Your daughter might not be old enough to start dating yet, but it’s safe to assume you have different “types” (mom excepted, of course). So, part of you probably already hates whoever she’ll eventually bring home at least a little bit. Experts call this the “Juliet effect,” but it’s more often referred to by dads as, “Touch that and die.” Either way, recent research explains that there’s an evolutionary explanation to all this, which is a bit more sophisticated than just being uncomfortable with someone desiring your little girl.
Researchers in Norway had 279 women rank 133 traits in an ideal male partner, and then had their sisters do the same on their behalf. The women prized prioritized obvious characteristics like loyalty, faithfulness and (earmuffs, dad) being good in bed. But, their sisters were more concerned with how responsible, empathetic, helpful and kind suitors were. It turns out, the sisters were probably echoing the sentiments of their parents: In 2013, another study found parents prioritize partners that place the least strain on family resources. So, when you decide you absolutely have to convince Susie that Jonny is no good, Sally will have your back.
Evolutionary biologist and author of the latter study Tim Fawcett suspects this happens because parents have a biological self interest in passing on their genes, and if your kid is bringing home a DJ, good luck with that. He explains that the conflict comes up, “because daughters will settle for a partner who provides less support than her parents would ideally like,” which places a burden on your family, especially if that DJ leaves you to raise his offspring. Because, while you want your genes passed on, you sure as hell don’t want to have to feed and cloth them, too.