By: Leon Felkins -- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those that have some means think that the most important thing in the world is love. The poor know that it is money. Gerald Brenan
Love is the most subtle form of self-interest. Holbrook Jackson
As the title suggests, this essay is about love, sex and marriage. More accurately, it is about why we act the way we do with regard to love, sex and marriage. With that subject material, it is likely that we will disagree and you most likely will drag all of what I say to the trash can. This is to be expected because the stated subject is so fraught with myths and bum information and has had so little honest discussion among its practitioners.
But before you toss this in the garbage can and/or get yourself all upset, give me an open mind for just a few minutes. I have some controversial things I want to say but I promise to be honest and above board about it. I will not try to deceive you. I will try to provide you with "facts" clearly identifying what is known to be true and what is just speculation. Then you can decide.
So why should you listen to me? What are my credentials? Severely lacking by academic standards but quite adequate in the direct experience department. I will not bore you with details, but I am happily married to a woman that first attracted me with her sexuality and intelligence. Our initial attraction to each other was based on incredible sensual pleasures - both sexual and intellectual. Since that initial courtship, for which many fantasize but never realize, our relationship has evolved into great mutual respect, admiration, bonding, and desire to always be with each other. Would you call that love? I would prefer to leave it as I have described it, but if we must call it love, then let's inquire into the meaning of "love".
To do this, we must first take a detour and talk about the psychological makeup of human beings. We must first agree on how we are programmed before we can discuss the details of how we act. Specifically, if we are to understand why we act the way we do with respect to love, sex and marriage, we must first understand "what makes us tick".
Before we can discuss the strange sexual behavior exhibited by humans we need to first understand the basis for any and all behavior.
Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man. But they don't bite everybody. -- Stanislaw Lec (1909-1996)
I will not go into great detail on the subject of Memes and Genes as there are many good references on the subject. See the references [1,2] at the end of this paper for more information.
While the subject of the mind and exactly how we humans control ourselves is very complex and somewhat controversial, a limited review is possible that will be adequate for the purposes of this essay.
Our mind controls our body somewhat like the computer's operating system controls the computer. While the task of genes is primarily to determine the physical characteristics of our bodies, including our brain and nervous system, genes also influence the decision process of the mind. For example, the fact that genes make us feel great pleasure in sexual activity certainly has a great influence on the decisions of the mind.
But the mind is also strongly influenced by beliefs -- and that is where memes come in. In his book, The Selfish Gene , Dawkins defines a meme as a replicating information pattern that uses minds to make copies into other minds. That is, memes are thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. that replicate. Dawkins writes:
"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation."
The memes associated with morals are often referred to by the term "mores" which my dictionary defines as, "folkways of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group".
For our purposes here we will assume that the mind that controls an individual is itself controlled by two things; genes and memes.
A comparison to computers may be helpful: Genes correspond to the ROM that is built into computers. Memes correspond to the programs that run on the computers and are loaded subsequent to the initial boot (the process of powering up a computer). The mind corresponds to the Operating System. Roughly.
Our genetic psychological factors are powerful forces that tell us what to do but are slow to change. Tragically, they are not adequate for humans interacting with a rapidly changing world. We are struggling today with emotions appropriate for the caveman.
Genes cause problems because they provide psychological directions for a particular situation that is no longer appropriate. The evolved genetic solutions for certain problems apparently worked at one time but may no longer do the job. Unfortunately, it takes thousands of years for the genes to be modified.
Memes are more effective than genes in dealing with modern problems due to their ability to rapidly develop. That is, while genetic forces have evolved over many centuries to minimize a particular problem, memes can evolve in a lifetime. The price to pay for this quick reaction is that there is little chance for corrections when the memes may be in error. In fact, the behavior they evoke has no close correlation with what is necessarily best for humans. They just evolve, mainly based on short term phenomena, limited information and often, ignorance.
Unfortunately, memes generate psychological forces and emotions that are just as powerful as genetic forces. Sexual mores best illustrate the power of memes. Here are some examples of common memes:
This well known meme is apparently religious based but nevertheless is blindly followed by many people who aren't even into religion. Many people feel guilt if they have sex outside of marriage and have given little thought to the origin of this feeling.
This powerful political meme causes all of us a lot of grief and expense. In reality, it is quite rare that government ever solves any problems without creating far greater ones, and, at the same time, relieving a lot of hard-earned money from the taxpayers. The fact that government has been so successful in instilling this meme in most of the population and in keeping it alive (in spite of all evidence to the contrary), is quite astounding.
Another meme that the government has been very successful in establishing is that they can provide services for free. How often do you hear someone say, "It doesn't cost anything - the government is paying for it!" Right!
