Dating


For 200,000 years, humans lived in small hunter-gatherer bands. Strong men were better hunters and had more wives and children.

About 10,000 years ago, humans started living in tribes and chiefdoms. The murder rate increased from 2% to 5–10% of all deaths. Women mated with warriors who could protect them and their children. For example, the Yanomamö Indians live in the Amazon rainforest and 44% of males have helped kill someone. Killers have an average of 5 children versus 1.6 for non-killers.

Women like bad boys. I suspect that’s because their inner cavewoman knows Doormat Man would become Sabertooth Tiger Lunch in short order.

-Angela Knight

What women want

In modern times, the murder rate is 6% in Mexico, but only 0.7% in the United States and 0.1% in Western Europe. However, most women are still sexually attracted to men with high status and high testosterone.

To become a high-status man, it helps to be:

  • Intelligent and cunning

  • Socially skilled and charismatic

  • Strong and tall

  • Ambitious and driven

Most men who ever lived did not have descendants who are alive today. Their lines were dead ends. Hence it was necessary to take chances, try new things, be creative, explore other possibilities.

-Roy Baumeister

On average, men have 15X more testosterone than women. High testosterone affects men’s minds and bodies:

  • Aggression

  • Cooperation against others

  • Risk-taking and impulsivity

  • Strength and height

  • Square jaw and strong brow

  • Facial hair and deep voice

The heroes of romance novels often seem like members of a more evolved species. They are natural leaders, rich, powerful, and well-connected. Their minds are intelligent and savvy, though they are reticent about their abilities and hide their inner demons. Despite the fact that they are a 5-star general or lord of southern England, they hide a troubled and tempestuous soul that can only be healed by the magical balm of a woman’s love.

-Ogi Ogas

My fair lady

Across cultures, most men are sexually attracted to young, thin women with high estrogen because they are more fertile.

Specifically, women are at peak fertility from ages 20 to 24. Fertility is 6% lower from 25 to 29; 14% from 30 to 34; and 31% from 35 to 39. Risk of infertility is higher in women who are underweight (13%) or obese (250%). And high-estrogen women are 2–3X more likely to get pregnant.

On average, premenopausal women have 5X more estrogen than men. High estrogen affects women’s minds and bodies:

  • Feeling attractive

  • Desire for children

  • Large eyes, large forehead, full cheeks, small jaw, small chin, large lips

  • Large breasts, narrow waists, wide hips

  • High-pitched voice

  • Shorter height than men

  • Lighter skin than men

For example, Playboy Playmates averaged the following measurements from 1960 to 2000:

  • Age: 22 (range: 18–33)

  • Height: 5’7 (5’2–5’11)

  • Body Mass Index (BMI): 18.6 (16.0–20.4)

  • Hourglass figure: 36-23-35 (32-20-32 to 39-27-38)

After a lecture of mine on the subject of sex differences in mate preferences, one woman suggested that I should suppress my findings because of the distress they would cause women. Women already have it bad enough in this male-dominated world, she felt, without having scientists tell them that their mating problems may be based in men’s evolved psychology. Yet suppression of this truth is unlikely to help, just as concealing the fact that people have evolved preferences for succulent, ripe fruit is unlikely to change their preferences. Railing against men for the importance they place on beauty, youth and fidelity is like railing against meat eaters because they prefer animal protein.

-David Buss

Sexual marketplace

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the world’s oldest marketplaces. It has 4,000 shops and attracts 90 million visitors each year. Buyers and sellers haggle to get the best value for money.

Like the economic marketplace, men and women compete in the sexual marketplace. At a high level, eggs are more valuable than sperm. But at the local level, there can be large differences in supply and demand:

  • After World War II, the ratio of men to women in Russia plunged to 65:100. This lowered the marriage rate by 8% and increased the divorce rate by 600%.

  • A Syracuse University study found that football and basketball stars had 100 sexual partners, whereas lower-status rugby and lacrosse stars had 40 partners.

  • In China, there is an excess of 34 million men. They compete for wives by building houses and paying in-laws.

  • On the OkCupid dating service, the top 20% of men receive 11X more messages than the bottom. Top women receive 25X more messages.

  • A 20-year-old Brazilian woman auctioned her virginity for $780,000. A 24-year-old Russian man only received $3,000.

Another marketplace parallel is the tremendous variation in sexual desires. For example, researchers studied 55 million Internet searches for erotic content. The top 30 were: youth (13.54%), gay (4.70%), MILFs (4.27%), breasts (3.95%), cheating wives (3.37%), vaginas (2.82%), penises (2.41%), amateurs (2.36%), mature (2.11%), animation (2.11%), domination & submission (2.1%), incest (1.02%), lesbian (1.86%), black (1.76%), bestiality (1.66%), fat (1.62%), transsexuals (1.29%), anal sex (1.24%), nudism (1.23%), grannies (1.02%), buttocks (0.93%), voyeurs (0.88%), celebrities (0.88%), group sex (0.86%), hairy (0.73%), tattoo (0.72%), games (0.69%), fellatio (0.66%), Asian (0.61%), and skinny (0.58%).

Researchers concluded: “if you are a woman, then no matter what your attributes—big or skinny, A-cup or double-E, mother or grandmother—you are the sexual ideal and greatest erotic fantasy for an abundance of men. Similarly, if you are a man, no matter what your character—aggressive or pacifist, witty or stoic, rich or penniless, scarred or delicate—there are plenty of women who can fall in love with you, and if their love is reciprocated, feel intense desire for you.”

Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.

-Jacqueline Bisset

Dating system

How can you improve your results in the sexual marketplace? Here is a system:

  • Improve yourself

  • Improve your sales and marketing

In general, men improve sexual market value by increasing status and masculinity. For women, it’s about being feminine and not overweight.

For sales and marketing, it’s important to create a sales funnel. At the top of the funnel are leads—people who are aware of your product. In the middle are potential customers who are actively looking to buy from you or a competitor. At the bottom are customers who are ready to buy from you today.

