Ask Charlie: Cougars in Vail?
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –You see it on TV and in movies: cougars on the prowl, looking for bedposts to sharpen their claws on. So why do women’s sex drives peak during the second half of their procreative careers?
It’s a tough question, but before we get started, we should give the one guy that’s reading this a few safety pointers.
Bro, there’s no doubt that when Not-tonight-honey becomes Sex-squatch, she has stumbled into high-impact breeding territory and must be contained. Know that this species – also known as Tyrannosaurus Sex – should be approached with extreme caution.
If a T-sex sighting occurs, she must immediately be subdued – for your safety and the safety of others. Typically, two giant Godiva bars and Tasers will do the trick.
Though T-sex is often a single female, she is sometimes paired off. If so, she may be frustrated with her husband, who might be a member of The Hair Club for Men or maybe even a member of the species Homo-Viagris. This may be why she sometimes goes for younger men, the implication being that she is not getting what she wants or needs. Or, it may be that she is simply fed up with a man whose sex drive no longer matches her own.
Actual research on the topic shows that when women cheat on their husbands, they tend to go for men who are of higher status or who are better looking than the drones they’re with. To make matters better (or worse, depending on your gender) they also tend to do it at a time when they are most likely to get pregnant: during ovulation.
Evolutionary psychologists suspect this inclination exists to help women commandeer two things that come in really handy for raising robust offspring: bountiful resources and good genes.
So, getting back to our original question, why, in evolutionary terms, does a woman’s sex drive often climax in her late 30s and 40s? Long story short, because her days of fertility are lessening, menopause is looming, and the quality of her eggs may be declining. Women whose libido undergoes a surge before menopause are more likely to have sex, get pregnant, and pass on the tendency for a sex-drive peak between 35 and 45 years, which is why it is now common.
But what about guys and their wandering eyes? Why can’t Homo-Viagris and Tyrannosaurus Sex just get along?
It’s no secret that men are often attracted to younger women. But why has evolution pinned this tail on human male donkeys? Because male ancestors that coupled with females past menopause left no babies. Natural selection is all about leaving offspring – the one who leaves the most wins.
Indeed, the reason all people are drawn to physically attractive people is to increase the odds that they will produce attractive offspring, who, in turn, will attract a greater pool of mating candidates, thus guaranteeing the propagation of their genetic lines.
But the facts above do not mean that we are hopelessly wired to evolution’s demands. Men and women who stray on their spouses for the above reasons have been led down the cheating road by their genes’ desires, not their own.
If men and women were consciously aware of the silliness their genes are up to, they could tell them to go take a hike. Knowing that your genes want you to go in certain directions gives you the power to steer in other directions. The more we know about why evolution sculpted our desires, the better a position we will be in to upset them.
Robert Valko is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently is writing two books on evolutionary psychology. E-mail Robert with column ideas at email@example.com.