Monogamy: Myth or just Mystical?

September 14, 2006 at 9:07 pm (Sex, Lies, and Videotape)

mo·nog·a·my:

  1. The practice or condition of having a single sexual partner during a period of time.
    1. The practice or condition of being married to only one person at a time.
    2. The practice of marrying only once in a lifetime.
  2. Zoology. The condition of having only one mate during a breeding season or during the breeding life of a pair.

Let me start off this sure to be blasphemous post by stating that I am, “happily” married. I put the happily in quotes, because, let’s face it….happiness is a transitory state.

Recall, part of my background is in sociology. Just a little break down, so you can see where I’m coming from. Sociologists look at the world as being culturally driven. A word I will throw around a lot is “socialized”. As a behavior analyst, I would have another term for it, but that is neither here nor there. Socialized simply means that, as a culture, we are predisposed to certain ideas and philosophies. At least, this is the theory.

That said, I often wonder just how far our sociological “brain-washing” has infiltrated us as individuals. One of my favorite topics to ponder is the idea of monogamy. Now, plenty of scientists, scholars and laymen will hypothesize as to the reason for monogamy. I think it’s best to start off by examining sex.

Clearly, sex is meant for procreation. Hopefully, everyone can embrace that as mostly fact. So, at some point in evolution, some genius was like “Whoa, this is fun. It feels great. Let’s do it all the time”. Enter the birth of sex as a hobby. Now, after the advent of psychotherapy and marriage counseling it has come to be known as “fact” that sex is “part of a healthy relationship”. So, now all of a sudden, if we aren’t having sex we aren’t healthy and damn sure can’t be happy. Wow! In such a short period of time sex went from a biological need to keep the species alive to a requirement. It’s no wonder so many people have such twisted views of sex. Let’s just go ahead and throw in pornography and we can really see why the world needs therapy. Young boys growing up thinking that what they see in their dad’s Playboy or some video they scammed off a friend is truly what life is about. How many films and shows place emphasis on men wanting, no, needing sex. What about women? Well, they are taught how to use their sexuality to control men. You have to be provocative enough to get them interested, but if you give away all the milk then they won’t be buying you, Cow.

So, now we have a bunch of horny people running around exploring their sexuality at will. We just can’t have that and have a healthy society. At some point, someone has to put on the brakes. Enter, monogamy. The idea that each man should only be with one woman. But, why? For starters, disease. People start getting sick and you need answers. Let’s start by limiting sexual partners. Tell people that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes….lots of hot married love-making. Now, I would personally think the threat of genital warts would be enough of a reason to give monogamy a try, but there are a slew of other factors. It makes for a more stable family unit. It gives people a sense of security. It limits jealousy and other emotions that come from sharing intimacy with more than one person.

Well, all of this was great for awhile. Society was filled with more complacent, religious people. Now, it’s a whole new ball game. People are free-thinkers. There are many more atheist and agnostic people, who aren’t swayed by the will of the church. Oh, and science….let’s not forget the many advancements in birth control, STD prevention, and cures. So, have we found a way around monogamy?

Well, let’s look at some possibilities. Let’s say you are married and your partner is having sex with someone else. What about that would hurt you the most? Is it simply jealousy that they are having sex with someone besides you? Is it a feeling of betrayal that they lied to you? Is it feeling badly about yourself that you couldn’t “satisfy” your partner? Is it the idea that they broke their vow to you? Is it the fear that they have found someone better and now you will be alone?

Now, let’s look at another example. What if your best friend is also friends with someone else? What if they go and do things together that you don’t enjoy doing with your best friend? Are you upset? Are you jealous? Well, probably not. We are expected to have more than one friend. In fact, it is healthy to have lots of different friends and each one of them fulfills a different need for us. Perhaps you love going for runs with one, seeing movies with another, and you always go to yet another one when you need good advice. So, why is it that if we can have, and even need, more than one friend, that we are expected to be fulfilled with only one romantic partner?

I think part of it goes back to the sex. The idea that a lover would need someone else to fullfill them isn’t exactly an ego booster. Also, we have a sense of ownership when we enter into a romantic realtionship that isn’t there with just mere friendship.

So, what if sex wasn’t a factor? What if you just had great conversation with another person? What if you confided in them things you couldn’t tell your spouse? What if you held hands, cuddled or kissed? At what point is it “cheating”?

It seems to me as if monogamy is what happens when you try to prove to someone that you really love them. Isn’t it possible to love more than one person? You can love more than one child and more than one parent, so why can’t you love more than one person and want to share your life with them both?

More on this topic later. I’ll go ahead and let cyberspace marinate on this part for now.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael's Remarks said,

    Monogamy is a social convention

    Is monogamy still the preferred form of living together or is it just outdated? After reading the article “Monogamy. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” by Jacques Attali, which argues for monogamy being an outdated and never really lived social mod…

  2. The Politics of Love » Katarina Nolte said,

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