Tag Archives: divorce

On Conditioning The Brain (For Love)

In nearly every love story, the actual process of falling in love is the easy part. A man sees a beautiful woman. A woman see’s a handsome man. A man see’s another beautiful man or a woman see’s another beautiful woman. Sexy romantic activities follow. People don’t need much incentive or reason to fall in love is what I’m saying.

The real challenge, and the main struggle in those same love stories, is convincing someone else to love them back. It can be an all-encompassing, all-consuming struggle that inspires epic quests, blood feuds, and kinky fantasies of every kind, from the genuinely heart-warming to the downright disturbing.

In most stories, those elaborate efforts either pay off or make for the kind of Shakespearean tragedy that crushes the spirits of every high school English student for generations. Love stories have a special knack for hitting a broad spectrum of emotions, from the kind that makes us cry to the kind that makes us horny. That’s a big part of their appeal and that’s the kind of appeal I try to capture in my novels.

As epic as these love stories can be, on top of the sex appeal they inherently bring, there’s one key element to love that’s easy to overlook, but impossible to avoid. No matter who you or a character in a story falls in love with, you can’t do much with that feeling if the person you love isn’t receptive to it on some level. Even if they don’t eventually love you back, you work under the assumption that they’re open to love.

That’s usually a pretty safe assumption. Between the novels I write, as well as the many other epic love stories that have been written, it’s clear that humans are a very passionate species. We fall in love almost as often as we go to war for stupid reasons. It’s literally hardwired into our brain.

However, it’s that same wiring that makes love such an erratic, fleeting emotion. It’s the primary reason why that, until recently, a marriage built around love was seen as unstable. That makes an unsexy bit of sense when you think about it. Given how easily we fall in love with others, or how horny we get after being with one person for a while, relying on love to hold a marriage together seems like a bold bet with long odds.

Granted, it’s a beautiful thing when it pays off. However, as with any bet that has such high stakes, it’s safe to assume that someone will try to cheat in order to change the odds. Why else would so many stories involve love potions, spells, and elaborate lies that blow up in someone’s face?

While those kinds of manipulations can be dishonest, and more than a little creepy, it’s also understandable. It’s an unfair world full of unfeeling people who seem eager to crush your emotions, burn them to a crisp, and spit on the ashes. If there was a way to just nudge someone’s emotions to be in line with your own, wouldn’t you take it?

That leads to a distressing, but relevant question. It’s part philosophical, part practical, and part ethically suspect. I know those are a lot of conflicting parts, but bear with me because it affects our love lives and our sex lives so it’s pretty damn important. Here it is and feel free to take as much time as you need to contemplate it.

“Is a love that is conditioned, coerced, or magically conjured in someone any less sincere?”

I know what the knee-jerk reaction to that sort of question is. The idea that any kind of love that’s forced is somehow sincere seems like something you shouldn’t imply unless you’re wearing a suit of adamantium armor. Most love stories built around forced love tends to either fall apart or turn into some twisted form of BDSM erotica. It can even show up in classic Disney movies, albeit indirectly.

In a perfect world full of singing animals and naked supermodels, love would never have to be conditioned or coerced. Those in love would just need to follow the steps laid out in every John Hughes movie ever made and that’s it. You’ll win the love of whoever you desire.

Sadly, we know this isn’t a perfect world. Animals don’t sing. You have to pay to see naked supermodels. Love and heartache aren’t always mutually exclusive either. Every other love song ever made is proof of that. So why shouldn’t we entertain the thought that a magic love potion every now and then might be warranted?

The substance of this question was inspired, in part, by the post I did about the less pleasant details of Marvel’s defacto Wonder Woman, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers. Early in her history, one of Carol Danvers’ most defining stories came when she was manipulated by a powerful being named Marcus Immortus into falling in love with her.

Sure, he did it so he could impregnate her and be reborn before he died of accelerated aging, but his tactic worked. He did get Carol to fall in love with her and bear his child. It might be one of the most infamous Marvel stories that doesn’t involve clones, time travel, or deals with the devil. Some go so far as to call it rape and that wouldn’t be entirely wrong in certain jurisdictions.

That still doesn’t change the actual results of Immortus’ efforts. As much as asshole as he is, does that make Carol’s emotions in the story any less real? From her perspective, does it really matter if the love she feels is forced, conditioned, or magically conjured? It’s easy for anyone not in Carol’s position to be disgusted by that kind of treachery. When you’re in love, though, you tend not to care much for those kinds of details.

It has been well-documented in both science and any number of one night stands. Being in love is like a drug, one that induces a sense of euphoria on par with a cocaine binge with Led Zeppelin. Your brain, being the crude hunk of biomatter that it is, doesn’t care about the circumstances. It loves to love. It wants to love. It doesn’t give a wet fart where it comes from. When it happens, it lets us know how awesome it is.

It doesn’t help that the brain is incredibly easy to fool. Con artists, street magicians, and used car salesmen all know this better than anyone. The brain, as wonderfully complex as it is, can be tricked and manipulated. If someone can evoke the right chemical cocktail in your cerebral cortex, it won’t ask twice. It might not even ask once. If it checks all the right boxes, we’ll get that same passionate rush.

It’s a disturbing thought, but it’s distressingly easy to imagine. Say, for instance, that someone conditioned another to love them the same way Marcus Immortus did with Carol Danvers. That person now loves them with all their heart. They don’t know, nor do they care, how that love happened. They just feel it and that’s all there is to it.

Now, imagine that same person living the rest of their life with that conditioned love. They never find out that it was forced or conjured within them. To them, it’s as real as any genuine, non-coerced love that we’ve ever felt. They love someone and feel loved in return. They go to their graves having felt that love, experienced it, and cherished it with all their hearts.

