How Does Evolution Affect the Way We Live & Love Today?

CavemanCouple3It was only a few decades ago that Marvin Gaye crooned “Let’s Get It On.” A hundred years ago when Oscar Wilde said “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” Hundreds of years ago when William Shakespeare wrote “The course of true love never did run smooth” and centuries before that men were hunting and women were gathering and love seemed to be much more simple. No matter the time or the place subjects such as sex and love seem to be universal.

With the days of cavemen past, why is it that certain traits and seemingly uncontrollable habits still thrive? How much does our evolutionary history affect the way we date today?

For example, some people believe that the reason men and women have such different reactions to the type of affair one might experience is directly linked to our evolutionary past. So, if push comes to shove and your partner is disloyal, most women would prefer sexual straying to an emotional affair while men are the opposite. A man would prefer, (again, I use the word lightly) an emotional affair to their significant other actually having sex with another person. Though it’s clearly a generalization, researchers believe that this difference in opinion relates to the fact that hundreds of years ago, when resources were scarce and procreation was the priority, men were biologically programmed to do anything and everything possible to ensure that their child was indeed their biological relative. A man did not want to devote time, energy and resources to anyone that wasn’t part of his own genetic makeup. Thus, physical fidelity was the priority. Whereas with women, the emotional presence and attachment of a mate was more important than the paternity of their child. Get it?

In an article for LiveScience, anthropologist Sarah Hrdy explains whether or not human beings are meant to be monogamous. “Beyond Western culture where we favor the idea of a monogamous pair-bond as the ideal caretakers of children…there’s no real reason for a lasting pair-bond between adults…Does this mean we should forgo the flowers and candy and chocolate…of course not.” So, just because monogamy isn’t of as dire importance as it was hundreds of years ago, there’s no reason to completely rule out fidelity.

The Evolution project looks into just how sex has affected the way we are today. “In evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself. Sex fuels evolutionary change by adding variation to the gene pool. The powerful urge to pass our genes on to the next generation has likely changed the face of human culture in ways we’re only beginning to understand.” It’s clear that our biological history served an important purpose in our evolution but it’s difficult to figure out where we stand now that we aren’t living in caves.

Is monogamy becoming a thing of the past? Is there still a place for fidelity within a longterm relationship? Does our evolutionary history really influence our present?

These are big questions. Possibly too big for one little blog post. For now, I’ll leave you with these thoughts and a quick note about a recent discovery from a prehistoric archaeologist working in Astypalaia, an island off the coast of Greece.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 10.45.54 AMDr. Andreas Vlachopoulos found erotic graffiti and inscriptions, which happen to be the oldest ever discovered on the planet. “The inscriptions are reportedly ‘monumental in scale’ and ‘tantalizingly clear.’ Found on the Vathy peninsula, the graffiti dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries B.C.”

“Chiselled into the outcrops of dolomite limestone that dot the cape, the inscriptions have provided invaluable insight into the private lives of those who inhabited archaic and classical Greece. ‘This graffiti … is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork.’ The dick discovery isn’t just important proof that humans have been sexy braggarts for centuries,” it’s just further evidence that sex and love have always been worth talking about.

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