Straight Men Are More Jealous About Sex Than Straight Women

Straight Men Are More Jealous About Sex Than Straight Women

In a study of 64,000 people, conducted by Chapman University, straight men were more likely than straight women to be most upset by sexual infidelity (54 percent of men vs. 35 percent of women) and less likely than straight women to be most upset by emotional infidelity (46 percent of men vs. 65 percent of women). From the write-up:

“Participants imagined what would upset them more: their partners having sex with someone else (but not falling in love with them) or their partners falling in love with someone else (but not having sex with them). Consistent with the evolutionary perspective, heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women to be upset by sexual infidelity and less likely than heterosexual women to be upset by emotional infidelity. Bisexual men and women did not differ significantly. Gay men and lesbian women also did not differ.”

This is the largest study to date on infidelity, so it’s worth considering, especially in light of contradictory perspectives that suggest there should be no difference between men and women. That theory intimates that men and women are the same and that our perspectives on jealousy and sex are only shaped by society. In fact, I’m in the middle of reading “Sex at Dawn,” which spends 300 pages suggesting that very thing – that we are historically polygnous like bonobos, and that men and women should have the same reactions to sex.

For most of our history (pre-agricultural revolution), people lived in groups of 150 and everyone had sex with everyone. That may be true, but even if we’re WIRED that way, our society isn’t set up that way any more.

This study directly challenges that worldview, noting that “men are socialized to be masculine, which includes having great sexual prowess. If a man’s partner commits sexual infidelity, this brings into question his sexual prowess and therefore threatens his masculinity, which leads him to react more negatively to his partner committing sexual rather than emotional infidelity. In contrast, women are taught to think relationally and to be the emotional nurturers in a relationship. If their partner commits emotional infidelity, this may threaten her sense of self more so than if her partner commits sexual infidelity.”

Personally, I don’t know how I feel about this. My allegiance isn’t to my biases but to the facts. Christopher Ryan, one of the authors of “Sex at Dawn,” makes a passionate case for why monogamy and jealousy isn’t natural; that, in fact, for most of our history (pre-agricultural revolution), people lived in groups of 150 and everyone had sex with everyone. In my opinion, that may be true, but even if we’re WIRED that way, our society isn’t set up that way any more. So instead of telling people that they SHOULDN’T be jealous or threatened by sex outside marriage, I look at studies like this that tell me – regardless of what our ancestors did – that both men and women are bothered by infidelity.

Ryan’s point is that people are not built to have sex with one person forever. Attraction towards others is normal. And it seems sad and unfortunate that we should repress a lifetime of continued erotic desires for others all for the sake of “marriage”. I actually agree with him. (And we’re both married.)

Open marriage sounds a lot better in theory than in practice, because it assumes no insecurity or jealousy.

I just don’t know a realistic alternative to marriage/monogamy, given that most of us are profoundly uncomfortable with our spouses sleeping around and potentially falling in love with someone else. Whether the root of this discomfort is biological or sociological doesn’t matter. Open marriage sounds a lot better in theory than in practice, because it assumes no insecurity or jealousy.

But seriously, how many people do you know who are not insecure or jealous of their partners having sex with someone else? That’s the only reason that I think monogamy – despite its flaws – is the best and most realistic option we have for successful long-term relationships. And if you don’t value stability – if you’re comfortable swapping out partners every two years when the chemistry dies down – then you should probably not get married.

Oh, and for more reading on this subject, check out:

Is Monogamy Biological?

Is Monogamy Harder for Men or Women?

Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Ben

    Makes sense. In the Caveman Days, if a man was sexually unfaithful but remained relationally committed to a woman, she continued to enjoy his providence and protection. If a woman was sexually unfaithful but remained relationally committed to a man, he risked spending time, effort, and resources on offspring not genetically his. For purely evolutionary purposes, the one was a lesser betrayal than the other.

    1. 1.1
      Janie

      Good point. I’ve thought for awhile that I still have that mentality. I could maybe see forgiving a drunken one night stand that he regretted, as long as our relationship was still good. But if I found out he was falling in love with a co-worker, or something, for example, I’d probably go crazy, even if he was going to try to remain physically faithful. But I’ve always thought guys were more the other way, how you said. Interesting that this article confirms my suspicions.

      1. 1.1.1
        Sass

        Janie, perhaps you’ve hit on the difference. Men are more concerned about the physical aspect of cheating while women are more concerned about the emotional.

