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Are Humans Truly Monogamous?

SalixIncendium

अहं ब्रह्मास्मि
Staff member
Premium Member
It is a widely accepted social consensus that humans are monogamous creatures, intended to mate with one partner for life. This is a tenet in religious belief structures and is, for the most part, universally accepted in Western culture.

However, when one views divorce rates, in some countries, the divorce to marriage ratio tips the scales at 70% or more, with the median appearing to be around 40%.

Divorce demography - Wikipedia

Given this information, do you think humans are truly a monogamous species? Why or why not?

For the purpose of this thread, we are defining monogamy as mating with one mate for life. The whole "until death do you part" kinda thing.
 

Polymath257

Think & Care
Staff member
Premium Member
First of all, the norm is not monogamy for life. The norm is serial monogamy--having one partner at a time, but several during one's life. And that has been the case for almost every culture. Because of deaths from pregnancy, it has been less common for women to have multiple partners, but it still has been common in history.

So, under your definitions, humans are not monogamous.

And, in practice, even serial monogamy isn't really the norm. When genetics tests for paternity were first introduced, people were surprised at how many children in marriages were not from the marriage.
 

David T

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
First of all, the norm is not monogamy for life. The norm is serial monogamy--having one partner at a time, but several during one's life. And that has been the case for almost every culture. Because of deaths from pregnancy, it has been less common for women to have multiple partners, but it still has been common in history.

So, under your definitions, humans are not monogamous.

And, in practice, even serial monogamy isn't really the norm. When genetics tests for paternity were first introduced, people were surprised at how many children in marriages were not from the marriage.
Thank you poly. You have given us a very good example of exactly why when 10 scientists are asked to interpret QM, they will give you 8 different interpretations. We could say, the statistics dont lie, we can also say factually the statistics don't tell us anything also. They measure a cloud formation at one particular point in time. Statistics says nothing about the past, the statistics says nothing about the future, it works at one single point in time.

I am sticking with Richard feynman on Quantum Mechanics and Niels Bohr is nuts. It works that is all it does specifically at one point in time.
 

HonestJoe

Well-Known Member
It is a widely accepted social consensus that humans are monogamous creatures, intended to mate with one partner for life. This is a tenet in religious belief structures and is, for the most part, universally accepted in Western culture.
I’d argue the exact opposite. The reason this is such a dominant tenet of so many religions is precisely because it’s widely accepted that we’re not monogamous animals. If we were naturally monogamous, we wouldn’t need rules telling us to be. :)
 

Polymath257

Think & Care
Staff member
Premium Member
I’d argue the exact opposite. The reason this is such a dominant tenet of so many religions is precisely because it’s widely accepted that we’re not monogamous animals. If we were naturally monogamous, we wouldn’t need rules telling us to be. :)

it is usually a good sign that certain norms are being ignored when a series of laws are passed upholding those norms.
 
I’d argue the exact opposite. The reason this is such a dominant tenet of so many religions is precisely because it’s widely accepted that we’re not monogamous animals. If we were naturally monogamous, we wouldn’t need rules telling us to be. :)

I agree, religious rules tend to be built around what was noted to be culturally effective, not necessarily what was 'natural'.
 

Rational Agnostic

Well-Known Member
It is a widely accepted social consensus that humans are monogamous creatures, intended to mate with one partner for life. This is a tenet in religious belief structures and is, for the most part, universally accepted in Western culture.

However, when one views divorce rates, in some countries, the divorce to marriage ratio tips the scales at 70% or more, with the median appearing to be around 40%.

Divorce demography - Wikipedia

Given this information, do you think humans are truly a monogamous species? Why or why not?

For the purpose of this thread, we are defining monogamy as mating with one mate for life. The whole "until death do you part" kinda thing.

No, I don't think so at all. In fact, in the early stages of humanity, I think that having multiple sex partners was necessary in order to keep the human race going when survival rates were very low.
 

metis

aged ecumenical anthropologist
Given this information, do you think humans are truly a monogamous species?
Instinctively, no. Our closest relatives that we share 98% of our genes with are certainly not monogamous, and I do believe we share that characteristic.

However, because of our very long childhood (my wife claims mine is still only in-progress), human culture (learned) has it that monogamy of one form or another is best for Junior and Junioress. This was especially true in olden days (even before me!) because work often involved being gone for fairly lengthy periods of time and only Mom had the fixtures to feed them.
 
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