"Don't settle" is a common phrase uttered to single and non-single people alike, but a new study published in Nature's Scientific Reports Journal reveals that that this mindset goes against human nature.
Researchers from Michigan State University found that despite cultural norms to wait for Mr. Perfect, evolution has programmed humans to settle for what they have. The driving force behind settling, researchers say, is fear of not finding Mr. Perfect and a better chance of reproducing — the ultimate goal, biologically speaking.
"If you (and your relatives) don't leave any offspring, your genetic lineage dies out forever," the paper's co-author Randy Olson told A+ in an email.
Olson, along with Chris Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and another co-author of the paper, came to this conclusion after testing and making assumptions about how often "digital organisms" or "a simplified model of humans inside of a computer" chose to settle in relationships.
Not only did they find that the probability of humans choosing not to take a risk was high, but that people raised in smaller groups, fewer than 150 people, were more likely to avoid risks and settle.
But Adami points out that the findings represent a general trend, and that everyone is different.
"We do not all evolve to be the same," Adami said in a MSU write-up. "Evolution creates a diversity in our acceptance of risk, so you see some people who are more likely to take bigger risks than others. We see the same phenomenon in our simulations."
That doesn't mean we should accept what we have or who we're with simply out of fear, or blindly follow the biological imperative to reproduce, but the findings shed light on why we tend to do it in the first place.
"We're adapted to settle for Mr. Right Now because of conditions that we evolve in for periods of time," Olson said. "That mating strategy isn't optimal in today's conditions, but evolution is very, very slow."
At the end of the day, people should feel happy with who they're with, so maybe evolution's slow drift toward the "wait for true love" philosophy isn't such a bad thing.