Re: Healthy Sexuality

I William Wiser (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 11:51:40 -0800

> Evolutionary psychology is the only way to develop any understanding
> whatsoever of this subject.
> ...

I think I sort of understand mammalian sex in nonhumans which
means I have some clues about human sexuality. Does anyone know of
any particularly good books or papers on the evolutionary psychology
of human sexuality? I have read a few things about the evolution
of human sex (a book or two). I have seen very little that deals
with the chemical effects of sexual stimulation on the human brain
and how it influences our personality and perceptions.

I do think in general terms I understand how and why people select
mates etc., but most of what has been written deals with reproductive
strategies. That is fine and it explains a lot of human behavior,
however I am not very interested in reproduction. How humans
generally are and why they got that way is interesting and useful
but I am primarily concerned with discovering ways we can be to yield
the greatest benefits.

There are two basic questions. First, what sort of teaming up
maximizes extropian type goals and how can sex be of benefit in
such teaming? Second, what sorts of behaviors yield greatest
pleasure? The answers are going to vary depending on individual
biochemistry, history, temperament, and circumstance but I still
may be able to come up with some general guidelines.

I seems clear that some form of cohabitation is a good thing.
It is good to have at least one person who has a general feel for
your customary behavior and who has a sense of when something is awry.
It is good if there is someone who really cares enough to make sure
the doctors are doing a good job if you are too ill to look out
for yourself, etc. The cost to benefit ratio of such arrangements
is pretty small (assuming you pick people of comparable fitness and
resourcefulness). I suppose there are probably better ways to
gain such security (like building a good professional relationship
with competent doctors and lawyers) but someone intelligent who
loves you never hurts.

Personalities and projects vary but it is often good for people
to have someone to bounce ideas around with. Exposure to varying
ideas seems to help people towards greater sanity (assuming they
don't get overloaded too fast).

People have value to us, as sources of information, as trading
partners, etc. However given the large number of people available
to each of us, most people are fairly replaceable. It is often
easier and quicker to find new people to hang around than to help
some old friend past some hurdle. However many of us will have
times in our lives when the help we receive will be of more value
than the cost of giving such help to another. It is however often
hard to feel that value even if we can see it logically. The sexual
(or pleasure, or friendship, or some other emotion) bond can help
our bodies to understand what we know rationally.

I know at some animal level parts of me place a high value on sex;
if I decide I value a relationship with someone greatly, sex can
allow me to feel that as well as think it. There are other ways
to do that but sex is I think the fastest (going through
a life-threatening crisis together may work even faster but is...
well, life-threatening; perhaps there are things that would
simulate that to the body).

Then again, maybe the rapid intimacy it produces is a drawback of
sex. It certainly is not desirable if one is having sex primarily
for fun with people one has no desire to bond with. I know many
people make a point to fight such intimacy. So is it the chemistry
of sex that produces the intimacy or does sex teach us a lot about
a person's basic behavior which helps to develop intimacy and decide
how to structure a relationship?

I think it's fairly well accepted that having a lover is a win.
I am wondering what configurations are optimal. For a long
time I have thought small groups with each member belonging
to a few groups and people rotating in and out would be good. That
would be a base with people varying their pattern based on how they
travel and what projects they are working on. I get that it's not
going to be such a rational decision and that there are biology and
cultural norms to consider but I'm trying to start somewhere. Can
anyone think of sources other than Heinlein that consider such things
in depth?

I suppose given the fairly gentle environment we live in, if one
sets up good professional relationships, couples with close friends
and maybe a little shuffling around works about as well as anything.
I suppose open relationships with small multiples of close relationships
or triads also work. I haven't seen many other relationship types.
Is that an artifact of reproductive biology or are such arrangements
particularly stable for other reasons? Maybe anything else is excessive
other than as a hobby.

Oh well, I'm just groping here so I'll let this simmer for a while
and go think about what sort of car I want to be driving or something.
Hopefully someone with more of a clue will post a few quick paragraphs
to put the topic in perspective.

-Will <>