Effect of Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution on Marriage

Human mating and sexually antagonistic coevolution involve the two sexes competing for reproductive success. This competition has resulted in specific adaptations, such as males preferring younger, more fertile females and females selectively choosing males with the best genetic traits.

Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution

Human mating and sexually antagonistic coevolution are two mutually exclusive notions. Human mating is how people seek and select a sexual mate. In contrast, sexually antagonistic coevolution is the continuing evolutionary battle between men and females to maximize reproductive success. Male and female reproductive strategies differ, resulting in sexually antagonistic coevolution.

Males, for example, often want to have as many children as possible and may choose many partners to boost their chances of success. Females, on the other hand, spend more on each kid and may choose a single high-quality spouse who can provide for both her and her progeny.

Men often compete for access to females, while females compete for access to the best men when it comes to mating. Male-male competition, male-female competition, and female-female competitiveness can all result from this. Furthermore, the sexes can participate in sexually antagonistic coevolution, in which each gender attempts to evolve a reproductive strategy that offers them the most significant benefit.

These evolutionary factors have also influenced human relationships and marital behavior. Females, for example, frequently want to marry guys with more excellent social positions and wealth, whereas males frequently choose to marry younger and more attractive females. Over time, this competition has evolved different mating strategies, such as monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry.

Marriage Across Cultures and Human Mating

Marriage is a social institution that varies widely across cultures and societies. It is often used to formalize a relationship between two individuals and create a stable environment for the couple and their offspring. The nature of marriage and its effects on human mating varies significantly across cultures. Arranged marriage is the norm in some cultures when families or communities play a significant role in picking mates for people. Individuals in different cultures have more flexibility to pick their spouses based on personal tastes and attractions.

Marriage as an institution may have a substantial impact on human mating. In arranged marriage societies, for example, the importance of individual choice and desire is frequently undervalued. Match-choosing focuses on social position, family connections, and economic concerns. In contrast, mate selection is typically based on personal choices, such as physical appearance, personality qualities, and shared interests, in societies where people have more flexibility in picking their spouses.

Furthermore, the institution of marriage can impact behavior inside partnerships. Marriage, for example, might encourage more substantial commitment and engagement in the relationship, leading to higher attempts to preserve the relationship and care for the spouse's and children's needs.

Types of Marriage and Its Impact on Human Mating

It can be understood through the following sub-headings −

  • Monogamous Marriage − In many cultures, this is the most popular type of marriage, in which one person is partnered with just one spouse at a time. Monogamous marriages are frequently connected with a deep commitment and offer stability for the spouse and their children. Because partners are expected to remain devoted to one another, the expectation of monogamy can impact mate selection and may promote more involvement in the relationship. Individuals tend to choose a partner based on personal preferences and characteristics, such as physical attraction, personality, and compatibility.

  • Polygynous Marriage − This is a marriage in which one guy is married to numerous women. This is uncommon in current Western society. Polygynous marriages may result in rivalry among women for the husband's attention and resources, thus producing a less stable environment for the family. Furthermore, because the husband has access to several partners, the possibility for extra-pair mating is significant, which can lead to improved Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution among females. Men tend to choose wives based on their social status and beauty, while women may focus on the man's wealth and ability to provide for them.

  • Polyandrous Marriage − This is a marriage in which one woman is married to numerous men. Polyandry is much rarer than polygyny and is primarily seen in Himalayan societies. Polyandrous marriages have benefits in resource-limited settings because the spouses may pool their resources to support the family. This results in a greater need for male rivalry and the evolution of physical features on par with Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution.

The Likelihood of Extra-Pair Mating

Sexual encounters outside a committed commitment, such as marriage or a long-term partnership, are called extra-pair mating. One or both persons may engage in sexual behavior with someone other than their spouse during these exchanges. Increased reproductive success is one possible advantage for guys. Males can boost their chances of fathering children and passing on their genes to the next generation by having several sexual partners.

Furthermore, extra-pair mating with a female already in a committed relationship may lower the costs of parental investment since the male is not needed to devote resources to rearing kids. Extra-pair mating increases the possibility that a female's offspring will receive a diverse set of genes, which can improve their capacity to adapt to changing environments, resist illnesses, and live in different ecological niches. Furthermore, genetic variation can improve a population's overall fitness, which can help the species survive in the long run.

Extra-pair mating may give females additional resources like food, protection, and care for the young in terms of resource acquisition. A female, for example, may participate in extra-pair mating with a male who can give resources that her primary partner cannot, such as better territory or better food. However, it is vital to highlight that extra-pair mating might provide dangers and disadvantages for especially females.

Extra-pair mating, for example, can cause a breakdown in trust and harm to relationships, significantly impacting the well-being of both the adults involved and their progeny. Extra-pair mating can also raise the risk of sexually transmitted illnesses and unintended pregnancy.


Human mating and sexually antagonistic coevolution involve the competition between males and females for reproductive success, resulting in different mating strategies and behaviors across cultures. The institution of marriage can impact mate selection and behavior inside partnerships.

Extra-pair mating can offer potential benefits for reproductive success and genetic diversity. Understanding the evolutionary forces that shape human mating can provide insights into our social and biological behaviors.

Updated on: 05-May-2023


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