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Monogamy vs Infidelity

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posted on May, 30 2012 @ 01:36 AM
While at work last week I had an interesting conversation with a German woman about the topic of monogamy, and how ever since moving to the US she has been surprised by what she said was an "American denial" regarding monogamy, in that many Americans participate in infidelity, as they do elsewhere around the world, yet insist monogamy is a completely natural path for a couple to pursue, infidelity is unnatural, and they let marriages completely fall apart even though elsewhere couples are much more willing to work through it, and a considerably larger percentage than here in the US think an occasional fling can actually help marriage.

This is something I've thought about and noticed, both upon my travels to Europe, conversations with my European fiance, conversations with friends who do business in Asia on a regular basis, but had not thought of it recently. I do wonder where the American view towards infidelity comes from. While I agree in many cases it's not a good thing for couples, I also don't agree with many that it's the end-all be-all of a relationship and peoples lives need to be turned upside down because of it. I also wonder how much the puritan mentality of the first who came over from Europe influenced the discussion and viewpoint on the topic, as well as religion, and why if so many would never consider engaging in infidelity because of their religion/faith, why such a large number actually engage in such acts.

A few facts I stumbled across in my reading are as follows:

22 percent of married men have strayed at least once during their married lives.

14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives.

Younger people are more likely candidates; in fact, younger women are as likely as younger men to be unfaithful.

About 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair at some point in some marriage

"Monogamy Myth", Therapist Peggy Vaugn It is estimated that 53% of all people will have one or more affairs during their lifetime. Look at the numbers from a recent issue of Playboy Magazine: -2 out of 3 women and 3 out of 4 men admit they have sexual thoughts about co-workers. -86% of men and 81% of women admit they routinely flirt with the opposite sex. -75% of men and 65% of women admit to having sex with people they work with.


It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage (see, Buss and Shackelford for review of this research). And these numbers are probably on the conservative side, when you consider that close to half of all marriages end in divorce (people are more likely to stray as relationships fall apart;

Infidelity is becoming more common among people under 30.

Many experts believe this increase in cheating is due to greater opportunity (time spent away from a spouse) and young people developing the habit of having multiple sexual partners before they get married (see, young and restless - Wall Street Journal).

As more and more women enter the work force, "office romances" are becoming more common. Spouses often spend more time with coworkers than with each other.

The initial decision to be unfaithful is rarely ever a rational choice; instead infidelity is usually driven by circumstances and one's emotions. In fact, most people are surprised by their own behavior at the start of an affair (see, decision to cheat).

Biological evidence (i.e., research on biology and reproduction) indicates that long-term monogamy is difficult for humans to achieve - NOT impossible, but difficult (see, Barash and Lipton or the myth of monogamy -


The best educated guess, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, is that an affair takes place within 40 to 76 percent of marriages: “A conservative interpretation of these figures suggests that although perhaps half of all married couples remain monogamous, the other half will experience an infidelity over the course of a marriage.”


I'm not sure how accurate those are. I saw other sources which said infidelity is as high as 78% in men, and 56% in woman, while currently married. I also would assume a percentage, not sure how much, but a percentage simply would not admit to engaging in infidelity. Either way, the numbers are high, and higher than I think most would expect in a country which denounces and in general have very negative attitude towards infidelity.

This is in contrast to other countries where the attitudes are different. The author of the book Lust in Translation, Pamela Druckerman, came to these conclusions in her book after researching the topic abroad.

On her journey, which makes pit stops in Japan, South Africa, France, Indonesia and the United States, author Pamela Druckerman finds there's no country in the world where people are immune to temptation. She also discovers -- no surprise there -- that men are more likely to cheat, as are those in the lower-income bracket. Druckerman also finds that American men and women under the age of 40 tend to cheat at about the same rate. But adultery crises in America last longer, cost more, and inflict more emotional torture than anywhere else, says Druckerman, author of the new book "Lust In Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee" (Penguin Press).

Among North Americans, for example, marital lapses are widely perceived as the first step toward divorce court, says Druckerman.

