Is Monogamy Making You Unhaaaaappy?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-sad-man-thinking-image6749199I periodically get asked if monogamy is natural. Usually the asker is bored in their marriage, looking for the loophole justifying cheating and nothing I seem to say pleases them.

If I say it is natural they refuse to let me exit the conversation until I admit there is a volume of evidence suggesting it’s not natural.

If I say it’s not natural, they seem to think that I’m a charlatan for writing in a way that is pro-monogamy.

If I say it’s a mixture of the two, they start insisting that an adaptive strategy like swinging mixing the two is the way to go.

If I’m tired and grumpy and say they just want me to grant them permission to cheat, they tend to get offended.

So…

Rather than by starting with debating whether or not monogamy is natural, let’s start with stating what is natural.

What is natural is the creation of long-term pair bonds between two people. It’s very natural that couples seek each other out, find each other acceptable as mates, start building a nest together, pop out some kids and raise them. It takes a long time to get a baby human to adulthood and pair-bonded parents generally speaking are the default setting for human history. This is, if you like, the Beta Strategy.

However what is also natural is seeking out opportunistic sex with those not pair-bonded to you. In the opportunistic sex method, men seek out as many partners as possible to maximize spreading their genes into the next generation. Women seek out the best possible partner for opportunistic sex, to thereby get the best possible genes added to theirs to spread them into the next generation. This would be the Alpha Strategy.

These two natural strategies lie in a dynamic tension with each other. It’s a gross simplification, but a lot of what I’ve written over the years is a way to play the Beta Strategy, by consciously augmenting it with elements of the Alpha one. I.e., being someone your pair bonded partner would also desire to have opportunistic sex with if they weren’t your partner.

Now while that’s all natural, monogamy isn’t.

Monogamy is an agreement that everyone needs to play nice and do the Beta Strategy. That agreement can be as mild as a social contract of manners and expectations, or it can be enforceable by the death penalty. It’s a sort of collective sexual strategy that makes a lot of good sense on a societal level, but can for more opportunistically motivated people, seem to be rather stifling.

If you’re playing the Alpha Strategy heavily, you tend to expend a lot of effort to get sex. It’s high risk as well. It may work out amazing, or it may turn into a Jerry Springer episode of fist-fights and paternity testing drama. It takes up a lot of resources to play Alpha all the time.

If you’re playing the Beta Strategy, you tend to expend more effort on non-sexual things, like amassing wealth and maximizing your investment into the kids.

If you’re in a position of power in your country, getting as many people as possible playing the Beta Strategy is a fantastic idea. It helps create a stable population who do all kinds of productive, functional work to develop your country. The Beta Strategy people go to work in the morning even when they feel shitty and they don’t clog up the jails. The Alpha Strategy people though, they’re a pain in the ass.

Let’s be honest here, you want to live in a country where everyone else plays by the Beta Strategy rules. It’s pretty darn awesome. Safe, secure, non-violent, productive and… and… and…

But there’s one small, itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie problem.

Monogamy as a social contract, does exactly what it intends to do. It works exactly as advertised. You’re getting what you signed up for.

Seriously now, go check the fine print.

All that was promised was a functional, stable, family unit and a day job. You’re imagining the clause about cock exploding into vagina while two bodies writhe together like they are being Tasered. If you both want that, you have to Alpha up. You have to develop the side of you that would do well in the opportunistic sexual market place.

In that sense, what I write about is a mixed strategy, trying to take what you can from the best of both strategies. Which I guess is getting to the place where the swingers want to chime in, so let’s do it. In terms of whether something is natural or not, purposely allowing another person to have sex with someone you’re pair bonded to, is about the least natural thing in the world. The most natural thing in the world is to try and kill them. It requires a huge degree of socialization to be a swinger, so let’s not pretend that it’s all wondrous and natural. There may well have been Sex at Dawn, but there would also have been Killing at Dusk too.

So no, monogamy is not natural. But that doesn’t mean it’s without value. Jennifer and I often talk about how peaceful and relaxed our family life is compared to many others we know. No step-kids, no ex-husbands or ex-wives, no 3rd or 4th set of grandparents, no stepping around how Christmas works because five different families have to be involved. It’s quite lovely. It’s also time and energy efficient and I couldn’t have written MMSL without that as a structural factor in my life. I’d just have been too busy with family stuff.

