Possible evolutionary origins of human female sexual fluidity

Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2017 Aug;92(3):1251-1274. doi: 10.1111/brv.12278. Epub 2016 May 16.


I propose an evolutionary theory of human female sexual fluidity and argue that women may have been evolutionarily designed to be sexually fluid in order to allow them to have sex with their cowives in polygynous marriage and thus reduce conflict and tension inherent in such marriage. In addition to providing an extensive definition and operationalization of the concept of sexual fluidity and specifying its ultimate function for women, the proposed theory can potentially solve several theoretical and empirical puzzles in evolutionary psychology and sex research. Analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) confirm the theory's predictions that: (i) women (but not men) who experience increased levels of sexual fluidity have a larger number of children (suggesting that female sexual fluidity, if heritable, may be evolutionarily selected); (ii) women (but not men) who experience marriage or parenthood early in adult life subsequently experience increased levels of sexual fluidity; and (iii) sexual fluidity is significantly positively correlated with known markers of unrestricted sexual orientation among women whereas it is significantly negatively correlated with such markers among men.

Keywords: category specificity; homosexuality; human female sexual fluidity; menstrual synchrony; pornography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Sexual Behavior*