  2. 2
    Stacy

    I can only speak for me…

    I will leave a man for sexual infidelity at the drop of a hat…you don’t get two chances with me for that. However, I must admit that I ‘may’ (and I say that loosely because it largely depends on the situation) forgive emotional infidelity. I cannot understand how emotional infidelity could even remotely be ‘better’ but as a woman and after reading the article, I guess I can see the logic.

    However, and back to my original point, since sex can expose you to all manners of STDs in addition to the possibility of pregnancy and the soul ties (my spiritual belief) that one can acquire from laying down and becoming ‘one’ connectively with another, I put physical infidelity on an entirely different level than emotional.

  3. 3
    Stacy

    Additionally,

    I don’t know if I buy the ‘we aren’t meant to be monogamous’ bid. I don’t buy it because I believe monogamy, like anything else, is simply a choice. And, any type of polygamous relationship(s) tend to much more often than not, lead to dire consequences for the family and children (modern).

    I think if we weren’t meant to be monogamous, we simply won’t have such bad consequences for not being so. While some of those consequences are societal based, others aren’t (diseases, negative consequences on children’s well being, etc.). In addition, if we weren’t meant to be monogamous, why do we ‘naturally’ tend to have such negative feelings about any other arrangement?

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You’re having a hard time distinguishing your feelings about monogamy from biology.

      Desire to be loved is natural. So is desire to sleep around. Both are real – not just the part that YOU want to be real. Most people are willing to override their desire for promiscuity to build long-term relationships, but, as you know, there are millions of relationships that suffer from low sex or no sex. (15-20% of marriages). That loss of sexual desire is directly correlated to the monotony of monogamy. It’s hard to get excited about the same person for four decades, just like it’d be hard to get excited about eating your favorite meal every day for the rest of your life.

      Check out Sex at Dawn and Mating in Captivity, which elaborate on these concepts further. Instead of getting upset that monogamy, for the most part, kills lust, the question is how you can maintain it within a long-term relationship. That’s the challenge – not railing against people who speak the unspoken truth: both men and women value variety… especially men.

      1. 3.1.1
        Stacy

        Evan,

        But I don’t think that simply having the desire proves we weren’t meant for monogamy. Shucks, I have the desire for things I know are unrealistic.lol Also, many of us tend to go through periods when we have the desire for both monogamy and variety. And, while we may at times have the desire, we again weigh the consequences and make choices accordingly.

        While I agree with you that monotony does create a measure of sexual discontent, I think that there are also major problems we can point out with being polygamous as well. In other words, there are issues no matter what side we take. If we give in to the variety, many people tend to become damaged because of it (whether it’s again, through the affinity to get more diseases/emotional dissonance,etc…)….there are many studies that show that sleeping around causes unhappiness and discontent. For instance, http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2011/07/men_are_from_cuddle_women_are_from_penis.html

        Men become unhappy when they have more sexual partners over time.

        So in essence, I am not against variety for the reasons you stated and I am not ‘railing’ against it.lol I am simply stating that I see no clear evidence why polygamy is even close to being better than monogamy.

        I will look up the books you’ve suggested.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Once again, you’re missing it. I am not saying that polygyny is “better”. I’m saying it’s actually our natural state – back from a time when men and women had 150 person tribes and shared food, resources, and sex partners. Why is this hard to understand? Just because something is natural doesn’t mean we have to do it. But let’s not pretend that desire for a variety of partners is something that is exclusive to lying, cheating, amoral men. It’s exclusive to pretty much everybody when you get right down to it.

  4. 4
    Di

    Monogamy = scientifically-backed biological principle in humans as well as other species. My biology and evolution textbooks not only support this, but explain the importance of monogamy in certain species. Yes, cheating happens in these species, but monogamy is still the norm. We *are* meant to be monogamous. Sometimes, this is thwarted by our desire for more optimal genetic pairing, but even female birds don’t leave their life partners for the next door neighbor.

    Now for my personal opinion: our issue as humans is our complexity in thinking and communication, and our horrid ability to project ourselves onto others. From all of the reading I’ve done, it seems that promiscuity most often stems from deeper and/or more complex issues than monotony. Let’s not forget the various types of abuses one might suffer throughout his or lifetime. Greater complexity seems to beget more exceptions to the rule.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Di, there is virtually NO monogamy in nature. Our closest relatives are the polygynous bonobos. So instead of writing about what you WANT to be true, how about you pick up a copy of Sex at Dawn, read it and then report back here if you still believe that monogamy is natural. It’s not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the optimal way to live.

      1. 4.1.1
        Clare

        I’m not going to offer an opinion on whether or not monogamy is natural for humans, as I think it’s a deeply personal issue, and differs between individuals, and that individuals can find themselves anywhere on a continuum from one extreme to another.

        But as to you saying there are no examples of monogamy in nature – what about dolphins? and penguins? and parrots? All these creatures are monogamous.

      2. 4.1.2
        Rancor

        The key truth that “Sex at Dawn” completely misses is that women become very picky when they’re ovulating – the rest of the month is when the bulk of the guys get their chance. Sexual selection is a very real force, even in humans.

    2. 4.2
      Scott

      We are wired to be serially monogamous. Monogamous for the 5 – 7 years it takes to get through pregnancy and the kid being able to handle themselves within the group. Hence the “7 year itch”. Once the kid is old enough to walk / talk / distinguish what foods to put in their mouths and which not to eat, both males and females are wired to start looking for another partner. Helps mingle the genes.

      Not shocking that each gender gets more upset by the thing that is easier for their partner to obtain and harder for themselves to obtain. In other words, I get very jealous when my partner gives away what should be exclusively mine. I get jealous when my partner gives away what is harder for me to replace. I get jealous when my partner gives away something which, form my perspective, is often in limited supply. So men get jealous when women “give away” sex and women get jealous when men “give away” emotional connection. No surprise there.

  5. 5
    Stacy

    I should rephrase, ‘I see no clear evidence that we have a natural affinity toward polygamy’.

  6. 6
    Ben

    I’m not sure I like this talk in the comments about whether we’re “meant” to be monogamous.

    “Meant” by whom? If you mean by God, then it’s a matter of religious dogma and it’s pointless to try to convince anyone of it unless they happen to share the same basic assumptions.

    By “nature,” or “evolution,” or something abstract like that? Nature doesn’t “mean” for people to embrace one lifestyle or another, that’s anthropomorphizing. Evolution isn’t goal-oriented or prescriptive.

    You can make an argument that because we spent a large portion of our evolution in a certain environment, our genes create a drive in us to act in ways that would be adaptive for a human being in that environment… but that doesn’t mean that those are the best ways to act in the environment in which we now find ourselves. You can take those drives into account without treating them as the be-all end-all.

    I find that questions like this become simpler to deal with once you let go of quasi-mystical thinking about what people are “meant” to do. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

  7. 7
    Andrew

    The commentary on here (not the article itself mind you) really establishes in my mind how strong of control culture has over the mind. The concept is eminently easy to understand and well supported by the current theory of evolution that is backed by decades of examples and data. If you disagree with the manner in which the theory has been formulated or the data has been collated and collected then so be it. OR if you have a different theory then so be it. To say, however, that you don’t see clear evidence that polygamy is natural is just a denial that originates in the fact that the science does not support but instead is exactly opposite of the model of modern society, which some people have tremendous amounts of energy. It is kind of analogous to gay marriage. I have no doubt that being with a same sex lover is a drive that is also biological in nature bit society in a very short period of time has largely abandoned that model of thinking, in many ways do to the science. Of course you’re going to have the simple minded folks who will still say that gay folks shouldn’t be allowed to marry but that is religiously inspired and in my mind also going against the science. The only difference between the two is one thought is largely culturally inspired and perpetuated and the other largely religiously inspired and perpetuated.

  8. 8
    SAL9000

    Man evolved to be inherently monogamous(ish), or more appropriately, being inherently monogamous(ish) was a cornerstone of Man’s evolution. There is a very simple test for this. Also, check the pedigree of the authors esp. the guy ;). Also, they’re married to each other an in an “open” relationship.

    Man isn’t a monkey or chimp or whatever and otherwise it’s okay to state with pride that Man is singularly unique (and the best thing ever!) in nature. I will say however what IS unnatural are the modern punitive measures for the dissolution of a monogamous relationship; particularly getting ruined in family court.

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sorry, Sal. I’m not sure if you’re a Creationist or whatever, but we are descended from animals and fall somewhere between chimps and bonobos as our nearest relatives. Neither is monogamous, nor is pretty much any other species on the planet. To suggest otherwise may be your wishful thinking, but it’s certainly not based on science, facts or evolution.

      1. 8.1.1
        Holly

        We are not descended from animals. We share DNA with many creatures who also share it with each other, but the idea that we come from animals is evolutionary fallacy. Humans share 85% of our DNA with mice and rats (which is the reason why those species make up 90% of the animals used in research), but we are no more descended from them than we are from the apes. We share many genetic similarities with other species, but a fish is not a bird, a bird is not a dolphin, a dolphin is not a pig, and a pig is not a human. There is no possible way that evolution could have made an animal into a human – if there were, then people would have all kinds of interesting adaptations based on their individual habitats. Humans come from humans – otherwise, why haven’t we continued to develop past our current state?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Congratulations, Holly, for winning the 2015 Creationist award for most factually incorrect comment on the blog. I’m not sure if you can be beat, but I’m hopeful. Now go back to the place that told you the world is 6000 years old instead of 14 billion years old and tell them how stupid and arrogant we science-based atheists are.

