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.
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.
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.