Is man naturally monogamous?
Desmond Morris says no.
It certainly Seems to be the accepted truth that men (and probably women too) get bored with the same mate after a length of time.
Is it society that brought about man’s necessity to stay with one woman (to be sure his children were his)?

I think it’s pretty clear that people are not naturally monogamous, though it can be done by sheer, agonizing force of will. It seems to come easier for some than for others.

Before divorce was an option, husbands and wives cheated on each other. When divorce is allowed, it’s possible to trade one spouse for another, though people continue to cheat on each other fairly regularly.

The idea that infidelity is an unconscious cure for infertility interests me. After a couple hasn’t had any new children for a few years, the odds of cheating increase compared to people who’ve had a new baby. (No, I don’t have a cite handy; I’m remembering this from something I saw on TV. Since it was on TV, it must be true. ;))

If this is true, it makes sense. From a genetic standpoint- that is, trying to pass on your genes- why stay faithful to your spouse when no kids result? Of course, our bodies can’t discern between biological infertility (say, as a result of disease or a low sperm count) and intentional infertility (say, as a result of taking birth control pills).

Having kids with different partners also adds variety to your kids’ gene pool, increasing the odds that some of them will survive. People don’t cheat because they think to themselves, “gee, I’d like to add some variety to my kids’ gene pool!” but switching sexual partners will tend to have that effect if kids result. Men who cheat with other men’s wives get the advantage of the cowbird, who lays her eggs in another bird’s nest. Spread the genes around; don’t worry about having to support the kids.

On the other hand, monogamy provides benefits for both men and women. For men, yes, they need to be sure they’re not “wasting” resources on children who aren’t biologically their own. For women, monogamy helps because a faithful spouse will (hopefully) expend more resources on their own children, rather than roaming far and wide in search of some booty.

There are biological advantages to either approach- monogamy or infidelity. I think that’s why there’s such tension between the two.

At any rate, if people were naturally monogamous, people wouldn’t have such difficulty trying to stay faithful to each other.

I disagree with the thought that monogamy is difficult.

Holly said:

People don’t remain faithful because they are not willing to put forth the effort to make a relationship work. Instead of working out problems, having good communication, and nurturing the relationship, they take an easy out and start something new.

Relationships can last if they are based on trust, honesty, and open communication. Secrets, lies, and lies of omission are the issues that often lead to breakups and divorce.

Were people to be honest with their partners, fewer marriages and relationships would end acrimoniously.



I agree with this completely. I’ve been married for close to 12 years now, and I can testify that relationships are work. As far as I know, my husband and I have been monogamous, but maintaining a good relationship isn’t a piece of cake.

This is exactly my point: monogamy is work. Presumably, species which have ‘built-in’ monogamy (are there any truly monogamous species?) don’t have to try very hard at nurturing their relationships.

but what does that have to do with anything?

If we were ‘naturally’ monogamous, monogamy wouldn’t be considered a virtue because everyone would always be monogamous. Fidelity would be automatic and we’d have to work to do anything else. It’s pretty damn plain that that isn’t the case, never has been, and most likely never will be.[sup][1][/sup]

BUT, that doesn’t mean much in terms of human culture, society and mores. Most human behavior is NOT based on what is ‘natural’, so why should this be any different?

I get really ticked at people who claim humans are monogamous by nature, because that’s obviously bs. But then again, I can get pretty snitty with people who claim that humans must be polygamous by nature, because that’s obviously bs too. There is no specific type of marriage that is “natural” to humans, else we wouldn’t have so many different kinds.

Hastur, I agree with your statements about the causes of relationship successes and failures. I just don’t see what that has to do with monogamy.

Monogamy may not be difficult for you - but it is for many people; damn near impossible for some. If you prefer monogamy and it’s easy for you, that’s wonderful. But not everyone feels the same. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, anymore than there’s something wrong with you based on your choice of partner. (Individuals can handle their individual situations badly, but that’s another forest entirely.)

[1] I have spoken with individuals who state that they are monogamous by nature. These individuals stated that, while in a relationship, they have absolutely no interest whatsover in other people - not even the slightest “boy, s/he’s hot” in passing. It seemed that those individuals did, indeed, mate for life monogamously. I do not doubt their statements - I see no reason to believe that true monogamy can’t be natural to some human individuals. I just don’t think that you can extend that trait to the entire species.

What do you mean by truly monogamous? I belive, in any event, that the answer is no insofar as I recall recently reading some literature on bird species, previously thought to be highly monogamous and loyal, exhibiting cheating behaviours. There are clealry evolutionary advantages to such a system.