Overall, higher sexual market value + bigger sales funnel = higher probability of dating success. To implement this in your life, let’s dig into the details for men and women.

We can think of the number of men and women in a population as a potential mating market where the principles of supply and demand hold sway and where commitment to a relationship is influenced by the availability of partners. The rarer sex has more bargaining power and can get what they want because they are surrounded by available partners. If they aren’t pleased with a relationship they can move on to someone else.

-Ryan Schacht

Man in demand

Here are proven ways for men to increase sexual attractiveness:

Status

  • Leadership position

  • High-paying job

  • Publicity and prestige

Appearance

  • Lift weights to build muscle

  • Grow stubble or a short beard

  • Wear fitted clothes

Behavior

  • 80% bad boy and 20% nice guy

  • Speak with a deeper voice

  • Open posture

  • Confidence

Tall, dark and handsome was hot. Tall, dark, and handsome with a nestled kitten? Atomic.

-Chloe Neill

When women are ovulating, they prefer masculine men. At other times, they prefer kind, gentle providers. A ratio of 80% bad boy to 20% nice guy increases the odds of becoming a sexual partner.

Deep in the mind of the modern man is a simple male hunter-gatherer rule: strive to acquire power and use it to lure women who will bear heirs...Likewise, deep in the mind of a modern woman is the same basic hunter-gatherer calculator: strive to acquire a provider husband who will invest food and care in your children; strive to find a lover who can give those children first-class genes. Only if she is very lucky will they be the same man.

-Matt Ridley

To help status, appearance, and behavior, here are natural ways for men to boost testosterone:

  • Good sleep

  • Winning

  • High-fat foods

  • Healthy weight

  • Sex with multiple women

Women want an alpha who learns to be nice to her. In other words, women want their romance heroes to be like coconuts: hard and tough on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside. But the hero’s sweet interior can’t be available to just anyone. Only the heroine gets to crack him open. The hero is granted free reign to be a badass with everyone else, as long as he’s tender and attentive with the heroine.

-Ogi Ogas

To create a sales funnel, the most common ways to meet partners are: online (39%); in a bar or restaurant (27%); through friends (20%); through or as coworkers (11%); through family (7%); in primary or secondary school (5%); in college (4%); in church (4%); and through or as neighbors (3%).

Online dating is convenient, but favors men who are physically attractive. And women have an abundance of options. This causes them to seek men who are 23% more attractive than them.

An alternative is approaching women in real life. Studies found that 31% of women agreed to dates from strangers. Average-looking men had a response rate of 23% versus 57% for attractive men. Talking to unfamiliar women can be awkward and uncomfortable. But the more you do it, the better you’ll become.

On average, men desire sex more than women. For example, they send 80% of first messages for online dating. Therefore, it’s usually up to men to move things along.

Here is a 3-date process for demonstrating sexual intent and determining if a woman is interested:

  • 1-hour first date for drinks; handshake to say goodbye

  • Dinner at man’s place; kiss and make out

  • Movie at man’s place; escalate to sex if she consents

Men tend to overestimate women’s sexual interest. It’s important to notice body language and stop immediately if there’s no consent.

When men see an attractive woman, they fantasize about sex. When women see an attractive man, they fantasize about a relationship.

-Alexandra Potter

About 50% of women are more open to casual sex. Predictors include younger age and higher testosterone. Like men, high testosterone affects women’s bodies, such as a larger jaw and bigger chin. The trade-off is these women are more likely to cheat or break up.

Sports stars show how everything works together. They are masculine, muscular leaders. Their testosterone is higher from winning games and sleeping with groupies. Publicity and packed stadiums create a big sales funnel. Finally, women desire men who are attractive to other women—more fans lead to more fans.

The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first-rate man to the exclusive possession of a third-rate one.

-George Bernard Shaw

Femme fatale

Here are proven ways for women to increase sexual attractiveness:

Appearance

  • Not overweight

  • Makeup

  • Push-up bra

  • Long hair

Behavior

  • Feminine

  • Responsive

  • Smile

For example, students on a 6-week archeology expedition rated each other’s intelligence, work ethic, and physical attractiveness on the first and last day. For women, initial ratings of physical attractiveness accounted for 60% of final ratings. In contrast, men’s initial ratings accounted for only 20% of final ratings. In other words, men cared more about looks than women.

There were exceptions. For example, one woman’s physical attractiveness rating increased from 3 to 8 on a 10-point scale. Over time, men appreciated her hard work and warm personality.

For women, being lovable is the key to attracting the best mate. For men, however, it was more a matter of beating out lots of other men even to have a chance for a mate.

-Roy Baumeister

Like men, women can increase their sales funnel by approaching men in real life. Studies found that 37% of men agreed to dates from strangers. It’s even easier to get casual sex. When approached by average-looking women, 60% of men agreed to sex. For attractive women, the rate was 83%.

I’m probably like 160 pounds right now and I can catch a dick whenever I want, like, that’s the truth. It’s not a problem!

-Amy Schumer

For women seeking marriage, there are challenges in getting men to commit:

  • 51% of dating women prefer to be married compared with only 42% of men

  • 78% of women want to marry a man with a steady job, but there are only 65 employed unmarried men per 100 unmarried women

  • By age 64, there are 62 unmarried men per 100 unmarried women

  • High-status, masculine men are more likely to cheat

  • An online dating study of 200,000 users found that women’s desirability peaked at age 21 and dropped by 50% at 31 (men peaked at 26 and dropped at 36)

Sexual economics theory depicts many romantic pairings as exchanges in which the man brings money and other resources, while the woman contributes sex. Her sexual desirability is based partly on her looks. These resources change over time in a way that is not kind to women. If a man and a woman wait 5 years, as compared to marrying now, things likely change in different directions. His salary and bank account are likely to increase over those years. Her face and body may lose some of their bloom. Hence when they revisit the marriage market, his appeal and his options will have increased, while hers have decreased.

