Why Monogamy Is Ridiculous

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by KilljoyKlown, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Nocturnumbra ... Registered Senior Member

    I'm going to talk about why monogamy is ridiculous is a personal (not my person) sense as opposed to an evolutionary sense.

    Monogamy is ridiculous because people aren't unique. We are personas. Combinations of a bunch of different archetypes. We're...complicated enough, in our own way. But at the end of the day...we have to realise that there are people in this world that are very, very similar to us. Who's the person you met that's most similar to you, and how similar are they? Answers will vary...and in fact, most of you probably won't have met anybody all too similar to yourself. How many people do we actually meet in a few decades, though? How many people do we get to know well enough to know that they aren't very similar to us? A few thousand? Up to ten times that, maybe. World population is currently about 6.9 billion...only a tiny fraction of which you actually know. The point is...right now, it is extremely likely that somewhere in the world, there is at very least one person that thinks the same, talks the same, and even probably looks the same as you do. I personally have met some people that are frighteningly similar to me...and that's just out of the handful of people that I've met.

    The point with all of this is...well, there's the obvious question of what you do in a situation with people who are essentially other copies of you...lacking individualism. If you, say..."fall in love" with somebody, what determines who goes with whom? And of course, "falling in love" with a "soulmate"...it's all just very silly to begin with. What we really have to realise, though, is that regardless of whether or not we are in a group of people that we are similar to, there are, somewhere, sometime, people that are near identical to us. All of us.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
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  3. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    I'm somewhat unclear as to why persons NOT being similar to us somehow makes monogamy ridiculous.

    Complementary relationships can often be a strong bonding force, where partners appreciate their differences and shore up where each may be lacking.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    You don't seem to understand love at all. Nothing in your post hints at it.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    We've all had our hearts broken multiple times. It feels like crap for a while and then something distracts us from the pain and before we know it, it's all over.

    There's always one love back in our past that still stirs a little wistfulness, wondering "what if." But that's roughly in the same category as "what if" I had gotten that degree in math instead of wimping out and transferring into accounting, or "what if" I had bought into the L.A. real estate market in 1969 instead of 1979, or "what if" I had kept up with my music instead of leaving my axe in the closet for fifteen years?

    Perhaps my life would have turned out to be a wonderful adventure if I hadn't so easily let that lady dump me in 1975. But what the heck, the lady who was wise enough to not dump me has made my life a wonderful adventure anyway. There's nothing to regret. I wouldn't trade this life for any alternative reality.

    Every relationship has its little bits of dysfunctionality, whether its being someone's spouse/friend/colleague/boss/subordinate/parent/child/whatever. People aren't perfect so the relationships and other artifacts we create aren't perfect either.

    Sometimes the dysfunctionality turns out to be a real problem and we get hurt. But if that has happened to you so often that you're gun-shy about it, that's a remarkable run of bad luck that's starting to not look so much like luck! Perhaps you should look for the problem inside you, rather than inside them. And certainly not inside the idea of "relationship." That has been proven workable for thousands of years, so there can't be anything basically wrong with it.

    It could be a vicious cycle: You worry that you're going to be hurt, so you hold back and don't give them everything that you should be giving to someone you love; they sense that and feel slightly betrayed; they react by doing something dysfunctional of their own (not the same thing of course, that would make it too easy to identify, analyze and fix, and life is never that easy!), now you are the one who feels betrayed, now you react, yatta yatta, and the next thing you know your relationship starts to look like some species of felid who psychologically need to be scratched and bitten to arouse their hormones.

    And I hasten to add that there are humans like that, they're not just tigers. Some people just need to fight in order to be content. But that's obviously not you.

    You need to figure out what it is about relationships that arouses this fear. What exactly are you afraid of? Being physically hurt? Having your stuff stolen? Your house trashed?

    Or is it the normal things that happen in relationships all the time: not getting a commitment, being cheated on, being dumped for no good reason?

    Or the real dysfunctional stuff: being yelled at, being belittled, having your weak spots located and constantly exploited?

    Unless you've been physically abused, all of this, even the worst of it, is just water under the bridge. If you have been physically abused, then I hope you've found somebody better to talk about it with than a bunch of wacky and nearly-anonymous strangers on an internet board!

    Maybe you've been hurt a couple of times and your way of dealing with it has been to avoid relationships. That always seems like a great idea but it's not. You need to "get back on the horse that threw ya." (Now that you have a motorcycle you'll probably understand that metaphor pretty soon. It only took me three months to put it down the first time.

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    Your heart needs exercise like any other muscle. Let it get broken. It will become stronger.
  8. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Know...yes. I know.
    Insight is cheap.
    Fix it? Long-term project. Working on it.

