There is so much animals can teach us about who we are and who we have always been, especially in regard to our love lives. Whenever I ponder human behaviour, I try to consider the biological reasons for why the behaviour may have evolved over time. In these posts, I discuss my thoughts on these matters.

The Cave Bear Archetype

My dad asked me a little while ago what animal archetype I thought he was. I told him I really couldn’t answer that because I obviously don’t know him in a romantic sense but that I suspected he was a cave bear. My dad is the type that requires a lot of alone time or “me time” as he has always called it. He really can’t function without at least a few hours of solitude each and every day. He and my mum have also been forced to spend a lot of time apart over the years because of his work that often has him traveling out of state or country for many months on end. I know he struggles with the separations but his cave bear tendency, I’m sure, is what allows him to cope.

Bears are solitary creatures. In the springtime females put out a pheromone that attracts the males and after a few days of flirting, sniffing, neck biting, and wrestling – coitus eventually occurs. After this, the males unceremoniously return to their caves and the females go on to raise their children as single mums.

In my dating adventures I have come across a cave bear or two, myself. They can be really confusing animals because for as much as they love their space, they also love affection. Like teddy bears, cave bears really do love to be loved – but they are also a creature that must retreat. It’s just not in them to be glued to the hip of a mate. They can’t do it. Eventually they need to take some time out.

There are a few cave bears around, like my father, who can successfully commit to a long term relationship but in my experience this is the exception to the rule and the fact that my mum has been able to put up with my dad for all these (over thirty) years has to do with the fact that she is very easy going about his needing cave time.

In contrast to my dad, I find that most cave bears are the types that will have a lot of short term relationships or long term casual relationships over the course of their lives. Committed, long-term relationships are a struggle for them because they often feel smothered. Their alone time is like oxygen to them and if they feel they aren’t getting enough of it, they’ll ditch you – but not before giving you a taste of why bears are so feared by so many.

The iconic book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” is based on the theory that all men require this kind of alone time and that as women, it is important to respect them this. For cave bears, this is much more than a theory. It’s an absolute truth (x about a million).

If you try to follow a cave bear into his cave or if you sit at the edge of the cave waiting – hoping – for him to come out, he will only stay in there longer. You will only be creating an endless winter for yourself and you will probably freeze to death before you see him retreat from his hibernation and welcome you back with open arms.

If, though, you can allow your cave bear the freedom to hibernate for as long as he needs and in the meantime busy yourself with your own fabulous life, then there’s a good chance you’ll come to see more and more of his sweet teddy bear side and less of his aloof, retreating side – or worse, his vicious predator-side.

The important thing to remember is that there really isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff happening in the cave, anyway. You might start to go on one of those thought chains that spiral out of control and have you convinced that the cave is full of all-night parties and beautiful women but in actuality it’s much more likely to be filled with Mountain Dew, Doritos, Play Station, the History Channel, cheap beer, lotion, tissues, etc. etc. etc. It’s really not any place you would want to be…

So cheer up, girlies! Don’t worry about your bears when they disappear into their caves. It’s all good and you’re way too amazing to be worrying about all of THAT!

Bye for now!!

Carly xxoxx

ps – after writing this, I’m totally craving Doritos!

pps – I can’t beleive this crazy coincidence .. my mum just told me she sent my dad (who is away on a work assignment) ….. CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR!! How crazy is that!
More like this:
The Tape Worm Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype
The Bower Bird Archetype

The Bowerbird Archetype

The (Satin) Bowerbird Archetype

The Belief
“I want a man who is kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?” ~ Zsa Zsa Gabor

The Biology
The Satin Bowerbird is a rainforest dwelling species common to Eastern Australia. It is named after the elaborate “bowers” that the males of the species build as a way to lure in and attract potential mates. The bower is made up of a thatched structure with an arch-like opening. Surrounding the structure is a collection of blue items that the male carefully collects (and in some cases, steals) and arranges thoughtfully. Common decorations include clothes pegs, blue bottle caps, and feathers. His decorating ability improves with age.

The male Bowerbird is not mature until 7 years of age (which is quite ancient for a bird) and prior to that appears much like the females with a greenish body and striped chest and legs. Upon maturity he develops a shiny dark blue plumage. Interestingly, the males with duller plumage tend to build bigger and more impressive bowers than those of bright plumage (a form of primal compensation, perhaps?)

The female Bowerbird is inherently picky. Before choosing a partner she will first snoop around the bowers of all the males in the area (but only when they are away, of course) and have a look at who has the best possessions. From there she will return to the most interesting display to meet the male. In her youth she has little interest in the personality of her mates and choses a partner based solely on his material wealth. As she matures, however, she takes more interest in the personality and charms of her potential suitors and takes particular notice of his dancing abilities. The male has no role in parenting. Both sexes have blue eyes.

The Bowerbird Man
The Bowerbird man has a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man but he means no disrespect. He simply has a love of beautiful things and women are chief among them. In his youth he isn’t what you would call a “man’s man” (or in Australia, a “blokey bloke”). In fact, he is often quite androgynous-looking in his younger years and it is generally not until midlife that he comes fully into his sense of self. As he matures further and transitions into old age he seems to defy the traditional laws of attraction and becomes increasingly appealing to his intended mates. This is often, though, the result of his status moreso than his looks. It is no wonder that Viagra is coloured blue – the most favourite colour of the Bowerbird.

He avoids commitment like the plague. It is not that he doesn’t think his mates are worthy of his undivided attention or that he feels there is something wrong with them – quite the contrary. He just doesn’t understand the point of settling down with one person when there are so many others to explore. Indeed, he is forever meeting new women as he is a regular at the local night club (or whatever local watering hole is most hip) and is never afraid to invite a beautiful woman for a dance.

The Bowerbird’s financial status also tends to improve as he matures but he must be careful not to lose it with his habit of extreme over spending. His home is large and an obvious display of his wealth (or perceived wealth). He regularly drops large sums of money on status items such as cars, electronics, designer clothing, and of course satin sheets! If he is generally unattractive he is even more prone to excess. If unable to pay for this lifestyle through traditional means he will stop at nothing short of lying, cheating, and stealing to maintain his reputation and hold onto his assets. Indeed, many a Bowerbird has been done for insider trading!

The greatest fear of the male Bowerbird is that one day he might lose all the pomp and circumstance he has built up around him. If there is one lesson he would be wise to learn, it is that “there is no use trying to keep up with the Jones’. They’re broke!

The Bower Bird Woman
The Bowerbird woman only wants the best – and why wouldn’t she? She knows that when it comes to love and romance it’s a seller’s market – and she is the hot commodity. She’s known as the “party girl” and the “single and fabulous” girl but her friends worry sometimes that she is too picky when it comes to relationships. They wish that she would give a good, honest guy a chance and not just be constantly rushing home with whoever has the flashiest car. And perhaps they are right but you see it is not the Bowerbird’s nature to be monogamous – or to settle for second rate. She is a chaser of excitement and rich men are often the gateway to an exciting life.

She loves a man who will take her to fancy restaurants, society parties, theatre openings, and who (of course) has an incredible home to use as a kind of adults only theme park. This does not mean, though, that she is shallow and only concerned with material possessions. She isn’t. In fact, the female Bowerbird usually lives in a very modest home. You see, it is not in the owning of items that she is satisfied. She is, instead, looking for the experience of being in the presence of beauty and excitement. Having said that, though, a Bowerbird woman is never going to turn down a gift. She is particularly fond of Sapphires but only if they are quality stones. She knows junk jewellery when she sees it and will not take well to being given something that belongs in a gum ball machine.

An amazing transformation takes place for the Bowerbird woman as she begins to reach the far end of mid-life. Suddenly the thrill of luxury living lessons a bit and she starts to yearn for an emotional or even spiritual connection with a mate. Instead of craving the rush of a packed trendy night club she finds herself looking forward to living room slow dances with a special man that she can have an honest conversation with. If when she arrives at this point in life she finds herself in a rich but loveless marriage she will likely end the relationship and begin looking (probably for the first time) for love. She still, though, would never be caught dead with a postal worker or man of similarly limited means. She is still a Bowerbird, after all!

The Bower Bird / Bower Bird Couple
It is rare for two Bower Birds to pair up as they are both hesitant to limit themselves to a single person and prefer to flutter around amongst a collection of lovers. If they do get together they will likely maintain separate homes for many years into the relationship and it will take a long time for them to become “exclusive”. They might even prefer to be in a long distance relationship, coming together for only short periods periodically throughout the year. In this instance she will either fly to him or the two of them will jet off together to enjoy high end, luxury vacations. They will likely enjoy boating and beach holidays where there is nothing to see but the sparkling blue hues of the ocean and sky – and very often, each other’s eyes.

