Someone once asked me a riddle. What’s a morner? It’s a nooner, only sooner. I recently read the book “Sex at Dawn,” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. No, it’s not about morners, as one might infer. It is one of those rare, thought-provoking books that peels away the layers of belief, past programming, and illusion. In this case, we are talking about why we are compelled to behave the way we do in relationships, especially when it comes to sexual behaviors. The authors make a quite compelling case that we humans are not meant to be monogamous. They point to the rise of agriculture as the major factor that led us toward monogamy long ago. Prior to agriculture, they say, we humans were actually quite happy to share sexual partners. They also dare to state that the idea of possessing our mate as “mine” was quite contrary to smooth and effective human social functioning. Look at the bonobos, they say. Close relatives of ours. I remember reading many years ago about the bonobos in the Scientific American.
I also remember many of my own relationship situations in the past that got ugly because of possession and jealousy. I wonder what directions these situations may have taken if I had been more conscious of possibilities beyond possession, beyond the myth of romance. I think that a more conscious aim in our loving relationships is adoration without possession.
Every cell of my body says yes to the idea that there are much more conscious ways of conducting ourselves in relationship than the ones we have inherited. I believe that Sex at Dawn in an important part of an ongoing conversation, an ongoing shift in how we perceive and practice relationships.