Tag Archives: serial monogamy

On Love, Brain Hacking, And The Future Of Monogamy

Picture the moment, if you can, even if you’re a hopeless cynic. It’s your wedding day. The weather is perfect. Everyone in your family is present. You’re wearing the most overpriced clothes you’ve ever worn and you’re about to marry someone you love with all your heart.

Whether you’re a man or woman, you’ve probably contemplated that moment. It’s one of those beautiful moments that the entire wedding industry is built on. You’re standing at the altar in front of friends, family, and whatever deity you want involved. You’ve found the love of your life. You believe, with your heart, brain, and genitals, that this is the only one for you.

I’m not denying the beauty of that moment. I’ve been to my share of weddings. It’s a special moment for a great many people. Even I’ll admit I’ve gotten choked up at those moments. It’s the culmination of a journey, one that plays out both in real life and in sexy novels. Two people find each other, fall in love, and commit to one another. It’s seen as the pinnacle of romance and the ultimate ideal of love.

It’s also, and I say this as a fan of love, an ideal that tends to fall apart once that moment has passed. Statistics about divorce and the frequency of sordid affairs is proof enough of that. There are a select few who manage to avoid these odds and hold onto that moment. It’s couples like that who inspire romantics like myself to try to capture that in sexy stories. It’s the fact they’re so rare, though, that makes those moments so frustrating.

For once, there’s no elaborate science or hidden secret to this phenomenon. Most people understand on some levels that those feelings we have on our wedding days when we believe with all our hearts that we’ve found the love of our lives are a gamble. At worst, though, they may be fleeting and we all know why.

No matter how certain or passionate you might be about your lover, there’s always an unavoidable uncertainty that goes along with that feeling. On that particular day day, you may know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love your spouse with all your heart and they love you back. It’s the many days after that are the problem.

Maybe on the very next day, you cross paths with someone else who evokes even more intense passions than your spouse. It doesn’t matter if they’re a bartender, a stripper, or a sexy ski instructor. You have no idea what kind of passions you’ll feel until you meet them.

The same goes for your spouse. Maybe on the morning after your wedding, they go out for a walk and just bump into someone that they fall in love with on the spot. In an instant that you never could’ve predicted or prevented, that ideal love you thought they had for you is either dented or shattered.

It’s a painful, but sobering thought. You really can’t control who you and your lover will meet, nor can you control how either of you will react. You can barely trust your own emotions, at times. It’s even harder to trust with certainty that someone else’s emotions will remain in line with yours.

It leads to all sorts of heartache, from bitter divorce to Taylor Swift songs. It incurs the kind of personal pain that can shatter hearts, souls, genitals, and everything that goes with it. No matter what we do, even when we resort to open relationships, it never seems to stop. We want that ideal moment at our weddings, but we can’t avoid the potential soul-crushing heartbreak it may lead to down the line.

Now, I’m sure all those reading this, regardless of whether you’re married, single, or living in a hippie commune where orgies happen every Sunday, are feeling a bit conflicted. Don’t worry. That’s normal. It’s that conflict between wanting to find love and risking soul-crushing heartbreak that’s at the heart of every great romance. However, I’d like to complicate it even more.

Go back to that special moment on your wedding day. What if, before you and your spouse walked down the isle, you had another little ceremony of sorts? In that ceremony, you each took a moment to reprogram your erratic, caveman brains to ensure that the heightened passions of this day never fade.

It goes way beyond just signing legal documents that say you can file joint tax returns. Now, your brains are wired in a way so that no matter what happens in the future, you’ll always love each other, want to make love to each other, and stay committed to each other until the day you die. The passion will always be strong, the sex will always be great, and no amount of sexy ski instructors will ever change that.

It won’t change because it can’t. No matter what you, your spouse, or any sexy pool cleaning guy/house maid does, they cannot get your brain to react with the same passionate upheaval that comes with love and lust. They might as well be trying to teach calculus to a drunk monkey. You and your spouse love each other that much.

