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Flirting and non-verbal cues, language and our animal instincts! Origins of behavior...

For Man and Beast, Language of Love Shares Many Traits

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By Daniel Goleman
New York Times

In the long view of evolution, courtship is less about romance than about genetic fitness, the struggle to pass on the maximal number of one's own genes to future generations.


"In evolutionary terms, the payoff for each sex in parental investment differs: to produce a child a woman has an obligatory nine-month commitment, while for a man it's just one sexual act," said Dr. David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of "The Evolution of Desire" (Basic Books, 1994).

"For men in evolutionary terms what pays is sexual access to a wide variety of women, while for women it's having a man who will commit time and resources to helping raise children."

From this view, the coyness of courtship is a way to "test a prospective partner for commitment," said Dr. Jane Lancaster, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. "Women, in particular, need to be sure they're not going to be deserted."
Coyness is not seen in species where the female does not need the sustained help or resources of a male to raise her young, said Dr. Lancaster.

In species where a single act of copulation is the only contact a female requires with the father of her young, "there's a direct assertion of sexual interest by the female," said Dr. Lancaster.
But in species where two parents appreciably enhance the survival of offspring, "females don't want to mate with a male who will abandon them," said Dr. Lancaster.
In such species, "the courtship dances are coy, a test to see if the male is willing to persist and pursue or simply wants a momentary dalliance," she said.
"Instead of the female simply getting in a posture for mating, she repeats a promise-withdraw sequence, getting in the mating posture and then moving away."

  In humans, flirtatious looks imitate this sequence. The coy look a woman gives a man is the beginning of a continuing series of approach-withdraw strategies that will unfold over the course of their courtship.    

These feminine strategems signal the man, "I'm so hard to win that if you do win me you won't have to worry about me getting pregnant by another male," said Dr. Lancaster.

To be continued...

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Flirting and non-verbal cues, language and our animal instincts!