Both our sex drive and romance drive are natural but they can be a major distraction in our lives so should we try to minimize them?
Sex and romance are thrilling, exhilarating and biologically adaptive. They’re also distracting, melodramatic and, beyond procreation, largely pointless.
Love is far from pointless, but romance and love are different. Romance romanticizes melodramatically, as in love songs, which might be more accurately called romance songs:“You are perfect. I’ll adore you for all eternity. If you left me, I’d die.” — that sort of exaggerated zeal, often tied to sex. “I’ll adore you forever because you’re so hot.”Romance is generally a short-lived high, often leading to disappointment and confusion when we finally see through the exaggerations.
Love isn’t exaggerated zeal; it’s actual care, attention and effort. We invest our love in a diverse array of accounts, devoting it to partners but also to friends, family, animals, teammates, ventures, ideas, causes and pursuits like sport, art or music.
Obsession with sex and romance takes time away from our other loves. Or if we don’t really have other loves, it may be because we’re too distracted by our love of sex and romance, as though they’re the only loves that really matter.
Some say we can’t change our drive for sex and romance. They’re biologically “hardwired.” That’s certainly true during our seasons of hormonal zeal. But sometimes when the hormones subside, we stay zealous by force of habit or some other drive that has little to do with sex and romance—a desire for status, for example.
We mostly associate these minimalisms with people who aren’t lucky in sex and romance. They can’t get the sex and romance they want, and so they sadly settle for a life without it.
More broadly we could say minimalism becomes a viable, compelling lifestyle option for several reasons, limited appealing prospects being just one. Reduced libido or impulse to mate would also be reasons, as is having other higher priorities.
What is sexual minimalism? It’s minimizing, not eliminating. It’s masturbating when you want, no stigma, just indulging in a basic instinct, male or female and then getting back to other things.
What is romantic minimalism? It’s having friends, even cute ones but staying friends, not friends with benefits, maybe flirting, but not crossing into the realm where the norms of romance kick in, the obligation to sustain the exaggerations, praise and pedestalling.
Friendship often makes for roomier conversations. Less agenda; more freedom to explore and be honest with each other. Many people report that they have deeper, freer conversations with friends than with their romantic and sexual partners anyway.
Do sexual and romantic minimalists fool around sometimes? Optionally. If they want to stay minimalist, they weigh how much they want it against the risk of it becoming a distraction or a romance.
A lot of married couples become sexual and even romantic minimalists. They love each other but through familiarity have become minimally romantic. They have their freedom from the distractions within the comfort zone of partnership.
Older partnered minimalists sometimes pity and tease older single people for still being on their distracting sexual and romantic quests. By middle age, it can be distracting to still be looking for action or a partner. Certainly not for all. For some it’s the first chance to look for those long lost treats after years of childrearing or a romanceless marriage.
Still, as the rush of hormones subsides and one becomes more comfortable with solitude, some singles either drift into minimalism much as the couples do, or they choose minimalism, deciding consciously to kick the habit. And sometimes both, drifting into minimalism and then embracing it.
Above all, sexual and romantic minimalism can be a result of prioritizing our loves, discovering that other loves are more important to us, at least in our current season and shifting our care, attention and effort toward them instead.