Sure, that love involves manipulating your brain, twisting your emotions, and effectively brainwashing yourself into feeling a certain way. It opens the possibility that some of that passion you feel for your spouse may not be entirely natural. It would be real, but it would be forced to some degree. From your perspective, though, it still wouldn’t matter. You would still feel it as though it were real, unfiltered love.

If you had that option on your wedding day, would you take it? Would you be willing to manipulate your own brain so that you never had to experience divorce, heartache, or uncertainty ever again? It seems like an extreme, like the ultimate prenuptial agreement, but with far more at stake than who gets custody of the dog.

It’s also not entirely a hypothetical scenario, either. It’s also not a coincidence that I’m writing this after my long rant about the mixed romantic messages of prenuptial agreements.

One of the reasons people tend to avoid those legally critical agreements is because they’re so high on love that they don’t think it’s necessary. They’re clinging to that moment on their wedding day, not even acknowledging the possibility that their marriage could end and their love could fade. Statistically and biologically speaking, it’s fairly certain that passions will fade and marriages do end.

So rather than getting lawyers and legal documents involved, why not cut to the core of the issue and adjust your brain? It is, after all, the primary reason why your passions fade and you feel the inclination to cheat. Your genitals may be an accomplice, but your brain is always the mastermind. Not changing it on your wedding day is like Batman letting the Joker get away and giving him an unlimited supply of napalm.

I know I make it sound simple, tweaking the wiring of our brains. I understand that’s not possible right now, which is why divorce lawyers, mistresses, and gigolos won’t be going out of business anytime soon. However, there’s another business that just started up and it may both undermine those age-old industries while completely changing our approach to romance.

Remember Neuralink? I wrote multiple posts about it, saying it’s the most important business enterprise in the history of humanity and may very well make us all inherently sexier and more romantic. Well, the mere fact that we’re starting to put things in our brains to tweak how it works marks the first step in changing how we approach love, marriage, sex, and relationships. Divorce lawyers should be very scared.

Think back to the uncertainty about you and your lover’s passions that I mentioned earlier. Right now, we have no way to control them. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to love some random person we bump into. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to have meaningless sex with that cute bartender who keeps undressing us with their perfect, baby blue eyes.

However, the mere act of wanting something starts in the brain. The desire to seek variety, both in terms of chewing gum and lovers, is hardwired into our brains and it has no off switch. With the aid of a targeted brain implant, we can effectively install one.

That means that no matter how sexy or seductive that bartender is, we won’t feel the urge to have sex with them in the nearest utility closet. We won’t even feel the slightest bit of attraction to them. We literally cannot feel or think about such things. Our brains would reserve all our passions and horiness for one person.

On paper, it’s perfect monogamy. Sure, it’s somewhat forced. Sure, the fact we need a brain implant would be tangible proof about just how uncertain we are about our ability to keep our hearts and genitals in check. Would that really matter, though? The passions the two lovers feel would still be every bit as powerful. From their perspective, the presence or absence of a brain implant makes no difference.

It’s distressing on some levels, but intriguing on others. We all seek love. We all cherish whatever love we find. Why shouldn’t we do everything we can to preserve it? Until now, we’ve always been at the mercy of our caveman brains and the erratic genitals that aid them. Once we learn how to effectively rewire our brains, we can get around that issue. However, would that still be genuine love?

Some would argue, and I would agree to some extent, genuine love needs to come through struggle. Just hacking your brain to ensure you never love anyone else is like using a cheat code in a video game. Sure, you still beat the game, but you still cheated. You can’t say you accomplished more than someone who beat the game without cheat codes.

It’s more a paradox than a thought experiment, but one we’ll have to deal with at some point. As I’ve said before, we need to upgrade our brains in order to survive in the long run. We, as a species, cannot survive if we keep killing each other over rival gods, skin color, and who has the best college mascot. We’ll only overcome those nasty inclinations once we purge them from our brains.

Once we change our brains, though, we inherently change how we love each other and how we express that love. By default, we’ll also change how we have sex with each other and be intimate with each other. The extent of that change, as well as how we’ll deal with it, is impossible to know right now. Like love itself, we probably won’t know it until we feel it for ourselves.

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Filed under Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships, Sexy Future

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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