-Roy Baumeister

She comes first

A survey of 53,000 Americans found that 95% of men usually orgasmed during sex versus 65% of women. To fix this gap, men should focus on women’s pleasure first, whether it’s with oral sex, fingering, or a vibrator. When women orgasm, their vaginas become lubricated and engorged. This makes sex better for both partners.

It takes time to learn what feels good for a woman. For example, researchers found that college women orgasmed in 11% of first hookups versus 67% of sex with long-term partners.

For intense female pleasure, there is a couples’ technique called “The 15-Minute Orgasm”. It involves lightly stroking the side of the clitoris for 15 minutes. You can search online for instructions and diagrams.

The male brain is designed for sexual jealousy. Men are suspicious about whom a woman has slept with and frequently press their partner on how many times she’s previously had sex; most women are savvy enough to round this number down. Likewise, the female brain is designed for emotional jealousy. Women usually push their partner to reveal how many times he’s previously been in love; men are often foolish enough to provide a figure other than zero. Ultimately, a woman wants to feel that a man loves her, and her alone, unconditionally and forever—and that none of a man’s previous women ever rose to anywhere near the same level.

-Ogi Ogas

Safe sex

In the United States, the following number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diagnosed each year:

  • Chlamydia: 1.8 million

  • Gonorrhea: 0.6 million

  • Trichomonas: 0.2 million

  • Syphilis: 0.1 million

These bacterial and parasitic STIs are curable with antibiotics. In contrast, STIs caused by viruses are treatable, but not curable. The following number of Americans are chronically infected:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): 79 million

  • Genital herpes: 50 million

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): 1.2 million

In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested homosexual and bisexual men in 21 major cities and found that 1 in 5 were infected with HIV. Over 40% were unaware of their infection.

Whatever your sexual orientation, practice safe sex and get tested regularly. And insist that your partner gets tested. Finally, the CDC recommends HPV vaccination to prevent genital warts and cervical cancer.

There is nothing safe about sex. There never will be.

-Norman Mailer


References


Hunters and warriors

Apicella CL. (2014). Upper-body strength predicts hunting reputation and reproductive success in Hadza hunter-gatherers. Evolution Human Behavior. 35(6): 508–518.

  • A study of 54 male Hadza hunter-gatherers found that upper-body strength and running speed were the strongest predictors of hunting success

  • Upper-body strength peaked around age 30 and declined around 50

  • For physical characteristics, only upper-body strength and running speed predicted reproductive success

  • 90.1% of Hadza men said the brain was more important than the body for hunting success

  • When asked to freely name the body part most important for being a good hunter, the most common answer was heart or spirit (39.62%), followed by arms (26.41%)

Marlowe FM. (2004). Mate preferences among Hadza hunter-gatherers. Hum Nat. 15(4): 365–376.

  • For Hadza hunter-gatherers, males contribute 43% of daily calories, but this increases to 50% for married couples, and 65% for those with nursing infants

  • Median age at first marriage is 21 for men and 17 for women

  • 20% stay married to the same person for life

  • Men who are better hunters have more children and younger wives

  • A survey of 85 Hadza found that men valued fertility more than women, and women valued intelligence more than men

  • Women placed great importance on men’s foraging, and both sexes valued character

Wood BM, Marlowe FW. (2013). Household and kin provisioning by Hadza men. Hum Nat. 24(3): 280–317.

  • A study of 63 male Hadza hunter-gatherers found that the best hunters provided 3–4X the amount of food to their families than median or poor hunters

Gómez JM et al. (2016). The phylogenetic roots of human lethal violence. Nature. 538(7624): 233–237.

  • In primates, lethal violence is 1.8–2.3% of all deaths

  • Paleolithic lethal violence in hunter-gatherer bands was 2.0% of all deaths

  • About 10,000 years ago, humans started living in tribes and chiefdoms, and lethal violence increased to 5–10% of all deaths

Chagnon NA. (1988). Life histories, blood revenge, and warfare in a tribal population. Science. 239(4843): 985–992.

  • Studies of the Yanomamö Indians of Amazonas show that 44% of adult males have participated in killing someone, and 30% of adult male deaths are due to violence

  • Killers have an average of 4.91 children vs. 1.59 for non-killers

  • Headmen of villages are usually polygynous and may have up to a dozen wives over a lifetime

What women want

Roser M, Ritchie H. (2019, December). Homicides. Our World Data. https://ourworldindata.org/homicides#the-global-distribution-of-homicides

  • Homicide rate is 0.1% in Western Europe, 0.7% in the United States, 6% in Mexico, and 8% in Venezuela

Von Rueden CR, Jaeggi AV. (2016). Men’s status and reproductive success in 33 nonindustrial societies: Effects of subsistence, marriage system, and reproductive strategy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113(39): 10824–10829.

  • A meta-analysis of 46 studies from 33 nonindustrial societies found that male status increased reproductive success (effect size = 0.19)

  • Male status increased surviving offspring in societies that were polygynous (effect size = 0.30) and monogamous (effect size = 0.20)

  • In monogamous societies, male status was associated with wife quality (effect size = 0.15), but not in polygynous societies

Lidborg LH, Cross CP, Boothroyd LG. (2020). Does masculinity really matter? A meta-analysis of the relationships between sexually dimorphic traits in men and mating/reproduction. bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.06.980896

  • A meta-analysis of 96 studies with 177,044 participants found that strength/muscularity was the strongest and only consistent predictor of both mating and reproduction (effect size = 0.13)

  • Mating was also predicted by voice pitch (effect size = 0.13), testosterone level (effect size = 0.09), and height (effect size = 0.06)

  • Facial masculinity did not significantly predict mating or reproduction (effect size = 0.08)

Judge TA, Colbert AE, Ilies R. (2004). Intelligence and leadership: a quantitative review and test of theoretical propositions. J Appl Psychol. 89(3): 542–552.

  • A meta-analysis of 151 samples found that intelligence was associated with leadership (effect size = 0.27)

Miao C et al. (2018). Emotional intelligence and authentic leadership: a meta-analysis. Leadership Organization Development Journal. 39(5): 679–690.

