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Lately the question of monogamy has surfaced
a number of times for me. I’ve been
contemplating whether I genuinely believe that long term (20 or more years)
monogamy is a natural state for humans.
This is a pretty intense contemplation, as it runs counter to virtually
everything we’ve ever been told in our society.
As I discovered during my visit to the Museum of Sex
in July, all of the animals that were previously thought to be monogamous were
not, as evidenced by DNA testing off offspring.
Animals like swan, geese, penguins and prairie voles were socially monogamous
for long periods of time, but sexually these relationships were a free-for-all.
Chemically there appear to be good arguments
for social monogamy and against sexual monogamy. Studies have shown that the chemicals
secreted when we are in loving, affectionate relationships are good for our
health. These include not only stable
romantic relationships but also close friendships and healthy, loving family
relationships. Seratonin and oxytocin have
positive effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and mental health.
The chemicals secreted during orgasm had a
markedly different effect. Dopamine, for
example, the main chemical secreted during orgasm, lights up the brain exactly
like heroin does for an addict. Our
brains during orgasm are indistinguishable from the brains of people who are
addicted to drugs and alcohol. Once the
dopamine levels drop, it leaves us edgy and irritable until our next fix. When the person responsible for an influx of
oxytocin is the same person responsible for the influx of dopamine, we have a