TOLFA Segment 17 Romance

We noted in Segment 14 that families in the coming free society will be able to form in any configuration that the members wish - the only criterion being that each does in fact wish it, voluntarily. We saw too that even so, traditional man-woman partnerships may well continue to be the norm, so for simplicity we'll continue that assumption here. That being said, romantic love between two people is surely the most delightful and mysterious experience life has to offer, and so can rank #1 in this Segment-17 set of things at which we can marvel and wonder.

A single web page is no match for the libraries full of poetry, music and scientific analyses accounting for the experience of human sexuality, so let's just note that friendship, sex and marriage are three different things, which may be combined at the will of the participants; and that each of the three is rather awesome!

Friendship is a mystery on its own. What causes two people to like each other? It can be quite independent of sex, there being no such attraction whatever; and yet they get rather quickly to be best buddies, sharing what might be called "brotherly love." Is it just a collection of common interests? - more than that, for sure. One can be in a room full of people with shared interests, yet only one person shares the right vibes. Why? - another thing we do not know. Yet true friends are perhaps life's greatest assets.

"Harry" (Billy Crystal) in the hilarious movie "When Harry Met Sally" told Sally (Meg Ryan) that simple boy-girl friendships are impossible because "sex would always get in the way" and some years later in the story he was proven right; but is that always true?

Sex is much more of a mystery yet - but is probably the single most pleasurable experience humans can enjoy: "erotic love." What exactly makes one person sexually attractive, another not so much? Some hold that when strangers meet it's a matter of moments only before each forms an inward opinion of whether it would be fun to have sex together. What unconscious senses trigger such a rapid conclusion?

When sex does occur, how amazing that the whole encounter, from first caress to closing kiss, forms an experience of such intense pleasure; why? Clearly the species would not survive without it, but just as clearly it's not the result of cool, logical calculation; it was there as if hard-wired, long before we got to ask such questions. Rationality is indispensible, as all the other TOLFA segments have shown - but clearly, it's not everything. This is one more thing we don't understand, and at which we can only wonder.

Marriage brings friendship and sex together and deepens each with a third kind of love, incorporating a profound affection and commitment - and with another ingredient: an agreement to make it last and (usually) to have children (though not, of course, an agreement needing approval by government.) Again, as we saw in Segment 14 they can be formed on any terms the participants choose, and in the coming free society they will survive probably much better than the present 50% rate, for the stresses added by government to everyday tensions will no longer be present. It's worth noting though that this average conceals a much higher divorce rate among those who marry before age 20 and a much lower one among those who marry later. That suggests that the intense sexual attraction of the late-teen years is not the best indicator of a partner for life; that a choice of such importance needs evaluation of many additional factors of compatibility including, notably, an admiration for what the other partner has achieved in life already, on his or her own.

Once done right, the lifelong union of marriage is an immensely satisfying experience and, yet again, something at which we can stand in wonder: for the value and benefits of the whole are far greater than the sum of its parts. The companionship of a long marriage fuses two personalities into one, and confirms what was anticipated during courtship: that neither can contemplate life without the other.

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