Tag Archives: marriage

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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A Second Sexual Revolution: The Potential (And Inevitable) Backlash

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Think back to brief, but memorable time between elementary and middle school where kids are still kids for the most part. It’s the time before you develop concerns about things like acne and hiding awkward boners during gym class. It’s a time before the girls start wearing thongs or hiding bra straps. For some, those times have fond memories.

Often, during these times, you’ll encounter one of those annoying little shits who likes to think of him or herself as the class clown. You know how they operate. They’re loud, annoying, obnoxious, arrogant, and will set their own hair on fire if it gets attention. They might have been funny the first few times, but it doesn’t take long for them to be a walking source of frustration.

Teachers, parents, and counselors do anything and everything they can to get the kid to shut up, but nothing works. Every time they push him, he just pushes back harder. Every time they react to his antics, he reacts even more. Since he’s a kid, he can sort of get away with it.

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What I just described is a testament to how kids can be annoying little shits and what happens when our efforts to fix a situation ends up causing a backlash. It’s one of those things that happens almost as much in real life as it does in bad sitcoms. For every time Peter Griffin’s antics in “Family Guy” backfires horribly, there’s a real-life class clown in a public school ensuring everything around him backfires just as badly.

We don’t just see it in elementary school classrooms and Seth MacFarlane shows either. Throughout history, backlashes have shaped the course of events, from the ancient world to modern presidents who think randomly invading a Middle Eastern country won’t cause any geopolitical problems.

It’s not unreasonable to say that many events and cultural movements are very much a backlash at those that preceded it. It’s how dynasties rise and fall. It’s how religious and cultural movements morph into cults and denominations. It’s even how some successful TV shows inspire spin-offs. Not all of these backlashes result in improvements, but they are very much a part of how people, cultures, and nations evolve.

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This brings me back to the prospect of a second sexual revolution. Admit it, you knew I was going to get to this. It was only a matter of time before I tied the concept of a backlash into something sexy. I would’ve gotten to it sooner, but I wanted to establish a context. It’s necessary because in every cultural upheaval, it’s easy to lose perspective.

The problem is that we don’t know just how much perspective we’ve lost until we have the benefit of hindsight. It’s like getting blackout drunk and waking up in another city with a donkey, a dildo, and a dead gerbil in your bed. You remember starting the night with good intentions and having a great time. Somewhere along the way, though, something went horribly wrong.

When we look at the context of the sexual revolution in the 60s, we can see how backlash shaped its promising beginnings and how it got blackout drunk towards the end. I’ve mentioned how technology like antibiotics and contraception reshaped sexuality by effectively removing some of the consequences and barriers to sexual expression. There are other, less tangible factors in play as well.

We know from 50s sitcoms that the period before the sexual revolution was a tough time to be really horny. The 1950s was a time of rigid sexual conformity. Anything outside of marriage, procreation, and the missionary position was considered a deviant social ill. Things like masturbation, the female orgasm, and Elvis’ hips were all taboo.

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This kind of sexual restraint went so far that an emerging generation of horny youth decided to spit all over that prudish culture. Armed with modern antibiotics, contraception, and mind-altering drugs that made orgasms easier to enjoy, they really went for broke. They didn’t just push the envelope. They bombed it with napalm and buried it in horse shit.

Ironically, they went so far that they incurred a backlash just as strong as the one they led. That led to the rise of people like Jerry Fawell, Pat Robertson, and the Moral Majority, people and organizations who went full fire and brimstone after seeing one too many mud-soaked hippie orgies. Add this on top of the emergence of issues like abortion and diseases like AIDS and it’s easy to see why everyone’s panties got a little tighter.

In both cases, one backlash incurred another. One extreme led to another. Even today, we may be seeing another backlash from a general loosening of sexual freedom again, but it’s just taking the form of political correctness and reactionary outrage over issues as trivial as a swimsuit ad.

These days, you won’t be shunned if you have premarital sex or watch porn in your spare time. However, you’re in big trouble if you don’t understand the increasingly esoteric concept of consent, directly or indirectly body shame women, or want to draw a female character wearing sexy clothes.

Every trend, especially the sexy kinds, seem unstoppable at first. That’s why it’s become popular to urge others to be “on the right side of history.” That’s an exceedingly vague excuse, as is often the case with excuses in general, but it lays the foundation for a future backlash.

I’d say any second sexual revolution should take that into account, but I know that would just be empty rhetoric. Backlash is something that no revolution, movement, or reformation can truly take into account. Being flawed humans with flawed brains, we tend to overestimate the staying power of any trend. Just ask anyone who was ever part of a boy band not named Justin Timberlake.

