Psychology: Fidelity and Love

   On the Ted Talk this morning, they had a fellow, the writer of a pop science book, who argues theoretically in favor of lust. The argument is something like this: that fidelity in love is the mere invention of males attempting to possess women as property, that it enters the human world with agriculture, and so is contrary to our natures. We have begun a discussion of biology, psychology and love a few blogs back, and there are of course great mysteries involved. But to begin an attempt to defend the poor lover and human love, even Shakespearean love, we will say this: The love “contract,” or the agreement of fidelity that lovers enter into, and that courtship is about, is because the beloved can destroy the soul or, if that is an exaggeration, “break the heart” of the lover by infidelity. It is this, the broken heart, and not “property rights” that fidelity is about. The lover, impelled by nature and at its mercy, does not even foresee, but the conjugal union brings with it a fusion: the two become “one flesh” or soul, again an exaggeration, but true in part. St. Paul writes that even the union with a prostitute bring this about, so that the promiscuous are literally dragging about their history as baggage. Erotic union causes a filial connection. Events that would otherwise be telepathic or prophetic even occur because the two literally participate in one love, a soul higher than the soul of either, and yet it is themselves. Most people are base and do not love, but that does not mean that the marriage customs, built up over thousands of years of hard experience, are unnatural or harmful.

   It is no coincidence that the conjugal union is the participation of man in the Creating of the creator, and the perpetuation of the generations, continuing according to one account a four billion year continuous genetic lineage. And the reason marriage is sacred is that the soul is an image of God, male and female. The Creator appears at the incarnation, and the highest image of God in the scriptures – the wedding of the Bride and Lamb- is reflected in marriage. So both the Creator and Redeemer are reflected in human marriage: Called the mystery of the bridal chamber.

   It is also true that love is the navel of our attachment to the earth of cave, and that the jilted lover can be dawn to the fundamental penance that leads up and out. The attachment to the earth and to the mother is beneath the attachment to the beloved, and its conquest is the overcoming of the fear of death. When this is trapped in the material, it can become a literal suicide, or worse. The attachment at the root of the family presents each with the fundamental questions, and the opportunity for some most fundamental errors.

   The true lover does not desire another beside the beloved, and so it is the beloved that must be persuaded. Maybe one in ten actual humans love this way, but the happiness of the household depends in large part on the way to which they follow the example. Similarly, jealousy excludes infidelity, or at least would be contradicted by infidelity. A test of fidelity is whether one becomes jealous, but for humans to make such things by artifice renders the elation artificial already, and harms the love. Affairs cause faction in the household, as the staying one will withdraw from the love, cannot celebrate the holidays together in the same way, etc. It also causes faction in the soul, so that one cannot act in unison with himself, and becomes clumsy. making mistakes.

   Love has its own ethics and its own understanding of justice, as assumed though inexplicable in the words “cheating,” “faithful” and such. One suspects that the lovers use these words so that loves justice will be assumed and they will not have to explain, because we can’t! And so the language is that of contract and promise. These things are just assumed, and no one can explain them, let alone convince one who does believe: Then I saw her face / Now I’m a believer” say the Monkeys, contradicting Darwin. But i heard a straying husband once who lamented that, having seen what the affair had done to his wife, he was quite shocked, and would never sacrifice so much pain for so little pleasure.

   Of course there are many different ways that humans participate in erotic union, but the suggestion is that these are all based upon and understood in light of the natural conjugal union at the root of the family, called “fertile” rather than infertile love.

