I just found an article titled Face it: Monogamy is unnatural on CNN.com written by Meghan Laslocky, author of The Little Book of Heartbreak: Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages. According to the writer, “It’s time for our culture to wake up and smell the sex pheromones: monogamy is not natural for many, or probably even most, humans.” She then goes on to give various points of support for her argument.
However, as a young married man with parents who have maintained a monogamous relationship, as well as in-laws who have done the same, this article was disconcerting. Personally, it seems that some gross generalizations have been made and although I’m sure I could find many details to discuss, I’d like to reflect on a few major points. Furthermore, although I am a person of faith, I intend to construct my answers in a way that both religious and non-religious persons are able to agree.
1) According to the author, we must only look at other animal species for proof of appropriate relationships, because humans are merely animals themselves.
The biggest glaring opposition that immediately comes to mind with this statement is the generalization in declaring humans animals. Although humans are ultimately a type of animals species, declaring us on the same intellectual and emotional playing fields of birds is a bold idea. Most, if not all, can attest to our having more specialized cognitive functioning due to advanced brain development. An advanced prefrontal cortex developed over time through evolutionary changes makes humans different from other animals.
Although numerous studies have shown other animals to use tools and possess similar DNA to us, we need only look around to see the advanced nature of humans. We are the dominant species on the planet, and there is a reason. Our cognitive function, physician capabilities, social behavior, and emotional states of mind are individualized to the human species. Thus, generalizing humans as just another animal species is a poor premise to construct any conclusion on, let alone something controversial.
2) The author claims that due to increased longevity in human life expectancy, it’s unrealistic to expect 50 years of monogamous relationships.
It used to be that people would die much younger, and as a result, more sexual variety was possible in the form of remarrying. Now that people live into their 70s on average, the author feels fidelity throughout a 50 year marriage is near impossible. Although I don’t claim it should be easy by any means, to deem it impossible is poor judgement.
Essentially, the author indirectly claims that humans should be free to form relationships with whomever they please, whenever they please. However, as pointed out in article comments, humans are still similar to animals in their tendency to be territorial. We’ve all seen, heard of, or even been guilty of jealousy when someone advances towards our significant other. What often happens with “swinger” relationships? Controversy, jealousy and disintegration of relationship is often the result. Despite polygamous physical urges, we ultimately tend to think and feel in a more monogamous nature.
Humans refrain from fighting/killing each other, and structured laws are in place in order to regulate appropriate behavior. Why? Because we have developed beyond the capacities of other animals species and developed moral/ethical codes. Claiming we are the same as them in our relationships is poor judgement with little support.