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#245: Are Humans Naturally Monogamous - and if not, what does that mean?

Published Saturday, December 01, 2018

Download Audio: Are Humans Naturally Monogamous - and if not, what does that mean?

 


There are some old sexual myths of men being “naturally promiscuous” to sow their seed, and women being “naturally monogamous” because it’s “natural” for a woman to be less sexual and on closer examination these myths have no basis in fact. The former because it is a misuse of evolutionary theory and the latter because it is based on historical suppression of women’s sexuality not their biological reality. (See A History of Sexual Misinformation for more on this.)

So what is real – are humans monogamous or not? Is monogamy a natural state that all humans gravitate to, or is it a social norm superimposed upon a different biological basis?

Well, it seems that monogamy is not biologically-based, it’s socially based. For an in-depth look at this issue I recommend you read the brilliant book “Sex At Dawn” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. It’s a thoroughly researched and very entertaining read. The authors look at our biology, at prehistoric remains, at our closest ape relatives, at existing and recent hunter-gatherer societies, and present a very plausible argument that we haven’t evolved to be monogamous, that the concept of “possessing” a partner exclusively is a social development, not a biological one.

This is certainly a view that I had come to based on my own research and observations, clinical and personal; so it's good to see it reinforced by academics who have done the proper analytical research. So, if we’re not “naturally” monogamous, what does that mean for us? Should we all start hanging out at swingers clubs and inviting the neighbors over for a “casual drink”? Of course not. I’m not talking about going from one extreme to another! What I am saying is that we need to take the issue seriously, not cover it up with fear or power-based morality and narrow-mindedness.

These days we do plenty of things that we didn’t evolve to do, things that aren’t “natural” in the sense that we usually mean it - such as sitting in front of a computer . But if we stray too far from who we really are, if we go too much against our innate selves, if we start fighting our selves, then we’re in for trouble. To use the computer example, our bodies have evolved to be active, so even if we can sit in front of a computer, we shouldn’t overdo it. Overly sedentary people risk obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a whole bunch of other problems.

So, if we aren’t naturally monogamous, forcing ourselves to be monogamous is not going to work. In the past it was avoided by repressing women’s sexuality so severely that it was barely possible to be non-monogamous. But now that women don’t get stoned, or burned at the stake or locked up in mental institutions for being sexual, and now that women aren’t forced to stay in relationships for the sake of economic necessity, what do we find – around 50% of relationships involve infidelity (of which women contribute as much as men). And certainly very many people aren't monogamous for life, these days serial monogamy tends to be the norm, so while they might not overlap their lovers they certainly do have more than one.

I have come to think that as with so many other aspects of sexuality, we’re all on a continuum of monogamy, with some people being completely monogamous and others being completely non-monogamous, and most of us somewhere in-between. And this varies over time.

A small number of people manage to have consensual non-monogamous relationships, and that’s fine because in these cases it’s done openly, honestly and with continual reflection. Nevertheless even for them it is challenging. All relationships are challenging.

If monogamy is your preference, the key point here is that we have to recognize that it’s not easy to be exclusive with the same person for years on end and have a satisfactory love life with that one person. You have to focus on it and work at it.

Some key points I believe we all need to take on board, whatever our preferred type of relationship is, are:

  • To be less judgmental of self and others around relationship preferences and inclinations;
  • To be more open-minded about relationship possibilities, if not for yourself, then at least with others, not everyone has to be the same as you;
  • To realise that becoming more aware of your own sexuality, and therefore more open, honest and real about yourself, is a very good thing for yourself and for your relationship(s);
  • To be more focused on creating an on-going good sex life that includes diversity and novelty.

I would love to see our society develop in a way that is more inclusive of different kinds of sexuality, including varieties of sexual relatedness. We’ve had a long struggle, which still exists, to open our minds to homosexuality. Now we need to open up to other aspects of sexuality, such as non-monogamy - as well as bisexuality, transexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, intersexuality, kinky orientations, or any other orientation that goes against rigid definitions of ‘acceptable’ sexuality. As I say so often, as long as it’s between consenting informed adults, it’s fine.

Essentially, as a society, we need to be authentic, honest and non-judgmental.

 Sounds reasonable, but it’s such a big ask in this society, especially when it’s to do with sexuality.

