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.

The percentage of wives cheating on their husbands rose by almost 40 percent during the last two decadesto 14.7 percent in 2010while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent, according to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey, as published in Bloomberg Business Week.

The article, by Frank Bass, explores possible causations to the increase in women's sexual misadventures, such as financial stability, social media, a changing sexual culture, and the realization that women have an equal sex drive to men. Many media outlets focus on infidelity like it's a curse and socially shame those that step out on their spouses. But fear not: Infidelity is not an epidemic, nor a behavior that necessarily needs a solution or cure. Monogamy may be.

We tend to ask why people cheat instead of asking whether monogamous, long-term relationships should be our natural state. Our culture places high social standards on fidelity, demonizing the seemingly natural behavior of diversifying one's sexual partnerships.

In an article by Vicki Larson in the Huffington Post, titled "Why Men Need to Cheat", she interviewed Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England's University of Winchester and author of the provocative book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating. "Monogamy's stronghold on our belief — what he calls monogamism — brings ostracism and judgment to anyone who questions or strays from its boundaries," she reports. His main point in the interview is that men have a strong urge for quick, frivolous, unattached sex, while thriving on the emotional monogamy and continued love of their wife.

Quick sex here, stable marriage there. Anderson's view appears just a bit skewed, as it reflects the biological male imperative for both sexual variety and an emotional home base, while completely leaving out the female's point of view from both a sexual and emotional standpoint.

In Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, the authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá point to anthropological and biological evidence that humans are designed to seek variety in their sexual experiences. In his Psychology Today blog, Ryan calls the idea that "you should be completely happy, completely fulfilled with one partner for 50 years" a myth. "That's not the design of the human organism." Keep reading...

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