Adultery - the New Monogamy? (2nd World Congress on Psychiatry and Psychology, July 2021)

Uploaded 7/22/2021, approx. 34 minute read

Dear colleagues, thank you for having me. Good afternoon.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am a professor of psychology in Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation, and a professor of finance and a professor of psychology in SIAS-CIAPS, the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies, which is the outreach program of the SIAS consortium of universities.

Apologies for the long introduction. Thank you for having me again.

And today I would like to discuss a very controversial topic. Is the future of monogamy adultery? Will adultery be the new monogamy?

To unpack this very, very explosive title, I want to go a bit into the current state of marriage, family, relationships and intimacy more generally and compare it a bit to historical precedence.

The ancient institution of monogamous marriage is ill-suited, is wrong to the exigencies of modern Western civilization.

Today, people of both genders live longer. They work longer and this renders sexual exclusivity impracticable, honestly. People travel far and away frequently. People are exposed to tempting romantic alternatives via social networking and in various workplace and social settings.

As leisure time increases and physical survival is all but effortlessly guaranteed, recreation and leisure take precedence over procreation.

According to recent studies, for example by Lisa Wade and others, among people under the age of 25, the only kind of sex is casual sex, emotionless sex, also known as one-night stands, sex on first dates, sex with friends, friends with benefits.

Among people between the ages of 25 to 35, casual, meaningless and largely anonymous sex is the dominant, the main type, the hegemonic type of sex.

The young are so used to separate sex from love and intimacy that they are not having almost any sex with intimate partners. About 21% of marriages are sexless and the real number is probably 3 times as high. Sexlessness in committed relationships is the norm, not the exception.

Instead, these young people pick up strangers in bars, nightclubs, they pick up acquaintances and friends, they cheat very frequently, infidelity is at an all-time high and the majority of people under 35, both men and women, now cheat serially and habitually, majorities 60% at least.

Actually, interpersonal relationships among the young are open. Everyone is having open relationships in anything but name. The members of the couple let each other sleep with other people occasionally and this is a general ambient policy of don't ask, don't tell. I call this situation the intimacy cloud.

The intimacy cloud, young men and women are sexually and emotionally intimate with multiple people all the time. Even when they are married or in an otherwise supposedly committed monogamous dyad, they still have sex, they have emotional affairs, they sleep with classmates, former lovers, besties, old flames, colleagues and so on. The intimacy cloud.

And there is not one privileged partner, they all compete usually almost on equal grounds. Approach avoidance and triangulation, insecurity and jealousy are the main relationship management tools among the young.

But to make use of such instrumentificatiously, they must remain aloof and calculated, cooler, detached, they cannot allow themselves to really love, to desire anyone, to be passionate or to be intimate. Intimacy skills and relationship skills are at an all-time low, vanishing actually among certain age groups according to Jean Twenge and others.

Dating is down 60%. Flat effect is the rigor, as are narcissistic and psychopathic traits and behaviors.

Furthermore, there is a stalled revolution. Women identify themselves increasingly more in masculine terms. Women adopt male macho or even male psychopathic behaviors.

A unigender world is emerging. This has not been the case in the past 5,000 years. It is a tectonic shift. It is a enormous revolution, the implications of which we are far from comprehending.

The families of the not-too-distant past were orientated along four axes. These axes were not mutually exclusive. Some of them overlapped, all of them enhanced each other. People got married for various reasons.

Because of social pressure and social norms, you could call it the social diet. People got married to form a more efficient or synergetic economic unit, the economic diet. People got married in pursuit of psychosexual fulfillment, the psychosexual diet.

Or people got married to secure long-term companionship, and that was the companionship diet.

We can talk about the following four axes, social-economic, emotional, utilitarian, rational and private-familial.

To illustrate how these axes were intertwined, let us consider one of them, the emotional axes.

Until very recently, people used to get married because they felt very strongly about living alone, partly due to a social condemnation of reclusiveness.