Yet in European frontiers and beyond, infidelity is simply considered an unexpected challenge to overcome. While the purportedly open-minded French are perceived as bed-hopping adulterers, they are actually just slightly less unfaithful than North Americans, Druckerman found in her informal survey of worldwide cheating.

Druckerman realized during her travels as a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal that it was not just North Americans who obsess over questions of fidelity and monogamy. "But I noticed people have very different ways of coping with aftermath of infidelity and that actually you can learn a lot about culture by looking at their private lives," Druckerman told "One of the conclusions in my book is that North Americans are particularly bad at dealing with infidelity," she says.

Unlike other continents, the social taboo over adultery still casts a shadow over North America, Druckerman says. "Adultery provokes more outrage in America than in almost any other country on record," Druckerman writes. She blames the founding fathers for instilling within Americans a fear of immorality, believing as they did that "the strength and perhaps the very survival of their country hinged on the moral fitness of its citizens."

Where North Americans are still comparable prudes, Druckerman found views on between-the-sheets relations to be starkly different in Russia.

"In Russia, I basically couldn't find anyone in the country who hadn't cheated," she says. "The taboo was in the opposite direction -- if you hadn't had an affair you lied and said you did."

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 01:36 AM
Mistresses to this day are common in select parts of the world, namely Japan, Italy and France. Throughout history however, they were considered a symbol of status.. In present times, we've seen numerous professional athletes and celebrities engage in infidelity, from Michael Jordan to Brett Favre, to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, as well as politicians from Clinton to Sarkozy, and there are numerous other examples of each category. Rich or poor, male or female, young or old, infidelity has been common since the age of mankind.

Maryse Vaillant, a well known European author has this opinion on infidelity:

Maryse Vaillant claims French men should stop being castigated for being serial womanisers and that keeping a mistress can actually improve their marriage. In a controversial new book on the effects of infidelity on married life, Men, Love, Fidelity, Miss Vaillant says her aim is to "re-habilitate infidelity".

According to figures cited in the book, an estimated 39 per cent of French men cheat on their wives at some stage in their life. "[Most] don't do it because they no longer love them, on the contrary," she said. "They simply need breathing space. For such men, who are in fact profoundly monogamous, infidelity is almost unavoidable".

Once French women accept that the "pact of fidelity is not natural but cultural", and that infidelity is essential to the "psychic functioning" of certain men who are still very much in love, it can be a "very liberating" for women, she contends.

My main question is, however, not whether infidelity is right or wrong, but whether it is natural, and if natural, does permanently ignoring those feeling have a negative effect? A common theme I've seen brought up in previous conversation about this is that we're mammals, and for mammals as well as in the animal kingdom, monogamy is common, therefor is should be natural and common in humans. However, only 3% of mammalian species are socially monogamous, but 15% of primate species are socially monogamous.

I do want to make a point of saying I am in no way endorsing infidelity, and both recommend and commend each and every person who is in a loving and committed monogamous relationship with their significant other. I personally feel monogamy should come from the heart and out of love towards the person you love, and not because of religion, but to each their own and I respect all opinions and points of view. But is it natural? Should we be more understanding of the temptations of the human physiology, and recognize that true monogamy is an uphill battle which conflicts with our natural instincts, and instead of letting it tear lives apart, attempt to understand more than denying it all together?
edit on 30-5-2012 by MysticPearl because: (no reason given)

edit on 30-5-2012 by MysticPearl because: (no reason given)

edit on 30-5-2012 by MysticPearl because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 02:03 AM

Originally posted by MysticPearl
However, only 3% of mammalian species are socially monogamous, but 15% of primate species are socially monogamous.

Also worthy of a read on this topic is this page on Monogamous pairing in animals.

Rather than just lumping all "mammals" together as a group, various aspects can be examined to determine how humans fit into various trends.
This, and other references I've read on the topic (especially sexual dimorphism) would indicate that the human species should be mostly monogamous, *but not completely*... which pretty must fits what we see as human behaviour.

