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Lessons in Love From Science

 

Hey collegiettes, I feel you. Love and dating and lust and sex are all complicated, and they get messy really fast. When it gets a little too crazy, take a deep breath and remember: our evolutionary ancestors got it done, and you can too. 
 
 
Lesson 1: Love really isn’t that complicated.
At it’s core, love is just a byproduct of attachment, which is this great thing that lets you like some people more than you like others in the hopes that they’ll help you survive. Love, at its core, is a way of keeping you attached to somebody long enough to successfully reproduce and pass along your genes. Doesn’t that take the pressure off? Sit back and enjoy the ride! 
 
Lesson 2: Cooperation is key.
When we were all primitive humans, men hunted and women gathered. Why? It wasn’t because men wanted to encroach on women’s rights and it wasn’t because women were dependent and weak. It was because, at the time, it was the best way to get things done. Women have better recall for food source locations and men are better at tracking prey—teamed up, you have a pretty formidable food-finding pair. In a relationship, focus on what each of you does best, and don’t worry too much about what you aren’t. You’ll both be happier if you can remember the great things you each bring to the relationship!
 
Lesson 3: Be picky.
We’ve all been in the pit of desperation before, but it’s not pretty, am I right? You end up alone and taken advantage of. Wait around for the guy that makes a real effort for you, and you’ll be much better off in the long run. Take a cue from bowerbirds. The male bowerbird builds a fabulous nest with lots of decorations, indicating cognitive capability, to attract a mate. If no females are interested in him, the bowerbird has to rearrange or rebuild his nest and try again. In an ideal world, the guy who makes zero effort would never be rewarded, right?
 
Lesson 4: Don’t worry about conventions.
Go ahead, text him first or tell him you love him first. Sometimes females initiate copulation, or males will take care of the fertilized eggs through incubation. Non-human organisms break with convention all the time—why shouldn’t we, too? 
 
Lesson 5: Understand attraction.
Attraction is another thing, like love, that humans evolved in order to make sure we pass on our genes. We are attracted to certain traits to help us select the best traits possible to mate with, and attraction can definitely mess with us now that most of us are no longer living in primitive hunter-gatherer societies. What signified the best reproductive partner 100,000 years ago might not now, so rethink the tall guy with the bulging muscles if he’s not intelligent, funny, or ambitious. “The spark” was something invented by romance writers needing justification for a realistically poor relationship match. 
Madi Tsuji is a former Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Occidental. She is originally from Seattle, WA and now lives in New York City, where she works in PR. 
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