Why Monogamy Is A Myth

When it comes to sexuality, many people believe that humans are unique in the animal kingdom: we feel love, we’re psychologically complex, we form long-term monogamous bonds.

Well, science calls shenanigans on our idealism.

According to scientists, the similarities we find between animals and humans actually reveal some of our most basic instincts, and monogamy isn’t necessarily one of them. Take a look at these five animal behaviors with uncanny parallels to humankind:

1. Males are naturally polygamous, while females are naturally monogamous

This first tidbit of insight is drawn from a study by sociobiologist Robert Trivers, in his seminal work titled, “Duh.”

Natural selection is based on the principle that parents pass on their traits to their offspring. Any heritable traits that enable an individual to produce stronger or more offspring will spread from generation to generation with greater frequency, while those that result in weaker or fewer offspring will gradually be extinguished.

Instinctively then, animals behave in such a way as to maximize their chances of producing offspring, because these are the behaviors that get passed on. That tingling sensation we feel in our nether regions when we see an attractive member of the opposite sex? It’s just our body’s way of prodding us to procreate.

He’s only doing this to get laid

Actually maximizing one’s reproductive success, though, can be a vastly different task for the males versus the females of a species. It boils down to the level of investment each sex puts into the mating process. For most animals, the female investment may last several years: thirty minutes of sex, several months of pregnancy, and years of parental care. The male investment, on the other hand, rarely lasts more than an hour: one pickup line, six or seven drinks for her, two minutes of sex, and a mental high-five to oneself.

Trivers noticed that throughout the animal kingdom, the sex that invests the least in reproduction tends to strive for quantity of matings, while the sex that invests the most in reproduction tends to strive for quality of matings. That is, the male is effectively just a sperm donor, so he increases his reproductive success by engaging in as many matings as he can secure. The female, on the other hand, gets stuck raising the baby, so she increases her own reproductive success by mating only with the strongest male, who will then provide her with the strongest offspring.

Okay, so there is one exception to the female investment rule

In other words, males instinctively want to mate with every female out there, while females are instinctively choosy about their mates.

Um, yeah. Did you really need to be told that? Still, it gets more complicated….

2. Females are drawn to wealth, power, and aggression

Since males instinctively try to mate with as many females as they can, the competition between males can be fierce. In countless species of mammals and birds, males compete against each other to acquire the best territories. Or they will fight to show off their gaudiest assets, strutting around flashing their feathers, antlers, or whatever animal bling they have at their disposal.

Case in point

This competition between males can end in one of two ways: One male physically drives away all the others and therefore has unfettered access to all the females in the population. Or, the males each display their best seduction routine, and the females survey their options and choose to mate with the one male they each deem the most worthy.

Either way, guys, this is why your girlfriend dumped your wimpy Geo-driving ass for that burly hulk of a man with the shiny new Beemer. Women are drawn to men their primal instincts believe will either provide the necessary resources to raise their kids, or possess the strongest traits to pass on to said kids. The dudes with the money and the power are the ones who get the chicks. File this again under “Astute Observations By Captain Obvious.”

What may not be so obvious is that females also indirectly select for aggression in males. Since competition between males is fierce, the aggressive male is able to secure more matings and, hence, spread his aggressive genes. At the same time, the timid male will secure few matings, so his timid genes will not get passed on. Over time, males will thus become more and more aggressive.

It’s what the ladies want

In essence, women are attracted not only to wealth and power, but also to dominance and aggression.

Well, crap. Maybe this one is pretty dang obvious, too. Okay, try this now….

3. Monogamy develops as a way for unattractive males to find mates

One result of male competition is that the most dominant male often secures the vast majority of the matings. In fact, the dominant male in some bird species may engage in every single mating during one breeding season, forcing all the other males to plod back to their nests in dejection and turn to the internet for some hot boobie action.

This kind of boobie, of course. What did you think I meant?

Similarly, the history of human society is peckered… er, peppered with stories of the harems that powerful men controlled. From Roman emperors to Inca kings, men of power and wealth have always commanded access to hundreds, if not thousands, of women.

Insert obvious joke here

So what is the weak male to do then? In his never-ending quest to score some feathery tail, the non-dominant male has stumbled upon a tolerable compromise: He offers parental care to the female, something she won’t get if she joins the dominant male’s harem.

