The mate switching hypothesis
David M. Buss, Cari Goetz, Joshua D. Duntley, Kelly Asao, Daniel Conroy-Beam
Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin, United States
Department of Psychology, California State University, San Bernardino, United States
The John Stockton College of New Jersey, United States
Leaving one mating relationship and entering another, serial mating, is commonly observed in many cultures. An array of circumstances can prompt a mate switch. These include (1) unanticipated costs in flicted by one's mate, or ‘relationship load,’ not apparent on the initial mate selection; (2) changes in the mate value of either partner, creating discrepancies where none previously existed; and (3) the arrival of a new and interested potential mate of sufficiently incremental value to offset the costs of a breakup.
https://labs.la.utexas.edu/buss/files/2 ... D-2017.pdf
The mate switching hypothesis suggests that these circumstances created adaptive problems throughout human evolution that forged adaptations to anticipate and appraise opportunities to mate-switch, implement exit strategies, and manage challenges confronted in the aftermath. We review several studies that support various aspects of the mate switching hypothesis.
The cultivation of ‘back-up mates,’ assessing mate-inflicted costs that comprise relationship load, monitoring selfishly-skewed welfare trade off ratios in a partner, gauging mate value discrepancies, and anticipating sexual, emotional, and economic infidelities. The mate switching hypothesis provides both a complementary, and in some instances a competing, explanation to the 'good genes’ hypothesis for why women have sexual affairs, and parsimoniously explains a host of other mating phenomena that remain inexplicable on alternative accounts.
Assessment of mate value cannot be a static snapshot at a single point in time. Any dimension of mate value such as emotional stability, dependability, extant encumbering commitments, status and resource trajectories may be in flux at any time and require temporal tracking.
The need for tracking does not end after a mate is selected. A mate showing stellar career promise may fail to live up to expectations.