How to Pick a Lover

The couples wander two by two,
A giant Noah’s ark, a zoo,
Not one by one or three by four
But two by two, no less, no more.
—Jadah Vaughn, “Cagemates”

The Western world is organized socially around the premise of a husband-wife pair. Traditionally, almost all activities that are done in the evening or on weekends are programmed to be done by a two-person, man-woman team. This arbitrary organization is not typical of all societies and, indeed, is not typical of our own for adolescents or for the elderly. In the adult years, however, the fact that most people are part of a couple is readily translated into the idea that most people should be. While this viewpoint has been changing slowly over the past several decades, it still influences the behavior of many adults.

The need for companionship may be somewhat more important for women than for men in that their activities are more constrained by social norms, which make some things more comfortable when done with a male escort. A man, being free to take the initiative, is less constrained and can often hustle up someone at the last minute to do things with. A woman can as well; but more often than not, it is more difficult, especially when it comes to activities that take place in the evening or extend late into the night.

One Is a Lonely Number

One Is a Lonely Number (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to go to the movies, you can always go by yourself and hold your own hand. Or you can go with a friend, and he or she may share your popcorn, but they do not hold your hand and they do not engender in you feelings of romance. Wanting a romantic evening of dinner and a movie may sound like a trivial goal, but in some instances, it may be quite a legitimate motive for taking a lover or even for getting married.

Hostesses have been taught that a proper dinner table should be balanced, meaning that there should be an equal number of men and women. Canadian author Merle Shain observed, “Being single can feel like playing musical chairs, and every time they stop the music, you’re the one who’s out.” Unmarried adults are often left out of social activities not so much from a sense of disapproval as from a residual concern that there will be an unbalanced sex ratio.

Having a lover gives a woman access to a companion who is on tap, so to speak, and who can readily be conscripted to take part in a number of activities such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, in addition to making love. Access to an escort is a problem which a wife does not have to face. Alas, thinking that all your married friends have it made is much the same kind of error of generalization that married women make in thinking that all their single friends have it made. Just remember that the greener grass you yearn for on the other side of the fence may be nothing more than artificial turf.

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