  • A meta-analysis of 11 studies with 3,507 participants found that emotional intelligence was associated with authentic leadership (effect size = 0.49)

  • Authentic leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and understand their emotions

DeGroot T, Kiker DS, Cross TC. (2000). A meta‐analysis to review organizational outcomes related to charismatic leadership. Canadian Journal Administrative Sciences. 17(4): 356–372.

  • A meta-analysis of 36 samples found that charismatic leadership improved group performance (effect size = 0.49)

Judge TA et al. (2002). Personality and leadership: a qualitative and quantitative review. J Appl Psychol. 87(4): 765–780.

  • A meta-analysis of 73 samples found that leadership was associated with extraversion (effect size = 0.31), conscientiousness (effect size = 0.28), and openness to experience (effect size = 0.24)

  • Leadership was inversely correlated with neuroticism (effect size = -0.24)

Lukaszewski AW et al. (2016). The role of physical formidability in human social status allocation. J Pers Soc Psychol. 110(3): 385–406.

  • 4 studies found that physical strength predicted social status

Judge TA, Cable DM. (2004). The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: preliminary test of a theoretical model. J Appl Psychol. 89(3): 428–441.

  • A meta-analysis of 44 studies found that physical height was associated with success (effect size = 0.29) and leader emergence (effect size = 0.24)

High testosterone

Handelsman DJ, Hirschberg AL, Bermon S. (2018). Circulating testosterone as the hormonal basis of sex differences in athletic performance. Endocr Rev. 39(5): 803–829.

  • A review of studies found that men had circulating testosterone levels that were 15X higher than women at any age

Geniole SN et al. (2020). Is testosterone linked to human aggression? A meta-analytic examination of the relationship between baseline, dynamic, and manipulated testosterone on human aggression. Horm Behav. 123: 104644.

  • A meta-analysis of 116 studies with 15,198 participants found that male aggression was associated with changes in testosterone (effect size = 0.16) and baseline testosterone (effect size = 0.07)

Muñoz-Reyes JA et al. (2020). The Male Warrior Hypothesis: Testosterone-related cooperation and aggression in the context of intergroup conflict. Sci Rep. 10(1): 375.

  • Testosterone affects aggression and cooperation in the struggle for status

  • A study of 246 young men found that body muscularity increased aggression and cooperation in competitions with other groups

McDonald MM, Navarrete CD, Van Vugt M. (2012). Evolution and the psychology of intergroup conflict: the male warrior hypothesis. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 367(1589): 670–679.

  • A study of 31 hunter-gatherer societies found that 64% fought wars every 2 years

  • The male warrior hypothesis suggests that men evolved to form coalitions for aggressively acquiring or protecting reproductive resources

  • Consistent with this hypothesis, studies have shown that men are more prejudiced against outgroups, prefer social hierarchies, are motivated to support one’s ingroup, and are predisposed to aggression against outgroups

Kurath J, Mata R. (2018). Individual differences in risk taking and endogeneous levels of testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol: A systematic literature search and three independent meta-analyses. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 90: 428–446.

  • A meta-analysis of 49 studies with 9,112 participants found that testosterone increased risk-taking and impulsivity (effect size = 0.12)

Varanoske AN, Margolis LM, Pasiakos SM. (2020). Effects of testosterone on serum concentrations, fat-free mass, and physical performance by population: A meta-analysis. J Endocr Soc. 4(9): bvaa090.

  • A meta-analysis of 20 studies found that testosterone administration increased upper body strength (effect size = 0.26), functional performance (effect size = 0.20), and lower body strength (effect size = 0.12)

Zaidi AA et al. (2019). Facial masculinity does not appear to be a condition-dependent male ornament and does not reflect MHC heterozygosity in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116(5): 1633–1638.

  • A study of 1,233 3D images of Europeans found that facial masculinity was positively correlated with adult height in males and females (effect sizes = 0.23 and 0.30, respectively)

Marcinkowska UM et al. (2019). Women’s preferences for men’s facial masculinity are strongest under favorable ecological conditions. Sci Rep. 9(1): 3387.

  • 4,483 heterosexual women from 34 countries rated photographs of 20 Caucasian men’s faces

  • Women preferred more masculine-looking men in countries with higher sociosexuality and higher indices of national health and human development

  • Men’s secondary sexual traits appear during puberty and include square jaw, strong brow, midface robustness, muscular physique, facial hair, and deep voice

Dixson BJW et al. (2016). The masculinity paradox: facial masculinity and beardedness interact to determine women’s ratings of men’s facial attractiveness. J Evol Biol. 29(11): 2311–2320.

  • During puberty, testosterone causes development of masculine characteristics such as strong brow, thicker jaw, longer face, facial hair, and physical strength

  • Bearded and stubbled men are rated as older, more masculine, and more socially dominant than clean-shaven men

Schild C et al. (2020). Linking human male vocal parameters to perceptions, body morphology, strength and hormonal profiles in contexts of sexual selection. Sci Rep. 10: 21296.

  • 240 men and women rated vocal attractiveness of 160 men

  • A deep voice was associated with attractiveness for short- and long-term mating (effect size = 0.82)

  • A meta-analysis of 3 studies with 279 participants found that testosterone was associated with a deep voice (effect size = 0.23), but not in men with high stress cortisol levels

My fair lady

Lipson SF, Ellison PT. (1996). Comparison of salivary steroid profiles in naturally occurring conception and non-conception cycles. Hum Reprod. 11(10): 2090–2096.

  • A 1-year prospective study of 24 healthy women found that mid-follicular estrogen concentrations were higher in conception vs. non-conception cycles (12.6 vs. 8.5 pmol/L)

  • The probability of conception was <10% at the lowest values and rose to 50% at the highest values

Menken J, Trussell J, Larsen U. (1986). Age and infertility. Science. 233(4771): 1389–1394.

