Some people wonder why I am obsessed with human relationships, why I ravenously consume all the latest research on love, sex, and marriage. Some wonder if my motivation is to change men or help people have better sex lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, while I think adults are lovely people who certainly deserve to exchange care and commitment with each other, my motivation runs much deeper. I care about children. Period.
I believe the innocent lives that are spawned by our mating patterns deserve to be invested in by the two people responsible for their birth. But when a baby makes a debut in a co-habitation relationship, a dating relationship or, god forbid, a hook up, the statistics aren’t good.
We live in an era where sex is cheap, commitment is scarce and the number of single mothers grows every day. Fueled by celebrities with uber budgets who nanny-up and trick young women into thinking single motherhood is a glamorous cake-walk and a baby the latest accessory, too many young women face a different reality. Single mothers have worst mental and physical health than married mothers and their kids have worse outcomes in terms of grades, at risk behavior and earlier onset of sexual behavior. Even children that pop up in commitment-lite marriage (co-habitation) face the reality that most will be left with only one parent before they reach the age of twelve. Children who are produced by unhappily married couples have better chances than those raised by single parents.
And I laugh at how adults justify their taste for sex over gene supervision with the idea that somehow this is natural, that our hunter/gatherer ancestors were orgy loving, seed spreading, hook-up artists and single parents were the norm. In fact, if that were the case, our species would never have survived! In our ancestral past, there was plenty of monogamy. It may not have always been til-death-do-us-part monogamy, but it was certainly long enough to get children safely up and out of the nest. We are the species that requires the longest period of in arms care and longest term of brain development. Most other species are up and running with the pack within hours. But humans don’t join the village until the age of five and not permanently for another decade and a half.
Many women today instinctively know this and are desperately trying to find a guy to commit in the shrinking fertility window between education, a career jump-start and the demise of their eggs. Our current American birthrate is now below replacement. This means big economic consequences for the country. Too many dependant adults at the top and too few tax paying wage earners are a prescription for social ills. One in five women are losing the freedom to mother because they can’t get a guy to commit on time or because they believe the marketing myths of fertility clinics that tell women they can have a baby until age fifty. The height of female fertility hasn’t changed since our hunter/gatherer ancestor women so carefully selected a mate — it is the age of twenty.
The answer of course is two-fold: More cultural support for single parents and the practice of slow-love (delaying the onset of the sexual relationship) in order to create emotional intimacy that evolved as the glue for relationships. Love can conquer all. But only if love is allowed to grow.