While the idea of creating that kind of love seems distressing, requiring that someone has no respect whatsoever for someone else’s individual autonomy, it does seem oddly pragmatic. It even seems like a win-win on some levels. One person gets the lover they want. The other gets to live a life immersed in the high that is love. Other than the guilt one person might feel for resorting to such tactics, it’s not like anyone really suffers.

I don’t bring this issue up to undermine the profound nature of love. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, contemplating these things and asking these sometimes unsexy questions are just part of the job. Capturing the appeal of love in a novel is something I try to do with every story I write. I did my best with “Passion Relapse.” I hope I succeed even more with “Rescued Hearts.”

However, there’s no denying the complexities of love and the passions behind it. They’re not always pure. They’re not always sexy either. Stories like that of Carol Danvers and Marcus Immortus highlight a fundamental tension, of sorts, within the nature of love. Our brains can’t always tell the difference when a feeling is real or induced.

At the end of the day, though, does that really matter? Isn’t a feeling as powerful as love worth it? It’s something to contemplate when scrutinizing love or telling sexy stories. As long as we remain such a passionate species, we’ll keep seeking that feeling with our hearts, our genitals, and everything in between.

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Do Prenups Help (Or Hurt) Marriages?

Whenever we hedge our bets on something, be it a major life decision or a poker game, it’s often a tacit admission that we may fail and more often than not, that’s the first step towards failure. Being careful or proactive doesn’t give the impression that you’re all that confident. A lack of confidence is also not very sexy either so some people may not be inclined to be that careful.

Granted, there are some bets we don’t mind hedging on. Why else would we buy insurance or demand that our heart surgeons be licensed? It doesn’t matter how confident you might be. There’s nothing sexy about getting heart surgery from the medical equivalent of a drunk plumber.

We, as a society, are somewhat erratic about the things we should and shouldn’t hedge our bets on. There’s a constant push and pull between being proactive and being bold. We want to sound confident, but we also don’t want to risk crashing a drag racer into a hill just to get laid.

With that in mind, here’s a simple questions that we’ve all probably asked ourselves, albeit indirectly. Just how proactive should we be when it comes to our love lives? I’m not talking about avoiding parents or wearing condoms either. Specifically, I’m talking about marriage and how we approach it. Even more specifically, I’m talking about prenuptial agreements.

It’s somewhat telling that most people don’t know much about these fairly mundane, legally-binding contracts that have been around for decades. They’re not complex financial laws or esoteric provisions of the tax code. A prenup is a simple, legal way to ensure that if a marriage fails, the hard, heartbreaking work is already done.

According to FindLaw.com, the simplest purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to “establish the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce.” If children are involved, it can resolve that too. Again, it’s like doing the hardest work ahead of time, just in case it becomes necessary. In terms of being proactive with your love life, it’s both prudent and practical.

It also has an unspoken, but distinct stigma to it and for entirely understandable reasons. The mere act of considering a prenup for your marriage implies that you think it’s possible it may fail. When you’re young, in love, and still having great sex, who wants to think that? Hell, if your lover even joked about it, what would that reveal about your relationship?

It’s a distressing thought. That’s why prenups are usually associated with rich people and famous celebrities. In fact, the provisions of some of these prenups seem downright insane to non-famous, non-eccentric people. That may be why prenups have a somewhat mixed reputations.

However, celebrities and the super rich have a lot more to lose than their hearts in a marriage. It’s understandable that they’d be more proactive than most. Unfortunately, it also means that celebrities are more than twice as likely to divorce. That may be another part of why prenups have a bad reputation. They’re loosely correlated with more divorce.

That brings me back to the title of this article and the obvious question that too few people ask. Do prenuptial agreements help a marriage or are they detrimental in the long run? Based on what I’ve just explained about the mentality behind prenups, the answer would seem obvious. That’s just it, though. We really don’t know.

At the moment, we’re still clinging to the mentality that if you want a prenup, then you’re setting your marriage up for failure. That’s a dangerous, not to mention short-sighted understanding of marriage and relationships. While there is some research to hint that having a prenup doesn’t increase your chances of divorce, there’s very little information on what this means for the health of a relationship, as a whole.

At the same time, we constantly hear the whining from the family values crowd about the declining rates of marriage. It’s not at all unfounded, either. Fewer and fewer people are getting married, especially among younger people. There are many potential reasons for this, but there’s one in particular that I want to focus on, as it relates to prenups.

I’ve talked about it before, albeit in part. This time, I want to be a bit more blunt. To all those worried about declining marriage rates, increasing divorce rates, and young people humping without consequence, I have an important message that needs to be belabored.

If you’re a man, marriage for is a TERRIBLE deal.

I know it sounds like I’m just echoing timeless words of Al Bundy, but bear with me. In order to show just how bad a deal marriage is for men, allow me to paint a scenario. It’s not a thought experiment because this is, for all intents in purposes, how it plays out in the real world.

You and your lawyer are sitting across the table from a potential partner and their lawyer. Their lawyer presents you a partnership contract. In that contract, it says that you are to only ever conduct personal business with them until the day you die. If, however, the other party decides to dissolve the contract at any time and for any reason, then they get half of your assets, by default. If you happen have any children, the partner very likely take sole custody of them, as well. Would you sign that contract?

Most people, if they looked at the fine print in that scenario, wouldn’t sign that contract, even on a dare or while drunk. It’s a horribly unequal contract. It effectively asks the man to go against his own interests. It also gives the woman a distressing amount of incentive to end the marriage. When there’s a financial incentive to do anything, it usually skews the odds. Marriage is no different.