In some countries, people still subscribe to ideologies which promote the family as a pillar of society, more patriarchal societies, more conservative societies. In these societies, the family is the basic cell, the basic unit of the national organism, a hothouse in which to breed children for the army, for the state, and so on and so forth.

The parents are essentially glorified socialization agents. These collective ideologies call for personal contributions and sacrifices throughout the lifespan. They have a strong emotional dimension and they provide impetus to a host of behavior patterns.

But the emotional investment in today's individualistic capitalist ideologies is not smaller than it was in yesterday's nationalistic patriarchal ones.

It is true that technological developments had rendered past thinking obsolete and dysfunctional, but they did not quench men's thirst for guidance, worldview and companionship.

As technology evolved, it became more and more disruptive to the family. That is true.

Increased mobility, a decentralization of information sources, the transfers of the traditional functions of the family to societal and private sector establishments, the increased incidence of interpersonal interactions, safer sex with lesser non-consequences, all these fostered the disintegration of the traditional extended and nuclear family.

Consider trends that directly affect women, for instance.

I'm talking about women. I'm confining myself to women and not to men because men today are not very different psychosocially. They're not very different. Two men 200 years ago, two men a thousand years ago and two men five thousand years ago. Not very different. Men had stagnated in their gender roles, but women underwent an amazing, mind-boggling, unprecedented transformation.

And consider the trends that had created, affected and engendered this transformation.

Number one, the emergence of common marital community property and the laws for its equal distribution in case of divorce. This constituted a shift in legal philosophy in most societies.

The result was a major and ongoing redistribution of wealth, transfer of wealth and property from men to women and empowerment of women.

Add to this the disparities in life expectancy between the two genders and the magnitude of the transfer of economic resources becomes evident and overwhelming.

Women are becoming richer. They get endowments from the state via pension schemes, retirement schemes, social safety networks. They get money from ex-husbands via divorce settlements, alimony payments, child support payments.

So women are becoming richer overall. About 40% of households today have a woman as a primary breadwinner. Women are integrated into workforce. The wage gap is closing dramatically.

So women also live longer than men. So they inherit men when men die. And if they are still in marriage, they become the sole proprietors of the men's property or the common property, community property. They get a share of the marital property when they divorce the men.

These endowments are usually more than they had contributed to the couple in many terms. Women still earn less, but overall they end up actually with a majority of assets.

Trend number two, an increase in economic opportunities.

Social and ethical codes had changed. Technology allows for increased mobility. Wars and economic upheavals led to the forced introduction of women into the labor markets, notably in the second world war.

The results of women's enhanced economic clout is a more egalitarian social and legal system. Women's rights are being legally as well as informally secured in an evolutionary process punctuated by minor legal revolutions, most recently and notably against sexual harassment, the MeToo movement.

Women had largely achieved equality in educational and economic opportunities, actually superiority in educational opportunities. Women are fighting a winning battle in other domains of life, military, political representation.

Actuallyin some legal respects, the bias is against men. It is rare for a man to complain of sexual harassment or to receive alimony or custody of his children or in many countries to build a beneficiary of social welfare payments.

The emergence of socially accepted normative single parent and non-nuclear families, this helped women to shape their lives as they see fit without men. It's a menless society. Men are really not needed anymore in the majority of cases and they are inferior as far as skills required for the postmodern societies.

Most single parent families are headed by women. Women's single parents are disadvantaged economically. Their median income is very low even when adjusted to reflect transfer payments, but many of them are taking the plunge all the same.

So gradually, the shaping of future generations becomes the exclusive domain of women. Women educate our children.

Children, almost half of all children spend time in a woman-only family unit or household. There's no men. Even today, one-third of all children in developed countries grow in single parent families with no male figure around to serve as a role model.

This exclusivity has tremendous social and economic implications.

Gradually and subtly, the balance of power is shifting, the society becomes matriarchal rather than patriarchal.

The invention of the pill, other contraceptives, this had liberated women sexually. The resulting sexual revolution affected both sexes of course, but the main beneficiaries were women whose sexuality was suddenly legitimized.

No longer under the cloud of unwanted pregnancy, women felt free to engage in sex with multiple partners casually to initiate, to pursue, to flirt, to court.

In other words, women now feel comfortable to act exactly as men had done for generations.

In the face of this newfound freedom and the realities of changing sexual conduct, sexual scripts, the double moral standard is under attack.

The existence of a legitimately expressed feminine sexual drive is widely accepted. The family therefore becomes also a sexual joint venture and honestly, it's not needed anymore as far as sex.

Urbanization, communication, transportation, all these multiplied the number of encounters between men and women and the opportunities for economic, sexual and emotional interactions.

For the first time in centuries, women were able to judge and to compare their male partners to other males in every conceivable way sexually also.

Increasingly, women choose to opt out of relationships which they deem to be dysfunctional, abusive or inadequate.

75% of all divorces are initiated by women. In the West, women are driving the divorce industry.

Women had become aware of their needs, priorities, preferences, wishes.

Generally, women are more in tune with their proper emotions. They cast off emotions and thought patterns inculcated in them by patriarchal societies, males, chauvinists and cultures that sustained through peer pressure and reputation based coercion, a specific type of gender role.

So women are exiting gender roles and not paying attention to reputation based coercive mechanisms.

The roles and traditional functions of the family were gradually eroded and transferred to other social agents. Even functions such as emotional support, psychosexual interactions and child rearing are often relegated to outside subcontractors, total strangers.

Emptied of these functions and devoid of these intergenerational interactions, the nuclear family is reduced to a dysfunctional shell, a hub of rudimentary communication between its remaining members, a dilapidated version of its former self.

The traditional roles of women and their alleged character, propensities and inclinations are no longer useful in this new environment.

Gender roles and sexual scripts are in flux.

This led women to search for a new definition, to find a new niche.

Women were literally driven out of their homes by the disappearance of the functional disappearance of home and gender.

In parallel, modern medicine had increased women's life expectancy, had prolonged their childbearing years, had improved their health dramatically and had preserved their beauty through myriad newfangled techniques, cosmetics and so on.

This gave women a new lease of life, multiple lives so to speak.

In this new world, women are far less likely to die of childbirth or to look decrepit at the age of 30.

Women are able to time their decision to bring a child to the world or to refrain from bringing a child to the world, not to have children.

They do this passively or actively by having abortions.

Until the 1920s, only women were expected to abide by a strict code of sexual exclusivity. Men openly, albeit most of them discreetly, kept mistresses and lovers on the side. They patronized brothels and whorehouses to sate their sexual exuberance.

In many cultures, polygamous men maintained errands. As women's lib, feminism, gender equality gradually took over, sexually emancipated and empowered women assumed many hitherto male behaviors, regrettably also psychopathic male behaviors.

Alarmed by this turn of events, men suddenly became paragons of virtue akin to women in previous generations. Men now vow to adhere to a single sexual partner.

Men are becoming romantic. Men are attempting women to revert to time, to go back in time, to re-occupy traditional gender roles and sexual scripts. It's too late, of course.

This abrupt about face wrought mayhem on the monogamous bond because it forcibly equated sexual exclusivity with love and bonding, and it regarded cheating as a proof of absence of love and bonding.

Contradictory expectations from one's intimate partner are unrealistic. No single person can be a passionate, exciting lover, an empathic, patient friend, a stalwart companion, a good father-mother, cook, a handy person, an intellectual equal, an adventurer, a stable breadwinner, and myriad other functions beside. No one can fulfill all these roles. No single person can do all this.

And so there's a need to outsource, and this explains the recurrence of emotional and sexual affairs, the disruptive outcomes of overwhelming, all pervasive, and we, postmodern existence, and the inflated expectations from one's intimate partners.

So even as social monogamy and peer commitment and bonding are still largely intact and more condoned than ever, and even as infidelity is fervently condemned, sexual exclusivity on the ground in real life, mislabeled usually as sexual monogamy, sexual exclusivity is actually declining, especially among the young and the old.

Monogamy is becoming one alternative, one alternative, of many lifestyles, and marriage is only one relationship, one type of relationship, one solution, among numerous negotiated solutions. It's sometimes not even a privilege or a unique relationship, as it competes for time and resources with work, same-sex friends, friends with benefits, and opposite sex friends. We may be heading towards the future of serial monogamy devoid of sexual exclusivity, emotional attachment and bonding within sexually open marriages, and sexually open partnerships. The partnerships and marriages will focus on emotions.

Sex could be safely outsourced. Whether it's open nature is proclaimed and promulgated, whether it is tacitly accepted and overlooked is immaterial.

The reality is that even now, even today, most marriages and relationships are actually open, because the majority of people engage in extramarital, extra-diadic sex.

The contractual aspects of marriage are more pronounced than ever. Everything is on the table from extramarital sex. Is it allowed? Is it not allowed? Is it not allowed? Is it even encouraged in case of lifestyle, swinging, prenuptial agreements, how to raise kids? Everything is negotiated. The commodification, transforming people to commodities. And the preponderance of sex, premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex is commodified. Sex is preponderant. It's no longer scarce. So sex is robbed of its function as a conduit of specialness or intimacy. It's no mechanical. It's no physiological function akin to, I don't know, scratching your back or drinking water. Child rearing is largely avoided. Natality rates are precipitously plummeting everywhere.

When you do have children, you outsource their child rearing to others, to strangers, to institutions, daycare centers, what have you.

So people have sex outside the relationship. They don't have children. And when they do have children, they give them out, they outsource them, give them to caretakers outside the family.

So why do you need a family? Why does anyone need a relationship? The family has lost both its raison d'être, its reason to exist, and its nature as the venue for exclusive sexual and emotional interactions between adults and for childbearing and rearing.

Professed values and prevailing social mores and institutions have yet to catch up to this emerging multifarious reality.

The consequences of these discrepancies between values, axiological and reality, the consequences are disastrous. About 40 to 50% of all first-time marriages end in divorce, and the percentage is much higher for second and third attempts at carnal bliss.

Second and third marriages disintegrate at the rates which border around 80%, 70%. Open communication about one's sexual needs is tantamount to self-renation.

In many cases, as one's partner is likely to reflexively initiate divorce. Dishonesty and cheating are definitely the rational choices in such an unforgiving and punitive environment.

In other words, there's a mismatch between our values and how we live.

And so this creates guilt, this creates shame, this creates conflict and dissonance, and this creates enormous pressure and stress on all relationships leading to their ultimate disintegration.

Indeed, more surviving marriages have to do with perpetuating the partner's convenience, their access to commonly-owned assets in future streams of income, and the welfare of third parties, most notably their children.

Earth-wild sexual exclusivity often degenerates into celibacy or abstinence on the one hand, or double parallel lives with multiple sexual and emotional partners on the side on the other hand.

One-night stands for both genders are usually opportunistic. Extra-pair affairs are self-limiting as emotional involvement and sexual attraction wane over time.

Infidelity is therefore much less of a threat to the longevity of a dedicated couple than it is made out to be.

Most of the damage in adultery, infidelity, most of it are cheating. Most of the damage is caused by culturally conditioned social, social opprobrium and punitive attitude.

The deceived partner is traumatized, so the cheating is deeply and dramatically felt.

The reactions to conduct that are almost universally decried as deceitful, dishonest, and in breach of vows and promises, it's all true.

But the cultural and social component in this reaction is tremendous, because rationally there is no threat to the cohesion and longevity of the dyad.

Only 3% of women, for example, who have extramarital affairs abandon their husbands and go on with the lover.

But the roots of the crumbling alliance between men and women go deeper and further in time.

Long before divorce became a social norm, divorce used to be frowned on and even used to be illegal in many countries. Long before it became a social norm, men and women grew apart. They became too disparate, incompatible, and worrying subspecies.

Traditionalist, conservative, patriarchal, religious societies put in place behavioral safeguards and guardrails against the inevitable wrenching torsion that monogamy entailed.

So these societies demanded no premarital sex, virginity even, no multiple intimate partners, no cohabitation prior to tying the knot, no mobility or equal rights for women, no mixing of the genders.

These were guardrails, because these societies realized that monogamy is an unnatural arrangement when life expectancy is doubling and tripling every century.

We know that each of these guardrails, safeguards, firewalls, habits, does indeed increase the chances for an ultimate divorce. I mean, each bridge of these guardrails increases the chances for divorce.

As Jonathan Franzen elucidates in his literary masterpieces, it boils down to a choice between personal freedoms and the stability of the family.

The former decisively preclude the latter, or you're free, or you're married.

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, discrete extramarital affairs were an institution of marriage. Sexual gratification and emotional intimacy were outsourced actually, while all other domestic functions and property management were shared in a partnership.

And this was true for both genders.

Women had lovers too. The industrial revolution, the Victorian age, the backlash of the sexual revolution, belligerent radical feminism, and the advent of socially atomizing and gender-equalizing transportation, information processing, and telecommunication technologies. All these led inexorably to the hollowing out of family and hearth.

In a civilization centered on brain power, men have lost the relative edge that brawn used to provide overbrain. Muscles are no longer in demand as they used to be.

Monogamy is increasingly considered as past its expiry date, a historical aberration that reflects the economic and political realities of by-gone eras.

Moreover, the incidence of lifelong singlehood has skyrocketed as people hope for their potential or actual relationship partners to provide for all their sexual, emotional, social, and economic needs, and then they get sorely disappointed when they fail to meet these highly unrealistic expectations.

So people remain single, many of them lifelong singles.

In an age of economic self-sufficiency, electronic entertainment, and self-gratification, the art of compromise in relationships is gone.

Relationship skills, intimacy skills, emotional intelligence, they are in rapid decline. They're being eradicated according to studies by Jean Twenge, Kate Campbell, and others.

Single motherhood, sometimes via IVF and the identifiable partner involved, the sperm donor, single motherhood has become the norm in many countries.

Even within marriages or committed relationships, solitary pursuits, such as separate vacations, or girls' night out, or boys' night out, solitary pursuits have become the norm.

People don't do things together even when they are ostensibly together.

The 20th century was a monument to male fatuity, male idiocy, wars, ideologies that almost decimated the species.

And so women were forced to acquire masculine skills and masculine attributes and masculine traits and behave as men did in the past. Women were forced, coerced, pushed inexorably to fill men's shoes, to become men in factories, in fields, in the workplace, raising families all by their own.

Women had discovered militant self-autonomy, self-efficacy, and agency. Women found out that men are superfluous, superfluous, not needed. Women had found out the untenability of the male claims to somehow be superior over them.

In an age of malignant individualism, bordering on narcissism, men and women alike put themselves, their fantasies, their needs, their careers, first. Everything else, family included, be damned.

With five decades of uninterrupted prosperity, birth control, and feminism, women's lives. Most of the female denizens of the West, at least, have acquired the financial wherewithal to realize their dreams at the expense and to the detriment of collectives they ostensibly belong to, such as the nuclear family.

Feminism is a movement focused on negatives, obliterating women's age-old bondage, for example, getting rid of men.

Feminism offers few constructive ideas regarding women's new roles, new sexual strategies, new sexual strategies.

By casting men as the enemy, feminism also failed to educate men and to convert men into useful allies in this new reality, in this new environment.

Owing to the life expectancy, modern marriages seem to go through three phases.

Infatuation, honeymoon, procreation, accumulation of assets, children, and shared experiences, memories, and exhaustion, outsourcing, bonding with new emotional and sexual partners for rejuvenation or the fulfillment of long repressed fantasies, needs, and wishes. Divorces and breakups occur mostly at the seams between these three phases, the periods of transition between these phases, and especially between the stages of accumulation, procreation, and exhaustion, outsourcing.

This is where family units break down. With marriage on the decline and infidelity on the rise, the reasonable solution would be, of course, polyamory or swinging, swapping sexual partners, the lifestyle.

Households with multiple partners of both genders, all of whom are committed to one another for the long haul, romantically involved, sexually shared, and economically united, this may be the future.

Alas, while a perfectly rational development of the traditional marriage, and one that is best suited to modernity, polyamory, swinging, group sex, and so on, they are emotionally unstable.

There are arrangements which are emotionally unstable. There's romantic jealousy. It ineluctably rears its ugly head. There's possessiveness. There's fear of loss, abandonment, anxiety.

The question is not why there are so many divorces, but why so few divorces.

Surely, serial monogamy is far better, far more fair, more humane than adultery.

Couples stay together. Couples tolerate strain, cheating, because of inertia, financial, emotional dependence, insecurity, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, fear of the unknown, the tedium of dating, the dating scene is a cesspool.

Some couples persevere owing to religious conviction or for the sake of appearances, yet other couples make a smooth transition to an alternative lifestyle, polyamory, swinging, consensual, adultery.

Indeed, what has changed is not the incidence of adultery. Even among women, I believe, although there's no data to support this, but I believe adultery had been the same throughout the generation.

There are good grounds to assume that adultery had remained the same throughout human history.

The phenomenon quantitatively and qualitatively has always been the same, but it had been under-reported.

What has changed, what have changed, are the social acceptability of extramarital sex, both before and during marriage, and the ease of obtaining divorce.

People discuss adultery openly, where before it was a taboo topic.

Another new development may be the rise of selfish affairs, selfish sexual and emotional affairs among women younger than 35. These women are used to multiple sexual partners. They regard sex casually. They decouple sex from intimacy.

Selfish affairs are acts of recreational adultery whose sole purpose is to satisfy sexual curiosity, the need for romantic diversity and variety. The emotional component is selfish affairs. In these usually short-term affairs, one-night stands, for example, the emotional component is non-existent or muted.

Among women older than age 60, adultery has become the accepted way of seeking emotional connection and intimacy outside the marital bond. These are outsourcing affairs.

So in new arrangements like term-limited marriages, swinging, polyamory, partners would have little incentive to cheat. They could simply wait for the contract to lapse and not renew it. They could introduce third parties in case of swinging. They could have multiple partners in polyamory.

So these are emerging solutions, I believe, open marriages, open relationships.

Until recently, couples formed around promises of emotional exclusivity and sexual fidelity, uniqueness in each other's mind and life, and common until the 1940s, virginity, among women at least. Marriage was also a partnership, economic partnership, or related to child rearing or companionship. It was based on the partner's past and background. It was geared towards a shared future.

As Betty Friedan noted in her celebrated tome, The Feminine Mystique, women in the 1950s reverted to traditional gender roles as housewives, undoing most of the educational and vocational accomplishments of their mothers and grandmothers.

So there was a backlash in the 1950s.

During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, women became much more liberated, much more educated. They've entered the workforce, especially during the Second World War, but their daughters wanted nothing to do with it. Their daughters reverted to traditional gender roles.

He took the rebellion and the consummation disillusionment of the 1960s to emancipate women to think like men and to act like men. The pendulum had swung too far, though. Women now largely emulate and adopt behaviors which were once the preserve of psychopathic or narcissistic men.

When women are not emulating good men, nice men, women are emulating go-getters, fakers, frauds, psychopaths, narcissists, womanizers. These are the role models of women.

Nowadays, couples coalesce around the twin undertakings of continuity, I will always be there for you, and availability, I would always be there for you.