        2. starthrower68

          I don’t get the sense she was trying to be snotty with you Evan. She wasn’t trying to convert anyone, just stating what she believes. I know you’re not keen on people or matters of faith, but just stating what one believes is not judging or a call to coversion. There’s room enough for all on this earth as long as nobody is bring hurt. 😊

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          The problem, Starthrower, is that not all beliefs are created equal. Someone who doesn’t believe in evolution is not someone to be taken remotely seriously. She might as well say that 2+2=5.

        4. SAL9000

          You are indeed implicitly correct. Evolutionary theory does not explain the birth of modern Man. Something really really really really really BIG happened at some point and all the Lefty bullying in the world doesn’t change this irrefutable fact.

        5. Holly

          I don’t remember saying anything about Creation in my comment. I simply stated that it is not true that humans came from apes. I think you’re just as guilty, Evan, of ignoring things that you don’t want to believe as you accuse those who disagree with you to be. Evolutionary theory is full of a lot of significant holes, and there is also a lot of science that refutes it. Those are also facts, are they not?

          You also ignored my question about the evolution of humans. I’ll ask again, what are your thoughts as to how we’ve remained in our current state for so long? If evolutionary theory is to be believed, and humans really can change that radically over time, then why haven’t we begun developing other traits? I truly am curious as to your thoughts, so please don’t read into my questions as attacks.

        6. Shaukat

          @Holly,

          You didn’t direct your question at me, but I’d like to answer it nevertheless.

          ” Evolutionary theory is full of a lot of significant holes, and there is also a lot of science that refutes it.”

          If the first part of your sentence is meant to convey that there are still many unanswered questions which the theory of evolution has not yet answered, then it is correct. This is true of all scientific theories, however. Religious folks often like to point to unanswered questions and then posit that science is an inadequate framework for understanding the world, therefore God must exist. You misunderstand the nature of scientific theories; virtually all established theories contain some holes. Einstein’s theory of relativity, for example, breaks down at the point of a singularity (center of a black hole), and thus far physicists have been unable to combine relativity and quantum mechanics to produce a novel theory of gravity which would explain such phenomenon. This does not lead them to throw up their hands and proclaim that physics has broken down, and we must turn to God.

          The second part of your sentence is baseless, and reminds me of the climate change deniers who claim that certain science refutes the notion of climate change. A literature search conducted by an academic a while back found that over the last several years only one peer reviewed article had been published calling into question climate change, compared to thousands affirming it. I doubt the creationists could even produce one. If there is a lot of science that refutes evolution, as you say, can you please provide one scholarly, peer-reviewed article to support your claim?

          “I’ll ask again, what are your thoughts as to how we’ve remained in our current state for so long? If evolutionary theory is to be believed, and humans really can change that radically over time, then why haven’t we begun developing other traits?”

          This question of yours reveals a profound ignorance of the science behind evolutionary theory. First, as a I stated in my previous comment, scientists have been able to corroborate a great deal of the predictions posited by Darwin. Micro-biologists have identified the biological mechanisms driving natural selection, and experiments have allowed them to observe evolution unfolding. Evidence of transitional species, such as Neanderthals and Homo-erectus, supports the argument that humans descended from apes.

          Furthermore, humans have developed additional traits through evolution. For example, babies are now being born with fewer wisdom teeth. If what you mean is why hasn’t a completely new species emerged from homo-sapiens, that’s a process that takes millions of years. Human civilization began 10,000 years ago.

      2. 8.1.2
        starthrower68

        Yes that is a the secular world view. 😊

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          People are entitled to their own beliefs about what happens to us when we die. They are not entitled to their own facts. Sorry, if that’s offensive, but there’s a difference between being tolerant of different opinions and being tolerant of willful stupidity – people who ignore facts because the facts contradict their beliefs.

        2. starthrower68

          I’m going to refuse to be offended. Everyone can learn to agree to disagree agreeably. 😉

      3. 8.1.3
        SAL9000

        Creationist? You’re making a fundamental error in logic – because Man has arms, legs, fingers and toes, sorta like a monkey or ape that that means he is sorta like a money or ape. This is grossly incorrect (and not only implicitly so via the authors’ super shady credentials).