This scenario also reflects the impact that “no-fault divorce” has had on marriage in recent decades. That’s a fairly recent development, as well. Instead of needing a reason to dissolve a marriage, it can be done on a whim and the man, who may not have even done anything wrong, gets screwed over. In that context, the decline in marriage is entirely understandable.

It should also explain why men are so reluctant to get married in the first place these days. The incentives aren’t just awful. It creates a legally-binding inequality within a relationship. In both marriage and divorce, the woman has the benefit when it comes to custody of children and alimony payments. Even so, a man who is reluctant to marry is seen as someone who doesn’t love his significant other as much as he should.

This brings me back to prenuptial agreements. As it stands, only five percent of divorces occur in couples who had a prenup and only three percent of couples planning to get married have a prenup. While the number of marriages that have prenups are increasing, it’s still not that common and there’s still a stigma to it.

So what would happen if every marriage from here on out required a prenuptial agreement? Moreover, what would happen if the structure of the marriage made the responsibilities between the man and the woman equal? It’s an honest, sincere question because, as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m all for love. I’m all for marriage. I too would like to get married one day.

However, marriage in its current state doesn’t just scare me. It seems downright unsexy. It almost seems to take advantage of men who are so hopelessly in love that they don’t think about what will happen if something goes wrong . Granted, no man wants to think about that, especially when they’re in love, but it can cause a lot of pain and heartache down the line.

I’m not saying prenuptial agreements will fix the current state of marriage or gender dynamics between men and women. However, I do think that we’re straining our ability to love each other when our relationships are so inherently unequal. I’ve championed love between equals in the past. I think that’s the kind of love that will improve our love lives, our sexy lives, and our marriages in the future.

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Breaking Down The Breakup Between Anna Faris And Chris Pratt

The life of a celebrity compared to the life of a non-celebrity couldn’t be more different without involving aliens, unicorns, and pet monkeys. That’s also a major reason why we’re so fascinated by celebrity culture. Say what you will about the crazy headlines of the glorified toilet paper known as tabloids. They still get our attention and, as I’ve pointed out before, that’s the most valuable currency in our economy.

As such, a high-profile celebrity couple breaking up is a big deal. From a celebrity culture and deranged tabloid perspective, it’s like crack mixed with meth mixed with heroin. It’s as addictive as it is debilitating. It crushes whatever fairy tale narrative we had playing out in our collective psyches and making us question whether love is truly real.

Now, I don’t doubt the allure of celebrity romances. These are people with a lot money and power at their fingertips. These are people who could ask a random stranger to smear pudding on their chest and have a hungry loin lick it up and they’ll do it with a smile.

They have every conceivable resource to make their relationships the sort of thing that Disney movies are built on. How is it that they keep failing? That’s not just a perception thing either. In terms of raw numbers, celebrity marriages fail at nearly twice the rate of non-celebrity marriages. With all that money and power, how is that even possible?

Well, last week we were reminded that no matter how many fairy tales fever dreams a celebrity romance may inspire, it can still fail. The latest involves Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, one of Hollywood’s highest profile celebrity couples. After an eight-year marriage, they’ve announced that they’re legally separating.

Even I admit, this one caught me by surprise. I’ve been a fan of Chris Pratt since his day as the chubby dork, Andy Dwyer, on “Parks and Recreation.” I’ve also had a soft spot for Anna Faris since her colorful performance in the horror spoof, “Scary Movie.” The fact that those two got together and stayed married for nearly a decade was just a nice bonus.

However, much like the end of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the high-profile nature of the marriage always made it subject to scrutiny. Most recently, there had been rumors that Pratt had cheated on Faris with Jennifer Lawrence, his co-star in their movie, “Passengers.”

I tend not to give much weight to such rumors, even when Jennifer Lawrence is involved. That hasn’t stopped some people from blaming Ms. Lawrence for the breakup, but that’s to be expected. Brad Pitt had been subject to similar rumors before his breakup with Angelina Jolie.

In general, it’s fairly safe to assume that, unless there’s high-definition sex tape, those rumors are only partially true at most. Since nobody other than Pratt and Faris know the full story behind their breakup, I’m not going to assume that cheating or infidelity was involved. According to Pratt’s own statement, the breakup was mutual.

“Anna and I are sad to announce we are legally separating. We tried hard for a long time, and we’re really disappointed. Our son has two parents who love him very much and for his sake we want to keep this situation as private as possible moving forward.”

For now, I’m going to take Mr. Pratt at is word, but assume there were other dynamics at work that neither he nor Faris care to share with an unforgiving public. I’m not even going to speculate on what those dynamics can be. Instead, I’m going to step back and look at the bigger picture here. If nothing else, I’d like to give think fans of both Pratt and Faris, as well as fans of any celebrity couple, a sense of perspective.

Much of that perspective boils down to one inescapable truth. Celebrities live crazy lives, work crazy jobs, and deal with crazy stresses that no ordinary person can hope to understand, let alone deal with. The fact that any celebrity romance succeeds in the long run is nothing short of a miracle.

These are not people with normal or even semi-normal experiences. These are people doing things few people can do, achieving success that most people never achieve, and struggling to manage it all without going insane. So whenever a celebrity does have a very public breakdown, of sorts, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

On top of that, celebrities often work jobs that keep them busy for insane hours and requires them to spend a good chunk of their time traveling. Even if they have their own private jet and a support staff who effectively manages every minor detail of their lives, right down to the brand of toilet paper they buy, they’re still always busy. In a sense, being a celebrity is as close to a full-time job as anyone can have.