In lark buntings (no, seriously, that is the actual name of a real bird… just like “cock” and “tit” and “boobie”), the dominant male provides nothing for the females other than his territory. After mating, she builds the nest, broods her eggs, forages for food, and raises the young all on her own. If the swath of land the dominant male commands is rich enough in resources, females will gladly accept this arrangement.

At some point, though, the dominant male stretches his resources too thin. Once he reaches a certain number of mates, then it’s no longer in a young female’s best interest to join the dominant male’s harem. At this point, the female is better off finding a non-dominant male who will stick by her side and help her raise her young.

This exact phenomenon occurred in pre-communist China, where rich men frequently took two or more wives. In those days, a woman from a poor family faced the decision of becoming the fourth wife of a rich man or the first wife of a poor man. If the man was rich enough, she chose to become the fourth wife. If not, she took her chances with the poor, unmarried man.

For the non-dominant male then, his options are pretty simple: offer to stick with one singular mate and help her raise her young, or not find any mates at all. In short, the non-dominant male offers monogamy because he is unable to attain polygamy.

Give him a chance, ladies. He’s offering you monogamy!

4. Females find attentive husbands, then cheat on them with attractive males

But wait, we’re not done with the freakish bird sex. Even among species that form monogamous pair bonds, attractive males make inattentive husbands. As Nancy Burley discovered with zebra finches, while Anders Moller discovered with swallows, the males who are able to attract the most females also put in the least amount of work helping to raise their young. On the other hand, unattractive males tend to be noticeably hard-working fathers. They help their mates build the nest and find food, and they work hard to raise their young.

That’s right, hunky and attentive are mutually exclusive male qualities in the animal kingdom. If both hard science and popular science say so, you know it must be true.

The Myth of Man

The female’s dilemma can be summarized thusly:

If she mates with an attractive male, she will likely have attractive kids. However, she will have to work harder to raise her children, so they may not grow up to be as healthy or as strong. On the other hand, if she mates with an unattractive male, he will be there to help feed and take care of her children. However, her offspring will not grow up to be particularly attractive.

Of course, females, in their infinite shrewdness, have devised their own solution: They find attentive mates and cheat on them with attractive males.

Apparently, birds can be quite the connivers, engaging in the ultimate euphemism known as “extra-pair matings” (that is, matings outside of one’s pair bond). In fact, adultery abounds in the supposedly monogamous world of bird couplings. Females frequently form pair bonds with unattractive, but attentive males, then engage in extra-pair matings with attractive males when their mates are off foraging for food and nesting materials.

Biologist and author Matt Ridley argues that the reason women stray from their marriages is simply a holdover from our primitive hunting-and-gathering days. In the same way a man acts according to his reproductive self-interest, a woman acts in her own self-interest by finding a husband who will be a good caretaker of her children, but then mating with a strong, attractive man in order to produce strong, attractive children. It’s a cruel world out there.

Yes, ladies. You can have this and eat it, too.

5. Even when monogamy develops, it’s only temporary

Well, then. Now that we’ve gotten this far, let’s go ahead and hammer that last nail into monogamy’s coffin, why don’t we?

As it turns out, we can reasonably expect a human female to squeeze something the size of a grapefruit out from between her legs, but we can’t expect her to do the same with something the size of a bowling ball. As human brain size increased over millions of years, women had to give birth earlier and earlier during pregnancy. Compared to most other mammals, humans are born much earlier in their physical development. Any later, and there’s no way that infant’s head is fitting through mom’s birth canal.

Pretty much this

This means that human infants require a much longer period of care before they are able to fend for themselves. In turn, this means that human females benefit much more from a two-parent system than any other animal. A male who assists his mate therefore increases his likelihood of producing viable offspring. Humans are more monogamous than most other animals, after all. In fact, the human mating system is probably most similar to birds, since baby birds also require a great deal of parental care (hence, all the bird examples here).

Of course, there’s still a catch: monogamous pair bonds only last as long as necessary to raise the offspring past infancy. Once the young are able to fend for themselves, the male and the female usually separate to find new mates. In the animal kingdom, lifelong monogamy simply doesn’t exist. Even species previously thought to be permanently monogamous are turning out to be only serially monogamous.

