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 g4c9z
Joined: 6/16/2007
Msg: 1
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Why I don't believe in relationshipsPage 1 of 2    (1, 2)
I was reading a book called "The Moral Animal: Why We Are The Way We Are" by Robert Wright. It, or at least the first few chapters of it, has greatly helped solidify my dislike of almost everything I know about relationships into words.

The book is on evolutionary psychology, and the start of it gives explanations from natural selection on why women and men think certain ways regarding sex, relationships, love, etc. Let me say at the outset that the question of whether the theory of evolution is true is irrelevant here - I happen to be a weak a-evolutionist myself, but its natural selection-based arguments are still relevant to me. Even if our natural tendencies are the result of an initially good but now fallen creation, they're still something to be wary of.

Here are a couple examples of claims the book makes:

- Since women are the child bearers, and they can only have about 1 child per year, natural selection favours the genes of men who have a greater sex drive and women who are more selective about sex. That's because for men, more sex with a variety of women means more offspring, but women are limited in the amount of offspring they can have, giving them an evolutionary advantage if they (unconsciously) analyze men and wait to have sex with one with good genes.
- Children are better off, evolutionarily, if their fathers stick around and provide for them. Hence, various tendencies in the brains of both males and females help to ensure that. For example, if women have sex with one man and then deceive another into raising the offspring of the union, then the deceived "father"'s genes is disadvantaged - so he has a natural tendency to be jealous (moreso than women) of his significant other sleeping around. In contrast, there's a natural advantage for a woman to want her husband to be emotionally devoted to her, because then he's more likely to stay and raise children.

Now, my point is this. These are natural tendencies leading to differences in the brains of men and women that ensure the survival of our species; which means they aren't optimized for our happiness. In particular, there are two groups of people - which totally represent most people - which are both wrong.

The first group tends to idealize love and romance, supposing that the giving of flowers or falling in love is somehow "meant to be". They normally have no basis for this claim, though there is plenty of basis for believing those things to be merely natural. This group has probably arisen by mistakenly equating the feeling of love with the moral duty to be nice to others.

The second group, though perhaps realizing that desires like attraction, tendency for women to be attracted to funny men, etc., are merely natural, follow them blindly anyway. These are the moderns, subject to the modern claim that obeying your desires makes you happy. They fail to realize that in the long-term, natural selection doesn't care one whit about your happiness.

The correct approach that actually results in greatest total happiness is to not blindly follow these tendencies, but to use reason to find and decide on a mate. If you ask yourself who you could stand to live with for the rest of your life, and then find someone like that, you'll have a good chance of being happy for the rest of your life. But people don't do that. They assume (without thinking) that whoever they're in love with is the person they're supposed to marry. (Or worse - whoever they're attracted to is the person they're supposed to go out with.) And then they fall out of love later, and then they're unhappy.

That people don't adopt the rational approach is evident merely from the profiles of people on dating sites. Females tell me who they're "attracted" to, for instance. Who cares who you're attracted to - what matters is who you want to be with for a long time . Or you'll have females saying they're "waiting for Mr. Right to appear", when they've only ever gotten to know guys who have asked them out - clearly an instance of the male tendency to have a greater sex drive and the female tendency to be choosy. And other such nonsense.

If people adopted the rational approach, many less people would find partners, but more people would find soulmates. Further, the people who don't find partners would likely be happier without one than with a partner who was really only meant to ensure the survival of the species. And we're overpopulated anyway, so that would be good.

Therefore, if you want to be happy, it's best to deny most of the traditions associated with relationships and romance, and pay little attention to who you're actually attracted to.
 GeneralizingNow
Joined: 10/10/2007
Msg: 2
Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 8:49:12 AM
Well, that's prolly why there is the "7 year itch"--it's not a joke, it's a real phenom that people tend to get antsy in a relationship after a few years. Because at about age 5-7, kids are able to walk etc so the mom can caer for them all by her lonesome?

