Is Monogamy a Myth?
If it was socially acceptable, would you engage in open relationships with more than one person?
Throughout history man has been viewed as a monogamous being. Society has dictated what sexual behaviors are considered depraved, and what is considered appropriate. Relationships consisting of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of others, is considered "normal," however, human behavior clearly disagrees with this social standing.
Each year in the United States approximately 1,180,000 marriages end in divorce with 200,600 of them citing adultery as the cause for separation. 34 percent of married people admit to having been unfaithful at least once during their marriage, and more than double that number admit to being unfaithful in unmarried but exclusive relationships. One can easily surmise from these numbers that human beings are not biologically programmed to be monogamous. The question then becomes, if not monogamous in nature, why then do humans strive to make monogamy the social and moral standard?
There are many schools of thought regarding the social structure and it's influence on human relationships. The most influential of these is religion and the role it plays in setting the moral standard. About 75% of Americans and Canadian are identified as Christian according to the World Christian Encyclopedia. Belief in the Bible and in Christian teachings keeps many people from engaging in extramarital activities, however even these people are not free of desire to stray in their relationships. Between the genetic makeup of people and the beliefs they hold, science is stronger than religion. If it were not people would mate for life and instances of cheating would be the way of the ghost.
The fact remains that no matter what religion you are society still identifies the human race as monogamous. In this sense monogamy is not a myth, it is an ideal. One that some people have mastered and others have no interest in entertaining. It is possible that some might be genetically predisposed to expanding their relationship horizons while others have less difficulty committing to one partner. Problems arise when two people, one from each category, link up and begin a relationship.
When one person holds more value in monogamy then their partner the results are almost never good. One person finds themselves totally devoted while the other is exploring other options. This frequently leads to feelings of hurt, betrayal, and insecurity. The idea that monogamy is a myth is, in this sense, true. However for millions of people monogamy is alive and well and simply requires a little self control.
There are many ways that humans are separated from the rest of the animal kingdom. Our thought processes are complex. Our decisions are dictated by more than just genetics. It is for these reason our species is so unique and special. With these complexities there comes inherent contradictions as well. Fact or fiction, monogamy is a way of life for many people, and a source of anxiety for others. As time continues it is possible that the social setting may change and along with it the way we view relationships. Until that time people must continue to challenge themselves and strive to maintain life long monogamous commitments.