In its truest form, permanent monogamy only exists in angler fish, wherein the male attaches himself to the female and lives parasitically off of her for the rest of his life. He gets food, lodging, and sex. She gets sperm. That’s right, true monogamy in the animal kingdom can be reduced to the aquatic equivalent of the deadbeat boyfriend.

The deadbeat boyfriend of the sea

Social anthropologist Helen Fisher has argued that divorce rates spike at the fourth year of marriage because that’s around the time that a human infant no longer needs care from two parents. As such, the fourth year is when humans begin to break their monogamous pair bonds and instinctively seek out new mates.

Thus, even when we embrace monogamy, we’re only temporary, serial monogamists at best. How’s that for instilling faith in human traditions?

So what does this all mean for us?

When it comes to failed relationships, one of the most common explanations we hear is, “it just didn’t feel right.”

Fair enough. If a relationship doesn’t feel right in our gut, that may be cause for concern. But here’s the problem: As the examples from the animal kingdom and from human history show, monogamy will never “feel” right. Our instincts will continually drive us to form temporary monogamous bonds, but still cheat on the side. That’s how we maximize our reproductive success. That’s the legacy of human evolution.

So maybe, there has to be more to human relationships than just something “feeling right.” Maybe, instead of following our gut like… well, like animals, we should follow our head a little more. You know, the part of us responsible for higher reasoning, like logic, ethics, morality, and the ability to play Minesweeper.

Because that’s the part of us that makes committed, monogamous relationships possible.

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58 comments

  • Oh how i love biology! isnt science great? not saying i dont believe monogamy can work, but the biology of it all is so interesting! great read dennis

  • Just noting that you make a sweeping condemnation of monogamy, and then in the last line say that our brains are what make relationships work…

    Having been in a faithful, monogamous relationship for about 10 years (Jesus…) I can say that there is more to it than just following one’s instincts. It’s not like my instincts died, but you do have to operate on more than just “holy shit, that dude is hot and aggressive – let’s have sex!” in order to operate on a day to day basis.

    I think looking into the sociological side-effects of living in civilized society where people have to work together to survive has greatly impacted our sex lives. Of course, I’m talking out of my ass, since I’m commenting on my lunch break and don’t feel like wikipediaing my claims – which are baseless. Enjoy!

  • Holy turnaround, Batman. I was started to despair that my internet crush didn’t believe in monogamy among humans because of all the things he knew about birds 😉

    “females also indirectly select for aggression in males.” — That’s what I’m saying! (http://wp.me/pY8MO-fp)

    So what about the people who don’t want to have kids? Or who don’t need the other person the materially provide for them? Any thoughts?

    Are we doomed by our biology to be alone?

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  • Just noting that you make a sweeping condemnation of monogamy, and then in the last line say that our brains are what make relationships work…

    It’s called a hook. 😉 I figured that titling my post, “Monogamy isn’t quite what you might think it is” probably wouldn’t attract as many readers.

    Crystal, I’ll have to address your questions later. I’m in Spain right now and am supposed to meet some people for drinks in, oh, five minutes ago….

  • I KNEW you were pulling the bait and switch method on me Dennis Hong! Yes, I called you by both first AND last names for that prank. But thank you for pointing out that no matter how many men make this silly argument about us being animals and no other animal is monogamous, we do have one thing no other animal seems to have, conscious, society, morals, complex thinking, and a lot more. I say if you think that excuse is a valid reason to cheat, go fuck a duck, and keep your std’s away from me, cause I’ve never heard of cats getting the clap!

    I am however in my years of being fascinated by animal studies that there are a few more truly monogamous animals, some that will never mate again after the mates death. I’m sure I could find a list somewhere if I weren’t too busy to bother right now. Then again, I’m sure you can find it too.

    But, of course, Dennis Hong, you are still the wisest soul in all of the blogosphere.

  • @Dong: The hook worked, I have to say.

    But I have to argue against all sweeping generalizations based on biology. Being human IS to fight your baser instincts. Civilization itself is fighting your instincts. If it weren’t for biological/psychological warfare, so to speak, we would all still be living in caves and clubbing our women over the head.

    So perhaps if monogomy=fighting baser instincts=being civilized, then by deductive reasoning sowing one’s seed=clubbing your woman over the head. Or at least that’s where my mind went. 😉

  • gawd… please edit that mess for me, see what happens when I post and run from work! yeash!