Social scientists say that the genes would have us look only after our own selfish interests even when cooperating would be better (I should point out that not all social scientists agree with this. See References, On Memes and Genes, #3). In any case, thanks (mostly) to some powerful memes, most people seem to want to cooperate even when it may not be in their best interests to do so. This behavior is apparently caused by a good meme, the idea that we should cooperate.
It appears that memes enhance or amplify the influence of genes in many situations. For example, genes insure that a young man is sexually excited when he views a young voluptuous girl in the nude. Memes, on the other hand, might make this young girl even more attractive with clothes on if she were only partially clothed; or if she is his best friend's wife; or if she admits having just had sex with someone else; or she is seen buying porno flicks, etc.
The genes we have and the memes that we have adopted determine what our world view is. They provide the perspective in which we view the world and the basis for our decisions. It is ridiculous for us to make judgments on how other people act in other times or other societies. For our judgments are based on our world view and their actions were caused by their world view. Our memes are not superior just because we possess them.
Therefore to judge that societies in which marriages are arranged or where free love is common are inferior to ours is stupid. They live by their memes and we live by ours. That's all.
In fact, it is important to keep in mind that any judgment you make about anything is directly based on -- or at least contaminated by -- memes and genes. Even your opinion of this essay comes from a foundation of memes that this essay may be critical of! So, could you just turn off your memes until you finish reading this article please! Just kidding.
There is nothing either good or bad -- but thinking makes it so. Shakespeare
Moralizing and morals are two entirely different things and are always found in entirely different people. Don Herold
Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce
Whether or not legislation is truly moral is often a question of who has the power to define morality. Jerome H. Skolnick
Morals are rules of human behavior generally agreed to in a particular society. At least that is the way it is supposed to be! Unfortunately, what we regard as morals is not always based on reason and agreement. Often the basis for morals are memes. Further, these memes typically have a religious heritage.
A good example of a moral is the rule that "we should not lie". This rule could be based on common sense: we tell the truth the best we can because it makes our society run smoother. Unfortunately, the reason most people don't lie is based on a meme rather than this simple logic. This meme says that it is a sin to lie and even if we are not into religion, some of us get emotionally upset when we have committed this sin.
But for a reasoned discussion of morals it is best that we not ascribe emotional attributes such as "good" or "bad" to the rules for the moment. Such judgmental terms cloud our thinking when what we really want to evaluate is the net benefit that a certain rule has on a person or a group of persons.
Many morals, such as rules against murder, rape, etc., are supported by law or religious admonitions but it is best to regard morality as a collection of rules agreed to without regard to law or religion. For example, morality would tell me that it is immoral to drive at a reckless speed, while law might tell me that I am not allowed to drive more than 65 miles per hour. If I exceed 65 mph, I don't necessarily feel that I am being immoral.
It would be nice if once most of us agree on the basic set of morals, that we would all comply with these rules. Unfortunately, that has not worked out in practice. Therefore, humans have developed means for enforcing the moral code.
On first examination, we do not see the difficulty of compliance with the moral code. Could we not all just agree on the code and then comply with this code on an "honor" basis?
The problem is that compliance, integrity, standing by your word, etc. are themselves moral codes! That is, we have memes that say we should honor our commitments. Some of us feel bad when we don't. But if you are not strongly infected by the "integrity" meme, you may not have any problem violating an agreement.
Note that the memes that promote honesty and integrity vary greatly with time and society. Some countries of the world still have memes that are quite powerful in this regard. At one time this was so even in the USA!
By the way, rules that evoke the "integrity" meme are morals that provoke an emotional response. For example, the meme that tells us not to look at our sister with lust tends to make us feel "dirty".
Unfortunately, for the principle morals at least, we need additional enforcement methods.
It seems necessary to apply the force of law to enforce the major morals. Unfortunately, once you do this, you sometimes inhibit the emotions generated by the "morality" memes. Consider the speeding problem discussed above. When it is up to me to avoid speeding because it might hurt someone, I will feel guilty if I violate the rule. But if speeding is just a legal issue, I feel no pangs of conscience just because I happen to be zipping along at 80 mph. My main concern may be to avoid getting caught by the police.
Religion supports the enforcement of morals by threatening "after life" punishment while convincing some that God is watching us at all times. In this regard, religion is not as successful in the more literate societies as it once was.
Ultimately, it is arbitrary as to what rules a community may decide to include in its moral code. Some communities try to concentrate on those issues in which one human is harming another, but some communities will also have moral rules that include issues such as harming your own self and even issues in which there is no real harm to anyone. Further, we must recognize that deciding whether a rule ought to be included in our moral code always involves a judgment call with little to go on. In fact, many actions provide pleasure to some but pain or fear to others!