  • Compared with women aged 20 to 24, fertility was 6% lower from 25 to 29; 14% from 30 to 34; and 31% from 35 to 39

  • Male fertility from 50 to 54 was 73% lower compared to early 20s

Dunson DB, Colombo B, Baird DD. (2002). Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle. Hum Reprod. 17(5): 1399–1403.

  • A study of 782 healthy couples found that probability of pregnancy was twice as high for women aged 19 to 26 years vs. women aged 35 to 39 years

Jacobsen BK et al. (2016). Body mass index at age 20 and subsequent childbearing: the Adventist Health Study-2. J Women’s Health. 22(5): 460–466.

  • A study of 33,159 women found that being underweight (BMI <18.5) at age 20 was associated with 13% higher risk of nulligravidity or nulliparity

  • Obesity (BMI ≥32.5) at age 20 was associated with 250% higher risk compared with BMI between 20 to 24.9

Jasieńska G et al. (2004). Large breasts and narrow waists indicate high reproductive potential in women. Proc Biol Sci. 271(1545): 1213–1217.

  • A study of 119 women found that women with large breasts and narrow waists had 26% higher estrogen levels, including 37% higher mid-cycle levels

  • This corresponded to a 2–3X higher probability of conception

Estradiol blood test. (2019, June 30). UCSF Health. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/medical-tests/003711

  • Normal estradiol blood levels are 10–50 pg/mL for men; 30–400 pg/mL for premenopausual women; and 0–30 pg/mL for postmenopausal women

Durante KM, Li NP. (2009). Oestradiol level and opportunistic mating in women. Biol Lett. 5(2): 179–182.

  • A study of 52 young women found that high estrogen increased self-perceived attractiveness (effect size = 0.46) and third-party ratings (effect size = 0.44)

Smith MJL et al. (2012). Maternal tendencies in women are associated with estrogen levels and facial femininity. Horm Behav. 61(1): 12–6.

  • Women with more feminine waist-to-hip ratios have more feminine personality traits

  • Women with lower testosterone levels report less masculine personality traits, have more traditionally feminine jobs, and achieve lower status in the workplace

  • Women with lower salivary testosterone report higher maternal tendencies

  • Women with higher estrogen have larger breasts, hourglass figures, and more feminine faces

  • A study of 25 women found that those with higher estrogen desired more children (effect size = 0.44)

Smith MJL et al. (2006). Facial appearance is a cue to oestrogen levels in women. Proc Biol Sci. 273(1583): 135–140.

  • A study of 59 women found that late follicular estrogen levels were associated with ratings of health (effect size = 0.52), femininity (effect size = 0.48), and attractiveness (effect size = 0.48)

Jones D. (1995). Sexual selection, physical attractiveness, and facial neoteny. Curr Anthropol. 36(5): 723–748.

  • A study of Americans, Brazilians, Russians, and Ache Indians found that neotenous female faces (large eyes, large foreheads, small jaw, small nose) were rated most attractive

Thornhill R, Møller AP. (1997). Developmental stability, disease and medicine. Biol Rev. 72(4): 497–548.

  • Estrogenized female faces are rated as more attractive (narrow lower jaw, large lips, prominent cheekbones, short chin)

  • High testosterone in men causes growth of lower face, jaw, cheekbones, and brow ridges

Banai IP. (2017). Voice in different phases of menstrual cycle among naturally cycling women and users of hormonal contraceptives. PLoS One. 12(8): e0183462.

  • Women with higher-pitched voices are rated as more attractive, younger, and more feminine

  • A study of 44 women found they had higher vocal pitch during the fertile phase of their cycles

Dunsworth HM. (2020). Expanding the evolutionary explanations for sex differences in the human skeleton. Evol Anthropol. 29(3): 108–116.

  • During puberty, high estrogen levels in women cause bones to fuse earlier than men, and this results in sex differences in adult height and mass

Manning JT, Bundred PE, Mather FM. (2004). Second to fourth digit ratio, sexual selection, and skin colour. Evolution Human Behavior. 25(1): 38–50.

  • In all human groups, males tend to be darker skinned than females due to differences in prenatal and adult estrogen

  • Women’s skin lightens at puberty, whereas men’s skin becomes darker

Lobmaier JS et al. (2018). The scent of attractiveness: levels of reproductive hormones explain individual differences in women’s body odour. Proc Biol Sci. 285(1886): 20181520.

  • 57 men rated body odors of 28 naturally-cycling young women

  • Women’s body odor attractiveness was predicted by higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of progesterone

Pettijohn 2nd TF, Jungeberg BJ. (2004). Playboy Playmate curves: changes in facial and body feature preferences across social and economic conditions. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 30(9): 1186–1197.

  • From 1960 to 2000, Playboy Playmates averaged the following measurements: Age: 22; Hourglass figure: 36-23-35; Height: 5’7; and BMI: 18.6

Sexual marketplace

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. (2021, February 9). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul

Brainerd E. (2017). The lasting effect of sex ratio imbalance on marriage and family: Evidence from World War II in Russia. Review Economics Statistics. 99(2): 229–242.

  • After World War II, the ratio of men to women in Russia was 65:100

  • Scarcity of men caused the marriage rate to decrease by 8%; nonmarital births to increase from 43 to 68 per 1,000; and the divorce rate to increase from 1.4 to 8.8 per 1,000

Townsend JM, Kline J, Wasserman TH. (1995). Low-investment copulation: Sex differences in motivations and emotional reactions. Ethology Sociobiology. 16(1): 25–51.

  • A survey of 288 college students found that men with the most sexual partners were star athletes, fraternity leaders, and other high-status men

  • Basketball and football stars had over 100 sex partners, whereas rugby and lacrosse stars had over 40 partners

  • 33% of stars had girlfriends, but discreetly cheated on them

  • Some stars were concerned about risks of rape allegations, political incorrectness, paternity claims, and disease, and they avoided random hookups in favor of harems of 10–20 women

  • 8 nonathletes became upperclassmen in fraternities and their new high status enabled hookups with multiple younger women

Denyer S, Gowen A. (2018, April 18). Too many men. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/too-many-men/

  • In China, there are 34 million excess men and they compete for wives by building houses and paying in-laws

Rudder C. (2009, November 17). Your looks and your inbox. OkTrends.

