Monogamy: How much sense does it really make?
Exploring the depths of our infidelity
Monogamy is defined as the practice or condition of having only one sexual or marriage partner during a period of time. This is a foreign concept to the many we constantly demonize for their philandering and adultery. Yet the question arises: How much of their behavior is due to their own seemingly selfish desires, and how much of it is part of their biological makeup?
This conversation is not a new one. For years, it has been said that men also are created to breed, while the female species is more prone to fidelity. Men on the other hand, should be expected to wander and fulfill their innate desire to conquer as many women as possible and to spread their seeds.
To many men, that theory was nothing short of a godsend, because they finally had a seemingly valid excuse for their cheating ways; and women, it seemed, had no choice but to accept it.
For the die-hard monogamists, some additional research may not bring much relief. Numerous studies have shown that monogamy is unnatural to nearly all animals, including humans.
David P. Barash, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, who in 2008 added his new findings to the subject states:
“To begin with, we probably never occupied an Edenic paradise of one-to-one fidelity. The evidence is as follows: First, men are significantly larger than females, a pattern consistently found among polygynous species. From deer to seals to primates, the harem-keeping sex is the larger one, because competition among harem keepers rewards those who are larger and brawnier. Second, around the world, men are more violent than women (see evidence No. 1; it avails little in acquiring a large number of mates for a male to be physically intimidating unless he is also inclined to make use of his assets). Third, girls become sexually mature earlier than do boys–another tell-tale sign of polygyny, because the intense competition among harem keepers conveys an evolutionary payoff for the “keeping” sex to delay maturation until individuals are large, strong, and possibly canny enough to have some chance of success. And fourth, before the cultural homogenization that came with Western colonialism, more than three-quarters of all human societies were polygynous.”
There is also the notion that a social monogamy and sexual monogamy are not synonymous and that a couple can technically be one without necessarily being the other, according to Barash.
Ulrich H. Reichard in his book “Monogamy” says, sexual monogamy refers to two persons/creatures who remain sexually exclusive with each other and have no outside sex partners. Alternatively, social monogamy is defined as two persons/creatures who live together, have sex with each other, and cooperate in acquiring basic resources such as food, clothes, and money.
We notice that the social aspect of monogamy does not include sexual fidelity as a requirement and it seems that many more marriages today are falling into this category, even if secretly.
According to psychology researchers David Buss and Tony Shackleford, it is estimated that roughly 30 to 60 percent of all married individuals in the United States will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage. It was also noted that these figures are likely significantly higher, but difficult to pinpoint due to the secretive nature of infidelity.
One well-known factor that contributes to this discussion is that women generally outnumber men in every age group. Theoretically then, wouldn’t that mean that, if we practiced true monogamy, a large number of women would be left without a mate at all?
Mountains of research has shown that only a minuscule number of species have ever accomplished complete sexual monogamy. According to Barash, of about 4,000 mammalian species, only a handful have ever been called monogamous including beavers and a couple of other rodents, otters, bats, certain foxes, a few hoofed mammals, and some primates–notably gibbons and the tamarins and marmosets of the tropical new world.
Most species of birds were considered to be monogamous. In a study by researcher David Lack it was reported that 92 percent of the 9,700 bird species were monogamous. That percentage decreased severely, after further research including DNA testing on baby blackbirds found that in nearly 40 percent of cases, the offspring were not fathered by the social father.
All this information leads to establishing the fact that, as much as we do not want to accept it, infidelity is normal and monogamy is more unnatural.
In a society where the divorce rate is nearly 50 percent; where television shows like “Cheaters” are all the craze; where we eat up the twisted love triangles on shows like “Jerry Springer” (or just about any soap opera); and we sit on the edge of our seats to see who is the baby’s daddy on Maury Povich, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that monogamy is a difficult thing to accomplish exclusively and permanently.
But simultaneously, it sounds insane to all of a sudden say, “I’m completely okay with my significant other sleeping with someone else,” because another aspect of our animal nature is to be selfish and possessive.
And let’s not forget that we stood in front of friends, family and God and vowed to be monogamous. But, if looked at from a biological standpoint, it seems that what we are asking of our mates now, is what’s more crazy.
It would be no different than asking your mate to give up walking and revert to getting around on all fours. It isn’t an impossible thing to accomplish (although people will definitely look at you as if you are out of your mind) and although it works, it’s unnatural and uncomfortable.
Because your significant other loves you, they may vow to do so to make you happy, even though it isn’t what makes them happy. So, what you end up with is a mate who crawls around you, but when you aren’t around they take the opportunity to stand up and do what feels right.
Overall it seems that the guilt, hurt feelings, and negative perceptions associated with infidelity are what keep us from cheating; it isn’t that we don’t have the intrinsic urge to do it. How much blame should we shoulder for making “mistakes” which research tells us are nearly inevitable?
I just recently celebrated my 23rd birthday with my number one gal.
Angelenos have had enough.
After receiving billions in taxpayer bailouts—money that was intended to free up capital and get banks lending again—the large corporate banks sat on their hands and their wallets.
When I was in high school, an old man told me, “The way out of trouble is never as easy as the way in.”
My kids don’t believe that Tupac Shakur wasn’t always a thug.
They’ve been blindsided by his immortalization on T-shirts, documentaries, handbags and compilations. They see a one-sided Tupac, which mass commercialism has fed them over the past 15 years, but for many of us, we know there was a multifaceted genius beneath the tattoos and head rags.
In many ways, I grew up a child of Tupac.
This is ridiculous. Can it be said any louder? I do not want to see people’s underwear! Especially while they are wearing them.
Yes, I’m talking about young males and their sagging pants. The practice is rude, disrespectful and downright disgusting for me and others who are forcibly subjected to this sight in public. It should be labeled as indecent exposure if it’s not already, and perpetrators should be ticketed.