Defining Monogamy:

Humans versus Animals

My take on Elmer Fudd: Defining Monogamy

One of my favorite blog posts is Something About Ducks, and the first time I thought about defining monogamy.  It was short and sweet, but meaningful because I was able to have a frank discussion about monogamy with a family member, and then get to geek out a little with some science.  So, may I present to you a comparative post discussing the definition of monogamy in humans and the animal kingdom, and how that interpretation impacts us.  Don’t worry, I won’t geek out too hard, and if you stick around until the end, you will find the link for the sexy, behind the scenes pictures I keep reserved for fans only. 

Let us start at the beginning, with the definition of monogamy thanks to our lovely friends at Wikipedia: Monogamy is a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime, or only one partner at a time (serial monogamy).  And for a little fun, let’s compare to the definition of monogamy in the animal kingdom: Monogamous pairing refers to the natural history of mating systems in which species pair bond to raise offspring. 

Did you catch that?  It turns out that the very definition of monogamy is different depending on your species.  We humans, adhere to a very strict definition of monogamy, while our counterparts in the animal kingdom are a little more fluid about it.  In fact, many species are by definition monogamously pair bonded even if during the mating season one of them strays, so long as they return to continue raising their offspring.

So why are humans so strict about monogamy, and yet so flexible when it comes to animals.  Why are we OK with accepting animals doing what they do, behaving in a way that has obviously allowed them to survive, and even flourish, and yet, so critical of humans exhibiting the same behaviours?  Why are we so adamant to separate ourselves from animalistic instinct to sleep with more than one person?  Obviously we could blame many things here, religion, politicians, the battle of the sexes, and let’s not forget sexually transmitted diseases and genetic protection.  But talking about genes, can I share one more thing that I learned in my rabbit hole quest for knowledge?  That scientists are currently working to discover the neuro-molecular genes that may lead to monogamy in animals. 

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Can you imagine if they find an actual mechanism that predicts or determines if a person will be able to maintain monogamy or not?  This may not just be something that people do because they were raised that way, or want to for their children, or even just by sheer force of will alone.  It might actually be deeper rooted than that, it may turn out that we have genetic indicators to determine if we are supposed to be non-monogamous or a monogamous species.  Watching researchers trace monogamy in invertebrates and seeing where we branch off, or takes turns, and then following those shifts absolutely fascinates me.  It’s one thing to trace our human origins of non-monogamy in such amazing book as Sex at Dawn, but to delve even further, into our animal counterparts and discover genetic material and our actual make-up? 

Honestly, the impacts of this make me super excited.  Mixing science, and knowledge, and a subject matter that has been my identity for what feels like a decade is just beyond… well… I think I am going to go formulate a few more posts to follow this up.  The first thing that comes to mind is the comparison between the young raising cycles of humans and animals.  And of course how this duel definition could impact our views of cheating, or infidelity.  The possibilities are endless with science at our side.  So please, if you have any suggestions you would like me to research or discuss feel free to share via Twitter or in the comments section of this blog as I would love to hear from you!

And as promised, here is the link to my behind the scenes photos… enjoy!

I Just Wanted to Get Lost in the History of the Victorian Age…[Book Review]


 

So, I decided to read the book “Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners” by Therese Oneill, thinking this would be a welcome change of pace.  And to its credit it is an incredibly well researched and hilarious look at women in the Victorian era.  And you would not be disappointed to pick yourself up a copy of your very own, which I so happen to have a quick link at the bottom of this post to make that decision a little easier (which is an affiliate link of which I will receive a small commission).

Anyways, I spent the first ¾’s of the book delightedly powering though it.  Honestly, one of those cannot put down books, delving into all the questions you never thought to ask yourself about what a woman’s life really was like back then!  And then a big nerve was struck.  The nerve of the moment… consent.  What I found most striking is that our grasp of consent has not differed much since the Victorian Age.

“If they persist, she should tell them in a brief and firm, though polite tone, that she desires to be left to herself.  If a man follow[s] her in silence, she should pretend not to perceive him, and at the same time, hasten a little in her step”.

