An interesting article in the New York Times said that even animals once thought to be monogamous are fooling around. So, are people - like other animals - born to do it on the sly? Is monogamy a myth? These are question that have been vexing people for centuries - and this article sheds some light on the controversial topic.
Monogamy is not our "natural" evolutionary state. Biologically-speaking, relationships are generally meant to last for two years and then the male is wired to move on in order to continue the cycle of populating the human race. Thankfully, however, we are conscious beings who are able to alter our behavior for our own good. It's definitely not easy, but for those who dream of a lifelong relationship with the same person, it can be achieved. Plus, there's a big difference between being a serial philanderer and making a mistake.
posted by Chris L., at
3/19/2008 10:58 AM
It appears that we're programmed to spread our genes around, but the monogamous family unit came about as a way to protect and nurture the offspring once they arrive. What good is having babies if they die off because the parents (fathers especially) are away fertilizing someone else's field. Multiple partners seems more primal, while 'stable families' are more of a social evolution. It's just an unending tug of war. You just have to decide if you want muliple playmates or to have another person on whom you can utterly depend, and vis versa. I'm not an anthropologist, just my 2 cents.
posted by Anonymous, at
3/19/2008 12:08 PM
Everyone is different. For some people, monogamy is appropriate. For others it isn't. Most people settle down only after dating a variety of people first.
And most of it has jack shit to do with evolution, it is a result of our socialization, what values and expectations we are raised with; and what opportunities are presented to us by our surroundings, what partners are available, and whether mating with them fits into our lifestyle.
Any talk of how humans are "wired" or "programmed" or have a "natural" evolutionary state is just bullshit that completely ignores social reality.
Reasons why I am monogamous: 1.) Not interested since my husband is hot as hell. 2.) I'm a misanthrope to begin with, and most people just annoy me. 3.) My husband would chop my head off if I cheated on him. 4.) But more importantly, I know it would break his heart if I cheated on him. So I don't. 'Nuff said.
posted by Eshto, at
3/19/2008 1:04 PM
Well put, Eshto. You don't need to be a sexually repressed religionist to believe in monogamy. Sometimes it's just downright APPEALING. People out there WANT to be monogamous. In MY case, it's about not hurting the other person, not worrying if G-d will smite me.
posted by Emily K, at
3/19/2008 2:28 PM
Well as you know Emily, I can't speak for the religious implications, being the heathen that I am.
But I have studied evolution. Evolution doesn't know or care about what individual people do in their spare time.
Whether you boink a coworker when you're away from your spouse, or whether you think it's your duty in life to spread your seed everywhere and populate the planet (as if it needs it), those are beliefs you hold and decisions you make.
posted by Eshto, at
3/19/2008 10:04 PM
I am gay and would love to meet someone who wants a Monogamous relationship But being that so many out there are just wanting to get thier rocks off, I decded to become celibate till the right person comes along.