Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 282 of 365: An Excuse to Cheat

"Stop Trying to Use "Monogamy is Unnatural" As An Excuse to Cheat"

I remember my first experience with cheating. A high school boyfriend had flagrantly cheated on me -- something I didn't find out about until after the relationship ended. I confronted him about it and he replied with, "Well, what do you want? Monogamy is unnatural, anyway."

How many times have we heard people -- from the average Joe to former A-list movie stars (I'm looking at you, Ethan Hawke) -- talk about the "unnatural" act of monogamy. How many times have been either cheated or put up with cheating, using that line as their excuse?

"Well, monogamy is unnatural, which means it is perfectly fine for me to vow to another human being that I will love only them, only to go off and have an affair with my co-worker."

I'm not here to say whether or not monogamy is unnatural. In the wild, some creatures pair up for life while other creatures pair up for 10 minutes and hope for the best. Where homo sapiens fall into that mix has been up for debate for quite a while now. Some point to the promiscuity of chimps -- both male and female -- and see it as proof that we are not naturally monogamous. Others are quick to point out that the behavior patterns of a distant cousin are not necessarily indicative of the natural behavioral patterns of modern man (the same way the behavior of "that cousin" in your family is no indication of how you act).

To be honest, I don't really care about debunking the "monogamy is unnatural" phenomena. From a evolutionary standpoint, it does make sense: those who slept around a lot were able either to pass on more of their genes or to procure a better set of resources (some believe female animals are promiscuous as a way of "hedging their bets", so to speak). Those who were monogamous were limited in how many offspring they could have. After a few millennia, the number of creatures who are "naturally monogamous" would dwindle and the number of creatures who are "naturally promiscuous" would soar.

But again, this is not why I'm writing this piece. I am not too concerned with the validity of monogamy as a natural phenomena. Because there is nothing we do in the modern world that is even remotely close to the concept of "natural". Climate controlled houses and automated vehicles are unnatural. Modern medicine is unnatural.

For crying out loud: agriculture is unnatural. But we don't seem to be losing our minds over our fields of grain just yet.

Saying that "monogamy is unnatural" is a feeble excuse -- the same way telling your boss that "working 9 to 5 in an office is unnatural" would be a feeble excuse for quitting. It's taking something that might possibly be true and using it to further whatever agenda you personally have going on. If you feel like working 9 to 5 is unnatural, you don't sign up for an office job in the first place. Or, you take the job, understanding that you can't just stop production on whim because you feel like playing the "unnatural" card.

And furthermore, there is one thing even more unnatural than promiscuity, something that is inherent regardless of your views on monogamy: the desire for those we are attracted to to be with only us.

Again, from an evolutionary standpoint, that makes perfect sense: if you are spreading your genes, why would you want your partner to be making offspring with someone else? If you are hedging your bets, why would you be okay with your partners doing the same thing with others? Being territorial, experiencing jealousy and feeling greedy are some of the most basic experiences as a human being. It's why jealousy is considered one of the biggest things to contend with in an open or polyamorous relationship. Because, at the end of the day, we have a hard time sharing.

So, what is it going to be? The unnatural act of monogamy or the unnatural act of being okay that your partner(s) are with someone else?

If you feel monogamy is right for you, do it. If you feel polyamory is right for you, do it. If you feel that whatever level of promiscuity or openness is right for you, do it. But do it understanding that it is your personal preference -- and attempting to be one or the other when you feel otherwise is levels and levels of not okay.

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