Mate Selection


Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez
by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

According to Dr. Rider in the year "2000, 54% of North American women were married and that 95% of women would eventually marry at least by the age 45". (327) It leads one to believe that marriage is an important aspect of a woman's life structure.

The exchange theory view is that those with the best resources will obtain the most suitable mates. Resources in an exchange theory would be "education, salary, appearance, property owned, etc." (330) I am sure that there are some variations on mate preferences within ethnic groups and especially within genders. However, I think some of the ideal common preferences in a mate among all ethnic groups and gender groups are understanding, commitment, financially stable, emotionally healthy, intelligent, and athletic.

According to "Our Voices Psychology of Women" by Dr. Rider men rate physical attraction as very important in selecting a mate. (329) While, women rate emotional and financial stability as the most important in mate selection. I think it is especially true for women who want to have children. Most men equate physical appearance with good health and able to have children.

My mother gave me a piece of advice on obtaining the best selection in a mate. She told me "men are visual creatures and if you want to get the most suitable mate you must show a little skin, wear make up, do your hair, and for heavens sake try not to sound too smart". I hope it is an isolated conversation and not a reflection on the women in my ethnic group. :o)

As children, we are gender typed into gender roles that lead us to create and believe a gender stereotype of what is a suitable mate. Perhaps part of it might be biological as in Darwin's "natural selection" which he discussed in his book "The Origin of Species" as a possible reason for the need for species to select the most suitable mate as part of the survival of species. As in the familiar term coined by Herbert Spencer which is "survival of the fittest".

I cannot help but think that it is also heavily influenced by our gender schemes. Men are led to believe that women are to be pretty, child bearing and if possible homemakers. Women are led to believe that men need to be hard working, strong, intelligent, financially and emotionally stable. The media has also played a major role on influencing genders perception of what is a suitable mate.

Societal norms also affect mate selection. There was a time due to homophobic views that having a same sex partner would be unthinkable. You were forced to conform and marry someone of the opposite sex or find yourself ostracized, ridiculed or even beaten.

We have come a long way but there is still too much heterosexism in this world. Now, whether you are an elective lesbian or primary lesbian you cannot only be a couple but form a family.

We can also now wait until our 40's to get married without having to endure normalization by those around us. Society may not understand why we choose to stay single but we are not being pressured into marriage as we once were.

We can make a better selection in a mate if we want to get married. If we decide to remain single, we can still achieve self-actualization in our lives. The sky is the limit if we do not let others define who we are, and can be. I am glad I was born in this time and not during the Victorian age.

Web References:

Darwin's "Natural selection":

Herbert Spencer's "Survival of the fittest"


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Previous comments

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

 ********************************* Marriage is a contract.  

by Anonymouse on Mon Mar 24, 2008 07:19 AM CDT

 Before I explain one thing you should have asked your Mom is to define "smart".  While you don't want to discuss Calculus on your date, you want to be able to make wise cracks.  Many men don't want to marry a dumb woman and will look at it for just "practice" wife like Seinfeld's pretend wife.  Although I have a feeling I know what you mother was talking about, I believe she meant don't be argumentative with an attitude and snap your neck! Anyway, as far as marriage I believe it to be a contract.  You like good contracts, good deals, right? Men can easily benefit from a marriage as women.  A couple is more financially strong and can have a better life in general.  You add the benefit of companionship and a warm family it sounds like a good deal.  Many achieve this lifestyle and many fail at it. You can never know a person really well until you get to live with him/her.  The key to a successful marriage is to find out how to compromise.  What is important and worth fighting for and what is just annoying stuff.  Men and women by nature do things that the other sex does not like. For example our own Hajiagha says all women want to do is talk.  And he is right.  Men don't want to listen and yak.  Sometimes they do but in most cases they just want to be left alone and be in peace and quiet.  So when you force a man to talk or you force a woman to be quiet, it beats the purpose.  You want to find common ground so you can enjoy other things. Marriage is getting harder every day and it is definately harder for younger couples.  Sometimes they make me laugh so much by just watching them hit their heads against the walls not knowing what is happening to them.  And not seeking advice.  I feel bad but you have to admit it is funny. They want to do it their way without knowing where is this thing coming from before it is too late in most cases. Recent studies has shown that a good marriage is good for health and what are we doing these days?  eating healthy, exercising and a lot of things that they say is good for you.  Except for marriage which is hard to come by.  Now find porteghal foroosh (orange seller :-). Once you are married and divorced, it is hard to bring yourself to get married again.  This is especially true for men.  They are so much more hesitant 2nd time around, although many realize the financial benefits and do it using their previous experience and what NOT to do or expect from a woman.  It comes down to individuals and their habits and attitudes.  You are lucky if you find a mate with a good attitude.  If you FIND him/her count your blessings and stop bikering and being "smart"!   



