Volume Fourteen: The Myth of Monogamy

Posted on 11/10/2009


I had this discussion regarding monogamy recently with some friends and it really got me to thinking. If you know my friends (as some of you are them) then you know the discussion was well thought out and extremely intellectual. I mean, there were the biblical references, references to animal vs. human nature, the assortment of moral dilemmas, etc. that were all designed to sway the argument in the general direction of whomever had the floor at that moment. I, of course, added my three cents but tended to listen more than I contributed (see Volume 7: The Lost Art of Listening). On debates such as this one where there is no clear cut or definitive answer, I love to watch people try and establish one. When, in fact, true monogamy is only defined individually and supported by our social network – but, I’m getting ahead of myself. Either way, it led me to my latest post: The Myth of Monogamy.

Myth One: Monogamy is Supported Biblically

I know I just angered my more religious readers; and for that, I apologize. I do not mean to besmirch the bible or any of its tenets. That is not my point. My point is that throughout the bible there are verses and stories that can be used to support any belief that you ascribe or subscribe to. I mean, wasn’t the bible used to support slavery? I believe in God, and support many of the teachings and lessons of the bible. At the same time, let’s be careful when we a) look for specific verses and/or passages to support our belief system – despite how “good” or “moral” they are (See the aforementioned slavery question. Some believed they were actually helping the Africans by enslaving them); and, b) let’s understand that the bible has had some verses, passages, and stories lost in translation or outright omitted over the centuries due to the political agenda of the translator, e.g. King James. Therefore, can we still use the bible as our moral compass? Absolutely. The bible is a great book for anyone to read – whether you’re religious or not. Nevertheless, where it is extremely clear on some subjects, like murder; it is equally as vague on others, like monogamy.

Myth Two: Monogamy is Human Nature

As Forest Gump would say, “I’m not a very smart may-yan,” but I know enough to make me dangerous. As far as I know, humans and penguins are the only species that take a mate for life. I would beg to argue that humans don’t truly take a mate for life as we typically aren’t virgins at the time of marriage and, with divorce and infidelity rates at all time highs, it’s laughable to say that we take “mates for life”. Therefore, it can be argued with some certainty that monogamy is decided more by choice than by nature. In fact, a marriage is more of a legal agreement/partnership than ordained by nature. And, when you throw in the fact that infidelity is viewed as the breaking of vows more than a violation of nature, my reasoning has more credibility.

If monogamy is a myth, then does my relationship stand a chance?

Short answer: Absolutely! What we have to do is stop looking for external support for our choice of monogamy and start with the two people in the relationship. You and your mate should have an open and honest discussion regarding fidelity, and not just assume that it’s a given. As stated in the opening, monogamy is/should be  defined individually and supported socially. For example, I watched an MTV True Life program regarding bi-sexual people. They would tell any potential mate of their orientation and let them make the decision of being with them or not. They defined monogamy as being with one man AND one woman at a time, and their social networks supported their lifestyle. If that is the accepted world they live in, who’s to say that they are wrong?

Society sends mixed messages to men and women regarding fidelity. For men, it suggests that fidelity is a disease that should be avoided until the very end. Having multiple partners and being considered a “player” or “ladies man” puts you in a place of reverence among your peers. For women, fidelity is the norm. I’m not saying that women cannot be, and are not unfaithful. That’s far from the truth. However, female infidelity is not supported locally or globally on the social scale. Women that have many partners are considered “hoes”, “sluts”, “tramps”, or whatever derogatory moniker you can place on them. It’s the goose vs. gander argument; but, in our monogamy discussion, suggests again that society is a poor barometer to judge the monogamy question.


So, what did we decide? Nothing, really. I suggested that monogamy is a decision that should be defined and decided upon individually – absent from external factors. Once you are confident as to how you define monogamy, then you can set about finding a mate with a similar definition. This becomes your own relationship universe with your friends acting as constellations either supporting or disrupting the order you have created. My mother used to say, “water seeks its own level.” I used to wonder what that meant. I guess it means that people surround themselves with other people that have similar, or support their belief system. Criminals hang with criminals, religious folks with religious folk, etc. Depending upon the belief system you establish, the water around you could be as small as a drop or as vast as an ocean. My question is: How wet do you need to be?

That’s just my three cents…


Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…