The Psychology of Sex
PUPPY-LOVE: JUVENILE PAIR-BONDING. When it occurs, juvenile pair-bonding with a friend of the other sex provides a child with a first-hand experience of another basic phenomenon of sex roles, namely, the reciprocal attachment or bonding of one sex to the other, otherwise known as being in love. The dogma of the latency period has effectively sealed off scientific investigation into this aspect of child development. Thus the prevalence, age, and durability of juvenile love affairs has never been ascertained. They do, however, occur and, as part of healthy childhood development, witness the following transcript.
This transcript was taken from an interview with a young father who was rooming-in with his small son. The boy was admitted to the hospital for surgery to correct a birth defect of the penis. The mother had stayed at home with three other infants. The father was articulate and interested in matters pertaining to his son’s juvenile G-I/R [Gender-Identity/Role] development, for there had been a period of neonatal uncertainty as to whether the child should he assigned as a boy or girl. Hence the fathers ease in drawing on his own biography. Referring to a woman who had beat her son when she found him playing sex with a girl, and who thought she had done right, he said:
I guess she thought she was right, but I don’t. A boy’s got to find out sooner or later. Why beat him because he’s trying it young? I tried it. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I tried it. I was five or six I guess; I really can’t remember. As a matter of fact, I fell in love with my cousin, first cousin, at eight years old. I remember that. Ill never forget that.
It was the first time I’d seen her. She was a red-head, and she was bright. She was good-looking. She had freckles on her face. She came to visit us for a week or ten days. We had a small house then, and all the cousins had to sleep with us. So Cathy, that’s her name, she would sleep with me, but at the other end of the bed, head to toe. We were both the same age. And the way she would sleep, she would always push down in the bed, and my foot would be up between her legs. And it was very warm there! I would be wiggling my toes between her legs. She wouldn’t be doin’ nothin’, but she would take her feet and start wiggling them between my legs.
Then we would just continue on. I don’t know if we thought of ourselves having an affair or sexual intercourse or anything. I don’t recall whether I felt for her vagina or not, but know we did something. I mean we got on top of each other. And she had her panties off, and I had my underwear off.
The whole time she was there, we would wait until everybody would go to sleep, and then we’d get together and get out of the bed, quietly, not waking my little brother and the other girls, onto the floor. Or go in the kitchen, or outside and sit on the back porch.
You know, right now, she and I are just like this (demonstrating) – tight. We’re real close.... She used to write to me till after she found out I was married. She didn’t like the idea of me getting married, because she always said I thought you were going to wait for me, and all this. And I would say something like, well, you know, they wouldn’t let us get married, no way. And she would say something like, we’ll just wait till we get old enough to where we wouldn’t need anybody’s consent but our own.
In comparing his feelings for Cathy and for his wife, he said:
Well, I really couldn’t say, because I’ve never really compared them. I love my wife, quite naturally, and I don’t know what you’d call it between Cathy and me. When I found out that we were related, I thought it would he incest, between first cousins. I think I tried to change my feelings for her. I’m not saying that I did it. I can’t explain the feelings that I feel toward her. I doubt if she could explain her feelings toward me either. I guess the reason why we don’t write each other is because we’ve told each other that we wouldn’t contact any more, unless we accidentally run up on each other. But it seems as if she’s been trying sort of to keep up with me. When I joined the service, she found out, and six months later she joined the service. Same branch. But where she’s stationed I don’t know. She doesn’t know where I’m stationed, because I didn’t tell even my family, in case she’d find out....
After I was married and back from California, she came to visit home. She called on the phone, and she was talking to my wife first, and my wife told me to pick up the phone. She and I were talking, and my wife was eavesdropping on the other end. And she was talking to me as if I was her long lost love.... We drove out to my mother’s house, where she was staying. Before I stopped the car, she was embracing me not like relatives, but as if we were really lovers. And my wife didn’t like this!
The inquiry turned to whether he and Cathy had been in love at age eight.
I don’t know. I guess you could say love. It might be; it might not. If it was love, well, I guess you could say yes. People say it’s puppy-love, but I don’t know if it was puppy-love. It wouldn’t be going on. Every time we see each other now it wouldn’t continue as puppy-love.
He compared his feelings for Cathy at age eight and in teen-age:
I think it was the same thing. It feels the same thing. I often dream about her, and I did then too. I would always talk about her, and occasionally I do now. Not to my wife, of course, but around my mother or dad, or my sisters and brothers. So I don’t see any difference in it.
In adulthood, they had once come very close to having sex together, but didn’t.
We were trying to figure out whether we should continue and do it or not. We didn’t know, so we just messed around, and then got up.
John Money, Love and Love Sickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference and Pair-bonding, pp. 148-150. John Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, London) 1980.