Many of the morals of our present society do in fact include activities classified as "consensual". See the book "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do"  for a good discussion on this subject.
Since it is a fact that there are people who simply want to control your behavior without regard to whether such behavior may or may not harm anyone else, we must take a personal stand as to what our own moral code will be. We just can't blindly let other people dictate their own ideas which may not be in our own best interests.
Therefore, for the purposes of this essay, we will only include in what we call "morals" those actions that generally do excessive or unwarranted harm to people. We will agree that murder, rape, stealing, deceit and irresponsibility are immoral but we will not agree that general sexual activity, lying and selfishness are necessarily immoral. But stay tuned as we will have more on this later.
One further comment: this essay is about "moral" codes, not legal or religious codes and therefore may classify some activities as being moral that may be against the law or a religious "sin". Examples are laws prescribing the limits to sexual activity by consenting adults and the limitation on the number of spouses a person may have.
Morality in sexual relations, when it is free from superstition, consists essentially of respect for the other person, and unwillingness to use the person solely as means of personal gratification, without regard to his or her desires. Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals, 1929
Love is the answer. But while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions. Woody Allen
It is an amazing characteristic of humans that they follow certain cultural traditions, i.e., memes, without reflection. No example illustrates this better than our attitudes toward the concept of "being in love".
What exactly do we mean by the expression, "being in love"? What does "I fell in love with him" mean?
It is unfortunate that the term "love" -- a perfectly good term when properly used -- has been extended to represent the feelings associated with the mating activity. The term "love" could better be replaced by more accurate terms in many sexual situations.
It is a shame to use a vague term like "love" when other terms would more accurately describe the situation. For example, we often hear some guy lamenting about his strong feelings of love for a girlfriend who has just abandoned him. What he really mean is that 1) his feelings are hurt, 2) he is jealous, 3) he has feelings of rejection, 4) his pride has been damaged, 5) future pleasures have vanished, and 6) he is angry. Isn't the term "love" somewhat inappropriate for describing these feelings?
To try to get a handle on the meaning of romantic love or "being in love" we will examine several aspects of it.
What is the primary factor in attractiveness to most young humans? Physical attractiveness! Not intelligence, not gentile nature, not stability.
How does physical attractiveness stack up with these other characteristics with regards to the long term relationship? Near the bottom!
Consider the situation of remote relationships. If you meet someone by telephone, mail or the Internet, how important is it to know what the person looks like before you become too involved?
So why is physical attractiveness so important? Apparently it derives from genetic forces. There are sound historical, reasons why physical attractiveness is an important genetic trait. Physical attractiveness is the gene's measure of healthiness. Before modern times, the chance for survival of the children is greater if parents were healthy. But in the modern world, it is hard to see that physical attractiveness is that important for survivability. So, the genes are out of date here. But, as we discussed above, genes can be overridden by memes. Let's look at both a bit more carefully.
Certainly genes have reason to promote physical characteristics. Physical attractiveness, which implies health and strength, has been the most important characteristic for survival throughout the history of mankind and others in the animal kingdom as well. Getting by with your wits is a relatively recent phenomenon in the animal kingdom and, in particular, for humans. It will take a few thousand years for the genes to catch up.
But, as we discussed above, memes have quick response and readily adapt to changing situations. So why are there not memes promoting attractiveness based on characteristics other than physical?
Most likely, it is because of the pleasure factor. Sex is still our most pleasurable activity and sex is very physical. It is difficult for memes to overcome the genes when it comes to the pleasure of sex.
We have ample evidence that memes can modify our sexual desires. For example, there have been periods in history when small breasts were a turn on for males. Same for large breasts. Both feelings are based on memes. But since physical attractiveness is such a powerful genetic force, it will take a powerful memetic force to overcome it. For such a meme to evolve and survive there would have to be a good reason. Apparently, no such reason has come to be yet.
Certainly sexual attraction or lust plays a major part in the "mating game", probably more so in the short term. Sexual attraction can be enhanced by physical attractiveness but does not depend solely on it. A person can be quite a "turn on" to certain others even if they are not exactly handsome or pretty. The sex appeal that a person has is not likely to be noticed by everyone equally either. A persons mannerisms, dress, and the surrounding environment or situation may enhance sexual attraction considerably.
It is obvious that what many people, especially the young, call "love" is mostly lust. But that is not to say that lust is a necessary component of the feelings folks have when they say they are in love. It may not be necessary, but it certainly can make it more exciting!
