Thesis: The essential choreography of human courtship, love and marriage has myriad designs that seem etched into the human psyche, the product of time, selection and evolution.
Stage Summaries
1-2. The first couple of paragraphs introduce the reader to the topic: "The human mating game." They also act as a disclaimer for the author, stating that she has made no effort to be politically correct, and is just stating things as they are seen.
3-6. Flirting. Fisher states how women from around the globe use the same sequence of expressions to flirt. Because these disconnected women perform the same movements German ethologist Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt thinks that it is an innate evolved tactic. She also talks about movements men may make, either to assert dominance, or to court a prospective mate. One of the most prominent movements for men would be the 'chest thrust', which translates throughout the animal kingdom.
7-8. "Copulatory" Gaze. The importance of eye language in the mating game is introduced. Direct eye contact triggers a very basic response in humans, approach or retreat. No matter what, one of these options is picked, leading to the beginning of a relationship, or a timid person avoiding further contact.
9-11. Baboon Love. Bringing a parallel from humans to baboons, we are shown how they also use gazing in courtship. We read of two baboons starting a relationship, which the observer, anthropologist Barbara Smuts, said was "like watching two novices in a singles bar."
12-17. At the Bar. After several hundred hours observing interaction between men and women in American singles bars anthropologist David Givens and biologist Timothy Perper, have divided interactions into several stages. The first stage is 'attention getting' and is exactly as it sounds. Doing specific things, that tend to be fairly universal, to draw attention to yourself. Swaggering is a common tactic, not only for humans, but for gorillas too. Preening is even more common amongst other species, for females as well.
18-19. Keeping Time. Once potential lovers are comfortable with each other they start to synchronize. They move together, called interactional synchrony, in perfect rhythm. Humans begin using this type of mirroring as newborns, and not just Americans in singles bars do it either. Many other cultures get into rhythms as well as many different animal species.
20-21. The Dinner Date. The typical man takes woman out to dinner and he pays, and then expects sex, is a common concept throughout the world. Not only do humans follow this, but many animals as well. The very simple reason being that if a man can provide food, then he may be a potentially good provider for a family.
25-29. Odor Lures. In these paragraphs we talk about odor, and the role it plays in the mating game. The glands that create odor, called apocrine glands, are placed in the armpits, around the nipples and in the groin area, and become active during puberty. Today these odors are still used in courting in some parts of Greece and the Balkans, as men hand handkerchiefs they have kept in their armpits to potential mates. The evidence of odor playing a large role in mating is the fact that woman are much more sensitive to smells than men, on a general basis. Further, womens ability to smell gets even better during ovulation periods. But the relatively new usage of deodorizers might either hinder the odor attraction or possibly even prove that it doesn't matter.
30-34. Love Maps. Long before you even see somebody in person, you may very well have an image in mind of the 'perfect' mate. This mental map acts as a template for what a person may find attractive, but differs from person to person. While there are wide ranges of possible choices, a few opinions are almost universal. Good complexions and cleanliness are two of the more widely accepted features a person will look for in a mate. But men tend to look for wide-hipped, plump women, better for childbearing, and women also factor in money. These factors are probably innate, as women want a mate that will provide for a family and men want a woman who will provide offspring.
35. Love at First Sight. Could love at first sight be real? The idea that love at first sight could cut out a lot of wasted time and energy to get straight to the mating process could be a very real evolutionary tactic we use to procreate with less of a fuss.
36-37. Infatuation Fades. But love does fade, and through statistics there seems to be some general timeline in which it tends to fade. The most common timeline between the first moment of infatuation and a 'feeling of neutrality' seems to be 18 months. Psychiatrist Michael Liebowitz thinks that this is due to brain physiology. He thinks that the brain can not keep up the increased action of staying infatuated, and eventually will tire of it.
38-40. Harem Building. Only 16% of the 853 cultures in the world participate in monogyny. The rest of the cultures participate in polygyny, the act of a male having multiple wives. While this may seem counter-intuitive, if practiced correctly, the male will be able to creat more offspring, and the woman would be able to care for her offspring better in a community-like environment.
41-42. Man is Monogamous. Although a large majority of cultures permit polygyny, that doesn't mean man is not naturally monogamous. Even in societies where there is polygyny only about 5-10% of men have multiple wives at the same time. While other animals, such as gorillas and horses, always form harems, man still naturally goes towards monogyny.
44-47. Unfaithfully Yours. But even with all the monogyny talk, humans are unfaithful. Men and women alike both cheat, but from polls men cheat more often. From a procreation standpoint men 'spread their seed' with more sexual partners, but since women are limited in the number of children they can bear, they are less likely to look around.
