Rachel Johnson

Atheist Blogger- the godlessvagina / Podcaster the pink atheist

The Power, Passion, and Pleasure Of Monogamy.

10 Comments

I have often written, and will continue to write about the evidence in our evolution for not being monogamous. We are one primate that falls in between the loving passion of Bonobo’s and the risk taking chimp’s. Both of which are our closest cousins on the tree of evolution. Mating rituals between these two other species could not be more stark and contrasting. What it says is that our common ancestor, from which we diverged could have been both monogamy and polygamous in sexual experiences. Our past is littered with facts about how we have been  both at one time or the other, though not exclusively. We have practiced both polygamy and monogamy, as individuals Humans have survived the environment, created offspring and adapted.

lingering  on the edge of the jungle, our ancestors may have lived in groups, or family structured packs. Women would benefited from the protection and cooperation of the males. Traditionally the dominant male had access to females in other primates, but in our ancestors pair bonding may have played a role. Males benefited by producing more offspring making it more likely that those offspring would survive. Scientists believe that the ridge of the penis was used to dislodge sperm from the vaginal area, while the tip is for ejaculating close to or on the opening of the uterus. The closer the sperm are when they are ejaculated the better chances of survival. In our history having sex with more than one male, or female just made sense. Not every offspring survived. We were not fully on top of the food chain and humans were prey. Our evolutionary path left us with brains that started becoming more complex, but unlike most animals we had no other defenses. While we still had large canines, and thick body fur, we lacked any form of true protection from predators lurking, waiting for opportunity. So many offspring were needed to be made for the few that would survive to adulthood and create the next generation.

As we evolved man changed. We became more bipedal, more cognizant of our surroundings. We lost body hair, took up tools, and kept moving towards the inevitable. The day when suddenly we would become agricultural. We learned to not only eat food, and tubers from the ground, but to cultivate food for the future. It was a dynamic change in our evolution. Instead of migration, humans could now settle down and farm the land. We could harvest the food and store some of it away. It created the ability for us to have stability. Man became aware of his surroundings, and learned to kill prey, and predators. What this meant was it was no longer the most beneficial to be non monogamous. Women suddenly found that in this environment the survival of their offspring depended on the accumulation of resources to secure their health and future. It was women who created monogamy.

The change in behavior benefited men and women. Men were more sure about their offspring being genetically theirs, without knowing anything about genes. Women were assured a place to be cared for, and their offspring given a larger chance of survival. This was certainly not always the case. At the dawn of monogamy there was still much of the fear and insecurity in the males about their offspring. If a male questioned the paternity of the offspring he would likely kill it after birth. Infanticide may be linked to the death of the Neanderthal species. But even homo Erectus, and homo sapiens have  likely practiced this behavior. That was because resources were limited, and males wanted their own offspring to survive.

As we have continued to evolve the same can be said for modern day man. The same behavior patterns still exist. Both monogamous and non monogamous of both sexes exist. The determination is in the hands of the individual. What we do see still is the differences in how males react to taking care of non genetic offspring, as well as females. It is twice as dangerous to entrust a non related person with your offspring. While this is not always the case, it has been shown to happen significant amounts of times. Lacking the bond with offspring often leads to lesser treatment, as well as lower success rates in children. As divorce rates rise, the effects are seen on society. Once a divorced couple remarried many times the children from the previous marriage receive less care and attention. Their chances of success in life go down. The potential for college and continued studies goes down. In fact the child suffers in many ways. Some times at the hands of the surrogate parent.

The power of monogamy lies in the better chances of success of the children. Even if parents are not fully happy their children are still more likely to do twice as well as those from divorced homes. Monogamy may sound boring, but there is some passion and care that can’t be found in non monogamous relationships. Having a stable partner means you are more likely to have your needs met, with open and honest communication. It means that you have security, and more intimate bonding. The power part of monogamy is knowing that sex is not the only need filled in the relationship but likely all needs including that of your children. Many people fail to get it right the first time, and some fail to ever get it right.

That is not because we are going against our nature. That is because we come from a diverse nature. We are not one thing by biology. We are many things by choice. Ultimately it is up to every single person to chose what is right for them. Society, and family can not pick what we need, though they may influence it. A person who wants more than one love may choose polyamory. While another person who feels the need for intimate fully attentive love may chose monogamy. The central ideal is to not let others choose. Biology can only give us the evidence for the past and our continuation to the future. It is us, however, who choose how to use that information. May people are not having the sex they want because they won’t speak up. Some people don’t realize what their needs are. Some people fear their own sexuality. But the reality is we are built in form and behavior for many types of relationships. As long as all are consenting adults, then really only the comfort of the individual is substantial.

