“The majority of women, perhaps 88 – 90%, in fact obtain genes, investment, parenting, and partnership from the same man.”

David Buss


David Buss, the Godfather of Evolutionary Psychology, has long supported the hypothesis that women pursue mating strategies that give them the best possible combination of good genes and good parenting.

This could include finding one mate with the best overall combination, prioritizing one or the other in a single mate or serial mates, or forming long-term relationships with good dads, while cheating with cads on the side. (This last option is the basis of the discredited, crackpot Alpha Fux, Beta Bux scheme so popular in the manosphere.)

Noting that no research had been conducted to examine how individual women might differ, Buss recently studied how a woman’s attractiveness (as perceived by independent observers) might affect her expectations. As far back as 1994, in his first book The Evolution of Desire, Buss expressed the rather obvious truth that “the most desirable women are in the best position to get what they want.”

In Attractive Women Want it All: Good Genes, Economic Investment, Parenting Proclivities, and Emotional Commitment Buss and Shackelford seek to remedy the research gap by examining actual female behavior.












“Women’s physical attractiveness is the best known predictor of the occupational status of the man she marries and the best known predictor of hypergamy, or marrying up in socio-economic status.

To our knowledge, however, there exist no empirical studies that establish behavioral evidence that women high in mate value actually marry men who have hypothesized good genes indicators such as masculinity and sex appeal, hypothesized good parenting abilities, or hypothesized good partner qualities.”

They propose that women should value at least four clusters of characteristics in a long-term mate:

Good genes indicators:

  • masculinity
  • physical attractiveness
  • sex appeal
  • physical fitness
  • intelligence

Good resource acquisition indicators: 

  • potential income
  • good earning capacity
  • education
  • ambition and industriousness
  • favorable social status
  • 2-3 years older in age

Good parenting indicators:

  • desire for home and children
  • fondness of children,
  • emotional stability and maturity
  • kind and understanding

Good partner indicators:

  • being a loving partner
  • devoted to you
  • loyal (perhaps best conceptualized as signs of emotional commitment)
  • emotional stability and maturity

Buss and Shackelford propose that rather than all women gunning for the top few males, women instinctively understand their own mate value and pragmatically seek their assortative equivalent:

“For most women there must be a tradeoff between good genes and good investment indicators. Men who have all four clusters of desirable characteristics, of course, are rare.

The hypothesis, in short, proposes an adaptation in women that adjusts their standards up or down according to their own mate value.”

The study of 214 newlyweds strongly supported the hypothesis:

“Whereas high mate value women want it all, women lower in mate value adaptively reduce their standards. These individual differences support the hypothesis that women have an evolved self-assessment mechanism that calibrates their standards to their mate value.

This calibration adaptation presumably allows women to target their mating efforts toward men who are in the mate-value range that they can reasonably expect to attract and retain, and to selectively accept mating overtures from men within the mate value range they can attract.”

Here we recognize the strategy of the female getting the highest possible value she can get in one man within her own range of attractiveness. But what about the hypothesis that women employ dual mating strategies simultaneously with different men to increase their reproductive payout? Buss:

“It does not [follow] that the trade-off that women make will be obtaining the best possible investment from one man, while cuckolding him with a man with superior genes.

Based on the extant studies of genetic cuckoldry, only a small minority of women actually sire children with men other than their regular mates.

…Assuming that these figures approximate those of ancestral environments, this means that the majority of women, perhaps 88 – 90%, in fact obtain genes, investment, parenting, and partnership from the same man.”

Let me repeat this key concept, which is central to so much of my own work here at HUS:

“The majority of women, perhaps 88 – 90%, in fact obtain genes, investment, parenting, and partnership from the same man.”

Buss and Shackelford summarize three distinct implications for female mating strategy theory:

1. Women high in mate value can get it all from the same man.

They raise their standards for nearly all good genes indicators, good investment indicators, good parenting indicators, and good partner indicators

2. Most women cannot get it all.

They lower their standards across all four sets of indicators, since the odds are high that they will obtain both genetic and direct benefits from the same man; these women secure the best combination of characteristics they can obtain from the same man.

3. 10-12% of women pursue a dual mating strategy.

Perhaps those in the low mate value range who can manage successfully to escape:

  • the multiple costs inflicted by heavy mate guarding
  • a violently jealous mate
  • the reputation damage caused by an infidelity exposed

“…pursue a dual mating strategy in which they successfully obtain direct benefits from one man while pursuing extra-pair couplings to obtain better genes from another man.”

It is no coincidence that this minority is the same size as the number of women who identify as promiscuous, seek short-term flings and go for bad boys who don’t commit.

In short, the men who diligently rehearse their pickup lines in hopes of getting laid are aiming for a small minority of women with probable low mate value who select exclusively for good genes indicators. Which would explain the very high failure rate of “manufactured” players.

None of this will surprise my female readers, of course. I share this in hopes that the many guys who read here every day will rest a bit easier knowing that adopting an asshole persona just makes you an asshole, not a desirable man.