Sexual Monogamy: Is It Biologically Natural?

In one of my earliest articles, I wrote about Patti Stanger, dating coach of Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, and one of her two famous rules: No sex before monogamy. This ideology asks that individuals withhold from passion physical contact until they’ve become exclusive to one another, allowing for the formation of a solid foundation to develop a mental connection. Kissing and making out is permitted however, oral or penetrative sex is forbidden (yes, for everyone who says oral sex isn’t sex…Stanger isn’t letting you fly by in her book).

I know what you’re thinking: who in the hell can actually commit to this rule, anyway? Except for the few percentage of mankind that have an applaudable amount of self-discipline…

In addition to the no sex before monogamy idea is that once an individual is in a monogamous relationship, they must only engage in sexual activity with their partner. Well…is this even natural?

Psychologist and zoologist David B Barash and psychiatrist Judith Eve Lipton are authors of The Myth of Monogamy and write: “[T]here is simply no question whether sexual desires for multiple partners is ‘natural.’ It is. Similarly, there is no question of monogamy being ‘natural.’ It isn’t.”

These authors suggest that social monogamy, like cohabitation, is natural but sexual monogamy? Not so much.

In biological terms, humans are animals therefore, the animal kingdom can very much give us insight into our actions. 90% of the bird family-penguins, lovebirds, etc.- were believed to be strictly monogamous for some time.

DNA fingerprinting technology was utilized to test the DNA of parenthood in animals and the authors found that birds were knocked off the monogamy branch. Alongside these species, various of other animal species had numerous children with various spouses. Sexual sharing with multiple partners was found amongst both male and females and even in species, such as Swans and Angelfish, that were previously believed to be monogamous. Being promiscuous is all tied back to evolution-we all desire to produce the best possible offspring.

animals sexScientists have studied 5,000 species of mammals and found that only 3%-5% are known to be sexually monogamous; these animals being: beavers, otters, foxes and wolves. writes that: “…no mammal species has been proven to be truly monogamous.”

Onto a similar revelation, Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, is informing us of an inconvenient truth: sexual monogamy kills male libido. Stanger would be very unhappy if he was coaching her clientele…

This ideology centers around the Coolidge Effect, a biology and psychology principal that has been tested on various mammals, from rodents to humans. The principal states men are more sexually attracted and aroused to new females after a certain amount of time.

In 1964 during the beginning of the Vietnam war and the sexual revolution, Masters and Johnson took note that a good number of Vietnamese men lost interest in engaging in sex with their wives and instead, turned to please themselves with younger girls. These younger girls being less experienced than their wives didn’t stop them-these men yearned for a refreshing, new female.

Various medical professionals also state that women aren’t exactly hardwired for sexual monogamy either. Two doctors at the Indiana University School of Medicine note that women’s sex drive tend to sink once in a long-term monogamous relationships. “While some would say that this means the women have an easier time being monogamous because their sex drive has gone down, sex experts would say that this is not the healthy state for these women. The women are losing their desire to initiate sex or to have sex with their partners, which does not reflect sexual health,” Dr. Aaron E. Carroll and Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman explain.

CA19819Lybrido, a female equivalent drug similar to Viagra, has a high possibility of hitting pharmacies within the next few years. The drug is tailored to help women suffering from hypoactive sexual-desire disorder, which is a “lack of lust” clinical disorder that affects 10%-30% of women 20-60 years of age. There are various reasons to HSSD but some evolutionary biologists and psychologists say that the disorder really only exists when a woman has been with her partner for an extended period of time. So does monogamy really damage desire?

It’s a no brainer that we all possess the capability and temptation to stray sexually. CNN writes: “…we have the chemicals and the receptors, but it varies from person to person how much we have. Based on brain wiring alone, inclination toward fidelity can vary dramatically from one individual to another.”

Even if research shows that monogamy is unnatural, then how come we often so strive to emphasize sexual monogamy so greatly? What makes some species of mammals more monogamous than others? The widely accepted explanation would be that certain species stick together as partners if they feel they can raise their offspring more effectively together.  This clearly explains why sexual monogamy is ideal in human species.

My intention isn’t aiming to say that sexual monogamy is impossible-there are many couples who successfully practice sexual monogamy. Possible? Yes. Difficult? Indeed, it is.

I’d love to hear your insight on two things: how do you feel about sexual monogamy? and the practice of sexual promiscuity?



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