Are Humans Naturally Monogamous?

  • Tanicia Remillard Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Keywords: monogamy, relationships, consensual non-monogamy, CNM


This paper explores the concept of monogamy as a social construct imposed on humans rather than a natural behavior. While monogamous relationships are common in all human societies, exceptions exist, and consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is growing in popularity. CNM includes various relationship models that allow individuals to love multiple partners, negotiate agreements for what is permitted outside of the partnership, and minimize infidelity and its negative outcomes. Economic resources and mortality rates can influence mating systems in societies, with areas with more resources showing more promiscuous systems. The paper highlights the controversy surrounding typical mating patterns in humans, with evidence suggesting that our common ancestor engaged in sex for pleasure, and humans gradually moved away from a “free love” society into an agricultural society. The rise of agriculture allowed individuals to own land and initiated the institution of monogamous marriage as an economic arrangement. However, it remains unclear why patriarchal societies limited themselves to monogamy as increasing wealth could have increased reproductive success in polygynous males with multiple wives. The paper concludes that monogamy is not a natural behavior, and there is a growing movement for CNM as an alternative.

Analytical Papers