How can you make a relationship work in those circumstances? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s an ongoing issue that many celebrities struggle to solve. Pratt and Faris thought they had the answer. I’m sure Pitt and Jolie felt the same way. In the end, they were wrong. It’s tragic, but it shows just how hard it is to answer that question.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Some celebrity couples find a way to make it work. They are, however, the exceptions and not the norms. Realistically speaking, the circumstances of a celebrity romance are a checklist of how not to structure a relationship. For the sake of context, here are just some of them.

  • Working extended periods in a high-stress, fast-paced environment
  • Managing large numbers of people and resources
  • Traveling frequently and having little time to spend at home or with loved ones
  • Doing physically demanding, often exhausting work
  • Being surrounded by extremely attractive people with a strong incentive to seduce others
  • Being subject to constant scrutiny and micromanaging
  • Constantly entering unfamiliar situations and dealing with unfamiliar people
  • Occasionally having to get naked and/or intimate with strangers

Just dealing with a few of these issues is stressful enough on any relationship. That’s why occupations like bartender, massage therapist, or police officer have a markedly high divorce rate. With celebrities, though, the challenges are even greater because it’s not just one or two issues. It all of them.

At the end of the day, no matter what Tom Cruise may think, we’re all human. We all have human brains that are stuck with caveman settings. Those brains aren’t equipped to deal with the rigors of a celebrity life. Hell, it’s barely equipped to handle our current ideals of romance.

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris had the odds stacked against them from the beginning. They clearly loved each other. They made that abundantly clear in their announcement. However, their brains have the same limits as ours. Those brains compel us to form the kinds of intimate, close connections that are easily strained by stressful jobs, constant travel, and an excess of beautiful people willing to sleep with you.

Most relationships, in general, struggle to function in those conditions, as evidenced by the non-celebrity divorce rate. Pratt and Faris tried to beat those odds, on top of all the forces working against them, and did a lot better than most. Just ask anyone Taylor Swift ever dated.

At the end of the day, though, the mechanics of a celebrity romance are just too daunting, even for those who genuinely love each other. It’s part of why people root for celebrity romances . The idea that two people can overcome those daunting obstacles nourishes our ideals about love and marriage. When that fails, it hits those ideals pretty hard, as evidenced by the Twitter reaction to the Pratt/Faris breakup.

While it is disappointing, especially for a relationship that seemed more healthy than most, it still shouldn’t be surprising. We, the non-celebrities of the world, can’t forget that people like Chris Pratt and Anna Faris live such crazy lives that are wholly unconducive to our romantic ideals.

Some of that is our fault. Some of that is the fault of biology with the way our brains are wired. Even so, it shouldn’t destroy our concept of love. If nothing else, it should remind us that making a relationship work is hard, but the fact that celebrities try as hard as they do is proof that the work is worth it.

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How Immortal Humans (Might) Make Love

At every wedding or marriage ceremony, we’ve all heard those sweet, romantic words. Two people stand before friend, family, and whatever deity they happen to worship, and pledge to love, honor, and be faithful to one another until death do they part. It’s a powerful romantic sentiment, one that holds a special place in our culture and our understanding of love.

It’s also a sentiment that’s becoming increasingly hallow because the divorce rates throughout the world are pretty staggering. It runs anywhere between 40 and 65 percent. If every promise someone made to you had a failure at that level, you’d never leave your house without a lawyer and branding iron.

As rough and agonizing as divorce can be, it exists for a legitimate reason. Staying married to the same person your entire life is hard. I’m not just talking about staying sexually monogamous either. Being with only one person, putting all your romantic and emotional energy into a single individual, is not easy. You’re putting your entire heart into one person’s hand and trusting them not to crush it.

It didn’t used to be that hard. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that it was a fairly pragmatic arrangement and by that, I mean as recently as the 1950s. I’ve talked about the history of marriage before and at the heart of that history is a sort of romantic pragmatism, if that’s even the right word.

For most of human civilization that have some form of marriage arrangements, people lived on farms or in small towns, rarely venturing more than fifty miles from their homes. Most of the time, people didn’t even choose their spouse. Their parents chose for them.

You weren’t expected to love each other. You only really had to tolerate each other and be willing to have children. Those are some pretty low standards, but that was all it took for a successful marriage, so to speak. Sexual fidelity was necessary for the woman to ensure the passage of property, but it was pretty much expected for men to have a few mistresses here and there.

Even with mistresses, this form of marriage worked because it was practical. Staying with one person your whole life made sense in a world where you barely ever left the farm or the town you were born in. Getting divorced, even if there was some cheating on the sides, just didn’t make sense. It was more trouble than it was worth.

Then, society changed, technology improved, and civilization revamped its idea of marriage. Instead of the low standards and cold pragmatics of the past, we needed our marriages to be built around the kind of ideal love that’s been in every Disney movie since 1944. We need a lover who is our heart, our soul, and our everything. They need to be the personification of a Barry White song mixed with a One Direction song.

Those are some mighty high expectations and I’ve mentioned how unreasonable they are. Add a little thing called “No-Fault Divorce” to the list, a legal term that rips men’s hearts out through their wallets, and suddenly that ideal of love is much trickier. Stories about couples who have been together for 70 years are endearing, but that’s because they’re the exception and not the norm.

There are still a lot of flaws to dissect in our current understanding of love and marriage. I’ll probably do more posts about that in the future. For this one, though, I’m afraid I have to dig deeper into those flaws and the implications are not good. I may end up painting a sad, unsexy picture about the future of our love lives, but bear with me. I’m going to try and inject a little hope and sexiness towards the end.

