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The Myth of Monogamy

For countless years, monogamy has been vital to the stability of many relationships all around the world. There is substantial proof and evidence that monogamy is unrealistic, and biologically unnatural for humans and even animals. Many people expect faithfulness in their relationship, even as cheating is a growing trend. If we learn more about this topic, maybe our expectations can change which will result in less emotional pain.

One of the reasons monogamy is unrealistic is because it is biologically unnatural. “…There is powerful evidence that humans, and animals for that matter, are not naturally monogamous”, says David Barash, author of The Myth of Monogamy. Monogamy is not even the norm for the animal world. “Of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals, only 3 to 5% are known to form lifelong bonds”, according to A list of that small percentage includes beavers, otters, wolves, bald eagles, barn owls, and swans. On the other hand, there are polygamous animals, such as bonobos, spotted hyenas, walruses, lions, dolphins, hanging flies, and a parasitic worm known as the Diplozoon paradoxum. If even some primates, the closest species to us, are not monogamous, then why should humans be?

Then there’s the point, or religious belief, that God designed humans to be uncontrollably attracted to each other so that they would procreate. Fighting that urge to mate is unfair to ourselves and goes against God’s wishes. The Bible says that adulterous woman should be put to death, and that slavery is okay. If these things that are clearly outrageous are deemed okay in the book, then is the Bible a good source of moral integrity?

Tammy Nelson at the Huffington Post says different. “It seems like monogamy, and being committed to one person, is downright old fashioned and even backward in some circles.” Elisabeth Sheff at Psychology Today brings up the unique point that “It is not polyamory and other forms of consensual non-monogamy that pose a threat to monogamous relationships, but that rather people’s longer life spans and higher expectations of happiness that make them less willing to settle for unhappy relationships.” The fact that people are living longer means more opportunity for trouble for happy relationships, like betrayal and boredom.

Especially with today’s ease of communication including smartphones, computers, and tablets, there’s always a way to find someone that is willing to exchange risky messages, whether you’re single or not. There’s even a business called Ashley Madison that you can pay for, where it matches people who are looking to have an affair with others who are looking to have an affair. The tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Why not use this technology to its advantage?

Different cultures have different approaches to monogamy, especially Middle Eastern and French cultures. “Although their personal life permits men to have four wives, the Supreme Court has ruled that a Muslim’s fundamental right to profess Islam did not include practicing polygamy. The bench said that polygamy was not integral to religion and the practice of polygamy did not acquire sanction of religion simply because it was permitted”, says Amit Choudhary at Polygamous marriages are legally acceptable but restricted. Only males following Islam are allowed to enter polygamy, with a max of four wives at a time. This is clear evidence that not all cultures see monogamy as the primary type of marriage.

Polygamy is legal in about 25% of countries. From 1847 to 1857 in what is now Utah, Mormons practiced polygamy. In France, polygamy is illegal, but cheating and swinging are openly practiced in many relationships. “Our culture isn’t as harsh about infidelity. It’s different to the US where cheating is seen as very bad. There, people would rather get divorced and remarry, whereas in France we can imagine someone being married and having other relationships at the same time”, says Matthew Warren at “Americans are too surprised by infidelity when it happens. I think we go into marriage with perhaps unrealistically high expectations about human nature”, says author Pamela Druckerman. Perhaps if Americans had a more liberal view of marriage, maybe we’d have happier marriages and a lower divorce rate.

Surprising to many, but polygamy works for many relationships. Mark, 42, who spoke to CNN has been married for 5 years. He and his wife tried different things to spice up their marriage, including swinging, he said. But they found the experience unfulfilling and decided that what they really wanted was to be able to fall in love with others while staying together. Mark dates another woman and his wife. The traditional ways of renewing a marriage doesn’t always work, like in this case with this couple, they found that they had more love to give than just to each other. This doesn’t mean polygamy will work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

In conclusion, monogamy, which has been around for countless years, has been important to relationships. However, the research I’ve presented here suggests that maybe monogamy isn’t as realistic as you think. Hopefully, the more people learn about how monogamy is not the norm, they will not be so judgmental of it.

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Katy Tootle
Written By

Hi, I'm Katy! I live in Dallas, Texas and have had lots of life experience in my short time on this Earth, what with my diagnosis of depression and a rare form of ovarian cancer. I'm a student in high school. I love writing, talking to people, and hip hop music. I hope my writing is educational and informative, as that is my purpose here.

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