An Argument Against Monogamy

Yesterday I got into a discussion with some friends about the idea of monogamy.  They were pitching a story idea about a couple who find themselves in another dimension where women can read men’s minds and there’s no concept of monogamy and the boyfriend wants to go home because he loves his girlfriend and doesn’t want to share her.

I brought up the point, “why would he want to leave?”  And that seemed to offend some people who thought I was bringing my own biased opinion of monogamy into the discussion.  I got kind of flustered cause I didn’t really expect the discussion to become so polarized and I didn’t get across my intended meaning coherently before we moved on to the next group who’d begun pitching their story.

I think what people thought I meant was that “monogamy is dumb, and you should get to have sex with lots of women.”  While, my idea does kind of lean toward that point, I only meant that I didn’t see why he couldn’t still “love” her and not be monogamous? Can’t you have a committed companion and still have a personal sexual identity?  Look at Adult Film actors, a lot of them are married.  They have their work and then they have their home life with their partner.

I don’t see why people impose on themselves arbitrary restrictions of who they can and can’t get close to.  That implies a certain amount of ownership over the other person’s body.  And I mean, that’s a great idea if you’re trying to make sure that the offspring you create with another partner is 100% yours and not some other person’s… but if you’re not planning on having children, why the restriction?  That’s really how marriage got started and it wasn’t about love, it was about lineage and securing alliances with other tribes since you’d be less likely to invade or attack a kingdom or tribe if you had members of your own kingdom or tribe married into it.  The woman often had absolutely no choice in the matter and was forced to marry some person she’d never met before.

Now, I can already imagine that if you’ve read this far you’re wondering “well what about jealousy?  I couldn’t even imagine my girlfriend or boyfriend having sex with someone else.”  That’s a mix of society and biology my friend.  Society has raised us from a very young age to adhere to the one man/one woman paradigm.  Disney, (well, ALL movies really) Books, Advertisements; we are constantly being told to “pair off”.  The biological aspect is what I mentioned earlier… “What if the child isn’t mine”! Well if you’re not having children it doesn’t matter!

Monogamy rarely exists in the animal kingdom.  Yes there are examples, but there are far more instances of polygamy in a Patriarchal system then a monogamous system.  Lions, pretty much all the primates other than Bonobos, and many others.  If you want to read an interesting article on why men are by nature polygamists read this from Psychology Today.

So coming back to the beginning question, “Why would he want to leave?”  I think people thought I had some misogynist reason for not liking monogamy, but monogamy is misogyny! It’s telling women, you belong to me.  You are my property (since how many men are secretly cheating on their wives? Ahem, Tiger Woods!!)

What I’m arguing may sound kinda hippie-ish, but I believe sex can be a way of connecting with people and sharing an intimate moment between friends and even acquaintances to build a stronger emotional bond with another human being.  The idea that you only have one kind of love for one person is, in my opinion, ridiculous.

There, that’s my rant for today.  Please let me know what you think.  Comments (and especially if you disagree) are welcomed!

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14 thoughts on “An Argument Against Monogamy

  1. “. . . monogamy is misogyny! It’s telling women, you belong to me. You are my property . . .”

    Don’t even try to make this about sexism; some of us like monogamy, too. But I didn’t know until today that everything I do and want is the result of cultural anthropology and not my own free will. This has been VERY informative.

  2. free will is an illusion 😉 it’s all context and if-that-happens-than-react-with-this social interactions that are programmed into us by our upbringing. Do you consciously monitor each and every thing you do every day? No, we’re on auto-pilot and our conversations and interactions are all a product of our upbringing and the societal “norm” around us.

  3. I agree and disagree. Although as I sit here trying to find words to explain, I’m having a hard time of it. I think that monogamy works for some couples. I’m not just talking about the people who get married and have kids, just couples in general. It seems like there are couples who find it very easy to conform to what society has impressed upon them. I also think there are married couples with kids who don’t. And I don’t have a problem with that. I think it’s odd that a person would get married under the Christian belief system and then not adhere to those beliefs but apart from that there are married couples who seem to push the boundaries one socially assumes would come with that commitment. I have no specific example but the idea of polygamy, even going so far as to say those married in to a polygamist family, does not strike me as a inherently BAD idea. It’s a family that has the support of a community. I think that if everyone in the relationship is taken care of mentally and emotionally it would probably work well. The problem is that society has impressed certain ideals in our minds making this type of a relationship hard. In a relationship with children and a relationship with no plans to have children. The idea of ‘belonging’ to another person has been made appealing through social media and in many cases, almost a religious obligation. But does something being socially acceptable (putting aside religion for the moment) make it ‘right’? I think ‘right’ is different things for different people. If you and the people you interact with in a deep and significant way are able to do so without hurting each other (more than people in a monogamous relationship already do) then more power to you! I think stepping outside of the social norm these days this a hard thing to do but is in some cases(not this one in particular maybe) becoming very necessary.