The core of the issue is that we’re just not perfectly adapted for a modern civilization. We do all kinds of things that aren’t natural but we still think they are a good idea and worth tempering our natural instincts. Some non-natural things that spring to mind…

Flushing Toilets.

The Rule of Law.

The Internet.

Birth Control.

Private Property.

Electric Power.

Powered Flight.

International Soccer Matches.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So let me flip the question around on you a little. If we assume your partner isn’t in some way broken or objectively defective, they love you and are a generally willing sexual partner, is it possible that the problem isn’t monogamy, or you being married, but simply that you aren’t being as Alpha as you want to think you are. Which is to say, maybe you’re boring. If you’re bored with yourself, your partner is probably bored with you too.

One of the things that people I coach keep telling me in moments of self-realization is that, “The MAP really isn’t about sex is it? It’s really about just being a better person, about doing what you want to do with your life. That’s what’s attractive!” It’s usually right after this revelation that they find themselves having the best sex of their lives.

It’s a big world. I’m pretty sure there are still some achievements left for you to unlock.

Comments

  1. I love when people are implicitly asking for this cheating permission. It’s even more hilarious when they ask several people, as if they need results of a survey to make a decision.
    On a side note, for a second I imagined the society where at least 50% of men were alpha. Man, what a sight.

  2. Booch Paradise says:

    So monogamy isn’t natural. It’s better than natural. Or, one might say, it’s supernatural.

  3. Both are natural and it really depends on the species. Off the top of my head birds are well known for their relative monogamy (yes there are cheaters among monogamous pairs, and is where the term “cuckolding” come from). We aren’t machines who cut off all attraction for all other people upon signing the marriage contract, or even being in a boyfriend/girlfriend situation.

    The larger question, as Athol points out, is what’s good for society itself. It’s more fun to go around sleeping with whomever you want, but an advanced civilization can’t be built like that. You see the more baboon-like mating style in more primitive cultures, with a few Alphas at the top getting all the sex, because the culture in general spends more of its time chasing sex (read: reproduction) like most other animals do. The key to what made us and other human cultures into advanced societies is that we don’t put so much effort into chasing sex, and instead channel that energy into doing productive things like…..building a civilization.

    Chateau Heartiste has pointed this out before too. The point of marriage was really to give males an outlet for sexual energy, so instead of spending all our energy chasing after sex, we do productive things. Yes, most animals do not form monogamous pairs like we do. Most animals also don’t live in advanced societies like we do. If you want more proof, look at what happened to the black population in America, and what’s slowly happening to America at large. Destroying the traditional family is probably the worst thing America did to the black population after slavery.

  4. adamalan says:

    The problem is your monagamous social contract is now defunct in our society. if we truly had monogamy women wouldn’t be allowed to divorce. Instead what we have is serial monogamy so called and increasingly polygyny.

  5. mikeinauckland says:

    That’s a weird article.
    “Monogamy isn’t a great relational model , but it stops us from living in a post apocalyptic anarchy. But it’s kinda boring sexually so to make it better go become CEO of something. Also , you’re a dick for not being happy in a monogamous relationship…

  6. ” . . .you want to live in a country where everyone else plays by the Beta Strategy rules. It’s pretty darn awesome. Safe, secure, non-violent . . .”

    Until some other country’s alphas show up on your doorstep. It’s been understood for thousands of years (Plato wrote about it) that what you want is a socially nondestructive channel for the alphas. The military, sports, that sort of thing.

    “The most natural thing in the world is to try and kill them. ”

    A Brownie point for not only understanding that, but being willing to say it flat out.

  7. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    ” (yes there are cheaters among monogamous pairs, and is where the term “cuckolding” come from)”

    No it isn’t. Your whole comment is riddled with falsehoods. Like this shit:

    “Destroying the traditional family is probably the worst thing America did to the black population after slavery.”

    No, it isn’t. Sweden is doing fine with low marriage rates and high divorce rates. The problem is poverty, but you can’t expect a CH koolaid drinker to understand that. The direction of the causational relationship between marriage and poverty is the opposite of what you are purporting it to be.