Issues of exclusivity, uniqueness, and virginity have been relegated to the back burner or are no longer issues. It is no longer practical to demand of one's spouse to have nothing to do with the opposite sex, not to spend the bulk of his or her time outside the marriage, not to take separate vacations and more generally to be joined at the hip.

Affairs, for instance, both emotional and sexual, are said certainties in the life of every couple, no exception. Members of the couple are supposed to make themselves continuously available to each other and to provide emotional sustenance and support in an atmosphere of sharing, companionship and friendship.

All the traditional functions of the family can now be and often are outsourced, including even sex and emotional intimacy.

But contrary to marriage, outsourcing is frequently opposite and unpredictable, dependent as it is on outsiders, on opportunities, and these outsiders are committed elsewhere as well, usually. They are married.

And so the relative durability of marriage has to do with this.

The alternative is emotionally unstable and very opposite and often risky.

So both the conservative and the less conventional forms of marriage are going to survive. They are going to persist.

It is a convenient and highly practicable arrangement.

Divorce or other forms of marital breakup are not new phenomena, but their precipitants have undergone a revolutionary shift.

In the past, families fell apart. Families fell apart, owing to a breach of exclusivity, mainly in the forms of emotional or sexual infidelity, a deficiency of uniqueness and primacy.

Divorce women, for instance, were considered damaged goods because they used to belong to another man, therefore could offer neither primacy nor uniqueness or an egregious violation of the terms of the partnership, for example, sloth, dysfunctional child rearing or infertility. All these were reasons to dissolve the marital bond to divorce.

Nowadays, intimate partners bail out when the continuous availability of their significant others is disrupted sexually, emotionally, or as friends and companions.

Marriages are about the present. Marriages are being put to the test on a daily basis.

Partners who are dissatisfied just opt out, team up with other, more promising providers.

Children are serially reared by multiple parents in multiple households.

And still, despite all the fashionable theories of marriage, narratives and the feminists, the reasons to get married largely remain the same.

True, there have been raw reversals. New stereotypes have cropped up, definitely sexual scripts have been upended.

But biological, physiological, emotional and biochemical facts are less amenable to modern criticism or the specifics of any culture, period, or society.

Men are still men and women are still women in the majority of ways.

So men and women marry again.

To recap, men and women get married to form the sexual diet intended to gratify the partner's sexual attraction and secure a stable, regular, consistent and available source of sexual gratification.

The economic diet, the couple is a functioning economic unit within which the economic activities of the members of the diet and of additional entrance are carried out. The economic unit generates more wealth than it consumes and the synergy between its members is likely to lead to gains in production and in productivity relative to individual efforts and investments.

Then there is the social diet.

The members of the couple bond as a result of implicit or explicit direct or indirect social pressures. Such pressures can manifest themselves in numerous forms.

In Judaism, a person cannot hold some religious positions, a rabbi for example, unless he is married. This is a form of economic pressure in certain communities.

In most human societies avowed about bachelors, perpetual, permanent singles, they are considered to be socially deviant and abnormal. Something's wrong with them. Why didn't you get married?

People ask that these perpetual singles, you know, these eternal bachelors, they're condemned by society. They're ridiculed, shunned and isolated, effectively excommunicated even if no one would admit it. As their friends and transitioning to families begin to raise children, these singles and bachelors find themselves isolated without companionship or friendship.

Partly to avoid these sanctions and partly to enjoy the emotional glow that comes with conformity and acceptance, some people get married.

Today, myriad lifestyles are on offer and every couple is a negotiated contract.

Marriage is a contract, an open contract. The old-fashioned nuclear family is just one of an endless array of variants.

Children are reared by single parents, by multiple parents, homosexual couples, same-sex couples, bind and abide.

But the pattern is discernible, all the same. Some 95% of the adult population get hitched one way or another, marriages, committed relationships, long-term relationships. They settle, they settle into a two-member arrangement, whether formalized and sanctioned religiously or legally or informal.

The companionship dial is formed by a dance in search of sources of long-term and stable support, emotional warmth, empathy, care, compassion, affection, good advice and intimacy.

