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Why be monogamous?

I have some theories, which I describe below, but I haven't experienced a monogamous relationship beyond a few years. For me, I think the most challenging aspect will be to reconcile my hedonistic urges with my rational justifications. I have seen, first-hand, examples of both lifelong, happy relationships, and broken, disastrous ones. So why be monogamous?

For the first several years of a meaningful relationship, I have lived by the notion that monogamy is a "litmus test" of how important a girlfriend/boyfriend is, and whether the relationship should progress. If I can resist nature's (sexual) programming, then maybe I've found a person with whom I can pair bond (assuming, of course, that pair bonding is the best strategy overall).

However, the 'litmus test' answer runs out of steam after 5 years. By this point, I should be able to decide whether this person is my mate and if I should forge ahead, marriage.

why be monogamousr

What do I do then? Will sex be so intimate with my wife that sex with others won't be worth it? That it will always seem like dining in a 3-star Michelin restaurant instead of settling for fast food? There are these damned vixens who seem to argue otherwise. Who is this Victoria, and where does she conceal her Secret?!

What about the idea that I should give my partner the unique privilege of my body because she deserves it, and she in turn will commit to me in the same way? This mutual trade is a token of ultimate respect for one another's grand embrace of life. This may cover me during years 5-20, during which we could build a sexual narrative that might only be interrupted by random outside participation. But what happens when our bodies are no longer what they were?

At this point, do I resign myself to ignore the urges because I'm 'past that point/prime'? Will I feel differently than I do now? Do I want to be, assuming it's even possible, a rich old guy who divorces his same age wife, splits up his family, and gets with some hot model?

What about years 10-0, when I die? I believe that the intimacy of monogamy will provide me with a tremendous amount of comfort and courage during my final days.

The simplest answer, I think, is to satiate my sexual appetite. Timing, however, can often prevent this in a healthy, monogamous relationship. Should I be patient, or should I try to discover a more complex solution that may be dangerous, emotionally?

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Edited: 29 Mar '12, 12:18    Asked: 03 Jan '11, 12:32
Jaden Jaden

A noble dilemma, and a tough problem. I'd like to dub it the 'testosterone paradox' - that which inspires us to seek success and female company in the first place, is the very thing which will cause us to seek yet more female company and risk tearing down everything we've achieved. Just ask Tiger Woods or John Edwards.

The core problem I see here is that we are working within the very limited confines of Judeo-Christian ethics. It's a framework designed to minimise suffering rather than maximise pleasure. All those rules about sex and marriage - they're not there to make you as happy as you could possibly be, they're there to ensure the least misery for the majority. Clearly any guy who thinks he deserves more than one woman is a threat to that.

So, the truth is you're not going to find a satisfactory answer to this problem within the social framework you've inherited. You're going to have to develop some new rules. You've got to make sure those rules work within your society and that all bases are covered as far as keeping your significant other happy is concerned. It's a tall order, but if your long-term happiness and the stability of your relationship depends on it, you'd better get cracking.

  1. Identify what you want/need. Is this really about sex? Or is it about how you feel about yourself as a man? Do you actually need to perform the act, or is it enough to know you could if you wanted to? Try and identify and remove the indoctrination in your own beliefs about relationships.

  2. Identify what your long-term partner wants/needs. Stability? Kids? Physical fidelity? Emotional faithfulness? Would she be more hurt if you were to have a one night stand or a long, unconsummated love affair? Does she think the relationship will be stronger with more or less freedom? It's a complex question, and we all have to deal with both our own biases and comfort levels, and the ones we've learned from society. All people want is not to be hurt - help her discover the difference between what would truly hurt her and what's just the product of her own indoctrination.

  3. Talk talk talk. Don't just talk to other guys, talk to women. Talk to your partner and her friends. Don't just come out with "I'm really interested in fucking other women." Start with, "I think it's really hard to maintain a long-term relationship these days. I love my wife/girlfriend and I want to be with her forever, but I still have needs and desires and it seems unfair to expect everything from her..." You'll often hear the same old non-solutions ("if you really love her you'll...", "you can't have everything...") but you'll be surprised how many men - and women - share your concerns, and you'll have an opportunity to modify your circle of friends accordingly. Be circumspect and you won't need to offend anyone. Make people understand this is a problem you are trying to solve (for everyone - just look at the divorce rate!), not just a naughty itch you want to scratch.

  4. If you think you've at least started to answer the above questions, try and apply what you've learnt to your own life. Maybe your partner would like to go travelling alone- are you comfortable with that? Will you be curious about what she got up to or is the promise that she's coming back to you enough to quell your fears? Maybe you get into a steamy encounter at a conference. How far do you take it? Are you comfortable lying to your long-term partner or will that make you feel too guilty?

A lot of questions to answer, and no golden rule for everyone. Undoubtedly will help fill in some of the gaps, in time.

Great Answer
Edited: 01 Mar '12, 08:27    Answered: 29 Jan '11, 21:23
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drg drg

I'd argue that monogamy is natural for humans, in addition to our more animalistic sexual desires. Pretty much every culture on earth has marriage, it's not something unique to Juedo-Christian societies. The species that tend to be monogamous are those whose offspring are high maintenance, like ours, so there is a scientific basis and a real benefit to the practice. And if course it helps prevent jealousy and hurt feelings.

"What measures should I take to continually revitalize the sexual dynamic and how should I broach this topic with said partner?"

You could see a couple's therapist. Not for the advice (you can get that here for free), but so that you might be able to speak freely and to say whatever you want.

"Should I be patient, or should I try to discover a more complex solution that may be dangerous, emotionally?"

I hate to say "if you really love her you'll...", but as you said a non-monogamous relationship could be dangerous emotionally, and trying it or even suggesting it is a risk. You should ask yourself if you'd be content to sacrifice some of your wants for the good of your relationship.

And of course if you want to try it and she doesn't, perhaps you both want something different from a relationship and should see other people.

Answered: 30 Jan '11, 16:27
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Seán Hayes Seán Hayes

It would be a stretch to say that monogamy is for everyone because that simply wouldn't be true...we not in my opinion anyway. I consider myself to be monogamous, when I am in a relationship. Especially relationship where the feeling of monogamy is reciprocated. I believe that there is someone out there in this world for everyone, but far too often a lot of people probably miss out on that person because they were out "chasing tail" instead of looking at what is probably right in front of their faces. I have met couples both gay and straight that have been together for 30+ years and have been monogamous the entire span of their relationship. Then I know couples that have been together the same amount of time that spend their entire relationship finding their satisfactions not only in the arms of their significant others, but also in the beds of others. So basically, the latter are in open relationships and that is what works for them. I think you have to look at monogamy on a case by case basis. What works for Couple A may not work for Couple B. But if two people are going to be strictly monogamous then both parties have to be 100% open with each other about their feelings. A monogamous relationship is that if one of the two involved is stepping out on the other. So I would suggest is to do what makes you happy until you come to that empass where you want to make a decision on what exactly it is you want to find. Whether it be monogamy or just playing the field. You have to be honest with yourself. The worst thing anyone can do is to get into a "monogamous relationship" with no intentions of being monogamous!!!!! You will only end up hurting the one you are claiming to love, and that is never a good thing. I hope that you do eventually find what you are looking, and whatever it is I hope it makes you happy til your dying day. Be true to yourself always! I hope this helps!

Answered: 26 Mar '12, 18:41
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Shane Lancon Shane Lancon
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