  • @V: Edited. That better now? 😉 But seriously, though, all those stories about animals that never mate again after their mate’s death? Myths. All of them. I’m not kidding. That was my partial impetus for writing this piece, actually.

    @Res: Yes, yes, yes, sweeping generalizations are bad. Bad bad bad. Where have you heard that before? :-p

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  • So awesome. I love the hook. 😀

  • Great article! I agree that we have to fight our baser (real word?) instincts and that’s what separates us from the other animals but that doesn’t mean it’s not damn hard to do so. I like running on instinct and it’s a real pain in my ass when I have to remind myself that it’s not productive to living in polite society.

  • @Dong: I was hoping you’d pick up on that! Great article though!

  • What about penguins??? 😉 Great article Dennis. I think it’s important to note there are many things that distinguish us from birds or lions or (insert animal of your choice) which is our higher brain functioning! (cut & paste Rebecca Sullins comment haha)

  • Ugh, this article truly hits home for me right now with the discussion of men’s biological need for quantity vs. women’s desire for quality. I was just dating a guy I really liked who thought I was weird, because I originally had no desire to date him while he continued to see what was out there. I’ve always been of the persuasion that if I already want 1 guy, there’s no point in playing games with other people’s heads by dating around. I didn’t get why he needed to see what was out there if he already liked me. Now i remember. Sucks.

  • @res:

    Thanks. I have to confess: if this article isn’t quite in the “voice” of Musings, it’s because I originally wrote it for Cracked.com, but they ultimately rejected it for being too controversial. At that point, though, I had put so much work into it that I couldn’t just let it go to waste.

    I do apologize to all my co-writers, though, if I’m being slightly hypocritical on my publishing standards here. It’s sssssooooomewhat in the voice of Musings. 😉

    @notcomplicated:

    They’re serial monogamists. From Wikipedia:

    Emperor Penguins are serially monogamous. They have only one mate each year, and stay faithful to that mate. However, fidelity between years is only about 15%.[52] The narrow window of opportunity available for mating appears to be an influence, as there is a priority to mate and breed which often precludes waiting for the appearance of the previous year’s partner.

    Here’s another random fact culled from the internet:

    A female [penguin] usually selects the same male from the preceding season (Sparks and Soper, 1987). Adélie penguins have been documented re-pairing with the previous year’s mate 62% of the time. Chinstraps re-paired in 82% of possible cases, and gentoos re-paired 90% of the time (Trivelpiece, 1990). In one study of Adélies, females paired with males within minutes of arriving at the colony (Davis and Speirs, 1990).

    Note that this one makes it seem oh-so impressive that gentoos re-pair with a previous mate 90% of the time. But wait, that means they have a whopping 10% chance of mating with someone new each year! Compound that over the entire breeding lifetime of a penguin, and the chances of one pair staying monogamous for life is close to zero.

    Again, take THAT, monogamy. 😉

  • @Meg: Yeah, but the whole point of my article is that we shouldn’t use our instincts as an excuse to screw someone over emotionally. I know, it sucks, and this doesn’t make you feel any better. But… whatever, that’s pretty shitty of him.

  • Ugh, Dennis. Bait and switch. I was all ready to get pissed off at you. Demoralized as hell. But you let me down (and I’m happy about it). I loved this piece. I love the research, I loved the writing and more than anything else, I loved your conclusion at the end. You are such a talent and I’m excited that I’ve met you! I know that’s a little gushy, but I’m in a good mood tonight. Maybe I’ll have something more thought provoking later. Until then… YOU ROCK! haha 🙂

  • Thanks, Catherine. I think I know why you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy inside these days, though…. 😉

  • Dennis Hong :Thanks, Catherine. I think I know why you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy inside these days, though….

    The beginning of the fall season? I don’t know what it is you speak of! 🙂

  • Yes, Fall is a beautiful season. I mean, it can get stormy and tumultuous sometimes, but maybe that’s what makes the season so much fun in the first place…. 😉

  • VERY well-written article!

    I have one major problem, though – what about the fact that more and more women are choosing to NOT have kids?? Oh, and here’s the kicker – many of us actually really like sex! In fact, we get to enjoy it a hell of a lot more without little rugrats constantly vying for our attention. In what species of bird to the women get to run around having all the sex they want with various mates and not have to worry about the consequences? 😉 (mental high-five! lol)

  • Monogamy isn’t for the birds, eh?

