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Monogamy is not natural, why do we insist on pursuing this flawed relationship model?

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    I think you're wrong. Monogamy is evolutionarily favoured, at least in the relative short term. Think about passing on genes. That extends to supporting children for at least the first few years of their lives. This requires both parents to be on call: women to care for the baby, men to provide for both. Humans are one of the feeblest animals early on in life - I'm not sure any other animal requires quite the same extent of care for quite so long. Most other mammals can walk within a few hours of birth, for crying out loud. And how feasible would it have been for a single male to provide for two families during the first 150,000 years or so of the existence of homo sapiens? Not highly, I would submit. Bringing up one or two children to an age where they could effectively fend for themselves would also have essentially taken men until they were not far from death's door, back then.

    I do think that there's an evolutionary basis to monogamy in that sense. I don't think it's wholly unnatural. What is certainly unnatural is that we live about twice as long as we would have in the state of nature.
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    (Original post by littleone271)
    Monkeys use tools I think. I don't know if they actually depend on them as such but I know they can and do use them.
    Use. Yes. Depend. No. I'm aware there are plenty of animals that use tools but none (to my knowledge) are dependent on them like we are.
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    I completely agree with OP that polygamy is completely natural. However, he does miss the point that individuals vary genetically and that not everyone prefers just one thing. Some people are genuinely monogamous and others are polygamous, just as some people are gay, straight or bi.

    If all taboos were removed from sex then individual people could explore their options openly and honestly with their partner/s and there would be no need for cheating - because there'd be someone for everyone with no secrets involved.
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    (Original post by Stefan1991)
    Why does it seem that every time a monogamous relationship breaks up because one partner cheats or loses interest, each blames the other side, but we don't stand back and realise we aren't meant to be monogamous anyway. That is the why these relationships don't work. So why do we keep on forcing ourselves to do something which is unnatural?

    Humans are meant to be promiscuous creatures, we evolved that way. Very few people are content with one sexual partner for the whole of their lives. It's not natural to be sexually monogamous. Some humans even live happy lives being polyamorous. Why do we work so hard to keep up this pretence?

    Discuss.
    is this another attempt of yours to justify ****ing little kids?
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    I think you're wrong. Monogamy is evolutionarily favoured, at least in the relative short term. Think about passing on genes.
    if you are thinking about' passing on genes' then monogomy is the opposite of evolutionery princles
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    (Original post by redferry)
    How is monogamy in any way not natural???? There are hundreds of monogamous species out there, especially in primates.

    there is a reason human social systems evolved to be that way, just like in any other species
    Somebody else mentioned this point earlier in the thread, and it's one I agree with: What's "natural" is pretty irrelevant as a guide for how to live our lives in the twenty-first century. You could say it was "natural" for us to wander around the countryside half naked and attack rival tribes with wooden clubs, or that it's unnatural to drive a car, and it doesn't really matter either way. I appreciate that your point is a little more subtle, in that you're saying our social relations came about that way as a result of natural selection. The thing is that the human race has now, so to speak, evolved beyond the need to continue paying attention to evolutionary aspects. Technology and rationality mean that we shouldn't just accept ideas because we happened to believe them for most of our history. I'd also argue that cultural attitudes have actually been shaped more by religion and the most influential thinkers than by evolution, particularly ones as recent as Western-centred as monogamy.

    Something like relationship structure is now something that individuals should consider for themselves and make their own judgements on. Take homosexuality, for instance. If that was popular when we'd just evolved from primates then it probably would have been bad news, because the human race may have struggled to reproduce enough to survive. At the time it would have been reasonable to promote heterosexuality. Now, however, technology and modernity mean that it has, in my view, no negative effect if people are homosexual. The argument that "we evolved heterosexual for a reason" has little to no ground today because we have reached such a stage of evolution at which we have the luxury of choice. The same argument applies for monogamy/polygamy now, I think. We have the luxury to choose to be either monogamous or polygamous based on what suits us today rather than what suited our ancestors.

    (Original post by catoswyn)
    I'm a big believer in monogamy on the grounds its much less exhausting than the alternatives... one man to deal with is enough for me thanks!