  • On the OkCupid dating website, the top 20% of men received 11X more messages than the bottom 20%

  • Top women received 25X more messages

Gunderman R. (2012, October 29). ‘Virgins Wanted’: The human dimensions of a site auctioning sex. Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/10/virgins-wanted-the-human-dimensions-of-a-site-auctioning-sex/264209/

Ogas O, Gaddam S. (2011). A billion wicked thoughts: What the world’s largest experiment reveals about human desire. Penguin Group.

  • Researchers studied 55 million Internet searches for erotic content from July 2009 to July 2010 on the Dogpile search engine from about 2 million users around the world

Man in demand

Hitsch GJ, Hortaçsu A, Ariely D. (2010). What makes you click?—Mate preferences in online dating. Quant Mark Econ. 8: 393–427.

  • A study of 3,702 male and 2,783 female users of an online dating service found that women were 8.9% more likely to message a man who earned $150K–200K vs. $35K–50K

Davis AP. (2013, July 29). Tailored suits lead to online dating success, says suit company. Cut. https://www.thecut.com/2013/07/suits-matter-in-online-dating-says-suit-company.html

  • A 4-month study on the OkCupid dating website found that men in tailored suits received 3.5X more unsolicited messages vs. off-the-rack suits

Vacharkulksemsuk T et al. (2016). Dominant, open nonverbal displays are attractive at zero-acquaintance. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113(15): 4009–4014.

  • A study of 144 speed-dates found that postural expansiveness increased attraction (each one-unit increase raised odds of a “yes” response by 76%)

  • For men, 87% of “yes” responses were for an expansive profile vs. 53% for women

  • A second study of 3,000 ratings of 6 profiles found that postural expansiveness increased odds of a “yes” response by 27%

Li NP et al. (2020). Confidence is sexy and it can be trained: Examining male social confidence in initial, opposite-sex interactions. J Pers. 88(6): 1235–1251.

  • 3 speed-dating studies with 235 participants found that social confidence was trainable and increased romantic desirability

Gildersleeve K, Haselton MG, Fales MR. (2014). Do women’s mate preferences change across the ovulatory cycle? A meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull. 140(5): 1205–1259.

  • A meta-analysis of 50 studies with 5,471 participants found that ovulating women preferred men who were muscular (effect size = 0.21) and masculine (effect size = 0.15)

Guéguen N. (2007). Courtship compliance: The effect of touch on women’s behavior. Social Influence. 2(2): 81–97.

  • An attractive 20-year-old man approached 240 young women in the street and asked for their phone number

  • 19.2% of women agreed when he lightly touched their forearm for 1 second vs. 10.0% with no touch

Boost testosterone

Leproult R, Van Cauter E. (2011). Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA. 305(21): 2173–2174.

  • 10 healthy young men slept 8 hours per night for 7 nights, followed by 5 hours per night for 8 nights

  • Testosterone decreased by 10–15%

Geniole SN et al. (2017). Effects of competition outcome on testosterone concentrations in humans: An updated meta-analysis. Horm Behav. 92: 37–50.

  • A meta-analysis of 60 effect sizes and >2,500 participants found that winners of competitions increased testosterone relative to losers (effect size = 0.20)

  • The effect was strongest for studies conducted outside the lab (effect size = 0.43)

Dorgan JF et al. (1996). Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 64(6): 850–855.

  • 43 men ate a low-fat/high-fiber or high-fat/low-fiber diet for 10 weeks

  • Testosterone was 13% higher on the high-fat/low-fiber diet

Reis LO et al. (2010). Erectile dysfunction and hormonal imbalance in morbidly obese male is reversed after gastric bypass surgery: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Int J Androl. 33(5): 736–744.

  • A randomized controlled trial of 20 obese men found that gastric bypass surgery for weight loss increased testosterone by 106% and improved erectile function

Escasa MJ, Casey JF, Gray PB. (2011). Salivary testosterone levels in men at a U.S. sex club. Arch Sex Behav. 40(5): 921–926.

  • Researchers measured testosterone levels of 44 men who visited a sex club

  • Men who participated in sex acts increased testosterone by 72% vs. 11% for observers

  • A man who watched his wife have sex with multiple men before he had sex with her had a decrease in testosterone of 24%

  • A man who had sex with 3 women had an increase of 109%

van Anders SM, Hamilton LD, Watson NV. (2007). Multiple partners are associated with higher testosterone in North American men and women. Horm Behav. 51(3): 454–459.

  • A study of 47 men found that partnered men had the lowest levels of testosterone

  • Testosterone was higher in men who were polyamorous (129%) and single (71%)

Dating for men

Rosenfeld MJ, Thomas RJ, Hausen S. (2019). Disintermediating your friends: How online dating in the United States displaces other ways of meeting. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 116(36): 17753–17758.

  • A survey of 5,421 heterosexuals found that couples met online (39%); in a bar or restaurant (27%); through friends (20%); through or as coworkers (11%); through family (7%); in primary or secondary school (5%); in church (4%); in college (4%); or through or as neighbors (3%)

Asendorpf JB, Penke L, Back MD. (2011). From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating in a community sample. Eur J Pers. 25: 16–30.

  • A 1-year speed-dating study with 382 participants found that men and women based their choices mainly on partners’ physical attractiveness, although women were also interested in education and income

  • Choosiness increased with age in men (45% acceptance rate decreased to 30%), and decreased with age in women (30% acceptance rate increased to 35%)

  • Across speed-dates, probabilities were 6% for a sexual encounter and 4% for a romantic relationship

Lenton AP, Francesconi M. (2010). How humans cognitively manage an abundance of mate options.

Psychol Sci. 21(4): 528–533.

