Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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Is Sexual Infidelity Inevitable? #2

Are environmental factors important?
Looking at this from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, we can say that the Evolutionary concepts fit with the BEIGE vMEME’s need to reproduce and the Sociobilogical identification of the role of bond-producing hormones in sex gives us a BEIGE-PURPLE link into PURPLE’s need to belong to our lover.

So how does it so often go so wrong?

An important clue here is provided by a 1994 study by Georg Sasse et al. Their research indicated that, from a (large) sample of 1600, only 1.4% of Swiss children were born to biological fathers not named on their birth certificates. A staggeringly low figure when set against the 10%-30% claimed for Britain.

Are the Swiss genetically different from Britain and much of the rest of the Western world? The answer is almost certainly a ‘yes’ – but a very qualified and extremely minor ‘yes’ and probably not in ways which would explain such a statistical difference.

So we have to look at environmental factors – the Stress side of the Diathesis-Stress equation.

Swiss society is notoriously BLUE – so much so that the polite manners, conformity to rules and general mechanical nature of much of what goes on in that country are mocked throughout much of Western Europe. Until 1981, Switzerland even had ‘morality detentions’ for ‘difficult’ young people (Imagen Foulkes, 2010).

Yet that BLUE tends to suppress many of the me-me-me/no consequences excesses of RED while supporting the traditions of PURPLE. Switzerland is in many ways proud of its traditions; and attitudes towards family life tend very much towards the traditional. Ronnie Blakeney, Tomas Bascio & Fritz Oser (2005) looked at intergenerational changes in values across 3 generations of Swiss families and found little change – especially in comparison to elsewhere in Europe and North America.

In much else of the Western world, PURPLE and BLUE have been undermined through an unholy combination of ORANGE and GREEN. The rise of libertarian GREEN thinking (particularly in the 1960s) promulgated a disdain for the rigid societal structures of BLUE and the ageist and sexist differentialism of PURPLE-dominated communities. With PURPLE taboos discarded and BLUE’s absolutism on the correct way of living in tatters, RED was allowed to indulge itself that much more freely in real Id-like fashion. No restraints when it came to sex. That also allowed the BEIGE reproductive drivers free reign. So a BEIGE/RED/GREEN vMEME harmonic gave us the ‘free love/free sex’ ethic that dominated so much of the late Sixties and has been with us, if rather less obviously, ever since.

It’s OK to have sex before marriage – even to live together without getting married. It’s even considered OK to have one-night stands and other forms of sex without love/attachment. (What was once considered surreptitiously OK by some for young men before marriage – ‘to sow their wild oats’ – is now often thrust on women per se as a way of life!) It’s OK to get divorced, remarried, divorced again, remarried again, divorced again, ad nauseam.

ORANGE caught onto the commercial value of all this sexual libertarianism around about the time James Bond first started bedding several women per adventure and naked hippies onscreen were packing out showings of the Woodstock movie. Since then ORANGE has packaged and sold the sex-for-sex’-sake meme in countless different varieties – as discussed on the previous page. In the name of GREEN freedom, it has eaten away more and more at the disciplines of PURPLE and BLUE – feeding RED and allowing it to indulge itself in a frenzy of Sex!Now! excitement.

Of course, this discarding of traditional norms, values and structures has brought about a karmatic payback in many instances for the vMEME which has most benefited from it.

A key point of Maslowian theory is that the higher levels can be compromised and destabilised by lower levels collapsing. A prime example of this is the effect on self-esteem – a principal need of the RED vMEME – when long-term couples split up. The loss of second-level PURPLE belonging frequently causes third-level self-esteem to plummet. Isolation, anxiety, Depression and even suicide are associated with marital break-ups and the dissolution of long-term partnerships – particularly for men whose women have ended the relationship.

So, for many, there is greater freedom; but, for many, there is also greater unhappiness.

The environment ORANGE and GREEN have created in the Western world over the past 60 years have done much to change the way we think about sex and relationships – and those changes have enabled whatever BEIGE genetic predispositions there may be to promiscuity.

So how do we foster personal sexual fidelity?
The proverbial genie is out of the bottle. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to go back to a time when sex before/outside marriage was frowned upon – at least publicly! – and divorce was a rarity.

ORANGE has led us into an age of technological innovation undreamed of in modern history while GREEN has decreed that all knowledge should be available to everyone (regardless of their ability to handle it!) using ORANGE mediums of communication like the Internet.

So, there really is no going back.

There is also a moral argument for not wanting to go back – at least, not completely. The greater freedoms GREEN has brought us mean that there is much greater openness about sex. Sex education books and videos – and sex counsellors, if necessary – mean that anyone willing to learn should be able to please both themselves and their partner and have an enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling sex life

But, operating from a level beyond GREEN – 2nd Tier? (to use that somewhat controversial term) – we also need to educate people and give them some tools to help them preserve their relationships.

One great advantage of the Gravesian map is that it allows us to explore and understand conflict and complexity.

So we know at the BEIGE level, the drive is to reproduce. We also know that a satisfying sex act will incline us to attach to our partner – thus feeding PURPLE. BLUE disciplines can provide support and structure to PURPLE’s need to belong. We also know that RED, if untrammelled, will indulge itself as it pleases. If BEIGE reproductive drives are strong in such circumstances, then sex without attachment or contravening an attachment is a potential outcome.