    That's a point I hadn't thought about. Fair enough
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    (Original post by Indo-Chinese Food)
    if you are thinking about' passing on genes' then monogomy is the opposite of evolutionery princles
    I disagree, for reasons which I have already elucidated in that post.
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    I disagree, for reasons which I have already elucidated in that post.


    we could all postulate stuff and call them 'reasons'

    evolution has determined having numerous sexual partners is the most effective way to "passing your genes" as you put it. Thats why largely all animals do it.
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    (Original post by Indo-Chinese Food)
    we could all postulate stuff and call them 'reasons'

    evolution has determined having numerous sexual partners is the most effective way to "passing your genes" as you put it. Thats why largely all animals do it.
    It's not just a question of passing on your genes. Those genes have to survive in their hosts to be passed on again. Many animals are monogamous and many are not and there is no simple equation that determines monogamy/polygamy w.r.t a host species environment.

    Humans are mildly polygamous (as determined by relative testis size to body mass) which is why it occurs. Some societies endorse this and some do not, depending on their historical trajectories.

    The biology is itself complex, but culture complicates that many times over. There is no way that either monogamy or polygamy is 'natural'.
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    So this is how Brave New World begins...
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    (Original post by Apeiron)
    It's not just a question of passing on your genes. Those genes have to survive in their hosts to be passed on again. Many animals are monogamous and many are not and there is no simple equation that determines monogamy/polygamy w.r.t a host species environment.

    Humans are mildly polygamous (as determined by relative testis size to body mass) which is why it occurs. Some societies endorse this and some do not, depending on their historical trajectories.

    The biology is itself complex, but culture complicates that many times over. There is no way that either monogamy or polygamy is 'natural'.
    although 'marriage' has been around for a long time, sexual monogomy has been only been a recent concept in human history, so therefore it too is not specfic to our species. Argueabley the most 'successful' human in recorded history in terms of genetic distribution is gengis khan, due to the fact he had thousands of sexual 'partners'

    And btw it was jsut a question of passing on genes - that was precise the point the other guy was talking about
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    never heard of an 'open relationship'?
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    (Original post by Indo-Chinese Food)
    although 'marriage' has been around for a long time, sexual monogomy has been only been a recent concept in human history, so therefore it too is not specfic to our species. Argueabley the most 'successful' human in recorded history in terms of genetic distribution is gengis khan, due to the fact he had thousands of sexual 'partners'

    And btw it was jsut a question of passing on genes - that was precise the point the other guy was talking about
    Not sure what you mean by a 'recent concept in human history'. It's recent in terms of human evolution and the shift from polygyny to monogamy is now associated with the Neolithic Revolution of 5-15 thousand years ago based on Y-chromosome diversity analysis.

    Historical evidence (e.g. Herodotos) shows that both monogamy and polygamy were fairly common in ancient societies. Monogamy, obviously, does not exclude casual sexual encounters.
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    (Original post by Arturo Bandini)
    I actually agree with you about humans being naturally inclined towards polygamy but if you're gonna argue the case at least get your facts straight.

    Naturally monogamous primates include but are not restricted to:

    Gibbons
    Marmosets
    Tit Monkeys
    Leaf Monkey
    No, those primates in particular gibbons "cheat and divorce" each other regularly just like humans do. I actually meant to say we are the "only apes" where some practise monogamy.

    It is also not true that penguins or swans are monogamous.
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    (Original post by Indo-Chinese Food)
    we could all postulate stuff and call them 'reasons'

    evolution has determined having numerous sexual partners is the most effective way to "passing your genes" as you put it. Thats why largely all animals do it.
    But that does not take into account the fact that humans are time-consuming to raise. There is no point producing offspring if those offspring don't survive. That would hardly qualify as propagating your genes. For young humans to survive, they need consant care and vigilance from their mothers. For the mothers to be able to provide this (at least for the majority of the period in which anatomically modern humans have existed) they must have had a partner able and willing to protect and find food for both her and the child.