48-51. Sexual Variety. But are women really less interested in finding new and different partners? In a poll of college students who were asked if they would have sex with an anonymous student of the opposite sex with no reprocussions males were more likely to say yes. But this test only takes into account the male evolutionary reason for mating: to pass on genes. Women do not mate for the same reason, they wish to aquire resources, so this test cannot be considered conclusive.
52-54. Parting. Divorce has become a part of most cultures. It is not considered a best case scenario, but many view it as necessary at some point. Adultery, infertility and cruelty are the top three reasons for divorce, the top two fitting in very well with basic needs for finding a mate.
55-56. The Four-Year Itch. The typical divorce rate for the UK peaks around the 4 year mark in a marriage. But the American rate is a little bit below the British rate. Americans tend to marry more to enhance themselves rather that economic, political, or family reasons possibly bringing the divorce rate closer to the loss of infatuation timeframe.
57-58. Divorce is for the Young. Divorce is much more likely in couple without children. Which makes sense if the main point of finding a mate is to breed, if they can't then the probabilty of divorce would go up.
59-60. Planned Obsolescence of the Pair Bond. Although patterns emerge, there is no cookie cutter mold for marriage and divorce. But the human cycle seems to be exactly that, cyclical: court, fall in love, marry, possibly have a child, then divorce and start at the beginning again.


  • Take a few word notes for every paragraph
  1. Human mating game is complex, it starts with flirting
  2. Men and Women are biologically different
  3. Women from around the globe flirt the same
  4. A German ethologist is convinced female flirting is an evolved innate sequence of gestures
  5. Men share courting gestures with other species
  6. "Chest thrust" is used across the animal kingdom
  7. Eye Language
  8. Direct eye contact, response of approach or retreat
  9. Baboons gaze during courtship, like Humans
  10. Baboon flirting, 'return gaze'
  11. Baboon courting
  12. Baboon flirting/courting related to humans?
  13. American singles bar courtships, 5 steps, starts with 'attention getting' stage
  14. Men tend to exaggerate body movements to attract attention
  15. Human males, along with other primates, swagger, also perform grooming movements
  16. Women also draw attention, somewhat similarly to males
  17. Women strut, aided by high heeled shoes, sound of the heels also helps
  18. Body synchrony, moving together in tandem
  19. Rhythmic mimicry is very common in animals as well as humans, keeping each other's time
  20. Slow courtship is normal
  21. Courting too quickly can cause rejection
  22. Men give food for sexual favors, dinner date
  23. Black-tipped hang flies let females eat while he copulates
  24. Courtship feeding proves the male can provide as a partner
  25. Apocrine glands in the armpits, around nipples and in the groin, produce a personal 'odor print'
  26. In Greece and the Balkans some men keep their handkerchiefs in their armpits, offering them to women to dance
  27. Women are more sensitive to smell, even more so during ovulation
  28. A smell can trigger memories too
  29. Many cultures now find body odor offensive, Japanese arranged marriages may have caused this for them
  30. John Money says you create a 'love map' for who you are attracted to
  31. Average faces are generally more appealing
  32. While there is no standard to sex appeal, there are a few aspects that are almost universal, like cleanliness
  33. Men are attracted to young good looking women, women are attracted to money
  34. Younger women make babies, rich men provide for a family
  35. Love at first sight may just be something to incite the mating process for a species
  36. Infatuation fades on average between 18 months to 3 years
  37. Psychiatrist Liebowitz theorizes brain physiology can't keep up the infatuation
  38. 84% of world cultures permit polygyny
  39. Men spread their genes, women secure survival for their offspring
  40. Polygyny societies survived much better than non-polygyny societies
  41. In societies where polygyny is accepted only about 5-10% of men actually have multiple wives
  42. Polygyny is an exception to the monogamy rule for humans, not so for most other animals
  43. Pair-bonding is a human trademark
  44. Humans cheat in relationships
  45. Men tend to cheat more than women
  46. Men spread their genes
  47. Women are limited in the number of children they can bear, making them less motivated to cheat
  48. Man is a natural man-whore, women choose to be faithful or a whore
  49. College males are more likely to want random sex than college females
  50. In example men get to spread genes, but women don't get to gather resources, unfair study
  51. No evidence suggests women don't like random sex
  52. Many cultures accept divorce as a necessary evil
  53. There are many reasons for divorce
  54. Cheating tops the divorce reasons list, followed by infertility and then male cruelty
  55. Divorce numbers peak around 4 years after marriage
  56. We marry to enhance our inner selves
  57. The more children a couple has, the less likely they are to divorce
  58. Makes sense from a Darwinian perspective
  59. Marriage shows several patterns of decay
  60. Not a rule, but a general concept, marry, procreate, divorce, marry again, continue cycle


  • Identify connected paragraphs of unified thought
  • Write a one sentence summary for each unit of paragraphs
  • Write a thesis for the piece
  • Combine at top of the page, thesis and stage summaries(#3)
  • Revise summary