I’ve often speculated on how emerging technology like brain implants, biotechnology, and bionic genitals will improve and redefine our love lives, including the sexy parts. In my recent discussions about boredom among immortals, it revealed a relevant issue that we’re going to have to address at some point.

In a future where we can live for centuries, maintain our youth, and continue to enjoy a robust sex life, how will we go about love, sex, and marriage? It’s a legitimate question because there’s no way our current system can work. That system is failing without the impact of bionic genitals. What hope does it have when lovers become full-blown shape-shifters?

Beyond the way we look and our ability to have sex with bionic body parts, the immortal factor may be the trickiest. That’s because, as I’ve pointed out with characters like Vandal Savage and Superman, an extremely long life makes people more prone to crippling boredom. When people become bored, they tend to become dispassionate and that’s not a recipe for a functioning romance.

Couples already get bored with each other with stunning regularity. What happens when those couples start living to be 500-years-old and never get too old to attract new partners? The idea of “till death do us part” suddenly becomes woefully impractical. Despite what vampire novels might have us believe, monogamy for an immortal just isn’t practical. It might not even be that romantic, in the long run.

Romance and practicality aside, it’s still important to maintain those passionate connections between people, even if they are immortal. Without them, they’ll inevitably end up like Vandal Savage, who comes to see humans as aging meat-bags in dire need of his exploitation.

However much we enhance our bodies and mind, we humans are still a social species. We are also a passionate species. We seek love, intimacy, and connection with one another. No matter what the economics may say or what religious zealots may decree, we’re driven to find love and connection. When we become immortal super-humans, complete with smart blood and bionic genitals, that won’t change.

That begs the question, which also happens to inspire another sexy thought experiment. How exactly does a society of immortal humans go about making love and forging romantic bonds? That’s a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer, especially for an erotica/romance writer. If I could predict the future that well, I’d play the stock market and become a billionaire by next Tuesday.

However, being an erotica/romance writer, I’m pretty adept at coming up with sexy ideas with plenty of romance mixed in. Anyone who has read my novels knows this all too well. So here’s how I imagine a future society of immortal humans will make love.


Scenario 1: The Monogamy Scenario (But Not In The Way You Think)

As much as I poke fun at monogamy on this blog, I don’t discount its value or its beauty. I also don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. Even among immortals, there will always be certain individuals for whom monogamy just works. With human enhancement, though, it gets a badly-needed upgrade.

The monogamy I’m talking about isn’t the same monogamy you associate with your grandparents who have been married since the stone age. Monogamy in this, context, may also include sharing a mind link, not unlike Cyclops and Jean Grey of the X-men. Two people could be so committed to each other that they want to link minds and stay linked, effectively becoming a single conscious entity.

It may sound creepy, but it also takes monogamy to a whole new level. It also makes use of brain implant technology, like the ones being developed by Neuralink. Monogamy like this could be deeper on a level that would impress the Edward Cullens and Bella Swans of the world. It would be, by our understanding, a perfect monogamous union. You might think their sex would get boring, but it wouldn’t matter to them.


Scenario 2: The Family Scenario (Not THAT Kind Of Family)

Don’t flex your gag-reflex just yet. When I say “family,” I’m not talking about incest. I’ll leave that to the very specific, very targeted genres of porn that specialize in that sort of thing. For the purposes of this scenario, I’m going to use family in a way that it hasn’t been used before, at least outside of a creepy sex cult.

The family scenario focuses on a small group of tight-knit individuals. It may never be more than a dozen people of varying genders. These people may or may not have some sort of mind link via brain implant, sort of like the monogamy scenario. The difference is that this small group shares a collective loving bond.

They exchange intimacy, sex, and love amongst themselves. There aren’t any couples or hookups, per se. There’s no such thing as an affair or cheating. They all see themselves as a family unit, loving and supporting each other in addition to meeting their sexual and emotional needs. In a future of immortal, enhanced humans, I think this would probably be the most common scenario.


Scenario 3: The Community Scenario (Kind Of What It Sounds Like)

This one is less suggestive. It means almost what you think it means. In this scenario, larger groups of individuals, each with enhanced bodies, live or connect in a common way. That connection is fairly loose, though. They opt to maintain most of their individual autonomy, but they see themselves as part of one romantic unit.

Traditional, non-enhanced brains can’t function in that way without calling it an orgy. Brains that are enhanced, in that respect, are better able to see themselves as part of a larger unit. It could be among hundreds, if not thousands of people. They may or may not live in a similar area. However, they would all see themselves as romantically linked, just as most monogamous lovers today see themselves romantically linked.

There would be plenty of variety, in terms of sex. Finding a sexual and romantic outlet would be almost casual. It would be like a private sex club, of sorts, one where you get to skip all the small talk and flirting. With enhanced brains and bodies, it’s that much more effective. It allows for larger groups of people to function romantically without becoming a Jerry Springer episode.

I imagine a scenario like this would be pretty messy. It would strain even the breadth of human enhancement. For certain individuals, though, namely the ones who want to still be individuals, it would definitely appeal. They get the same love and sex they need. They also get to be their own person, even if they’re an asshole sometimes.


Again, these are just a few scenarios conjured by one aspiring erotica/romance writer and without the aid of a brain-enhancing neural implant, no less. There’s only so much I can speculate and even less I can do to speculate accurately. I’m good at thinking kinky, sexy thoughts and telling kinky, sexy stories with those thoughts. That limits my ability to predict the future, especially a future with enhanced brains.

