Mate Selection for Modernity

Originally published at: Mate Selection for Modernity – Quillette

“All things in nature occur mathematically.” ~ Rene Descartes Dating and the process of mate selection have changed. The rise of hook-up culture, proliferation of dating apps, and ever-increasing age of first marriage are evidence of this. This current situation can be summarized along four parameters: Increasing female achievement. Growing variability in male status and…


A few quibbles:
‘Preferences’ change over time. What a an early twenty something prefers may vary with age, experience & the threat of a biological ticking clock so surveying ambitious inexperienced college girls is unlikely to give a true depiction of the state of play. Surveys are one thing & the reality of limited options are quite another.
A college degree doesn’t guarantee either sex out earning those without a degree & in fact I doubt very much most out earn men in successful business’ or the building industry. And a lot of those useless degrees not only result in bad job prospects but huge debt.
Even if a woman out earns her husband initially as I & many of my peers did that changes significantly after children given that mostly wives take the career hit & their husband’s career takes off.
There are various dating apps that are renowned for specific needs Tinder being that of hookup culture for more below mid twenties. Sites like Bumble are known for those seeking a more long term relationship so perhaps they would have provided more accurate statistics.

“It is imperative that we, as a society, think carefully about solutions to this burgeoning crisis.”

Agreed. The narrative that a college degree is the ultimate status symbol needs to go. But also perhaps the mismatch is not so much a disaster than a symptom of male struggles in modern times that needs solutions & support. That they are increasingly opting out of competitiveness & achievement for computer games/ porn needs to be focused on rather than blaming the success of women.
Nature is demanding men lift their game to keep up with the changing environment & that’s not necessarily a bad thing in fact there’s potential for further human advancement if we can adapt.
If you build it they will come’…


I don’t know if it’s a crisis. People won’t hook up, they won’t have babies, and the population will age and decline. Is that a “crisis”?

It’ll be a lonely disconnected atomised society. But that’s been the course of industrialisation and consumerism from the start. “You don’t need people, you have stuff!

No crisis, just a slow decline into onanistic luxury.


I’m not convinced it is capitalism/consumerism. To my great shock I discovered that I think it is the enlightenment values that made the individual at the root and center if our values. We’re actively suppressing everything related to the long term survival of our group in lieu of the hedonistic individual.

The place where we see this sharpest is abortion. I’m a life long pro-choice but it was not until recently that I understood that the core argument of pro-life is more consistent and rational if you consider the fetus as a member of your group at conception. Let’s not start another abortion discussion here, it is just that for me the conflict between long term group interest stands most sharply against the short term hedonistic interest of the individual woman.

The partner problem of women is one of the many problems caused by a feminism that made masculinity the aspiration leaving the feminity post in our society unmanned. Feminism achieved this transformation by leveraging a false narrative of history that men have not found a to oppose. There is a reason women have become less happy than men in the past 60 years

I grew up in this model and it is hard to think differently than putting the individual first. However, sacrifices men made to get the girl gave us cathedrals. Enforced monogamy allowed all of us to prosper. If the people that came up with the enlightenment values continue as our last generations have been doing we will be going extinct. Maybe not relevant since there will be plenty of others, but as this article shows we do not seem to be getting happier.

There might have been good reasons for some of those rules that we rejected in our youth.


And yet it’s the ‘hedonistic’ individualist culture of the west that’s made it more prosperous & humane than collectivist societies elsewhere of which their citizens prefer the west hands down over.
Women’s workforce participation & consumerism has not only lead to better living standards for individuals and families, but is a significant driver of national economic growth. Collectivist societies aren’t as successful because of the absence of individual ambition & responsibility.

And yet they no longer have to risk dying to have a child or lose their children or husbands to an early death. In fact according to Steven Pinker women spend more time with their children now than they did in the 1950’s thanks to technology. Here’s some graphs that make a laughing stock of those ‘happiness’ surveys:

The thing is women are less likely to suffer in silence these days & being ‘unhappy’ may not necessarily be just about one’s role but could be for numerous reasons including lack of spirituality or meaning that’s often a feature of modernity.


I certainly agree with the demand of men to raise their game, but I also think the rules of the game have changed. Especially in education, stereotypical male traits are discouraged. Christina Hoff-Sommers wrote a book called “The War Against Boys”. In this book she makes an argument against the excesses of feminism that have transitioned America’s education system into a rebuke of masculine traits and motivation. I don’t think this is an excuse for young men, but it is a contributing factor to a lack of interest in education.

One of those masculine traits is competition. I was a terrible student, but the aspects of my schooling that motivated me were the competitive aspect. It probably sounds crazy to females, but the defeat of your enemy as a male is a glorious thing. Video games have provided this glorious condition for young males, in spite of physical attributes. Video games provide an equal playing field between alpha and beta males. No wonder this is addicting. Competition between males in actuality comforting for males, but competition with females is confusing. Confusing? What is more confusing? The social norms and rules between male and female flirting.

