Mathematics Used To Back Up 50's Era Romance Rules


Mathematicians are asserting that women who refuse to have sex on the first date are more likely to find a “good” man than those who put out earlier.

Research published this month in the Journal of Theoretical Biology uses game theory to analyze the way that men and women interact strategically in the “mating game.” The model assumes that there are “good” or “bad” male mates, and women get a positive payoff from mating with a “good” mate and a negative payoff from mating with a “bad.” Men, on the other hand, get a positive payoff from mating with any type of female. According to professor Robert Seymour, the mathematical model proves that if women want to snag a “good” guy, they had better keep their pants on:

By delaying mating, the female is able to reduce the chance that she will mate with a bad male. A male’s willingness to court for a long time is a signal that he is likely to be a good male. Long courtship is a price paid for increasing the chance that mating, if it occurs, will be a harmonious match which benefits both sexes. This may help to explain the commonly held belief that a woman is best advised not to sleep with a man on a first date.

It is not entirely clear what makes a man a “good” or “bad” mate, except for his willingness to wait around for sex. The assumption seems to be that women, looking to mate for life, are more likely to find a permanent partner through playing strategic games that weed out the “bad” guys. This model also assumes that men are not seeking a long-term partner, at least not for evolutionary purposes, even though a “good match” would “benefit both sexes.”

This research does not prove “couples should NOT have sex on their first date,” as a headline from the Daily Mail suggests. Coverage of the study is, unsurprisingly, sexist (not that the original study wasn’t), proclaiming that women should refuse their dates sex in order to weed out the “bad” (less persistent) dudes to get a “good” guy. Dating is reduced to a courtship “game” that can only be won by mating for life. There is no mention, in any of the articles, as to whether this evolutionary model is at all applicable to modern life.

Refusing to have sex on the first date ‘increases the chance of finding a good man’ [Telegraph]
Why you can’t hurry love [EurekAlert!]
The mathematical formula that proves couples should NOT have se on their first date [Daily Mail]

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