    “You see the more baboon-like mating style in more primitive cultures, with a few Alphas at the top getting all the sex, because the culture in general spends more of its time chasing sex (read: reproduction) like most other animals do.”

    Ahaha, what. Do you have an inkling to how a social animal acts? Do you even know the differences between tribes from mild environments and rougher ones? Do you have a modicum of understanding of anthropology? Or are you just parroting the things you read from other manosphereans? Get lost, bub.

  8. 1) http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cuckold

    2) Sweden worked because it’s a small county that was ethnically homogenous, with productive people who were mostly Christian, and hasn’t had to worry about national defense since World War 2. That low marriage rate and high divorce rate is also a sign of its future issues, as Sweden is currently destroying itself through its immigration policy. It was also a symptom of the decline of Ancient Rome.

    3) Sure thing bub, humans in an agrarian society, or an industrial society, act differently than those in an older hunter-gatherer type society do. The advanced society didn’t build itself, its the people who did.

    There is nothing manospherean about basic human psych, biology, history, or logic. Making a reference to another blog doesn’t mean one agrees ten thousand percent with what they say either.

  9. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    1- “Cuckold” comes from the cuckoo bird’s habit of leaving eggs in other bird species nest. Your link also touches upon this insufficiently.

    2-Sweden is mostly atheistic, about %18 believe in God. Also, sure the bad brown people are going to destroy Sweden. Heck they are going to destroy all of Europe and turn it into Eurabia. The always impending collapse of Western Civilization, when will it come already? Germany doesn’t seem on the verge of collapse, despite having high amount of immigrants and low birthrates and marriage, the two important factors in the collapse of the Roman Empire.

    3- You just went from “primitive cultures where males act like baboons and the few alphas get sex” to “but I was talking about agrarian and industrial societies” What happened?

    “basic human psych, biology, history, or logic” Shouldn’t one have knowledge about these things before trying to make statements about them? And is quoting a blogger who gets dissected in Reddit /badscience and /badhistory so much a viable tactic?

  10. I love how you turned it around to the person may be boring, not the monogamy. There are so many creative ways outlets, toys, ways to have sex that it would take quite awhile to be bored, especially if both people are on board. Truly, with two creative thinkers, it’s hard to imagine boredom.

  11. Kickboxer Girl says:

    I find Beta’s tend to not be so creative. They are great husbands, great fathers but boring to fuck. We need excitement. Act Alpha but remain nice (i.e dominant with other men but not us females), lead us and make us feel like we got the hottest most exciting husband and we will fuck your brains out, infact we will chase you.

    If you play your dread game by simply looking hot (read muscular) and showing a little bit of attention in another women (being friendly), then we will do whatever is necessary to keep you interested in us. Warning, don’t push it to flirting or we go into auto-rejection mode and that means no sex for you for a very very long time.

  12. ” . . .dominant with other men but not us females . . .”

    Pleasant little fantasy, innit?

  13. Kickboxer Girl says:

    @kfg – then it appears to be all womens “fantasy”

    http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2014/05/29/relationshipstrategies/women-want-men-who-are-dominant-with-other-men/

    There’s always some research in all her blogs. She’s a data queen and she’s doing what Athol does (in my opinion) making us realise we are a team not enemies.

    This is how the bad boy wins.

  14. ” . . . then it appears to be all womens “fantasy” ”

    Yes?

    If “kind” were the antithesis of “dominant” than all parents would be unkind.

    “. . .we are a team not enemies.”

    An orchestra without a conductor produces only noise.

  15. Kick boxer girl says:

    @kfg do you pick fights like this with your wife because it’s really boring. If she’s walking away from your abstract nitpicking, it’s because annoying, weak and it works against “working together as a team”(and most couples don’t need a conductor unless your into that sort of thing)

  16. KatherineKelly says:

    I wonder if Alpha men are more likely to have problems with monogamy.
    I’m inclined to think so because Alpha men tend to be less risk adverse and may even thrive on risk.
    For some men it is all about the chase and variety. They lose interest unless the woman knows how to keep them chasing her.

    Spinning plates for a woman is more about strategy than the need for variety and risk, both of which can be costly for a woman.

  17. There is a middle ground between monogamy and swinging, ya know.

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