To flirt? or not to flirt? that is certainly the question. Confusing. Am I harassing? If I tell a woman I am attracted to her, is that disrespectful? Or better yet, you could use online porn to also level the playing field between alpha and beta, and have (not confusing ) unfettered access to beautiful women With no scrutiny or rejection. What would you choose Ella?

Ultimately, technology and the apparent end of mass mobilization warfare as a imperialistic method of power, has reduced the importance of male physical superiority. This is a good thing, for everyone, but a shock evolutionarily to men.This is what civilization fought for, but there are trade offs, especially when technology so dramatically outpaces human evolution like in the last two centuries. So actually nothing has changed. Regardless of the debate of how and why humans are here on earth, the mandate is the same since the very beginning: adapt.


And how does this all correlate with the sperm count questions?

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Agree Ella-B. All good points.


Long before this was a ‘thing’ I believed males & females should be educated separately simply because they respond better to different learning styles due to biological differences & a school can better target their resources to cater for learning & activities that develop masculinity & femininity in a more positive way. That’s not to suggest that women don’t exhibit masculine traits or men don’t feminine ones it’s just that they are expressed in different ways & as such require different approaches. I have a son & daughter that were both educated in private single sex schools that especially catered for these issues being of huge benefit to them but unfortunately it’s not available in public education so often a compromise is made where males get left behind. As I understand it’s because they are more easily distracted & less motivated in structured situations. Females being more likely to possess the agreeable trait in their personality are more likely to flourish in the same situations.
But more importantly I also noticed from my experience in the school system that the amount of quality time particularly fathers spent with their sons participating in masculine activities was directly correlational to their son’s mental health, drive & development of positive masculinity. I don’t think this is just a problem in single parent families but with dads who are often consumed by their work to the extent they are unable to impart the necessary role modelling that is also highlighted in a brilliant Jordan Peterson lecture on Toxic Masculinity.

Not at all, they too enjoy competition it’s just often expressed differently.

I agree. I & all the mothers I know actively encouraged the use of competitive & aggressive video games with the belief it helped develop masculinity & male camaraderie. There were many that were flagrantly ignoring the age requirements for such games such as Call of duty, Gran Tourismo etc specifically because they wanted to encourage a more ‘manly’ nature. But obviously it can get problematic in excess & if its not balanced with other activities as well as positive role modelling.

Women are individuals so tastes will vary. My experience is women are much more assertive & predatory these days so in most cases they will make their intentions clear either way. Like all humans there are unreasonable expectations by some women just as there are from men. Perhaps slowing down getting to know someone as a friend to understand them better before jumping into a potential problematic romantic attachment isn’t such a bad thing given how messed up many of these relationships end up?

Challenge develops character that makes one more attractive. Short term gains often result in long term losses that I believe is the problem. I’m impulsive & impatient so unfortunately I learnt the hard way to take the more difficult road that I still struggle with it albeit much less.


You get to drop the Mic with that statement. Fathers and their role in this problem aren’t mentioned in the article, but if young males are going to be become suitable mates, it needs to be exemplified by us fathers. This only happens through conscious effort, not by osmosis.


And the trap here is that doing this thru gaming seems like a nice safe way for males to compete, without risk of any physical injury. OMG my child might get hurt! The worst fear of a mother. But protecting your boy from physical pain might be entirely the wrong lesson. Besides which, if it’s not physical exercise, then your boy may not be developing muscle mass, which seems to be part of the attraction factor.


I honestly don’t think that protectiveness in that way was the motivation. Most of these kids if not all were already heavily into sports of which physical injury as well as ‘heartbreak’ was very common place & accepted by mothers. I think gaming is more just another convenient way that benefits could be extracted without impacting other priorities. These days between home work, household chores, sport & other extra curricular activities there isn’t a whole lot of time left to regularly refine a child’s masculinity & male bonding activity wise in a city/suburban environment especially in the teenage years. They can no long run riot in the woods indefinitely. Over scheduling being a problem requires them to have some down time to let off steam. If you’ve ever overheard the unbridled shouting, laughing & shrieking that comes from gaming you’d know it certainly does that job well.
But having said that if they were to be left roaming the streets instead with the prevalence of drug culture & underage casual sex then yes you could say mothers were happy to use gaming as risk avoidance.


I believe that the success of women is the cause for the opting out of competitiveness, and thus is to be blamed, however not in the sense that we need to take the success away. It’s an unintended consequence. I think that biologically men are hardwired to compete for status and resources in order to get the girl. They do derive satisfaction from the competition, however the competition only exists when the prospect of family is on the table, however more and more men are rejected and men live in a world of probabilities (more rational) and women in a world of possibilities (more emotional). That distinction plays a role on the mental health of men. More men are rejected because the women are successful and can afford to be choosy. The problem is here to stay.