A second sexual revolution, like the one that occurred in the 60s, will likely shock, horrify, and excite. Those are the key ingredients of every revolution or movement. They’re so different. They get peoples’ attention because it doesn’t fit with their idea of normal and, much like our annual failure to keep our New Years Resolution, people cling desperately to their sense of normal and resist change at every turn.

A second sexual revolution may involve anything from group marriages to sex robots to gender-bending orgies in public parks. It’s impossible to predict where our collective libidos will take us. It is possible, if not inevitable, that there will be some kind of backlash along the way. When change happens that fast, people get really stressed out and people do crazy things when they’re stressed.

There are all sorts of ways that a second sexual revolution can manifest. I don’t want to make too many predictions. I’d rather save those sexy contemplations for one of my future novels. I will, however, throw in one last complications that may make the next revolution unique from every other revolution in human history.

No matter how extreme or kinky a revolution was in the past, including Victorian England, there was one common theme. They were all driven by the crude and horny whims of our caveman brains, whose wiring hasn’t been upgraded in over 100,000 years. It’s like constantly changing the rules of the game, but never changing the equipment.

Advances in biotechnology and brain enhancement, such as that being planned by Neuralink, may completely change the dynamics of human thought and society. The same forces that incurred backlashes in the past might not be a factor anymore. People may very well be an entirely new way of dealing with a new sexual revolution.

Again, it’s impossible to predict. As soon as we start tweaking our brains and upgrading our biology, all bets are off. History and hindsight are no longer accurate guides with which to understand the course of society. The potential of another sexual revolution is vast, but the potential for backlash is every bit as big.

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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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Should We Marry For Love? Wait What?!?!

Should we really marry the person we love? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s not the beginning of some elaborate joke or rant either. It’s an actual, honest question that we, as a society, stopped asking very recently in the grand scheme of things.

As an erotica/romance writer, these kinds of questions are pretty darn relevant. The way people see love, marriage, sex, and everything in between shapes the novels I write. I’ve written several books thus far, but I’ve never really dealt with this question directly. Given the rate at which the concepts of marriage and love are changing, this question is pretty important.

So why is it relevant to begin with? Why should this be a controversial issue? Well, contrary to what registered republicans and the church would have us believe, the modern concept of traditional marriage isn’t that traditional.

In fact, for most of human history, marrying for love was the exception and not the norm. For some people, the very idea of marrying for love was an affront to marriage itself. There’s even an old Egyptian proverb that says:

“One who marries for love alone will have bad days, but good nights.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Up until very recently, and by recently I mean the 17th century in Europe, people didn’t marry for love. They married because it was just part of how old, pre-industrial societies worked. From Europe to China, most marriages were arranged by families. Sometimes, the bride and groom didn’t even meet each other until their wedding day.

This was because marriage was not seen as a romantic gesture. It was seen as a cooperative partnership, of sorts, between families. You didn’t marry your spouse as much as you married into their family. It was how pre-modern societies ensured a proper exchange of property, bloodlines, and procreation.

That’s not to say love was completely absent. Ideally, the hope was that a couple would marry first and then fall in love. It may seem backwards today, but that was the ideal espoused in the past.

Why was this? Why was love divorced from marriage, if that’s not too loaded a term? Well, there is a social and political reason for that, one that a brilliant woman named Stephanie Coontz articulates far better than I ever could. She explains:

In some cultures and times, true love was actually thought to be incompatible with marriage. Plato believed love was a wonderful emotion that led men to behave honorably. But the Greek philosopher was referring not to the love of women, “such as the meaner men feel,” but to the love of one man for another.

Other societies considered it good if love developed after marriage or thought love should be factored in along with the more serious considerations involved in choosing a mate. But even when past societies did welcome or encourage married love, they kept it on a short leash. Couples were not to put their feelings for each other above more important commitments, such as their ties to parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, or God.

In ancient India, falling in love before marriage was seen as a disruptive, almost antisocial act. The Greeks thought lovesickness was a type of insanity, a view that was adopted by medieval commentators in Europe. In the Middle Ages the French defined love as a “derangement of the mind” that could be cured by sexual intercourse, either with the loved one or with a different partner.4 This cure assumed, as Oscar Wilde once put it, that the quickest way to conquer yearning and temptation was to yield immediately and move on to more important matters.

