This time by Salon.com’s Anna Pulley in the article 4 Reasons Humans are so Bad at Sexual Monogamy, which faults our natural proclivities and our ancestors. According to Pulley’s resources, we humans crave variety, get bored easily (especially women with sex) and hear the call of our collectivist primal ancestors who lived, parented and copulated communally. Her cited resources are a few notable books on the topic, including Chris Ryan’s Sex at Dawn, a synopsis of which you can find at Ryan’s site among other of his projects, to bolster her brief scan of the huge monogamy balliwick.
In the end she echoes a call to action I myself have made on this site–more tolerance and less dysfunctional belief when it comes to sex and marraige.
To say we are bad at monogamy isn’t an indictment of monogamy in general. Of course, people can and do succeed at life-long monogamous arrangements. Non-monogamous arrangements aren’t inherently better or worse than monogamous ones. And yet, just because we are monogamous with one person doesn’t negate the fact that many of us are still and always will be attracted to other people. As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer put it: “One can choose what to do, but not what to want.” We’d do better as a culture if we could exercise a little more tolerance, acceptance and honest discussions around sex, desire and marriage, and try to be less rigid in our idealistic views of monogamy.
The loosing of restrictions outside of marriage might help the institution as a whole, argues Christopher Ryan in his Big Think interview. When our culture responds negatively to natural urges, like seeking sexual satisfaction outside marriage, the results can do more harm to marriages than good:
And one more for the revisionist thinking about the marriage institution in this Big Think interview entitled “Income Inequality Helping to Build ‘Generation Single” with Chris Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships. His words are excerpted above, but the three minute response in the video portion is worth a listen as he radically asks, “Whose business is it if a couple decides they’re going to allow a little casual sexual behavior on the side…it lets the pressure off.” He maintains that marriage has loftier aims and satisfies larger needs like child rearing, sharing a life and getting old with someone. The reality of who we are biologically–titillated erotically–and the expectations of lifelong fidelity, he says, are at odds and marriage expectations need to be changed to reflect the reality rather than “shoehorn” lives into the mold of a marriage concept.
He does not intimate that marriage is doomed. In fact, he specifies cogent reasons for marriage, which are the long-standing reasons anyone gets married: to share a life together. I know I will be reading his book to find out more.