Another prominent emotion associated with romantic love is possessiveness. We want to claim our loved one as property. Many tragedies result from this unfortunate feeling. Nevertheless, the genes would have us to not share our loved one with anyone else and we can get quite worked up about it if that rule is violated.
But part of the feeling is just pride and jealousy. We feel the same way about the new car we just bought. Actually, with a new car we might get pleasure in seeing a good friend "take her for a drive around the block", memetic forces have suppressed this desire with respect to our mates, at least in most modern societies.
Possessiveness is often the basis for marriage and engagement, as I will discuss in the section on "Marriage".
Jealousy is apparently a genetic response and therefore, natural. But so is murder and most of us have managed to get by without its use. Before you act in response to jealousy, you might want to use a little logical reflection: Do I own this person? Does she have the right to select who she wants for a lover? If she wants someone else, will my interference be only a temporary solution? Wouldn't I feel better living with her knowing that she freely selected me over all others? If I love someone, is not her happiness more important than mine?
Affection appears to be a real response to a wholesome comfortable relationship. When partners are nice to each other, have real respect for each other, have real trust in each other, etc. then affection will generally build over time. It is particularly heartwarming to see an old couple that have been with each other for 40 years showing real affection for each other.
An aspect of the individual that seems to encourage "falling in love" is self-dislike. Theodore Reik in his book, _Of Love and Lust_, Page 372,  says, "Before the individual meets his love object certain psychological moods make him (or her) ready to fall in love. The most important of these is an inner, mostly unconscious dissatisfaction with himself, ...".
So, it seems that the more unsure a person is of himself, the more he is disappointed with his own capabilities, the better the lover he is going to be. In this age where neurosis is so common, it is not surprising that we have a lot of folks falling in love.
Closely associated with the lack of self-confidence, is the need to be needed. The more we are dissatisfied with ourselves, the more we need someone else to be pleased with us. What better way can a person show his admiration for you than to express his need for you. When that happens, we have instant love affair! That situation also explains why married people often find themselves in external love affairs. The "need to be needed" is often not satisfied in the marriage.
This most popular movie's theme was about the extreme actions that a rejected lover will sometimes take to recover her lover even when the "love affair" consisted of only one evening's sexual escapade. The rejected person apparently felt that "sleeping with each other", even for one evening, implies greater commitments. She seemed to think that she had the right to _force_ her transient lover into a long term relationship.
What is the implication of such statements as "How can she leave me when I LOVE her?". When you decide that you are "in love" with someone, does that imply that you have some claim over that person? Absolutely not!
How can anyone be so gross as to try to make the person they "love" feel guilty for not having reciprocal feelings? In spite of the great popularity of this idea in romantic songs, there is no reason to expect that any activity is required from another person.
The only thing you can do is to try to make yourself attractive to the person you are supposedly in love with. If that fails, you must give it up and not harass the other person.
Surely you don't want to force yourself on someone you love, do you? Or put in another way, if the loved person doesn't love you, why would you want the loved person to be uncomfortable or unhappy?
The rejected person seems to think that the rejecter could fall in love with her if he so chose to. People seem to think that our mind has control over such feelings and that all we need to do to make it happen is to will is so. Doubtful.
We are constantly admonished to "love" which, of course, implies that we have the capabilities for doing so. We are told by the keepers of the righteous rules that the world would be a better place if there was only more love. How do you force yourself to love someone? Can it be simply turned on and off? "The thing that is wrong with marriages today is that there is not enough love". Maybe so, but what can be done about it?
Of course, you can modify your behavior in some ways to make yourself more appreciative of the other person, less critical, etc. but can you make yourself "fall in love" in the sense that we understand that term?
In general, this is a shaky concept and one that causes a lot of grief for everyone. If you strive to be a good person, an honest person, a fair person, an alert and intelligent person, a sensitive person, etc., that is all you can reasonably be expected to be. Given this, whether you want to be close to the other person should be left to its natural results. To force yourself to "love" is to bring on disaster for both parties later on.
No other feeling is so common and so significant as rejection. No other feeling is so often mislabeled as "lost love" or "broken heart". The simplest and most honest explanation for the feeling that most of us feel when our lover decides to go with someone else, is "REJECTION". We try to ennoble it by calling it love. "I hurt so bad because I LOVE her". Right. You hurt so bad because you have been rejected and that is the one thing you just can't stand.
While it is likely that a rejected lover does feel some loss of potential pleasure, most of the pain can be more simply explained. It is not unreasonable that the rejected lover simply feels insulted, humiliated, put down, a bruised ego, and etc..
