For those of you who missed Part 1 (and I highly recommend you go and read it if you haven’t), I brought up the subject of how guys have a predisposition to exert dominance over other guys in order to impress the ladies. More importantly, women are evolutionarily programmed to find this type of behavior attractive, even though the most dominant male isn’t necessarily the best mate.
Being the most dominant male, AKA “winning” the female in biology slang, is only one half of the equation. The other half is called “wooing”.
Consider the peacock with his enormous brightly colored fan of a tail. This tail serves one purpose only – to get the attention of female peahen. The bigger and brighter the tail, the more interest from the ladies. It serves no other purpose. In biology-speak, the tail is called an “ornament”, but basically it is Bird Bling.
But what is interesting and paradoxical about the peacock tail is that it has no visible correlation to any of the desirable traits of the animal kingdom, like strength, speed, survival instincts or a better immune system. Not just that, but an impressive tail is actually a huge liability; males with bigger tails have a harder time flying and a harder time getting food. They also get attacked more frequently by other jealous males with smaller tails.
And yet the female peahens (as well as many other bird species) fall for it every time. They go for the biggest and brightest tail even though the male could be slow, stupid and have mutated genes. The male is effectively “wooing” the female based on an outward image.
Now think about how frequently this happens in the human world. Guys are incessantly trying to woo women with their bling. Driving fancy cars, wearing expensive custom made suits, rocking an Audemars on their wrist, paying for bottle service with a platinum credit card and on and on…
You could be thinking to yourself: well a guy with a fancy car probably has some beneficial qualities that are good in a boyfriend, like he’s a hard worker, or ambitious, or financially savvy. But if you think about it a little bit more, all of this human bling is worth nothing more than bird bling. Rolling up to the club in a Maybach could mean the guy is successful, but it could also mean that he’s simply a spoiled rich kid who has never worked a day in his life. It could even mean that he’s a car thief. And even if he is able to purchase a Maybach by himself, does that necessarily mean he’s a nice person or a supportive life partner? Maybe. Maybe not.
To further complicate this matter, women are evolutionary programmed to be attracted to bling, much like women are programmed to like dominant men (read Part 1!). Remember, not so long ago we were all animals, and a lot of that animalistic behavior still lingers in our instincts and in our thought processes. Therefore, even though this may sound bizarre and possibly anti-feminist, it is natural for a woman to be attracted to status symbols – it is part of her genetic blueprint.
But bling is deceptive. And bling can be used to conceal faults.
So even though the guy with the expensive clothes and amazing Nolita loft may be tempting, and he probably will be tempting, just remember that there is little to no correlation between the amount of ornaments a guy has to what he is really like in a relationship.
The title of this post comes from a chapter in the fascinating book by Matt Ridley called The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature