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Is Monogamy Natural?

Where does humanity stand in regard to monogamy? Are we cut out for it as a species? According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, out of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. This means that monogamy is not the predominant mating system among the hominid lineage.

For decades evolutionary psychologists have argued that monogamy goes against natural urges for reproductive success. Since the late Sixties and the sexual revolution the number of voices against fidelity and even marriage as an institution have increased so much so monogamy appears in a somewhat vulnerable position. Presumably unnatural for humans monogamy is seen like unnecessary limitation causing distress and therefore should be a good riddance. Eric Anderson, American sociologist at the University of Winchester, suggests that monogamy is an irrational ideal because it fails to fulfil a lifetime of sexual desires; cheating therefore becomes the rational response to an irrational situation. Others have more reserved opinions and imply that polygamy is far more natural and consequently monogamous relationships need a lot of hard work (“The Myth of Monogamy” by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton). The reality is that, except for a handful of church related programs and marriage and family therapists, majority marketing campaigns in the media, instead of aiming at keeping couples together for the long haul, are helping people do just the opposite. A fact that a number of failed marriages increases year by year can also be perceived as if monogamy is failing.

” we fail the monogamy test most often because we have no blueprint, no map for loving connection. ” Dr. Sue Johnson

monogamous relationship

However, the reliable statistics fail to support this popular believe. They provide data that majority of married people remain sexually monogamous during their marriages. Recent studies suggest that only around 25% of men and 11% of women will end up in bed with someone other than their partner at some point in their lives. It may come as a surprise to many, as mundane fact that most of us do not have affairs is overshadowed by titillating public stories of intrigue and deception. Dr. Sue Johnson, Director of the Ottawa (Canada) Couple and Family Institute, after years of practice as a couple therapist, believes that most affairs are the result either of unbearable loneliness that happens when we don’t know how to make love work, or as a result of ‘dying’ romance. Contrary to prevailing opinions Johnson believes possibility that based on deep bonds of romantic love monogamy is natural for humans.

Dr Gabrielle Morrisey “Is monogamy natural?” http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/soul+ happiness/expert+opinion/is+monogamy+naturalr,7429.
Dr. Sue Johnson “Are we – can we be – monogamous?” Psychology Today. March 12, 2010 .
Eric Anderson “The Monogamy Gap. Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating ” Oxford University Press. Jan 2012