Some interesting studies have recently surfaced regarding monogamy and its evolutionary past. It seems as though monogamy, at least in most mammals history, has taken place in order to ensure the survival of the family. Granted, the findings are drawn from looking at over 200 different animal species, not including humans, though it raises some interesting questions about our own tendency toward or away from monogamy. What are the human pro’s and con’s of monogamy and do we think it will continue to be a strong hold in societies, or will we tend toward another way as we evolve?
In the past
Monogamy originally came from a need to secure land possessions and pass along inheritances, also giving men knowledge of who were their ‘rightful heirs’ so as to continue in the family tradition. In tribal cultures, monogamy is still less prominent and unnecessary where the individuals view themselves as part of a ‘greater whole’ and less as personalities with possessions. Children, for example, are raised by the community, and not thought of to belong to certain people.
Though love has always been a driving force for many couples to be together, it has been less common until fairly recently in human history, due to a more modern association with ‘self’ as being a separate entity.
In animal species, monogamy evolved as a way to keep the male from killing other male’s babies. It was a territorial issue. Apparently monogamy is fairly rare in primates, though the species who have adapted it, have done so to ward off the death of their progeny and it is considered an evolutionary move by scientists.
The studies show- that protection of the children is the greatest benefit of monogamy in the animal kingdoms. One might agree that is equally true in our species, though perhaps there is more. We are certainly a breed who values more self-ish concerns than our animal counterparts, even among the least evolved. We think of self-satisfaction and living authentically as being driving forces to condone poly-amorous experimentation and some would agree that expanding the circle of love is good for the children too. Yes, protecting the children should potentially be of greater consideration in the decision to be monogamous than maybe it is. For the impressions we give to young people are key to how they grow and develop and what forces are perpetuated in future generations.
Research into monogamy seems contradictory however, emphasizing propagation of the species as being a leading element driving the ‘one mate’ phenomenon, while at the same time – obvious factors point out that males can spread a lot more of their seed if they have multiple partners. In the human, verses the animal species, the reason for the the prior seems to be more obvious, as a male is less able to ‘father’ multiple children properly if mothered by more than one female. There just isn’t enough energy to go around, not enough attention can be given when spread out across households and miles.
It has been shown that children are more likely to grow up healthy and live longer if they have loving parents present throughout their development.
Monogamy verses Polyamory
To some, monogamy is a limiting expression of love, hence the explosion of poly-amorous relationships popping up everywhere. Others have realized that only in a monogamous relationship can the deeper issues of ‘self’ resolve, and the true heart of compassion feed both the relationship and those who surround them. Monogamy creates a safe-haven for individuals to open up to a deeper expression of who they really are.
Monogamy, when seen beyond the simple factor of ‘having sex with just one partner’ and realized to be a secure container in which two people can grow into the strongest expressions of the self possible, while encouraging the children to do the same- becomes a powerful manifestation of growth and evolutionary potential. When two people feel safe enough to express that which has been hidden in the subconscious mind from childhood and previous experiences, tremendous healing can occur. As long as the process of working through old issues does not become misinterpreted as projection on the partner, where the one listening takes things personally, a monogamous union can be mutually beneficial, allowing for the deeper evolution of both parties.
Those in favor of multiple partners often times cannot commit themselves to the depth of work that monogamy requires of them. This is not true of all poly-amorous relationships of course, but it is difficult to be as intimate and emotionally vulnerable in the presence of several, than it is with one strong ‘other.’ Perhaps we have just not evolved enough in this species to gracefully handle multiple sexual partnerships – for that is what is really meant by polyamory. In union with one committed partner, we as individuals have the potential to evolve not only ourselves, but collectively as well – as we let our issues be mirrored, take responsibility for our actions and grow our capacities for love.
The studies point out how animals have evolved using monogamy, and perhaps the wisdom in nature is closer to the truth for us than we realize. Yes, being with the same person is challenging and sometimes presents difficulty. Often times our ‘partner’ will need to shift to another ‘person.’ This does not remove the benefit or truth of monogamy, but rather emphasizes, that while we are in the presence of the ‘one’ – keep looking that way for consciousness to expand. There are multiple ways to interact with so many individuals, however, the power of sexual union locks two people into a combined evolutionary spiral that can be interrupted when another is added in, like trying to enjoy a piece of chocolate cake and butter-fried asparagus at the same time – both delicious, but not at the same time.
What are your thoughts? Does committed monogamy assist in evolution as the studies say? Or is that just for the dogs…?
Written by: Stasia Bliss