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 02:49 AM
The best relationship I've had was open to infidelity for both sides, surprisingly, neither of us were apt to stray as often as we had been in are past monogamous relationships. And in every past one for the two of us, both other members were the first to sway.

You see it in people, lying to themselves that everything is fine when it's not. For some reason in the west, it's more important to believe your partner is monogamous than for it to actually be that way.

Recently I had dinner with a couple where I was aware of one of the them talking to another person while we were at dinner. And the other had no clue....

See it quite often.

I think a lot of it has to do with misplaced pride in western culture or so seeming "ownership" in relationships..

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 04:08 AM
When I look at human relationships I like going back to basics.

It is modern western society that demands a single pairing. In ancient times of course it was different. Men had many wives and mistresses, as many as they could afford. Men owned the women and could dispose of any that got out of line. Oh, the good old days

Nature does not demand a single pairing, in fact nature is sneaky.

Once a couple fall in love, nature places them in a 'honeymoon period'. Honeymoon in Psychology is the period of 12 to 18 months when two individual 'Is' becomes one' we'. They stay as a 'we' for this time and them gradually move a little apart to become two individuals once again.

This 'Honeymoon period' is nicely long enough to have an offspring. Nature does not intend for a life long individual pairing. Since infidelity often equals divorce and since infidelity is common it may be better for a society to be a little more 'natural.'

The reason that all things in relationships and sexuality are stuffed up in many Western countries is due to two major influences. One is the procession of English Queens who were somewhat, um, well ...... what do you call it when a person orders all chair legs to be covered so men won't see them and get sexual ideas? The second influence is the Roman Church and that is a group of celibates (or child rapists) teaching the rest of us how to live our lives.

Perhaps our society needs to evolve a little in this important area.


edit on 30-5-2012 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 10:02 AM
The question is NOT whether its natural. Its about love and really seeing your love/wife/husband, as your best friend, with the concept, it is an honor to be here on earth, trying to love people to wellness and to raise the frequency of the planet. This shouldn't be a self indulgent trip, its a work assignment for most souls, to grow bigger. And the family you're with is the family many have been with for a while, trying to get this right.

So be your spouse's best friend and don't devastate their cores, betray their love, or hurt their feelings.

The body suit and its urges needs to be overcome by the Spirit seeking within to wake up and gain itself and memories back.

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 10:08 AM
Its a scary though to know all these facts

I do agree that the younger you are the more likely you are to carry on such things like affairs. Ive been also tempted and resisted many advances from the opposite sex at work due to thinking clear and straight. Its easy to have just gone along and cheated but now that Im older, I think about the consequences my actions would bring.

5 or 6 years ago, I probably would have done so and not cared. Now, I take into consideration the other persons feelings and how I would feel if I was being cheated on.

Also after reading this... I may just never get married again.

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 10:13 AM
reply to post by MysticPearl

Excellent discussion, personally I think that it is an inherent part of a persons own moral code. It is as natural to be either way and to deny either is unnatural.

I have found in my life that it is rare to find individuals which have the code of monogamy, even the word itself was probably created by those who could not find it within their code to be with only one life mate. Monogamy sounds so close to monotony and that is what it is for those who do not possess the moral code of a singular lifemate.

In nature their are some animals who mate with everything walking and the same can be said for some that mate for life.

It is beautiful either way imo. But much more rare and special to be a lifemate in body, mind, and soul.

posted on May, 30 2012 @ 04:42 PM
reply to post by MysticPearl

How do they make a case that "monogamy is a myth" when at least half of people will remain faithful? Even if only 25% of all people remain faithful, a quarter of the married population is still significant. And in no way is flirting or thinking of other people breaking rules of monogamy.. that's just ridiculous. It's one thing to flirt, quite another to shack up. I think the biggest problem facing monogamy is culture.. our culture is very anti-monogamous.

(why I'm a supporter of monogamy: I've been with my wife since we were 13 so I might be biased lol)
edit on 5/30/2012 by Rockpuck because: (no reason given)

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