From the shifting forward of the pelvis, so that humans can have sex face to face, to the transfer of hormones across the skin, to oxytocin in sperm, we have come along way in our sexual evolution. Humans have risked it all in one way or another to choose the sex they are having, and for us existence no longer depends on what sex we do choose. Instead we are free to enjoy the natural and biological benefits of sex. We are free to be responsible and enjoy each other. With our bigger brains, and our ability to understand we have made sex exciting and fun. There is a lot of power in sex. What we choose defines us, and what we do can destroy us. But it is the risk we take for evolving to be humans. We even went so far as to develop a set of feelings unique to human nature, the overwhelming intoxicating, and highly addictive love.

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Author: Rachel Johnson

I am a writer about atheist issues. Separation of the church and state. Women and their right to choose, and sex. I talk about all of the "taboos" of modern life as well as evolution and science.

10 thoughts on “The Power, Passion, and Pleasure Of Monogamy.

  1. Awesome blog! Check mine out if you want.

  2. “Many people are not having the sex they want because they won’t speak up”
    The issue of sexual harassment has made it more difficult for males to approach females. Relationships that could have been are deterred by the over-sensitive nature of a few who see harassment in the most casual glance.

    • I think the previous culture where women were possessions has left women a tad bit bitter, but not at all unapproachable. Best method to use is being kind and charming, but still holding on to your masculine side. Being afraid only heightens the consequences, while not being afraid is likely to bring them. So you have to play it smart, know the woman you are approaching, and do it with with her comfort in mind. One thing I know a lot of women enjoy is a sweet guy.

  3. I enjoyed the evolutionary approach of this story. My problem with it is that people in monogamous relationships, such as myself, are not 100% satisfied with the partner they have. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure this is a common attribute in humans, that when we see another person who attracts us either physically or mentally, we want to gravitate towards that person. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is not a black and white issue.

  4. Love is a wonderful emotion. Love can be a cruel mistress or the greatest of partners. The ability to love somebody, the feelings one gets when you see them, when you hear them laugh, when you see them feel embarrassed and you hurt for them, when you hold a glance for that fraction of a second longer and you feel yourself blush, all of these things and many many more are utterly wonderful.

    The ability to love somebody, the feelings one gets when you see them, when you hear them laugh, when you see them feel embarrassed and you hurt for them, when you hold a glance for that fraction of a second longer and you feel yourself blush, all of these things and to have those feeling reciprocated is possibly the greatest feeling in the world.

    These are all very human feelings, human emotions. But, are they unique ? Are humans the only species to feel ‘love’? Are we, of all the species on the planet, right now and in the past, the only species to have cultivated these sets of emotions ? I am not sure.

    Certainly, we are the only ones who have quantified them in out language, but that is because we are the only ones who speak our language. And as such we ascribe human language to human emotions.

    As humans we have a tendency to anthropomorphocise other species, and as such we tend to assume other species are not capable of the same emotions that we are.

    But are they capable of /their/ versions of love? Personally, I don’t see why not. Swans have a tendency of mating for life with the same partner, or if not for life, for a significant period. Elephants seem to show life long loyalty to their family members, certainly mother to offspring and appear to have long term memory recall of those same offspring.

    Whatever it is that other species feel, whatever their emotions and whatever their memories of those emotions, if there experience from their emotions is even a fraction of what it feels like for two humans to be in love, their feelings must be very intense.

  5. This is a very important topic, but I am disappointed that this essay ignores the deep scientific literature on the subject and substitutes the author’s imagination, working from first principles to figure what could possibly be true. The consequence is that there is quite a bit of misinformation and idle speculation about what we know about our ancestors’ behaviors. There is a misunderstanding of the principles of ancestral character state reconstruction from comparing living organisms and, throughout the essay, mistaken or unsupportable assertions of what has happened and what would be likely to happen during human evolution.

  6. Pingback: More Than Two Lovers (or You Can’t Box In Love): Plain Truth 15 « chocolatecoveredliesdotcom

  7. Pingback: More Than One Lover (or You Can’t Box In Love): Plain Truth 15 « chocolatecoveredliesdotcom

  8. Pingback: Polyamory: More Than One Love (or You Can’t Box In Love): Plain Truth 15 « chocolatecoveredliesdotcom

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