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Sex

CHAPTER X

LOVE AND SEX

When we take under consideration the higher, truer love of one sex for the other, that is, an affection which is not simply a friendship, but has a sex basis, we realize that it may be a very noble emotion. There is no manner of doubt but that the normal human being feels a great need for love. Sex in love and its manifestation in the life of the soul is one of the first conditions of human happiness, and a main aim of human existence.

All know the tale of Cupid's arrow. A man falls in love with a face, a pair of eyes, the sound of a voice, and his affection is developed from this trifling beginning until it takes complete possession of him. This love is usually made up of two components: a sex instinct, and feelings of sympathy and interest which hark back to primal times. And this love, in its true sense, should stand for an affection purified from egoism.

When, among the lower animal forms we find individuals without a determined sex, egoism develops free from all restraint. Each individual creature devours as much as it can and feeding, together with propagation by division, “budding” or conjunction, makes up the total of its vital activities. It need do no more to accomplish the purpose of its existence. Even when propagation commences to take place by means of individual male and female parents, the same principle of egoism largely obtains. The spiders are typical instances of this: in their case the carrying out of the natural functions of the male spider is attended with much danger for him, owing to the fact that if he does not exercise the greatest care, he is apt to be devoured immediately afterward by his female partner, in order that no useful food matter may be lost. Yet even in the case of the spiders, the female spider already gives proof of a certain capacity for sacrifice where her young are concerned, at any rate for a short time after they have crept from the egg.

In animals somewhat higher in the creative scale, more or less powerful feelings of affection may develop out of their sex association. There is affection on the part of the male for his mate, and on the part of the female for her young. Often these feelings develop into a strong, lasting affection between the sexes, and years of what might be called faithful matrimonial union have been observed in the case of birds. This in itself is sufficient to establish the intimate relationship between love in a sex sense and love in a general sense. And even in the animal creation we find the same analogy existing between these feelings of sympathy and their opposites which occur in the case of human beings. Every feeling of attachment or sympathy existing between two individuals has a counterpart in an opposite feeling of discontent when the object of the love or attachment in question dies, falls sick, or runs away. This feeling of discontent may assume the form of a sorrow ending in lasting melancholy. In the case of apes and of certain parrots, it has been noticed that the death of a mate has frequently led the survivor to refuse nourishment, and die in turn from increasing grief and depression. If, on the other hand, an animal discovers the cause of the grief or loss which threatens it; if some enemy creature tries to rob it of its mate or little ones, the mixed reactive feeling of rage or anger is born in it, anger against the originator of its discontent. Jealousy is only a definite special form of this anger reaction.

A further development of the feeling of sympathy is that of duty. Every feeling of love or sympathy urges those who feel it to do certain things which will benefit the object of that love. A mother will feed her young, bed them down comfortably, caress them; a father will bring nourishment to the mother and her brood, and protect them against foes. All these actions, not performed to benefit the creature itself, but to help its beloved mate, represent exertion, trouble, the overcoming of danger, and lead to a struggle between egoism and the feeling of sympathy. Out of this struggle is born a third feeling, that of responsibility and conscience. Thus the elements of the human social feelings are already quite pronounced in the case of many animals, including those of love as well as sex.

In the human animal, speaking in general, these feelings of sympathy (love) and duty are strongly developed in the family connection; that is, they are developed with special strength in those who are most intimately united in sex life, in husband and wife and in children. Consequently the feelings of sympathy or love which extend to larger communal groups, such as more distant family connections, the tribe, the community, those speaking the same tongue, the nation, are relatively far weaker. Weakest of all, in all probability, is that general human feeling which sees a brother in every other human being and is conscious of the social duties owed him.

As regards man and wife, the relation of the actual sex instinct to love is often a very complicated one. In the case of man the sex feeling may, and frequently does exist independent of love in the higher sense; in the case of woman it is quite certain that love occurs far less seldom unaccompanied by the sex inclination. It is also quite possible for love to develop before the development of the sex feeling, and this often, in married life, leads to the happiest relationships.

The mutual adoration of two individuals, husband and wife, often degenerates into a species of egoistic enmity toward the remainder of the world. And this, in turn, in many cases reacts unfavorably upon the love the two feel for each other. Human solidarity, especially in this day, is already too great not to revenge itself upon the egotistical character of so exclusive a love. The real ideal of sex in love might be expressed as follows: A man and a woman should be induced to unite in marriage through genuine sex attraction and harmony of character and disposition. In this union they should mutually encourage each other to labor socially for the common good of mankind, in such wise that they further their own mutual education and that of their children, the beings nearest and dearest to them, as the natural point of departure for helping general human betterment.

If love in its relation to sex be conceived in this manner, it will purify it by doing away with its pettinesses and it is just into these pettinesses that the most honest and upright of matrimonial loves too often degenerate. The constructive work done in common by two human beings who, while they care lovingly for each other, at the same time encourage each other to strive and endure in carrying out the principles of right living and high thinking, will last. Love and marriage looked at from this point of view, are relatively immune from the small jealousies and other evil little developments of a one-sided, purely physical affection. It will work for an ever more ideal realization of love in its higher and nobler dispensations.

Real and true love is lasting. The suddenly awakened storm of sex affection for a hitherto totally unknown person can never be accepted as a true measure for love. This sudden surge of the sex feeling warps the judgment, makes it possible to overlook the grossest defects, colors all and everything with heavenly hues. It makes a man who is “in love,” or two beings who are in love, mutually blind, and causes each to carefully conceal his or her real inward self from the other. This may be the case even when the feelings of both are absolutely honest, especially if the sex feeling is not paired with cool egoistic calculation. Not until the first storm of the sex feeling has subsided, when honeymoon weeks are over, is a more normal point of view regained. And then love, indifference, or hatred, as the case may be develops. It is for this reason that love at first sight is always dangerous, and that only a longer and more intimate acquaintance with the object of one's affection is calculated to give a lasting union a relatively good chance of turning out happily. One thing is worth bearing in mind. Woman invariably represents the conservative element in the family. Her emotional qualities, combined with wonderful endurance, always control her intellect more powerfully than is the case with man; and the feelings and emotions form the conservative element in the human soul.


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