    Not even for boobies. With a name like boobie, I guess that’s kind of a given, though.

    I’m going to echo the commenter who asked: But what about peeps who don’t want kids? She didn’t say “peeps,” though. I’m paraphrasing. Has my genetic wiring gone awry? Is there something biologically wrong with me for seeing a baby with a bowling ball for a head and thinking “Yeah … no thanks”? Is there a chromosome for women who collect cats? Because I think I got that one.

  • Thanks, Katie and… uh, Cats! 😉

    To answer your questions about wanting or not wanting to have children….

    According to staunch evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins (Google him if you’re interested in anything I’m about to type here, because I can’t possibly describe his work in a comment blog), the living body is simply a vessel for genes to replicate themselves. This drive to replicate has nothing to do with what the body consciously desires to do. We’re driven to have sex because sex is how our genes coerce us into propagating for them. Therefore, whether or not we want to have kids is a moot point.

    Of course, with human medical advances, we can now throw a wrench into the nefarious plans of our genes. We love to have sex, and in the past, the consequence of that was offspring. But now, not so much.

    So, no, there’s nothing wrong with not consciously wanting to have kids. We’re not evolved to want kids. We’re evolved to want sex. Because sex evolved as a way to get us to reproduce.

    And Katie, there are actually a few species of birds where the male is the one who raises the offspring (sorry, offhand, I can’t remember the specific species). In these birds, the females are the aggressive seducers, because their investment in reproduction is low. On the other hand, the males are the choosy, monogamously minded ones, because their investment is higher.

    How’s that for equality of the sexes? 😉

  • Oh, and sorry. There are no human chromosomes that lead us to collect cats. There are, however, plenty of cat chromosomes that manipulate us into being their faithful servants.

    It sounds like Teva and Isabel may have inherited these chromosomes in droves….

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  • HAA HAA HAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

    Dead beat boyfriend of the sea….HAA HAA HAAAAA!!!

  • Does anyone else gather from reading this article that the author is completely clueless about women?

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  • My first child was born with “bowling ball head syndrome” as well. That is why I had to give him away. Or roll him away to be more accurate.

    Is there such a thing as blogonomy – where one blog remains faithful to another blog? Did you find cases of this in your research?

  • Interesting post! I think that one of the reasons that monogamy evolved as a desirable human trait was that promiscuity increased your likelihood of contracting an STD. That never really seems to factor into these evolutionary scenarios, and I tend to think that it must have been a major issue. That’s why virgins and faithful men were so highly prized in almost every culture – because they were less likely to have an STD.

    • Actually, there are scientists who believe that sex itself evolved as a way to combat parasites….

      In any case, your scenario would depend on how rampant and how debilitating the STD is. In simple terms, if the STD inhibits the reproductive ability of the individual (whether directly through physiological effects or indirectly by causing said individual to be shunned by the opposite sex), then monogamy will be more likely to evolve.

      On the other hand, given how insidious most STDs are, and the fact that many of them really aren’t that deadly, it becomes harder to make the case that monogamy evolved solely to combat STDs.

      As such, I wouldn’t say that STDs never factor into evolutionary scenarios. They do. But, chances are, there has to be more to the story than just avoiding STDs.

  • I appreciate the sentiment of this article, and I mean no disrespect… but this article’s based entirely on really outdated, wrongheaded pseudoscientific crap. Read “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jethá. It gives the real scoop on these questions. If you look at the overwhelming physiological and anthropological evidence, Humans only came up with the dumb idea of monogamy after coming up with the even dumber idea of agriculture.

    • No disrespect taken. Thoughtful comments are always welcome, even if they are in disagreement! 😉

      First off, this can easily devolve into a discussion about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of evolutionary psychology here. I acknowledge that the field has its… “problems,” shall we say. But, I also don’t believe that it’s as outdated, wrongheaded, or pseudo-scientific as the staunch anti-evolutionary psychologists would have it. I used to be an evolutionary biologist myself, so, believe me, I am well aware of the politics involved in topics such as these.

      In any case, yes, some of the evidence I cited is anecdotal. However, I tried to focus mostly on the factual stuff (i.e., the stuff that we see in the animal kingdom). And there is plenty of evidence to suggest the points that I posit. Of course, you don’t have to agree with them.

