Monogamy is a preference for one partner. This is a rare trait in nature, and polygamy – reproduction between several partners – occupies a reigning position. People, along with several species, are minorities in this polygamous world, and the question arises: why did we choose this way of life, and is it normal? Let’s figure it out.
Diseases probably influenced the formation of monogamy
There are several theories of forming a monogamous lifestyle, one of which is the assumption of attempts to avoid s*xually transmitted diseases. Scientists, comparing the findings and historical data, concluded that the more ancient societies grew, the more acute the issue of the spread of diseases arose. Our ancestors saw that promiscuous sexual relations lead to an increase in the incidence, while people living with one partner, in most cases, avoided such a fate.
It was not even a matter of discomfort and external manifestations of diseases, as is the case, for example, with syphilis. The point is that ST-Disease often leads to infertility. Since ancient times, the absence of heirs led to the decline of the family; because most people worked in the field, and they needed children mostly to increase labor productivity, the transition to monogamy could become a necessity.
Monogamy prevented the death of heirs
As we said above, the issue of heirs was important for people of antiquity. But even earlier, when people were closer to animals in terms of thinking, they, like other mammals, practiced polygamy and mated with different partners. The problem is that often in the animal kingdom, a male who mated with a female killed her offspring from the previous male or drove the cubs out of the flock, dooming them to death by starvation or making them easy prey for predators. Therefore, the males began to linger with one female for a longer time so that their offspring could grow up and become independent.
In addition, according to scientists, staying for a long time with one female, which feeds his offspring, the male did not give other males a chance to mate with her. This was because when the female was feeding the cubs, her attention was completely riveted to the offspring, and the chances of mating with her from other males were practically zero.
Monogamy was the answer to the long development of the child
It is enough to compare baby animals and human babies to understand that we, in comparison with them, are extremely defenseless at birth. The same artiodactyls, soon after birth, get up on their feet and begin to learn about the world, while we, like babies, cannot even crawl, and we need the support of several family members. Our children remain defenseless for a long time and cannot stand up for themselves in any way, which means that they need constant supervision for a long time.
It was impossible to leave a defenseless baby to search for food because he could not just run after his mother in search of food; therefore, here too, monogamy proved to be more beneficial than polygamy. The father of the family, who remained for a long time with one female and his offspring, was engaged in feeding, while the mother watched over the children, not leaving them for a long time. This division of labor allowed for the efficient rearing of offspring and increased the chances of children reaching adulthood.
Monogamy is largely cultural
People are not monogamous by nature, no matter how we try to convince ourselves of this, and that’s okay. As in all other living things, nature is us has a craving for as many sexual acts with different partners as possible to diversify our species. Therefore, monogamy in the form in which we know it now arose relatively recently. Scientists believe this practice has been established over the past several thousand years.
Ubiquitous monogamy likely pervaded human culture with the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to farming. Here monogamy was no longer dictated by attempts to preserve their offspring. Instead, it concerned the issue of inheritance, the possibility of passing on family traditions and values along the same line.
Monogamy also made it possible to avoid the birth of the so-called “bastards” – descendants who can claim the clan’s inheritance, being not fully belonging to it. This way of thinking first arose at the top and gradually descended, spreading even among the lower strata of society.
Is monogamy normal?
Today, the obvious advantages of polygamy can only be attributed to the more efficient distribution of their genes. Otherwise, monogamy wins. But initially, our ancestors did not have a polygamous or monogamous relationship. Scientists believe that while still great apes, our distant ancestors were loners and only gathered together for mating.
Later, our ancestors, united in the first flocks and then tribes, practiced polygamy. But, as mentioned above, polygamy had two significant drawbacks: the rapid spread of s*xually transmitted diseases and the destruction of the previous male’s offspring for the survival of the offspring from the new one. The transition to monogamy helped humanity to increase its population and spread throughout the planet significantly.
Some scientists believe that thanks to monogamy, we became who we are – a reasonable person. This was facilitated by caring for the offspring of both parents, one of whom regularly provided food for the others. Regular provision of a variety of food, especially protein, contributed to the survival of the offspring and its stable development, including its intellectual abilities. This division of labor helped the human brain develop and become aware of itself as an intelligent being.