How monogamous are people?

The percentage of people who can celebrate a golden or silver wedding anniversary has decreased significantly in recent decades. Spending an entire life with the same partner turns out not to be that easy for many. About one third of all marriages end prematurely. According to statistics, one in three divorces involves adultery. How monogamous are people? How is this in the animal kingdom?

What does the word ,monogamous, mean?

In the online encyclopedia, three meanings are given for the word ,monogamous,:

  • Individual with one partner
  • Living with one person
  • Fidelity

The basis for a monogamous relationship is that partners enter into a commitment out of love with one person. This used to be a marital union, but nowadays this can also be a registered partnership or living together, without an official union. It is important in a monogamous relationship that you are faithful to that one partner.

Monogamy in animals

Monogamy is much less common in the animal kingdom than in humans. To maintain the species, male animals fight for the best female during the bronze age. Yet monogamy occurs in various animal species:

  • The prairie vole
  • The Hooded Shark
  • The Black Vulture
  • The Penguin
  • The wolf
  • The Eagle
  • The Swan

What makes one species monogamous and another not? Research has shown that this has to do with the hormone ADH (Antidiuretic hormone), which is produced to a higher extent in monogamous animal species. By manipulating mice, which were not naturally monogamous, with this ADH hormone, they appeared to remain faithful to their partner after administration. Yet only 3% of all animal species appear to be monogamous.

Monogamy in humans

Where you see a clear distinction between monogamy or polygamy in animals, this is slightly more difficult to indicate in humans. We all like to believe that we are naturally monogamous. But is this true? Currently, one in three marriages ends prematurely. Of these, one in three is related to adultery. However, this does not mean that someone is not monogamous. Spending a lifetime with one person is an impossible task for many. Yet most people strive for a monogamous relationship. However, it may be the case that the relationship is not for life and that a person has several monogamous relationships during his life. You then speak of serial monogamy.

There is a big difference in views on monogamy and polygamy. In Western culture, polygamy is not simply accepted. This has to do with upbringing, culture and religious beliefs. In Arab and African cultures, men are often allowed to have multiple wives. This initially had to do with the survival of the people. Having children with multiple women had a positive influence on the survival of peoples. Another reason for having multiple wives was that the sexual needs of men and women were not matched. By having multiple wives, women did not have to feel guilty that they could not fully meet their partner’s sexual needs.

In the previous generation, divorces were much less common than today. This has to do with many factors. In the past, there was a fixed division of roles between men and women. The man provided the money, the woman provided the children. This meant that women were financially dependent on their partner for their entire marriage. There was no mobile phone, no internet, no social media at that time. The contacts that women could maintain with other men were limited to their immediate environment. Nowadays women can come into contact with other men through all kinds of channels. Women were, sometimes unwillingly, monogamous with the same partner their entire lives.

Yet, especially in Western culture, you can speak of natural monogamy in people. Most people strive for a partner with whom they can share joys and sorrows. The intention is that this is for life, but in many cases that does not work. Yet most people start looking for a monogamous relationship again. If a polygamous relationship is chosen, then in Western culture this is usually a choice made by both partners together. Yet the number of men who need polygamy is higher than women. This has to do with a greater sexual desire that most men have.

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