Is pair-bonding illegal in our society? I know that sounds ridiculous. Maybe it isn't, but the limiting ideas we have about it, such as the way we approach dating, and what we call marriage, etc., seem to indicate that it is. I will share some reading I've done that makes me wonder such things. I am quoting Brad Warner below:
"There is no set Buddhist view on marriage. But I’ll give you my own take on it in brief.
Marriage turns the natural inclination of humans to pair-bond into a legal institution. This is fine. We humans do a lot of this sort of thing. We’ve reined in our natural inclination to eat whenever we’re hungry and turned it into an institution of eating at three specified times of day. We’ve turned our natural inclination to care for the members of our community into a bizarre system of taxation and government. The list goes on and on. Why should pair bonding be spared?
Marriage is neither good nor bad in and of itself. There are a lot of reasons to recommend it. And this is why I came out so strongly in favor of monogamy in my other books. I’m still very much in favor of it when it can be accomplished, and I still highly recommend it. It solves a lot of problems by making clear boundaries on sexual behavior."
Warner, Brad. Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between (pp. 247-248). New World Library. Kindle Edition.
I am still not clear on this whole thing of "finding" a mate, sorry to say. I know a woman who is 36 years younger than me. She's someone I happen to work with. We have a great friendship. I've noticed lately how much she appreciates being hugged, and we seem to connect on a much deeper level with each other than we do with anyone else in our environment (most of which are not interested in giving/receiving hugs). I consider her though to be more like an adopted daughter (her father is deceased), than a potential partner. I wouldn't want to ruin her life by pursuing any kind of romance with her, given my age. Yet, part of me is sort of baffled by the closeness we seem to feel for each other. I can't read her mind, but I can feel that there is a sort of mutual caring for each other. We openly express affection. I find there is a natural inclination toward what seems like pair-bonding between us. We have a connection which is sort of unusual, given the very wide gulf in our ages.
I have experienced what seems like a natural inclination toward pair-bonding with women much closer to my age. Like I've done with the young woman I just mentioned, however, I have often raised objections at the prospect of getting "sexual" with them. I wouldn't want to date anyone 36 years younger than me for various "conditioned" reasons, but there are times when I will question such conditioning. Society seems to dictate what we should and should not believe, do, or feel in the dating world no matter what the age difference is, or at any stage in the pair-bonding processes we get involved in. This seems to go against the natural inclination of humans toward pair-bonding that Brad Warner mentions. To me, it makes pair-bonding seem illegal. Further on, Warner says,
"Marriage is neither good nor bad in and of itself. There are a lot of reasons to recommend it...But marriage also creates difficulties, such as making it very problematic to end a pair-bond situation that is no longer viable. Having said that, though, I think in most cases a married couple should try as much as possible to find ways of preserving their marriage if they believe there’s a chance it can be preserved. But when it can’t be preserved, they should be free to end it."
Warner, Brad. Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between (p. 248). New World Library. Kindle Edition.
In everything Brad Warner explores in his beautiful book having to do with sexuality, one thing he doesn't talk about is karezza. That may be because he has not yet discovered it, or because he knows something about it, but he's not revealing that for some reason. Who knows? Yet, karezza, from what I've only been able to understand intellectually (with the exception of experiencing what may be at least one aspect of it, such as "the love hormone," oxytocin, when hugging someone), would seem to be one of those ways we might find of preserving a marriage, however broadly or narrowly we might wish to define marriage.
I can't help but wonder how many times I have passed up the natural inclination for pair-bonding of any kind because of the limiting ideas I hold and had drilled into me growing up in our society. I am like a fly caught in a bottle with this, not seeming to be able to find my way out. I know what I know, but I share a certain mindset with our society unfortunately, and this makes it difficult to act on the basis of my own true nature. Maybe someone has an idea what I'm getting at (even if I'm not sure I do) and maybe a little experience to share.