The above quotation is the standard education that women were receiving if they ventured out of the house and a male approached them.  Be polite, brief, but firm.  And if that doesn’t work, walk a little quicker!  And the thing is, during that day and age, if the man didn’t take the hint, you were basically screwed, quite literally!

I mean, on the one hand, at least women were taught to say no or at least how to if the need arose.  On the other hand, this obviously was not an effective strategy and relied heavily on the breeding of the male on the receiving end.  And yet many women still employ the exact same tactic today.  In fact, I myself was taught this very thing!  I was not educated in the world of no means no.  There was instead a significant amount of emphasis placed on how I was perceived by my friends and peers, rather than what I wanted.  I recall quite clearly the few times I displayed any characteristics that were aggressive or unbecoming of a lady because I would be met with a swift slap across my face.  And that hurts!  So, I would resist toeing the line of an unbecoming nature.  I remained calm, pleasant, and never publicly assertive.

And you know what else has not died with the Victorian Era?  The idea that if women dressed provocatively that is was their own damn fault.  Especially if they were mistaken for an easy target or tricked into the white slave trade also known as prostitution.  That’s right, even though today we know we are all human beings under the law, there are still men and some women, who will state that if you look like a harlot you kinda deserve what you get.  In the Victorian era you could not show legs, or even ankles because you were basically asking to get raped.  And while the modern woman is free to wear what she dares, if push came to shove, you may well be accused of asking for it.  Because again, woman are taught such things as modesty and how to attract a spouse, but no mention is made on how men are to respond or reciprocate in kind.  Boys will be boys after all!

Let’s see here, we still practice polite often subtle “no’s” and we still get judged for how we dress.  Perfect!  And here I thought that we were evolving and had bridged a huge gap towards equality!

Aside from the few points that made me feel like I was still an uneducated prisoner of the Victorian era this was a remarkably funny and amazing book which I highly recommend.  So, grab a copy and please share your thoughts with me on it in the comments section when you’re done!

 

Do I Have to Stop Supporting Someone’s Work Because There Are Sexual Allegations Against Them?

Over the Christmas holidays I read Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and I absolutely loved the blend of humor and his take on modern dating because it overlaps with what I teach and coach in my day job.  It was one of those positive affirmation books.  Something that I envisioned promoting as a tool to help send the message home of how my clients could or should be approaching dating.  There were just so many times that I nodded excitedly, yes, YES!  This is exactly what I have seen over the years and this is exactly the problem that needs to be sorted out.  Thank you Aziz, for researching this, and providing a book that basically spells out the current key focus in modern dating, that quest for perfection.

So, just as I am in the process of adding this book to my recommended reading list on my coaching website, a sexual allegation was made against him.  Well, damnit!  Now what do I do?  Do I now have a moral obligation to stop supporting his past work, because of a woman’s unproven story.  But wait, does it even have to be proven?  Isn’t that the whole point, that we are starting to shift the mentality to trust women when they come forward, because it does more good than harm?  Ok, let’s go with that.  I’m trusting that this woman was truthful, that she said no, and he crossed the line.  Fine, but what do I do with my recommendation for his book?  Do I pull the book and stop encouraging clients to read it?  Do I start from square one, finding a similar book, with a premise that I support, and an author who has no black marks against him to help my business?  Can I ethically feel comfortable giving this guy money, in order to help my clients?  These questions are difficult because it affects my livelihood.  I could lose prospective clients because of where I place my support.  But, I could also use the resource as intended to actually help people who matter to me.  And let’s be realistic, his book has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations.  So on a simple apples to apples comparison, do the pros’ outweigh the cons’?

These are the tough questions we need to start asking ourselves.  We are making it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.  But where is the reach of this going to end?  Is this something that will affect a person’s future indefinitely, impact their past work and ruin the lives of their children?  Where are we going to draw the line?  Or will it be judged on a person by person basis?  In essence creating a flexible standard of judgement based on the alleged actions and taking into account a person’s history or even accepting their apology? Or perhaps we will land somewhere in the middle, I just don’t know, nor does anyone right now.

I will tell you honestly, that I felt a little weird watching Aziz Ansari last week, on an episode of Comedians in Cars, Getting Coffee.  And I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t find the episode funny, or because I am questioning how to judge his work knowing, that he made a woman feel uncomfortable.  It is super tough to answer honestly.  My biases are showing and I’m not sure how best to address them, other than to start asking questions.

And it’s only fair to ask you all the same question.  Will you click on his cover below that I’ve provided to see his book on Amazon?  Are you curious about the comparison between having no choice in partners, to near infinite choice and how that’s affecting our overall happiness?  Or, now suddenly, is all his wisdom and humor invalidated?  And more to the point, all the interviews, and hard work of his collaborators, do we no longer get to hear their voice because the name on that front cover may have acted inappropriately and we are angry?

When I re-read the title of this post, I desperately want to have a yes or no answer.  But the truth is, whichever celebrity or professor, or politician that I insert into that question, I came up with different answers.  And I think it is a good exercise for each of us to go down the list and put our beliefs to the test.  It’s one thing to shame a person, but where is that line, and is there some degree that they are all equal or can have comparable ramifications.  At what point do we stop supporting their work, whatever that may be?  And for how long and to what degree do they get penalized for?  I think it’s healthy for us to all take a step back, and look at the bigger picture.  Where do we see our future, and how do we get to that place of mutual respect for all humans beings.  Once we know that, I think this will start to get a little less fuzzy.

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The Game: I Finally Read It! Here Are My Thoughts and a Question For You [Book Review]

After years of putting it off, I finally sat down and read The Game, by Neil Strauss( Which you can purchase through Amazon.ca, and let me just say it was not what I was expecting, well not entirely.  Being a full time dating and relationship coach by trade, I had read so many synopsis’ and references to the book, that at first I felt I didn’t need to sit and read it.  And for the actual rules, the Pick Up Artist (PUA) information and the way that men are directed to treat or rather not treat, woman to get their digits my suspicions were correct.  I had no idea though, the depth or research that went into Pick Up (PU).  I can see how it so easily becomes a full time job, based on all the books, seminars, online forums and real world weekend sessions that go into it.  So, my hat is tipped to anyone who has put that much effort into the quest to crack the female code.  And here I was expecting to be disgusted and ashamed of anyone that had read the book and tried to implement its theories.

What was also incredibly surprising was just how depressing the book was.  How soulless it made PUA look and the depth with which these often young men were removed from interacting with people normally, after being properly educated in the mystic arts of getting laid.  I almost felt sorry for a few of the guys who got into PU because they were so insecure or bad with women, and ended up simply having notches on their belts, rather than fulfilling relationships or real knowledge about the opposite sex.  Again, this was not what I was expecting going in.  I anticipated some male blustering and many pats on the back, look at how amazing pick up artists are.  It seemed that it was titled accurately, it’s a game, it’s The Game.

As a female reading this book, I admit that I was absolutely and completely enraptured with it from beginning to end.  It was a complete mindfuck to me that men, thought they had figured out how to seduce women with a few simple tricks, routines and props.  And much more, that the stats proved it was successful the majority of the time.  We know there are exceptions to every rule, but without a doubt, these tactics worked and probably still work, who knows, they have probably even worked on me a time or two.  What was even more interesting though, is that even with this formula, this magic way of opening up a female, it couldn’t get you past sex.  It didn’t teach you how to interact long term, or create a lasting bond that is a core desire for almost every human on the planet.  In the end, it was still a bunch of dudes, circle jerking and coming up with new and more creative ways to out do the masters, or to become masters themselves.  The power play became more important than finding happiness with a partner.

