Not many species in the animal kingdom bond for life. Perhaps 5 percent of smaller animals stay true to one partner forever, including otters, seahorses, Gentoo penguins, Turtle doves, Black vultures, prairie voles, beavers, and wolves. Among primates, the percentages are similar, and among mammals, even fewer are monogamous – only about 3 percent mate with one partner forever. If sexual fidelity is so rare in the animal kingdom, why should we worry about the frequent or even occasional sexual hookup?
There are theories that humans evolved to embrace monogamy as a way to stop men from killing other men’s babies, and others that we are meant to be polygamous, stating genetic influences in our earliest hominid form; however, both ancient scholarship and modern neuroscience offer additional explanations to support a more monogamous lifestyle.
An Indian Guru named Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev outlines one of these reasons by explaining a theory called Runanubandha. The theory isn’t a Pollyanna influence to be “good,” or a wrath of God warning to only use sex for procreation, either, but it does offer an interesting perspective that many of us in the Westernized world, where sexual images and influence are literally in our faces in every magazine, television show, and media genre imaginable, aren’t always privy to.
Vasudev explains that we live in a culture in the modern world where our partner comes with an expiration date. You may start a relationship thinking it will last forever, but three months in, you start looking somewhere else. This creates great pain and suffering that is completely unnecessary.
This hopping from one sexual skillet to another causes Runanabandha.
Runanabandha can best be described as a certain kind of karmic substance. Karma is simply an echo of the past, and a proclivity toward certain thoughts and behaviors based on our past experiences.
Runanabandha happens with a certain amount of meeting and mingling with other people, but especially so when two bodies come together. In this case the Runanabandha is much stronger. This is because the body keeps a record of everything that it ever experiences. The experience of sharing the body with another is a certain type of energetic exchange.
As the body remembers everything, if there are multiple partners, even hundreds over a lifetime, the body starts to get confused. It is overburdened with the energy of so many sexual encounters. This confusion will appear in many ways, including anxiety, physical ailments, and even deep psychosis. People are then completely confused as to why they feel the way they feel.
This is similar to the Eastern philosophy of not mixing too many foods during one meal. This can make digestion very difficult for the body. It has too many things to assimilate or excrete. People in ancient India, for example, who followed Ayurvedic principles, would never cook more than one type of curry in the same day. They understood that the body could only process one type of vegetable or grain at a time to truly digest its nutrients and expel the waste that is created through normal metabolism.
Too many sexual encounters are like eating hundreds of curries all at once. The body simply cannot digest everything emotionally and energetically.
In modern society, too many food choices, just like the opportunity to have too many sexual partners is considered a privilege, a right even, but when you dine at an establishment that offers 250 varieties of food, it may be a novel experience, but it certainly isn’t good for your health.
As Vasudev describes it we develop an indiscriminate sense of intimacy with other bodies – which will create certain confusion on the body level which will take its toll over time. He says,
““So have I committed a sin? Is this a punishment for me?” It is not on that level. Every action has a consequence. This is not a moralistic reality; it is a certain existential process. If you do certain things with your mind, certain consequences will come. If you do certain things with your body, certain consequences will come.
These are things that have been deeply understood and life was structured in a certain way around that. Now, in the name of freedom we want to demolish everything and suffer. Maybe centuries later we will realize that this is not the way to live.””
Do or Die
Vasudev’s perspective is replicated in nature. Monogamy may not be routine among all of Earth’s creatures, but for a select few, it’s the secret to survival. Unlike most rodents, the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), pairs up, builds a nest, even grooms its partner, and raises their young for life.
Two prairie voles taking cover in the grass.
This monogamous lifestyle is rooted against the backdrop of sparse grasslands in the U.S. and Canada. The animals have little time to scour the prairie for resources, and breed as much as they can during a lifespan that lasts only a few years. Under these circumstances, they can accomplish more as a team, but there’s more to these little critter’s love story according to experts who have studied the prairie vole extensively.
Experts suggest that brain chemicals play a role in keeping the prairie voles together.
One Sexual Encounter Bonds People for 48 Hours
Prairie voles may not be that different from human beings, it turns out. One study suggests that “hooking up” may provide some emerging adults with opportunities for normative sexual exploration, but for others, sexual hookup behavior appears to be associated with experiencing clinically significant depressive symptoms, SV, and STIs. Depression and the sequelae of SV can undermine mood, impair psychosocial functioning, and interfere with students’ academic performance.
“The Lovers” by Pierre-August Renoir.
And on the positive side, we have our own brain chemistry to blame for social behavior that follows a sexual encounter. A brand new study published at NeuroScienceNews.com describes what happens to couples who have sex.
It turns out they are bonded for at least 48 hours after every sexual encounter. This bonding improves their relationships, and helps honeymooners move to the next stage of their relationship – one that might look more like the scarce prairie fields, than a sex-a-thon in satin sheets. If we look at the 48-hour afterglow effect, it seems as if we are hard-wired to seek additional love from the same partner, creating a bond that will last over time.