    I'm not denying that having numerous sexual partners is an effective way of spreading genes in and of itself. What I am saying is that monogamy, at least for a period of a few years, is not unnatural in the sense that it does not negate evolutionary principles. In the case of an animal which cannot fend for itself for the first decade of life, it makes a lot of sense. One can see why an animal that behaves in this sort of way would flourish. Rather than producing many offspring, many of which will die, it produces few offspring and instead puts all its resources into ensuring that those offspring survive practically to sexual maturity.
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    (Original post by ROYP)
    It's an interesting idea. To be fair most young people I know aren't that keen on monogamy. Even married people's eyes wander but maybe you just get to an age where you're too fat and ugly to be promiscuous so you settle for what you've got.
    Exactly. You get to a certain age (quite young, in fact. Mid/late 20's often) and realise that you have a lot less energy than you used to, your sex drive is a lot lower, you can't stay up late or drink much and you can't be arsed to chase new sexual partners. Overall, you stop taking so many risks, because as you get older, each time you ditch a current partner for a chance at a new one, the probability increases that you'll end up with nothing at all.

    So eventually people just look at what they've got and settle for who they're with.

    I think marriage or settling down with someone is a LOT more about when than who.
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    (Original post by Apeiron)
    Not sure what you mean by a 'recent concept in human history'. It's recent in terms of human evolution and the shift from polygyny to monogamy is now associated with the Neolithic Revolution of 5-15 thousand years ago based on Y-chromosome diversity analysis.

    Historical evidence (e.g. Herodotos) shows that both monogamy and polygamy were fairly common in ancient societies. Monogamy, obviously, does not exclude casual sexual encounters.
    Y-chromosone diversity or lack of, is not explained by simply by monogomy, what a ridiculous thing to say.
    Histrorical record show quite extensively in various recent civilisations that sex with multiple partners was quite common - more directly related to higher social status than lower . As was in some cases poligamy and and or 1 wife with multiple mistresses, those were deemd the norm as oppssoed to the exception.
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    But that does not take into account the fact that humans are time-consuming to raise. There is no point producing offspring if those offspring don't survive. That would hardly qualify as propagating your genes. For young humans to survive, they need consant care and vigilance from their mothers. For the mothers to be able to provide this (at least for the majority of the period in which anatomically modern humans have existed) they must have had a partner able and willing to protect and find food for both her and the child.

    I'm not denying that having numerous sexual partners is an effective way of spreading genes in and of itself. What I am saying is that monogamy, at least for a period of a few years, is not unnatural in the sense that it does not negate evolutionary principles. In the case of an animal which cannot fend for itself for the first decade of life, it makes a lot of sense. One can see why an animal that behaves in this sort of way would flourish. Rather than producing many offspring, many of which will die, it produces few offspring and instead puts all its resources into ensuring that those offspring survive practically to sexual maturity.
    i think you are underestimating the ability of the human race to thrive - for most of its history homosapien kids have grown up without the father that had impregnated their mother - see my reference to gengis khan being them most genetically distibuted example in history
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    (Original post by Indo-Chinese Food)
    i think you are underestimating the ability of the human race to thrive - for most of its history homosapien kids have grown up without the father that had impregnated their mother - see my reference to gengis khan being them most genetically distibuted example in history
    Well, first, that's an example from less than a thousand years ago. Babies were probably less threatened by things like being eaten by wolves by that point in human history. Genghis Khan was also hardly a typical human. I take your point that he was a successful human, but his strategy for genetic success was hardly universally applicable - he was an outlier as you yourself seem to point out.
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    (Original post by TurboCretin)
    Well, first, that's an example from less than a thousand years ago. Babies were probably less threatened by things like being eaten by wolves by that point in human history. Genghis Khan was also hardly a typical human. I take your point that he was a successful human, but his strategy for genetic success was hardly universally applicable - he was an outlier as you yourself seem to point out.

    even if wolves were eating babies, there wouldnt have been enough wolf-eating babies to arrest the expansion of the human race. Animals babies get eaten all the time, they dont go extinct.
    i used GK purely as an example to reverse your earlier asumption that sexual monogomy was evolutions method of ensuring gene survival - clearly it isnt given that 1 in every 200 men in the world today have direct genetic linegae to GK, purely becuase he ****ed like a rabbit, when he wasnt busy murdering other people.

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