Are you in a great relationship or are you hoping to start a new one?
If you are looking to start a new one, here are some thoughts contrasts with the animal world and the whole dating process laid out simply.
We have been in and out of lockdown and uncertainty for the last 16 months. Fear and frustration have been building up and dating has been difficult. We are now almost free and can burst out into the sunshine to perform our mating rituals.
Potential partners will be wanting to find someone too and there will be a flurry of activity, so the sooner you are ready to date the better, as the best will be going fast.
The ancient belief was that the purpose of dating is to find your ideal partner, procreate and ensure the survival of the human race. Maybe now we are higher up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and are looking for self-actualisation. Are we wanting to have a loving and fulfilling relationship and have fun and great sex along the way?
It also used to be, incorrectly and arrogantly, claimed that Humans were the only species who had orgasms. Maybe someone should tell that to male pigs as their orgasms last, on average 30 minutes (and that is with a man in a white coat and stopwatch timing them) and as long as 90 minutes.
Here are some other aspirational examples from the animal world (With thanks to Clifton Mark). Are there any ideas there that we could model?
Adelie penguins – A stone is a Girl’s best friend
Male Adelie penguins scour the rocky beaches that they live on for smooth shiny pebbles that they can bring as a gift to woo females. If the female likes the gift, she’ll use it to line her nest, mate with the male and the two will continue building up a pebble nest to hold any eventual eggs. However, this is not an exclusive pair bond. Females will still mate with other males who show up with the right stone.
Porcupines – A yellow shower
The porcupine mating window is small: females are open to it for only about 8-12 hours per year. But when it rains, it pours. The male porcupine opens by climbing a tree and soaking the female with urine from up to seven feet away. If she likes how it smells, then she will mate with him over and over again until he’s completely exhausted. The 12-hour mating period is enough to get the female pregnant 90 per cent of the time.
Bees – Ride and die
When a drone bee has the rare chance to mate with the queen, it’s the last thing he does. He ejaculates with an explosive pop, rupturing his endophallus. He becomes paralyzed and flips over backwards. His barbed endophallus remains in the queen, ripping open his abdomen as it’s torn from the rest of his body. He dies. She holds onto his semen for later use.
Pufferfish – Come and see my etchings
A small species of pufferfish will spend seven to nine days making large ornate circle patterns on the seafloor which they decorate with shell fragments. The males flap their fins and swim around creating circles of near 2 m in diameter, even though they’re only 12 cm long. Females come to examine the finished circles and decide whether they’d like to mate with their makers. Although they’re sure the circles are important in mating, scientists are still unsure exactly what female pufferfish look for in an underwater sex lair.
Hippopotamus ritual — A literal s**t-storm
Urine and faeces are the cologne of the hippo world. To impress female hippos, males don’t just defecate and urinate near them; they use spinning tails and some of the most powerful farts on earth to fling the mess far and wide, to make sure all the females in the area can smell it. If he catches a female’s interest, she’ll raise her rear up out of the water to show she’s ready to reciprocate… by showering him in dung. Scientists call this “submissive defecation.”
Angler Fish – The clingy boyfriend
Angler fish mating begins when the male angler fish literally sinks his teeth into the female. He attaches himself permanently and lives as a parasite on the female’s larger body. However, as their bodies fuse, the male becomes completely absorbed into the female, losing any independent existence. All that remains are a pair of gonads, which the female keeps touse when she’s ready to reproduce.
Marsupial mice: Here for a good time, not a long time
Puberty hits hard for the males of these tiny Australian marsupials. When they reach sexual maturity, their testes disintegrate, and the clock starts ticking on a short but frenzied mating period. Nature gives them just a few weeks to use the sperm they’ve accumulated to ensure their posterity before they die. The boys skip sleep and run around frantically looking for mating opportunities, while their fur falls out and they develop ulcerations and gangrene. Although you might expect the males to fight during this desperate bid to reproduce, they’re actually quite friendly with each other.
What is the dating lifecycle for humans?
The fairytale is simple. Boy meets girl (or non-binary person meets non-binary person). They fall in love and live happily ever after. The end.
The reality is that we are dating to fill an unmet need. To have fun and often hoping this could lead to something wonderful and permanent. Couples dating are going through a buying process that has six main stages:
We realise that we have an unmet need for love, romance or fun and that there might be people out there who could fulfil that need.
We start to be more open to possibilities and start to look for someone. Maybe we sign up for a dating apps, hang around in bars or wheel a trolley, full of meals for one, very slowly around the supermarket in the evenings.
We look at profiles and come up with short lists. Maybe we have online conversations to filter out the no thanks.
We have some dates and see where it goes. This may involve testing them out in different situations, see if they can hold a knife and fork properly and introduce them to family and friends.
They become an item; maybe even a Facebook ‘in a relationship with.’ Moving in together, shopping at Ikea for cushions, getting engaged, married and pension plans beckon.
This is when life becomes real and you realise that the previously hidden downsides (f*rt*ng in bed, leaving hair on the sink and shoes artistically paced a la Tracy Emin) are significantly outweighed by the positives. You are able to communicate, connect, commit, have fun, grow and build trust and they are with you until death do you part (or not?). If not, like 42% of the UK couples you separate, divorce and start all over again.
If you want a loving and fulfilling relationship; learn what you need to learn from past experiences, be clear about what you want in the future and Carpe Diem.
Read more about Neil Wilkie and his other articles HERE