However accurate, or inaccurate, my scenarios might be, the way we make love with our enhanced selves will be a big part of who we are and the society we inhabit. Chances are it’ll be nothing like anything we imagine and it’s entirely likely that ever religious group and social conservative will hate it.

It will happen, though. If history has taught us one thing, it’s that we’re constantly adapting to the crazy new situations we create for ourselves. Part of being human is seeking connection, love, and intimacy with others. As we embrace new technology, new ways of thinking, and new ways of life, our ability and capacity for love, sex, and everything in between will adapt with it.

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What The NFL Draft Can Teach Us About Finding Romance

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It was an eventful weekend for NFL fans. The 2017 NFL Draft is complete. Many are still buzzing, hung over, or complaining about what they’re team did, what they didn’t do, and how closer or farther they are from winning the Super Bowl. Ask any fan outside of Cleveland and they’ll probably say they’ll be playing for a Super Bowl at the end of the year.

To those of you who don’t give a damn about the draft and don’t get the appeal, take a deep breath. It’s over now. You don’t have to hear about trades, mock drafts, or guys named Mike Mayock for at least another eight months. Trust me, those months will go by fast though.

As an ardent NFL fan, which I’ve made clear on this blog before, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the draft. It’s always been more style than substance for me. I see my favorite teams picking players and I know in the back of my head that few of these players are going to make a lick of difference. Getting worked up about it feels like energy that could be better used telling more sexy stories.

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That’s not to say it has no value. The NFL Draft is the raw ore from which the NFL’s players are forged. Whether they’re first round picks or undrafted, they become the iconic athletes that help make any sports league a success. Given the NFL’s $13 billion in revenue last year, it’s pretty damn clear that they’re doing something right.

In watching the NFL Draft, though, I found myself making some unusual connections between this bawdy spectacle and my own personal endeavors. Specifically, I saw a distinct parallel between the NFL Draft and it relates to our efforts at finding romance or telling kinky stories.

I know. That sounds like an odd collection of thoughts, especially from someone who talks a lot about sex robots on his blog. Bear with me. I promise there is some substance to these thoughts and it’s relevant to more than just aspiring erotica/romance writers.

The NFL Draft, at its core, is an elaborate job interview coupled with an investment opportunity. A finite number of teams looks at the vast pool of applicants and tries to determine which among them is worth development. That development costs time, money, and sometimes frustration. Any sport, be it football or jump rope, is going to involve wins and losses. It’s just part of the process.

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In that sense, there are some uncanny similarities with how we go about seeking romantic partners. It’s not like just hiring a prostitute or having a one night stand. That’s more akin to hiring a plumber for a service. Finding a romantic partner is like finding someone you’re willing to share a home, a bathroom, and bank account with. There’s a lot more at stake.

In seeking romantic partners, you can’t just look at someone and determine whether they’re worth the emotional investment. Even if someone has tits the size of basketballs or a dick the size of an elephant’s tusk, you need to know more about someone to determine whether you want more than a one night stand.

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NFL scouts, and the teams they work for, don’t get much value out of one night stands. They want to find players that will be part of their respective teams for the long haul, working hard for them and producing for them on the field. That’s why no scout will ever just look at a prospect on the service and decide on the spot whether they’re a fit for their team.

For those seeking meaningful romance, they need to be every bit as thorough as a competent NFL scout. They need to study a prospects measurables, immeasurables, and everything in between. It’s not enough to know whether someone is capable of loving you back, just like it’s not enough to know whether someone can physically play the game of football. You need to know that the chemistry is there.

It happens in the NFL all the time. Sometimes, a prospective player will have all the skills and intangibles to be a quality player. Unfortunately, they end up going to a team that doesn’t fit them. The chemistry isn’t there and they end up languishing, like someone caught in an unhealthy relationship.

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One well-documented example in the NFL was Steve Young, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Young was an undeniably talented player, but had the misfortune of being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a time when they were among the worst teams in the league.

Then, after an overdue breakup, Young was traded the 49ers where he eventually took over after the team’s other Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Joe Montana, left for Kansas City. It turned out to be a great match. Young thrived in San Francisco, eventually culminating in a Super Bowl victory in 1994.

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Looking at Steve Young’s story, you can draw some similarities to someone who ended up with someone in a place where it just wasn’t going to work. It took some effort from both sides to come together and an investment of resources to make something productive out of it. Replace football with love, passion, and having to share a bathroom and you’ve got yourself a template for forging a meaningful romance.

It’s also highlights something that a lot of NFL fans mistakenly believe about the NFL Draft. They’ll say it’s entirely a crap shoot. Some very smart and sincere people might even agree with it. If you look at the numbers, it seems logical. Even for first round draft picks, nearly a third of them end up leaving the team. For any pick below the fifth round, the odds are even worse.

However, to say the NFL Draft is a crap shoot is like saying love is only an anomaly. The fact that the NFL is so successful and finding love is such a prominent part of our lives is a clear indicator that there’s more than just random chance at work.

I don’t deny that there is some element of luck involved with the NFL Draft. Who knew that a sixth round draft pick from Michigan would go onto win five Super Bowls or that a number one overall pick from LSU would be better known for loving “purple drank” than throwing touchdown passes? Like finding love, sometimes you do need a bit of luck to be in the right place at the right time.

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However, luck only goes so far. Players like Tom Brady and Joe Montana had legendary coaches like Bill Belichick and Bill Walsh teaching them. It goes both ways too. Those coaches are legendary because they could mold these players into the champions they eventually became. They need each other and together, they achieve their goals.

In meaningful love, it goes both ways. Whether you’re playing the role of a scout or a prospective player, you both need to make an investment. Those investments need to complement one another. They need to be part of a good situation with all the right emotions and all the right desires.