    Worse. I do talk about it to lots of people, mainly because I can't seem to help myself. Cerebral incontinence. Shameful.This is another example....I'm really sorry I said anything.

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    Similarity isn't the issue. Loyalty, to me is the issue. Ultimately, I want to offer someone my loyalty, it is part of the best I have to offer.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  9. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

    It's always about “how you feel about yourself”. When you are with some people and you feel better about yourself, you will find yourself wanting to spend more time with those people, and when you seem to like yourself less around other people, you will tend to avoid those people as much as possible. So when two people like themselves about as much as possible whenever they are together it gets hard to separate them.
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Don't be sorry. There's nothing wrong with telling your problems to your friends. Maybe you'll find that one of us has worked through the same thing. But regardless, it never hurts to get someone else's perspective, while you're going to see a professional every Tuesday to get the more erudite kind of help.
    As I said, loyalty is important but it's not the only thing that's important. You also have to have honesty. Most people want at least a modicum of generosity, too, so they don't end up feeling like all they do is give and the other person just takes. Even the "trophy wife" who is given a Gold Card with a $750 daily limit, and lives in a house with servants who pick up her underwear and make her meals, is expected to be generous with her sexual favors and with her presence at corporate parties.

    Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a country where they have lots of discretionary income and leisure time, but those who do also want a partner who is fun, in whatever particular way they have fun. Even better, to introduce each other to new kinds of fun.

    I listed intellectual companionship and I'm sure most of the people who hang out on a science board would regard that as important too. It's rather disappointing to not be able to discuss the things that are important to you with your partner.

    As for the physical abuse, I suppose we would all consider that part of an unstated requirement: the person has to be sane! It's hard enough to get along with somebody who is merely screwed up. But a person who is genuinely wired wrong? Forget it!
  11. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Waitaminute... kind, employed, and monogamous I can manage, but now I have to be sane???
    Aw hell! We're screwed now!
  12. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member


    No we're not.

    Find two people who can agree on the definition of sane.

    Each of us defines 'sanity' from our own perspective, so in that regard, you are no more ready for the little white coat with the arms that tie in the back than any of the rest of us.

    You're good to go, in my opinion.


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  13. Nocturnumbra ... Registered Senior Member

    I don't mean in the sense of the partner. Yes, in some cases, a complementary partner is very helpful. I also hear it makes things interesting...opposites attract and all that. What I was really referring to, though, was the fact that we aren't persons. We're personas. What we are attracted to are personas, exemplified by people. What if you meet two copies (persons) of the same persona? What do you do then, as a monogamist?

    In this case, the roots are somewhat confusing. Mono-gamy and poly-gamy. Obviously, mono means one and poly means multiple or many. But that isn't really the relevant sense here. I mean, if you think about it, the lack of adherence to monogamy is simply polygamy...which is the natural social order as opposed to the natural evolutionary order. It isn't so much about mono-and poly- as it is about...single-mate order and no order at all. To me, the "order" just seems evolutionarily contrived.
  14. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are suggesting that non-adherence to monogamy is the evolutionary order, with monogamy being a natural social order.

    This is precisely the premise of the item in the original post.

    A look at our evolutionary history suggests that genetic diversity is better served by a bit of 'lateral interest' on the part of both sexes, yet the social order is better served by the practice of monogamy, in raising our young, stabilizing communities etc.

    There is a further destabilizing social concern when the ratio of males to females becomes highly disproportionate as in societies which select for male children over females.

    Monogamy is a successful strategy, though a challenging one, which confers significant benefits to the offspring of it's adherents, IMO.

    It will be rather interesting in future to see just who decides to bear young, and who is expected to contribute to their rearing. I observe a considerable difference in the capabilities of the children who have been raised in a monogamous relationship, and those who have been raised by child care services and social media.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    While I agree, a more interesting comparison might be:

    Children raised by monogamous committed parents
    Children raised by polygamous committed parents

    I have a feeling the differences would be a lot more subtle, if noticeable at all.
  16. Nocturnumbra ... Registered Senior Member

    Right...you're close, although what I was saying was completely the opposite of that. You have them switched around. But I wasn't all that clear to begin with, and definitions are important here because evolution and society are pretty inter-related...monogamy was created from both evolution and society, but that's not what I mean when I say the "natural order of society"...I just mean from the viewpoint that we all have the ability to choose our partners...which, in this case, is really just people who are important and useful to us. I don't see how this has to be related to sex. If you have sexual urges that need to be sated, there are both things and people for that sort of thing. Maybe love is just a sort-of combination of sex and importance? Yeah, that sounds about right.