        The foundations of logic, language, imagination – attributes that not only no other species on the planet has but attributes that led Man to landing on the, building skyscrapers, writing War and Peace – are cemented in first few years of life and why the a human child is the slowest of all species to mature – it takes time. At the dawn of Man this process could ONLY happen with two primary caregivers (i.e., two parents in a monogamous(ish) relationship).

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Sorry, SAL9000 and Starthrower68. No matter how much you try to justify your beliefs, they are incorrect. We are directly descended from apes and we are not a naturally monogamous species. You have only your feelings working for you, just not the facts. Read any book about evolution. The Bible’s not gonna help you with this one.

        2. SAL9000

          I only state three unarguable and irrefutable facts: Man is singularly unique in nature, mountains of science logically and factually assert that Man is inherently monogamous(ish), and evolutionary theory plainly states that it does not explain the birth of modern Man (i.e., the proverbial “Missing Link”). I do not comment on, refute, endorse any other theory, hypothesis, fact or school of thought. I also do/will not malign those that think differently than I do.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          SAL9000 – Those aren’t facts, my friend. They’re beliefs. Man is singularly unique in nature? No, we’re just at the top of the evolutionary food chain, with bigger brains and opposable thumbs. That doesn’t mean that God pointed his finger on Day 6 and BZZZT – created man. We evolved over millions of years. This is not in dispute, no matter how much you want it to be. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_of_Progress

          Man is inherently monogamous? Go pick up Sex at Dawn, written a couple of years ago. There are virtually NO monogamous species, and man didn’t invent monogamy until the agricultural revolution. That’s science. That’s history. And your mountain of evidence crumbles. Monogamy is man made. As is religion. Read The History of God by Karen Armstrong if you want to learn more.

          Finally, I have no idea about how we got here. But neither do you. Either way, it doesn’t impact that evolution is real and monogamy is not natural, which is the point of the discussion. Unlike you, I malign people who ignore facts because they contradict their beliefs. Show me facts (not beliefs) that contradict evolution and I’ll get on board. Otherwise, you’re not worth arguing with. Sorry, man.

        4. starthrower68

          I can’t speak for SAL, but I have long since made peace with the fact that folks are going to think.what they think about what I believe, and I can’t do a thing about that but live in peace. I’m only accountable for me. 😊

    2. 8.2
      marymary

      Humans aren’t descended from apes we have a common ancestor with apes.
      I don’t think we’re top of evolution, all animals alive today are winners whether they’re worms or lions, and the animals in a billion years will be winners too.
      Humans are adapting to their environment same as animals are, that’s why there are populations who tolerate high altitudes or have high incidence of sickle cell. Who’s to say that given enough time we won’t split off into different species?

  9. 9
    Morris

    As medical breakthroughs keep happening and future generations live well beyond 100 years of age. I feel this debate will be settled. I just can’t image marriages that last a century to become the norm. We’ll pair up to procreate and raise children. But I don’t think marriage will be a necessary part of that equation.

  10. 10
    Caleb

    Mr. Katz, I completely agree with you but I’m confused on your stance. You always tell women things that a man should do and would be happy to do to win her over: initiate contact, call first, ask her out first, plan all the dates, etc… and you tell women all they have to do is sit back and let him do all the work, because men love doing that. But what I don’t understand is, the actions you describe are mostly Alpha male qualities, yet most men aren’t Alpha males. I don’t think most men are Beta’s either, I think more men fall somewhere in between.

    So why do you advice women to expect the positive Alpha actions from men? More Beta men are sexually loyal then Alpha men, more Beta men are better long term husband material than Alpha men, we contribute to the household and raising the children more, then Alpha men. Yes I know Alpha men have more confidence and women love confidence, but is it confidence or just that Alpha men don’t care if he loses a particular woman because he knows that he can find another women easily, so no women is important to them?

    I guess I’m just asking why don’t you advice women to met men half way during the courting phase of a relationship if you know men are more prone to seek sexual variety, especial Alpha men, but you tell women that the actions of the Beta male (fear of initiating contact first, fear of seeming needy by always calling first, fear that she isn’t really into him because he is always the one asking her out but she never calls him to ask him out on a date or to initiate a date, etc), are the actions of a guy who isn’t really into her. We are, we just need to know that she wants us, you make it seem like every woman who smiles and acts interested on a date is really into the guy and not just being kind. You love science, but doesn’t science tell you that every man can’t be an Alpha, because everyone can’t be the leader of the pack, or there would be no pack.