Like the NFL draft, there will be mistakes and poor decisions. There are romantic equivalents of draft busts who seem like potential super stars, but turn out to be toxic. I’ve already talked about Lawrence Phillips in a previous post. There are other big busts like Ryan Leaf, Tony Mandarich, and Tim Couch.

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These busts are akin to our misguided passions that lead us into relationships that are doomed to fail. There are NFL scouts who thought they could fix the flaws with players like Lawrence Phillips. There are just as many people who think they can fix the flaws in a prospective lover. Most of the time, those efforts fail.

Finding love and finding pro-bowl football players is hard, but the fact it’s so hard is part of what makes it so meaningful. That’s because when we find love or a pro-bowl player, the investments we make pay off in a big way. A football team has a player that can help them win. A lover can find someone who fulfills them on an intimate, emotional level.

It takes a lot of work. It often requires quite a few heartbreaks and draft busts. It can hurt. It can be costly. It can seem like you’ll never win that championship. Like sports, though, the hardship that comes with finding love is part of what makes it so meaningful when you win.

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Ten Ridiculously Real Excuses That People Made (In A Court Of Law)

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Whenever I talk about serious issues or concepts on this blog, I do so knowing that at some point, I have to take a break. I need to find a way to make people laugh or get them horny or both, if possible. I’m not sure how many people get horny from discussions about sex robots, but people have all sorts of kinks.

When it comes to talking about reasons and excuses, it’s hard to make anyone horny from that. I knew that as soon as I decided that I would flesh out this issue. Now I have done my best to apply the concept to sexy situations, including those in my novels. I still doubt anyone needed a change in panties after that.

So I guess I’ll settle for the next best thing, which is making people laugh. When it comes to reasons and excuses, there’s actually a treasure trove on top of a mountain of chocolate. When it comes to humor, you won’t find any shortage that comes from people making stupid excuses for the crazy stuff they do.

Now we all do stupid things and make stupid excuses. That’s just part of life. In fact, many of us first discover our creative side when we have to make excuses as to why our parents should buy us that giant bag of Skittles. Those with a creative side probably got to eat a lot of candy as a kid.

It’s one thing for kids to make excuses over candy, though. It’s quite another when actual, functioning adults make them and in a court of law no less. If ever there was a place not to make excuses, which didn’t involve a rectal examination or a tax audit, a court room is at the top of the list.

Unfortunately, that still doesn’t stop some people. For some, the stupidity impulse is just too strong. In some cases, it’s pathetic. In others, it’s hilarious. Sure, it may undermine your faith in humanity, but that doesn’t make it any less funny.

While court rooms are supposed to be serious domains where the cold, but just hand of law can peacefully resolve disputes, it can still be a source of comedy. The number of stupid things people have said and done in a courtroom is simply too voluminous for an erotica/romance writer to sift through.

Thankfully, the folks at DailyTop10s have done some sifting for me. In the following video are 10 of the most ridiculous excuses ever given in a court of law. How ridiculous does it get, you ask? One of the excuses involves Bigfoot. I wish I were joking.

 

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Scarlett Johansson’s Views On Monogamy (And Why It Matters)

If an typical, healthy heterosexual man walked up to you and said he was a fan of Scarlett Johansson, it probably wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. You’d react the same way if they told you the sky was blue, water is wet, and expired milk smells bad.

It’s one of the few universals that most heterosexual men agree on. We find women like Scarlett Johansson sexy as hell. That means when she says something, we pay attention. That’s not to say we pay attention to her words, but we do pay attention. That has to count for something, right?

I’m not going to lie. Scarlett Johansson has a very special place on my list of sexy Hollywood leading ladies. Ever since she first put on the skin-tight attire of Black Widow and became an fixture in the seamy fantasies of superhero fans everywhere, she’s established herself as the alpha and omega of Hollywood hotness. The fact that she was the top-grossing actor/actress of 2016 doesn’t hurt her cause as well.

Whether you love her or hate her, and those who hate her rarely have a good reason, Scarlett Johansson’s words carry more weight than the rest of us. She’s successful, she’s beautiful, she’s rich, and she’s sexy as hell. She has more leverage than most of us ever will.

That’s why her recent comments on marriage and monogamy are making more than a couple of Sunday School teachers gasp in horror. For those of you who missed it and/or haven’t taken her words out of context, here’s what she said:

“With every gain there’s a loss, right? So, that’s the loss. You have to choose a path. I think the idea of marriage is very romantic; it’s a beautiful idea, and the practice of it can be a very beautiful thing. I don’t think it’s natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it’s work. It’s a lot of work.”

Now on the surface, there’s nothing too appalling about these words. However, she’s a beautiful woman and a Hollywood star. Of course her words will be used as an excuse to love, hate, condemn her as a sign of the apocalypse. Considering how Pokemon Go was once considered a sign of the apocalypse, that might not carry much weight.

It still matters though because Johansson, like every major Hollywood star before her, lives a life in the spotlight, under a microscope, and under the constant threat of becoming an unflattering Twitter hashtag. What she does invites far more scrutiny than what the average person, be they a truck driver or aspiring erotica/romance writer, ever would.

If someone other than Johansson had said these words, most people would’ve rolled their eyes, shrugged it off, and gotten on with their lives. There would be no need to call her every horrible insult imaginable in the comments section of every article. Unfortunately, Johansson did say these words.

On top of that, her personal life is already well-known and exceedingly public. She’s only 32 and she’s been married twice. First, she was married to Deadpool actor and former sexiest man alive, Ryan Reynolds. That marriage lasted shorter than the first season of Firefly. Then, she married a French man who owned an advertising agency named Romain Dauriac. This one lasted longer a bit longer and resulted in the birth of her daughter, Rose.

