We compared the ability of models based on evolutionary economic theory and Life History (LH) Theory to explain relations among self-reported negative affect, mate value, and mating effort. Method: Two hundred thirty-eight undergraduates provided multiple measures of these latent constructs, permitting us to test a priori predictions based on Kirsner, Figueredo, and Jacobs (2003). We compared the fit of the initial model to the fit of five alternative theory-driven models using nested model comparisons of Structural Equations Models. Rejecting less parsimonious and explanatory models eliminated the original model. Two equally parsimonious models explained the data pattern well. The first, based on evolutionary economic theory, specified that Negative Affect increases both Personal Mate Value and Mating Effort via the direct effects specified in the original model. The second, based on LH Theory, specified that Negative Affect, Personal Mate Value, and Mating Effort relate spuriously through a common latent construct, the LH Factor. The primary limitation of the present study is generalizability. We used self-reports taken from a young, university-based sample that included a spectrum of affective states. We cannot know how well these models generalize to an older population or to actual behavior. Both models predict the presence of a rich pattern of mate acquisition and retention behaviors, including an alarming set of behavioral tactics often not considered or targeted during treatment. Moreover, each model suggests a unique set of problems may arise after an effective intervention. We describe several ways to distinguish these models empirically.