Valentines day is nearly upon us and I started thinking about our mating rituals. The nature of love and monogamy has been the norm for hundreds of years or has it ? I have recently been reading Sex at Dawn the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha. The research that they look at is based on monogamy being a modern phenomena as social groups moved into civilised cohesion, females traded sex for security, not only for themselves but their off spring. If we look at the mating rituals displayed by our primate cousins the Bonobos, they are very similar to humans sexual behaviour where sex is part of integrated bonding pattern. They are not monogamous and unlike humans consider female status more important than the male. There is no formalised rituals of dominance and submission, as each gender plays together sexually and females are respected out of affection with older females displaying high status.
If this is the root of human sexual behaviour and then over hundreds of years the notion of pair bonding and monogamy has taken on a significant role to stabilise social cohesion. This has been supported by numerous influences including religion, economics, wealth and male dominant status.
It is interesting that over the years as a sex therapist I have sat with numerous clients who are either contemplating an affair or have come to discuss having had one. Carl Jung said in a letter to Freud (1910), “ The prerequisite for a good marriage, it seems to me, is the license to be unfaithful.
So perhaps this valentines day it is best simply to say sex and monogamy is a complicated area, all I know is that when you put time and energy into a relationship it can be deep and loving. Sex does change after being with someone a long time and takes time and energy to sustain the attraction. I believe like everything in life when you focus on being grateful and appreciate what you have in your life everything is more fulfilling.
Have a happy valentines day and I am interested in readers views so please comment !