Monogamy in Society

There is no doubt that the human species is both driven to and repelled by the idea of monogamy. When looked at in evolutionary terms, it originally appears that especially for males, it would be most beneficial to seek multiple partners. But despite this fact, many cultures accept monogamy as the social norm. The main question to ask when looking at this clear contradiction in human behavior is why the contradiction occurs in the first place?

When looking at evolution on a personal level, it is clear that the best way for a person to spread their genes is to procreate with as many people as possible. This notion is based on the fact that the more people you mate with the better chance it is that you will have offspring. However, while this assertion is correct, many societies do have a good reason for encouraging monogamy while discouraging polygamy. These reasons have a lot to do with helping to keep peace and order within a society.

One way that monogamy could achieve this is by decreasing the amount of competition between members of the same sex. While it is certain that competition still exists in monogamous societies, it is also clear that when a person is committed to someone, they are less likely to impose on the mate of somebody else. This has a lot to do with the feelings of jealousy and insecurity that many people feel when they have to share their partner with someone else. So, while an individual might want to seek multiple partners, they also desire for the partner that they have to remain faithful. Monogamy also has a role in helping to verify the father of a given offspring. In fact, monogamy appears to have started because the “father took the most logical means at his disposal to guarantee that his property was inherited by his genetic offspring.”( http://www.polyorlando.org/html/monogamy_myth.htm)

Another way that monogamy could be helpful to a society is the security factor of having two people to support a child as supposed to one. In no way is the importance of this more apparent than in a newborn that is helpless to take care of itself. The financial and emotional support of two parents is much more beneficial than the output that one could give. It is not apparent whether or not monogamy has played an evolutionary role in this manner, but it does appear that it could possibly be the best way to ensure a child’s survival in harsh conditions.

All of this said, while monogamy is often the social norm, it is also the social norm that some people will get around it. Just like in many cultures it is acceptable for a wealthy man to have more than one wife, it is acceptable in monogamous societies for wealthy men to get divorced and remarry. It is clear that people seem to recognize the fundamental human instinct to produce offspring. Because of this they accept it when someone with the needed funds to care for multiple children, actually has multiple children with multiple wives.

While it is still unclear if monogamy is part of a human’s basic instincts, it is clear that society has led us to believe it is so. Because of the multiple different forms of marriage found all over the world, it is clear that no one way is correct for the human species. It appears that all have some beneficial value, and it is up to the given society to deem what is best. (http://www.polyorlando.org/html/monogamy_myth.htm)

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