Human Mating Game
It’s a dance as old as the human race. At cocktail lounges and church socials, during office coffee breaks and dinner parties-- most blatantly, perhaps, in the personal ads in newspapers and magazines-- men and women participate in a ritual that has been embedded in our existence since the dawn of man. Beginning at young ages, humans start learning to master the art of attracting someone of the opposite sex, one day hoping to find the perfect mate. Whether it was the physical aspect, personality aspect, or the chemical aspect of attraction, there is something that attracts mankind to members of the other sex. The question is, “How do you interpret these signals and how do you respond to them?”
Researchers and educators are beginning to observe that the age that children start to take notice of the opposite sex. As early as the pre-teen years children start “going out.” Many parents fear that their kids are being pushed into adulthood too quickly. Yet, they recognize that pre-teen relationships often resemble child’s play more than teenage romance. Pre-teens pair up to impress their friends. Within a group of pre-teens, they might constantly trade boyfriends and girlfriends because it doesn’t really matter as long as each other has someone. These couples traditionally would not go out for more than a month and they may do little more than talk a few times on the phone. Fortunately, pre-teens take break-ups in stride which later prepares one for the possibility of hurting and being hurt by someone in one’s future teenage and adult years (Hoose 56-63).
The early teenage years are when young adolescents begin to learn the basics of the ‘Flirting Game,’ especially the girls. There are 52 different nonverbal courtship behaviors used by women. 31 of these 52 flirtations were exhibited by 13-16 year old girls in a study that included going to shopping malls, ice skating rinks, and other places that adolescents congregate. The only signals missing were those at the more overt end of the spectrum, such as actual caressing. Not only were some of the signs missing, but the teens’ gestures looked less natural than ones that would be made by more mature females; They laughed much louder, stared more obviously, and their moves were overall much sloppier. If there was a leader among the group, the followers usually modeled their behavior on the leader of the pack. The rate at which these adolescents signaled was considerably less frequent- 7.6 signs per hour per girl, as opposed to 44.6 per woman. Even though they much rougher around the edges than a mature woman, these girls were equally effective in attracting the object of their affection, in this particular case, teen boys (Lott 42-45, 72).
What teenagers are involved in may also make a difference in the view of sex and the sex drive of the adolescent. Most researchers have thought by encouraging kids to become active in playing sports, they would reduce their sex drive and keep them occupied so that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in sexual acts. In females, this seems to be true. Young women who participate in athletics seem to have sex later and less often than their non-athletic peers, and by doing so face a lower risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Supposedly, taking part in sports raises a females self-esteem and gives them the power to say “NO.” Males, in contrast, often tend to be slightly more sexually experienced. Kathleen Miller, Ph.D., of the State University of New York--Buffalo, states, “The culture of sports reinforces the mind-set that boys ‘score’ on and off the field.” The minds of these boys think, “Since I can’t get pregnant, why should I worry if I get some girl pregnant.” The males feel that since they are so busy with athletics, that they can have a little fun in their spare...
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