I’ve spent two decades of my professional life studying human mating. In that time, I’ve documented phenomena ranging from what men and women desire in a mate to the most diabolical forms of sexual treachery. I’ve discovered the astonishingly creative ways in which men and women deceive and manipulate each other. I’ve studied mate poachers, obsessed stalkers, sexual predators, and spouse murderers. But throughout this exploration of the dark dimensions of human mating, I’ve remained unwavering in my belief in true love.
While love is common, true love is rare, and I believe that few people are fortunate enough to experience it. The roads of regular love are well traveled and their markers are well understood by many – the mesmerizing attraction, the ideational obsession, the sexual afterglow, profound self-sacrifice, and the desire to combine DNA. But true love takes its own course through uncharted territory. It knows no fences, has no barriers or boundaries. It’s difficult to define, eludes modern measurement, and seems scientifically wooly. But I know true love exists. I just can’t prove it.
Eliezer and I both considered this to be clearly wishful thinking. What else do we insist on believing without evidence?
If the payoffs from romance have changed little since our distant ancestors, then our evolved biases are likely to be pretty functional, at least from a selfish genetic point of view. Does this make romance a better or worse place to focus our energies at overcoming bias?