    • Thanks for commenting, Carly! I agree that what is “right” is different from person to person. I think it’s totally okay for someone who is comfortable with monogamy to continue to pursue monogamous relationships. I find though, that when the tables are turned, the monogamous couples look at sexually liberated people as “sluts” or “immoral”. And of course I don’t want to paint all monogamous people with the same brush, just as I don’t want people to label me a “slut” or “immoral”; I just find it interesting that before people actually check to see what I mean they jump to conclusions. (Or maybe it’s just that I’m not doing a good enough job trying to explain myself) 😉 I’m not advocating running out and fucking everything that moves. I’m just saying you could have 3 or 4 separate emotional and physical relationships and just enjoy other human beings rather than being preoccupied with jealousy and worrying about what the other person is doing, and where they are, and who they’re with. I was in a relationship many years ago where I had to check in all the time to see if it was “okay that I did something, or if she had already made plans for us.” I really didn’t like that feeling that I wasn’t in control of my life. Thanks again for commenting, Carly!! And thanks for reading my blog!

  4. Totally disagree! So I guess posting is mandatory. : )

    Lotsa research arguing both sides out there including this one that says monogamous men come by it genetically:
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/09/male-monogamy-g/
    (can men be genetically modified like Canola oil?)

    Even though Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is pop psychology, I think there’s some truth to the idea that we are wired differently – I think (from seeing and experiencing) that women naturally are wired to be monogamous and men find it harder to stay put, thus leading to a lot of sisters’ broken hearts and the whole “Hell Hath no Fury as a Woman Scorned” phenomenon.

    Can’t find it now but read somewhere once about pheremones being released during sex that work to bond people together, thus making people emotionally confused when they have multiple partners. Also, to have sexual relations with friends and acquaintances to ostensibly deepen the relationship is asking for false hopes, betrayed expectations, and jealousies, not to mention STDs, STIs, and unexpected parenthood.

    There’s a $0.02 for ya!

    • That is very true Christine! Thanks for commenting. I agree that it takes a specific kind of person to have multiple sexual partners. I have heard about those pheromones that work to bond people together; very interesting stuff. I also agree that it takes a certain kind of friendship to be able to handle a sexual relationship as well as an emotional one. Both parties have to be very secure in their own sexuality, and in their friendship with each other, and have a clear expectation of exactly what the relationship means to both of them. This article was more to make people question what they think about why they believe the things that they believed.

      Thanks for your comment, Christine! 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog!

      It’s very interesting though, people have come up to me and asked me about my “wild sexcapades,” but I have to (reluctantly) tell them that in theory I believe what I say, but I haven’t had a sex (with someone other than myself) since New Years. 😉 I don’t like the feeling of one night stands, and would prefer an emotional relationship, but then I’m right back into monogamy where you have to check in with your counterpart all the time to see “what the plan is” 😉

  5. Quite frankly it’s exhausting to listen to men (and even some females) trying to make sleeping around sound like an intelligent idea that would “strengthen” the marriage by “making them happier” or… “make a better person of them” cos’ they could “learn how to be intimate and better at relationships”, or that it’s a “biological process”.

    If you look at it from a female’s perspective, in my opinion, I would say that this idea is possibly very hurtful to a lot women because I think it has the ability to make women feel like we’re not worth much at all. I mean, what does this whole idea say to us? That you enjoyed us for a short time and now you need something else to do. That’s like a fricken video game. Women are not video games, you don’t play us for a while and then go get another one.

    Or let’s say we go with your point on “why should we be restricted to one type of love for one person”… so- maybe you enjoy us for more than short time, but you still go and enjoy other people. It’s basically saying that our purpose in life is to be there for you as a friend, and emotionally, and especially sexually, but the effort we put in doesn’t really matter because you may just go sleep around with lots of other people. It’s like saying that an individual person is not special or good enough. You think it’s just the beauty industry telling women they’re not good enough, how about this concept right here?!

    You’re probably looking at this thinking it’s a little on the side of an emotional female rant, but I don’t hate men or have some kind of crazy resentment. I have a boyfriend, and I do believe that there are a lot of men who DO like to be in a monogamous relationship, too. There are all kinds of different men. But in the end, it’s kind of frustrating to be a women and feel like I don’t deserve a life where someone just hangs with me… like I said, kind of makes you feel like you’re not worth a lot.

    • Thank you for commenting Megan. I do agree that the prospective you talk about would be hurtful. And if I were someone who wanted a singular relationship with a woman and she made me feel as though I was only worthwhile for sex, that would make me feel horrible (and has happened on many an occasion, which is why I vehemently dislike one night stands.) That’s not the intention at all.

      I’m not advocating random meaningless sex. Quite the opposite actually. I think that kind of behavior leads to unhappiness, insecurities, and STDs. I don’t see this is an emotional female rant. I actually agree with a lot of your points!! I apologize if I didn’t do a good enough job explaining my stance.

