Ask Charlie: How to overthrow evolution
VAIL, Colorado –The national divorce rate is over 50 percent and it’s rising. Are we hopelessly bound to a marital cash-for-clunkers-program? Maybe not, at least not if the males of our species follow the actions of one man.
Steve, 42, was married and lived in New Mexico. He found himself very attracted to a young, beautiful woman – Jasmine. Steve and Jasmine had known each other for some time and had gone on several dates. His blood warmed when he saw her. The attraction was so strong that he considered leaving his wife of 17 years.
Then he ran across a book addressing the evolutionary reasons why men are drawn to younger, attractive women. The book discussed how birth defects are more common in babies who are produced by older couples and how male ancestors that coupled with females past menopause left no babies.
It also discussed why all people are drawn to physically attractive people: to increase the chances that they will produce attractive offspring, who, in turn, will attract a greater pool of mating candidates.
Seeing that evolution, our selfish genes, is not very fond of the first two items, it always tries to steer men in directions that oppose them – in directions that result in numerous healthy babies.
Indeed, men themselves typically are not consciously aware of the “pull” that these prescriptions have on their actions. They simply manifest as an attraction to younger women. As a result, males repeatedly fall into these marriage-destroying traps. Despite the male gender’s propensity to make these mistakes over and over, it never seems to learn its lesson.
After reading the book above however, Steve had an epiphany. He came to the realization that his genes and millions of years of evolution were driving him to cheat. It not a desire that came from within – not from the person who still loved his lifelong partner.
As a result, he chose to override his genes’ desires and not let them get the best of him: He chose to step out of the seven-million-year old whirlwind of emotions that sucks male Homo sapiens in. And in doing so, he came to know the peace of mind that comes with understanding evolution’s intentions but overturning them. He declined to engage with the younger woman.
Paradoxically, the more intimate we become with the demands of evolution, the more empowered we are to overthrow 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.