Monogamy: Out of style or just out of practice?

It seems to be an ongoing and embarrassing trend in Hollywood lately: cheating spouses. From the overly publicized debacles of Tiger Woods to the recent unscrupulous behavior of Jesse James, the list of unfaithful partners continues to grow.

As a young, single woman who is planning to muddle through the dating world fairly soon, this kind of news is disheartening while also a bit enlightening.

Growing up, American society teaches us the model relationship is between two consenting parties in love who vow to stay faithful to that one person for the rest of their lives. If the abundant Disney princess movies of the 1990s taught us nothing else, it was that love conquers all and in the end, everyone reaches their happily ever after.

I guess I never fully bought the whole “happily ever after” fable because my family is the embodiment of divorce. I’ve had step-grandparents, stepmothers, stepfathers, as well as aunts and uncles that have replaced former ones. My parents were divorced by the time I was 2 years old. I’ve never been disillusioned into thinking “I do” meant “for the rest of my life.”

Yet, my view of relationships was not tainted but rather more accepting. I believed I could learn from my family’s errors and actually find my Mr. Right, not just for the moment but for eternity.

Having the only real relationship I’ve ever put myself through end in infidelity brought me back to reality. I entered the relationship believing there was some sort of unspoken clause both of us agreed when we decided to be exclusive with monogamy being at the top of the list. However, it seemed I was the only complying party.

After hearing all of these stories of relationships rattled because of a cheating partner I wonder, is monogamy more fictitious than reality?

Biologically most animals are not inclined to monogamy. In that same token, they also don’t have any concept of infidelity since the term is socially constructed. Sexual promiscuity is natural whereas monogamy is not.

Animals partner up to mate and raise their offspring, similar to humans in what is referred to as “pair bonds.” They spend endless amounts of time together, displaying affection toward their mate; they are socially monogamous. As loving as they may be, DNA tests would land the female on a taping of “The Maury Show” where it would be revealed her betrothed is not the father.

In today’s world where options are infinite, from the car you purchase to the meal you order, it seems impractical to limit yourself to just one. I’m not promoting polygamy but rather deterring what could be a lifetime of disappointment and unreasoned illusion.

Men are more often publically ostracized for their unfaithfulness exemplified by Woods’ and James’ recent (multiple) affairs. One would be tempted to conclude men are the only offenders in the case of cheating spouse versus faithful lover. The judgment would be invalid as women are starting to tally their own points in the game of deceit. As women become more socially equal to men, their sexual behavior is also following suit.

Like the many things that evolve with time, maybe monogamy is a thing of the past. But like many things that go out of style, perhaps it just needs a revamping to come back.

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