A strong factor in the selection of mates for young people is the "prize" in the collection. Why does the young man strive so hard to win the affection of the very attractive but snotty young lady? He wants her as a conquest, something to show off. Of course both sexes are guilty of this ridiculous activity. As a basis for a long term relationship, this one is probably the most stupid.
How many people can you love at the same time? Sequentially? You won't find the answer in the science books. The limitation to one love is strictly a meme, a meme that varies over societies and time. You can just as well be deeply in love with two people as you can be involved in and enjoy two different sports.
There may be practical difficulties, such as jealousy, possessiveness and guilt cause by the "monogamy" meme. But that absolutely does not say that we _can't_ be in love with two or more people.
The memes and genes are in great dispute over this one as we can determine by watching some of our close relatives in the animal kingdom. Monogamy is not the rule of the day in the animal kingdom. There are situations where one male owns many females and there are situations where one female has many "lovers", but one-on-one is the exception.
An attractive person will have many suitors and many more that would like to be. An ugly person will have few. There is no "pairing" of persons by some all-seeing god! The number of lovers any one person may have is a result of the luck of the draw just like the rest of the person's possessions and talents. It is another myth that some try to promote that each of us have equal opportunity to attract lovers. Since physical attractiveness is the initial attractant to potential lovers and physical attractiveness varies greatly from individual to individual, some of us will have few choices in the pool of potential mates. And some overrun with volunteers. That's the way it is.
The important point here is to accept that there is no magic, no guarantee of equal opportunity in the field of love. Once that is accepted, then you can concentrate on augmenting your natural features to enhance your chances of getting a satisfactory lover.
So far, we have discussed a variety of feelings that exist under the rubric of "being in love". But these feelings are sufficient unto themselves. Is there something more? Does romantic love, as it's own entity, exist?
When people are asked about the meaning of love, many will say they don't know and many will say it can't be defined, means different things to different people, etc. There is a possible and likely reason for this state of affairs: it doesn't exist. The same type of response is given to questions about religious experiences, New Age stuff, and UFO sightings.
And it is reasonable to conclude that when something can't be defined maybe it just doesn't exist. Certainly that is one possible explanation!
We owe to the middle ages the two worst inventions of humanity -- gunpowder and romantic love.
According to the historians, the "love affair" was invented in the middle ages for the amusement of members of the court. At that time, being "in love" was something that was not appropriate for you and your spouse. People fell in love with someone that caught their eye outside of the marriage.
Hollywood movies probably had more to do with establishing the memes for some of the more ridiculous views we presently have on love and marriage. If you are really interested in seeing how it got this way, stay up late some night and watch some movies made in the '40's and '50's.
For further information on this subject, you might take a look at reference  which is mainly about sex, but discusses love also.
Sex without love is an empty experience, but, as empty experiences go, it's one of the best. -- Woody Allen
All that is worth knowing about sex -- all, that is, that is solidly established and of sound utility -- can be taught to any intelligent boy of sixteen in two hours. H. L. Mencken (Prejudices, 1926)
Puritan tradition, combined with Christian management of adolescence, has converted the sexual life of civilized men and women into a neurosis. Robert Briffault
Are sexual activities immoral? By the definition generally agreed to for "morals", we must conclude that, in general, sexual activity is not immoral. But let us put it another way that may be less troubling for most people: Sexual activity need not be regarded as immoral but activities associated with sexual activity may be immoral. There is no need to also label the sexual activity immoral. For example, if one person hurts the other in sexual activity, it is sufficient to note that hurting someone is immoral without having to label the sexual activity as immoral. But let us get more specific. Let us discuss some specific examples:
Having sex outside of marriage is not immoral. On the other hand, activities associated with adultery may be immoral.
First let us consider the sexual activity. What if all parties involved agreed to the activity and all thought it was a lot of fun? If fact, many married people do consent to "outside sex" and have enhanced pleasure in their marriage as a result of it. Since it causes no harm and increases enjoyment, the sexual activity itself is not immoral.
Now let us consider the typical "sordid affair" where there is lying, cheating and jealousy. Is there something immoral here? You bet. Deceiving your mate in almost any way is immoral. Note that the affair can be immoral even if there is no sexual intercourse. Deceit is the problem, not sex.
So, while our popular culture equates "adultery" with "cheating" they are vastly different aspects of the sexual activity. Adultery is not immoral; cheating, or more properly, deceit is!
Certainly prostitution is not immoral if the exchange of sex for money is something both parties are happy about.
