social v sexual monogamy

Submitted by Parky on
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In this forum and in CPA it mentioned that pair bonders are socially but NOT SEXUALLY monogamous. For example:

In short, we're part of a small club of primate species that are wired for the ability to fall in love and settle in with one significant other, whether or not we choose to avail ourselves of this option. This doesn't mean we're programmed to be "sexually monogamous." No species is. But we are "socially monogamous," that is, able to pair up. The fact that we sometimes experience lust in the absence of attachment doesn't make us bonobos, or mean we'd be happier with a more casual approach to mating.[/quote]

Recently, with my new gf, I've had some weird paranoid thoughts that she is going to cheat on me. I've never had this before but my present gf is more confident and seductive than past ones. My worries are about one specific guy who I know is interested in her and was interested in her before we got together. He has recently become socially dominating and he now talks to her as if he doesn't care about me or as if I'm not even there (when I'm right beside her). The thing is, she is very feminine & receptive to masculine strength, and I know that part of her responds to his kind of dominating behaviour. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't actually leave me for him but I worry about where she would go if he pushed her.

Even though I would be very angry at anyone cheating on me, I know in the right context I could so easily cheat myself. This bugs me. I feel like a hypocrite expecting full commitment from someone yet knowing I could so easily cheat without a second thought.

However, a voice in my head then says "ah, but we're not naturally sexually monogamous so cheating is natural - get used it...".

Marnia, how do you view this conundrum? Should we humans expect our partners to sometimes play around on the side of a committed pair-bond? My feelings tell me that to play around would be wrong, but sometimes feelings are deceptive. If we are only socially monogamous why do we feel rage, hurt and anger when someone cheats - is it simply due to the socially programmed expectations we have for our relationships?

I can remember reading research on this site that pair-bonded mammals went through a stress response when their partner was removed from them. Have there been any studies done to see if pair-bonded mammals other than humans have a stress response when they see their partner copulating with another animal?

Regardless, I think the best way to deal with my problem is to become emotionally clear and unreactive about the problem. I'm clearing through all the issues with EFT and Z-Point therapy until I feel no intimidation from the dominating guy, or fear and anger at the thought of my gf cheating with him. Still, once I'm emotionally clear on the issue, the question still remains:

Should we [pair-bonding humans] expect our partners to be sexually monogamous or should we just get used to the idea that they are probably going to play around and that it is natural to do so?


Talk talk talk.

If we don't talk about what we expect, we'll be surprised and/or upset at what we end up with. I learned this the hard way, more than once.

If you are going to be monogamous, and will be upset by a lack of monogamy in your partner, then you have to be up front about it - and this conversation needs to happen as far away from a sexual encounter as possible - otherwise you'll be in danger of one or both of you 'hedging' the conversation in favor of sex now, consequences later.

If you plan to monogamous, and you do not require/expect monogamy from your partner, then that too needs to be a conversation you have, because you'll need to come up with an agreement as to how you both handle the non-monogamy. (Be it one on one, casual/group sex, bisexuality, etc) If you Google Polyamory, you should be able to find lots of good ways of handling this kind of agreement/situation. It doesn't prevent implosions however, sometimes jealousy happens without much warning, but at least you go into the relationship with an open dialog.

If you, or both of you plan/expect to be non-monogamous, then you need to work out the parameters, as well. It can get complicated, but can be quite nice when it works. (it ranges from "I get to meet and approve them first", "never in our home", etc to swinging to don't ask, don't tell, to group "marriage", though the last is a fairly small fraction of how it works most of the time



I like a challenge, so I steer for monogamy. Wink We find it pretty effortless (as far as I know Smile ), but we also think our karezza practice has a lot to do with that.

Yes, animals get pissed, too. Read Barash's book "The Myth of Monogamy." It seems it's quite common for mates not to want to invest as much when cheating is evident. So, personally, I think sharing partners can easily become the beginning of a spiral of selfishness. But "different strokes for different folks."

I'm sorry your sweetheart is making you uneasy. She's probably just post-orgasmic and behaving like a silly goose.

lol, my sweetheart is 5

lol, my sweetheart is 5 years younger than me and has never had an orgasm before so I doubt it's the post-orgasmic blues!

It's not so much her that is making me uneasy but the guy. One of my best friends tells me I'm reading too much into it and being paranoid. I think he's probably right. I think I'm dealing with my own demons here rather than a real situation.

Thank-you Quizure, I too have always found that talking through things and making things explicit is the best way, sometimes though a part of us will do everything to avoid that.

Just remember

that if you make yourself vulnerable, then she'll be able to talk about her demons, too. Sometimes we forget that our courage is a gift to others. You don't have to dump every emotion you're having about it all over her, but you can say you noticed it triggered something in you that you need to look at...blah, blah.

As one of our friends used to say when something upset him: "I'm getting activated." *giggle*

I think we can trigger the

I think we can trigger the distancing response without orgasm, although perhaps to a different extent. I think I did this once so I presume she could do that as well. Your feelings are entirely within you. Perhaps you're really concerned about loosing her and that comes out as paranoia/jealousy.


fear and desire to separate, perhaps through seeking novelty. Climax just sometimes pumps up those subconscious feelings.

I think it comes from the

I think it comes from the partners not being on the same page. Novelty is relative. Eventually, the body of one partner goes into a flight response, but we don't flee entirely because we really want to be on the same page and feel accepted.

Thankyou for all your

Thankyou for all your comments and private messages, there is a lot to think about here. I'm trying to treat the situation as a gift - it is a brilliant opportunity for growth when your inner demons are revealed to you.