So K & J were a very happy couple up to when all of this began and we were completely satisfied with the state of our relationship. However, we had never really considered the infinite possibilities for our relationship. We had always simply taken it for granted that when you are in a relationship with another person, then that person will be the exclusive person with whom you are partnered with for the rest of your life.
This all changed when we purchased a book at the bookstore called “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. & Cacilda Jethá, M.D. Essentially this book argues that humans did not evolve as a monogamous species but rather that monogamy is a culturally constructed idea. The book argues this using 1) historical evidence 2) cultural evidence (from different cultures) 3) cultural evidence (from our own culture) and 4) biological evidence. I am going to give you a couple of my favorite arguments from each category!
1) Historical Evidence: My favorite argument in this section was the simple fact that humans evolved in bands/tribes with other humans rather than as paired off couples. This argument can essentially be summed up with the famous old adage: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
2) Cultural Evidence from other Cultures: One of the most convincing arguments in this section (for me) was the idea that there are many cultures around the world that still do not practice (or purport to practice) monogamy.
3) Cultural Evidence from Our Culture (Western Society): This is where the book really began to get interesting for me. The arguments in this section of the book really resonated with me because all that I had to do was look around me in order to see the evidence. One of the arguments was the simple fact that our society is obsessed with sex but at the same time we repress sexual expression. This can be seen by looking at nearly any advertisement (which will almost certainly play on people’s sexual desires) and comparing that to the ridiculous battles regarding sex education curriculum in public schools. (My opinion not the authors of Sex at Dawn). Another important argument (made by the authors) here was the rampant cheating that is so prevalent in Western Society in which over half of married partners admit to cheating on their spouses at some point.
4) Biological Evidence: In this section the authors of the book speak to homosexuality and how homosexuality, bisexuality, and the whole gamut of sexual preferences can be much better explained when we think of sex as a bonding activity among humans rather than a strictly reproductive activity.
While I was intrigued by the arguments in the book (primarily because I had never even considered the idea that humans were anything other than monogamous) I was also very critical of the ideas being put forward in this book. It was difficult for me to wrestle with the idea that humans did not evolve as a monogamous species when that is what seems so “normal.” By the end of the book I was convinced that the authors had made a solid argument but, as a law student, I realize that this argument could be completely picked apart and destroyed by an academic who cared to take the time to refute every point made by these authors. So why was I convinced???
I was convinced by the authors’ argument because it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like the authors of Sex at Dawn had finally explained why even though I am completely in love with K, I still had sexual desires directed at other individuals.
The authors of Sex at Dawn end the book with the three options that they believe many Western couples find themselves facing:
1) Be Depressed: Be depressed because you are constantly repressing your true sexual nature, slowly lose interest in sex and your partner, and cope with this through the use of anti-depressants and erectile disfunction medications,
2) Serial monogamy: Continually divorce/break up with your current partner when sexual desire fades and find a new partner in order to get that feeling that comes with having a new sexual partner.
3) Cheat: Cheat on your partner and hope you do not get caught.
These three options are not especially uplifting and they are probably not appealing to most couples. So, if this is where one sees themselves, what is the solution?
Well, for K & J the solution was to begin a journey that involved hours and hours and hours of discussions about our relationship and other potential options that may be lead to a more satisfying relationship.