Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Women as seekers of helpers


An observation I have made again and again is that women are very intent on strong inter-personal relations. This is highly understandable form an evolutionary POV, and can be used to explain a variety of seemingly absurd behaviours that they display: Their position as the physically weaker sex (in an environment with many additional external dangers and often a scarcity of foodstuffs) made the help and protection of others disproportionally beneficial compared to men. (However, a similar reasoning can be extended to men too, with a weaker effect and less pronounced behaviours.) Notably, there are at least two relevant source of help: Individual male protectors (mainly husbands and fathers, but also other male relatives) and groups of allied women/girl-friends. The wish to access these sources in the stone age strongly affects current behaviour. In addition, an overall communal help against outer dangers was present; however, I see no need to differentiate between men and women in this regard.

The below discusses some phenomena based on the above model. Note that:

  1. The above is unlikely to be the only contributing explanation; nor need it even be the single most important contributor (although, IMO, this will often be the case).

  2. Other variations can be constructed based on the same principles: The below should not be seen as a full investigation.

  3. I will typically make an implicit assumption of (at least ostensibly) monogamous relationships. This is not necessarily correct, and some care should be taken when interpreting. However, at least polygamist variations would increase the need for a women to strive for popularity with her husband.

  4. My hypothesis about neotenyw (TODO) in women ties in well (but will not be discussed here).

  5. Use of words like “feel” or “fear” below do not necessarily imply a conscious, or even unconscious, reaction, but is used as a short-hand for e.g. “evolutionary selection has favoured women who have reacted against the dangers posed by the mentioned situation”—nevertheless, a conscious feeling will often be present.

  6. For simplicity, I use “husband” and “wife” to indicate the male and female part in a relationship, respectively. Nevertheless, the below will very often be relevant for relationships that are too casual or (so far) too short-term to be considered marriage-like.


The typical woman is very keen on her husband’s “siding” with her when she argues with a third-party, irrespective of what the facts of the issue are, how important the issue is, and with whom she argues. His not doing so, can lead to her being angry or going into a prolonged pout. This could be explained by assuming that she incorrectly sees this as an analogy to a more physical or existence-threatening situation: “If he does not even defend me when there is no danger for him, then he will not defend me when a wolf attacks.” Alternatively, she could misread this as a statement about the importance of their relationship: “If he sides with the other party, then he must consider that relationship more important.”

This hypothesis has the added benefit of explaining why (in fiction, I have no personal experience on this point) the above applies in particular when the husband’s mother is involved: If a dire situation would arise where he has to make significant choices (e.g. concerning whom to primarily defend, whom to give more food to) then the mother is a stronger “threat” to the wife than e.g. a random passer-by, and it is particularly important that she has a better relationship to him than the mother does. (The same applies, m.m., from the mother’s POV.)

Opposition to “nights with the boys”

If a husband spends a lot of time with his male friends, this often leads to highly negative reactions from his wife. She is likely reacting to a fear that she is not his number one priority, and may risk to lose his protection and/or not be a priority in a crisis.

Jealousy against female friends of the husband

Many women are very hostile to female friends of husbands—much more so than with “the boys”, even when assured that the relationship is entirely platonic. Here the perceived (and, possibly, actual) risk of being supplanted is noticeably larger, because the female friends are competitors not just for time and attention, help, friendship, etc., but also for the role as partner of the husband.


Despite the fact that similar jealousies are common among men, this is significant, because the male version likely works by another mechanism: The fear of the wife being impregnated by a male friend. While losing a wife is likely to be emotionally similarly upsetting as losing a husband, the historical consequences have been less dire for men; and it can be argued that raising a “cuckoo” is worse from an evolutionary standpoint (and at least in some circumstances) than losing a wife to another man.

Stubborn wish to save a relation

Many a woman has stubbornly tried to save a long-term relationship that others would consider doomed or not worth saving, including cases where the SO has been physically abusive or the relationship consisted largely of arguments. A common theme in many blogs by women is a long string of complaints about how unhappy they are with their current relationship/SO—and how they hope that things will improve or return to the way they were, that he will somehow change, ... As a neutral third-party reading these statements, I am almost always left with the impression of wishful thinking without any realistic chance.

The simple truth is that, at many times in history, any partner short of Henry VIII would be better than no partner.

A similar principle likely applies to a wish to gain almost any partner in the first place. It is my strong impression that women are much more willing to make compromises than men are, when no suitable partners are around. (In reference to long-term relationships; for casual sex, the opposite applies.)


The more general principle of being on any team/a member of any tribe over being alone is likely fairly pervasive in human behaviour. Consider e.g. the “Stockholm Syndrome”: One way of explaining it, is simply to postulate that the prisoners (possibly, through proximity or the association kidnapper–bringer of food) start to see a connection of survival between the two groups that outweighs the captivity and (if present) mistreatment, and leads to an identification as one team/tribe. Put in a stone-age context, this is a far from irrational behaviour—no matter how flawed it is in a modern hostage scenario.

Dominant behaviour

Dominant behaviour, both against a woman and others, is known to be attractive to many women. This can be made to fit at least partial in the above model: Dominant behaviour is often a sign of capability, influence, whatnot, which indicates a man with a larger than average ability to be a good care-taker. Notably, this applies even when “jerks” are concerned: A jerk may be less likely to be willing to help; however, his ability to do so, when he can be convinced, is perceived as large. (Notably, if someone displays a jerkish behaviour over a prolonged amount of time, then it is usually safe to assume that he is able to get away with it, which in turn implies that e.g. fear or need of him protects him from repercussions—i.e., he would be a valuable ally.)

In the extreme, this even goes a limited way to explain the odd phenomenon of women falling for imprisoned murders, and contributes to explain why they often stay with abusers long after a third-party considers their behaviour incomprehensible. In fact, in the limited society of tribe of two dozen people, the very risk posed by that kind of criminal may have legitimately made them more attractive to women: Because a considerable part of their daily lives would be shared anyway, it could make sense for a woman to escalate the relationship to a romantic or sexual level, in the hope that this would reduce the risk that she was a target of attacks—effectively putting her in the eye of the storm. (In contrast, in a larger society, it makes much more sense to just keep the distance.)

Obsession with looks

At least in the days of yore, men had noticeably more “practical” benefits to offer women than the other way around. The obsession with looks that many women have can be an attempt to compensate for this: Firstly, by being beautiful, they can increase their perceived absolute value (greater sexual attraction, perceived better health and greater youth) to men. Secondly, greater beauty increases their relative value compared to other women, and makes them more likely to be picked (first, at all) out of the pool of available women when men look for partners.

As for the modern days: I cannot speak for what women perceive that men can offer, nor what value other men see in women; however, from my POV, modern women do not bring much value outside of sex and reproduction. They are worse company than men, are no longer willing household helpers, and the “mutual support” part of a relationship tends to be a net-win for women and net-loss for men. (Please, do prove me wrong!) For sex and reproduction, things remain as of old: Looks and youth are distinct advantages.

Need for tokens of affection

A great annoyance to many men is that women rarely are content with a one-time declaration of love, but need continual reminders in form of chocolate, flowers, and the odd “I love you”. This is easily explained by a worry of being deserted: As long as the man’s feelings are demonstrated on a regular basis, she feels certain that she is still loved; when they are not, she starts to fear desertion. (Interestingly, in the modern world, this connection is probably very unreliable, and likely reflects how well the man knows how women function, rather than his actual feelings. In fact, it could even be argued that e.g. a cheating husband will be more likely to give gifts than a faithful one...)

An interesting twist, is the well-known psychological phenomenon that people tend to rationalize their behaviours, bring their opinions in line with their actions (as well as the other way around), etc. It is conceivable that a man who give gifts has his feelings strengthened by the act of giving, which would make a female interest in procuring gifts highly rational. (Cf. e.g. the concept of cognitive dissonancew.)

“Do I look fat?”

“Do I look fat?”, “You do not love me anymore!”, and similar, likely follow a similar mechanism to the previous section. A difference would be that this is a more active probing; which could conceivably be a sign of very deep fears, caused by a lack of affirmation. A further, indirect, mechanism is likely to be present, in that the woman fears that a waning physical attractiveness could lead to loss of love in the future, and being assured that her looks are still satisfactory alleviates this long-term fear.

Own girl-friends, networking, etc.

Similar to the situations with men, the above model explains many behaviours relating to relationships between women. For example, the extreme amount of bonding activities, gossip, quantity-over-quality in communication, etc., is easily understood. It is also notable that some of the above entries apply to women and their girl-friends too, most notably their tendency to carry on a relationship with someone they do not actually like or cannot get along with.

Animosity between women

Extreme animosity between individual women is nothing uncommon; in particular, when they are interested in the same man. This can partially be explained by the man being a more valuable ally than the other woman; partially, by the the risk of the other woman sabotaging respectively pre-empting a relationship with the man. (Other factors that play in are competition for genes, status in the female hierarchy, and similar.)


