Challenge What You Think You Know – Part 2

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I am happy to say that I have FINALLY finished the book ‘Sex at Dawn’. I’m not entirely sure why I put it down, ADD and restless energy perhaps. It was an amazing read and I highly recommend it for those who are interested in love, sex, relationships, and learning about the evolution of our Ancestors (or DE-volution as the book would have it) from an anthropological perspective. This book challenged what I had previously thought about intimate monogamous and polyamorous relationships and shed light on many topics that are rarely discussed in Western culture today.

Before finishing this book – I was convinced that I would never marry again. What’s the point? Marriage is an outdated social construct originated from a religion that has only brought me grief and hardship. By the end of the book I realized there is no single correct blue print for a successful happy marriage. A successful relationship or marriage is an open honest discussion between that couple – or multiple people if that’s the case.  There is no right or wrong way to conduct a relationship. When it comes to the vast spectrum of human emotion, our sexual nature and desires, and how we interact with each other – the opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve are endless. You can choose to repeat the same mistake and be equally shocked and hurt when the outcome remains the same, or you can learn from your mistake and change your approach, whatever that might be for each person and each situation.

Although I have no desire to marry again – I’m not vehemently against it like I formerly was. Was a monogamous relationship successful for me? No. There was cheating involved on BOTH sides. Yes, that’s right – BOTH sides. Some of you may know the details of my marriage and divorce, but only 2 or 3 people knew that I cheated too long before we were married – a secret I held onto for nearly 6 years. This might change your opinion of me but I believe in full disclosure and honesty, especially since this detail is important for what I’m about to say next.

I do NOT believe in monogamy. I think it’s unnatural and shameful to suppress our sexuality and to control the sexuality of others. Whether that is through discrimination of homosexual relations, psychological control through religion and abstinence, physical castration and hormone therapy, taking away women’s rights, healthcare and access to abortion, or a partner telling you that you are bound to them and only them sexually forever until death do you part.

“No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied- including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all of this bloody retribution, it’s hard to see how monogamy comes “naturally” to our species. Why would so many risk their reputations, families, careers- even presidential legacies- for something that runs against human nature? Were monogamy an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, as the standard narrative insists, these ubiquitous transgressions would be infrequent and such horrible enforcement unnecessary. No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.” – Christopher Ryan

I have never been in a non-monogamous relationship – I may not be able to speak from experience, but I do know what didn’t work for me which opens the gate to try something new. A reoccurring message that I have been stumbling upon throughout the many books I have been reading simultaneously (once again, ADD and restless energy) is “By choosing to repeat the past, you are keeping life from renewing itself” – Deepak Chopra ‘The Book of Secrets’.

Or as Ryan Holiday might say, “It’s been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Yet that’s exactly what most people do. They try the same routine and hope it will work this time. Hope is not a strategy! Failure is a part of life we have little choice over. Learning from failure, on the other hand, is optional. We have to choose to learn. We must consciously opt to do things differently – to tweak and change until we actually get the result we’re after. But that’s hard. Sticking with the same unsuccessful pattern is easy. It doesn’t take any thought or any additional effort, which is probably why most people do it.”

At the end of ‘Sex at Dawn’, Christopher Ryan points out several options people often opt for after a failed marriage or relationship due to infidelity:

  • Lie and try not to get caught
  • Give up on having sex with anyone other than your wife for the rest of your life. Maybe resort to porn and Prozac
  • Serial Monogamy: divorce and start over

Pretty shitty unsustainable options to choose from if you ask me. A vicious unhappy cycle of lies, hurt feelings, and insecurity on repeat. Therapists make thousands, no millions globally by selling couples therapy where they FIRMLY shut down any notion of an open or polyamorous relationship. A steady flow of income ….

Christopher Ryan doesn’t tell us what we should or shouldn’t do – he simply presents the facts and lets the reader ponder and decide for themselves. Along with obtaining new information, I also learned how to reason and think more logically. Once you remove your ego and rationalize as an observer, it’s much easier to see facts over feelings.

We are so much greater than our preconceived notions of ourselves. To quote myself from Challenge What You Think You Know, “… humans have a unique capacity for deeper understanding, this is exhibited through how we communicate using verbal language, how we express ourselves with body language, the arts, philosophy, and so much more. We are complex creatures. Limiting our magnitude to love is a disservice to our species.” Why should we limit our capacity to love? To express ourselves? To be happy?

I can honestly say I have loved two men at the same time. At first it confused me. Did I love one less than the other? Did one mean more or less to me? No. I loved them both equally in different ways. My experience with each of them was remarkable and beautiful. I learned and I grew from each one of them. They opened parts of me that no one else could have opened and they will forever remain special to me. Though time has passed and we are different people – I love them still and look back on memories of them with fondness.

People are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was yesterday. I don’t expect the person I love to be the same every day – in fact I would encourage them to grow, expand, challenge themselves, and become a better person than they were the day before. Love is like the seasons – it comes and goes. The best thing you can do for the person you love is to grant them freedom.

“Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away …” – Louis de Bernieres, Correlli’s Mandolin

Challenge what you think you know ….

~Jess

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