Rules From Science; Rules From Society

Science doesn't really provide rules for sexual behavior. It tries to generate rules that explain our behavior. Society, on the other hand, generates rules that try to keep people from killing each other.

Sexual behavior is about passing on genes. Our behavior can be seen in the light of the need to pass on at least some of our genes, and the things we can do to maximize the likelihood of keeping our genetic heritage in the gene pool.

Individuals have many concerns about children and about safety and about food and fun and all kinds of other things. Different groups within a larger society have different rules.

As far as sexuality is concerned, we have our own individual preferences, and so often, our personal desires go against the rules we find ourselves trying to live with.

I say all this because the way this group is titled makes it sound as if we deliberately create rules in an attempt to make people's lives miserable. I don't think the rules are created very deliberately. I think they arise from a history of experience and that people make up rules as we go along, just trying to do the best we can to not hurt people and to protect children. In the process, however, the rules do hurt people in ways that seem superfluous.

How does consensual sex of any kind -- gay, anal, role-playing, whatever -- hurt other people? Why do we have rules against those things? But that's pretty easy to knock down and indeed, in some countries, most of the laws against these things are no longer in effect, or if in effect, are no longer enforced.

But it isn't even the laws that really concern me. It's the social pressure. It's the disapproval for things like infidelity, and the complete lack of any attempt by anyone to understand why people may be unfaithful. So often, people believe it's just because people can't keep their pants on -- it's just about sex.

The emotions raised about infidelity are frightfully strong. Fear of loss. What will happen to the family? What does this mean about me? What if we divorce? What happens to our friends? Our property? What will people think of me? So much anger. So much fear.

What could possibly justify raising the possibility of all this fear and anger? What could make you do that? How could you put sex in front of all that? And even if it is more than sex, how selfish are you to think that your feelings are more important that this spouse? These children? The place you hold in society?

And against that you have the lonely voice in your head that says, "what about my happiness?"

Perhaps... I don't know. Perhaps there is a way to meet your responsibilities and have your happiness? And please don't trivialize it by implying that in being about sex, it is about something that is too unimportant. Sex can not be separated from love and feelings and the essential connection I think we all need. Sex IS that connection, as far as I am concerned. We are not just talking about sex; we are talking about the whole ball of wax.

I understand the rules. But I don't think they are flexible enough. I don't even think we can begin to have a conversation about making them more flexible because the things we are talking about are too important and it is too threatening to many people to think of them being another way.

But I want to have that conversation. It may be selfish, but my happiness is at stake. I don't want to live so miserably, any more. That doesn't help anyone either -- not a spouse. Certainly not the children. Not society, either.
wundayatta wundayatta
56-60, M
1 Response Mar 19, 2012

I like what you're saying, it's thought provoking. You raise lots of good questions, too many to comment on. I personally struggle with "What about my happiness?" When I'm "pursuing" happiness I'm on a never-ending hamster wheel with myself always trying to find happiness in things. I'm letting go of that concept of pursuing. I'm not going to chase it anymore. It would drive me into deep loneliness wondering why I couldn't find happiness within.<br />
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My happiness comes from connections with others. I can find happiness in giving a stranger a compliment or offering my services to others that are elderly and ailing. No more hiding in isolation for me. I have to get out in the world and make contact with others (ironic that I'm on here typing this in isolation). Technology has a funny way to make me think I have all these connections via FaceBook, texting, etc, when those forms of communication just isolate me more and make me more lonely. I need to connect with people in person face to face to fill that happiness void within me.