In China, excessive love between husband and wife was seen as a threat to the solidarity of the extended family. Parents could force a son to divorce his wife if her behavior or work habits didn’t please them, whether or not he loved her. They could also require him take a concubine if his wife did not produce a son. If a son’s romantic attachment to his wife rivaled his parents’ claims on the couple’s time and labor, the parents might even send her back to her parents. In the Chinese language the term love did not traditionally apply to feelings between husband and wife. It was used to describe an illicit, socially disapproved relationship. In the 1920s a group of intellectuals invented a new word for love between spouses because they thought such a radical new idea required its own special label.

In Europe, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, adultery became idealized as the highest form of love among the aristocracy. According to the Countess of Champagne, it was impossible for true love to “exert its powers between two people who are married to each other.”

In twelfth-century France, Andreas Capellanus, chaplain to Countess Marie of Troyes, wrote a treatise on the principles of courtly love. The first rule was that “marriage is no real excuse for not loving.” But he meant loving someone outside the marriage. As late as the eighteenth century the French essayist Montaigne wrote that any man who was in love with his wife was a man so dull that no one else could love him.

It sounds as unromantic as it does unsexy, the idea that love is actually a liability in marriage, so much so that people in the past were shunned for loving their spouses too much. However, there is a context to consider.

These are pre-modern, pre-industrial, mostly-agrarian cultures where infant mortality is high, maternal mortality is high, and plagues are exceedingly common. Love, as anyone whoever listened to a Beatles song, is a very fickle emotion. It cannot be channeled, controlled, or changed. Some have tried, but most efforts fail. Just ask anyone who endured conversion therapy.

That kind of chaos just doesn’t fit in a society that is only one bad harvest or one nasty plague away from total collapse. These societies need to exert some level of social control in order to function.

Societies still change. Civilization, as we know it, changes with it. We no longer live in a society where such social control is necessary, but there are still plenty of societies all over the world where arranged, loveless marriages are common. Some will even claim that such marriages are better than love marriages.

It may sound ridiculous to the freedom-loving west, but think about it. Why go through the trouble of finding a spouse when your parents can just do it for you? Besides, who knows you better than your parents? Wouldn’t that save everyone a lot of time, energy, and heartbreak?

That last part wasn’t entirely sarcasm, but that’s the logic behind arranged marriages. The fact it’s still so prevalent all over the world indicates the logic isn’t entirely flawed. It also acknowledges that there are some fundamental issues with marrying for love.

As many writers far more accomplished than me have said, love is a very fickle emotion. It changes on a whim more than it lingers. You could love someone for 30 years and one day find someone else you love even more. It happens. That’s what love can do. That’s why it’s so scary/amazing/powerful.

There’s no doubt that marriage, as an institution, is destined to change even more than it already has. Every church, mosque, and synagogue may fight it. Every social conservative may oppose it. That still won’t stop it. The institution will keep changing, probably in ways that nobody, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer, can predict.

This brings me back to my original question. Should we marry for love? Should marriage even be connected to love? It’s as serious a question as anyone can ask, regardless of time period or generation. It’s also a question that we, as a society, will have to answer at some point in our lives. Let’s hope we answer it right.

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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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A (Partially) Sexy Thought Experiment: Work Vs. Life

Here’s a question I’m sure everybody has asked themselves at some point in their lives, probably during a long day at work or during mid-terms at school. What if we didn’t have to work? What if our jobs was not critical to our survival?

That’s actually a question a lucky few don’t even have to answer because they live it. The trust fund babies of the rich elites, some of which go onto be the rich, arrogant shits on Instagram, already know that luxury. To them, it’s their perverse concept of normal. The idea of working to survive might as well be alien as having to cook their own meals. It just doesn’t resonate with them.

It’s because there are so few rich, arrogant fucks like that in this world that we can’t answer the question completely. Sure, we all fantasize about how we would live if we won the lottery. I sure have. That’s why I didn’t ask what you would do if you didn’t have to work. I asked what we would do so that means no elaborate fantasies about quitting your job.

By we, I mean us as a society. I mean us as a functioning, lawful, economically viable society and not some liberal utopia that exists only in Bernie Sanders’ dreams. I ask this question because I’ve been talking a lot about poverty recently. I’ve also talked about potential solutions, including the still-radical notion of a universal basic income. Now, I’d like to turn off the cold, harsh reality of politics and facts so we’re free to speculate.

I’m an erotica/romance writer so contemplating fantasies is easy for me. I kind of have to be good at it to write the stuff I write. That often means twisting and stretching my imagination in ways that even a team of Russian gymnast porn stars can’t match.

Every so often, I do try to think in extremes, like radical redesigns of the human body. Other times, I try to think of something a bit more feasible, like entirely eliminating all sexually transmitted diseases.

