Is it Natural for Humans to be Monogamous? Why Do So Many of Us Cheat?

At some point in your lifetime you may have to ponder the rightness or wrongness of cheating on a significant other. Whether you’re the one who’s doing the cheating or you’re the one being cheated on, there are intense emotions and feelings attached to both, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out wrong from right.

As we can probably all agree, society has instilled within almost everyone that a monogamous, honest relationship is what builds stability and happiness in a home. Pair that with the idea that there’s a special someone out there for everyone and you can start to see a trend. But, why then do so many people stray from their current partner in search of sexual exploration?

When I was in elementary school, I often had to listen to my parents fight for hours on end. I almost never knew why, but I knew that I hated seeing my mom in tears. As I got older, eventually it came out that my dad was cheating on her. And that stayed with me throughout much of my formative years. In my teen years, I vowed to never cheat on any partner of mine, no matter what happened.

But by the time I had made it to my mid-twenties, I realized that people often cheated on their partners for a variety of different reasons; it wasn’t always based on sex. While I might not agree with it, I recognize that it’s something that happens all the time. In fact, about 20% of both men and women admit to having cheated on their partner.

So, what does that say about human nature and the notion that we’re naturally monogamous creatures?

Because it’s fairly clear that humans are, by nature, not 100 percent on board with monogamy. When we compare humans to the other 5,000 mammals on Earth, we see that only about 3 to 5 percent of species alive today are completely monogamous. And, their mating behaviors are almost completely different due to the fact that they will likely only have one partner in their lifetime. Humans average about6 to 7 different partnersbefore finally settling on one.

Are humans somewhere in the middle? The term ‘social monogamous’ is used to describe a situation where a person is promiscuous, but still has a partner that they come home to at the end of the day. This seems a bit more fitting for mankind than complete monogamy.

Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense as to why men would want to have various partners: they need to spread their genes as best they can. But, this rationale gets a bit more complex for women as social norms start to change over time.

At first, women were not in the workforce as much as men, meaning they largely relied on men as their primary providers. But, as women gained more equality, they also gained a newfound sense of selection; they broadened their reach when looking for high-quality partners because their survival was no longer dependent on finding a partner.

When it comes to cheating and the birthing of offspring, there’s obviously no questioning who the mother is, but the same cannot be said for the dad if the woman has been promiscuous. Thus, we can start to see why children were largely the reason that monogamy developed as the natural order. Other theories also add that having two parents together when rearing a child provided numerous benefits for the child’s wellbeing.

Jane Lancaster, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of New Mexico, says that “the human species has evolved to make commitments between males and females in regards to raising their offspring, so this is a bond. However that bond can fit into all kinds of marriage patterns – polygamy, single parenthood, monogamy.”

Unfortunately, when a relationship starts to become toxic, providing more ‘cons’ than ‘pros,’ people feel a heightened need to be unfaithful to their partners. People are most likely to cheat on their significant others because they do not feel fulfilled by the relationship, either physically or emotionally.

Relationships are hard. How you define them can make them even harder. For me, monogamy seems to work just fine. But what works for me isn’t going to work for everyone else. Society has had a large say in how we view relationships and how we should treat our partners, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out what feels right for you.

I’m not saying cheat if you want to cheat. I’m saying figure out what it is you want. Whether that’s a loving, faithful relationship, or multiple loves and multiple relationships.

Source: Expanded Consciousness

Featured Image Credit: Helen Taylor



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