Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?

Are you faithful to your partner or do you like a bit on the side?

Via Live Science:

News of politicians’ extramarital affairs seems to be in no short supply lately, but if humans were cut from exactly the same cloth as other mammals, a faithful spouse would be an unusual phenomenon.

Only 3 percent to 5 percent of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals (including humans) are known to form lifelong, monogamous bonds , with the loyal superstars including beavers, wolves and some bats.

Social monogamy is a term referring to creatures that pair up to mate and raise offspring but still have flings. Sexually monogamous pairs mate with only with one partner. So a cheating husband who detours for a romantic romp yet returns home in time to tuck in the kids at night would be considered socially monogamous.

Beyond that, scientists’ definitions for monogamy vary.

Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that men are more likely to have extramarital sex, partially due to the male urge to “spread genes” by broadcasting sperm. Both males and females, these scientists say, try to up their evolutionary progress by seeking out high-quality mates, albeit in different ways.

The committed partnership between a man and a woman evolved, some say, for the well-being of children.

“The human species has evolved to make commitments between males and females in regards to raising their offspring, so this is a bond,” said Jane Lancaster, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of New Mexico. “However that bond can fit into all kinds of marriage patterns – polygyny, single parenthood, monogamy.”

The human species is somewhat unique amongst mammals in that fathers do invest in raising children .

“We do know that in humans we do have this pretty strong pair bond, and there’s more paternal investment than in most other primates,” said Daniel Kruger, a social and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We’re special in this regard, but at the same time like most mammals, we are a polygynous species.” Kruger said humans are considered “mildly polygynous,” in which a male mates with more than one female.

Whether or not the married or otherwise committed individuals stray for sex depends on the costs and benefits.

“There is plenty of evidence that males have less to lose than females by having extramarital sex,” Lancaster said. “Having less to lose, it’s easier for them to do it.”

Women, however, could lose “dad’s” resources when it comes to raising their kids. “For women, the well-being of their children is not improved by promiscuity,” Lancaster told LiveScience.

Some scientists view both social and sexual monogamy in humans as a societal structure rather than a natural state.

“I don’t think we are a monogamous animal,” said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle. “A really monogamous animal is a goose – which never mates again even if its mate is killed.”

She added, “Monogamy is invented for order and investment – but not necessarily because it’s ‘natural.'”

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4 responses to “Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?

  1. As a species who didn’t live for long men were designed to spread thier seed so to speak but with us now living twice as long as we used to what is the excuse now? Genetics? I know you have a higher chance of cheating if one of your parents cheated. My Dad did cheat on my Mum but I have been with my husband 15 years and have never once felt the want to be with anyone else. But 5 out of 7 of his kids cheated on thier spouses. My husbands Dad also cheated on his Mum so does that mean he will cheat on me? He can try but he knows what will happen if he does lol We promised each other if we ever felt the urge to be with someone else we would just be honest. It’s better to be hurt by the truth than devastated by a lie but it’s how far the cheater is willing to go that is key. The strong walk away and to the spouse, the weak collapse and try to have it both ways. I think it doesn’t matter much the cheated forgives the cheater either, once the trust is broken it is never truly fixed. I know I could never recover if my husband cheated on me. I would always wonder what he was up to, who he was talking to etc…and that is no way to live a life. Is a life time of misery worth it for a night of passion?

    • orwellwasright

      I was cheated on by my ex and have been single ever since – initially it was an obvious reaction, a lack of desire to be hurt again, but as time passed by I enjoyed the “freedoms” of being single more and more, to the point where I no longer make any effort to play the “dating game”. I don’t have an aversion to relationships per se these days, but I guess I’m fussy to the point of putting myself out of the market, so to speak!

      • Right but given the choice I bet you would of prefered to find your happiness of freedom through mutual agreement to end it or by her coming to you and ending it before she wanted to cheat right? Noone would ever be happy someone they loved cheated. I have never even found another man remotely interesting because to me, my man is the best. Even my star sign of Scorpio would suggest I like to do, which I do, I love to flirt but not since I’ve been with my husband. And while there have been times he has made me so angry I’ve wanted to throw a wall at his head, it has never made me once want to run into the arms of another. I think it’s been harder for him because I’ve had committed relationships before where has he hadn’t been in serious ones. But like Is said ‘He knows what will happen if he did cheat’ and you do too lol Can you imagine with what I am and have at my disposal what would happen to the poor guy lol hahahaha But even though he sometimes wants to throw bricks at me, if your with someone you respect and where the partnership is equal I would hope adultery wouldn’t be an issue. However does that mean I’m to stop looking for you then? Because I have been thinking of two females to introduce you to but it depends on you lol

      • orwellwasright

        Hehe – if you know someone to introduce me to I’m up for that, of course! 🙂

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