guys who build huge muscles to attract women, well you might want to rethink how effective this strategy really is.
Dr Phil Tyson is a Men's Psychotherapist based in Manchester in the UK. He offers:
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