    In all seriousness, though, Fraggle Rocker is right...I don't really understand monogamous love. It seems similar to nostalgia or sentimentalism...neither of which I ever really understood either. You would both obviously think I was even more dense if I gave here a dictionary definition of love...so if either of you want to explain it to me, feel free. Although I'm assuming you'd say something along the lines of how love is impossible to describe, because it's so magical...et cetera.
  17. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    I'm obviously an odd duck...but for me love is knowing and trusting someone more than anyone else on the planet, and feeling a deep sense of attachment to them. Also having a perverse affection for their flaws, so that even the annoying is dear.

    But then again, I fear the world, so knowing I have someone who will take my side in a fight, and whom I'd lay down my life for... that's what I'm about.

  18. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for that clarification, Nocturnumbra.

    You ask me now to describe the mystery of love, which you contemplate as possibly similar to nostalgia or sentimentalism.

    The biology and psychology of DESIRE is the basis of initial attraction. Unless this attraction is reciprocated, there can be no relationship, although the person so attracted may endure an experience known as Limerence.

    The initial stages of 'falling in love' may express the same initial conditions as Limerence, with the attraction being experienced by both parties, although it may be stronger in one than in the other. Over time, the disruptive hormonal and psychological effects of initial attraction will settle into one of three acknowledged bonding patterns where limerence is concerned. There are many other types of human bonding.

    The information in Wikipedia is quite good, and I would urge persons following this thread to take the time to read the details at the following links.



    I have tossed in a couple of links to Wikipedia, to facilitate this reply. Having experienced limerence myself and observed it in others, I am comfortable that the information at the links provided will be of some assistance to the reader and provide a starting point for those who wish to investigate further.

    The psychology of human attraction, bonding and enduring relationship is quite fascinating to me, compounded by the observation that even words on a screen between persons who have never met have the capacity to invoke strong emotions.

    What's with that?

    They are only words on a screen, yet we find ourselves intrigued by some and repelled by others. No pheromones involved. The attraction or repulsion is strictly an intellectual reaction, I hypothesize.

    Therefore I extrapolate that there is a strong intellectual factor involved in enduring monogamous relationships.
  19. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    As one who has read a lot of Robert Heinlein's work, I would give the advantage to the children raised by committed polygamous parents, if I thought that our species was capable of such emotional maturity.

    People get hung up on the negative aspects of sex when contemplating polygamy. We are not discussing an orgy.

    Beyond that early stage of raging hormones, most people have plenty of other interests to occupy their time and energy.

    Our species seeks to bond with others, in search of intimacy, and far too many people mistake sex for intimacy, IMO. Sexual attraction may become less over time, but intimacy has the capacity to grow and endure for a lifetime.

    If some songs are to believed, there are those who contemplate that love endures even beyond that.....

    Mac Davis - Forever Lovers
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Ah yes, the "coat of arms."

    Certainly each of us defines things in our own way, yet we also subscribe to the definitions that come from our culture. After all, if we did not do that we would never be able to communicate.

    The dictionaries agree that the essence of sanity is "sound judgment." Although most of us attempt in good faith to make sound judgments most of the time, we are not all equal in our cognitive ability to do that. Some of this goes back to the DNA our parents bequeathed to us, some of it is in the lessons they gave us after we were born, some comes from all the other people and experiences we have as we go through life, and some is simply the result of our own reasoning.

    Every day we incredibly smart folks see other more ordinary people making decisions that look bonehead-stupid. Does that mean they're insane? Or merely that they weren't raised right? Or that they've created their own philosophy and they made a few mistakes in the process? Or that the decision was above their IQ pay grade? Or could it mean that we're wrong, not them?

    Obviously, you have to go by your own definition of "sanity" when deciding if a prospective partnership will be healthy for you.
    But that won't happen. A persona is not a formula with five or six variables. You may be thinking of an archetype, but you only encounter archetypes in literature, from Homer down to this afternoon's soap opera. Real people are a mix of almost all of Jung's archetypes, and moreover different ones assume dominance on different days in response to that day's challenges and responsibilities.
    Don't forget that Homo sapiens is one of a rather small number of species whose females are physically capable of copulation outside of their estrus cycle. The evolutionary reason for this is, presumably, that this is how a woman can keep her man at home after she's had children who, due to the singularly slow maturation of our species, absolutely require both parents to play a role in their upbringing.

