Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow

Posted by Cygnus Team
26 March, 2013

In my next incarnation I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last nine months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm! I rest my case.

Woody Allen

My parents and my grandparents stayed married until death parted them. I, on the other hand, couldn’t keep my relationships going for more than a few years.

Why were love and commitment becoming so fragile? I tried all the familiar recommendations for healing disharmony in intimate relationships: improved communication, finding a more ‘ideal’ mate, more passion, loving my inner child, negotiation, and so forth. Yet these remedies did not arrest relationship deterioration when trouble started. Eventually I realized that they sometimes address only symptoms of a more fundamental problem. That problem is right under our noses. It has always been there, but now that we can dissolve our marriages with greater ease, it is even more glaring. Once we acknowledge the problem, the solution is evident.

The trouble begins with sex

Not exciting sex versus boring sex, or too little sex versus too much, as most of us conclude, but rather fertilization behaviour itself. After all , platonic friendships between men and women work fairly well. The trouble generally erupts after we become lovers. And what else begins then? For everyone? The quest to have our sexual needs met as thoroughly as possible.

Passion seems like our best friend, often the one indisputably good thing about an otherwise dysfunctional relationship. However, sexual satiety – that ‘I’m done!’ feeling after sex – turns out to be a subconscious, surprisingly persuasive, mammalian signal. It urges us toward habituation (feeling fed up with a mate). Because we’re unaware of this signal, we ascribe the friction in our relationships to other causes.

The more dissatisfied we grow, the less likely we are to stumble upon the other way of easing sexual tension: relaxed, gentle intercourse that soothes sexual frustration entirely differently.

Who’s in Charge

There’s an optimistic belief that doing what your body is inclined to do will lead to well being and contentment. Actually, given our unquenchable appetites, most of us would be healthier on a Paleolithic diet of whole foods (no refined starches and sugars). But a diet for our sex lives? Surely if our early ancestors pursued sexual satiety whenever opportunity knocked, we’ll be just fine doing the same thing.

This logic assumes that you’re programmed for your own benefit. In fact, evolution has wired you not for your individual welfare, but for your genes’ success. What serves your genes? Two things. The first is lots of fertilization attempts. You experience this as the drive to exhaust yourself sexually when you can. The second is different parents for your offspring. You experience this as disenchantment with sexual exclusivity.

What serves you best?

A solid emotional bond with a mate, harmony lots of affectionate, generous touch, and a reliable way to ease sexual frustration.

Now that the planet is teeming with underfed, underloved human beings, it may be time to master this ancient alternative and add it to our lovemaking repertoire. Sex and intimate relationships are two of life’s most valuable treasures. Whatever your economic woes, I hope the information here will help you protect, and so benefit more than ever from, these widely available riches as you chart your ideal course. At the very least you will know more about how Cupid poisons his arrow as you work toward creating the intimate relationship for which your soul yearns.


appy who relish love’s pleasure
Enjoying Aphrodite’s sensual embrace
As a ship riding easy on a calm sea,
Avoiding the obsession that leads to disgrace.
For sex, like a horsefly, can madden with it’s sting,
And Eros [Cupid] has two arrows to his string…
A mere scratch from the first brings lifelong joy,
But the second wounds to death, and breeds despair.
Goddess born in Cyprus [Aphrodite], keep my bedroom safe
From the mortal arrow, make love in my life
A steady, continuing delight,
Not obsessional or destructive. Let me serve
The great queen with ecstasy, as is her right,
But commit no crimes for her, nor become her slave.

-Euripides (ca. 480-406 BCE), Iphegenia at Aulis


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