I Think  

by Feshangi on Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:50 PM CDT

 Your mom was a very wise woman with her advice. Men are very visual creaturesl. But what she left out for you to find out for yourself was that men also love food. So giving them a little chelo kabab or ghormeh sabzi or even some hot aash in winter months will have an amazing result in a woman's child bearing opportunities. Feshangi 




by IRANdokht on Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:01 PM CDT

 I thought you were talking about marriage, and not sexual/companionship point of view. In any case, the point is that women no longer find themselves in need of a man. They are more capable to make a choice in comparison to the old times when the men were the provider and women needed to be married. I know a lot of women in their 30s and 40's who do not find marriage a necessity and are staying single. 




Irandokht...Age doesn't  

by n.zanincanadai on Sun Mar 23, 2008 09:51 PM CDT

 Irandokht...Age doesn't have much to do with this. If you are right, then the article should apply to older woman. So, can older women be happily single. It's possible. But from a sexual and companionship point of view, what you say doesn't hold water. :) Respect to all older and younger ladies...I'm just talking about what I see as reality not what should be philosophically.  



Dear Nazanin  

by IRANdokht on Sun Mar 23, 2008 09:37 PM CDT

 I guess you're still amongst the younger crowd, maybe that's why you are not meeting any "happily single" ones I assure you we do exist :) 

 IRANdokht       **********************************  



·                              I don't think I really


by n.zanincanadai on Sun Mar 23, 2008 09:29 PM CDT

 I don't think I really understood the point of this article. I've yet to meet a "single" lady that has past the age or 34 or 35 and who is "happy" about not having a man by her side. Or who has "chosen" to remain single. A very small percentage of women are so immersed in their careers or studies that they decide not to marry young. But that is a minority. Most women want to be married and have a hard time when they realize they are getting older with no prospect of marriage in site. Maybe men are the same. Who doesn't want a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand or a partner in crime? It's a diservice to younger ladies to lead them to believe they can be happy by themselves. We are social beings and cannot survive alone. As far as mate me materialistic and vain but a broke gas station attendant with no studies, a broken hip bone, 4 zeegeels, bald, fat and a limp is not a my idea of hot stuff. So your mother was very right! People first see the outside ... that' normal and nothing wrong with it. :)



·                                *********************************************

good points  

by IRANdokht on Sun Mar 23, 2008 09:18 PM CDT

 Dear Nadia That was a very interesting article. I agree with the conclusion you made about being lucky to live in the right times, and I have to add that location is also important, since a single woman's life is still very difficult and challenging in many parts of the world including Iran. As for your mom's advice... I wish mine had given me such realistic insight!  it was not until a few years ago that I found out about the "too smart" part   :) Thanks and I am looking forward to seeing more of your writing.   




Dear Nadia  

by Shaer on Sun Mar 23, 2008 09:14 PM CDT

 I want to share something with you: In the earlier Days, In Cultures Both In East And West, Pre-arranged Marriages were Quite Common .. Even To this Day, In Many Of The Eastern Cultures, We see quite A Bit Of Pre-Arranged Marriages .. I Believe That The True "Essence" Of Marriage should Be Centered Around "Romantic Love" .. In A Pre-Arranged Marriage, Or marriage Based On Other Considerations, Love Between the Couple Could Develop, But It Is Not The same as That Of "Romantic Love" .. In The West, You can See The Embodiment Of Romantic Love Brought In To People's Consciousness Through Tales  Such As That Of "Tristan and Isolde", Around 11th and 12the Century: // The Troubadors, Composers Of songs and Music Of That Era, Wrote Pieces which In A way Complemented Such Passions: // At The End Of The day, Unless That element Of "Romantic Love" Is At The Center Of A "Union", That whole essence Of "Bliss" Is Being Missed .. Many Tks  For your Good work .. :)                                   ************************************

Dear Mona......:o)  

by Nadias on Sun Mar 23, 2008 04:28 PM CDT

 thank you so much for your continued encouragement. I totally agree with your statement: ",...That husband and wife should be united both physically and spritually, that they may ever improve the SPRITUAL LIFE of EACH OTHER, and may enjoy everlasting unity... " In a marriage the couple should work together in unity for the benefit of their marriage. They should not work against each other, rather should be a blessing for each other.  Solh va Doosti (paz a vosotros) Nadia  



Dear Nadia,Thank You :)  

by Mona 19 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 04:12 PM CDT

 ...I like your writings very much... you write passinately from your heart and that's why your writings engage the readers from the first word and lead them through your piece...thanks again.You're right, this is a new era will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced....and my believe about true marriage ( if we get married ) is this,...That husband and wife should be united both physically and spritually, that they may ever improve the SPRITUAL LIFE of EACH OTHER, and may enjoy everlasting unity... keep up The GREAT work :) With Loving greetings,Mona