What do swans, beavers, gibbons, penguins and human beings all have in common? They all form monogamous relationships, in which partners stay together throughout their lives, forsaking other potential consorts in favor of the primary partnership.
Modern, western culture holds monogamous relationships (especially when they culminate in marriage) as the standard for romantic courtship. And there are many well-documented benefits of being in a monogamous relationship, including longer life span, increased financial stability, lower rates of depression, and better heart health,1 to name a few.
Yet, despite all the benefits, some people claim that humans were never meant to be monogamous, citing among the disadvantages of monogamy things like boredom, sexual incompatibility, jealousy or the potential for betrayal.
The sourced articles below examine monogamy from multiple perspectives, providing arguments for and against the practice.
Footnote: 1. “Marriage and men’s health,” health.harvard.edu, 6/5/2019
- 6 Ways Monogamy Can Make Your Sex Life SO Much Better
“Experts Dr. Eli Mayer, Sue Butler, Ian Kerner, and Lewis Brown Griggs have extensive experience on this topic and, in their wide-ranging conversation …, they discussed the positive and negative impacts that monogamy can have on a couple’s sex life. …
[1.] Monogamous sex comes with emotional benefits. …
[2.] Monogamous sex has physiological benefits as well. …
[3.] Monogamous sex is familiar… in a good way. …
[4.] Monogamous sex can support sexual diversity. …
[5.] Monogamous sex fosters honesty. …
[6.] Monogamous sex can be just as adventurous as non-monogamous sex…”
Lewis Brown Griggs, yourtango.com, 1/28/2017
- Polyamorous Relationships May Be The Future Of Love
“Even today monogamy is the minority relationship style around the world. Cultural estimates suggest that as many as 83% of societies around the world allow polygamy.”
Melissa Hogenboom, bbc.com, 6/23/2016
- Is Monogamy Unnatural?
“Humans are a diverse lot, but before Western imperialism, 83 percent of indigenous societies were polygynous, 16 percent monogamous, and 1 percent polyandrous (where women have multiple husbands).”
Robert VerBruggen, ifstudies.org, 3/29/2016
- How Culture Drove Human Evolution
“But in the modern world, of course, monogamy is normative, and people who have too many wives are thought poorly of by the larger society. The question is, how did this ever get in place?”
Joseph Henrich, edge.org, 9/4/2012
- Look Who’s Defending Monogamy
“Anthropologists tell us that around 85 percent of known societies through time have permitted multiple-partner marriage.”
Glenn T. Stanton, nationalreview.com, 4/12/2012
- The Puzzle Of Monogamous Marriage
“Approximately 85 per cent of societies in the anthropological record permit men to marry multiple wives. … Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded.”
Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, and Peter J. Richerson, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 3/5/2012
- Why We Think Monogamy Is Normal
“Or more accurately, why is it so common in the West? (Polygyny remains legal and common in many non-Western societies, especially sub-Saharan African and Islamic countries).”
Michael E. Price PhD, psychologytoday.com, 9/9/2011