Humans are a good many things by nature, and a good many more not so. For example, most of us would agree that “survival of the fittest” seems to hold true. Even those among us who don’t believe in Evolution per se likely agree that the creature best adapted to survival in an environment is more apt to do so than its less fortunate cohorts.
Fast-forward past a whole lot of human development, sociology on a Bullet train, if you will. Now consider how we exhibit this almost universally-recognized truth. Sure, we compete in business, in finance, in many ways, still. But we no longer allow the least suited to survival to perish. I’m oversimplifying and glossing over a good amount of work done by some remarkable thinkers. But all to make it clear that what Martin Heidegger called “thrownness” doesn’t appear to be the rule any longer. We no longer allow those dealt a bad hand, so to speak, to simply starve and extinguish. Put more nicely: Though relentless competition for resources used to shape humanity’s direction, we now have controlled for it, such that many of us get a second chance. And via the “social safety net”, those who can’t successfully compete, for whatever reason, can still survive.
Without going more deeply into that, as it’s only an example, we can now question something seemingly less serious: our mating habits. Again, please forgive what will amount to a vast oversimplification. By studying nature, it’s easy to make a case that human beings are not inherently monogamous. However, just as we overcame the do-or-die aspect of competition for survival, we have developed collaborative strategies in domestic affairs. We have formed societies that, from a self-interest in stability, support monogamy.
Perhaps because of the commonness of infidelity in ostensibly monogamous relationships, it’s easy to dispute my point. My ex-girlfriend did just that, in truth. Now if that wasn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is! Though I would say the same is true with survival of the fittest. We have passed laws against killing others just because we are stronger and can succeed in such an ugly endeavor. Some parts of the world have laws against marital infidelity as well. Though as norms go, most of us agree that it is wrong to betray a partner.
Despite this, of course, most of us have done just that at one point or another. Though the experience of that, including the aftermath, is sufficient for many of us to see the pain, the disruption, and chaos it can create.
The hope for a balanced person is to accept that infidelity, however biologically defensible (thank you, ex-girlfriend!), is societally undesirable. It undermines the stability of families and the overall forward-motion of individuals. But even if you prefer to agree where it applies to yourself, it is difficult to maintain a serious argument against the value of monogamy and stability in relationships within a society. The question therefore becomes whether biology rules us…and not perhaps even biology per se. But our instinct to mate frequently and with great diversity!
I myself, without making any attempt to seem pious or holier-than-Pao Gasol, have tended toward monogamy all my life. I learned early on that if all you want to do is kiss the girl, and you try to subsequently kiss every girl, all you will have accomplished, besides hurting some feelings, is a lot of kisses. I wanted more. I wanted to have a much more intense and intimate experience. I wanted to smell, to taste, to see and hear…and oh to feel very, very deeply and profoundly. That sort of thing, I learned, takes a little more time than getting a few kisses under the bleachers. Then I discovered the mental aspects of sex, and it was like a kid discovering Legos for the first time. There was simply no limit! Now, the prospect of merely kissing 100 girls fell flat. Even if the “kisses” were far more erotic and even life-changing, like, gads “going all the way” (remember, I was much younger, and that was a very, very big deal–as if it isn’t now!). But it was a generic experience with 100 girls. That just wasn’t enough, once I knew the depth and wonder of the female psyche and sexuality. Now I wanted to know the depth of a woman’s psyche, and this would command so much attention, that doing it with any more than one woman at a time would be impractical and ultimately, I would learn, improbable.
For someone who cared less about such profundity, perhaps just “going all the way” with 100 partners would feel like a real triumph. Like a true conqueror doing his or her conquest thing. I have to ask, however, of such a person: What else is on your bucket list? What else do you hope to accomplish before you die, or next year, or this year? Hell, what do you want to achieve this week? Did you have any difficulty coming up with an answer? Based on the feedback I get from readers and followers of this blog, I’m guessing most of them are still adding items to those lists, a minute or two after being prompted. My point is that if instead of kissing 100 girls (or boys, please forgive), you wanted to know them inside and out, enjoy the full sensory feast a lover could offer, would you choose to forego 100 kisses from 100 partners in order to go deeper…? Verrrrry deeeeeply…now. Doesn’t that sound better? Let that sit for a while and when you come up, consider that monogamy offers you a powerful and incredible experience that you could not enjoy without it.
Note to ex-girlfriend: In your face!