    Yes Every women wants a man with an Alpha’s positive qualities, and you say that’s okay because it’s natural, but men wanting variety of sexual partners and not to settle down with one partner is also natural, but you advise women that isn’t okay, if he cheats on her or lies to her just to get sex, she should dump him. Both traits are Evolutionary and natural, like you said monogamy isn’t natural, which is backed up by science.

    Anyway, I sincerely am not trying to debate or attack you Mr. Katz, I just want to understand your thoughts on this subject. I know you advices us Beta’s to just fake being more confident, you tell us that as long as she keeps saying yes, she likes us, but it’s not easy for me to do. I’ve been used, lied to and hurt by many, many women who just wanted to not be at home alone on a Saturday night, or enjoyed the attention of being desired, flirted with, and courted, but they dropped me the second the bad boy Alpha flirted with them, not caring that he has a history of being a player while guys like me are faithful, and once she is dumped or cheated on by him, she has the balls to try to come back to me like nothing happened. It seems like books like “the game” are the best option for average guys like me.

    1. 10.1
      Sass

      Hey Evan does Alpha and Beta male even exist in nature? Or is there only doing what I want vs allowing myself to be taken advantage of.

    2. 10.2
      Karl S

      Evan *does* advice women to meet men half-way by enthusiastically responding to men’s attempts at courtships through mirroring. It helps the man feel more Alpha and and positively reinforces his risk taking so he feels confident moving the courtship forward.

      Men Like Women Who Show Affection. Seriously.

  11. 11
    Adverbesque

    l have a very different perspective here. I am a 47 y.o. divorced woman. I have spent the last 2 1/2 years in nonmonogamous relationships. (FWIW I ended my marriage for reasons entirely unrelated to this topic. However, all of my relationships post divorce have been nonmonogamous.)

    As Evan says, science shows us that monogamy is not our norm. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to debate because it’s what people show us. You may have a rock-solid monogamous relationship, one where your husband has never cheated and you two have maintained a great sex life. That’s a terrific achievement — but even so, your husband would love to have sex with other women. (I’m not excluding women from this desire, but I’ve very certainly known women who swear they’ve never had other interests. For men, that happens exactly never.)

    That said, I’m no polyamory patriot. Nonmonogamy is not for everyone; it takes a lot of time and work. A. Lot. Evan, you’re wrong to say that open marriage presumes there’s no jealousy or insecurity; just the opposite. They’re givens, along with a whole bunch of other feelings. They are often a pain in the ass, if not flat-out painful. They’re also manageable, with the right approach and the right people. (An amazing guide for this is MORE THAN TWO, by Franklin Veaux.)

    Monogamy is easier in many ways. At the same time, it has its own risks including sexual boredom and viewing coupledom as an inherently safe haven. People change, all of them, no matter how many guests witness your wedding vows. And change often rankles, so much so that people will do all sorts of crazy things to avoid it. Nonmonogamy has an advantage here; it presumes change and you get a lot of practice dealing with it.

    To my mind, choosing mono or non is entirely personal. I know people — men and women — who could never live monogamously, or could never live nonmonogamously. There are advantages and challenges for both.

    But please: it’s pure self deception to believe there is any husband or boyfriend — alpha or beta — who doesn’t want to have sex with other women. That doesn’t mean he will, and it doesn’t make him a dog. But believing that desire doesn’t exist is nuts.

  12. 12
    AMC

    The other problem with the commentary that evolution is malarkey is that sometimes and historically speaking folks of that ilk have imposed the views on the rest of society. Often at the point of a sword or the barrel of the gun. They wouthe point of education in society and science in general is to grow and expand society, not to bring them baxk in time and shrink the knowledge base. So yes the thought is an offe

  13. 13
    AMC

    The other problem with the commentary that evolution is malarkey is that sometimes and historically speaking folks of that ilk have imposed the views on the rest of society. Often at the point of a sword or the barrel of the gun. They wouthe point of education in society and science in general is to grow and expand society, not to bring them baxk in time and shrink the knowledge base. So yes the thought is an offensive and quite frankly dangerous thought.

    1. 13.1
      starthrower68

      I am curious to know who exactly is having these “dangerous” thoughts and what you propose be done about them?

  14. 14
    AMC

    The dangerous thoughts that I am speaking about are that those who believe the bible to be literally true (as in Jonah really did live in the belly of the whale for three days). I have no problem in saying that the bible has many many truism about life even today. But they are metaphor. That is how the ancient mind thinks. The bible is a collection of oral wisdom. The closest thing that we have in our time are movies. Do not rely on movies, even historically based movies, to be factual. If you want facts check with historians; if you want the truth – that is the emotional truth – consult a story teller. Amistad, Shindler’s list, Lincoln, the list goes on of the historically based movies that are factually quite weak in their presentation of facts. The emotional truth that is conveyed by theses movies are gripping and moving. That is what the stories in the bible were to the ancient mind. Quite frankly, not even the ancients considered them to be literal truth.