Still, I live and work in hope…




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#329: Gateways to the Erotic Shift
#328: Safety is Sexy
#327: Pace Your Sexual Interactions
#326: Fly on the Wall Friday - my new Video Series
#325: When Things Get Wobbly Assume the Best and Get Curious
#324: How Alike do you Need to be to Have a Good Relationship
#323: Be "At Home" in Your Body
#322: Don't Ever Stop Kissing
#321: Consent From the Inside
#320: How To Say No Without It Feeling Like Rejection
#319: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 3: Sexual Transformation
#318: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 2: Relational Transformation
#317: The Benefits of a Great Love Life Part 1: Personal Transformation
#316: Take Your Partner Off A Sexual Pedestal
#315: Finesse Your Expertise on Each Other
#314: A Lingering Sense of Each Other
#313: How Do You Know When You're Having Good Sex?
#312: Conflict is Inevitable So Learn to Prevent, Manage and Repair
#311: The Bridgerton Effect
#310: Cuddle plus – an essential phase of the affection-sex continuum
#309: Moment-by-Moment Consent
#308: How To Give (and Receive) An Erotic Spanking
#307: Three Types of Sexual Communication: Chit-chat, In-the-moment and the Debrief
#306: What I Desire
#305: Lazy Sex
#304: It's Not "Needy" to Connect - It's Human!
#303: The Art of the Thrust
#302: Transformational Erotica
#301: Sex As Embodied Mindfulness Practice
#300: So Many Ways to Eat, So Many Ways to…
#299: Date Night or Date Day?
#298: Teenage Love-Making
#297: Turning Sex Lives Upside-Down - It's My Life's Work!
#296: The Sex Store in Your Pantry
#295: Do You PIV or VEP When You Have Sex?
#294: Take Your Penis for a Walk!
#293: It's Time to Let Our Souls Catch-Up
#292: Become a Sensual Explorer
#291: Q&A: My Wife Won't Pleasure Herself in Front of Me
#290: Subtle Shifts to Great Sex
#289: Q&A: My Husband Can't Keep an Erection, and He Smokes Lots of Marajuana
#288: Love in the Time of COVID-19
#287: Q&A: My Partner Doesn't Climax from Oral Sex and I'm Worried
#286: Meditate Your Way to Great Sex
#285: Q&A: My Partner Doesn't Like Kissing - what to do?
#284: Communing - deep intimate connection
#283: Q&A: We Want to Try a Threesome - how do we do it safely?
#282: On Being A Human in a Female Body
#281: Q&A: How Do We Connect After So Much Stress?
#280: Get A Life! Your Sex Drive Needs the Dopamine
#279: Q&A: My Husband Is Having An Affair and I'm Relieved
#278: Stocking Up Your Love Larder - the key to spontaneous sex
#277: Q&A: How Do I Flex My New Found Interest in Sex?
#276: Intercourse as Foreplay
#275: Q&A: Fun in the Sun - How to Have Safe Holiday Sex
#274: Bake Your Cake Before You Ice It - the foundation of great sex
#273: Q&A: Is It Normal to Want Sex Twice A Day?
#272: How Has Sex Helped You Grow - Research Participants Wanted!
#271: Q&A: How Do I Meet My Sexual Needs in a Sexless Marriage
#270: Optimal Sexuality - Reaching Your Sexual Potential
#269: Q&A: How Do I Get My Mojo Back?
#268: It's the Sum of the Small Things
#267: Q&A: How Do We Reignite Our Love Life
#266: Relationship Vitamins
#265: I See You as Lover - the importance of attention in loving well
#264: The Pleasure of A Soft Cock
#263: Make Every Stroke Count
#262: You Can Make Love With Just A Kiss
#261: Finding the 'More' - the Spiritual Dimensions of Sex
#260: How to Stay In Love
#259: Expanding Your Sexual Play Part 2: How
#258: Expanding Your Sexual Play Part 1: What
#257: Simple Sex is Good Sex
#256: Solo Sex: Mindful Masturbation
#255: Own the Crone
#254: Porn Star versus Prude
#253: “When One is Pretending, the Whole Body Revolts”
