Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Insecurities and evolutionary biology

People wrote in comments to the last post that I have "insecurities."

Of course I do. To be insecure is to be lacking in confidence. Confidence in an activity comes from being successful at it. A heart surgeon who has done hundreds of heart operations would be confident in his ability to perform another surgery because of his track record of success. But if you suddenly found yourself in an operating room holding a scalpel, and you were supposed to start surgery, you would be justifiably insecure.

Similarly, past success with women would naturally make a man confident that he would be successful again. On the other hand, since I've had nothing but failure with women, I would naturally be extremely insecure when it comes to women. There are some people who are able to fake confidence even though they have no basis for it, but unfortunately I am not one of those relatively rare people.

Because women like men who are confident, this becomes either a virtuous or vicious circle. The man who is succesful with women becomes more confident, which makes him even more attractive to women, which makes him even more successful, inflating his confidence even more. But I am, unfortunately, on the vicious end of that circle.

Women say they like men who are confident. Women say a lot of things they like about men, much of it not true, but I believe that women like confident men because it has a bio-evolutionary basis. Evolutionary biology teaches us that women look for a mate who will maximize their offspring's evolutionary fitness. Sometimes this is wrongly stated as giving their children a survival advantage, but this is only part of it. A woman will want to have boy children who will pass on their genes to as many women as possible, maximzing the spread of her own genes. Thus the alpha male is the preferred mate for a woman, because whatever genes make a man an alpha male will hopefully be passed on to male children who will themselves become alpha males.

Evolutionary biologists often wrongly try to define the alpha male in terms of particular physical characteristics, but this overlooks the fact that humans are complicated social animals, and alpha maleness is as much a social construct as it is one based on some particular characteristic such as being tall or muscular. But because the alpha male is, by definition, someone who is highly successful with women, he will naturally be very confident around women. This is the biological reason why women like men who are confident. It is a sign of alpha maleness. Women who had sex with confident men were more successful in spreading their genes.

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