Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

Why Humans Aren't Designed For Monogamy

Why Humans Aren't Designed For Monogamy

A number of authors have recently questioned whether monogamy is the natural human state.

In a Washington Post article entitled, "'Sex at Dawn' Authors Say Humans Aren't Naturally Monogamous", staff writer Ellen McCarthy writes: "Adultery has been documented in every human culture studied ... If monogamy is such a natural state, the authors ask, why are so many people driven to cheat? Ryan and Jethá trace many of our modern ideas about matrimony and monogamy back to Darwin and a Victorian understanding of sexuality. To support their theory that the story is much more complex, they examine early human cultures and those of remote tribes that don't place a high value on monogamy. Some peoples believed babies could receive genetic material from multiple fathers, so women were encouraged to have sex with men who could pass on different positive characteristics."

Sounds like our male and female anthropological and biological story enjoys its thrills and pleasures.

Interpersonal bonding, a community, and team work provide safety and security and promote the continuation of the human race. Yet monogamy, with its tendencies to provide financial security, stability in raising a family, emotional comfort, and more, is a choice.

Dan Savage coined the term "monogamish" to describe his long-term relationship. Savage asks, "Why do most people assume that all non-monogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do. If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren't monogamous, because they don't want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce."

Dossie Easton is a psychotherapist specializing in polyamory and penned the book The Ethical Slut"The Ethical Slut discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way. Discussion topics include how to deal with the practical difficulties and opportunities in finding and keeping partners, maintaining relationships with others, and strategies for personal growth. It contains chapters discussing how consensual nonmonogamy is handled in different subcultures such as the gay and lesbian communities, information on handling scheduling, jealousy, communication, conflict in relationships, and etiquette for group sexual encounters."

Monogamy can be a surprisingly difficult commitment, one that may be against the story of our human history. Practicing it faithfully is a choice—but the only one. A woman can love a partner and eye another, have a sexual romp, and return to her commitment at home. After all, we no longer live in the Victorian Era.