So, someone wishing to preserve their romantic love attachment – providing they understand what could happen – will seek to avoid being in a situation where RED could have free reign to indulge a BEIGE sex directive. A practical example of this could be ensuring you are not alone with an attractive colleague of the opposite sex when away from home for work obligations. Another example would be to avoid boys’ or girls’ nights out which involve lots of alcohol and venues with unaccompanied members of the opposite sex.

These are essentially examples of avoiding temptation. To avoid a temptation, we have to understand and acknowledge that temptation is there.

BLUE absolutism and GREEN idealism tend to promote the idea that, for someone in love and/or committed to their partner, there simply shouldn’t be any temptation. A variation of this is that, if temptation should manifest itself, then it should be resisted with ease. The ‘real world’ of adulterous affairs, betrayals and bust-ups populated by people who intended to ‘do right’ by their original partner shows us that many have great difficulty living up to such ideals.

The Gravesian approach demonstrates that we have several different modes for living operating within us and that the different modes will dominate according to the circumstances we find ourselves in. So we need to be clear on what’s really important to us and nurture that. We need to recognise what temptation can do to our vMEMES and take a more considered approach to avoiding certain circumstances and developing strategies for when we can’t.

Musician/actors Adriano Celentano and Claudia Mori – together 53 years

There is also a role for the media in encouraging fidelity. Since, as noted on the previous page, love is actually more popular than sex-for-sex’s sake – that role doesn’t have to compromise either ORANGE’s drive for wealth creation or the public’s fascination with celebrities. Much more could be made of celebrity partnerships that have lasted many years – a couple of which are shown on this page. Given the current high rates of divorce, such long-lasting celebrity partnerships could be celebrated and held up as role models to aspire to be like.

Actors Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh – together 45 years

Since we live with and are heavily influenced by a sex-obsessed media and are used to at least semi-explicit sex on our screens, there is also an argument for showing long-term lovers in moments of passion as a way of demonstrating that sex with your regular partner can be exciting. (To carry the argument for fidelity, of course, the actors would have to be real-life partners.)

As long-term romantic love is a meme that appears to cross all cultures – yet is clearly a fragile acquisition – it behoves society to laud it, nurture it and protect it.

As controversial as the advent of Evolutionary Psychology has been, one of its great benefits has been to emphasise how much, under the veneer of civilisation and at a biological level, we function as animals. The Evolutionary approach makes clear that the drive to reproduce may override higher-level cognitive intentions of loyalty to our partner if we let it. The Gravesian approach and Attachment Theory show us the consequences if we allow that to happen and enable us to develop means to control it.

If we so wish.

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4 Responses

  1. Keith E Rice says

    Thanks for these thoughts, Peter.

    I agree that control inevitably breaks down. History tends to demonstrate that repeatedly. Hitler’s 1,000-year Reich…? Circumstances change and the control systems must adapt – if they can – or break down/be overthrown.

    As to ‘permission of the controlled’…yes, I accept that. But whether we make the choice to be controlled is, I think, a different matter – and one that leads into the great debate of religious clerics, philosophers and psychologists: how much we have free will and how much is determined for us. Most Psychology models tend towards the deterministic – including, as I understand it, the Graves model (though it tends to get categorised as at least having its roots in Humanistic Psychology which is more free-will-oriented.) Perhaps cognitive awareness – exposure to certain memes – can enable receptive vMEMES to have greater sway than other vMEMES?

    The sexual infidelity article was written on the assumption that cogntive awareness could strengthen PURPLE and BLUE inhibiting factors against BEIGE and RED ’sex!now!’ tendencies. However, I see it as a case of warring vMEMES rather than having a choice of which course to follow.

  2. Peter Fryer says

    Hi Keith
    I accept that your points are valid for tier one states, and I was just trying to give an alternative perspective. Even so control of the world or any of its parts or individuals is only temporary and will breakdown at some point. Also control is only possible with the permission of the controlled. If we are controlled at some level we have made the choice to be controlled.
    Cheers Peter.

  3. Keith E Rice says

    Hi, Peter

    Thanks for your comments.

    I think firstly that you can control people to some degree – though each vMEME will need a different strategy. Whether such control is always desirable and whether the means needed to exert that control are acceptable – to whom? – are matters for debate.

    Hitler’s Nazism, Stalin’s Russia, modern North Korea and fundamental Christianity/Islam are all powerful examples of controlling people – right down to their personal morals. Even the ‘Murdoch Press’ can be cited as being fairly effective in setting moral agendas.

    The second point I’d make is that RED – certainly in its peak state – doesn’t do consequences. It does impulses – if it feels good, do it! Which is why, I’d propose, that a number of personal relationships get into trouble in the first place.

    Best regards


  4. Peter Fryer says

    Hi Keith

    Interesting article.

    I would think that a second tier view would be, that the world is what it is and people will do what they do and that as individuals we can do nothing about it, we certainly cannot control them. What we can control is how we react to events, and also understand that our actions have consequences and that we must be prepared to face them.