Patterns in the data on human sexuality support the hypothesis that the bases of sexual emotions are products of natural selection. Most generally, the universal existence of laws, rules, and gossip about sex, the pervasive interest in other people's sex lives, the widespread seeking of privacy for sexual intercourse, and the secrecy that normally permeates sexual conduct imply a history of reproductive competition. More specifically, the typical differences between men and women in sexual feelings can be explained most parsimoniously as resulting from the extraordinarily different reproductive opportunities and constraints males and females normally encountered during the course of evolutionary history. Men are more likely than women to desire multiple mates; to desire a variety of sexual partners; to experience sexual jealousy of a spouse irrespective of specific circumstances; to be sexually aroused by the sight of a member of the other sex; to experience an autonomous desire for sexual intercourse; and to evaluate sexual desirability primarily on the bases of physical appearance and youth.
The evolutionary causes of human sexuality have been obscured by attempts to find harmony in natural creative processes and human social life and to view sex differences as complementary. The human female's capacity for orgasm and the loss of estrus, for example, have been persistently interpreted as marriage-maintaining adaptations. Available evidence is more consistent with the view that few sex differences in sexuality are complementary, that many aspects of sexuality undermine marriage, and that sexuality is less a unifying than a divisive force in human affairs.