1st Edition

Stories of Love from Vikings to Tinder The Evolution of Modern Mating Ideologies, Dating Dysfunction, and Demographic Collapse

By Mads Larsen Copyright 2025
    334 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Increasing levels of singledom, dating dysfunction, and sexual inactivity contribute to plummeting fertility rates. This book investigates the perhaps most foundational factor behind this uncoupling: our present era’s ideology of love. Throughout human history, communities have shared fictional stories infused with various mating moralities that compel people to pair-bond and reproduce. After taking readers on a 6-million-year journey through hominin mating regimes—with various extents of promiscuity, polygyny, and monogamy—Stories of Love from Vikings to Tinder investigates the past millennium's radical evolution of Western mating beliefs. Nordic literary works illuminate the pivotal transitions between the West’s First, Second, and Third Sexual Revolutions, which occurred around the years 1200, 1750, and 1968. The conclusion chapter points to the Fourth Sexual Revolution, symbolically placed in 2029. Artificial intelligence and other technologies seem likely to transform our mating practices more radically than any of the previous revolutions.


    Introduction: Western Ideologies of Love

    1. Exiting Heroic Love: Monogamous Indoctrination in the Icelandic Sagas (1200s)

    2. Promoting Courtly Love: Female Consent and Modern Morality in Tristrams saga (1226)

    3. Companionate Love & the Nuptial Valve: Urban Incels in The Unfaithful Wife (c. 1500)

    4. Promoting Romantic Love: Individual Choice in Holberg’s Comedies (1722–1754)

    5. The Libertine Love Experiment: Sex as Intoxication in Bellman’s Epistles (1770–1790)

    6. Perils of Romantic Love: Dark Triad Seducers in The Magic Goblet (1841)

    7. Exploring Confluent Love: Darwinian Mating in the Modern Breakthrough (1871–1888)

    8. Consequences of Confluent Love: Self-Realization in The Serious Game (1912–2016)

    9. Lesbian Heroic Love: A Queer Dissolution of Confluent Love in Baby Jane (2005)

    10. Incels & Insings: Marginalized Men and Women in Sigurd and Half of Malmö (2020s)

    Conclusion: The Upcoming Fourth Sexual Revolution




    Mads Larsen is a literary scholar who uses evolutionary perspectives to study cultural change. After earning a PhD and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, he became a Postdoc and Researcher at the University of Oslo. Larsen has published over three dozen articles. Stories of Love from Vikings to Tinder is his first research monograph. He co-authored a book on evolutionary positive psychology. His upcoming monograph is Master-Narrative Transitions from the Vikings to A.I.: How Fiction Helps Communities Adapt to a Changing World. Larsen was a review editor for Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture and serves on the editorial board of Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.