      I’m thinking, why can’t you have worthwhile, uplifting, mutually beneficial, sexual relationships. And it doesn’t have to be JUST sex. Essentially, I’d envision it as being one in the same of all the advantages of a monogamous relationship, with the mutual agreement that the other person doesn’t “belong” to the other and they are free to make their own decision and live their life as they want it. Now it would especially horrible if both parties weren’t on the same page, and one person wanted multiple partners and the other wanted a monogamous relationship. That is called “cheating” and something I’m also vehemently opposed to because I have also been cheated on and that never feels good. If the woman is also allowed to form other relationships as she wants and it isn’t just one sided and both parties know exactly what their expectations of the relationship are then these less opportunity for things to go awry.

      Thanks again for your comment, Megan!

      (And who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind if I find a singular woman who can make me feel like I’m living a life “where someone just hangs with me.”) 😉

  6. I love the differences in opinion on this topic. It just shows that people are different in what they think is reasonable or responsible.

    I continued to think about this post after my computer was off for the night yesterday. In some ways, I think many people experience what, I suppose would be an “ideal” polygamous relationship, throughout the course of their lives. Not to say that people are generally involved with more than one partner at a time, but those people often fulfill a need and throughout the dating period of a persons life many different needs can be met. Megan, I understand what you’re saying about “why should we be restricted to one type of love for one person”, but I think that in some ways this is a valid statement. When we look for the ideal husband/wife we’re looking for someone that fulfills the greatest amounts of love and needs that we feel are important to us. So the idea that one person could embody one type of love or a certain set of needs while another person embodies another doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult to accept.

    But it is. It really, really is. I mean, I can sit here all night and say how cool I think it would be if people could live like this. Any people except for me and my husband. I KNOW I’m not emotionally or intellectually suited to be in a relationship with more than one person. I also know that if he cheated on me that I’d find the bitch and bury them both in a shallow grave. I am very possessive, not only for myself but my kids. I do think that the kind of relationship being talked about here is possible for some people though. There ARE polygamist families out there and, while they have their own very different sets of ups and downs, they function in a manner very similar to a monogamist family. They are persecuted more for the lifestyle they’ve chosen, but they have a wonderful sense of community and they don’t care for each other any less than I care for my family.

    And lets face it girls … jealousy and possessiveness aside, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say “No sex tonight honey” and let someone else take care of it once in a while 😉

  7. Thanks for accepting my comment/opinion, Joel.

    I knew from the beginning that you didn’t mean random, meaningless sex.

    Your point about both people being in agreement on having other partners is an important one. In the case of both people being in agreement, I suppose a relationship like this could work.

    But to me it seems like a person might just as well be single, then? And have various experiences and relationships when they want to? Or was that the point you were trying to make in the first place? Haha.

    I think I can see where you are coming from now. If I am not mistaken, your point is somewhere along the lines of- why should it not be considered a “relationship” or “love” just because it is not monogamous? That each individual interaction with a person can be some form of a relationship or some form of love and that you shouldn’t have to be with a single individual for it to be defined as a relationship or love.

    I guess it really comes down to how we choose to define “love”. As you can see, my brain brought me to the conclusion that if you were to be with many people, then there must not be any kind of “relationship” or it couldn’t be defined as “love”! That to not commit to a person, and to have many relationships, would be called being “single”. 😛 It’s hard for me, personally, to get past the idea that “love” is when you are happy and satisfied with, and committed to, one person.

    Guess that proves that over time there HAS been a certain definition put into our minds about what love should look like. It is interesting to consider how these terms/concepts could be redefined.

  8. I still think monogamy has an important place, though, and for reasons other than just to create off-spring. I don’t think society should give up on the concept. In a respectful and loving relationship, a person shouldn’t feel like they’re restricted, even if they are limited sexually to one partner.

    • Thank you, Megan, for your astute and well worded comments!

      “I think I can see where you are coming from now. If I am not mistaken, your point is somewhere along the lines of- why should it not be considered a “relationship” or “love” just because it is not monogamous? That each individual interaction with a person can be some form of a relationship or some form of love and that you shouldn’t have to be with a single individual for it to be defined as a relationship or love.”

      I couldn’t have put it better myself. 🙂

  9. This is a great article! My boyfriend and I have discussed several times our differing opinions on the subject of monogamy. And he did say that he felt like my body was his property. We’ve been together for more than 10 years and it was the last thing I expected to hear from him but I had to appreciate the honesty. However, I feel like I’ve had to give up part of my own sexual identity in order to respect the role he feels sex should play in our relationship. I choose to do so because I love him and am committed to him 100%. But, there are times when I have to consciously ignore some resentment. Ultimately, relationships are a give and take and compromise is a necessity no matter what kind of sexual identity a couple has created for themselves. I have no idea what he feels he’s given up in order to respect me but it doesn’t matter. He and I have just agreed to disagree on this topic.

    It’s been great to read all the other opinions here. Thanks for writing this article.

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