Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

Sex at Dawn can be easily misinterpreted.

As I try to do with every book I read, I went into this book with a blank slate as free as possible of preconceived ideas. I first heard about the book mentioned on several podcasts.

Lead with an open-mind, listen, ask questions, even to a person of authority, and continue to seek truth.

Recently, I have become more and more interested in finding truth based on facts and scientific evidence.

A habit i’m constantly improving is saying the truth of how I feel. It has not been easy but has been one of the more impactful habits.

Sex at Dawn has connected a couple of concepts that I had in my mind.

Christopher Ryan and co-author Cacilda Jethá in Sex at Dawn question the standard narrative of “How We Mate, Why we Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.” seeking to find truth in this fragile topic.

Although this next quote is towards the end of the book I thought it would be good to have it at the beginning of this review,

“One of the most important hopes we have for this book is to provoke the sorts of conversations that make it a bit easier for couples to make their way across this difficult emotional terrain together, with a deeper, less judgmental understanding of the ancient roots of these inconvenient feelings and a more informed, mature approach to dealing with them. Other than that, we really have little helpful advice to offer” (page 304).

The emotional terrain on the topic of “How We Mate, Why we Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.”

This is now the third scientific type book that has mentioned the agricultural revolution may have been the worst thing created by homo sapiens.

Sharing was essential for survival for our foraging ancestors,

“Until agriculture, human beings evolved in societies organized around an insistence on sharing just about everything” (page 9).

Food, water, oxygen, shelter are not really thought about until they become unavailable. “sex is essential, but it’s not something that must be taken so seriously” (page 302). Sex is first a form of bonding then a way to procreate.

The introduction of agriculture helped relieve the stress of finding food. No more do we have to trek the dangerous savanna for food. Tribes started to settle. These settlements had to be defended from outsiders because they had to feed their people. If one tribe couldn’t yield enough to feed everyone they knew another tribe has food. Soon fences and walls had to be built to keep away outsiders. More offspring meant more people that could defend and work. More people means more food needs to be produced. Take a look at the next picture.

Agriculture is not easy work. Long laborious days were needed to produce enough food to last. Community soon shifted to private property resulting in dominant social structures. People had to be forced to work, slavery, because who wants to work long dreadful days?

Having a mate became crucial in creating a family structure of status and power.

“Clearly, the biggest loser (aside from slaves, perhaps) in the agricultural revolution was the human female, who went from occupying a central, respected role in foraging societies to becoming another possession for a man to earn and defend, along with his house, slaves, and livestock” (page 14).

Survival of the individual was now more important than survival of the group.

Sex at Dawn takes an approach at the questions of how we mate, why we stray and the current state of relationships by looking at how our ancient foraging ancestors behaved.

Speaking in terms of human history agriculture has been a very recent creation.

“the amount of time our species has spent living in settled agricultural societies represents just 5 percent of our collective experience, at most” (page 9).

Sex at Dawn is a very interesting read that I would recommend everyone consider. As I only mentioned a brief portion. Christopher Ryan compares humans to our ape relatives shown in the chart below. Chimps, bonobos, and gorillas being the closest. Humans are more closely related to chimps and bonobos than the african elephant and indian elephant (quoted by Chris in the TED talk attached).

The authors suggest that having conversations with your partner(s) can help prevent loving couples from hating each-other, sleeping behind their back, marriages ending in divorce, and children caught in the middle of arguments.

One takeaway I got from reading the book, open communication is necessary. Instead of telling people how I felt I would bottle it up. There is always a limit to how full a bottle can get.

A habit i’m constantly improving is saying the truth of how I feel. It has not been easy but has been one of the more impactful habits.

The video below is Author Christopher Ryan’s Ted Talk. Please watch this if you want to get a better understanding.

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