If they do eventually come to share a home it will be the epitome of style and taste. Theirs will be the nicest home on the block in the nicest block in town. Their flare for style may even attract the attention of home and lifestyle magazines. They must be very careful, though, not to let their love of luxury catapult them into bankruptcy court!

The Bower Bird / Other Archetype Couple
It is important to remember that rarely do either male or female Bower Birds feel that monogamy is natural. Trying to force it upon them will likely ruffle their feathers. This isn’t to say that they won’t want to become monogamous to you at some stage buy most assuredly, nagging and pleading will not get you there any faster. Their distain of monogamy is not personal and it is desperately important for you to not take offence. It is simply their nature to remain free an unattached. If you are dating a Bower Bird you would be wise to keep your options open and not put too much heed on the potential that you see. Keep in mind, though, that most humans do tend to evolve through many archetypes over the course of their life so don’t be surprised if by treating your Bower Bird well he/she suddenly turns into a swan.

Famous Bowerbirds
Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hugh Hefner, The Great Gatsby (although he was a Bower Bird/Swan hybrid)

More like this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Tape Worm Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype

The Flying Fox Archetype

Part two of my exploration into animal archetypes.

The Belief
“Who needs great love when you have great lovers”

The Biology
The flying fox is a large species of fruit bat with a head that resembles a fox. They are believed to be descended from primates and of Australian animals, are the species most closely related to humans. Their loves lives centre around a local dominant male whose role in the community is to breed with every female (over the age of two). Sometimes females will also seek out the services of additional lovers as they are not the shy, submissive types and if “in the mood” will not simply wait around for the dominant male to be free.

Sexual selection (ie female insistence) has favoured in this species males who are extremely good lovers. They are particularly adept at felacia and during the mating season become true sex machines, maintaining a full or partial erection round the clock and forsaking sleep in favour of sex. Males also have genitalia of porn star proportions but because they rely on being light-weight to fly, do not have the option of carrying around both large genitalia and large brains (unlike humans- although this is yet to be determined). As a result, male Flying Foxes do not have much for grey matter. Females are likely the thinkers in Flying Fox society and are also exceptionally good mothers. They depend on the support of the community’s large female population for help in raising offspring.

The Flying Fox Man
Few archetypes have the sex drive of the male Flying Fox. He is bold, he is persistent, and he knows what he is doing. The Flying Fox man understands the art of lovemaking and will go out of his way to make sure you never walk away unsatisfied. He will happily lavish hours of attention on you, forsaking sleep if necessary, to bring you to a point of such ecstasy you pass out in sheer delight. Indeed, his tongue is as adept as his manhood which is unsurprising considering it gets a daily workout sucking the nectar out of flowers and indulging in fleshy, summer fruits.

You must be warned, however, that the flying fox man sees it his duty in life to share his gifts with the world – or at least, with the other females in his range. If you have been entertaining visions of white dresses and babies, you might be wise to look elsewhere. It is possible that he may succumb to social pressure and attempt to become a faithful partner but at the end of the day, this is simply not his true nature. The Flying Fox man is also, as much as we love him, not the brightest crayon in the box. He converses well in bedroom banter but should the topic move to politics or psychology he will likely go mute. Let’s face it, though, girls – with a man like this there isn’t much need for conversation!

Interesting Sidenote – In humans, just as in Flying Foxes, there is a correlation between intelligence and promiscuity. Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has discovered that the higher a man’s IQ, the less likely he is to cheat on his partner.

The Flying Fox Woman
The female Flying Fox is not merely interested in a male who can bring her children (as is common in the animal kingdom). This lady requires a confident lover who is well practiced in the art of love making. She has no patience for a man who doesn’t know what he is doing nor does she have the time for a needy man. She also has difficulty stomaching “romance” and post coitus, expects her lovers to go back to wherever it is they came from. Do not, however, think that this woman is cold hearted. If she has children she holds then at the forefront of her life but instead of relying on a man for support in raising them, looks instead to the her vast community of female friends and family. In many ways she has it all – great sex, an active social life, and more than likely a highly successful career.

It should be noted, though, that the Female Flying Fox is actually a very rare archetype. Many women believe themselves to be Flying Foxes when in actuality they desire a loyal and loving mate but have put walls around this desire after having been burned in a past relationship. They fear what pain may arise should they allow themselves to be vulnerable and so they take on Flying Fox form as a way to feel in control. For these women, taking on this archetype might bring temporary excitement but will be ultimately unfulfilling. Any woman who believes herself to be a Flying Fox should consider researching other archetypes to see if, in fact, her true nature lies elsewhere.

