On social media, I made the case that a healthy relationship with one’s own eros was an essential component to a healthy marriage. Some people disagreed and believed eros runs out after a few years, and pragma is a healthier basis for a marriage. I was also challenged, essentially, to differentiate eros from perversion. This was my response:
It’s very hard to articulate an adequate response to this in a singular post, as there are a lot of premises people tend to take for granted in these discussions which need to be covered. (I’m not presuming which premises you personally might take for granted; these are deeply human issues and I’m sure many people have thought about it from many angles.) It would be more appropriate for me to write a book or an essay on this, considering how many angles I’ve thought about. I probably will do that. But for now, I’ll try to cover the basics. I apologize in advance if I fail to articulate it on my first try.
So let’s start with this: “Eros exists. So where do we go from there?”
It is apparent throughout history that cheating is very common. We all know the age-old tale of couples getting married just based on pragma alone, and then finding erotic pleasure outside the home. Thus the warm, stable marriage which “makes logical sense” and “works dutifully” is so often wrecked by cheating and distrust, not to mention extreme resentment. In worst case scenarios, there have been stories where the resentment around “being stuck with this person” who is not fulfilling one’s erotic needs may lead to abuse or, worse, one spouse poisoning the other.
Beyond marriage, there are also many symptoms in society of misguided Eros. Porn is a symptom of misguided Eros, as well as Tinder, dating-fucking culture, etc. Religions and lifestyles tend to form as reactions to other religions. Our society was heavily religious and sexually repressed, so in reaction the left formed their own religion which worships the lewd and crude. But what they are doing is very far from Eros. Going to a kink-fest is not erotic in the wholesome and natural sense — that’s a social event with many rules of engagement. Watching porn is also not erotic in the wholesome sense. As for the gay culture, you can’t even talk to them without memorizing a bunch of pronouns that constantly change with the wind.
The idea that we can’t show breasts or nudity without sexualizing it, makes it “taboo,” and causes people to fetishize the human body. This isn’t necessary. If the body and nudity were not “taboo” in normal life, and there was not a constant battle between absolute disgusting debauchery vs. a far-right religious effort to repress erotic hunger, nudity and embodied beauty altogether, perhaps we’d find a more sane, healthy expression of Eros.
Of course, I’m exaggerating both sides of this to make a point. The left is not ONLY debaucherous and the right is not ONLY repressive. But to express the problem with the trend I must present two sides of the dichotomy. Right now, there is no healthy cultural expression of eros and spontenaeity. That’s where I agree with the article I posted, called “Carpe Diem.” There’s one group rebelling against the repression of Eros by being disgusting and making a bunch of rules around how disgusting you’re allowed to be, and another group telling you sexuality or eroticism is only allowed to exist in this one limited spot, and all other expression of it is forbidden. This is *quite evidently* not productive. As you said, the proof is in the pudding.
The question is not: “How do we get rid of Eros?” — History and human nature make it apparent that we cannot. The question is: “What do we do with Eros in a productive way?”
Humans were given Eros for a reason. We crave it for a reason. Are we to say it’s corrupt; an inherently corrupt part of our “bad” nature, or is it a biological imperative that has helped people in some way? I would suggest the latter, and I cannot think of any logical premise upon which to disagree. If we are made in God’s image, then something so basic and enduring as Eros must have been gifted us for a reason. And if one is to say “God gave us Eros so that we’ll repress it and fight against our nature” — I would be the first to reject such a God, as I’d rather burn in hell than worship someone so cruel.
So I, personally, am a very libidinous and passionate person by nature – but I am turned off by porn, to the point I watched a few minutes once in a friends’ dorms and found myself shaking under the covers. It grossed me out on a systemic level. I’ve had relationships where I connect very deeply to the person and keep them as a friend for life, and married my soulmate — who I recognized as such within days of meeting (and then asked him to marry me). Six years later we’re still thriving, madly in love, and supporting each other. We have a great group of friends, get along with each other’s family, etc. So embracing my erotic and full-bodied attraction to him immediately, clearly worked.
But this is not an accident. I trained myself to do this. It is a result of a life of astute study of myself, psychology, and passion.
Since I recognized the danger of eros, even in the first book I ever wrote at age 11-12 about a prostitute – I spent a great deal of time considering productive and heartfelt ways to honor my passion. And it has worked. I can sense quite quickly who I am attracted to on a deeper level; who I connect with; and for me this process of connection is highly erotic. (Even for friends, though please do not read that as “highly sexual,” as I am not preying on my friends.) I am not tricked by “good looking body parts,” which is not to say that I am not attuned to beauty — because I am. But I’m aroused by the deeper process of connecting to someone’s mind and soul; that said, their body is a vessel through which their soul emerges, so small things like how my partner sits or smiles can drive me wild. And after many years of studying my own patterns, studying others, studying psychology and romance itself – I fell into a natural groove which allowed me to understand instantly when my heart gravitates to ‘the right people.’ This helps with friendships too; as healthy Eros also exists in healthy friendships. Eros, in greek, literally means “flow.”
And having embraced a higher vibration of Eros, it made natural intuitive sense to me when my friend from Greece explained that it meant flow. Erotic passion and flow are indeed, one and the same. Rules and regulations often disrupt one’s natural ‘flow,’ so life is always a dance between ethics and flow, passion and reason; the two must be balanced.
Society offers many paths to repress Eros, and also many paths to pervert our sexuality (which is another form of repressing the natural flow that God gave us). My suggestion is that, as a society, we start learning the difference between higher-vibration Eros and perversion. This is the only way we will ever find a healthy balance; for , simply telling people to ‘stop acting on desire’ has never worked historically. Desire always comes back to roost, and once it has been repressed, it comes back in a much more ugly and destructive way.