So-called morals, particularly those religious based, are often used to suppress sexual activity. For various selfish reasons, some people do not like to see other people have abundant and happy sexual activity. But we shouldn't let other people's hang-ups interfere with our enjoyment of life.
Unfortunately, sometimes we cannot, practically, ignore other people's hang-ups. Those other people include our friends, our bosses and our mates. Sometimes we may have to restrict our sexual activity to keep harmony with someone we care about. The important thing is to understand in our own minds that this is the reason we are missing some potentially fun sex and not that it is immoral.
Some people also use religious "morals" to cover their own sexual inadequacies. They will avoid a sexual encounter due to lack of interest or fear but proclaim that the avoidance is for "moral" reasons.
The genes have made sex a whole lot of fun for all animals but memes have made it fantastic for humans. We will examine the many ways some memes have made sex so exciting and some have made it emotionally tragic but first lets talk about what the genes give us.
The basic physical sensations we get come to us courtesy of the genes. We get wonderful feelings of sexual attraction as well as sensory pleasures from the inherent design of our bodies. The mechanics are explained in any good sex manual. In fact, I suspect that if we could suspend all our memetic influences, sex would still be incredibly good. Without the benefits of memes, I notice that animals seem to go bonkers over sex sometimes even worse than we humans!
Genes most likely make us more aroused by an attractive, well-developed, person. However, it seems that these genes are enhanced or amplified by memes. By dress, mannerisms and makeup, humans can make themselves more attractive to other humans. Part of this may be due to the genes being fooled, but most of it is probably legitimate.
But the genes can get us into trouble too. Genes encourage us to have a variety of sexual partners which the religious based memes say is a big no-no. Too bad.
With regard to sex, memes -- or, at least, their potential -- are incredibly wonderful! Memes can turn an otherwise drab sexual encounter to an interlude of excitement and high pleasure.
While genes would have you staying home with your mate and enjoying the same old sex, memes will tell you that you can have a much more exciting time with the boss's secretary. Memes will try to convince you that sex would be great with a certain person due to the way that person cut's his/her hair. Memes will make a person more sexy when partially clothed rather than stark naked. Memes might make a sexual romp more pleasurable on a sandy beach than in a nice cozy bed. Memes make a person more sexually attractive when you know that person enjoys sex and/or is promiscuous. Memes make the rather plain girl at the bar more interesting sexually (at least for the evening!) than the beautiful and willing wife at home.
But memes do their best work through our imagination. With the help of memes, we imagine that a girl will be fantastic in bed due to the way she talks, walks and dresses. Logic would tell us that she will most likely be, at best, average. But logic is held at bay during these instances. The point is, just the fact that a meme excites our imagination usually causes the sexual activity to be much better. That is, the sex is going to be better just because I _think_ the girl is incredibly sexy (because she has big knockers, small knockers, or whatever the current meme promotes).
Of course, there is a dark side to sexual memes as there is to memes in general. Memes tend to exclude contact between many people that could have great sex together. That is, because of memes we make judgments about going to bed with certain persons based on non-sexual characteristics.
In contrast to the rest of the animal kingdom, humans have a strong desire for variety in our amusements. This applies to sex as well as food, music, the furniture arrangement, and dress. Since sex is enhanced by our imagination, a "one-night-stand" with a person of limited sexual capabilities may be more exciting than the same old sex with a spouse that may be an excellent sexual performer.
It is good for your mental health to accept this phenomena. People who want to have a happy married life and want to have enjoyable sex will have to put some effort into solving this problem. There are ways -- but space does not allow going into it here. There are many books on the subject, one of which is reference , a classic.
While there may be a connection between love and sex, it is intellectually more productive to regard them as two separate entities. Romantic love embodies components common to love for our parents, our children and our friends. Sex has nothing to do with love and in fact can contaminate it. Sex is generally very selfish, while true love is very altruistic. Many a romantic evening has been squashed by sex "raising its ugly head".
On the other hand -- love can enhance sex! Having strong feelings of love for the person you are having sex with can make the sex fantastic. I suspect that a lot of very amateurish sexual activity is labeled great simply because the participants were very much in love with each other.
Another mine field of myths here! The memes would have it that sex between you and your chosen one will be the best that can be had. Nonsense.
People have a wide variation is sexual performance just like they have a wide variation in musical performance. Or writing an essay. Or coaching a football team. Sex is no different than any other skill or talent.
Of course, a person's mental state can make sex with a skilled partner much better or much worse than with their normal mate. The most talented sexual partner in the world cannot overcome some people's hang-ups.