#252: Non-Linear Love-Making: the "Picnic" Approach to Sex
#251: Make Your Bedroom A Sanctuary
#250: Sexy Debriefing
#249: Getting "Love Drunk"
#248: Make-Over Your Sex Life
#247: Be Real, Express Freely
#246: The Fairy Tales Got It Wrong
#245: Are Humans Naturally Monogamous - and if not, what does that mean?
#244: Gigglegasms
#243: Evolve with the Seven Elements of Sexuality
#242: Getting to Sex can be Like Getting to the Gym
#241: Intensity Repels, Enticement Attracts. Like Chocolate Cake.
#240: Turn Yourself On and the World Turns On To You
#239: Therapy is Composting Your Sh*t
#238: Are You Flat-lining or Surfing in Life?
#237: How to Avoid Spiritual Bypassing in Sex & Relationships
#236: The Clitoris is Not an On-Off Button
#235: The Three Phases of Conscious Relationship Evolution
#234: Allow Self-Indulgence
#233: Are You Relationship-Oriented?
#232: Tantra: Sex Through Non-Sex
#231: A Multitude of Orgasmic Possibilities
#230: Sink In to Sync In
#229: Penises - does size really matter?
#228: What To Do When He Can't Come
#227: The Adolescent Male Masturbatory Model of Sex
#226: Merge Sex & Love Energies for Potent Connection
#225: Sex is a Normal Part of Life
#224: We Judge ‘Normal’ Sex Based on Our Own Experiences
#223: How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways...
#222: Project 'Great Sex'
#221: Beforeplay Suggestions
#220: Foreplay and Beforeplay
#219: How to Heighten Sensory Pleasure
#218: The Bedroom is for Expression, Not Suppression
#217: The Three Types of Sex All Couples Need
#216: Things that make you go 'mmm' and things that make you go 'ngh'
#215: Libido - the Interplay of Desire and Arousal
#214: The Good and Bad of Porn
#213: Bad Communication Styles - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
#212: My Journey to Becoming A Transpersonal Sexologist
#211: Seven Sex Tips for Busy People
#210: Penises Love A Soft Touch
#209: Share Before You Fix
#208: The Best Thing A Father Can Do
#207: The Exquisiteness of a Relaxed Vagina
#206: The Look of Love - Eye-Gazing
#205: Quanta of Deliciousness
#204: How to Maintain the “Mmm-Factor”
#203: How to Have 'Dirty' Sex With Someone You Love
#202: Seven Benefits of Attending A LoveLife Couples Tantra Retreat
#201: Make Sex Your Hobby
#200: Partnered Sex is Not Solo Sex for Two
#199: Melting Moments
#198: Your Partner Can't Be Everything To You
#197: Sex is Good, Sleep is Better!
#196: Savour Sex
#195: How To Live A Tantric Life
#194: Be Kind - It Works
#193: How to Push Your Sexual Boundaries
#192: Good Rest=Good Sex
#191: We Need Bliss
#190: Being Sexually Receptive is Not Being Sexually Passive
#189: So Much Love
#188: A High-Quality Relationship is a High-Maintenance Relationship
#187: Sex as Spiritual Practice
#186: Playing with the Yin and Yang of Sex
#185: The Yin and Yang of Sex
#184: Third Level Love-Making
#183: Vive La Difference!
#182: What Is a Marriage Sabbatical and Why Take One?
#181: The Basic Sexual Unit is One
#180: A Penis is for Connection, not Penetration
#179: Men Have Not Evolved to 'Sow Their Seed Widely'
#178: Big Sex is Beautiful Sex
#177: Women Are Not 'Naturally' Monogamous
#176: Sex Therapy and Couples Retreats - What to do if you have a Reluctant Partner
#175: The Chilled Build - How to Get in the Mood for Sex
#174: Mums and Dads Need "Cuddle Time"
#173: Giving Good Head Does Not Mean Simulating A Vacuum Cleaner
#172: Is Porn Making Women Less Feminine?
#171: Is Porn Making Men Less Masculine?
#170: Rough Sex
#169: The Three Pillars of Love
#168: Seven Benefits of Attending My Couples Retreats
#167: Ban Penetration - the word, not the act!
