All You Need To Know About Monogamy
Find out if it's possible to avoid cheating
The news is always filled with reports of cheating scandals involving everyone from politicians to celebrities. But is this the norm? Are humans made to be monogamous, or are we fighting biology by trying to stay with the same person for 50 years?
Relationship and sociology experts shared their thoughts on the topic with LadyLUX.
Monogamy contradicts human nature
“All scientific evidence regarding human sexuality shows that people, like most other mammals, are naturally inclined to mate with different individuals at different times. Although women are more likely to be monogamous, this is a result of societal conditioning, not biology. A promiscuous woman is not regarded highly in society but promiscuity among men doesn’t reduce their value. In fact, it can actually raise it,” said Dr. Sonjia Kenya, exologist, medical professor and best-selling author.
“Consider George Clooney and his fiancé Amal Alamuddin. Despite his public sexual relationships with several different women, he is still valued highly by society. However, his choice of a mate whom is considered worthy is linked to the fact that she does not have a public sexual history.”
But obviously it’s not just men who have multiple sexual partners. As Kenya said, “Female orgasms serve no other purpose than to provide pleasure. And ever since women realized that sex should be pleasurable and not just a reproductive activity, divorce rates have risen. Yet, despite all the evidence showing that monogamy is not natural, most humans are still choosing it. To be successful at monogamy, we, as a society, must find ways of sustaining sexual satisfaction, which significantly contributes to overall happiness.”
How to sustain monogamy
Kenya said, “The trick to successful monogamy is to replicate the feeling of falling in love over and over again. During the ‘falling in love’ phase, our body produces all natural hormones (dopamine, oxytocin, prolactin, phenylethylamine) that enhance sexual desire and satisfaction and make us feel high on happiness. Role playing, acknowledging that sexual desires evolve, and being open to learning your partner's innermost feelings about sex can help monogamous relationships last. This is why so many married women are obsessed with 50 Shades of Grey.”
Culture and conflict
Social scientist Ken Johnson said that he’s studied culture and conflict, and this includes the topic of monogamy.
“Monogamy is a rather interesting issue. Historically, North Americans were more monogamous than they are today. If anything, we are breaking away from monogamy,” Johnson said.
He said part of the problem is that women are drawn to “bad boys” and relates a story about journalist Nora Vincent, author of Self Made Man. For the book, “she dressed up as a man and went out on dates with women. She had two personas. One a well-groomed and respectful male and the other a rugged, disheveled, rude male. She found that the women she dated often ditched the stable persona while women flocked to the male persona that was most likely to cheat and beat on women.”
As further proof of the failings of monogamy, Johnson said, “Most marriages fail before the first seven years is up. Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike, notes that men are actually more likely to want to get married than women. While college-degreed men have traditionally married at rates over 80% the numbers are now plummeting while the number of women claiming to value marriage is skyrocketing. She points to the contemporary ‘man cave’ concept to show how society is pushing men out of being a vital element in a successfully thriving monogamous relationship.”
“Looking at the cultural landscape, and then reviewing the mountains of compelling data, it is clear to many social scientists that this trend away
from monogamy is growing exponentially,” Johnson said.
The heart longs for a connection
However, others disagree. Therapist and relationship expert Audrey Hope, who works with Seasons Rehab in Malibu, Calif., said she thinks the concept that men in particular want to cheat isn’t true.
“The soul longs for connection. The heart longs for true love. This is a deep truth in men and women. Culture, society and history have brainwashed us all into a lie; that only women are monogamous and only women want long-term commitment. In my 20 years as a therapist, I've heard the real truth of what's going on with people. I don't need statistics and I don't need to read magazine surveys to know that men and women want the same thing. They want the best. They want a great relationship that will last a lifetime,” Hope said.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright, resident sexpert at Astroglide and a frequent media contributor, said part of the problem is the caveman mindset that many people promote as true.
“Many people who study this issue argue that monogamy is due to social conditioning, and that if people weren't expected to find one mate, then they would be open to having more than one. This is exemplified in the fact that polygamy has been the most popular form of marriage throughout history and throughout the world. At the same time, there are plenty of people who will tell you, social conditioning or not, that they simply want to be monogamous or feel "programmed" to be monogamous. As with so many other issues, I personally think that this is very individual, with some people having the ability to be more monogamous than others, which brings up a whole host of other questions regarding the impact of nature versus nurture.”
Part of what needs to change is the mindset that men are biologically driven to cheat, in order to procreate with as many people as possible.
“Until we start to explain people in the context of being humans and not specimens with cavemen ancestors, it's going to be hard to get past the ‘we have sex to reproduce’ mindset,” Fulbright said.