    Those who believe in creation science AND are in power politically impose those views on us are dangerous. It has real life implications. It results in schools for entire states pushing an agenda that is not based on anything other than mere doctrine. In the early 1990s a small school district in Lancaster County Pa actually tried making the leap wholesale, feet first by drastically creating an agenda that was religiously inspired (and indeed the Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania found as much) that pushed “creation science”. Kansas started indirectly moving in the direction of pushing creation science in the late 90s when it stopped requiring evolution as a mandatory topic on the state standardized tests.

    If such policies were allowed to stand would indeed create a critical mass of educationally impoverished students. This country has a hard enough of a time with it’s educational standards. Why decrease the general weal?

    While our country has little if any serious religious conflict that is not the norm. If anything it is the exception. For what it’s worth, I think that you could make a very credible argument that gay conversion therapy and the suicides that were driven in part (sometimes solely) by religiously inspired teachings is religiously inspired violence. Slavery, segregation and all kinds of evils were religiously inspired. Teaching creation science is merely a gateway to that end. It is it’s intellectual sibling. It makes it easier to teach and covert. It makes it more likely that a person who is already deranged will find additional justification (what more justification do you need than god telling you to do it) to accomplish their sick acts.

    If you want to teach creationism, then go right ahead, but do it in religious schools. However, those same schools need to insure the general education of the children by also teaching the facts. Facts that have been borne by 150 plus years of hard core science, peer reviewed articles, books, indeed literally libraries of books on evolution. There is no doubt. Believe what you want to believe, but don’t teach only creationism to the exclusion of evolution; which you starthrower have not advocated, although you did ask what is so dangerous about those thoughts.

    1. 14.1
      starthrower68

      I fully expect to see, in my lifetime, the day when freedom of conscience is not allowed. See I could say anything you want to hear all for the sake of appeasement; but you’ll never really know if I actually changed what I believe or I am just paying it lip service. All kinds of laws can be passed and rules can be made to moderate my behavior, but as of yet, my conscience and thoughts cannot be controlled by another human being. Soon, mere behavior modification will no longer be enough.

      1. 14.1.1
        SAL9000

        The “alpha male” concept as applied to Man is pseudo science – at best it’s simply social commentary. You do yourself a disservice if you let it be a factor of how you view relationships. Also, men who bemoan “poor genes” are making excuses for being losers.

        1. SAL9000

          Oops. Meant to be at bottom. But yes, the thought crime paradigm is upon us, and it’s more than just bullying people. The next step, as alluded to a number of times in this thread, are thought/speech concerning global warming, abortion, definition of marriage, gender classification, etc.

        2. Rancor

          Believe me, I am well aware that I am doing myself a huge disservice following these lines of thought. It’s very emotionally difficult trying to apply evolutionary logic to humanity and I might have to give it up.

  15. 15
    Shaukat

    Darwin was, in fact, more right than even he knew. He had suggested that if one could prove that an organism or organ was irreducibly complex then perhaps his theory of evolution could be shown to be false. However, computer models have demonstrated that irreducibly complex organs such as the eye are the result of evolution, and developed through the same principle of natural selection as entire species. Scientific experiments, whereby certain organisms are removed from their natural environment and left on different islands have corroborated Darwin’s theory by allowing scientists to actually observe the process of evolution. Micro-biologists are now able to pinpoint the mechanism through which natural selection unfolds-mutation of enzymes and proteins which triggers “switches” in the DNA.

    There is also an abundance of fossil evidence which documents transitional species that provide the link between homo-sapiens and our primate ancestors; for example, homo erectus. Fossil evidence of transitional links exist for a wide range of different species. So Evan is correct when he says that there is not one shred of evidence to support the creationist’s arguments. Also Evan, just a friendly correction: the world is 4.5 billion years old, I think you were referring to the actual universe with the 14 billion figure:)

  16. 16
    Sass

    and married women even less

  17. 17
    Rancor

    Human females, like the females of every other species on the planet, want the best possible male chromosomes to pass along to their offspring. In our case the females are generally looking for a male who is tall, lean, athletic, strikingly handsome, intelligent, and well respected by others. The problem is that while every woman wants one of these “alpha males,” there just aren’t that many of them to go around.

