There are several “default settings” when it comes to physical attraction that govern unless a person has reason to override them. For example, bodies usually feel more comfortable sexually with other bodies that are in the same age range. For one thing, that better suits biology’s reproductive goals. (A woman of child-bearing age needs a mate who will likely be around to help raise her children.) For another, there is an inherent comfort with what is similar — it’s familiar — although there can be fascination or excitement with what is different.
However, there are good reasons why people occasionally override this default. It is usually assumed that someone who prefers much older partners is looking for a mother or father substitute, and someone who prefers much younger partners is seeking his youth or is stuck at a younger age. This is not necessarily the case. Sometimes factors such as age or even gender seem to disappear when two people are drawn to each other for other reasons.
In exploring the spiritual side of relationships, the premise of this book is that each of us is an eternal soul who plans each lifetime before incarnating, including making agreements with other souls. There are a number of spiritual factors that could attract someone to a different age range. Perhaps two souls who happen to be of different ages have agreements that can best be fulfilled sexually. A person whose life task is to mentor may be attracted to younger partners; a person whose life task is to bridge generations, to older. Souls don’t care much about biological defaults and cultural norms — they have their own agendas.
If two people have a close soul bond such as that of essence twins (twin souls) or essence mates, an age difference might not faze them. Mary Kay Letourneau is a former schoolteacher who began an affair with a student, Vili Fualaau, when he was twelve-years-old and she was thirty-four. She went to prison for it and married him when she got out. Their determination to be together no matter the cost reflects the fact that they are essence mates and have a mate agreement, according to my channeling of Michael.
Often, biological defaults become enshrined as cultural norms. To some degree, our culture tolerates relationships between older men and younger women — that seems to underline men’s dominance, virility, and perhaps wealth — but is less accepting of the reverse.
Many people are offended by relationships that violate cultural norms without really being able to say why. One reason is that we are biologically hardwired to ensure survival by creating clans. We hold them together by enforcing conformity (with gossip, for instance). As consciousness evolves, we can transcend these primitive mechanisms with reason and love, and can therefore be more flexible. Studies have shown that conservative people are more governed by fear, and fear causes people to revert to the seeming safety of defaults and norms. Progressives tend to believe that people should be free to do what they wish as long as they don’t cause real harm.
Cultural norms are created partly by familiarity, since we tend to fear the unknown, but they change over time. Throughout history, there has been pressure on young people to marry those of similar socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Miscegenation (mating between people of different races) was still criminalized in sixteen states before the Supreme Court struck down such laws in 1967. It wasn’t that long ago that it was considered scandalous for a straight couple to live together without being married. Gay marriage has become accepted amazingly quickly. It probably won’t be long before other forms of relationship such as polyfidelity become accepted as well.
There is nothing sacred about biological defaults and cultural norms; fundamentally, they are just habits. Computers come from the factory with many default settings but it is our prerogative to change them.
Even with animals, there are exceptions to biological defaults. Heterosexuality is nature’s default since it ensures survival through reproduction. A large majority of humans and animals are heterosexual. Still, the Wikipedia article “Homosexual behavior in animals” quotes scientist Petter Bøckman as saying, “No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist.” This ruins the argument of the religious right that it isn’t natural. The universe is an exuberant place that loves diversity and experimentation. The purpose of sex is more than just reproduction — it is about joy and union. Just because some behavior isn’t in the majority, it doesn’t mean it’s not natural and healthy.