There appears to be a bit of confusion regarding terminology here. (Perhaps by me). Monogamy refers to having one spouse/partner at a time. Polygamy means two at a time. Someone who gets bored with a particular spouse after a while and “cheats” is not being polygamous. They are merely trying to get something out of a new relationship without upsetting other aspects of their lives. Polygamy would be if someone went out and deliberately married two women. Such a person might get bored of these two wives as well after a while, and start looking for someone new, just as a person married to one wife might.

As to what is more natural, if the question is about true polygamy and monogamy, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to decide. There are not both options available in our society, and it’s difficult to compare across societies and eras when the very question is of true nature vs. cultural/societal influence.

If the question is whether the “Seven Year Itch” phenomenon is natural or abberent, I would think it is a natural. It’s not inherently different than anything else that people have in life, that becomes boring after a while.

Significant thing is that the choice to remain “monogamous” is a rational one, and people can feel the impulse to stray but realize the advantages of not doing so. I don’t know if either impulse can be called unnatural.

Here’s my big pet peeve. I think men and women need to learn how to end a nice date (dinner and intellectual conversation) with a handshake and not sex. We would all respect each other more in the morning if this were so.

I have been married for four years. I have two kids. I have only ever been with my husband…I have yet to have anyone (present, past, and most likely future) ever make me want to “assume the position”…or even think that way really. I think sex isn’t regarded highly enough and that is what causes all the problems…human nature is just that…a nature…it isn’t written in stone…it can be altered…but we wouldn’t want to do that…cause then everyone wouldn’t be having as much freedom and fun. I say we need to start respecting our bodies and everyone else a bit more…this is no day and age to have multiple partners…you’re risking your life when you do this. As for saying…“but I was in love”…someone needs to get a dictionary and carry it around…look up lust and love and infatuation…constantly…and tatoo it somewhere on your body for quick reference.


Four years isn’t very long, you know. Chances are you’ll meet someone, someday, who causes you to rethink this (but I don’t mean you’ll necessarily give in to temptation). Chances are even greater (statistically) that your husband will cheat on you, no matter how perfect of a wife you are.

Lust is a powerful thing. It’s foolish to underestimate it.

True. People who cheat know this, but lust can override one’s desire for self-preservation.

I agree that “love” is a lame excuse for infidelity. However, it’s a handy way to rationalize to yourself and others when you cheat. “Love” is considered a good thing; in our culture, lust is sinful. If you cheat because you’re in love with another person, your actions are almost excusable. We’re used to the idea that you should do nearly anything for the sake of “true love” (whatever that is). On the other hand, if you say, “Yeah, I bonked his brains out just because I couldn’t resist him”, you’re not going to get much sympathy.

Damn! Holly, you made some of my points for me. I’m at work and I’ve tried to post umpteen times but I keep getting interrupted.

Wranglerette, my pet peeve is people who think others should live according to their own standards/beliefs/morals/ad nauseum. As Holly pointed out, your relationship is only in the beginning stages. And unless you’re some kind of superhuman asexual being, I find it difficult to believe that your husband is the only person you’ve ever found attractive. Being married to someone these days comes with the possibilty of catching a disease (that is, unless you never have sex with him/her, or watch him/her 24 hours a day). There are no guarantees. I have to wonder how my life might be different today had I chosen to end my first date with my husband with a handshake.

Your ideals in the dating game are fine for you, but I can construct my own. I don’t expect you to agree with the way I conduct my affairs, and likewise believe that you shouldn’t apply these generalizations to everyone else.


And to the OP: Of course we’re not naturally monogamous. It’s in our best interest to spread our genes around as much as possible, biologically speaking. It’s my belief that we can only call ourselves “monogamous” if we have only one partner ever, not just one at a time. Otherwise, it’s not necessarily polygamy/polyamory but serial monogamy, which is not really monogamy at all. :slight_smile:

If women would flex their brain muscles as much as their vaginal muscles they’d better understand a man’s brain and be able to keep him interested and not bored…Why do my husband and I never cheat…because we love each other…made a commitment under God’s eyes…and we’ve discussed adultery. He can have another woman if he wants her…he’d just best get out of target range…and divorce will follow. We’ve been together for eight years altogether…not even a thought of cheating yet…I guess I don’t understand all these “urges” everyone else has…because I’m not the one to give into “urges”…I don’t deal with them…I dismiss them. Temptation is not a choice…it’s there to let you know that you’re contemplating doing something very wrong and immoral…and it gives you the time to change your mind…but most “wordly” people can’t seem to figure that out…They think they can justify themselves with “human nature”. Human nature is to live and survive…copulation is the act of TWO people…and as long as ONE of them knows how to behave it’s not a problem…Well, I guess I’m the only one here that knows how to behave…so be it.