The Flying Fox / Flying Fox Couple
It is rare that two flying foxes will ever pair up as these both male and female of this archetype are extremely self-sufficient, preferring to come together only at times of breeding. On the rare event that two flying foxes do settle down together, they will likely label themselves as being in an “open relationship” and will both enjoy the company of other lovers in addition to each other. This couple will also likely separate for large periods of time to partake in their own individual interests and to enjoy the company of their friends. When reunited, however, they have the best sex life in town!

The Flying Fox / Other Archetype Couple
If you are not a flying fox but are dating a flying fox, you must be a very tolerant person, indeed! Flying foxes are best enjoyed while on vacation or in situations where you only expect them to “hang around” on a casual basis as monogamy is not the natural state for those of this archetype. Flying foxes enjoy the freedom of the night’s sky and do not take well to being caged, often sneaking away to spend time on their own or to find excitement via the way of secret lovers. If you are dating a male Flying Fox you will likely tire eventually of his inability to maintain his end of a conversation. If you are dating a female Flying Fox you will likely tire of her fierce independence and tendency to resent any action which she may perceive as “suffocating”. If you find yourself struggling with these inherent archetypal traits, it is usually best to simply enjoy what it is your Flying Fox can offer you and then set them free to fly off into the night.

Famous Flying Foxes
Katharine Hepburn, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, Tiger Woods

More on this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Bowerbird Archetype
The Tape Worm Archetype

Are you clingy? You might have the parasite archetype!

The Belief
“True love is two hearts beating as one”

The Biology
The only species on Earth that we know is completely monogamous in all situations is Diplozoon paradoxum, a species of flat worm that lives within the gills of Asian and European freshwater fish. There is little to distinguish male from female in this parasitic species as at adolescence individuals fuse their genitals to a mate to which they remain connected until “death do them part”. If a suitable companion does not become available right away he/she will enter into a dormant state, putting life on hold as they wait for a happily ever after. Diplozoons can stay in this dormant state for several months while for waiting for love to show up which, in tape worm time, is an eternity. If a suitor fails to show up, he/she perishes. If a suitor does show up, though, and the two adjoin, they then develop gonads and mature into their innately codependent adult form where they are literally attached at the hip, literally cannot survive without each other, and two literally “become one”.

Tape Worm People
Tape worm people make up a large sector of the human community. Indeed, most people over the course of their life will either become a Tape Worm or will date a Tape Worm. Like the actual species, those of this archetype feel that life does not begin until they meet their perfect partner. They feel as though their life, before meeting that person, was on hold, meaningless, and/or dormant. They are extremely co-dependent and hold the belief that they cannot physically survive without their partner. When separated, Tape Worm people feel tremendous longing, even physical pain, and as such will go to great lengths to prevent their partners from engaging in activities that do not include them. Similarly, Tape Worms, upon entering a relationship, tend to “ditch” their friends as they are uninterested in participating in activities outside of the pairing.

There is a lot of stigma attached to Tape Worm people because, as parasites, they have the ability to drain life-force energy from those around them. They are often described as being “energy suckers,” “clingy,” and “suffocating.” Their embodiment of this archetype is usually the result of low self-esteem and a weak sense of self. It is therefore advisable that Tape Worm people partake in clubs, sports, and/or organisations without their partners as a way to develop a sense of individual identity. Most would also benefit from adopting the affirmation “whatever my partner is or isn’t doing, I am whole within myself”. In time most Tape Worms will exit this archetype and enter into the realm of a less parasitic but equally loyal and affectionate species such as the Bewick’s Swan or Emu.

The Tape Worm / Tape Worm Couple
The tape worm / tape worm pair believes in the romantic ideology of “two become one” and are described by others as being “attached at the hip.” They struggle to ever be apart and if separated, will experience a sensation of physical pain and debilitating longing. Tape Worm couples, over time, fuse their two identities together and come to describe all their likes and dislikes in terms of “We.” In wildlife biology we learn that a species is always better off for having a strong diversity in the gene pool. Relationships, too, are stronger for having a strong diversity within the pairing and Tape Worm couples, in particular, would benefit immensely by spending time apart on a regular basis to develop their own individual identities. If this is not possible (or if it is too painful), it is advisable that Tape worm Couples involve themselves in team or group activities where they can maintain their closeness to one other while forming relationships with other people and engaging in activities “outside the gill”.

