After 32 years of marriage I’m pretty skeptical of monogamy, but maybe that’s because I tried it and it didn’t work. The thing is, I liked being married the whole time and I really missed being part of a couple when it was suddenly over. For years I searched for the perfect hook-up. Now my lust is contained. I’m in the managed lust program, quite comfortable being single. I have a very nice life with my dog. But as I face the decades ahead and opportunities arise, I have to ask myself if I could be part of a couple again? Is that even a possibility? My inner skeptic slaps her palm on the table and hisses. No, absolutely not. What a ridiculous idea! But my inner romantic has another sip of wine, and half an hour later she’s still swirling wine around her glass looking out the window.
I read an article in National Geographic about an isolated tribe of hunter-gatherers who are living today the same way humans lived 10,000 years ago — no government, no religion, no marriage, no monogamy. Women in the tribe are equal to men and couples pair up with no expectation of permanence, and no punishment for infidelity. Men and women have sex based on desire. Children are parented by the whole tribe, and everyone has the same rights. Lifelong commitment to anything but the tribe is unthinkable. Living naked in the bush, chasing down their food with sharp sticks, they can’t afford to be idealistic.
But I’m an idealist. That’s just who I am. As I consider the possibility of a gender-neutral lifestyle, I’m envious of the egalitarian freedom of those tribe women. I wonder if they ever break into chick fights over a particularly delicious man. Does sex ever lead them to feel a sense of ownership of their partner? Do they experience love separate from sex? I think about how I was raised, and I wonder how many of my feelings about love and monogamy are cultural conditioning.
Monogamy is not a law of Nature. In Nature diversity rules. The animals who are best at sex dominate the gene pool. Sex is power. We kill for sex. We risk food, shelter, wealth and security for sex. We give up social acceptance, the bonds of family and the stairway to heaven for sex. Sex drives us mad with desire. Sex masquerades as love. Illicit sex cheats us out of a predictable future. Sex is high risk behavior. We endure chaos for sex. We go to jail for sex. Kingdoms are lost and the course of nations diverted because of sex. Sex is basic animal behavior. Even in this modern world, we are still animals.
Why am I even thinking about this? Because I’m reconsidering my opinion on the connection between sex and love, and love and monogamy. What’s realistic? Can sex really ever be safe? Is the commitment to love the same as the commitment to monogamy? Or are they two different things? Meanwhile, my inner animal is pacing in her cage and I want out. But it’s late in the game for high risk behavior. I need to protect myself. Cynics are warning me that at my age men just want a nurse with a purse. Then I hear poets sing about late life love as polishing the soul. And here I am, still sitting in my chair looking out the window, swirling my wine around my glass, wishing I had a Magic 8-Ball to give me the answers.
4 thoughts on “High risk behavior”
those are all the Big Unanswerable questions, aren’t they, Bil. Same ones i notice writing my new book. maybe the last quarter, last 10% of this trip focuses on those primary who are we really issues. i edge up on an answer only to be belittled all over again by just plain life and who shows up. imaginary boy or imaginary girl gets us no closer to how best to plow thru the sex, love, condition or un- jungle. much as i hope im more at peace w myself in all this, my ‘new being’ gets hurled out the window the split second i get hit with the full romantic reality of another. and i love that. being thrown by how little i know. all yr massive life hurdles, the ones in yr book, were so powerful as you axed yr way thru them. but do those lessons, have they fully taught you in the moment of some new crises. in my case, just the tiniest bit, on a good day. love ya, bil r
Yes to all you say here. I like to think my past has made me a master of my future. But not so. I am just as easily thrown by the unexpected appearance of an attractive other on my horizon. My emotions and imagination whirl out of control. I am at the mercy of my wants. And just like you, I enjoy the ride — Katherine Hepburn shooting the rapids with Mr. Allnut on the African Queen. A moment of exhilaration that reminds me I’m alive.
The same can be said about same sex relationships! My wife died 2 years ago. I hate the thought of dating at my age. I’m comfortable with who I am and living on my own, answering to no one…but sometimes, I, too, swirl my glass of wine, wondering about companionship more so, with no expectations other than that…idk…I’ll just ride the current of life, be that as it may…
Thanks for your comment, Susan. I am also trying to learn to be satisfied with riding the current of life, and not wishing for the things I do not have. Yes, gratitude.