I used to be very jealous until I realized that if I really love my husband, I’ll want what’s best for him. If he finds someone else with whom he’ll be happier, I’ll support that decision. If he has an affair but wants to stay with me, I hope I’ll be understanding enough and forgiving enough to use that experience as a foundation for a stronger marriage. I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt me deeply.

I’m sure we all know several women who were ideal wives and did everything possible to please their husbands, but their husbands strayed anyway. I think it’s unfair to automatically blame the wife for her husband’s infidelity (or vice versa). It’s also kind of dangerous to assume that being a perfect wife can prevent your husband from cheating. No one has such control over his/her spouse.

Can you read his mind?

What do you mean by this? Which of us are you saying don’t “know how to behave”? Me, jane, all of us except you? Please clarify.

I follow the laws set forth by God in the Bible. If you will read Dueteronomy…ch.22 beginning with verse12…well heck, I’ll just type it all

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her
And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say
I took this woman, and when I came to her, i found her not a maid:
Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate;
And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
And,lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him/
And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
But if this thing be true and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house; so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man because he hath humbled his neighbours wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man forcer her, and lie with her; then the man only that lay with her shall die;
But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in no sin worthy of death; for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silfer, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.

That is Dueteronomy 22…verses 13-30. I will not break God’s commandments…this is my inner strength…it has never failed me yet…and I doubt it will in the future.

I’ve always thought these verses were pretty creepy. I’ll paraphrase them.

If a guy thinks his new bride isn’t a virgin, they all troop down to talk to the elders. If the girl’s parents can show she was a virgin via a bloody sheet, the guy has to pay the parents because he’d slandered their name. If the parents can’t come up with a bloody sheet, the girl gets stoned to death.

Please note here that this passage only forbids women from having premarital sex.

Please note that this only forbids married women from committing adultery.

Now, the last part is particularly creepy. If a woman is raped in the city and no one hears her scream, both she and the rapist are to be stoned to death.
If the rape occurs in the country, they give the girl the benefit of the doubt (maybe she screamed, but there was no one around to hear her), so in that case only the rapist is stoned to death.

The most heinous part is this: if the woman is unbetrothed, her rapist must simply pay her father some cash and marry her.

So, Wranglerette, do you stone to death women who aren’t virgins when they marry? Women who cheat on their husbands? Women who are raped in the city? If your daughter was raped, would you think the rapist should be required to marry her?

These passages are just more evidence that man is not “naturally monogamous”. If we were, these Biblical injunctions wouldn’t be necessary in the first place.

I would appreciate it if you’d answer the questions from the last part of my last post. Thanks.

I love my wife dearly, and I would never cheat on her, but not because I am inherently monogamous - it’s because I respect her as a person, and cheating on her would be disrespectful and hurtful towards her. My instincts tell me to have sex with several attractive women, but I ignore them, just as I would not eat the only food in the house if both of us were hungry. I’d still be hungry for it, but it’s not worth it. If for some reason I lost my respect and love for my wife, on the other hand…

Monogamous male checking in. I think a lot of guys get a bum rap. I LOVE my SO and have no desire to ever have anyone but the woman I adore.

A lot of guys get a bum rap because a lot of guys cheat. A lot of women cheat, too, but more men cheat than women.

If you will read carefully…it does not condemn just the woman in those passages…the male dies by a stoning death as well…if she did not cry out for help (meaning obviously she liked it) then they were to marry…if the man was married, however, and it was adultery…they BOTH died by a stoning death.

I think simple common sense would keep the monogamy issue in check. If you love someone and want to devote your life to them…marry them. If you don’t want to devote your life to them…then obviously you aren’t willing to devote your “sex” life with them…therefore there is really no grounds for marriage…

Marriage is not a “buffet” deal…You can’t pay for one dish and still have the freedom to go back for others. It’s a “all you can eat” kind of thing…you get ONE plate and you’d better be happy with your choice.

I do think that I am more knowledgeable of my temptations and desires and fears because of my ability to have held my virginity for my husband. By not giving into every little whim or attractive man I met (and yes ladies I dated quite a few knockouts and had a surplus of opportunities)I grew strong in myself and my beliefs. By following God’s will and my heart I have found a great and happy marriage…as long as WE stay in the center of His will we will remain happy and continue to be blessed as we are today.