HOWEVER--it's just not possible to ignore social programming either. Marriage/pair bonds BEYOND simply taking care of a child have been around for ages. So there is something more than JUST taking care of the kids that keeps people together.
 g4c9z
Joined: 6/16/2007
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 10:31:32 AM
zentral:


Using rational and objective measures of compatibility may improve the success and happiness of some relationships, but you simply cannot take emotions out of the picture - they are too powerful for most people to ignore even if they wanted to, and I dont' think doing so would be healthy either.


That may be true; I wasn't saying emotions should be removed. You should probably be in love with someone before you marry them. I'm saying it's not enough to just be in love with someone, and I think most people fail to realize that.

kayliecat:


What you basically seemed to say is that we *should* mate and choose mates based on our evolutionary make up... and not based on any current thinking in our heads. Right?


No, I'm saying the opposite. I think you're agreeing with everyone.
 nipoleon
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 4
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 11:34:33 AM
This sort of question has come up before and unfortunately this thread along with my thoughts here probably wont last very long.

We humans have evolved to be social animals.
Individually, we aren't very hardy in the natural world and would quickly die by ourselves. It's very important for us to form and maintain social bonds for our own survival. Females are the integral part of that equation which keeps the human social structure together.

On the one hand it's important for a woman to pair bond and find someone to share resources with her for the survival of her children.
Unfortunately, a woman can never know for sure whether any particular male will survive and leave her alone. It's important for a woman to encourage other prospects as a form of insurance in case something bad happens to her chosen mate. It works to a woman's advantage both genetically and materially to be promiscuous.

Biologically, human females don't give any obvious physical signs when they are fertile. Even women themselves don't know for sure. So, if a woman becomes pregnant and she's had sex with more than one man for a period of time, there is always an element of doubt as to who the true father is. Theoretically, the more men she has had sex with, the more men she could appeal to for support in case her primary mate gets killed in the great buffalo hunt of life .

The more women a man has sex with, the more children he could potentially be the father of. Every man in the social group has at least some small interest in the survival of all the children of the group since there's a chance he could be the true father of any of them. If there was a way for a man to know with certainty which children were his alone, then he would undoubtedly only contribute to those alone.

The inexorable human sex drive and promiscuity actually play a very important role in securing the foundation of society as a whole. Individually, we don't like it very much but it works for all our advantage.
 g4c9z
Joined: 6/16/2007
Msg: 5
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 1:55:28 PM
life_of_leisure: You're right about species; I used the word species without thinking, when in fact I (and the book) was talking about natural selection relating to individuals.

autumn leaves: Computer matching is the best implementation of the rational approach, and the best way to prevent emotions and attraction from initially getting in the way, that I can think of.
 g4c9z
Joined: 6/16/2007
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 2:05:31 PM
WarmthNpassion: I agree that happiness isn't the sole purpose in life. But if you're not happy in a relationship then you'll probably have problems. Of course you don't need to find the best way, and you can do things to become happier. But there are some people who just don't have things in common - you can't just pick a random person and be friends with them. But that's exactly what people try to do if they only pay attention to how they feel about someone.
 g4c9z
Joined: 6/16/2007
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 7:21:01 PM
ChildfreeGlow:

I think you've got half of a good idea, but are unfortunately dismissing the other half as unworkable. If you really want to be happy, unless you intend to live a celibate life for two, you need to find someone you can live with AND desire to have sex with.


Ah, but now see what you're doing. You're trying to think from a rational basis of what would make people stay together.

I didn't exclude physical attraction from consideration. I just don't see how it can be an initial factor. Almost every day I see at least 5 girls who I'm physically attracted to. Should I ask them all out? Should I ask out a girl I'm sufficiently attracted to? Absurd. Both are ridiculously inefficient methods of finding someone you could bear to live with for the rest of your life. The point is that physical attraction can't be your initial consideration, if you want to be happy in the long term.
 toolbelt46
Joined: 5/5/2007
Msg: 8
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Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/10/2008 9:51:58 PM
mars n venus anyone??
 gtomustang
Joined: 6/16/2007
Msg: 9
Why I don't believe in relationships
Posted: 4/11/2008 5:22:02 AM
So, I gather the point is, date people who don't use their heads, and you get problems?

Hmmmm
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