#166: Solo Cultivation - Mindful Masturbation for Men
#165: Our Bodies Thrive on Pleasure
#164: Leela: Cosmic Play, Sexual Play
#163: Toys for Grown-Ups
#162: Backdoor Pleasures - how to enjoy anal sex
#161: The Sexual Glutton vs The Sexual Gourmet
#160: Erotic Wickedness - How to Play with Power Exchange
#159: Practice Expressing Your Feelings For Greater Connection and Better Sex
#158: Let’s Talk About Our Sex
#157: Love Your Breasts
#156: Ditch the Sex Myths
#155: Relax Into Orgasm
#154: When A Woman Is Free To Be Herself Sex Takes On A Spiritual Dimension
#153: It All Starts With A Kiss…
#152: The Ecstasy is in the Spaces In-Between
#151: Radical Honesty
#150: Strength in Softness, Softness in Strength
#149: Your New Year's Resolution - Have Better Sex
#148: Peace, Pleasure and Goodwill to All
#147: A Beautiful Vulva is Like A Luscious Hamburger
#146: Come From a Place of "Yes"!
#145: Finger Finesse
#144: Reluctance is Not frigidity, It’s Body Intelligence - She’s Not Ready!
#143: Tantra: The Art of Mindful Sex
#142: Love Thy Partner
#141: ‘Invitation’ not ‘Penetration’
#140: Female Bodies Are Sexual Pleasure Machines
#139: Sex is the Base of Being Human
#138: Awaken Your Vagina for the Kind of Sex All Women (and their Partners) Deserve
#137: Bonking on the Right Side of the Brain
#136: Have Sex with God…
#135: So Many Boxes - So Little Freedom
#134: How to Move Forward When Your Partner Has Betrayed You
#133: The Reason Why Humans Are So Sexual
#132: Partnered Yoga - Erotic Connection
#131: Make Love Like You’re Playing An Instrument For Ultimate Sensual Pleasure
#130: How to Talk to Kids About Sex - and why you need to
#129: Inviting A Third (or fourth or more…) - the right way to play
#128: Does Size Really Matter?
#127: The Way of the Householder - how to make the everyday sublime
#126: Our Bodies Are the Best Sex Toy Ever
#125: Honour Your Genitals for Exquisite Sex - the Why and How
#124: Tango Tantra - Make Your Love Life Blissfully Connected
#123: The Yin & Yang of Sex Chemistry
#122: DIY Porn - It’s A Fun Way to Add Spice to Your Love Life
#121: Move Beyond Sleaze and Shame and Discover The Third Wave of Sexuality
#120: Don’t Fake It Till You Make It - ‘Cause You Won’t Make It
#119: Give Your Man Absolute Pleasure...Try Prostate Massage
#118: We’re All Individuals! There are Spectra of Sexuality
#117: My Book "Seven Sex Goddesses" Released!
#116: Can Fisting Be Fabulous?
#115: Ten Reasons Why Married Women Have Affairs, and What To Do When She Does
#114: Mutual Pleasure Requires Mutual Responsibility - how to expand your sex play safely
#113: Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down - how to add restraint to your sex life
#111: 10 Tips For Your Vagina
#112: What’s Your Eroticism - Intimate, Wild, Fun?
#110: When the Man Leads, the Woman Embellishes
#109: Unblock Sexual Energy for Greater Love
#108: The Sensual Dom(me)
#107: Explore Your Fantasies
#106: Dress-Ups! How to have fun with role-play.
#105: Consensual Non-Monotony
#104: Consensual Non-Monogamy
#103: Languid 69
#102: Sensual Non-Monogamy
#101: Make Love to Yourself - Mindful Masturbation for Women
#100: Celibacy, Sexuality and Spirituality
#99: Spice Alone Tastes Terrible...
#98: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
#97: Plugging In - Sex Without Movement
#96: Growing Better With Age
#95: Teaching Tantra in Paradise
#94: Time Apart Can Be Erotic
#93: When He's Lost Interest
#92: Q&A: Why Doesn’t Porn Do It for Me?
#91: If Sex Hurts, Change What You're Doing
#90: Some Words for the Lower Desire Partner
#89: Trust Your Body
#88: Chill Out in Your Sanctuary
#87: Planning for Pleasure
