Evolution of Love in Humans

The role the love had played in evolution, and how love was evolved alongside us.

Filter theory
Had multiple sexual partners

Love in Early Humans

Love and relationships have been a part of human life since the dawn of time. Studies on hunter-gatherer societies show that love was an important factor in forming social networks, providing emotional support, and increasing reproductive success.

Without love and relationships, the species would never have been evolutionarily successful. On their own, humans are vulnerable to predators, and struggle to acquire resources. But in well-bonded social groups, humans can dominate almost any environment – this is how we became the most widespread species on earth.

In other species, especially birds and primates, we can observe similar behavior to humans when it comes to sex, courtship and mate selection. By studying these species, researchers can shed more light on the evolutionary benefits of love and relationships.

Procreation and Reproduction

In simple terms, relationships are essential for population growth and species survival. If individuals are not mating, and producing offspring, a species will soon die out.


This is probably why love and sex are so closely linked to the reward systems in the human brain. From an evolutionary perspective, higher sex drives lead to larger populations, which benefit the species as a whole.

Loving relationships also help to protect any offspring that a species produces. This concept is seen throughout the animal kingdom, with parents helping to raise their children together. A popular example of this is the prairie vole, which has been found to form strong monogamous bonds with its mate, increasing the likelihood of offspring surviving to adulthood.

Sexual Selection: Filter Theory


Sexual selection is an important factor in love and relationships. It is based on the idea that individuals are more likely to choose mates with strong genetics; they might be stronger, or faster, or better with tools. This is good for the evolution of the species as a whole, as these strong genetics are passed down to the next generation.

When someone finds another person attractive, it usually comes down to this theory. On a physical level, people are usually attracted to strong and healthy individuals. On an intellectual level, they are often drawn to cleverness or social confidence. All of these qualities are markers of strong genetics, from the standpoint of natural selection.

Another aspect of this is filter theory: the idea that humans tend to select partners with similar traits to themselves, including eye color, facial features, or personality traits. This might be down to compatibility. If two people are well-matched, they’re more likely to form a stable relationship, which increases the chances of survival.

Social Bonds


Humans are highly social creatures, and cooperative relationships have helped us to survive and thrive. This is especially true in hunter-gatherer societies, where individuals rely on each other to provide food, shelter, and protection from predators.

The book *Sex at Dawn*, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, argues that early humans lived in small groups with multiple sexual partners. This suggests another function to love and sex – not just to reproduce, but to form cohesive, well-functioning societies. During sex, oxytocin leads to feelings of closeness and personal trust, which would benefit the group as a whole.

This idea is supported by research into animal species such as bonobos which live in large communities with multiple mating partners. Studies suggest that these primates use sex as a form of communication – reinforcing social bonds within their community and increasing cooperation among members.

Love in Primate Relationships

When it comes to relationships, primates offer some interesting parallels to humans. For example, chimps form couples that can last for years or even a lifetime. These relationships provide a sense of comfort and security for the individuals involved, much like human relationships do.

Chimps will often engage in grooming behaviors with each other, where they will clean and care for one another’s fur. This bonding activity might correlate with human cuddling, and can foster close relationships and a sense of love and attachment.

Primates tend to be less monogamous than modern humans. However, our prehistoric ancestors may well have been polygamous too. Overall, human love and primate love are not as different as we think.

Love in Animals: Bird Courtship

Birds form complex relationships, which are often as rich as the relationships found in mammals. For example, many birds, such as swans, will mate for life, and use physical touch, such as tapping their beaks together, to form strong, intimate bonds.


Courtship rituals are common among bird species, from elaborate dances and vocalizations, to bowerbird males building intricate structures out of twigs and leaves. This all comes down to sexual selection, and proving that an individual has good genetics.

Birds-of-paradise, found in Indonesia, engage in some of the most impressive courtships in the world. Males will spend months perfecting complex dance routines, before showing off their moves to females. The parallels to humans are easy to see – we also work hard to present ourselves well to prospective mates, spending time at the gym or eating healthily in the hope of looking more attractive.

Love in Animals: Cetacean Relationships


Cetaceans, such as dolphins and whales, form relationships as strong as anything seen among primates. Monogamy is not very common in these species, but that does not mean their bonds are weak – family groups stay together for entire lifetimes, working together to provide for each other and take care of any offspring.

They also display behaviors similar to humans when it comes to physical contact; for example, male dolphins will often court females by swimming alongside them or rubbing against them in a gentle manner.

Studies of cetacean brains have also found similar neurons to the ones which control love and emotion in humans. Emotions are a subjective experience, and without the ability to communicate with cetaceans directly, it is challenging to make accurate comparisons. But most scientists believe that these animals are capable of complex emotions not so different from those of humans.

Do We Love Our Pets?


Animals and humans have been forming strong bonds for centuries. Whether it’s a dog wagging its tail, a cat purring, or a horse nuzzling, animals have a unique way of bonding with humans.

Although cross-species relationships between animals and humans cannot be classified as love in a romantic sense, they do activate similar parts of the brain. Studies have shown that when people interact with their pets, they experience increased levels of oxytocin. Additionally, fMRI scans reveal increased activity in reward processing areas when participants look at pictures of their beloved pets.

Studies have shown that interacting with pets has a positive impact on human health. People with pets are often less stressed, less lonely, and have lower blood pressure than those without. In other words, relationships with animals might have an evolutionary benefit too.

You will forget 90% of this article in 7 days.

Download Kinnu to have fun learning, broaden your horizons, and remember what you read. Forever.

You might also like

The Neurobiology of Love;

How your brain falls in and out of love.

The Freedom To Love;

How love has been subject to restrictions and discrimination, and how many of these continue today.

The Art of Loving: How Our Culture Shapes Love;

The influence of cultural norms in shaping our romantic relationships.

Love and Philosophy;

How different philosophers have thought about love and relationships.

Love and Literature;

How different writers have considered the topic of love, and its many nuances.

Types of Love;

The psychological underpinnings for the many different kinds of love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *