Monogamy has been a long-standing tradition since the moment reproduction takes place. Interestingly enough, humans have not been the only species to walk the Earth to engage in monogamous relationships. Evolutionary biologists have been studying and observing the patterns of many non-human species to get a glimpse behind the significance and reason to choosing just one partner for a certain period of time. Social monogamy represents the long-term living arrangement between two adults of different genders, commonly for the wellbeing of reproduction and caring of offspring that follows the copulation.
Needless to say, social or lifelong monogamy does not mean one partner throughout the years of our lives. Generally, when one partner dies, another would be replaced. A more common type of monogamy includes serial monogamy which can be defined as having sequential partners for different seasons. This type of monogamy can be seen in the relationships built by emperor penguins. With each season, adult male emperor penguins go in search of a different partner in time for the mating season. An example of lifelong monogamy as seen in non-human species are beavers and otters.
Genetic monogamy on the other hand is the rarest of all monogamy types, as partners reproduce solely with each other for the whole length of the relationship. Such mutual symbiotic relationships are very few to count and a classic definition of this is the Azara’s owl monkey. In these cases of monogamy, cheating is seen as rare and “unnatural.”
So, what is the deal with humans and monogamy? Is it an attainable goal?
Or does it result in chaos?
Yes, monogamy is attainable when our lives are devoid of temptation, distraction and flirtation from another attractive and desirable partner. 10 chances to 1; that does not happen easily on planet Earth. With over 4 billion possible partners to choose from, monogamy; although desired by the majority of humans—remain unattainable at large. Cheating, extra-marital affairs or even the minute text sent to another on Tinder can destroy monogamous relationships within the span of seconds.
Oftentimes an act of infidelity can be the major deal breaker in most monogamous relationships, I would certainly view it as a big factor. However, most people have either experienced some type of infidelity in their past, either being the victims of their partners’ infidelity or being the perpetrators themselves. Either way, those who have ‘cheated’ are known to be abhorred by others and possibly appear untrustworthy to potential partners.
Monogamous relationships are the dominant preference in most industrialized countries, in which exclusivity is celebrated and infidelity is abhorred. However, it is important to note that monogamy has a different definition in everyone’s eyes as to what counts as cheating and what can be accepted in the relationship. For example, does fantasizing about a favourite celebrity count as cheating on your partner? Does online texting an ex be the deal breaker in an exclusive relationship with your true love?
Trust, loyalty and respect definitely go hand in hand in making a monogamous relationship prosper. Without the other, and the occurrence of temptation, the chances of being in one seems pretty slim. Following the trend nowadays, consensual non-monogamous relationships are increasingly common. It can be defined as an agreement to engage in emotional or sexual relationships with other partners outside of the bounds of primary relationship.
In any case, many view monogamies as a way to enforce stability within the human species and for better parenting as compared to other non-monogamous preferences which generally becomes less stable over time, as studies suggest. Communication is extremely prevalent in order to protect the sanctity of the relationship and to prevent any miscommunication or fall out from happening.
Enforced monogamy has been observed as a way to reduce male violence as having an adult female partner; either through marriage or otherwise; has been known to reduce misogynist thoughts or practices. Most renowned socio-professors and educators have stated that monogamy is a classic form of social protection or a tool against violence; in other words; chaos.
Multiple studies into polygamous societies revealed the ugly truth that violence and crime rates increase dramatically, as a result of a larger number of males without access to mates (female adults or partners in reproduction processes). These involuntarily celibate males in search of mates are also described by using the term “Incel”. These men were more likely to engage in violent and chaotic practices, not just because they were denied sexual acts by the opposite gender, but because they had no reason to support a stable, patient and calm society. Without a peaceful life to support at home, these young men had no inclination to partake in social stability.
With the rising infertility rates among younger men across continents and the lower access rate to potential females for mating, the difficulties in conceiving children unfortunately progresses. Nowadays, with the majority of females preferring to stay celibate and dismissing all thoughts of marriage and procreation due to a stronger focus on career advancement in particular, birth rates across most industrialized countries are steadily declining. Feminist reforms following the #MeToo movement, after years and years of feminist reforms has introduced control and ownership to the female counterparts as should be. This movement was so successful that it sparked a world-wide debate and discussion on the power of being a woman in a world dominated by men.
Teaching young men from an impressionable age that women are not to be seen as economic commodities or as anything less equal than themselves is extremely imperative. The notion of strong women rising, after countless decades in history being seen as lesser than men shows that women, for the majority part, wish to be seen as forces to be reckoned with and not to be taken lightly. The only way we are able to avoid chaos and instil stability and order in today’s society is to build a reality in which both genders are given equal and fair treatment in a variety of matters.