Tag Archives: First Humans

Approach Anxiety and The Bullshit of Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychology.


Yet the pickup community LOVES it. Holy moly. It’s like their religion.

Listen to how they use it to explain approach anxiety.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, our ancestors used to live in caves and in small communities. If you approached a woman back then and it went badly, you were ostracized. A gene for approach anxiety was created in the body of all men. That’s why today we experience approach anxiety, even though we no longer live in caves or small communities. The End.

Does anyone else see what a load of CRAP this is?

First of all, the first humans originated in the open air and deserts of Africa, not in caves.

The first humans weren’t in caves. Photo Credit: worldofweirdthings.com

But even that’s not 100% fact. Just speculation based on where bones have been found and on genetic deduction.

Second, which ancestors? Australopithecus afarensis? Homo habilis? Homo erectus? Homo heidelbergensis?

Let me pause here and say there is evidence the first homo sapien population was riskily (if that’s a word) small.

One theory says our population may have fallen as low as 10,000 people because of drought, famine, and epidemics. The theory is based on how little diversity we have in our genes compared to our nearest cousins, the primates.

Based on genetic deduction, apparently our gene pool had shrank so low that when our species expanded again, all descendants carried copies of the same limited amount of genes. That’s why they say we may have descended from a founding population of only 50 people.

I love this idea, even if it’s speculation. It shows how all of us humans have so much more IN COMMON than we have differences. That smokin’ hot woman over there? Part of our close-knit family of humanity. Nice.

And it’s also true that the population of modern humans living on this planet boggles.

But to say all men now carry a gene for approach anxiety as a result?


Don’t make me laugh.

That leads to the third thing.

Third, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a gene for approach anxiety.


Genes are simply a long sequence of nucleotides.

I’m about to geek out on you here, so watch out.

There are only four nucleotides, identified by the letters A, T, C, and G. There are thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of nucleotides in a gene and in a particular order: AATCCGGCATT and so on. I got this all from Harvard geneticist R.C. Lewontin (p. 46-50 of “Biology as Ideology”).

The long sequence serves two functions.

First, it’s a BLUEPRINT. Other long molecules copy the original sequence of A’s, T’s, C’s, and G’s. These molecules are the amino acids of a protein. They in turn make up our cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones.

A fascinating view of genes. Photo Credit: virtualmedicalcentre.com

Cool, right?

Second, genes turn on and off the production of proteins. For example, if a lactose enters the body, the gene will turn on the production of a certain protein to break down the lactose and use it as a source of energy.


That’s it.

So where the HELL is approach anxiety to be found?

Or the gene for alcoholism, artistic talent, homosexuality, “being good with women,” or whatever vice or virtue people try to imagine there’s a gene for?

Fourth, let’s say there was a gene for approach anxiety. There’s not, but let’s just imagine for shits and giggles.

Can you explain to me how we would ever be able to get over the anxiety? Wouldn’t that mean that we’re then determined forever and ever to have approach anxiety? Does that mean CHOICE or environment or practice or has no role anymore in shaping our destiny?

I mean, entire CULTURES of people lack approach anxiety, so how could ALL men have a gene for approach anxiety?


I live in the beautiful state of Maine in the northeast, so not the best example. Granted. Here, people have a reputation for keeping to themselves (even though not everyone here is like that).

But people from the Midwest have told me that people there tend to be far friendlier and outgoing and have less problem approaching strangers.

The same thing goes for Cuban culture. My father, who’s visited twice, used to tell me stories about how he had trouble getting to his destination on time because Cubans would approach him on his walk and stop him just to strike up a friendly conversation. Strangers aren’t “strangers” to Cubans, but friends first.

Cubans. Photo Credit: lacertilia.com

Fifth, if our ancestors lived in such small tribes, why would they have the need to approach a woman? If you live in a small enough community, wouldn’t everyone pretty much know each other already? And didn’t many of these small tribes have arranged marriages?

The whole approach anxiety thing comes from the fact you’re approaching a complete STRANGER to “court” but who might reject you. That happens in a large environment with lots of strangers and with no such thing as arranged marriages. Namely, OUR modern, industrialized culture in the West.

I’m almost done with my rant. One more thing.

The problem with evolutionary psychology is none of us were there 200,000 years ago (approximate date of earliest Homo sapiens in Africa). So talking about it like it’s the cause of our problems today must forever be called bullshit.

Worse, if we’re not careful, we’ll project our modern prejudices into biology, and pass it off as science. What I mean is, if there’s a gene for approach anxiety, there can also be a gene for warfare, sexual inequality, racism, class, and capitalist greed. These are cultural prejudices, NOT biological facts.

Personally, evolutionary psychology had never helped me understand my own approach anxiety on any meaningful level.

Okay, I’m done.

So, why is approaching women so hard?

Well, she doesn’t know you yet. As a result, she often (not always) has a “guard” up. It’s VERY intimidating.


Banter. Give her some appreciation. Tell her who you are and why you’re talking to her. Then, ask about her.

Congrats. You’ve broken through her shield.

The more prepared I was BEFORE the approach, and the more I PRACTICED approaching, the more I mastered the anxiety.

End of story.