The Evolution of Love
Dr. Duana Welch rejoins us to discuss the evolution of love.
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Dr. Duana Welch, author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, has visited us before to talk about the science behind dating, why a healthy relationship is a source of life satisfaction that outweighs even career choice, how men are more emotional than women when it comes to relationships, why “love at first sight” isn’t a choice, and what attachment styles we fall into — along with ways to change them.
In episode 509 of The Art of Charm, Dr. Welch will delve deeper into the differences between men and women, how these differences have evolved over the course of human history, and how men and women can use this information to better their relationships and understand why they behave the way they do.
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When it comes to the differences between men and women, why these differences came to be, and how these differences affect their interaction, there’s a lot of opinion being thrown around on the subject. What Dr. Duana Welch relies on, however, is science-backed data supporting the role of evolution in these differences. And, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson famously said: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
“There’s a theory of evolution,” says Duana. “And whether or not people want to politically or socially or morally acknowledge it, evolution is a fact. There’s never been a single scientific line of inquiry that failed to side with evolution. Not one.”
So when Duana gets the occasional naysayer who doesn’t want to agree with her findings for whatever personal reasons they may have, she takes comfort in knowing she’s checked her facts and gotten the seal of approval from the gold standard scientists whose research her work depends upon.
What are her findings? Among them, that the co-evolution of men and women — the biological and psychological ways we have shaped each other over countless generations — isn’t unique. Plants and animals have developed similarly symbiotic relationships since life on Earth began. We can either take the somewhat pessimistic view that we’re nothing more than the products of processes that have been taking place over eons and we’re not that special, or we can take comfort in knowing we’re part of a winning lineage of survivors.
“There’s a big idea that I don’t think I’ve ever presented before,” says Duana. “Basically, women want two Ps (provision and protection) and men want two Fs (fertility and fidelity). The fact that we want these things has dramatically shaped what we offer one another and even how we lie about each other, and how we compete with people in our own sex. When we get ugly with each other, we do it in very predictable ways — all based on co-evolution.”
Ambition, for instance, is seen as a predominantly male trait. Duana points out how, in this presidential election cycle, the currently running male candidates are associated with ambition positively in various articles written about them. On the other hand, if you search for articles displaying the female candidate’s ambition in a positive light, you instead find a bias against it as an “unladylike” quality that is somehow unappealing.
“If you look at every society in the world…men are large and in charge,” says Duana. “And part of that is because women want them that way. Or at least they used to a long time ago and we are the inheritors of the psychology that worked 45,000 years ago.”
To survive and pass along the genes that eventually led to us, our ancestors had to come up with some pretty clever strategies to overcome the dangers of their world — a world that would be unrecognizable to those of us accustomed to the convenience of a Starbucks on every corner and a Target in every town. When a neighboring tribe could threaten to wipe you — and your contribution to the gene pool — out, a woman with an ambitious provider and protector would have a better chance of faring well and surviving than one who didn’t.
Duana admits the first time she was presented with the science backing up this claim, even she had a tough time coming to terms with it. “I was deeply, mortally offended,” she says. “because I’m a feminist. I have a PhD in psychology. I didn’t get that accidentally! Obviously, I have some ambition of my own and I just felt like…I am as good as any man that’s out there and I just think that…I didn’t want to be seen as different. But clearly there are differences. You look around the world and either there’s some huge shell game where women are just shut out of power, or women are gaining power by acquiring a man who is powerful — and that appears to be what’s happening even today, even among people who want to be liberated from that.”
Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about why we shouldn’t see the differences between women and men as disempowering, what men will trade for youth and beauty, why Duana wishes evolution had an off switch (and what could be gained from such a thing), what men and women lie about, and lots more.
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