The point is, do not be upset if you find that someone else may actually be better in bed with your mate than you are! That is not to say that you and your mate can't have restrictions on outside sexual activity. It is healthy to accept that you may not be the best in the sexual area but that is not the only thing that holds a relationship together. Especially in marriage.
It is also good for your mental health to accept that our own interest in sex and ability to enjoy it varies greatly among individuals. It is so sad to see the modern young person desperately trying to achieve a "full" sex life. We all have different needs with respect to sex. Some of us are fanatics and some of us could give a hoot about it. The important aspect of this is try to make sure that you and your partner are about the same in this area or that other arrangements are made. But don't become a nut case just because you can't figure out what all the fuss is about.
"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates." J.R.R. Tolkien, in a letter to his son Michael, March 1941
"Marriage demands the greatest understanding of the art of insincerity possible between two human beings." Vicki Baum
"The really astounding thing about marriage is not that it so often goes to smash, but that it so often endures. All the chances run against it, and yet people manage to survive it, and even to like it. The capacity of the human mind for illusion is one of the causes here. Under duress it can very easily convert black into white. It can even convert children into blessings."
H.L. Mencken "Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks" #4 published 1956
"The gods gave man fire and he invented fire engines.
They gave him love and he invented marriage." Anon.
Why do we get married? Tradition or practically? Either one or both are OK, we just need to understand it.
We know that to raise children, a stable mother and father relationship is very desirable. We know that combining incomes from two or more people makes for a more comfortable home. But are these the reasons we get married? Apparently not if we can believe what people say.
Some of the complexities of finding a mate and forming a marriage are worth careful examination.
What exactly do you expect a marriage to do for you? Now let us be honest.
There are certain legal and job related benefits that accrue to the married couple.
Maybe we better examine that a bit closer. What exactly do you mean? Are you saying that you need the potential legal hassles to hold your relationship together. I hate to tell you, but it doesn't work. Or are you thinking that it might intimidate your mate and keep her from wandering, in case she might be inclined to do that? Do you really want that?
A very reasonable reason to get married is to form a team of two people willing to help each other. Two people closely bonded together is a powerful arrangement in today's world. There is a great advantage over making it own your own. Many times when one person might falter, the other can help to get over a difficult time.
This wonderful concept is, unfortunately, not practiced in many marriages. In fact, we see just the opposite in so many marriages. We see situations where when one of the two are down, the other takes the opportunity to throw in an extra kick or two. It is a mystery as to why these marriages exist.
Have the Fates, Gods, whatever, decided that you and some "lucky one" are "made for each other"? Must you find this one person to ever be happy in marriage?
There are incredible difficulties with this concept! If someone is "made for you", how in the world can you find this person and how can you know when you do? The odds are impossible. Forget it!
Now, let's be realistic. Some people have a large number to select from in the "potential mate" pool. They have the option of selecting an attractive, intelligent and emotionally sound person from the available pool. Or an incredibly sexy person. Or a good mother. Whatever! On the other hand, some people have very few potential mates to select from. The size of the "potential mate" pool varies greatly from individual to individual.
Realistically what you must do is select from what is available to _you_. And what is available to _you_ is determined by fate. Just like a poker game, you do the best you can with the hand that was dealt to you.
Let us examine the more realistic situation of finding a compatible mate, not necessarily or likely one that was "made for you". Just someone that you can be comfortable with and who will likewise be comfortable with you. Have you ever thought about how difficult this might be?
If we humans were really rational beings we would make it easy and efficient to find a mate. We do just the opposite. Ideally, a mate hunting environment should exist that would allow you to easily and comfortable meet many potential mates and to easily experience their personalities and potentials. It doesn't exist.
Mate finding environments vary greatly around the world, I am told, but I only know personally what exists in the USA I will address myself to that environment only and hope it is better elsewhere.
What are the options? Work, church, the bars, newspaper ads, mutual friends. What else? All of these options are incredibly deficient for mate finding and selection!
The workplace, in general, does not allow the examination of some essential aspects of companionship. Such as sexual compatibility. The workplace may require a person to act in ways that are less than ideal for a relationship.
Social activities associated with a church can provide an opportunity for meetings of potential lovers. But just how much can a person really be examined in the church environment? Certainly we can size up a person's physical characteristics somewhat, but how much else can we get to know another person? I'm afraid the atmosphere is not conducive for an honest exposition of personal characteristics.
In general, the bars do provide a better than average environment to size up the potential mate in many ways. Including sexual. But not all of us like bars. And even if you do, the person you might like to meet may detest bars.
Newspaper ads provide little opportunity to examine someone without first committing to going out with them. On the plus side, at least there is wide circulation of your ad. When there is no other practical way, this approach is certainly worth a try.
