Valentine's Day is right around the corner and love is in the air — but having "like" in the air might be better, say researchers. In other words, you should listen to your mother and just settle for "Mr. Okay" instead of waiting around for "Mr. Right."
Researchers from Michigan State University recently took a look at the evolutionary strategies of organisms over time. Their conclusion? It's better to settle than wait for something better when it comes to choosing a mate.
The scientists even found that risk aversion in finding love is in our genes, and it's a strategy that can be traced back to the earliest humans. When it comes to determining whether or not they would mate (and succeed by evolutionary terms), our earliest ancestors went for the safe bet and settled for an okay mate rather than waiting around for something better.
“Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate,” a co-author of the study, Chris Adami, who is a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at MSU. “They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around,” he said. “If they chose to wait, they risk never mating.”
To take a closer look at this evolutionary strategy, Adami and his research team developed computer models to trace risk-taking behaviors through thousands of generations of evolution with digital organisms. The team tested a number of variables to see how well the gamble of "waiting" paid off when it came to finding a mate.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the size of a group in which an organism lives directly relates to their willingness to take risks. Individuals reared in smaller groups were much less likely to take risks than those living in larger populations. Translating the computer models into real-life, one might assume that people living in smaller communities would be more likely to settle than those who can cast a wider net.
Bottom line: If evolution is your measure of success, than it's too risky to wait. Just go ahead and love the one you're with.