However, as her comments reflected, both relationships failed. Both ended in divorce. That means she has subjected herself to the full force of the internet’s unforgiving, soul-crushing shit storm. The fact that she could date the sexiest man alive and still not make it work makes her an easy target.

I’ve seen some of these comments. They usually amount to something like this:

“Typical Hollywood elitist skank!”

“Arrogant, selfish bitch!”

“She ditches her husband because one man isn’t enough for her? What a slut!”

Trust me, this is the PG version of the comments circulating the web right now. There are some comments that are so hostile, so extreme, and so hateful that even a director on the set of a hardcore porn movie would stop the scene.

It’s not all insults, put-downs, and crude remarks about female anatomy. One other, somewhat less extreme comment that frequently comes up often goes like this:

“I’ve been married to the same man/woman for 40 goddamn years and I did it while working shit jobs and raising ungrateful kids. What’s her excuse?”

This comment, in my opinion, is a lot more revealing about us than anything about Scarlett Johansson’s personal life. It’s actually something I’ve talked about before on this blog, predating Ms. Johansson’s divorce and remarks.

I’m not saying it was prophetic. Hollywood stars getting divorced is so common and mundane these days that someone was bound to make a comment like this at some point. I’m not going to lie though. The fact that Scarlett Johansson, the Black Widow of the Avengers movies, made the comment kind of makes my day.

What exactly does it reveal though? Why does Scarlett Johansson’s remarks about monogamy matter? It’s not just because she’s richer, sexier, and more charismatic than 99.998 percent of us will ever be. It matters because she’s saying something that speaks to much bigger issues with our modern approach to romance, marriage, and relationships.

Last year, I asked whether we were asking too much of our lovers. Now that I look back on it, I think that’s an incomplete question. That’s because what we ask and expect of our lovers varies from person to person.

Some people are naturally independent and don’t need their lovers to do much. Others are more dependent and really define themselves by the relationships they forge. Expecting too much from either is bound to cause problems, strain emotions, and inspire bad sitcoms.

Let’s go back to that comment about the people talking down to Scarlett Johansson because she can’t hold down a stable marriage while other people can under far less favorable circumstances. While I’m sure those commenters feel like they’re Spartacus, being all high, mighty, and moral, they’re ignoring a few key issues.

First and foremost, Scarlett Johansson is richer, sexier, and more talented than they are. That’s not to say those commenters aren’t decent people. That’s just pointing out a clear, indisputable fact. She is a very successful, Hollywood actress who has been working hard in a cut-throat industry for over two decades. As such, her work and her life might as well be that of a sexy Martian alien.

The people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years have probably never had the same experiences as Johansson. They don’t have people scrutinizing every second of their lives, spreading every nasty rumor on tabloids and celebrity blogs. They also don’t have attractive partners practically throwing themselves at you, begging to be your personal bitch.

If you’re successful at all in Hollywood, there’s are entire industries built around catering to your every whim and shoving every possible temptation into your face. Most people never have those opportunities. Many have a hard time resisting them. Just ask Drew Barrymore.

Take those same people who proudly proclaim they’ve been married to the same person for 40 years, de-age them by 20 years, and give them even half the success that Johansson has achieved and will they be able to make the same claim? Some might, but most won’t. That’s just how we flawed humans are wired.

Beyond the temptation and opportunities that people like Scarlett Johansson face, there’s also the nature of the work itself. It’s one thing to maintain a stable marriage and family when your job involves sitting a desk eight hours a day and listening to people bitch about their slow internet connection. Being an actress is a lot more demanding.

Scarlett Johansson, like any successful actress, has a crazy schedule that demands she work crazy hours while maintaining a crazy health regiment to ensure she stays crazy beautiful. She travels, she works out, she does interviews, and she deals with nosy media types. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she has to find time to act as well. With a work schedule like that, I’m shocked she doesn’t say more crazy things.

Very few relationships can handle a hectic schedule like that. Perhaps Johansson should’ve added that, in addition to not being naturally monogamous, human beings aren’t meant to work such crazy schedules. That still would’ve earned her plenty of vulgar comments from internet trolls, but fewer people would’ve been inclined to disagree.

Even with all that context, there still may be some legitimate substance to Scarlett Johansson’s comments about monogamy. Perhaps she should read “Sex At Dawn” too, which offers some legitimate scientific reasons as to why humans aren’t wired for monogamy. Again, that won’t stop the internet trolls from making vulgar comments, but she could at least say she has some science on her side.

Lastly, I think the comment about the amount of work that goes into marriage should be most telling. I don’t think anybody not named Homer Simpson would agree that good things are worth working for. However, if something requires so much work that it feels forced, then that should be a sign that maybe it isn’t supposed to be that way.

People like Scarlett Johansson have to put in more work than most of us will ever do in order to succeed in her business. However, even ordinary people, from coal miners to aspiring erotica/romance writers, have to be careful to know the difference between working for something and forcing it.

If I could give Ms. Johansson advice, and I know that she’ll never read this blog so I feel comfortable saying it, I would say that she should not treat her relationships the same way she treats her job. If she has to work that hard on a relationship, then that’s a sign that it isn’t meant to be.

Relationships that work are most functional when you and your partner can just be yourself. When the makeup comes off, the cameras stop rolling, and the internet trolls go to bed, the person you are and the person your lover is should complement each other. You shouldn’t always have to feel like you’re in the middle of a scene in “Love Actually.” That person is sometimes hard to find, but they’re definitely worth finding.

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