Why do human beings experience jealousy, what is its function, and what are the warning signs that signal this powerful emotion may lead to violence?
Once reserved for the contemplation of poets and playwrights, jealousy is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. "Mate poachers abound," explains this week's guest, psychologist David Buss, who says that his research supports his hypothesis that human jealousy is an adaptation forged by evolutionary forces to deal with the problems of infidelity. Moderate jealousy, he says, is healthy and signals commitment, but there is a dark and corrosive side as well that follows a clear, predictable pattern before it destroys lives.
More than a quarter of primate species form male-female pair bonds that scientists describe as "monogamous". That's much higher than the overall mammal average of 9 percent. But those statistics don't mean that humans are somehow "meant" to be monogamous. In fact, scientists are still debating — and publishing conflicting theories — on why monogamy would have evolved at all. Carl Zimmer has an interesting column at The New York Times looking at two recent papers, and how they fit into an ongoing scientific fascination with our own sex lives.
Over at the Bold Italic, my friend Debbie Hampton wrote a heartfelt, no-nonsense, funny, and informative essay titled "How To Survive A Divorce":
...California is a no-fault state, meaning the dissolution of our marriage didn’t require a showing of wrongdoing by either person. Thank. God. Because I did some serious wrongdoing. There were addiction issues (mine) and excessive career demands (his). I got lost for a while. There are an endless amount of bad choices to be made if one wants to focus their attention away from a divorce. I drank. I started smoking again. I became a crappy friend. These choices caused a shit-ton of wreckage that I now have to work through as well. So don’t do that. Look at the divorce as an opportunity to grow, not an excuse to go backwards.
The legality of splitting up is absolutely overwhelming. California is a community property state, meaning all the crap you acquire during your marriage is equally owned. So there’s the potentially nail-biting adventure of dividing up furniture, plates, art, and everything else. We didn’t have this problem. Neither of us cared much for stuff.
At the Wall Street Journal, Eric Simmons writes about the psychology of March Madness, which is really the psychology of relationships and the deep emotional bonds underlying communities and tribes. When you cheer on the Wichita State Shockers in the Final Four, what you're really doing is introducing other people (and other groups) into your definition of self.
Last week, "Inspiration Mars" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
One has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.
Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.
The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.
Ask women about their relationship, writes Jody Schoger, and "you’re apt to hear variations on this theme, 'He never blinked,' or 'He really showed me how strong a man he truly is.' In other words, you’re not apt to hear what it’s truly like for some women." On her blog, she publishes a first-person account from an anonymous contributor that rings true for many. The tl;dr: the impact of cancer is really, really hard for both partners in a relationship—before, during, and after treatment.
Four years ago, Jana Mackey, one of my college roommates at The University of Kansas, was killed by her ex-boyfriend. When I lived with Jana, I knew her as a music major and a really fun person. But she had a serious side that came to the forefront over the next few years. Jana went to law school, got involved in domestic violence activism, and became a lobbyist at the Kansas State Legislature trying to bring attention to women's health and safety.
Her work made her death tragically ironic, but it also drives home a point. Domestic violence (whether physical or emotional) isn't just something that happens to the naive, or the weak. It's not something you can write off as "somebody else's problem."
There's a picture going around Facebook right now, of a young woman holding a sign that says, "Society teaches, 'Don't get raped' when it should teach 'Don't rape.'" I think the same thing is true here. There's too much focus on finding reasons to criticize or distance ourselves from women who have been abused, and not enough of a focus on preventing abuse from happening—by teaching kids how to have healthy relationships, by encouraging family and friends to step in when they see someone they know being abusive, and by making sure cops and courts take domestic violence seriously.
Jana's family is trying to rectify this through a nonprofit called Jana's Campaign. The Campaign put out this video last winter. On the anniversary of Jana's death, I wanted to share it with you. There's a message here. Take it to heart. Together, we can stop asking people, "Why did you let that happen to yourself?" and, instead, find ways to change the social values and incentives that allow abusers to go unchallenged, untreated, and unpunished.
I've been doing periodic appearances on Sex is Fun, a sex-positive podcast aimed at providing fun, informative sex ed. for grown-ups. Last time I was on the show, we talked about some funny animal sex studies and what they can and can't teach you about human sexual behavior. This time around, we talked about a couple of recent studies focusing on sociology and sex.
In particular, we focused on a study from last fall that surveyed students at the University of Kansas to find out how men's and women's internalized sexism affect their relationships with each other. If you've ever watched one of those shows about so-called "pick up artists" and wondered, "Who the hell are the women falling for this crap!?", then this is the show to listen to.
Probably the best bit of advice Congresswoman Capito had was to offer up a distraction when things get too tense. "It may be the perfect time to bring in dessert, she says, or to announce that someone should take the family dog out for a walk."
My suggestion: Combine Capito's awkward segue with Wiseman's awesome tricks. Not only will you actually get your family focused on a new topic, they might even be delighted enough that they decide to ignore the fact that you just passive-aggressived them out of a heated debate. Happy holidays!
A Dutch woman has been charged with stalking after calling a man 65,000 times in one year. She claims she was in a relationship with him (he denies it), and that this required her to call him. A lot. The court ordered her to stop, and she promised to, but called him "a couple of hours" after being released.
(via Lowering the Bar)