Mate debate: Is monogamy realistic?

Just read an article by A. Pawlowski that discussed whether or not monogamy was a realistic aspiration in the modern world. He/she makes a number of great points, which I’ll summarize here.

  • Monogamy is within the realm of human potential, but it’s not easy. Serial monogamy may be more realistic and better-suited to the human animal.
  • Polyamory may also be better than true monogamy, so long as people can get over the jealousy that such relationships often fall prey to.
  • Strong aversion to “infidelity” is really a culturally learned behavior. Americans find it much harder to stomach in general and nearly any other culture.
  • Powerful and/or famous or famous people are often adrenaline junkies who find it difficult to stop chasing the thrill of new sexual experiences. For obvious reasons they also have more opportunities than most people.
  • There are still a lot of reasons why sexual monogamy is in people’s interests. Nature has provided powerful incentives to stay faithful, and many of them are still valid.

If you’re curious, have a read of the article itself, it’s really worthwhile. Then come back and let me know what you think. Is monogamy really over? Is polyamory or serial monogamy a better fit for the modern world?

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5 Responses to “Mate debate: Is monogamy realistic?”

  1. Dan
    November 27, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Most people who insist on monogamy focus primarily on their right to feel betrayed if their partner wanders, and the more virtuous of them make a seious commitment to not wandering themselves, or at least feeling very guilty when they do. Few seem to appreciate that when you demand total control of what another person does with their genitals, you have an implied obligation to meet *all* of that person’s sexual needs and most of their wants. You do not get to self-righteously limit your partner’s sexual expression to your narrow comfort zone or mood of the moment.

  2. Rob Christofle
    December 1, 2009 at 3:44 am #


    I just read your blog on “Mate debate: Is monogamy realistic?”

    “Monogamy is NOT part of nature’s plan”.

    You stated that Nature gave us incentives to be monogamous when in fact the opposite is true. If you google it, you will see that we are actually biologically wired to be non-monogamous. It ensures our DNA is spread and survives.

    Monogamy is a socialization skill, like learning to whistle, ride a bike or swim. Either you have it or you don’t.

    However, what has become the compromise is “Serial Monogamy” which favours the rich.

    Marriages usually last long enough to raise children. So, I think other points should be addressed like “pologamy” and “hedonism” but I think I address the core nature of your discussion.

    I hope it helped.

    • admin
      December 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

      Helpful comments, Rob. Thanks for your contribution.

    • will
      December 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

      Monogamy might not be what nature wants on a strictly biological basis. But we also have culture to thank for the success of our species. Raising children in a stable family unit with a nurturing mother and father has been a very beneficial advancement in our human history. So there is this tug of war going on between a primordial biological survival instinct promoting promiscuity versus a more recent cultural instinct favoring monogamy. But both have played a role in our species’ success and progress. It is not a winner take all question. As long as both strategies play a role in our species’ success there will always be conflicting values and ideals about it. This issue is not going away anytime soon.

  3. Daniel Paul Edward Tyson-Young
    March 2, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    I beleive that monogamy breeds jelousy. For example, if I had a partner and I caught him cheating, I would become very bitter and not have sex with anyone ever again, even if he divorced me.
    I would only masturbate.

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