Relationships start with dating, but with the world being such a crazy, modern place, which is only getting crazier and more modern, it’s often hard to define exactly what dating is. At what point does having a drink with a friend become a date? When does dating someone turn into a relationship? When does a relationship turn into something serious? Woah, calm down there! Let’s turn down this pressure-cooker: you’re getting carried away.
The truth is, dating can be tricky. You’re slowly revealing your inner character to someone, hoping that they like the person you’ve pretended to be enough that they’ll stick around to see if they like the person that you really are. Similarly, this works both ways: you’re beginning to get to know someone more than superficially. Are they actually anything like the person they pretended to be to get you interested? Together, you’re passing from infatuation based on physicality or spurious commonalities to a deeper understanding about character and compatibility. At least, that’s his reasoning for breaking wind in front of you, and it’s her reasoning for wearing granny pants!
The thing is, no other species on the planet dates. It is an entirely human concept. And seeing as we all evolved from dinosaurs bumming chimps or whatever, we have plenty to learn from our animal co-inhabitants on this planet. This is what the animal world teaches us about relationships.
Pack Mentality. In order to secure what they need, animals group together in working for a common goal, setting ego aside to achieve something which benefits the pack. The evidence of this can be seen in bars and clubs all across the world on Friday and Saturday nights. Boxes of Smarties (the technical name for a group of lads wearing the same YSL shirt in different shades of pastel) scour their territorial areas searching out the easy targets, the weak, infirm or injured. (Disabled counts as injured.) This is why girls also group together: pack mentality provides safety in numbers. Of course, the key element to any pack mentality is having a strong wingman. (Calling them “Goose” or “Maverick” is optional.) The wingman is your secret weapon: whether you need them to break the ice with your intended, or set up a fake TV dating show to help you meet someone, they are the lifeblood of your pack.
Confidence. Dating is all about confidence: the authors can’t believe you are so stupid as to not know that! Have you ever seen an animal that is unconfident? No, because they don’t exist. Some people say that’s because animals lack self-awareness, but anyone who’s seen a cat look grumpy after being disturbed from sleep will know that’s not true. No, the reason all animals are confident is because at some point in their life, they will have eaten the heart of a bear to claim its courage. You need to do the same.
Pheromones. The existence of human pheromones continues to be a subject of much scientific debate, like the existence of gravity and whether electricity is evil. However, in the animal world, pheromones indisputably exist and often the way of choosing a mate. Think, for example, of the manner in which dogs greet each other: sniffing each other’s bums is a great way to inhale pheromones, but this can look a little peculiar if you try it on prospective partners! Instead, you need to amp up your pheromones in order to stand out from the crowd. Women, the simple answer for this is perfume. Remember, if his eyes aren’t watering, you’re not wearing enough. Men, too, have a simple solution: Lynx. If adverts have taught us anything, it’s that women can’t resist!
Doggy style. Hahahaha!
Commitment. There are some species, for example the beaver, swan or cockroach, which mate for life. It can be romantic for you to ask your partner to be your beaver, or your cockroach. Then there are others whose relationship barely lasts longer than copulation, with the prime example for this being the praying mantis – which many people believe the female eats the head of the male after intercourse. There is a massive common misconception about the praying mantis, however, which needs to be cleared up. The fact is, praying mantises don’t pray! Most are atheists although a few are agnostic.
Raising families. There is a species of fish where the mother carries its young around in its mouth in order to protect them while they are vulnerable. The Mouth Brooding African Cichlids are a vibrant species whose population numbers are increasing. On the other hand, male seahorses are entrusted to care for juveniles and guide them safely to adulthood to continue the species. Seahorses are endangered.