  • A study of 1,868 women and 1,870 men across 84 speed-dating events found that when faced with abundant choice, choosers paid less attention to characteristics requiring more time to evaluate (e.g., occupational status and educational attainment) and more attention to characteristics that could be assessed quickly (e.g., height and weight)

Bruch EE, Newman MEJ. (2018). Aspirational pursuit of mates in online dating markets. Sci Adv. 4(8): eaap9815.

  • A study of 186,935 users of a free online dating site found that men and women sent messages to people who were 26% and 23% more attractive than them, respectively

  • >80% of first messages were from men

  • Women’s average reply rate was <20%

Baranowski AM, Hecht H. (2015). Gender differences and similarities in receptivity to sexual invitations: Effects of location and risk perception. Arch Sex Behav. 44(8): 2257–2265.

  • 5 studies found that 31% of women agreed to dates when approached by men

  • 50% of single women consented to dates vs. 5% of partnered women

Guéguen N. (2011). Effects of solicitor sex and attractiveness on receptivity to sexual offers: A field study. Arch Sex Behav. 40(5): 915–919.

  • In France, males of average vs. high attractiveness approached 120 females and asked: “Will you come to my apartment and have a drink?” or “Would you go to bed with me?”

  • For average men, women agreed to drinks (23%) and sex (0%)

  • For attractive men, women agreed to drinks (57%) and sex (3%)

Petersen JL, Hyde JS. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993-2007. Psychol Bull. 136(1): 21–38.

  • A meta-analysis of 730 studies with 1,419,807 participants found that men were more likely than women to engage in pornography use (effect size = 0.63), masturbation (effect size = 0.53), casual sex (effect size = 0.38), and extra-marital sex (effect size = 0.33)

La France BH et al. (2009). Social–sexual interactions? Meta-analyses of sex differences in perceptions of flirtatiousness, seductiveness, and promiscuousness. Communication Monographs. 76(3): 263–285.

  • A meta-analysis of 15 studies found that men overestimated women’s seductiveness (effect size = 0.21) and promiscuity (effect size = 0.15)

Wlodarski R, Manning J, Dunbar RIM. (2015). Stay or stray? Evidence for alternative mating strategy phenotypes in both men and women. Biol Lett. 11(2): 20140977.

  • A study of 1,909 participants found that unrestricted sociosexuality was higher in males (62%) than females (50%)

  • The 50% of unrestricted females had higher promiscuity scores than the 38% of restricted males

Campbell L et al. (2009). The association between men’s ratings of women as desirable long-term mates and individual differences in women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors. Personality Individual Differences. 46(4): 509–513.

  • 142 men rated faces of 140 women

  • Women with more masculine faces were rated as less desirable long-term mates (effect size = 0.56)

  • Other studies found that higher testosterone was associated with more unrestricted sociosexuality in women

Bártová K et al. (2020). Femininity in men and masculinity in women is positively related to sociosexuality. Personality Individual Differences. 152(1): 109575.

  • A survey of 684 heterosexual women found that masculinity was associated with sociosexuality (effect size = 0.14–0.27)

Gouda-Vossos A et al. (2018). Mate choice copying in humans: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Adaptive Human Behavior Physiology. 4: 364–386.

  • A meta-analysis of 17 studies found that women were more attracted to men desired by attractive women (effect size = 0.12)

Femme fatale

Wang G et al. (2015). The relationship of female physical attractiveness to body fatness. PeerJ. 3: e1155.

  • 1,327 participants from Austria, Lithuania, U.K., China, Iran, Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal rated attractiveness of 21 female images

  • In all populations, lower BMI was more attractive

  • An analysis of previous studies found that maximal physical attractiveness occurred at a BMI between 18.4 to 21.4

Mondragón-Ceballos R et al. (2015). Waist-to-Hip Ratio, but not Body Mass Index, is associated with testosterone and estradiol concentrations in young women. Int J Endocrinol. 2015: 654046.

  • A study of 187 young women found that estrogen levels were significantly correlated with low Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR)

  • High estrogen maintains a low WHR by regulating fat accumulation in buttocks, hips, thighs, and bosom

Guéguen N, Jacob C. (2011). Enhanced female attractiveness with use of cosmetics and male tipping behavior in restaurants. J Cosmet Sci. 62(3): 283–290.

  • A study with 112 male restaurant patrons found they tipped more frequently when the female server wore makeup (55.2%) vs. no makeup (32.2%)

Guéguen N. (2008). The effects of women’s cosmetics on men’s approach: An evaluation in a bar. North American Journal Psychology. 10(1): 221–228.

  • A French study with 213 young men found that women wearing makeup were more likely to be approached at a bar: 2.07 approaches per hour with makeup vs. 1.57 with no makeup

Prantl L, Gründl M. (2011). Males prefer a larger bust size in women than females themselves: an experimental study on female bodily attractiveness with varying weight, bust size, waist width, hip width, and leg length independently. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 35(5): 693–702.

  • 34,015 participants rated attractiveness of 243 morphed images of the same woman

  • For bust size, men’s preferences were: small (9.8%), medium (50%), large (40%)

  • For weight, men’s preferences were: underweight (39%), normal (52%), overweight (9.8%)

  • For leg length, men’s preferences were: normal (11%), long (37%), very long (52%)

Guéguen N. (2007). Women’s bust size and men’s courtship solicitation. Body Image. 4(4): 386–390.

  • An average-looking 20-year-old woman sat in a bar while wearing A-, B-, or C-cup padded bras

  • She was approached by the following number of men: A-cup: 18, B-cup: 28, C-cup: 60

Mesko N, Bereczkei T. (2004). Hairstyle as an adaptive means of displaying phenotypic quality. Hum Nat. 15(3): 251–270.

  • 52 men rated 120 photos of 20 women with 6 different hairstyles

  • Women were rated as most attractive when they had medium or long hair

Miller G, Tybur JM, Jordan BD. (2007). Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus? Evolution Human Behavior. 28(6): 375–381.