The takeaway I felt after reading was that all this effort and education would have been better spent on self improvement and the money on prostitutes or escorts.  The long term value of that combination seems a much safer investment and more productive overall.  Winning at a game is great for bragging with the guys, but if that’s all you end up with, an ego boost and a sock drawer full of contact information have you really used your time wisely?  Because that was the major flaw with this game, that there was no definitive end point.  It’s not like monopoly where the game ends once someone flips over the table. The skills aren’t transferable into a relationship, or meaningful commitments so there is no happily ever after.  And if you’re looking to rise to the top or collect the most numbers, well there is a flaw in that too… the game would never be over.  So you would be left miserable and lonely, simply objectifying every women you meet, and screwing over every guru who shared their knowledge in the futile quest for dominance.  So then, I am left wondering if the title is ironic.  As “The Game” has no clear ending, is it really a game?  Can you really crack the code to universally get into someone’s pants?  Obviously, you can’t, but desperation and the desire to get laid is a remarkable motivator to try isn’t it?

So I ask you, men, who have read The Game, what is your take away?  Did you pick and choose some valuable tidbits and dismiss the rest?  Did you perhaps become so involved in it that is became your world for a while, like many of the characters?  Or did you put it down and dismiss it outright?  Or something entirely different?  What impact did this book or the teaching of PUA have on you?  Comment below 🙂

Is Non-Monogamy Something You Have Always Wanted to Try?

I receive messages weekly from guys saying that swinging or non-monogamy is something that they have always wanted to try and do I have tips for them to find women who are into it.  Depending how they ask, I may refer them to my reading list, or my ode to the single guys at a swing club post.  But ultimately, I know no matter whether I offer advice or scold them the result will be the same, testing the waters of non-monogamy just to knock it off your bucket list, is a bad idea.  Non monogamy is not a treat, or something to just experience when you’re young.  It is not a way of sowing your wild oats, until you find that special someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with it.  It is not a right of passage, or a notch on your belt.  If you, like thousands out there feel this way, please, for my sanity, educate yourself and grow some emotional maturity.  Or just look on from the sidelines.

Ethical non-monogamy in all is wondrous forms takes work.  It takes self awareness, the ability to multi task and a higher than average ability to socialize and communicate.  There is constant awareness of societal norms, feeling like an outsider and having to keep your mouth shut about that crazy foursome you had on Saturday.  This can be tricky and isolating and a whole bunch of other crazy emotions.  You know being turned on by your partner being sexed up, while being completely turned on because you are being sexed up and then remembering that there are a bunch of people watching the show.  It’s a crazy high, and not for the feint of heart.

It is not, and I cannot stress this enough, random, and or constant sex 24 hours a day.  Why? Because finding people who are sexually compatible, meet your level of hygiene, kinks, likes, passion and are non monogamous or single is exhausting and hard work.  And I will stress another point, we are all human beings with thoughts and feelings.  Even the most flippant of swingers who just want to jump in the sack with a willing couple, are still rational human beings who took the steps necessary to get to that point in their relationship.  So while the scene I described in the paragraph above may excite you and creep into your wildest dreams, it is not for newbies.  It is not for people who want to just dip a toe in to see what it feels like.  Because that thing I mentioned about human beings, yeah, we have thoughts and feelings.  We don’t want to feel used for your sexual conquests (unless its agreed upon ahead of time).  Nor do we want to witness your complete mental breakdown when you discover you have no idea what you’re doing, or have so much jealousy about your partner being touched that you want to play smashie smashie with someone’s face.

So while I love seeing new people in the lifestyle, what I love even more are the educated people who enter into the premises with foresight, understanding and an empathy for their fellow man.  To those who do what we did, and research the shit out of what we were getting into.  Starting off slow, and ensuring both partners are good each step along the way.  And not playing until you are ready, truly ready for the good, bad and hopefully never the ugly… cry.  There should be no tears in non-monogamy, unless they are fueled by unbridled ecstasy and euphoria.

And as for the tips to finding women who are non-monogamous?  All I can say, is that the finding is a huge part of the adventure, and a skill that once you develop, it’s very hard to go back.  And because it needs to be said, it takes a high emotional maturity and IQ to experience non monogamy well.  So take the time to figure out what you want, before you go out and just find someone whose willing to go along with it.

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