You Can’t Hurry Love…


Turns out Diana Ross had it right. A new mathematical model shows that we females like to wait for just the right male. Will math choose our mates in the future? Read on to find out.

I want more candy!
You’re lying, right?
My brain hurts!

How do you mathematically model love?
When mathematicians model human behaviors they make a few assumptions. In this case, the mathematicians assume that courtship is a process of any length. The courtship ends when the male quits, or when the female accepts the male as a mate. They also assumed that from the female perspective males are either good or bad mates. If only it were so simple in real life!

So how do they reach their conclusions? In this case how do they know that it takes a long time for love to develop?
We’re back to assumptions again. The researchers assume that each male and female wants to get the best mate possible. In this scenario it turns out that bad mates tend to quit courtship earlier. The longer the courtship, the more time the females have to evaluate the male, and the more likely that the male will be a good mate.

Let’s cut to the chase, how could courtship be shorter?
Well that’s the bad news. There’s no way to shorten the courtship. A long courtship has a high price (both in terms of money and time invested, and evolutionarily), but for humans and many other species it is the best way to ensure that the match is beneficial to both partners.

So if a female waits a loooooong time she can be sure to end up with a good mate?
Well, that’s the other bad news. Even after a long time the male could still be a bad mate. The only way to eliminate the risk of mating with a bad male is to not mate at all, a price too high for most females.

THE BOTTOM LINE Mathematicians may model love, but as anyone who has ever loved knows, there’s much more to love than math.

LINKS
An article from eScience News that explains in more detail.
Abstract from the original article.
Wikipedia really does have it all. Find out more about love from our favorite wiki.

Photo by mozzercork

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