Why You’re Struggling & Confused About Modern Dating | Ancestral Mating Strategies VS Modern Mating

Alexander Emmanual Sandalis
9 min readJan 12, 2024

From Promiscuity to Pair Bonding: The Evolutionary Journey of Human Relationship Dynamics

Monogamy, polygamy? What should you pick?

Romantic love, arranged marriages, dating apps and childless relationships that leave no lineage.

You have never been overwhelmed with more options on what you can try from the menu of sexual relationship experiences.

This is a summary of Matt Larsen’s podcast appearance on Chris Williamson’s podcast. Matt is a researcher and journalist whose research focuses on the history of human mating ideologies.

I am fascinated by the arrogance of humans to assume which mating and relationship strategy is ‘best’ whilst very curious about how we have evolved and immensely changed over 6 million years. This summary will surprise you and leave you thinking.

6 Million Years Ago: Free For All Promiscuity

How relational dynamics have changed. Six million years ago, open promiscuity was the norm to maximize survival and genetic lineage, living in multi-male/female groups with mating biased towards high-status males, which helps us adapt more quickly. This is a discriminatory system where women are promiscuously attracted by the very top 20% of attractive men.

4 Million Years Ago: Pair Bonding

Four million years ago, some species developed a need for pair bonding. If males contribute more than just genes, then the group gains a greater survival advantage. How did this begin with males becoming more of the providers? Around this time, we hypothesize high-status males kept harems, providing for many females, and/or low-status males would offer provisioning and protection for females to gain a competitive advantage over high-status men.

Hence, low-status men would bias toward pair bonding and longer-term relationships. Because initially, it would never make sense for high-status men to go along with the transition from promiscuous mating to pair bonding. It is more likely that low-status men, excluded from mating, could offer protection and provisioning in exchange…

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Alexander Emmanual Sandalis

Self-reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour. Video’s + podcast → youtube.com/emmanualalexander