This experiment falls somewhere in the middle. It hasn’t been tried yet, but there are some places in the world that are conducting active experiments. The results of those experiments are a long ways off and it may be decades before a country has the balls to try it. Even so, like driverless cars and VR porn, it is conceivable that this will happen within my lifetime.

With that in mind, I want to create a scenario for people to imagine. It’s a scenario I think applies equally to men and women alike. The year is 2065. Society has progressed to a point where machines and AIs do pretty much all the work that humans used to do. This is an ongoing trend and one that will likely accelerate.

As a result, basic things like food, water, shelter, and utilities are pretty much free. No intensive labor is needed. To ensure that everyone has the means to live, every adult over the age of 18, although that age could be fluctuate depending on certain conditions, receives a regular basic income that’s today’s equivalent of $52,000 a year, which is the median income in 2013 for the United States.

Without getting into specifics about how the nuts and bolts of this system would operate, let’s just assume for the sake of the experiment that people receive this money the same way the elderly receive social security checks today. They can do with it what they please. They can still work. They can just sit home all day, smoke weed, and watch Netflix if they want. They have that freedom.

What would this do for our collective lives? What if working and surviving were no longer the same thing? This isn’t just a luxury for a bunch of rich fucks on instagram. This is an entire society where nobody has to worry about their next meal, their next rent check, or their utilities bill.

For some people, sitting at home all day, smoking weed and watching Netflix, is the first thing that comes to mind. However, not everybody is wired to do that and only that every day until they die.

People are diverse, eccentric, and erratic. They have all sorts of varying tastes, motivations, and aspirations. Many are stifled because they have to spend a good chunk of their time and energy working just to survive. How many more people would be inclined to pursue different passions if they didn’t have to work?

For someone like me, that passion involves writing erotica/romance. I know if I didn’t have to work, I would certainly spend more time writing more books. I may even find time to write about things I’ve never even contemplated. Not having to worry about money, food, or poor wi-fi would free me up to pursue entirely new ideas.

Beyond the lonely erotica/romance writers of the world, that extra time and energy could translate into more time focusing on family affairs. Parents could spend more time with their children. They would even have time to raise more children. As I’ve stated before, the birth-rate tends to decline when the economy tanks. Would a world like this lead to a never-ending baby boom?

How many families fall apart because the parents are too stressed to hold it together? How many children turn into assholes because their parents don’t have time to love them? How many families never even get started because the stress of work keeps them from having sex?

This is where the thought experiment takes on its sexier connotations. In this world, we don’t have to spend as much time worrying about work, money, or making the next rent payment. We actually have time to get out there, meet people, and form new social connections. Yes, some of these social connections would result in more sex.

Given the decline in sexual activity among millennials, who often enter a lousy job market with thousands of dollars in student debt, I can’t think of anything that would boost more libidos. When you’re less stressed and have more time, you can devote more energy into pursuing the relationships you want, sexual or otherwise.

Now for some uptight religious types, this is downright horrifying. There’s a reason why institutions like the Catholic Church and various protestant denominations revere the whole “protestant work ethic.” The impotent old men who run these institutions know that if young, sexy people are too busy working, they won’t be able to engage in large levels of fun and fornication. If they don’t know, it’s indirectly implied.

Maybe that ethic applied for an era where it took hundreds of people to farm land and hundreds more to protect that land from bandits, but in a future where technology and automation deliver our essentials, it’s kind of outdated. Like sacrificing a goat to ensure the rains come, it doesn’t need to be part of society anymore.

Being the optimist I am, I believe that a future like this will be a lot sexier than what we have now. I concede there will be those who use exploit this world and become fat, lazy slobs that would disgust Homer Simpson. However, I believe that the vast majority of people would use this world to forge new intimate connections.

Some of those connections will be simple fan clubs. Maybe more people will get together to share their fondness of baking dildo-shaped pottery. Who knows what gets certain people excited? Sure, some of those connections will lead to more sex, some of it of a kinky variety that will make every Catholic priest and mullah alive today faint in horror. I still think that, overall, it would be a net gain for the human race.

These are still the ramblings of an optimist who’s trying to make a living writing erotica/romance novels. This experiment may play out very differently in the minds of others, depending on how cynical they are about human nature or how many Nirvana songs they’ve listened to.

Whatever your outlook, I encourage you to do this experiment. I encourage you to contemplate a society where nobody has to work to meet their basic needs. What kind of society would it be? What kind of person would you be in that society? It’s an intriguing thought and, like so many of the others on this blog, one that has a lot of sex appeal.

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