Monday, December 01, 2008

Darwinian dating

Love in the Time of Darwinism by Kay S. Hymowitz (h/t Villainous Company) is interesting. I think the author of the article tries hard, comes close to, and circles the mark, but doesn't quite break through to capture an understanding of her subject.

I'll just say this: a mutual relationship is not a juxtaposition of two independent entities, it is an interplay that builds upon itself, which means both the man and woman are more than equally responsible. Each is entirely responsible for the greater whole. Both have to give of themselves. A relationship can be unexpected in many ways, but at the core, there does have to be the same commitment and fidelity shared by both. If the commitment is there for one, but not the other, then there isn't a mutual relationship.

Beyond that, I don't know how it works for women. I've only had the barest taste of falling in love, but enough to know that nothing else I've experienced motivates me to become a better man like falling in love with a woman. For a relationship, a man pulls down the walls protecting his heart, bares himself, and makes himself vulnerable in order to give of himself to the woman he loves. There's anguish when she doesn't join him in the commitment. Further, there's a betrayal of faith when she, rather, seemingly gives of herself to other men whose behavior falls short of his love's standard. When his essential self is rejected, he is forced to evaluate his worth. The man is ready to transform for the relationship and, therefore, highly sensitized to the woman's feedback. Rejection is very compelling feedback, so when she rejects him in favor of something else, the man's instinct is to adapt to the preferences displayed by her. Thus, the woman's choice guides the man's choice. The rest, the player and the game, follows.

Men who've been rejected by the woman they love and have adapted their behaviors are often criticized for being selfish, but it's a painful process to rebuild the walls protecting one's wounded heart. You have to do it, but every time you do, those walls are built thicker and tougher and shut out more light.

Whether or not it's a response to post-feminism, the movement toward Darwinian dating in contrast to the pre-feminist civilized romantic ideal is profound if one considers the man-woman partnership to be the basic building block of human civilization. If we are redefining man-woman relationships now, doing so calls for an evaluation of our social norms and moral obligations.




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