Guys, Here’s What It’s Actually Like To Be A Woman

Written with Geoffrey Miller. This story is an exclusive chapter excerpt from MATE: Become the Man Women Want.

She’s Terrified of Pregnancy, Abandonment and STDs

Pregnancy has been the most fundamental sex difference in mammals for more than seventy million years. Women get pregnant, men don’t. Most of the sex differences in human mating strategies emerge, directly or indirectly, from that basic fact.

It’s a complicated issue for young women. In the long term, pregnancy with a great husband is one of most women’s greatest aspirations—it can be a true blessing. But in the short term, unwanted pregnancy is one of their biggest fears. Getting knocked up can be a career-wrecking, family-shaming, mate-value-decreasing disaster, even if the baby daddy has great genes and promises to be there when the shitty diapers hit the fan.

We know from anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies that if a guy abandons a woman or he has a hunting accident and gets killed, the likelihood of her baby surviving drops alarmingly. It’s a potentially huge cost, and it’s why women have evolved a pretty good radar for detecting unreliable flakes.

Being stuck with a little kid also seriously lowers a woman’s attractiveness to future men. Whatever her mate value was before the baby, it’s going to drop afterward. Very few guys want to become a step-dad, and women understand this. Their instinctive worry about unwanted pregnancy is often stronger than their conscious trust in birth control. Female mammals have been getting pregnant since before the dinosaurs went extinct. Reliable rubber condoms weren’t invented until 1855. The Pill arrived only in 1960—that’s just two generations of reliable female birth control. That’s not enough time for evolution to have re-calibrated women’s mate preferences to this new reality that they could, in theory, have lots of casual short-term sex without getting pregnant.

Let’s say a woman gets through high school, college, and young adulthood unscathed on the pregnancy front. She still has to worry about the armada of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) sailing toward her aboard your dirty penis. Or at least that’s what’s going through her mind, unconsciously.

For STDs like gonorrhea, genital herpes, or HPV, it’s much easier for the viruses or bacteria to go from your penis to her vagina than vice versa. Even if you always use condoms, there’s still a risk of breakage, slippage, or incomplete coverage (if you have warts or sores near the base of your dick). When a guy gets an STD, it’s usually a temporary inconvenience. When a woman gets one, it can often lead to infertility, or it can infect the baby during birth. The STD stakes are simply higher for women. This is one reason why women evolved a stronger propensity for sexual disgust toward anything that tends to promote the spread of STDs: promiscuity, group sex, anal sex, whatever. If a sexual activity has a high STD risk but doesn’t bring her much pleasure, build an emotional connection with the guy, or help her pass along good genes to future babies, why would she do it?

You could be the nicest guy in the world with everything going for you, but if you roll up to a woman trying to run game looking or smelling like you just climbed out from the bottom of a third-world public toilet, these are some of the fears that may be driving her to keep her distance. In fact, she cares more about how you smell than you can imagine. It’s a mammalian thing—pheromones are real. And so is poor hygiene. Some women will decide they’re interested in hooking up with a guy just from his online dating profile, and the live, in-person date is basically to see if he smells as good chemically as he looked digitally.

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