What’s the big deal with monogamy?

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Monogamy – is it just a fairy-tale?

Monogamy relationships in western traditions and within social stigma have made it clear, staying with one person for the rest of your life is the ‘romantic ideal’.

But is a lifelong commitment between two people realistic? Who really has stayed with the man that swept them off their feet as a young 20-year-old?

The world is changing, and as we keep progressing, maybe we should drop popular notions about the Princess falling in love with her Knight in shining armour and living happily ever after.

What once was the western family ideal, seems to be just another old school tradition that we need to leave in the past, because getting married, having kids and committing to one person for the rest of your life, does not guarantee your happiness.

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Can you really stay with just the one person for the rest of your life?

So how did monogamy start in the first place?

Science and anthropological studies have often shied away from suggesting that polygamy is as natural as monogamy. Our early history was dominated by polygamy, it is how we successfully populated the earth, one man being with multiple women.

Science suggests the move to monogamy was necessary for our survival and social stability.

Monogamy became the norm as we evolved larger brains and begun to recognise the level of effort that was required for collecting food for multiple babies. As the men were the hunter-gatherers of food, if they had families spread across too many places, they couldn’t gather food to feed all their families. Therefore, the need for one family became necessary for survival.

Anthropological studies suggest that monogamy became necessary for social stability.

The strongest cave men would acquire women, polygamy essentially creating a society in the ancient world where women were only the strongest men’s property, and would be collected and kept in harems. This would leave the physically weaker and poorer men to fight and squabble amongst themselves. Anthropologists suggest that the powerful men gave up their harems for the purpose of peace.

However, what is clear by the absence of harems in the modern western world, is that we do not live in ancient times anymore. So why are we sticking with a product of social survival and stability from the ancient world?

A study into consensual non-monogamous relationships, found very few differences between monogamous and non-monogamous relationship.  What the study found was that there were no significant differences in satisfaction, commitment, passion or love between the couples.

What’s more, the study found that those who were in a consensual non-monogamous relationship, or ‘open relationships’, reported less jealousy and higher levels of trust.

The same study also discovered more evidence for our bias towards monogamy.

The researchers who presented data about non-monogamous relationships were affected by the stigma of presenting findings that suggested polygamous relationships were as functional, if not more so, than monogamous relationships.

Is it the fact that we view any sex outside of marriage as an affair that makes us distrust open relationships so much? I think it is.

A recent study found an incredible 1 in 5 British adults have had an affair, and a third said they have seriously considered having an affair.

I do not think it is the act of sex outside our marital relationships that creates the biggest issue for the relationship. It is the deceit, lies and betrayal that go along with an affair that causes the real damage.

If we were to practice open relationships where sex with others is not a lie or a secret, the betrayal would be cut out of the equation entirely. And, as the researchers of open relationships found, the people involved have higher levels of trust and as much love and passion as those within a monogamous relationship.

It is not the sex, it is the lies that hurt us most.

Monogamy is a thing of the past, it’s time we stop judging the open relationship, and start embracing it.

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