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Monogomy isn’t the only option for us

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From a young age, we are taught we will all find our one true love.  An individual who we can commit to emotionally, romantically and sexually.

 We are taught to accept monogamy as the only way we will ever truly be happily in love.

We so readily believe in this fairytale without fully understanding the evolution of monogamy within human societies.

Monogamous relationships in nature are quite rare, only 3 to 5 percent of species will mate with only one individual.

 Scientists are still debating over whether humans are completely monogamous creatures.

Biological evidence supports both arguments, maybe suggesting that humans are neither fully monogamous or polyamorous.  

Relatively smaller testicles and a smooth penis on males, compared to other primates, indicates humans are monogamous.

Yet, female vocalization during sex and males being physically larger than females are both characteristics of primates with multiple mates, which suggests non-monogamy in humans.

Perhaps, humans gravitated toward monogamy for socioeconomic reasons.  

The overwhelming majority of early human civilizations were polyamorous.  

It was not until the Agricultural Revolution in Europe when these societies began to practice monogamy.

 Marriage became a means of acquiring more wealth and power, and a larger family meant more people to labor and contribute the family’s well-being.

There are other benefits that come with monogamy aside from socioeconomic gains.  

We observe that when in monogamous relationships, men are more likely to contribute to childcare, creating a more stable home environment for the children.

 Forming strong, long-term relationships has been shown to be better for people’s health by boosting the immune system, lowering the risk of depression and reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases by limiting the number of sexual partners.

Despite the romanticization of monogamy, infidelity within relationships still occurs.  

The Institute for Family Studies found about 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women in married relationships have confessed to cheating on their spouse.

Unfaithfulness is largely considered the biggest act of betrayal and is one of the leading causes of divorce.  

Our commitment to monogamy is often difficult.

People who are married have admitted having thoughts about other people, flirting with and even feeling aroused in the presence of someone other than their partner, all while fully expecting their partners to adhere to a completely exclusive relationship.

The gradual rise of acceptance of polyamory is perhaps a way for couples to address incompatibility with monogamy.

An interest in non-monogamous relationships is highest amongst the younger generations.  

Millennials and Gen Z were raised by a generation with a 50 percent divorce rate, which likely influenced many to question the way we perceive commitment in our relationships.

There is a shifting emphasis towards creating a commitment toward a partner rather than a commitment to monogamy.

The idea of agreeing to see other people outside of a faithful relationship baffles many, but there are plenty of people who are in healthy and happy non-monogamous relationships.

A 2017 study by the Perspectives on Psychological Science concluded people in non-monogamous relationships actually have a greater amount of trust and less jealousy than those in monogamous relationships.  

This may be because those in non-monogamous relationships have more open conversations and are more vocal about their feelings. These types of relationships require open dialogue between partners in order to set boundaries and ensure emotional and physical needs are still being met.

At a time when marriage is no longer driven solely by socioeconomic gains, perhaps we as a society are beginning to rethink the idea of monogamous  relationships.

Monogamy and polyamory are slowly becoming a spectrum instead of two opposite, dichotomic choices.  

There is a growing interest in non-monogamous relationships as it is becoming increasingly normalized.

All types of relationships will be presented with challenges so perhaps we should refrain from looking to societal norms to determine exclusivity in a relationship and instead, let the individual and their partner create a relationship best suited for themselves.

Catherine Van Weele is a freshman studying political science.

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