  • A study of 18 exotic dancers giving 5,300 lap dances found that normal-cycling dancers earned $335 per 5-hour shift during estrus, $260 during the luteal phase, and $185 during menstruation

  • Dancers using oral contraception showed no estrus earnings peak

Birnbaum GE et al. (2014). Why do men prefer nice women? Gender typicality mediates the effect of responsiveness on perceived attractiveness in initial acquaintanceships. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 40(10): 1341–1353.

  • A study with 112 male and female college students found that female responsiveness increased male ratings of femininity (effect size = 0.78) and attractiveness (effect size = 0.26)

  • A second study with 79 women and 82 men found similar results

Tracy JL, Beall AT. (2011). Happy guys finish last: the impact of emotion expressions on sexual attraction. Emotion. 11(6): 1379–1387.

  • Two studies with 1,041 participants found that happiness was the most attractive female expression of emotion

  • On a 9-point scale, smiling increased female attractiveness from 3.9 to 5.1

Kniffin KM, Wilson DS. (2004). The effect of nonphysical traits on the perception of physical attractiveness: Three naturalistic studies. Evolution Human Behavior. 25(2): 88–101.

  • On a 6-week archeology expedition, 3 male and 12 female students rated each other’s intelligence, work ethic, and physical attractiveness

  • For women, initial ratings of physical attractiveness accounted for 62% of final ratings vs. 19% for men

Baranowski AM, Hecht H. (2015). Gender differences and similarities in receptivity to sexual invitations: Effects of location and risk perception. Arch Sex Behav. 44(8): 2257–2265.

  • 5 studies found that 37% of men agreed to dates when approached by women (58% of men agreed to sex)

  • 73% of single men agreed to dates vs. 8% of partnered men

Guéguen N. (2011). Effects of solicitor sex and attractiveness on receptivity to sexual offers: A field study. Arch Sex Behav. 40(5): 915–919.

  • In France, females of average vs. high attractiveness approached 120 males and asked: “Will you come to my apartment and have a drink?” or “Would you go to bed with me?”

  • For average women, men agreed to drinks (80%) and sex (60%)

  • For attractive women, men agreed to drinks (97%) and sex (83%)

Litschi A et al. (2014). Relationships in America survey. Austin Institute Study Family Culture. https://relationshipsinamerica.com/pdf/Relationships%20in%20America%202014.pdf

  • A survey of 15,738 Americans found that 51% of dating women preferred to be married vs. 42% of men

Wang W, Paker K. (2014, September 24). Record share of Americans have never married: As values, economics and gender patterns change. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2014/09/24/record-share-of-americans-have-never-married/

  • A survey of 369 unmarried people found that 78% of women wanted to marry a man with a steady job

  • There are 65 employed unmarried men per 100 unmarried women

  • By age 64, there are 62 unmarried men per 100 unmarried women

Lammers J et al. (2011). Power increases infidelity among men and women. Psychol Sci. 22(9): 1191–1197.

  • A survey of 1,561 professionals found that power increased infidelity intentions among men and women (effect size = 0.11)

Klimas C et al. (2019). Higher testosterone levels are associated with unfaithful behavior in men. Biol Psychol. 146: 107730.

  • A study of 224 middle-aged men found that higher testosterone increased infidelity (effect size = 0.10)

Rudder C. (2010, February 16). The case for an older woman. OkTrends.

  • A study of 200,000 users on the OkCupid dating service found that women’s desirability peaked at age 21 and dropped by 50% at 31

  • Men peaked at 26 and dropped by 50% at 36

Sex skills

Frederick DA et al. (2017). Differences in orgasm frequency among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual men and women in a U.S. national sample. Arch Sex Behav. 47: 273–288.

  • A survey of 52,588 Americans found that 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasmed during sex vs. 65% of heterosexual women

Armstrong EA, England P, Fogarty ACK. (2012). Accounting for women’s orgasm and sexual enjoyment in college hookups and relationships. American Sociological Review. 77(3): 435–462.

  • A survey of 14,583 undergraduate women at 21 colleges and universities found that women reported orgasms in 11% of first hookups vs. 67% of sex with long-term partners

Ferriss T. (2013, April 9). Your 15-minute orgasm. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/sexual-health/a700227/your-15-minute-orgasm/

Sagarin BJ et al. (2012). Sex differences in jealousy: a meta-analytic examination. Evolution Human Behavior. 33(6): 595–614.

  • A meta-analysis of 40 studies found that men were more jealous of sexual infidelities and women were more jealous of emotional infidelities (effect size = 0.26)

Safe sex

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Sexually transmitted disease surveillance 2018. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. DOI: 10.15620/cdc.79370.

  • In 2018, a total of 1,758,668 cases of Chlamydia trachomatis were reported to the CDC

  • There were 583,405 cases of gonorrhea and 115,045 cases of syphilis

  • In 2016, there were 222,000 initial visits for Trichomonas vaginalis

  • Routine HPV vaccination is recommended up to age 26

Han JJ et al. (2017). Prevalence of genital human papillomavirus infection and human papillomavirus vaccination rates among US adult men. JAMA Oncol. 3(6): 810–816.

  • In the United States, it is estimated that 79 million people are infected with HPV

  • HPV-6 and HPV-11 types are responsible for 90% of genital warts

Fatahzadeh M, Schwartz RA. (2007). Human herpes simplex virus infections: epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management. J Am Acad Dermatol. 57(5): 737–763.

  • In the United States, it is estimated that 50 million people have genital herpes

  • 0.5 million new symptomatic cases occur each year

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the United States, 2014–2018. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report. 25(1).

  • In 2018, the estimated number of Americans living with HIV was 1,152,400

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Prevalence and awareness of HIV infection among men who have sex with men – 21 cities, United States, 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 59(37): 1201–1207.

  • In 2008, the CDC tested 8,153 homosexual and bisexual men in 21 major cities and found that 19% were infected with HIV

  • 44% were unaware of their infection


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