Sow Your Wild Oats
The phrase “sowing your wild oats” is often used to explain a man or woman’s need to go out into the world and release their pent-up sexual energy until they’re ready to settle down. The term was used in Fifteenth Century English literature to refer to the seemingly wasteful action of planting wild oats, which is a fundamentally stubborn weed crop that European farmers have been battling for centuries. The idea is to get rid of these “bad” seeds while still in our youth, so that we can one day become responsible adults. However, here’s the big question” Is this practice really beneficial in releasing youthful indulgence in preparation for a monogamous relationship?
Benefits of Sowing Your Oats
Advocates of sowing your seeds have a few good points. Beyond the sexual connotation this phrase brings to mind, it also refers to spending time with multiple partners. This is a good way to prepare yourself to find your soulmate, as it introduces you to a variety of partners over a short period. It allows you to compare characteristics, giving you a better understanding of what you’re looking for. A lot of romantics get caught up in the romance of finding “the one,” spending the majority of their time with just one or two partners. If they don’t make the right choice, it could be many years before they realize that these people are not what they were looking for.
There is also some truth to the fact that many of us have a list of things we want to do before settling down, and if we deny ourselves this, we will always wonder “what if.” Quite often, “what if” is not all it’s cracked up to be, but without actually experiencing it, we would never know that. Sadly, many relationships are hurt by a partner who thinks they’re missing out on something. Whether it’s an all-out affair or a short fling, they soon discover that what they had was great—but by the time they figure this out, it may already be too late. A little rambunctious carousing may teach us what’s truly worthwhile in life.
Some research suggests that human beings are not genetically coded to be monogamous. Males are said to need to go out and propagate their seed to as many crops as they can, while women are driven to finding genetic diversity and bonding to as many mates as possible to ensure their security. Of course, this drive is ancient, but scientists speculate that it may still affect our choices today. Perhaps a little moderate promiscuity is just what we need to get these innate desires out of our system—or is it?
The More Wild Oats We Sow, the More Wild Oats We Grow
Another way to look at sowing one’s oats is to consider it from the perspective of reward. Researchers claim that they’ve discovered proof that our genetic coding makes some of us more prone to promiscuity than others. Much of this desire is tied to the reward center of the brain, which sees these fleeting romances as being worth the risks, simply for the amount of pleasure (reward) they provide. While this may be the case, the question we have to ask ourselves is, can we ever really purge these desires from our system?
If we look at the theory of reward/punishment, we see that rewarding certain behaviors can increase the chance that response will occur in the future. In other words, if we assume the gratification of sowing oats is rewarding, then by partaking in its pleasure, we actually increase the likelihood of its action. Do we have a reserve capacity of wild oats that eventually run out with time, or do we manufacture these fairytale crops as an excuse to live out our desires without inhibition or guilt? Many of us probably know a few people who have been sowing for the last thirty years, with no particular end in sight.
Moderation in All Things
I think that experiencing multiple partners is an important part of learning about who we are and what we are looking for, but when sowing wild oats, there should be a couple ground rules:
• Don’t be afraid to date multiple people without getting too involved. This is how we sample relationships, and make important decisions about what we’re looking for.
• Players may lie about dating multiple people, but a mature adult will be honest about it. You don’t have to throw it in their face, just give them a hint that you’re still actively searching.
• Remember, that by repeating any pleasurable, irresponsible experience, you may not necessarily be purging it from your system, but only prolonging its addictive nature.