It is not exaggerated to say that in any human societies, past or present, deception lies at the foundation of most romantic relationships. For us to have the genes that we carry in our DNA today, men and women of many generations across geographic boundaries have had to be simultaneously deceiving and deceived. Despite how badly we want to define “love” as something pure and genuine, lie, scheme, and disguise are oftentimes what arouse our attraction in one another in the first place and effectively influence our decision to invest in a commitment.
Though we might not even recognize it, we employ many forms of deception in our everyday life to make ourselves appear desirable to potential mates. These strategies range from wearing makeup and nice clothes, concealing physical unattractiveness, to extravagating prestige, prosperity and displaying strength and kindness. Deception is any tactics, so-called mating strategies, which we use in order to find a mate and reproduce – just what evolution wants us to do!
We perform these tactics to mask our shortcomings, accentuate our advantages, and lead our potential partners into believing that we are able and willing to take good care of them and our future offspring. Deception by a person is usually a reflection of what is sought-after by the sex that person is attracted to, which that person fails to qualify. For example, if an unattractive woman is interested in a man, she should put more effort in making herself look better with makeups because, revolutionarily, men look for physical attractiveness in a mate.
This also works in cases where the man has known how the woman naturally looks prior to her transformation. Where I went to middle school in Vietnam, there was a classmate who had successfully made use of this strategy. My classmate was an average girl: she always tied her curly hair in a ponytail; she wore round glasses and pants that were tapered and high-waisted, not the low rise skinny jeans that the cool girls were really into. Then, she would come back to class after summer vacation looking like a different person.
Her hair was straightened and let down, her new uniform fitted tighter to her body, the heels of her shoes got higher, her eyebrows were shaped, and she no longer had glasses on. Her “metamorphosis” was nothing dramatic, but those few changes complemented her beauty so well that within the next few days, she somehow became a celebrity figure among the students and love letters started flooding in. During recesses, guys would intentionally pass by our classroom just to get a glimpse of her.
Consequently, her new hairstyle became popular among the female students, and girls from other classes would desperately try to befriend her. Deception is no doubt an effective strategy for attracting mates, and, needless to say, some people are better at deceiving than others. Expectedly, many of these people use their “talent” with ill intentions. They talk their way into other people’ hearts, make them do what they want, and abandon them once their needs are fulfilled. I have heard about these heartbreakers so many times, and I’m sure we all have, but only this one time had it struck me so intensely.
The victim of this story was a girl in my Government class whom I used to work with in group projects. She was the sweetest girl who was excessively kind to everybody and rarely seen without a smile on her face. I knew she was in a relationship with someone in our senior class, but he had never come up in our conversations. Everything seemed to go perfectly fine for her until a month before our graduation. She began skipping class, looking sleep-deprived, and ditching group meetings even though the deadline was near.
One afternoon when I was walking toward the cafeteria, her best friend, who was also in our group, caught me in the hallway and took me to the women restroom where I found her whimpering behind a locked door. I stayed with her for half of the lunch break while her friend went to an important club meeting, neither of us said a word. She started coming back to class after that, and we never mentioned about that incident in the bathroom again. I would have completely forgotten about her, if Thad not run into her best friend at the mall last year.
I learned that the guy she went out with was a total D-bag. He had dated two other girls before her since the start of our senior year, and was still “on and off” with one of them while they were dating. Her friends had tried every possible way to convince her that he was not serious about her or anyone for that matter, but he was so good in his game that she would not believe anything people said about him. Then, about three months into their relationship, they had sex after his birthday party and obviously did not use a condom.
Her period was late the next month and she was freaked out. She confronted him about it but was ignored every time. It was not long before he blocked her number and announced that they’d finally broken up. Fortunately, she did not get pregnant with his baby, but the drastic end of their relationship devastated her. She did not keep in touch with anyone after graduation. Deception has been proved by our ancestors who successfully survived, found a mate, and reproduced to be a reliable strategy for mating and ensuring that one’s good genes will be carried on to the next generation.
Yet, a relationship is not stable and investmentworthy if deception is all there is to it. Deception may bring people together, but to stay together, we have to consolidate our relationships with love, understanding, trust, and reliability. Therefore, as far as mating goes, knowing how to deceive is just as important as knowing when to stop deceiving. Once you have found that special someone who is willing to invest in your mutual offspring and stick with you “until death do us part”, the next big step is to decide how many children you want to have, and when and how you will have them.
Just as with mating strategies, evolutionary psychologists have tried to look for similar reproductive patterns in humans, primates, and other organisms in an attempt to explain why we behave the way we do. Semelparity and iteroparity have been found to characterize the fecundity of most species native to planet earth. However, these two ideas fail to provide a satisfactory explanation for the reproductive behaviors seen in humans. Semelparity and iteroparity are methods of reproduction employed by different species to maximize their reproductive efficiency, which means est number of offspring that will survive and reproduce Iteroparous species reproduce multiple times during their life span while their semelparous counterparts have only one reproductive episode. Throughout its evolution, each species has adapted a method of reproduction that is the most beneficial to its linage’s survival. A new reproductive pattern might be introduced if there is any change in a species’ environment that requires modification to take place. If adult mortality among individuals of a species is low, that species will most likely be iteroparous.
In organisms where most adult death occurs between the first and second reproductive episodes, semelparity makes more sense because it allows each individual to invest its entire resources in a single reproduction. That way, resources will not be wasted on later episodes, which will probably never occur. According to this definition, humans are considered iteroparous since we are capable of having multiple breeding. Some of us, however, are voluntarily semelparous. In my opinion, human iteroparity and semelparity are not consistent with what happens in the natural world.
In human, we tend to see iteroparity where we would expect semelparity to exist, and vice versa. For example, couples in poor communities where adult survival rate is low are observed to have more children than those who live in areas where the standard of living and life expectancy are higher. We tend to see bigger families in developing countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc. as compared to those living in the big cities of North America and Europe.
The reason for this is that human eproductive behaviors are heavily influenced not only by our environment, but also by social factors such as education, occupational pursuit, access to family planning and various recreational activities other than having sex. Usually, girls in less developing areas are expected to get married at a very young age. They therefore end up with more children than girls who go to college, pursue a career, and only settle down in their late twenties. A close friend of mine who dropped out of middle school gave birth to her second child last December while l, at the age of 21, experienced my first kiss last week.
When I last saw her in October, I learned that her family’s primary income came from a food cart that she and her husband set up every evening in front of the local Youth Center. Given the limited financial resources and many social challenges faced by the working class in Vietnam, semelparity would have theoretically been the favorable strategy since it is better for one offspring to enjoy all the resources alone. In addition, the idea that, in iteroparous families, resources are divided equally among the offspring seems inadequate when applied to human.
In many patriarchal societies around the world, parents tend to invest more resources in their sons than they do in their daughters. One of the cooks at the restaurant where I work once told me that she and all her sisters were illiterate because only the brothers got to go to school. This cultural bias persists until after the parents’ death, when the majority of their land, property, and money are potentially given to the sons. In nature, iteroparity creates less, more expansive offspring while semelparity results in more, low quality offspring.
The patterns seen in human semelparity and iteroparity contradict with this model because, unlike many other living things, it is very rare for humans to have more than one offspring per pregnancy. As a result, semeparity and iteroparity do not very well explain the different reproductive strategies operated in human societies. Semelparous couples usually produce less, well-endowed while iteroparous parents, on the other hand, end up with many offspring who have to share limited resources for survival.