The animal in us
The individual survival of an animal means food, water & shelter; sex is added to the list through biological imperative versus immediate survival. Animals generally have to work very hard for all of these things on a continual basis. They have yet to figure out food, water, shelter and sex in a secure and at least somewhat predictable manner. Their lives are not filled with jobs, social media, Netflix or political turmoil. They have not evolved into beings that can understand and utilize these things. Instead, they remain doomed to work their asses off for, well, a piece of ass.
This is a really important part of the animal dynamic. For the vast majority of animals, the male chases the female, the female makes it difficult because there is an extremely high cost to her - most male animals have played their entire role once mating is over. It’s the purest expression of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am.” They move along, the female raises the young - no small task. She needs to be sure the male in question is the best option available to her. Her biological imperative is not only reproduction but choosing the best male to create the best offspring. In the animal kingdom it turns out, not all bodies are beautiful.
What the fuck am I talking about this for? Well, baby, humans are animals. And we really suck at this game these days. We’ve changed how we chase one another. Lots of events and movements have led us to this place, but no matter how we got here the fact remains:
Our mating rituals have gotten…well, weird.
Once upon a time, it was difficult to get laid. Men had to have something to offer - strength, status, marriage, stability, protection. Women had to have something to offer in return - compassion, patience, emotional respite, child bearing. Any and all of these things are part of our mating ritual. It may be more sophisticated than say, the literal chase and overpowering of squirrels, but it’s a mating ritual, nonetheless. And over the years, in the best relationships, we discovered that it’s OK to take up the reigns for each other when needed; men showing compassion and patience in the times when she can’t; women showing strength and a certain type of protection when he’s at his lowest. That’s what makes it beautiful. This is what makes us a different animal. What used to make us a different animal.
This dynamic served many purposes. The biological cost of sex is again higher for the females among us - the possibility of pregnancy. Because we are awarded the ability to have children, we actually have biological protections to enable pair bonding. Yes, men have them too - hormonal surges happen for both men and women during and after sex - but the rate and amount is drastically (around 7x) higher for women. This exists to push us toward building a partnership - so that we have that stability, strength and protection while creating and raising a life. It’s supposed to hurt if they don’t stick around. This is an area of life where - like it or not - women and men just are not the same.
The courting dynamic is just as important for men. Men do not have the same emotional tie to sex as women do, this is true. Though many men look for more connection and are not only seeking sex, if they randomly hook up and no one remembers the other’s name, it’s not really going to affect him long term. However, doing this repetitively leads anyone to a zombie like state. Men risk an empty life - never realizing much of a purpose. No one to protect, no one to take care of. These are things that are part of a man’s internal drive. Without that, they become frighteningly dangerous.
The dance between men & women required working towards something together, Chris outlined this well in the last post. But it was also important in being able to teach the other how we expect to be treated. If I act a fool, I don’t get what I want or need, and vice versa. Over time the relationship builds so that I don’t want to act a fool because I don’t want to harm the other person, not just to get what I want. That takes work.
With the loss of all of this, we lose something much less tangible, but arguably more important; intimacy & love. We lose part of our soul.
So where does that leave us? Hook up culture, God help us all. Even the name indicates how disposable our connections are now. Sex has become fucking, and fucking is little more than another way to end the night. Things that were once hushed and blushed, have how to guides in teen magazines. And congratulations if you walk away knowing each other’s names. What was once the most personal and intimate thing we shared with each other has become purely transactional. We expect nothing of each other. Guys, you barely even have to buy the ladies a bad drink anymore. Ladies, you don’t even need to give them your number only to ignore the call the next day.
Ignoring the biological drives to stay together has deeply concerning and long-term implications on our society. For everyone involved, though at a much higher rate for women, this behavior is leading to increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. It has given rise to young men and women completely opting out. Which, in some respects isn’t terrible - teen pregnancy rates going down is a good thing, after all - but the reasons behind this is the scary part. There are whole industries dedicated to ever more disturbing and distressing porn. Industries solving the entire need for a partner at all. Ever.
We are in the process of removing the need for another human from what may have been the last place in life where we actually needed another person.
Since we learned the ability to acquire and store food and water and build permanent shelter our time has been freed up to use our uniquely creative and analytical human minds to change the world. Our abilities as the most unique animal on this planet have allowed us to create painfully beautiful works of art, explore the tops of mountains and depths of jungles, and create automated systems for everything. Even human connection.
But there are places that still defeat us - much of the ocean is still a mystery, some islands in the South Pacific are largely untouched. There continues to be an infinite amount of art to be created, and scientific discoveries to be made. There are depths to the people right next us that we are completely ignoring.
What if we re-focus on exploring our planet and ourselves?
What if we make ourselves be uncomfortable, risk a little, and learn about one another again?
What if we stop automating and outsourcing “connection”, and try to actually connect again?
What if we raise our expectations of ourselves and each other?