I wrote about the importance of sound in the mating game in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1). That post dealt with how women could determine if a potential partner was going to work out based on the sound of their voice.
It turns out the same is true for men, although it takes a slightly different turn. It’s not so much the sound of their voice, it’s whether or not they sing. Or hum. I think laughter qualifies, too.
It turns out that part of the male’s mental wiring is to determine life-partner value and worth by sound. This happens all the time in the animal world. Everything from mosquitoes to elephants hum, sing or otherwise make sounds that attract each other. TV documentaries tend to focus on the mating calls of the males and it also true that males are drawn to the mating sounds of females.
How do humans do it?
Men like to hear their partners laugh, sing, hum…forgive the possible stereotype, but anything but talk. Talking involves different parts of the brain and we use our voices differently when we talk than when we vocalize in any other way.
Although there’s no evidence for this at present and what I write here is my personal opinion, I wonder if the reason males are attracted to the sounds of laughter, singing and humming has to do with when they were babes in their mothers’ arms. Most mothers (and this is cross-cultural) make very distinct laughing, singing and humming sounds with their children, not talking (as in “conversation”) with them until the child is ambulatory (meaning “they can get around on their own. You don’t need to carry them everywhere”).
So much for my opinion.
So guys, does your potential partner sing or hum or laugh (and not just at your jokes). And do you like it? Even better, does his or her voice sound like music to your ears? Congrats, you’ve got a keeper.
Anybody remember those first school dances you went to? The boys lined up on one wall, the girls on the other? And remember that the boys gathered in groups of maybe 2-3 and the girls in groups of 5 or more?
What you’re observing is a proto-typical gender behavior bias. That’s a 25¢ way of saying men and women behave differently. Kind of like noticing that wolves go after the most vulnerable member of a herd or that the bull elk challenges all competitors to his harem. It’s all obvious when you know what you’re looking at.
For example, somewhere up around the 4m45s mark in my iMedia presentation on Gender Specific Marketing Discoveries, I comment on the fact that men sat singularly or in groups of 1-3 on one side of the room and the women clustered in noticeably larger groups on the other side of the room. A solitary male is the usual case with males over 30 yo (they tend to have more confidence whether they should or not).
[[you can hear the podcast here. They screw up my name. That’s why I now tell people my last name is pronounced Smith]]
What it all comes down to sex on the beach.
Humans, despite what some might like to think, carry in their genes all the behaviors that helped us climb from the primordial muck to where we are today. Everything that worked is in there. One of the things that worked for males was separating themselves from other males so that females could individualize them, get a better look at them, could evaluate them better, get a good fix on their potentials as mates and providers.
In short, males establish territories. Those nature documentaries about seals on the beach have it correct. It’s amusing to watch several million years of evolutionary wiring go into conflict with a few thousand years of human civilization, especially when you recognize that much of what we call “civilization” is designed to deal with all that nasty evolutionary wiring.
Anthropologists recognize ceremonies and rituals. The ceremonies rarely change because they define us as a species. The rituals constantly change because they define us as a group, a tribe, a family, a religion, a sect, a nationality, a people.
You’ve probably heard the term “mating ritual”. That first, awkward school dance is a mating ritual. It’s purpose is for kids to have fun, yes, and also to have them learn how to evaluate members of the opposite sex, also known as partner selection and is a mating ritual in disguise. That school dance is an example of socially acceptable behavior meeting evolutionary wiring big time. Another example of the difference between ceremony and ritual is marriage. The ritual of marriage varies from culture to culture but the ceremony of marriage — the “this-person-that-person” thing — is pretty well established in our species.
What’s more interesting is observing the individuals who’ve made accommodations so that their evolutionary wiring and social training work hand in hand, or don’t.
For example, an adult male who always seeks the company of his male peers probably won’t be a good choice for mate or provider. An adult male who is comfortable by himself and will spend time with male peers is better. An adult male who can be by himself in a social setting (a bar, a dance, a beach), who intentionally catches your eye without intruding on what you’re doing and quickly (but graciously) acknowledges your interest or lack thereof? Learn his name. He’s probably worth it.
Men, what about women who traverse social training and evolutionary wiring? Interestingly enough the same rules apply. If they’re comfortable with themselves, recognize social signals as they are intended and don’t dispute them, ask for their name. Talk and do remember to listen. They probably have a lot to tell you.