Monthly Archives: May 2015

Science of our infidelity

What if promiscuity was the result of brain wiring? What if that wiring was the result of inherited genes that impact us in ways we can not possibly anticipate?

What if what we want in a partner changes over time — not because anything happened but just because time had passed? What if infidelity isn’t “his fault” or “her fault” but caused by an invisible process outside of anyone’s control?

This musing was sparked by an article by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Read that article here.

I’ll jump to Dr. Friedman’s conclusion and work backwards: “For some, there is little innate temptation to cheat; for others, sexual monogamy is an uphill battle against their own biology.”

The  “biology” or propensity toward infidelity, appears to be linked to the amount and location of hormones, or receptors for those hormones, in our brains and are the result of genetic “programming.” Oxytocin and vasopressin are especially relevant. These impact behavior. In fact, according to one study, “Forty percent of the variation in promiscuous behavior in women could be attributed to genes.”

Men have their own variants. Evolution has favored men who spread their genes far and wide: i.e., prone to infidelity. But I’d like to rephrase that: Evolution favors genes able to spread far and wide through behavior of the organism in which they are carried, and that they influence to favor that spreading.

Some of you are now thinking I use this to justify any and all sorts of behavior, but that’s not the case. There are other biological forces at work as well, and social forces, etc. In the overlapping circles of self, family and society, there are many competing forces at work. It’s a pretty dynamic system. Understanding the causes of behavior does not change the fact that certain behaviors are destructive and painful.

At the same time, accurate understanding can at least mitigate that pain, and possibly reduce  the destruction. Continuing with mistaken beliefs not only prolongs pain and destruction, but often adds to it.

A partner cheating on us can lead to the belief that we are inadequate, when the real cause has little to do with us and is result of that partner’s wiring. It can be confusing when the cheating partner doesn’t know the real cause of their own behavior and blames us for being “inattentive.”

Dr. Friedman writes of a friend: “… (she had a) propensity for sexual exploration that seemed in some ways independent of the emotional status of her relationships.”

For those prone to exploration, we might believe our partner has become boring, when it is in fact our own wiring that causes us to seek new stimulation. Nothing changed for them. We do not need to judge them as lacking when our wandering is internal to us.

At the same time, belief that a partner is “immoral” or that they simply choose to hurt us, or are indifferent to our pain is probably not true and diminishes the joy that once existed.

All that said, we do not always get what we want. Hard decisions still have to be made. But to make those decisions well, we have to recognize that differences between people exist, and often for historical and/or biological reasons that are nobody’s fault.

But we still have to decide what we are willing to live with, and what we are willing to risk. There are no guarantees.

Doing the impossible

It had been too long since I’d connected with a friend important to me. When she slowed down enough for us to have coffee, she described how very hard it had become to manage difficult and demanding clients, a family that needed her, health issues, along with a patient and understanding partner who also wanted her to share moments with him and not always be preoccupied.

“I can’t do any more!” she said. “I just want to say $*@& IT!”

“If you can’t do any more, maybe you can do less,” I said, recalling something my French grandmother had said.

“What do you mean?”

“Once when I was overwhelmed, I asked Grandmama how to do what I thought was impossible. She gave me a short list of guidelines.

(1) Only take on tasks you believe in;

(2) Only work with those you can work with;

(3) Only accept work you can work on;

(4) Only set goals you can achieve;

(5) Only criticize yourself when it’s constructive.

“But Grandmama, that’s just common sense,” I said to her.

“ ‘Doing simple things that can be done is how the impossible things get done, Jessica,’ my grandmother said to me.

“So now, when I can’t get everything done I need to do, I just try to do what I have to do next. One step at a time, a day at a time. And try not to be too hard on myself for what I can’t do today.”

We ordered another coffee, spent another 15 minutes together, then it was time for each of us to go back to work.

Who do you find attractive?

What if our sexual preferences begin to form in childhood?

I don’t mean whether we are straight of gay or asexual or voracious or something in between or that encompasses it all or something completely different.

I mean what we find attractive, but within our sexuality “type.”

To keep it simple, and acknowledge the gross oversimplification of this speculation, let’s pretend that heterosexual girls begin to form their sexual attraction preferences with their fathers, at an age where they have no clue what’s happening, maybe even infancy. And that (straight) boys begin their sexual wiring based on their mothers, at the same age.

Let’s say dad is a particular body type and the relationship between father and daughter is warm, loving and nurturing. I wonder if later in life, women with that kind of dad will be sexually attracted to that shape of man. And if boys who develop in a healthy way with mom, if she is skinny or plump might direct his desire later in life.

At the same time, if Dad is harsh or scary or dismissive, I wonder if daughter will shy away from that kind of man. If mom is indifferent or unreachable or angry, if boys will subliminally look for someone who does not  look anything like her.

And here’s an odd twist: Does the preference wiring have to occur, and sometimes have to focus on adults outside the family unit, possibly those who offer a child what is emotionally needed? Or if biology requires that a model be found regardless of suitability, if sometimes that model is nurturing and sometimes debilitating?

What happens to sexuality if the model is taken from the child’s environment (death, divorce, war) before the process is done with it?

Since we are indulging in wild speculation, let’s add to the mix the social taboos about getting too close to daddy or mommy as one is forming all these brain connections. DON’T DO THAT!” What happens as the child acquires now-self-directed anxieties that were foisted upon them (us) as they (we) began to experience things they (we) could not possibly recognize, let alone understand.

I have no articles, no Freudian analyses, nor modern science to justify any of this absurd opining. As my friend Billy says, (neglected by an obese mom, only attracted to skinny women): “Just sayin…”

I need your help!

Something is happening with Exposed and it might be — just might be — pretty wonderful.

Last week we dropped the price to 99¢ for the ebook. I didn’t know whether to make the change permanent, or just part of a weekend promotion. I finally decided to keep it at that price for one month, and I’d decide what to do from there.

Nothing much happened. But then on Saturday, we got a serious uptick in the rankings. For two days, we were in the top one percent of the million or so ebooks on Amazon, and in the top 40 in our categories.

The numbers have fallen off a bit, but not nearly as sharply as they have in the past after a spike.

That’s where you come in, dear readers. I’d really like the momentum to keep going. I’d like to be in the top 5,000 of all ebooks sold.

So if you will buy an ebook here, and write a review that’s posted on Amazon, send me a receipt and I will send you two of the hottest chapters of the new book, Crosscurrents in .pdf format. This offer is limited to the first 200 readers who respond.

The first 100 who respond and who write a review on Amazon, will  get in addition to the chapters  a personal email from me, and I’ll send them a paperback copy of Exposed for $7. That’s less than half price, and more than I make on the book. I’ll eat the postage, too, which is about $4.

The first 25 who respond, and who write a review, will get a free paperback copy of Exposed, along with the chapters, and a deep (50%? My publisher will have input, I’m sure) discount on Crosscurrents. Just send me proof of purchase from Amazon, and a copy of your review, which should be signed such that I can tell it is you.

This offer is good for the month of May, 2015. I will not sell your email address to anyone, but may keep it on my own mailing list for other special offers and notifications.

We are so close to making Exposed a real success. With your help, we can get there. Thank you,

~ Jessica