    In other species such as dolphins, whose young don't require dual-parent nurturing, it works just exactly the other way round: the females can mate with any male at any time, which helps strengthen the social bonds within the pod.
    As noted, there is strong evidence for monogamy being part of our evolutionary programming. It doesn't have to be 100% rigorous; writers like Jean Auel assume that there was a fair amount of hanky-panky in Paelolithic tribes and it was not even considered naughty. But it does allow couples to bond and build a two-parent family.
    Some societies seem determined to destroy themselves, don't they. You'd think that the men would remember how horrible their lives were when they were young and couldn't get a girlfriend, and not want their own sons to have that experience.
    The majority of inmates in American prisons grew up without fathers. Q.E.D.
    Israel has had stunning success with their kibbutz system. During the week all the children live together with six or eight full-time surrogate parents: people who have PhD's in parenting if there is such a thing. Their biological parents get them on the weekends. They've been doing this for two generations (my wife observed it on a kibbutz during her hippie-walkabout in 1969) so they've had plenty of time to study the effect.

    The results have been overwhelmingly positive. So much so that American foster agencies are starting to copy the kibbutz system. (I have a friend who has made a career in this field.) One of the advantages is that if one "parent" leaves (death, military service, divorce, whatever), they've still got five others to maintain stability and continuity, instead of just one.

    An interesting phenomenon that was discovered during this program is the Westermarck Effect. Children who grow up feeling like siblings--even though they're really not--very seldom marry each other. It turns out that our species's very strong taboo against incest (compared to virtually all other mammals) has nothing to do with some sixth sense that tells us the other person has our DNA. It comes strictly from the experience of growing up as brother and sister, whether or not it's real.

    This raises some serious questions about life in the Paleolithic Era. Nomadic hunter-gatherers lived in small extended-family units, so everybody was related. Did some of the kids run away in adolescence, in order to find an unrelated mate? This constant chlorination of the gene pool is certainly a species-survival strategy and may have been a factor in our success. The other pack-social primates have no such taboo and inbreeding is rampant in their species.
    At least today, in the Western nations. It wasn't like that always, and it still isn't like that everywhere.

    Nonetheless, choosing your own partner is apparently not highly correlated with love. One of my many Indian friends had an arranged marriage, and when he talks about it his eyes literally fill with tears. He said, "I could have searched the whole planet and I would never have found a woman as perfect and wonderful as the one my parents found for me. Every day I thank them for that gift."
    It's not something you understand. It's something you feel.
    That's as good a definition as any. Especially for you, since that's the way you experience it.
    Hopefully she will also be able to help you get over that fear. We don't just graciously tolerate each other's weakesses. We help each other overcome them.
    That's not much different from the Israeli system. It has the same advantages: better continuity, more parenting styles, someone to talk to if you're angry at the other one.
    Well it certainly is a type of intimacy. The cyclical trend of being intimate with people you don't know very well (oxymoronically to be sure) is simply an expression of revolution. It happened in the 1960s and it seems to be happening again.
    Song lyrics, like all literature, transcend reality. They are not meant to be taken literally. They're full of metaphors to get us thinking about the universe in new ways.
  21. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member


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    She is a little...but I also want to go try out her semi-automatic assau...er, hunting rifle.
    I think I did mention she's a little paranoid too right?

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  22. Nocturnumbra ... Registered Senior Member

    I'm fully aware and I agree with the fact that people are complex things. But when the world population is in the scale of billions, the complexity gets mitigated as a factor. And monogamy will still work...because even if there exist essential copies of a person, they will in all likelihood never meet and realise it...but what I was trying to say with my posts here was that regardless of whether it would work or not, it doesn't seem to make all that much sense, given what I understand about love. Ultimately, it doesn't matter at all how complicated we are. The more complicated we are, the more monogamy will work, but that was beside my point anyway. It simply doesn't make much sense to me, to love things based on circumstance like that. Honestly, I think my problem is that I regard love as too special. What really matters is not our complexity, but the fact that we are not unique. It doesn't matter if we ever meet any other copies of us. It doesn't even matter if any other copies of us exist currently. Just the fact that there could exist copies of us makes anything restricted to a fixed number of copies (in this case, one pair) kind of illogical.
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member


    I'm not mentally stable enough right now. But if I figure out how to get there I'd like the opportunity to foster or adopt a kid. Not for the kid's sake alone, but because it would grow me as a person. Dealing with a child can be fun, but it's also incredibly nervewracking and difficult. A real growth opportunity, that.

    Marriage does that too...because it's not easy...It would be easier to walk away sometimes.

    Not all $h!ts and giggles. Not all lovey-dovey ness. Very much more deep and rewarding than infatuation. A lot harder.

    There are people who happily practice open marriage. It would not work for me or a lot of people.

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