Updated: Nov 13, 2018
“The practice of marrying or the state of being married to one person at a time”
Us humans have been conditioned to think that ‘finding one true love’ is the answer to a happy and fulfilling life. It’s a familiar fairy tale. The idea has been deeply and carefully etched into our minds, so much so that, it’s become one of the most fundamental goals of a human life. But if that’s the case, why are we so awful at it?
If you ask people why they chose monogamy, you’ll get answers like, “that’s how it works”, “it’s what the culture expects”, “they fell in love”, “they found their soulmate”. Some might not know there is a non-monogamous option.
But love and monogamy aren’t the same. Love is a feeling. Monogamy is a rule.
Just because you fear one thing, does that mean you do not fear anything else? Or just because you’re mad at someone, does that mean that only that particular person is the rightful receiver of your anger and you shouldn’t be mad at anyone else?
We’re made to believe the idea that monogamy is love and vice versa that in the absence of monogamy we say that there is no love.
What reason do we have to believe that it is natural? Are most animals monogamous? On the contrary, in the Animal Kingdom, it is unheard of.
There are several evolutionary cues to suggest that our ancestors weren’t monogamous.
Monogamy is a fairly recent idea that started 12,000 years ago when humans ceased being hunter-gatherers and learned how to farm. Marriage became a way to increase labour force. Throughout the years, it was a mere business deal between two families.
Marrying for love came about roughly just a few hundred years ago. The idea of people being two parts of a whole was implanted around this time, where the two parts complemented each other. Men being aggressive, competitive, protective and ones who take charge, compared to women who were considered to be fragile, nurturing and timid. This is where gender roles came into play.
Doesn’t that mean marriage is a made up construct, a way to enforce gender roles and social order?
To top it off, monogamy has been advanced by us to an extent where the lack of it is considered illegal.
Think about this for a second: Humans forced to do something they’re not evolutionarily tied to and making a legal contract out of it, the violation of which will lead to prison, if you’re lucky, otherwise your partner might just murder you.
All of us, and I mean everyone on this planet, need to unlearn the societal expectations of patriarchy, of people being cisgender and of heteronormativity.
Is monogamy wrong?
Humans by nature don’t appear to be monogamous, but that doesn’t mean monogamy is wrong. People can choose to be monogamous. Some people successfully do. But it’s not the gospel truth or the ultimatum, the failure of which should be considered a crime.
So what’s this new uncharted territory?
Polyamory is anyone of any gender having multiple partners. Whereas polygamy is usually heterosexual, with one person having multiple spouses of the opposite gender.
Polygamy is a term associated with marriage but polyamory isn’t.
Polygamy is often associated with patriarchal religions because of men being married to multiple women and not vice versa, historically speaking. On the other hand, polyamory is often associated with counter-culture, feminists, bisexuals and radical lesbians.
I think we’ve established that monogamy is unnatural and if we want it, we’re going to have to work for it, which is why many fail terribly at it.
If you’re looking for a right answer, you won’t find one because there isn’t one but at the end of the day, we have to realise that it’s not about how we’re ‘supposed’ to be, it’s all about designing how we want to be. Humans evolve. Humans adapt. And we always will.