One line of thinking, for instance, posits that we assess potential mates against an internal threshold of preferred qualities and attributes — a “minimum bar,” that they have to meet to be considered a potential partner.Diving into the mysteries of mate selection: Psychology professor’s ‘couple simulation’ model helps us dive into the mysteries of mate selection — ScienceDaily
“And we learn where that minimum bar is based on how other people treat us,” he said. Another model describes the dating market somewhat like the European social dances of the 18th century.
“One side approaches the other side and they get these kinds of temporary relationships going,” Conroy-Beam said. “And basically you stay in a relationship until you get a better offer and everybody kind of recurrently ditches their partners for better ones.”
But these mate selection models, and others like them, don’t capture a lot of the nuance that goes into real-life mate selection, Conroy-Beam noted.
“When you have a system that is particularly complicated like human mating markets are, verbal models are sometimes not such a great way to understand what’s going on,” he said. Competing desires and social dynamics play heavily into mate selection, he explained, adding layers of complexity and moving parts that can’t be captured or quantified.