I recently was told that since humans aren’t by nature monogamous, any time we try to live that way, we encounter struggle.
Humans are a good many things by nature, and a good many more not so. For example, most of us would agree that “survival of the fittest” seems to hold true. Even those among us who don’t believe in Evolution per se likely agree that the creature best adapted to survival in an environment is more apt to do so than its less fortunate cohorts.
Fast-forward past a whole lot of human development, sociology on a Bullet train, if you will. Now consider how we exhibit this almost universally-recognized truth. Sure, we compete in business, in finance, in many ways, still. But we no longer allow the least suited to survival to die off. I’m oversimplifying and glossing over a good amount of work done by some remarkable thinkers. But all to make it clear that what Hermann Ebbinghaus called “thrownness” doesn’t appear to be the rule any longer. We no longer allow those dealt a bad hand, so to speak, to simply starve and extinguish. Put more nicely: Though relentless competition for resources used to shape humanity’s direction, we now have controlled for it, such that many of us get a second chance.
Without going more deeply into that, as it’s only an example, we can now question something seemingly less serious: our mating habits. Again, please forgive what will amount to a vast oversimplification. By studying nature, it’s easy to make a case that human beings are not inherently monogamous. However, just as we overcame the do-or-die aspect of competition for survival, we have developed collaborative strategies in domestic affairs. We have formed societies that, from a self-interest in stability, support monogamy.
Perhaps because of the commonness of infidelity in ostensibly monogamous relationships, it’s easy to dispute my point. Though I would say the same is true with survival of the fittest. We have passed laws against killing others just because we are stronger and can succeed in such an ugly endeavor. Some parts of the world have laws against marital infidelity as well. Though as norms go, most of us agree that it is wrong to betray a partner.
Despite this, of course, most of us have done just that at one point or another. Though the experience of that, including the aftermath, is sufficient for many of us to see the pain, the disruption, and chaos it can create. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve been guilty of this. The inherent selfishness and callousness of infidelity is hard for me to justify, even when I had a girlfriend at one point who insisted it was natural, even desirable. Yes, predictably, that didn’t last long!
If I was inclined to “play the field”, maybe her attitude would have appealed to me. Though even when I’ve been guilty of infidelity, I ultimately preferred monogamy. I like its stability, and remember, this is not a moral judgment, just a practical one. Perhaps even an emotional one. For me, monogamy works best, and once I know someone doesn’t feel that way, I know she isn’t right for me. Put another way, that ex-girlfriend believed that it was “natural” to be promiscuous, and yet I feel that my future is best supported by a stable relationship in which my intimacy grows over time with one woman. So this became a simple discussion about what should govern our relationship choices: nature? Or future? I personally reject promiscuity for myself. I crave a deep connection that grows over time and when I’ve tried to maintain more than one simultaneous relationship, there wasn’t enough such time in which to grow it to my liking.
You of course must decide what works best for you, and I’ll never judge you for it. I don’t have the right. What I will offer is that you ought to consider it fully so you are certain that whatever relationship format you choose supports your own growth goals and affords you the great benefits that an intimate relationship can offer.
That said, go find your love(s)!