The great wish for cuddling and affection in various forms that women often display (towards e.g. fathers, husbands, and other caretakers) can be explained by cuddling having a “rewarding” effect on the care-takes, making them more likely to continue their care-taking. (Oxytocinw and similar chemicals could also play in, but these tend to be much weaker in men than in women.) That the urge to cuddle is greater in women than in men, is explained by evolutionary selection of women who are more prone to cuddle, and, thus, to reap the indirect benefits. I note from fiction (but with unclear real-life experiences) that women are particularly prone to “cuddly” behaviours when e.g. a family member dies, an economic disaster strikes, or an other event that could pose a long- or mid-term survival threat occurs, which is consistent with this explanation. Imminent physical danger seems to have a similar effect.

Looking at animals, cuddling appears to be a very strong bonding mechanism, which also likely includes factors imprinting smells and marking others with the own smell (cf. cat behaviour).

Sexual behaviour

The sexual behaviours of men and women are also explainable in this model: Men (in an evolutionary perspective) have only one sexual consideration, namely to impregnate as many women as possible, which implies that they will have a very straight-forward sex-drive. Women, OTOH, are caught between several considerations, namely (at least): A wish for as many children as possible, which implies a strong sex-drive; a need to be restrictive with sex to avoid losing their one bargaining chip, which implies a high threshold; and the wish to select the “right” partners/care-takes/fathers, which implies a high degree of selectivity—when there is a selection available; when not, eventually, anyone will do.

This explains e.g. why women often have a stronger sex-drive than men, but often give the impression to have a weaker one. Generally, many odd behaviours, inconsistencies in affection, and so on, are easier to understand in the light of this.

A particular issue is that women, at least according to some PUAs, are looking for several partners in distinct roles, e.g. a sperm-donor, a care-taker, and an emotional support. While these can be one person, it is far from uncommon that they are divided onto several. A series of problems (including the infamous “friend zone”) that men have with women can be explained by this, in combination with the observation that a man’s interest is mostly directed at being a sperm donor—and from an evolutionary perspective the sperm donors collect the prize; while the others are being fooled into wasting time, money, effort, ..., in return for nothing.


Beware that in a more holistic perspective the picture is more complicated, e.g. in that men too can find joy in a marriage; such factors, however, are secondary results of evolution, while the above are more primary and driving.

Courtship behaviour

Similarly, the odd, not too say idiotic, courtship rituals that are common among humans are easily understood: Women are the ones more interested in relationships, yet the burden to “convince” her often falls on the man. This peaking in the USanian absurdity of a woman pestering her reluctant boy-friend for a proposal for several years—and then to expect him to prove himself worthy buy spending half his life-savings on a diamond ring... What is needed for the woman to feel safe (for the time being...) is that the man is sufficiently hooked on her that he is willing to waste a fortune on her—and the price she pays (indirectly, through an empty family bank account) is outweighed by this perceived security: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


The man, OTOH, suffers a definite loss—while proving that he is an idiot.

Another effect is that even a comparatively unattractive man can “win a woman over” by putting in sufficient efforts in wooing her, thus proving that he is willing to be a dependable care-taker.

Allegedly, many women are swayed by a simple “I love you”, when it comes to whom to sleep with, whether to continue a relationship, and similar. (That is, an “I love you” which is plausible, not e.g. one from a random stranger.) Here the woman is given a very strong (but often faked) signal of a strong tie, and reacts accordingly.

The (at least) USanian obsession with marriage, even when a couple is already living in a marriage-like situation is likely another example: The piece of paper does not truly change any emotions, but can be seen as proof of the current emotions. Notably, it also makes it harder and more costly for a man to leave a woman should his feeling diminish. (This while, tellingly, most divorces are initiated by women.)

A very interesting twist is that women in fiction (I am very uncertain about real-life evidence) tend to be attracted to men that have a very strong attachment to another woman—in particular, a widower not yet over his dead wife. On the surface, this seems highly unnatural: Why go up against that kind of competition? Even this, however, would be easy to explain by looking on that attachment as a prize: If a women can turn the attachment to herself, she has hit the jackpot, and the potential gain could outweigh the risk of failure and the effort needed. (Notably, the existence of the attachment is proof that the man can be induced to that level of attachment in the first place—which is not a given with a randomly picked man.)

Another sometimes occurence in fiction is that a man wanting to win a woman over sets up a fake robbery, assault, or similar, where he can bravely fight off the “assailant”. Doing so, if sufficiently realistically and believably, will push at least two buttons in the mind of a stone-age woman: Firstly, she sees that he actually has the ability to fight someone off; secondly, that he is willing to take some amount of risk in what amounts to her protection.