Not a bad way to size someone up. The problem is that it is so limited in scope. Just how many people that you might be interested in are likely to be friends of your friends?
Love is an ideal thing, marriage is a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Marriage is basically just a legal arrangement. We will first explore why legal arrangements are sometimes necessary.
In times past, the memes and laws that promoted marriage most likely had the good intention of looking after the welfare of children and women. There is no question that healthier children can be raised in a home in which there are loving parents. Marriage cannot assure this but, at least in the past, it probably has helped.
Before modern times when women could enter the work place, they had a tough time making it on their own. Supporting a child was and still is particularly difficult for a single person.
So, even today we can say a stable family with loving adults makes for a better environment for raising children. But are there other reasons for marriage? Apparently so if you can believe what you hear from young people contemplating marriage.
No that is not a misspelling of "bonding". Many people, probably more women than men, will admit to using marriage as a tool to ensure that their "loved one" cannot escape. Why anyone would want to live with the knowledge that their mate is forcibly required to live with him or her is a mystery to me. But necessity can sometimes be ugly.
It is interesting to reflect on the concept of using marriage to hold someone against their will. It is not a pretty sight. Is it possible that we humans would use the legal and moral restraints of marriage for the purpose of holding someone against their will? You bet! It is routine to hear in casual conversation such gems as, "Well, I married the bastard and no one can touch him now!". Do we really want to enslave this person that we supposedly love? Maybe some people are in such a sorry economic situation that this approach is justified, but that is not typical.
Doesn't every individual have a right to decide how they want to live? Do I have a right to force someone else to live with me for _my_ pleasure? How much satisfaction is in it for me if I know that my mate only stays with me because she is forced to?
I think it is one of the most disgusting examples of human behavior that one person will enslave another, for a life time, just for their own amusement.
A couple living together can accrue certain job and legal benefits as a result of being married. Often employers provide health plans with family benefits that are invalid unless the couple is legally married. Property ownership has legal ramifications for the married. Etc.
It is a very popular meme, a meme that is accepted without question, that marriage is something more than a legal arrangement. But let us examine that premise.
What does it take to be qualified as being married? There seems to be three components to the marriage initiation. One is a personal commitment to each other. Surely that is the most important component. Another is the blessing given by the minister or the Justice of the Peace. If you are not a strong believer in religion, you probably will admit that this action is of little value. If you want to make vows with a witness, why not your mother? She would never forget! The third is the license issued by the state. Most people would agree that the license is the clincher. Now you are married!
Now some might argue that two or three of the listed components are necessary for marriage. So, I ask another question: do you consider people to be married if they have only met the third requirement, that is they have the license? Most people do.
There are some really strange memes associated with marriage. Some folks, not particularly religious, still feel that it is a sin to have sex before marriage. Some people, mostly of the older generation, hopefully, would be more comfortable having a couple sleep together in their house if they only had the marriage license than a couple that had only made personal commitments to each other.
So what's the point of all this? In additional to some useful (I hope) details I have provided here, I hope that the point has been made that since our actions are very much controlled by memes -- even overpowering genes, typically -- it is reasonable to question why we do things the way we do in the arena of sex and romance. Since memes are just beliefs with the ability to replicate, memes can be good or bad and can be established by both those who want to help us and those who would do us harm.
If we accept that many of our actions are meme based and therefore can be changed, we have the potential to improve our lives by evaluating the memes and overriding those that we believe have the potential to do us harm.
But how do we override memes? They are just as powerful as genes and they color our thinking, right? True, but they can be overridden by applying the rules of logic.
After a person has accepted that certain memes are enhancing or interfering with their love life, that person should examine these memes under the microscope of rigid logic. For example, at least in times past, there is a meme that says it is bad to masturbate. OK, let's take a look at it. What exactly is bad about it? Is there really any correlation between masturbation and visual difficulties? Not that anyone can prove. Is it sinful? You will have to decide that. What else? Not much.
One useful tool in examining sexual mores is to ask , "What do animals do?". After all, we are part of the animal kingdom and most of our sexual genes are common. But, as far as we know, the rest of the animals are not burdened (or blessed) with sexual memes. Based on this approach, you might ask, for example, is it OK for a female to have several lovers? Looks fairly common amongst the higher mammals. You take it from there.
But be careful. Some rules are not consistent in the animal kingdom. For example, monogamy or polygamy; which is normal. No universal agreement here.
By selecting the good memes and chunking the bad ones, you should be able to greatly enhance your love and sex life and to avoid dropping a pile of your hard earned cash at the local shrink. Your friends will appreciate it too.
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