#86: Make the Lead-Up Erotic
#85: Advice from Japanese Grandmothers on How to be Beautiful
#84: If You Want A Mature Relationship You Have To Be Mature
#83: How Often Should We Have Sex?
#82: Slay the Pink Elephants!
#81: The Tantric Lounge Radio Show - Talking Sex, Science and Spirituality
#80: What Do Men Love Best About Sex?
#79: Fetishes are Fine
#78: The Awesomeness of Men Who Are Present
#77: Sex Doesn't Have to Involve the Genitals
#76: Winter's a Time for Sexual Growth
#75: An Erection Does Not Have To Be Serviced
#74: "My Ejaculation Opens the Door to Deeper Orgasm"
#73: To Come or Not To Come
#72: Know Your Sexual Rhythm
#71: Fill Up Your Self-Love Tank
#70: The Cup-of-Tea Approach to Sexual Self-Coaching
#69: Trust Means Being OK with Not Knowing
#68: Renegotiate Your Contract
#67: Breathe Together - It's Tantric Foreplay
#66: The Number One Secret to Good Sex
#65: An Orgasm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away - why sex is so good for you
#64: Teaching Sex Therapists Tantra
#63: Is “Good Enough” Sex Good Enough?
#62: Observing Love
#61: There Is Always A Lower Desire Partner
#60: You Can't Find Balance, You Have To Craft It
#59: Sexual, Spiritual Business Leaders
#58: Positive Messages in 50 Shades of Grey
#57: Playing with Pleasure and Pain
#56: Pelvic Floor Pleasures - Advanced
#55: Pelvic Floor Pleasures - The Basics
#54: Three Good Reasons To Read Erotica
#53: Tantric Kink
#52: Tools for Self-Validation from a Luscious Woman
#51: How to Master the Art of Vaginal Stimulation
#50: Discover the G, A and Ohhhh-Spots
#49: The Tantric Quickie
#48: We All Need To Be Balanced in Our Masculine and Feminine Sides
#47: One Couple's "Kilimanjaro Walk" to Sexual Reconnection
#46: Feminine Receptivity and the Go-Getter Kind of Gal
#45: The Etiquette of Observing Breasts
#44: The World is Waking to Conscious Sex
#43: Try A Little Tenderness
#42: Erotica or Sleaze
#41: A Sensual Man Makes A Great Lover
#40: Sensuality Feeds Sexuality
#39: What is Sex Therapy, Sex Coaching and Tantra Teaching?
#38: The Beauty of Conflict
#37: A Woman's Body Opens In Stages
#36: Breathe Well: Live & Love Well
#35: Phone Sex
#34: Do Your Research - It's Fun!
#33: Unconditional Love Requires Self-validation
#32: Men Need a Muse Not Just A Vagina
#31: Teaching Tantra in Thailand
#30: Being Real
#29: Twelve Benefits of Sex
#28: Communicate - Human's Can't Read Minds!
#27: True Intimacy
#26: The Core of Tantra: Real Sex
#25: Sex as Entree not Dessert
#24: Fire and Water: The Masculine and Feminine Sexual Energies
#23: High Libido Women Keep Themselves Simmering
#22: The Breadth of Sexuality & the Importance of Fun
#21: Prioritising Sex
#20: Obligation Sex is Self-Imposed Low-Level Sexual Trauma
#19: Not-So-Secret Men's Business
#18: Could We Have A Festival of Sexuality?
#17: Three Things a Whole Man Needs
#16: Valuing the Masculine
#15: Valuing the Feminine
#14: Face the Darkness to Find the Light
#13: Grow Up and Open Up Australia
#12: How Men Can Circulate Sexual Energy
#11: The Great G-Spot & Female Ejaculation Debate!
#10: Sexual Pleasure is the Great Equalizer
#9: Become a Black Belt in the Bedroom!
#8: Neuroplasticity - Moulding Your Brain for Better Sex
#7: Raise Your Sexual Energy
#6: How To Consume An Ice-Cream - Lose Yourself in Pleasure Pt 2
#5: How To Eat A Peach - Lose Yourself in Pleasure Pt 1
#4: Love in the Time of Chaos
#3: A History of Sexual Misinformation
#2: Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth
#1: The Birth of the LoveLife Blog - with some underlying philosophical ramblings

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