I'm reading the book called "Cupid's poison arrow", which revolves around a rather simple assumption: most mammals, including humans have a genetic program that is responsible for ever increasing dissatisfaction with a mate after intercourse with orgasm.

The book proceeds to give a number of examples, here's what I remember:

The book contains a large amount of anecdotal evidence of humans experiencing negative outlook on their partner after orgasmic intercourse, with more intense intercourse producing more intense dissatisfaction.

The author proceeds to formulate a hypothesis that humans and other mammals have a genetic program that fosters sepratation between mates and seeking of a novel mate as a mechanism to promote more genetic diversity in offspring (as opposed to monogamy)

Is there a scientific basis for such claims - do mammals have a mechanism that draws them apart after intercourse or sexual satiety is achieved?

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    $\begingroup$ Looking for scientific justification? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Tomas
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ Scientific is the best kind of justification :P But seriously, that hypothesis sounds really solid and like it has a lot of evidence. I want to know if it is valid. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Jul 22, 2015 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ Why should something like this be a genetic program specifically for this one thing, rather than just the expression of a general taste for diversity? E.g. most people have favorite foods, but we'd regard an adult person who ate only one particular food as decidedly weird, and their diet would almost certainly be unhealthy. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 17, 2017 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


Well from what I have been taught, and have studied, is that multiple partners for men does not equal more of their DNA persisting, because they are needed to provide for the offspring. So if they impregnate 10 different females and don't stick around, that really doesn't help them pass on their DNA because most would die. So having a family with the same partner does ensure more offspring survive. Humans are picky selecting their mate for the reason of wanting to get the best genetic combination possible to have the most offspring survive. A human child takes a lot of effort to raise to reproductive age, we aren't like some animals who are off and running. So our bodies invest a lot in making sure that happens, being flooded with bonding hormones after sex, women's bodies changing to nurse (and then not being able to hunt/gather/protect themselves) etc. So there is a hormonal cascade that happens to ensure you are going to stick around after mating.

I am really talking about our ancestors, but obviously some of their behavior has carried to us.

However having multiple partners DOES benefit the female. Males can't tell they are the father to a child until much later, after they have supported the pregnant mother, etc. Females can then have their DNA pass on in multiple combinations to ensure survival of more children. Pubic hair in women is thought to have evolved to hide any physical evidence of a recent mating with different males outside of the family. And if current statistics say anything - just as many women cheat on their spouse as men. And when cheated on women want to go after the other woman, because that's our competition and they may be taking the mate we worked so hard to get.

Humans are hard to compare to other animals because we can manipulate so much of what happens to us. But if the ultimate goal is to ensure the passing of DNA then that hypothesis (to me) doesn't fit with humans.

But then again, I am a woman and therefore could be biased haha. If you read an animal behavior textbook it will go into this in in detail, and state it much better than I can, and with supporting scientific evidence. As a biologist the term "anecdotal evidence" makes me cringe :)

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Whitney - Welcome to BiologySE! Thanks for your answer - generally we value references to back up the claims in individual answers. I know that some of this may be common knowledge to you (as much of what my answers are), but please try to include some citations of published works that support your answer. Feel free to edit the current answer and add to it - thanks for your contirbution $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2016 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for an answer. From my knowledge of evoutionary psychology, your statement is incorrect. An attractive "bad boy" casanova can leave 50 children with single mothers and would outperform a pure pair bond partner. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Nov 18, 2016 at 12:30

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