      I haven’t read Sex at Dawn, so thank you for the reference. I will definitely check it out. I did read through a couple of reviews, though, and it would seem that the book and my article are pretty much aligned, though, no?

    • Okay, upon doing a little more digging… maybe not.

      In any case, it would seem that Sex at Dawn is subject to its own controversy, as well, and may not be as “definitive” as it claims to be.

      Meh. Such is the nature of the topic.

  • Animals wallow in their own filth. Slaughter young to bring females into heat, cannibalize their own, the list goes on and on. The argument we exhibit certain behavioral similarities and so, monogamy is manufactured? …Like an atheist who revels in egotism even while ensconced in the inescapable nihilism of your their position, you engage in pompous preening of the self congratulatory kind, even as you denigrate yourself completely. Wholly unwittingly, you did stumble upon the truth, but Churchill was right, ‘Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.’
    Artists…poets…that spark within us that elevates us beyond the bestial, to something potentially beautiful. Within this, it takes a certain mind to talk of the rutting habits of beasts and congratulate himself on how enlightened he is.
    Still mate, your article on cracked, which lead me here, gave me a laugh. Well done!

  • You know, I really didn’t like you at first Mr. Hong. I thought, great, another crazy guy talking about living the fast paced mistranslated version of carpe diem life. I was reading your blog to get insights on life!

    But man, haha, I’m quite stupid, you’re a wonderful guy. I started reading your older posts, I like your bait and switch, especially the one about Sleepless in Seattle. I thought I was empathetic, but you showed me there’s so much more out there to realize.

    I’m almost 24, single, never dated because I really haven’t found anyone interested enough in me or me in them. But when I do, I’ll definitely remember your sagely words. Rock on dude!

    • Hey, thanks! I’m glad you were willing to read past the “bait” parts, instead of just skipping straight to the comments and tearing me a new one…. 😉

  • That was nice! All this time I thought you were going to talk about polygamy and all that jazz, just to find out the end part rocked. 🙂 This was so nice and inspiring.

  • Ok, I don’t know if someone will get to read my comment, but I found myself having something to say, so there it is:
    (Note: I’ll try to keep it short, simple and coherent. Most likely I won’t succeed, so apologies for that.)
    There is an unspoken yet apparently universally accepted subtext about monogamy which states: “a successfully monogamous relation automatically equals a happy relation” – which is FALSE. (the classic fairy-tale ending “and they lived happily ever after” is a motif present in almost every culture on Earth).
    Monogamy is NOT a synonym for happiness!
    And THIS is the true issue at stake: not if monogamy is “right” or “wrong”, but how does it relate to your happiness!
    Being in a monogamous relation should be a choice made by BOTH partners for their happiness, not because of social pressure or because “it’s the right thing to do”.
    Being in an monogamous relation and faithful, but unhappy because you crave sex and romance with other people is NOT OK!
    Being in an monogamous relation and faithful, and accepting the unfaithfulness of your partner although it makes you miserable is NOT OK EITHER!
    Humans are very complex and individualized creatures, so the need for monogamy differs from person to person due to different personalities, sex drives, upbringing, personal values/moral code/principles, and the stage in life where they find themselves: one person might have an adventurous youth and a settled, monogamous late life, another might have a very quiet monogamous youth, and, after reaching mid-life and the kids getting their own families, could become a wild engine of promiscuity(!), yet another might be a life-long chaser of romantic adventures, and so on and so forth…
    The key here, I believe, is compatibility between the monogamy needs and life stages of both partners:
    – perfect compatibility = ideal situation (not very likely to happen in real life, though…)
    – close compatibility = compromises can/should be made with satisfactory results (as in: they can be happy together if they work for it; most likely the ideal situation in real life)
    – little/no compatibility = compromises can be made but without satisfactory results (most likely, that couple will NOT be a happy one).
    Phew, done!
    I realize that all the above might have been written by Captain Obvious, but I’ve met a lot of people for whom it’s not so obvious… at all. *sigh*

