Sex at Dawn Book Summary - Sex at Dawn Book explained in key points
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Sex at Dawn summary

Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

How we mate, why we stray, and what it means for modern relationships

4.2 (408 ratings)
22 mins

What is Sex at Dawn about?

Sex At Dawn argues that the idealization of monogamy in Western societies is essentially incompatible with human nature. The book makes a compelling case for our innately promiscuous nature by exploring the history and evolution of human sexuality, with a strong focus on our primate ancestors and the invention of agriculture. Arguing that our distorted view of sexuality ruins our health and keeps us from being happy, Sex At Dawn explains how returning to a more casual approach to sex could benefit interpersonal relationships and societies in general.

Table of Contents

    Sex at Dawn
    summarized in 10 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 10

    Find out why long-term relationships suffer from monogamy.

    Are humans monogamous by default? Does the standard “boy-meets-girl”narrative come naturally to us?

    Many evolutionary psychologists think so. But take a moment to consider how many men have put their careers, family life and happiness at risk just for a single, meaningless, extra-marital fling. (Think Bill Clinton.)

    Consider how, in some countries, women are stoned to death for adultery, yet the urge to pursue sexual variety outside a lifelong partner has persisted since the dawn of mankind.

    From this perspective, it seems strange that countless individuals in human history have risked their lives and possessions for something that is believed to be “unnatural” to our species.

    Yet the standard assumptions about womb-to-tomb monogamy, the weaker female libido and the nuclear family (consisting solely of mom, dad and kids) persist.

    With more marriages failing than ever, and the media decrying the new “hook-up” culture, it’s time to ask: What is the reality of human sexuality? And, how did it come to be?

    Sex At Dawn attempts to answer these questions. The following blinks will demonstrate a fascinating and plausible alternative view on the evolution of human sexual behavior.

    In these blinks, you’ll learn:

    • why monogamous relationships tend to be doomed from the outset,
    • how casual sex was crucial to our ancestors’ survival,
    • why women moan loudly during sex, and why they take longer to reach orgasm,
    • how agriculture ruined our health and happiness, and
    • how the sexual and social behavior of our ancestors is similar to that of chimps and bonobos today.
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    Best quote from Sex at Dawn

    Until agriculture, human beings evolved in societies organized around an insistence on sharing just about everything.

    —Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
    example alt text

    About the Author

    Christopher Ryan is an author and journalist with a PhD in Psychology, who has lived in Alaska, Mexico, India and Spain. Indian-Portuguese co-author Cacilda Jethá M.D. is a physician and psychiatrist. Ryan and Jethá have been married for years and have chosen not to reveal any personal details about their sex life.

    Who should read Sex at Dawn?

    • Anyone who wants to know what kind of sex life is intrinsic to human nature
    • Anyone who has experienced the strains of preserving monogamy over time, and wonders how lifelong relationships can work out
    • Anyone interested in biology and evolutionary psychology

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