Sex at Dawn Book Summary - Sex at Dawn Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Sex at Dawn summary

Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

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

4.1 (533 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Sex At Dawn challenges conventional wisdom on human sexuality, arguing that monogamy is not a natural state for our species.
Table of Contents

    Sex at Dawn
    Summary of 10 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    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.
    Want to see all full key ideas from Sex at Dawn?

    Key ideas in Sex at Dawn

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    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.

    Sex at Dawn Review

    Sex At Dawn (2010) presents a provocative exploration of human sexuality and its implications. Here's why it's a must-read:

    • The book challenges traditional narratives on monogamy and human nature.
    • It draws on a wide range of scientific research and cross-cultural examples to support its arguments.
    • The authors present thought-provoking ideas, encouraging readers to reconsider societal norms.

    Dive into Sex At Dawn for an eye-opening journey into the roots of human sexuality.

    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

    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

    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.

    Categories with Sex at Dawn

    Book summaries like Sex at Dawn

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Sex at Dawn FAQs 

    What is the main message of Sex At Dawn?

    Sex At Dawn argues that monogamy is not a natural state for humans and challenges conventional beliefs on sexuality.

    How long does it take to read Sex At Dawn?

    Reading Sex At Dawn typically takes around 8 hours, while the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Sex At Dawn a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Sex At Dawn offers a thought-provoking and well-researched perspective on human sexuality, making it a worthwhile read.

    Who is the author of Sex At Dawn?

    The authors of Sex At Dawn are Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

    How many chapters are in Sex At Dawn?

    Sex At Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá has 16 chapters. Here's a list of the chapters:

    1. On the Origin of the Specious
    2. Lust in Paradise
    3. The Way We Weren't
    4. The Mating Market
    5. The Unbearable Lightness of Monogamy
    6. The Anthropology of Extra-Pair Copulations
    7. The Longevity of Longing
    8. The Peripatetic Penis
    9. The Politics of Promiscuity
    10. The Pleistocene Parent
    11. The Myth of Monogamy
    12. The Myth of Maleness
    13. The Myth of Mars and Venus
    14. The Prehistory of the Erotic
    15. The Ape That Got Lucky
    16. The Future of Sex

    How many pages are in Sex At Dawn?

    Sex At Dawn has 400 pages.

    When was Sex At Dawn published?

    Sex At Dawn was published in 2010.

    What to read after Sex at Dawn?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Sex at Dawn, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond
    • Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
    • The State of Affairs by Esther Perel
    • How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton
    • Smart Sex by Emily Morse
    • The Four Noble Truths of Love by Susan Piver
    • Boys & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
    • Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori A. Brotto
    • Untrue by Wednesday Martin
    • The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton