The following article, “How Nerds Created Sexual Fidelity”, is taken from: The Week magazine; June 10, 2012, Volume 12 Issue 570 – Health and Science page 21. This certainly could provide some “food for thought” for those of you who find yourself surrounded by the vast numbers of individuals who have slid into believing that the one night stand and the instant hook up is the standard to measure modern dating by. Read on and maybe you will have a pro or con comment to share about this in the next newsletter.
Monogamy may have been invented millions of years ago by male human ancestors who lost the usual mating competition to alpha males, and learned how to woo women with food and loyalty. That’s the conclusion of University of Tennessee scientists studying why humans, unlike most other primates, form long-lasting, monogamous relationships and families. Some 4.4 million years ago, hominids lived, as chimpanzees do today, in big groups dominated by powerful males, who mated with as many females as possible—and bullied less-aggressive males to keep them away from the women. But in what amounted to “the most important sexual revolution for our species,” biomathematician Sergey Gavrilets tells the Los Angeles Times, the wimpier men outsmarted the bullies.
Instead of physically fighting the promiscuous alpha males for access to their harem, they likely focused on one female and showered her with food. Those females liked the constant attention, rewarding their providers with fidelity. The offspring of those couples, having two parents to nurture and defend them, had better survival odds than did the offspring of neglectful alpha males—leading over time to humanity’s “self-domestication,’’ with male providers pair-bonding with faithful females. Without the romantic strategy devised by the prehistoric sensitive man, Gavrilets says, “we wouldn’t have the modern family.”
Let’s just reflect on this. So, millions of years ago “hooking up” was the standard means for the dominant males to mate with as many females as possible. Let’s spread that DNA of ours far, wide and fast as you may not get another chance. Then some fairly smart males came along and figured out that the females wanted more than the one night stand and invented loyalty. Can we learn from this?
In a related article from Psychology Today there is a discussion about the advantages of long term monogamous relationships. One of the comments suggests that that “soul mate” feeling we often experience in the initial throes of falling in love is simply the hormonal rush of lust. They make the point that the true sense of being “soul mates” is the reward of two individuals who have worked through the difficult times that are part and parcel to living side by side for decades. Here is a brief quote and if you are interested you can read the full article yourself. “I suspect that happily married couples eventually pass a threshold into this last, most rewarding stage of marriage. The transition point into the stage of becoming each other’s soul mate would be different for each couple, and some couples would arrive earlier than others. (Sadly, many couples never even come close to achieving this). Perhaps this shift is the result of successful reconnection at a certain key transition point, such as the reconnection that follows the launching of adult children or the transition to retirement. However, this is not a passive process – marriages don’t get better as a function of time alone, but rather they get better as a function of two partners continuing to treat each other with love and respect despite the challenges life brings. ( I hope you caught that part; “despite the challenges life brings.” ) Whenever two individuals do become each other’s soul mate, the remaining years of marriage are grounded in security and a rare and special form of earned intimacy. As I see it, during the soul mate phase of a well-nurtured marriage, the developmental tasks would be to celebrate and make meaning of the life you have lived together, operating as sacred keepers of each other’s history.”
Is the fun and freedom of hooking up or serial monogamy the answer? For many people that is the current norm for meeting partners –with sex becoming separated from intimacy. That norm is a trend that started about fifty years ago when the sexual revolution exploded onto the scene. In an article about Vidal Sasson, the four-time married hairstylist was quoted to have said, “In those days having sex was the same as having dinner.” I guess not much has changed for some people in fifty years. And in still another article about Jack Nicholson he proudly stated that he loved women and the idea of falling in love. But he also admitted that each tryst only last about eighteen months before he would go looking again. His only complaint was that he was getting too old to continue this trend so things were looking pretty lonely for him now that he didn’t have the looks or the energy to do another go around in the dating scene.
Could there be something better than having a relationship that has a shelf life of milk even if that requires tolerating the discomfort that comes with delaying the gratification that accompanies jumping from person to person? Unfortunately, for some it takes too much time and energy to build a relationship bridge. For others there isn’t a desire to do so because the only thing they want is the twenty or so minutes it takes to fulfill the purpose of the hook up. In this age of instant gratification we often act first and think later when the consequences are biting at our heels and hindsight is shaking the parental finger at us. We think we can hook up our bodies separate from our souls only to find out that even the most casual hookups can activate some strong attachment feelings that need to be recovered from when the relationship ends after that one and only night.
Isn’t there something to be said about taking time to build a foundational bridge with someone that could eventually lead to security and true intimacy into old age? How many times in your life do you or can you go through this process of building and blowing up relationship bridges? Wouldn’t it be wiser to put some of that energy into being a little more choosy so you don’t have to invest so much energy into cleaning up the carnage…. of yet another relationship? What do you think about this? Is there a side to this story that I am blind to that you think I need to hear? Send in your comments and they will be included in the next newsletter. I would love to hear what you have to say.