One of the great less broadcast questions infecting the minds of sociologists is whether the decline in romantic relationships and sexuality is temporary or not. It seems that the decline will never fully reverse and human sexuality will seldom return to late-twentieth century levels. Some of the reasons are more physical than sociological, the absence of lead in people is a major reason. The less leaded a person is, the more risk averse they are. Sexual relationships carry great liability in numerous ways therefore someone with less lead in their body and in their childhood is likely to avoid sex much more. The same goes for the secondary effects of lead, being more alcohol consumption and more learning disabilities which go down with a reduction in lead and furthermore lead to significant reductions in sexuality. Other conditions such as malnutrition and lacking education are also fading away and taking with them the impulsiveness and hedonism that sexuality arises from. It is unlikely that any of the factors that are fertile for more sexuality will significantly reverse.
Yet, on a more sociological level there are other reasons almost as difficult to reverse but before this article gets to them one has to address a major question, should it be reversed and, if so, in what way? If there was a campaign to increase sexuality, the specific aims of that campaign would be the subject of intense controversy. While the decline in sexuality has been heavily lamented and derided by many observers, they don’t offer a detailed solution. I don’t intend to create one because I, mostly, support the decline in sexuality. In any case, since females tend to be the primary arbiters of sexual relationships and males the subject of their election, the campaign would presumably focus on how open or choosy girls are in picking boys and determining the metrics by which such a choice is made. Disregarding the ridiculousness of such a campaign, determining that protocol for women would seem to be exceedingly difficult on a practical level.
Like many social phenomena we are witnessing, the decline in sexuality is a combination of the aforementioned physical factors, an increasingly alienated and balkanized society, and is a natural consequence of the expansion of the cultural middle-class in the context of urbanization. As I have written many articles in this blog about the middle factor, for the rest of this, I will focus on the third factor listed. Humans are not as insatiably sexual as the media would paint them. In fact, people, a large portion of them, find sex more trouble than it’s worth. As economic and social factors of needing to have a family to survive become ever obsolete, the ability to live a safe life without sex or romantic relationships and the dangers they bring becomes ever more possible. It reduces, to a significant degree, to the fact that sex and romantic relationships are too difficult to justify without significant economic and social pressure in the opposite direction. The libertarian dating market is relatively new in human history with arranged marriages or strict social protocols being the norm and it seems that without the aid of chemicals to impair judgment and impulse control that people, on the whole, prefer to be single when given the choice.
For the most part, sex and dating, themselves, lend themselves to emotions and politics that are distasteful to people. The front page of this website includes a superstar whose life is defined by relationships and using global power to attack people who have made her unhappy. To many people watching that circus or any of the other circuses involving relationships in the media, it just seems like a drug that will devolve into something toxic. It doesn’t come across as something that makes one truly happy, but makes one high and then gives one a hangover. If someone wants a simple and happy life, one foregoes that. Historically, it was believed only the strongest of wills could elect that asceticism but time is telling that single life is easier than the wider culture may lead one to believe. One of the surest ways to get hated is to become someone’s ex and hatred is a painful feeling. If one wants someone to find one a creep, just ask out a girl who doesn’t like you and she’ll likely label one with the same adjective as a child molester. Those and many more sources of suffering mean that orgasms would have to be much more fun than they are to justify the metaphorical waterboarding that is dating although I’ve never had one so I’m assuming.
So long as dating comes with lifelong hatreds, cheaply earned labels of creepiness, and everything else that makes it grueling, it is unlikely to regain the appeal it used to possess. As I’ve written in earlier articles, I, myself, have no interest in dating or losing my virginity. I’m perfectly content to never have a first kiss and have only platonic relationships with women for the rest of my life. I’m not a heterosexual but a heteroromantic asexual so it may be easier for me than others but I assume that such sentiments apply to all but the most strongly sexual. There are a few trends that could partially reverse the trend of declining dating and sexuality. The resurrection of one-off romantic dates as opposed to going steady being the default manner of romance and the combination of that with beni-friendships. There is no evidence that the past half-century of steady, exclusively romantic, relationships will wither. The dominance of exclusive, steady, dating is the natural result of the abolition of social mores against unmarried relationships and as that more is unlikely to return, neither is one-off dating or beni-friendships. To fight back to a non-steady default would be fighting strong sociological currents. Ironically, the decline in sexuality is caused partially by an effect of the sexual revolution: the dominance of steady relationships.
The answer, again, is no. Sex will not return. Singleness will become the default and sex the exception. That, itself, should not worry anyone. What is worrisome is the platonic loneliness that will accompany it. It will be a world where people are mostly alone, platonically. I have addressed the reasons for that in earlier articles on this blog. For here and now, let us ponder what the future of romance might be in a world where it is a novelty. Let us absorb the lesson of the decline of sexuality which is that people are more rational than emotion in this particular context, unwilling to risk their reputation or personal happiness for an immediate and shallow reward. It speaks to the lack of meaning and depth that has caused people to seek out nationalism and other higher purposes to replace the religion and civicism society has lost in the psychological void that loss has left. The shallowness and chemical high of most relationships isn’t enough to outweigh their drawbacks. If all of the complainers about the decline in sexuality want to do something about it they should brainstorm how to make romance less pornographic and physical and more multilayered and deep.