What’s the deal with monogamy, really?
The science behind monogamy
So you’re 12 and he asks you to be his girlfriend. The next day, he’s sitting with another classmate, eating lunch with her and laughing. Even as a kid, you’re infuriated with jealousy. Does this happen because of social conditioning? Or because monogamy is something we’re bred with? Or because humans are naturally, in their instinctual state, possessive? If so, does that mean that we are monogamous by nature?
Maybe I’ve just never understood because I’m the kind of person that likes to have their cake and eat it too. Or maybe, simply because I question everything and have no problem standing alone on issues that people typically agree on, stubbornly outcasting myself to try and prove something.
Ask yourself, does it feel natural to remain in a state of monogamy? Like really though, you have to think about this before you answer it, because the question here isn’t if you’re capable of being monogamous, the question is if it feels natural. As in, craving something other than what you have isn’t something you find yourself feeling. You don’t desire anyone but who you’re with. You might be thinking at this point, sure I can crave or desire something else, but I won’t act on it… BOOM! Well that answers a lot, I think. This just means that monogamy isn’t something that we’re built for, but something that we can condition for. Which means it’s not natural, we’re essentially forcing ourselves to adapt. It’s a societal structure that we’ve created, and therefore, I think it’s safe to say that monogamy isn’t necessarily a natural thing for us as humans.
Now, before we move forward here and people start flailing their arms around, we need to address some science stuff. There are a few types of monogamy; Social monogamy, sexual monogamy and genetic monogamy. Social monogamy is when you remain loyal only for the benefit of raising offspring as a pair, not necessarily limited to other sexual endeavors, so long as the loyalty is to raising the offspring. When addressing the 3% of mammals (that’s 3% of all mammals, including us humans) that practice monogamy, this type is the most common. Secondly, sexual monogamy is a sexually-exclusive relationship in any given breeding cycle (not lifetime). Lastly, genetic monogamy, the most rare, is a species that are proven by DNA analysis, female-male exclusive throughout an entire life cycle.
Now, after a series of impromptu conversations, heated arguments and passionate debates, I’ve come to hear many perspectives and angles on this topic. This is something that is so far away from just black and white, which by no surprise, is what drives people nuts. We have this tendency to want to believe that something either is or isn’t, especially on matters of belief and virtues, etc. Monogamy, and people’s opinions on it, is completely malleable and subjective.
Monogamy is a choice. As humans, we are choosing to commit to our partners and, based on our own will-power, standing firmly in place with that decision. When silky figures that sway in the dark tempt you to abandon your decisions, it is up to you to battle those demons. Right?
But then what happens? Our minds summon unwanted desires and fantastical ideals that haunt us and distract us from the person we’re “remaining monogamous with.” When we stray from what’s primal in our being, our minds take over for the lack of giving your body it’s raw needs. We forget how primitive we really are and pretend to stand tall in this self-righteous way of thinking, chastising our surreptitious thoughts that we try to control. This then tends to turn into what so many marriages suffer from: lack of sex, resentment, negligence, etc.
So here’s what I’m getting at… what would it be like if we altered our societal structure to accept that monogamy is not a natural thing, and that it’s totally normal for humans to stray from this ideal. Now, I’m not saying that we all go and have polyamorous relationships, either. However, if our society started to accept, in generations to come, that monogamy is a choice and not a pre-destined measure that comes with any exclusive relationship, then as more boundaries are abandoned, less expectations will be had, and therefore, less disappointment or sense of betrayal when humans succumb to situational occurrences that may or may not take place. People will be more honest with each other because there will be no sense of fear or abandonment. People will have stronger communication skills. We will be more understanding and compassionate.
I know that for a lot of people, this is hard to see objectively. Because we, as humans, suffer from emotions-rule-everything-around-me syndrome. That’s totally fine. Maybe we’re not there yet, or maybe I’m just selfishly looking for a way to justify my views on this to work in my favor. However, I leave you on this note: Challenge yourself. Imagine what would have happened if you lived by these ideals when you got cheated on. Imagine if your partner thought like this before you cheated on them. Attempt to discuss the possibility of foregoing any rules you’ve lived by thus far and see how that could potentially improve your relationship. Bring this up on your next date. Try it. Or don’t…. but then you’re most likely going to wonder what it would be like if you were brave enough to stand against the social structure you’ve been conditioned to believe is natural.