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The state of monogamy

Last Update : August 8, 2016

Are we meant to be monogamous ?

This is the eternal question in the area of love. Around the existing 5 000 different species of mammals on Earth, only 3 to 5% are monogamous and according to several studies human beings are not meant to be one of those.

So if we are not monogamous by nature why have we based the romantic ideals of our societies on this lifelong bond ?


Monogamy : biological need or social norm ?

If we understand our societies as a creation by and for the human beings then we can actually differentiate between our biological characteristics and our social needs. In this sense we could understand sex as being a biological need while relationship a social one.

According to a study by Roger Rubin, « Alternative Family Lifestyles Revisited, or Whatever happened to Swingers, group marriages and communes ? », Rubin reports that only 43% of 238 societies across the world are monogamous. Interesting findings that highlight the cultural and social aspect of the norm on relationships. If for Westerners, monogamy is the ideal relationship (and the only one socially accepted in the past), several of other different cultures have based their societies on other kind of relationship bonds far away from monogamy.

Studies over the last 50 years since the upcoming of the communes and free love and open relationships in the sixties, have come to the same findings : monogamous is not the norm for human beings, it is rather a social imposition.

Our last century has been characterized by wars, religion and strong traditions, however in the last years with the increase and development of the technology, our societies seem to be opening to new possibilities and to new kind of socially accepted love.

The question then : is monogamy starting to be outdated ?


Monogamy in the Online Dating era

There are several statements and states of mind that people in relationship have come to accept as normal. A resignation towards sex drive and passion when being in a long-term relationship is not only universally known but also it has to be individually accepted. Is sex important for the health of a long-term relationship ? Is it OK to resign to passion ?

Online Dating websites have opened the door and erased stigmas about different ways of relationships. Whereas somebody is looking for serious relationship, casual encounters, friendship encounters, swingers, gay encounters, etc. online dating is the meeting point. Different kind of relationship that are gaining public visibility and recognition thanks to those websites.

Monogamy at the end of the day is one more choice of our style of life. Definitely not an easy one. Meg Barker author of the book « Rewriting the rules : An integrative guide to Love, sex and relationships states that “the key to a monogamous relationship is to allow a space for confusion about what is permissible within a relationship.”

In than line, monogamy yes but abandoning the old-fashioned rules and « embracing uncertainty » in order to boost the creative imagination in the relationship.