    • Oh, and from what I’ve read in the comments, and from my personal experience, people seem to be mostly polarized for or against instinct/biology.
      I believe that the right path is that of balance (like in most cases). Let me present the variants:

      a. Instinct/Biology should rule (“you and me baby, ain’t nothing but mammals, so”… ahh, but you know the rest…)
      – Consequences: men will try to impregnate every female they can, women will try to get financial security and then get babies with the best male available – basically, men are essentially pigs and women are essentially whores.
      – Negative parts: ignores the need humans have for (emotional)love and deep, meaningful relations between men and women (even outside of sexual relations) -> women and men become perpetual adversaries, alternatively lovers and enemies… (hmm, actually that doesn’t sound too different from our world…)

      b. Cold reason should rule, basic instincts are disgusting and degrading.
      – Consequences: inhibition/repression of sexual urges and romantic feelings.
      – Negative parts: obviously, dismissing such an essential and natural part of us is a sure way towards various personal and social dysfunctionalities (including, umm, unhappiness?!); it might(will) also backfire into boosting various perversions of sexuality/romance (prostitution, BDSM etc., also it’s my personal theory that the prevalence of pornography – in the widest sense – in modern society is due to people not having a satisfying sexual life, both quantity and quality-wise).

      c. Balance: people should balance (sic!) their need for sex, romance, adventure, and starting a family, with considerations for the other person’s needs and wants, so as to try to avoid both hurting them, and getting hurt, also accepting what hurt is unavoidable and moving on.
      – Consequences: umm, I dunno, a happy life, a beautiful world, the rain forest is saved, cancer and AIDS are eradicated, the ozone layer is healed?! 😉
      – Negative parts: well, I suppose you won’t have so many reasons to bitch about you partner to drunken strangers in a cheap smoke-filled booze joint… 😉

      I realize that few people are exactly at the a and b extremes, but, from my experience, most people gravitate towards those extremes, and not the balanced c variant…

    • Thanks for the detailed comments, Andrei!

      Yes, I agree that people need to acknowledge both ends of the spectrum, instead of just living at the extremes. On the one hand, if you live by scenario A, then you’ll never find someone. On the other hand, if you live by scenario B, then you’re suppressing and refusing to acknowledge some of your basest instincts.

    • Of all that’s been written here this is what resonates. Life stages, personal choices, levels of consciousness, hormonal insanity etc., are all factors in whether or not one wants to have, or is capable of having, a monogamous relationship. Add to that the fact that we now live far beyond the age where our offspring have moved along and things become difficult indeed. In my mind the question is not whether monogamy is natural or not because reality clearly says it’s not. The question then becomes “is monogamy a desirable arrangement and if so why?”

    • Yes, that is the million-dollar question…. 😉

  • Damn, I almost forgot to say this: great article Mr. Hong, and I love the pictures (and their comments)! 🙂

  • Decided to pop in and see what you wrote about for this topic. I was reading and got stopped by the blood sport pic. I effing love Bolo Yeung! =)

    Anyway, I really liked your take on this topic. Good stuff.

  • That’s why I tell the young gals I work with to pick an ugly man with a good heart. They’ll worship the ground you walk on and never do you wrong for fear of losing a good thing.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself

  • Could’ve learned this from the Mystery Method. Saves a lot of wasted time and heartache.

  • Stumbling upon this through cracked.com, I found it to be exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life. However people do exist who don’t have such a high sex drive as considered normal or they are asexual and not attracted to females or males. Why would they exist if sex drive is only a desire to reproduce? Likewise why would people be attracted to the same sex if such a pair can produce no offspring? Just food for thought 🙂

  • So women get what they biologically desire from aggressive mates.

  • What a crock of bull. Maybe for the weak minded ill educated rodents that call themselves human this applies.

    However, my parents have educations and have been together for 30 years with NO affairs. My aunt, educated, and her husband, a major businessman, have been together for 54 years. My other aunt has been married since high school, a little over 60 years, to the same man and they, are not educated per say, but they got more value in their pinkie fingers than 90% of the trash in society nowadays.

    What it comes down to is a few things:

    1) women are sluts. And this is coming from a 27 year old woman. The shit I see females pull nowadays makes me disgusted to be of the same sex.

    2) they like don’t males because by and large the females have little in the upper story. I mean the number of dumb cows I see walk into walls & doors at the local university is pathetic while texting on their phones. You’re not going to die.

    Your comment about women screw attractive men then raise the bastards as if the “ugly” guy’s kids shows you’re not in touch with reality. The dumb slut will be out on the street faster than you can say whore when the “ugly guy” realizes that those aren’t his kids.

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