The members of these couples tend to define themselves as each other's best friends.

Fourth wisdom tells us that the first three diets are actually unstable.

The sexual diet, the economic diet and the social diet, they're unstable. Sexual attraction wanes and is replaced by sexual attrition and sex aversion in many cases. This could lead to the adoption of non-conventional sexual behaviors like sexual abstinence, group sex, couple swapping, partner swapping, or it could lead to recurrent marital infidelity.

In the economic diet, the cuniary concerns are insufficient grounds for a lasting relationship either. In today's world, both partners are potentially financially independent. This newfound autonomy knows the roots of traditional patriarchal, domineering, disciplinarian relationships.

Marriage is becoming a more balanced transactional business-like arrangement with children and the couple's welfare and life standard as its products.

So marriages motivated solely by economic considerations are as likely to unravel as any other joint venture, I mean most businesses at the end, unravel or go bankrupt.

Admittedly, social pressures help to maintain family, family, cohesiveness, and stability.

But being enforced from the outside, such marriages resemble detention centers, rather than a voluntary, joyful collaboration.

Moreover, social norms, mores, conventions, peer pressure, social conformity cannot be relied upon to fulfill the roles of stabilizer and shock absorber indefinitely within couples and diets and relationships.

Because norms change, never more so than in the past 50 years. Peer pressure can backfire.

If all my friends are divorced and apparently content, why shouldn't I try it too?

Only the companionship diet, only the companionship diet, seems to be a durable, durable one, a long-term one. Friendships deepen with time.

While sex loses its initial biochemically induced appeal and luster, economic motives are reversed, avoided, social norms are fickle. Companionships, like wine, improve with time. Even when planted on the most desolate land, under the most difficult and insidious circumstances, the obdurate seed of companionship sprouts and blossoms.

Matchmaking is made in heaven, goes the old Jewish adage.

But Jewish matchmakers in centuries past were not averse to lending the divine a helping hand.

After closely scrutinizing the background of both candidates, male and female, marriage was pronounced.

In other cultures, marriages are still being arranged by prospective or actual fathers without asking for the embryos or the toddler's consent.

The surprising fact is that arranged marriages, without previous cohabitation, last much longer than marriages which are the heavy outcomes of romantic love or sexual attraction.

Moreover, the longer a couple cohabitates prior to marriage, the higher the likelihood of divorce.

Yes, you heard me right. The longer a man and a woman, or a couple, cohabitate, the more likely they are to divorce.

Counterintuitively, romantic love and cohabitation, getting to know each other better, are negative precursors and prognosticators and predictors of marital longevity. They are negatively correlated with marital longevity.

Companionship grows out of friction and out of interaction within an irreversible formal arrangement. No escape closes.

In many marriages where divorce is not an option legally or due to prohibitive economic or social costs, companionship gradually develops.

And with companionship, contentment, if not happiness.

Companionship is the offspring of pity, empathy, compassion, affection. It is based on shared events. It reflects fears and common suffering. It reflects the wish to protect and to shield each other from the hardships of life.

Companionship is habit forming. If lustful sex is fire, companionship is old slippers, comfortable, static, useful, warm and secure.

Experiments and experience show that people in constant touch get attached to one another very quickly and very thoroughly. This is a reflex that has to do with survival.

As infants, we get attached to our mothers and our mothers get attached to us. In the absence of social interaction, we die younger.

Men survive longer when they are married.

We need to bond. We need to make others depend on us in order to survive.

What we are discovering in psychology is the self, ego, the individual. These may be useful metaphors, but they are not real. They are counterfactual. There is not such thing.

We are the confluence and the intersection of everyone around us. That is our core identity.

Relationships are crucial and essential.

These younger generations under the age of 35 are having serious trouble in forming relationships.

This has a disastrous, calamitous effect on their mental health and ability to function in a variety of areas of life.

We need to help them fix this. Thank you for listening.

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