It may be surprising to some of you to hear me say that monogamy is not natural, considering I talk about building healthy relationships with one person and not running around picking up women at bars, or something.
Well, it’s not natural. In many ways it’s quite unnatural for us, actually. On a biological and instinctual level, if we did not have the societal construct of marriage, we would probably be like most other animal species on the planet, just working to reproduce. Sure, there are some naturally monogamous animal species, but they are far outnumbered by those which are not.
But, I don’t think the fact that it’s unnatural matters, really. Airplanes are unnatural. Television is unnatural. Processed foods are unnatural. But we don’t use that as an excuse for not putting them to use.
People who say monogamy is unnatural, I find, are usually using it as an excuse. They’re using it as an excuse why they cheated on their significant other. As an excuse why they are single. As an excuse to avoid proposing to someone.
And if that’s how you really feel, that’s great! We all make our own choices and should live our lives in the way that make us happiest. Some people are most happy staying single, and none of us have the right to judge them for it.
What I do have an issue with, though, is the word choice. You see, whether or not monogamy is natural, it is a choice. You choose to begin dating someone, and then you choose to be exclusive with them, and then maybe someday you choose to marry them. When you do any of these things, you are making a promise to this person to commit to them intimately and to be monogamous with them.
If you do not feel as though you are capable of making this commitment because you are subject to and unable to control your own biological urges, then the answer is simple: Do not make the commitment. Remain single. Enjoy your life in the way best suited to you. Marriage should not be everyone’s end goal – happiness should be.
But to enter into a commitment with someone who has a different vision of their own happiness than you do of yours, is to enter into a false relationship based on a lie. It is a lie to yourself and to him/her that you will be able to be that teammate they want for their vision of happiness.
And, furthermore, to blame infidelity on biology is a cop-out. It is to avoid responsibility for your own actions and it is to drag the rest of us down with you. It is to suggest that inevitably we are all subject to falling to this temptation and that, eventually, everyone will probably cheat.
I, for one, like to consider myself a being evolved beyond the control of my instincts. To insinuate otherwise about anyone is to insult their very ability to control their own actions.
As humans we have the ability to make conscious choices about how we live our lives. If every decision we made on a daily basis was based strictly on our most basic animal instincts, we never would have evolved past the stone age. But thankfully, we have. We make multiple choices daily that are based on our desires and wants for the life we envision for ourselves. Monogamy is one of those choices.
So, no, monogamy may not be something that our species naturally gravitates towards. I do think that love bonds us together. We learn more and more about chemical reactions in the brain when we are intimate with someone that bonds us together, but that is not enough to transcend life’s challenges. It is not enough to make us stand by and support someone. It is not enough to drive us to always show them how much we appreciate them. It is not enough to make us do all of the small romantic things that show we care.
All of those things are conscious choices we make on a daily basis. They are not natural, either – but that’s what makes them mean so much.
A good man won’t even have any interest in looking for other women because he will be too busy finding new ways to love the one he already has.
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