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Are humans meant to be monogomous?
After watching Dawn Porters' documentary "Free Love" and seeing how there are communities of people who move themselves away from society and have multiple relationships; it begs the questions, are we socially conditioned to be with one person at a time?

I know people cheat and have long term affairs, but I think this is different; in a polyamagorous relationship each partner knows about each other and accepts it.

Personally I think they have shut themselves off for a reason and surely if a person had multiple lovers then the intimacy is no longer special if it is being shared around with 2 or more lovers?
asked in relationships, Human Behavior



siasl74 answers:

Certainly most "civilised" cultures have it as one of its tenets - anyone not conforming is usually legislated against or hounded out of town. However, polygamy in a variety of forms is seen to be successful and can offer some benefits. For example, a true group marriage (many men and women) can offer a very stable environment for bringing up a family in that the workload has a better economy of scale. However, it takes a certain mindset for this to work, and frictions are easily generated.

A good book with an example of how a group marriage works is "Friday" by Robert Heinlein (I'm sure there are other books that deal exclusively with the issue, possibly even from an anthropological perspective - whereas the Heinlein book is a work of (science) fiction).


Supplement from 10/14/2008 11:40am:

PS there are many cultures in the present and in the past that have non-monogamous marriages. e.g. the eskimos, muslims and mormons to name a few (not offering any judgements on any of them)


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cryptminder answers:

I think that most people are in a monogamous relationship most of their life; the only thing that changes is the actual partner.
It is extremely difficult to live out your life with the same person, look at the divorce rate to prove this.
Many people have casual relationships outside their home, but again if they were happy and satisfied they would have no need to wander and this goes for both sexes.
I know quite a few people in Africa personally who have several wives. they are happy but there are continues arguments amongst their various wives as they are mostly forced into these arrangements due to poverty in their own family homes and their parents benefit by receiving dowry from the husband.


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CGA answers:

If we look at it biologically (and, no matter how we control them, there are biological urges behind this) then there are a number of factors that come into play (this is historically - relation to now comes later) :-
- the imperative for men is to have the best chance of continuing their line by spreading their seed as far as possible.
- for women, the imperative is slightly different because they need to ensure their children survive. As a result, they need a protector / supporter.
- survivability also, then, becomes an issue for men. Depending on how many he can support limits his spreading of his seed.

OK - that may be the biological background but overlay intelligence and social behaviour onto this.

Still in the past :-
- Child mortality is high so society needs to do what it can to support survivability.
- Humans live in small tribes and most remain in the same place so they are known by all those round them.
- Life is hard and a degree of cooperation is needed to survive.
- Social pressures prevent women having children (= having sex) until a provider (man) has made a commitment to them.
- Social pressures also prevent providers (men) many too many commitments to too many women (hence the concept of marriage & fidelity).

OK - Now fast forward to today :-
- Even with the dreadful economic situation we need to work fewer hours for the basic needs of life (a basic diet).
- There is far more specialisation in skills - with far more emphasis on mental abilities (far more opportunities for equality - even during pregnancy).
- People are far more mobile than they used to be and are not known (under the same pressure) by those around them.

The result is that there is far less economic / biological / social pressure for monogamy today. However, at the same time, we are no longer occupied to the same degree by getting the necessities of life so other things like quality of life and social relationships become more important.


Supplement from 10/14/2008 12:49pm:

Rereading this, I don't think I have explained my thoughts very well and I have left many holes - but hope it might be the basis for some ideas.

btw: Dawn Porter and her pseudo 'I'm so innocent stand' is a complete joke.


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Bubs86 answers:

I think monogomy is a choice and not an easy one at that. I think in this day and age married couples put less work into their relationships and are quicker to get a divorce because it is reletively simple. Relationships are not easy all the time even when you are with the one you love it is the commitment you make to each other to work through anything life throughs at you together.

I personally think people cant be truely happy in these polyamagorous relationships because they benefit one more than the other (usually a man with multiple wives). I agree with you that this kind of relationship will lack the intimacy that a monogomous relationship has.

Personally I cannot see the benefits in todays society for a man to have multiple wives. The earth is over populated as it is so he doesnt need to spread his seed far and wide and there are far to many children in the world whos fathers dont know about them or are choosing not to provide for them. Women are in less need to be a second or third wife of a man because they dont need the financial support and security they used to because they are entitled to work and have government housing and benefits if need.

To some extent we are socially conditioned to have a monogomous relationship because that is what we see every day in society. but I don't think that is the only factor. Now humans have developed higher thought and emotions they are not only seeking to find a partner and reproduce but are seeking a higher satesfaction, which comes from love. I do not believe true love can be experiences in having relationships with multiple people at one time!


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P-Kasso answers:

"Til death do us part".

That was OK in the medieval days when life expectancy was only around 35 to 40.

That meant only having to put up with the same partner for ten or fifteen years - which is surprisingly close to how long many modern marriages last before natural fatigue and the divorce lawyers kick in.

Very few of us are actually genuinely 'monogamous' as we nearly all tend to have multiple relationships - not all at the same time but over one's lifetime of changing relationships and 'replaced' partners.

Suits me and seems to suit most other people.


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