   From the start, the biology of the matter no more supports the argument of lust than the argument of fidelity. Fidelity is different for men and women due to the circumstance in which women find themselves by nature, being the ones to bear or carry the child.    The male may be confused as to whose child he is raising, but the woman cannot be so confused for the same cause. Infidelity, if one can get away with it, would be selected for, but fidelity would decrease deaths from cuckolded husbands and due to sexual diseases, and so have an obvious claim to natural selection. The human family is much older than agriculture, and it is suspected that the continuous rather than cyclical human estrus was invented by nature to fuse the family. But this as often can destroy the family. When things are well, the couples are together caring even for the bodies and pleasures of one another, and after a fight or argument it is well known what occurs when the couples make up. It is even possible to argue that true and free lust occurs only in the conjugal union. The human family goes back even millions of years, into the avian and reptilian nature, where the family first emerges to care for the young. Swans and certain birds even excel mankind in fidelity and the attachment of love that joins the couples. The continuous human estrus is as likely to break as preserve the human family, but another common experience is the emptiness of the brief liaison. Bar patrons joke about wanting to chew their own arm off in the morning. The suspicion is that deep within our nature. love and the conjugal union are involved in the mystery of human connected-ness at the root of our political and filial nature. I am thinking of Allan Bloom, who writes of love this way, as the root of our connected-ness to other persons, or the reason that almost all humans cannot be alone. For the true priest or solitary philosopher, there are different mysteries, but for almost all practical purposes, it is not good for man to be alone.

   The mysteries of mankind involve the distinction between the filial and political nature, endogamy and exogamy, and the connection of families into polities through intermarriage. The incest prohibition acts upon us as if it were biological, that is, “lust” does not even operate within the family, and humans cannot even consciously address the theoretical issue, such, as Freud noted, is the human unconscious- and our Ted Talk biologist has not even begun to consider such “scientific” questions, but the treatment of man as wholly animal by the evolutionary theorists fundamentally destroys the specifically human nature and indeed destroys the soul, and this is not even an exaggeration. Psychologist well know, without any theoretical basis, the grave harm done by molestations and violations of the prohibitions, though modern psychology literally has no theoretical basis to account for this. It is as though our human soul were fundamentally disturbed, and in the worst cases, split personalities even emerge, as though one soul cannot acknowledge what has occurred to another within the same soul. The psychologists thankfully revert to law, common sense and repression, and do not notice the theoretical marvel which the law assumes. The harm done to children by the indiscriminate lusts of criminal adults is beyond notorious. These laws are ancient for us beyond the Decalogue, so that Moses himself, while addressing the facts and furthering civilization by forbidding the practices that some cultures in 1300 B.C. did not yet forbid, struggles to understand the theoretical basis. Neanderthal man may have been filial and not political, but for our species, such things are indeed inhuman, crossing the bounds of the humanity of “Cromagnon” man. We are indeed, as Aristotle wrote, the “political” animal, joined into tribes and these into villages by filial connections that are established by love. Exogamy then is for us most natural, and we suggest that Ted and his remarkable guest have not begun to think out even the anthropology involved in a defense of animal lust. Love is a rare and delicate plant, and human customs, rightly conceived, aim to uphold this beautiful thing against a tide of animal nature threatening to sweep away all that is priceless and hard won in human civilization. The law is like a trellis that allows roses to grow in abundance. To say that such things are based upon some mere patriarchal right of property is a joke, and a bad joke if we begin to think the matter through.

   Love is for the lover attended by jealousy, though for the one loved, this is not as impelling, and it comes upon us by nature. The lover must contract the fidelity of the beloved to preserve his own soul from jealousy, which can so possess the lives and thoughts of lovers as to make their lives from morning until night a misery. This comes upon the lover as did the love, like a force of nature o like a daemonic possession, and would call it the influence of an “archetype, and each is measured by and responsible for his own reaction to painful jealousy. One can do little to correct the circumstance except to leave or recede, but many things to make it worse, and suspicion itself can drive the beloved away. Bloom, in commenting on Othello and Lear, notes that the beloved does not owe love, and the lover cannot command love. But infidelity means that the beloved does not love you. Stupid of us to think ourselves worthy of love, as though we were the best for the beloved! Love implies an inflation: “I am the best of those that speak this speech,” says Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s Tempest. The heo will be sent out to slay the dragon for the princess and by the princess, though she does not do this knowingly, but apparently by nature.In each relation, it seems, there is as in Plato’s Phaedrus, a lover and a beloved, or as Jung writes, a container and one contained within the whole that is the love. Mutual lovers are rare among the couples, and the lover must seek to inspire the “ant-eros,” to win the heart of the beloved. Consider the things Prospero says to Ferdinand about the challenge to overcome his lust until marriage: Weeds will infest his marriage bed if he does not succeed in this fundamental establishment of the order of soul where he is able to control himself even in under the influence of his strong love for Miranda. The lover is indeed not capable of doing this himself while in love, and that is why it is thankful or fortunate that Ferdinand has the wise man to compel him, and that we once had the marriage customs of courtship and convention.

