30 Oct Why Cavemen Weren’t Monogamous—The History of Open Marriages and Connections
If you’ve made it to Ashley Madison, you’re probably familiar with the idea of modern or non-traditional relationships.
That may mean an affair, an open relationship, polyamory, or another open-minded connection.
So, what is the definition of monogamy?
Monogamy is a societal construct restricting relationships to two people for a long-term union, taking no other sexual partners. Although monogamy is the norm for many and is required by numerous religions, non-monogamy actually comes naturally to many of us.
The idea of modern or non-traditional relationships has been sweeping society and popular culture as of late, but it’s not a new trend. Open relationships, polyamory, and open-minded connections date far back in history and might even be part of our DNA.
In fact, some researchers believe humans are biologically non-monogamous. A study published in Nature Communications found that as hunter-gatherers, tribe relationships were so focused on reproduction that stronger males regularly mated with many females.
Tribe relationships were inherently non-monogamous
The tribe necessity was to reproduce as much as possible to grow their extended family. A larger tribe was more effective in defending itself against neighbouring tribes, hunting, and created more social opportunities for fun, pleasure and connection.
According to research collected in a Psychology Today article, in countries outside of Western society, 85% allowed men to marry multiple wives, and evidence of polyandry (where women married many men) has been found in up to 50 different societies.
In a tribal society, the idea of a family unit was much larger than the nuclear family concept of today. Every adult had the responsibility of taking care of children, and every male had the responsibility in protecting the tribe. Emotional bonds were formed with numerous members of the tribe, whether they were reproducing or not.
The downside of these arrangements was an abundance of sexually transmitted diseases. The impact on fertility became a risk to reproduction and humans started taking only one partner to reduce this risk. (It’s a good thing we have tools that can now prevent the spread of STIs … )
The science of monogamy:
In order to understand how monogamy came about, scientists have looked to the animal kingdom to compare humans interest in forming single-partner bonds.
While birds such as swans often pair up, less than 3% of mammals do. Dolphins, bees, and monkeys can all be found to be rather promiscuous. Whether they’re seeking sexual activity for fun like dolphins, or solely for reproduction, the concept of one sole partner is rare in the natural world.
A study out of the University College of London revealed that, in mammals, the prime reason that monogamy developed in animals was to prevent infanticide by males. This killing off of newborns resulted in males sticking around to protect their offspring, and this key aspect of protection has extended to humans.
Fast forward to the present:
We now have the resources to protect our children (if we decide to have them…) and to ensure that we aren’t catching STIs from multiple partners. More and more, relationships as we know it, are taking on a more open-minded, modern twist.
Families are becoming as diverse as the population itself, with open marriages and other more flexible arrangements gaining popularity and acceptance.
Since social views on monogamy are still evolving—friends, family, or colleagues don’t need to know if you’re discreetly looking for multiple partners. On Ashley Madison, your privacy is secure so that you can explore open-minded relationships without judgement.