By saying that I’m the only one that knows how to behave…simply means that apparently I’m the only one who follows God’s laws addressed inthe Bible. These laws promise a full and happy life (although there will be trials to test my faith at times). Call me a prude if you will…but I believe behaving is in direct correlation with following God’s will. I guess that’s why I don’t find these rules “creepy”…but a good basis for sexual conduct. No one is being stoned these days however…

I also think that if you find yourself in a sexual relationship with someone (that you aren’t married to) and you begin feeling an attraction toward someone else…you simply jumped the gun if you will…you were not mentally, physically, emotionally prepared to commit, therefore giving into temptation repeatedly will never allow you to “train” yourself for your future husband. I had no desire to give myself to anyone other than my husband. I knew they weren’t husband material…no matter how nice the date was. It was common sense to search for the right man…but it was also common sense to not lie down with the ones who did not “fit the bill”.

Sex is such a temporal thing…it will never outlast true love for someone. It is an act by which you express your love for someone and blend bodies momentarily and hearts forever. If you keep “teasing” your heart…it will never know when it finds the right one…and will forever search for that adrenaline rush it has become addicted to.

I also think that women need to bare more responsibility this day and age for sexual conduct. We have the power of reproduction and it is not wanted by many, but contraception use is at a low and disease and unwanted pregnancies are on the rise. If for only the reason that an innocent child’s life may ride in the balance…we women need to start using our minds and taking more responsibility…if YOU have sex and become pregnant…YOU, then become an US…but usually the other party never gets to voice it’s desires…To live and be born doesn’t become the “usual road” for things that lie ahead…and this child is sentenced to death…never to smile, cry, see the blue sky, or feel loved while rocked to sleep…all because two inconsiderate people were wanting five minutes of pleasure without thinking about the consequences. It is sad, sad world when we want more rights for ourselves…and no rights for the little ones that we bring into this world…we’re giving rights to those that do not deserve them and taking the rights from those that perchance may be the next generation to save us from ourselves.

I give you guys a big thumbs up. You should be proud of being true to your wives. You are absolutely true when you say it’s an act of disrespect. It’s disrespectful to your wives and to your own bodies.

I am not a perfect wife…I have many, many flaws. I don’t do a lot around the house…I’m at school a lot. We work our schedules out so that the children are with one parent while the other is working or continuing their education. I am a pre-vet major…I groundwork horses and halter break show cattle for a living at the moment. I make good money. I am not your “average” female…and I think that this is why I don’t have your “average” views. I fell in love with my husband…but I did not NEED him to take care of me…I think many women with their newfound financial freedom because of the equal opportunity employer no longer desire to be married…because they think marriage will “hinder” them professionally. They, therefore, pursue their careers and stay as far away from becoming a wife as possible…yet at the same time with this financial freedom…many still require “manly” duties (besides sex) to be done…and manipulate (for lack of a better word) men to feel obligated to fill this void and in payment he receives sex or a sexual relationship that may last for a while. Perhaps me being strong of body and mind has been the major participant in my “non-existent” sex life before my marriage. I think my strength definitely helped me realize that men are not a necessity…and if I desire to do things on my own I might as well be able to do ALL things on my own. Anyway, just wanted to tell you that I’m not the housewife that runs circles for her husband and awaits his every command. I am a woman with a career and a working status…and above all things that I am…I am faithful to God first, family second, and my own desires last.

According to the Bible passage, the woman should be stoned to death if she:

  1. Is not a virgin when she gets married;
  2. Cheats on her husband;
  3. If she’s engaged to be married and doesn’t scream when she’s raped (if she doesn’t scream, apparently she enjoys it).

The man should be stoned to death if he:

  1. Has sex with another man’s wife, or
  2. Rapes a girl who is engaged to another man.

Note that the passage doesn’t forbid the man to have premarital sex or cheat on his wife. If he rapes a girl in the city and she doesn’t scream, he pays no penalty. Also note that if he rapes a girl who is not engaged, all he’s required to do is pay a fine and marry her.

This part is clearly about rape, not consensual sex.

If the woman doesn’t scream, it’s assumed that she enjoyed having sex with the guy: since she’s in a populated place, presumably someone would have been nearby to rescue her

I would presume that “forcing” the girl to have sex is rape.

Again, this sounds like rape to me; the only difference between this and the above scenario is that the girl is not betrothed.

These verses have more to do with a woman’s role as property than as a guideline for sexual conduct. Until she’s betrothed, the girl is her father’s property; that’s why the father is the one who must be compensated if her virginity is sullied. After betrothal/marriage, she belongs to her husband; having sex with a married woman is destroying her husband’s property.

You say that you’re the only one who follows God’s laws. Yet, the verses you quoted gave the direct order to stone to death the people who commit the listed crimes. If you refuse to stone them, you’re disobeying the rule, yes?