The Tape Worm / Other Archetype Couple
Dating a tape worm can be an extremely challenging scenario because, as parasites, these people can be draining. Your tape worm partner will not be content with you engaging in any social activities that do not include them and because they do not have a strong sense of self, will often adopt your likes and dislikes as a subconscious attempt to meld into your form. In most scenarios, a Tape Worm will eventually develop into a new archetype but it is not advisable to wait around for this to happen because it is often through the demise of a relationship that a Tape Worm continues his/her evolution. To remedy a relationship with a Tape Worm you might seek couple’s counselling as a way to understand what life events brought forth this archetype and what you did or didn’t do to enable it.

Famous Tape Worms
Romeo & Juliet, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty (who entered into a dormant state while awaiting her perfect partner – this could be argued, however, as the dormancy was not her idea)

More on this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Bowerbird Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype

free love in the animal kingdom

Like most women I have a keen interest in trying to understanding the dynamics of romantic relationships. I have never been particularly lucky in love and in trying to understand the reason for this have dedicated thousands, probably millions, of hours analysing, tearing apart, and seeking desperately to figure out what it is that makes for a lasting, nurturing, and healthy human relationship. As a University student I took a class by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Dave P Barash, author of “The Myth of Monogamy.” Dr. Barash’s class was one of my very favourites over the course of my degree but despite how much I enjoyed it, I did not enjoy the fact that it obliterated any hope I had for discovering in the animal kingdom an example of untarnished, fully-requited, monogamous love.

We’ve all heard stories of animals that “mate for life” – lobsters, swans, ducks, etc (check out “ducks, heartless rapists or evolutionary geniuses” if you are interested in a gigantic rant on this subject). The fact of the matter, though, is that of even the animals who form the strongest pair bonds, there are only a few examples of animals who have not been found to sneak away every once and a while to cheat – to form “EPC’s” or “extra pair copulations”. I learned from Dr. Barash, in fact, that the only species that we know for sure is fully monogamous is a species of tape worm that, at the time of sexual maturity, fuses its genitals to its mate. I suppose the praying mantis could also be considered monogamous as infidelity isn’t possible in a society where females eat the heads of their partners as a post coitus snack – to call that monogamy, though, seems a pretty desperate stretch.

If the quest is to understand human males, I suppose we have to look to primates, our closest relative being of course, the chimpanzee. In primates, interestingly enough, promiscuity of females can be predicted by looking at the testicle size of the males. Chimps have giant balls, the biggest of any primate and twice the size of the average man. To see what I mean, have a look at this post on DailyRandom.

They use these giant balls to produce in excess enough semen to flush out the lingering semen of any males to which their partners may have recently mated. In essence, male chimps have big balls because female chimps are whores. Ouch. To be fair, the males are whores, too though. In fact, chimpanzee society is reminiscent of 1960s style Haight Ashbury free love and males will stop nothing short of screwing a frog for the sake of a decent orgasm (look this up on YouTube if you feel the need to be disturbed for the rest of your life.) As human’s closest living relative, the love lives of chimps have done nothing to give me faith in the possibility of a future loyal and loving partner.

I was relieved slightly to find out about gorillas, a species whose testicles are microscopic in comparison to chimps and whose manhoods swell to a throbbing 1.5 inches in preparation for coitus. Their societies participate in a harem structure centred around a dominant male. The females tend to be extremely loyal and as a result, the male has no need for excessive genatalia. This is by no mean an example of monogamy but it is at least a stable and reliable social structure whereby the females are loyal to their partner and are in return, cared for.

Humans are about mid ranking across the primate testicle spectrum which suggests that our females have a tendency toward fidelity but that males still require a respectable volume of semen to flush out their women on the off chance that they have been acting lately more like a chimps than gorillas. There is significant variation, though, in testicle size amongst individuals of our humble species with some falling more toward the chimpanzee end of the spectrum and others toward the gorilla. Could it be that perhaps those men with large balls come from a genetic lineage of men who would be attracted to more promiscuous women and who, like chimps, would tend to be promiscuous, themselves? And could it be that men of smaller bits and pieces would tend to, like gorillas, attract more loyal women – or perhaps entire harems of loyal women?


This would be a perfect campfire disucssion!