A Note * The word love does not occur in the index of our textbook titled “Abnormal Psychology,” perhaps because they wish to assume that love is normal! There is however a disorder called the “dependent” personality, and “co-dependent” has become a catchphrase in the fashionable opinion that parades itself as science under the banner of our pseudoscience, unworthy of the trust we give to these supposed knowers and healers of the soul. One suspects that these phrases are the inventions of beloveds seeking to escape the annoyance of the pain of some lover’s broken heart, and that the shrinks are among the base who do not love. In fact, without an understanding of eros and the human soul, it will be impossible to establish a science for the treatment or healing of the human soul, and while we possess the study, we do not possess the science. I will be thought arrogant for asserting the superiority of Plato, Shakespeare and the Bible to all of modern psychology, but be this as it may, and let the accuser provide a theoretical explanation for why that, or any other thing, is truly wrong on the basis of their pseudo-science. Modern psychology has not begun the serious study of the soul, and the authority it assumes for itself is harmful to humanity.  We at least can begin to provide a theoretical basis for arguing why this, or any other thing, is harmful, right or wrong: The health of the human soul.

Note 2: What is at stake in the argument of love and lust is, an the one hand the beautiful things that make life meaningful and worth living, and on the other, a momentary and usually fruitless thing called a “pleasure.” Eros must be feed from its imprisonment in matter as Ariel, the spirit that serves the wise man, is freed from his imprisonment in a cloven pine, but threatened with imprisonment in an oak. Two different theories of the nature of man underlie the question of whether the excess human eros or libido creates the higher human things by a “sublimation,” or whether there is not rather a natural gradient that eros ascends, a “ladder of love,” as in the Symposium.

Note 3. Lyric poetry contains an understanding of the soul and love far superior to our pseudoscience. Jack White writes: “How dare you. How old are you now, anyway,” and “You took a white orchid, turned it blue.” Another tragic love lyric showing the height, depth and intensity of the passions involved in the question of fidelity is Seven Nation Army. We have  lyric interpretation on these, in blogs and in Chapter IX of the book of music commentaries.

Niel Young writes: “Country girl…

I think your pretty

Got to make you understand

Have no lovers in the city

Let me be your Country man

Note 4: This strange lyric, in its irrationality, demonstrates a number of points about common sense and love:

Jack White: I Fell in Love with a Girl:

Fell in love with a girl
I fell in love once and almost completely
She’s in love with the world
But sometimes these feelings
Can be so misleading
She turns and said “are you alright?”
I said “I must be fine cause my heart’s still beating
Come and kiss me by the riverside, yeah
Bobby says it’s fine he don’t consider it cheating now

Red hair with a curl
mellow roll for the flavor
and the eyes for peeping
can’t keep away from the girl
these two sides of my brain need to have a meeting
can’t think of anything to do yeah
my left brain knows that our love is fleeting
she just looking for something new
and I said it once before but it bears repeating now


can’t think of anything to do yeah
my left brain knows that our love is fleeting
she’s just looking for something new
and I said it once before but it bears repeating now

Fell in love with a girl
i fell in love once and almost completely
she’s in love with the world
but sometimes these feelings can be so misleading
she turns and said “are you alright?”
I said “I must be fine cause my heart’s still beating
come and kiss me by the riverside, yeah
Bobby says it’s fine he don’t consider it cheating now

can’t think of anything to do yeah
my left brain knows that our love is fleeting
she just looking for something new
and I said it once before but it bears repeating now

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s