  1. Men should improve their game. In what way can men improve themselves? We can’t have equality and also men out earn women at the same time.
  2. Women change their mating preferences, specifically learn to recognize and understand their hypergamous nature and control it. Easier said than done.

Perhaps with time and understanding certain things change, however for now biology is trying to catch up to the changes in the environment.


Hypergamy isn’t as simplistic & problematic in modernity as has been promoted. Let’s not forget women don’t just mate up hierarchies but across them as well so equality in earning isn’t the heralding of end days. Men who are not at the top of those hierarchies still need to compete ‘to get the girls’ left with those on their own level. Resources include not just those held but potentially gained & depending on the individual female may vary in their content. It’s also important to note that although females prefer to peel off the top of a hierarchy they are also aware of their realistic sexual market value.

I meant that more for those who are suffering a dysfunction in some sense that prevents them from achieving their potential.

Any proof? Between 1950 and 1980 a household needed a single breadwinner and I think live was easier & more fun then for families. Today, I see so many couples struggling trying to workout 2 jobs, child care, free time. Young people having to fight where they move because 2 careers create tension, or living apart for a decade. Women’s happiness did decline and is now below male happiness, and I can see why.

The new workforce clearly depressed wages as well. According to a New Zealand study, women do not pay taxes over their life time when you subtract their costs. A Dutch Dentist professor claimed, with backing up statistics, that we need to educate 3 female dentists for the classic 1 male dentist because more women tend to leave their career for children & spiritual development; significantly increasing health care cost because the overwhelming number of women there.

So explain, how can this addition of the workforce have contributed so much to growth except in government & government adjacent bloat?


Yes and no. You may recall there was that book that looked at this and similar things, pointing out how the widespread legalisation of abortion in the US in the 1970s led to a drop in crime a few decades later. Less unplanned babies → less fatherless children —> less juvenile crime → less adult crime. And smaller families will tend to have more well-educated children, who will grow up to be less criminal and earn more. And so on.

That’s not really what I took from the article. Education is inherently neither masculine nor feminine. If your implication is the old “a woman’s place is in the home” (and thus unable to become more educated and wealthy than a man, and thus pickier), I’d go back further and point out that a man’s place is in the home, too. Rates of marriage and numbers of children were higher before industrialisation, and men pissed off to the cities to work in factories, and later in offices. Men left home, and women were bound to get bored and follow them. That’s not feminism, that’s capitalism (giving us industrialisation) and consumerism (giving us a demand for more stuff that is better-fulfilled with two incomes than one).

The bigger question is why men aren’t educating themselves at the rate women are.

I’m reminded of this article about repeated lockdowns ruining children’s mental health (well, yeah) and contributing to “school refusal.” I was not aware this was a thing - a syndrome. In this article they tell us,

John Chellew says referrals to his Bayside School Refusal Clinic have tripled during the pandemic.[…] Asher squeals with delight as John Chellew demonstrates a new trick with his furry colleague, Max, on a crisp and sunny winter day at a park in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of St Kilda. […] This is a typical outdoor counselling session for Asher, part of what Mr Chellew calls his “walk and talk” style of exposure therapy. A toy drone, scooter, totem tennis pole, art and fitness sessions are all part of his toolkit. “The park is ground zero for kids,” Mr Chellew says. “So I try to bring them to the park and the therapy to them, to create an environment where they feel safe and [are] enjoying themselves, to talk about the more difficult issues.”

So… the “therapy” is a man taking the kid to the park with a dog, chucking a ball around and having a chat? Note: the article makes no mention of Asher’s father, or any uncles, male friends of the mother, etc. This is where we are in our modern Western consumerist culture: there’s an official clinic to take your kid to for a Rent-A-Dad.

A fact which has caused much distress to their husbands, no doubt.

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As well as women also desiring achievement & competency in areas other than child rearing we humans like more ‘stuff’ these days like holidays, better homes in better suburbs, private schools, eating out, fancy attire, electrical gadgets, nicer cars etc etc that one wage can’t always cover. But yeah people can get too caught up in materialism to the detriment of their psychological & spiritual health. However it’s not impossible or unnatural to strike a balance. We are earthly as well as spiritual beings after all.


It’s also the distraction they pose to one another (although I also agree completely with your sentiment, especially with regard to early reading engagement). I knew a woman who worked in the Finance Division for a fairly large company. Other than being a little shy, she was incredibly competent and qualified. Her only other problem was that she had a serial problem with failed relationships which periodically effected her work. With a little more confidence, and less of a history of dating losers, she might have been prime FD material, given the right mentoring.


Sperm counts seem to be declining everywhere. Accordingly, the evolutionary biologist in me suggests that it is a natural defense against over population.

Sounds to me like there are still a lot of Blanch DuBois and Bennet sisters out here chasing all too few Mr. Darcys. So, what has really changed?

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