    Now, our species could not have survived if only the top 5-10% of males had access to sex. This is because we rely on intense cooperation among males to compensate for the fact that we are individually very weak and slow. This cooperation could not have existed in an alpha-takes-all environment.

    The solution to this problem was for human females to be very promiscuous, as “Sex at Dawn” describes. But at those exact times when they are most likely to get pregnant, women are made to feel an overwhelming preference for alpha males. With this mechanism all the males get sex, and the females get the DNA they want. Apparently this is the balance evolution found.

    This model explains a lot of things, from the fact that women disguise when they are ovulating to the fact that they get horny even when they can’t get pregnant. And it also tells us that if a man is coping with betrayal, he really needs to find out where in her cycle his woman was when she cheated.

    1. 17.1
      marymary

      Rancour
      if that were true, wouldn’t there be many more tall,fit, intelligent men as those are the traits being passed on? Those men seem to be quite rare. You say yourself there aren’t enough of such men to go round.

      1. 17.1.1
        Rancor

        The institution of monogamous marriage appears to be interfering with the force of sexual selection in shaping our species. There are powerful social pressures on women to only have children after they get married, and again there just aren’t enough alpha males available to be husbands. So females are stuck with whatever men they can get to commit to them.

        I have read posts by males expressing despair at the mediocre genes they inherited and bemoaning the fact that their mothers didn’t cheat on their fathers with some handsome, brilliant cad. This is obviously a very difficult topic to discuss openly but one that is overdue for an honest airing.

        1. starthrower68

          Being that I am a person who likes to get to the bottom line, what would be the desired end result of such a discussion? That married women go out and cheat or that marriage be done away with altogether?

        2. Rancor

          I have no idea what the bottom line here is and I regret even posting my thoughts. I am the worst kind of hopeless romantic but I am struggling to reconcile that with my beliefs about the nature of female sexuality. Maybe I would be better off just refusing to think about this stuff from now on.

        3. twinkle

          @Rancor: Don’t get too upset about this stuff, we are much more than evolutionary biology. Women are attracted to different sorts of guys, as any woman who’s sat around with her gfs discussing men will attest to. Of course some types of men are more popular with women than others, but there’s quite a lot of variability in taste.

          People should not become all depressive or wishing they were like someone else. Maybe 1% of a person’s time can be spent like that, but not 10% or more. It is so pointless and destructive. Many women do this as much, if not more, than men.

          If it was all about biology, personality/character wouldn’t be a major factor in attraction but it definitely is. I am not the prettiest/smartest/most accomplished woman around, in fact sometimes I feel quite far from that, but guys always liked me a lot. Cos i’ve always known with absolute certainty that I’m lovable and show my uniqueness instead of trying to be like others. The majority of people are not like that; attractiveness-wise, they are shooting themselves in the foot. And carrying a deep insecurity and unhappiness to boot. Those depressive thoughts have to be abandoned. Sorry for kinda going off tangent 🙂

      2. 17.1.2
        Sass

        This is the problem with these “cave tales” that are so popular on the internet these days. They’re interesting, they seem rational on the surface (after all they are based on science) and they allow people justify their own behaviors and beliefs as well as their frustration with the opposite sex. But they should be taken with a grain of salt in modern society. Humans are supposed to evolve, after all, aren’t we?

  18. 18
    twinkle

    I think that Evan summed it up nicely in 3.1: “Desire to be loved is natural. So is desire to sleep around.”
    2 opposing forces. Most of us reach a stage where the desire to be loved in a mutually-monogamous relationship greatly exceeds the desire for variety of partners. A minority of pple were already at that stage all along.

    On the whole creationism vs evolution topic, I’ve never actually spent much time thinking about it cos I don’t think it’s a very pertinent question to answer; it doesn’t really affect our lives.. The pple who really annoy me are those who deny that climate change is taking place and that it’s manmade in origin…

    1. 18.1
      starthrower68

      See, it’s one thing to be annoyed at someone who disagrees with you, twinkle. But when we get to a place where we’re demanding that someone believes as we say they should, we heading down a wrong path. History has and continues to bear this out. One person believes we’re a direct descendant of apes, fine. But I’ll go back to what I previously said: Stan believes humans are a direct descendant of apes but Phil doesn’t. Now, Phil can tell Stan he does too, just to get Stan off his back, or to appease Stan. But Stan doesn’t really know if Phil is sincere. Stan cannot read Phil’s mind or control his thoughts and conscience. So then where does that leave us? A culture that only wants to be told what it wants to hear?

      1. 18.1.1
        starthrower68

        BTW, I should add that I am not trying to say, when I share what I believe, that you *must* believe as I do. Do I think there are some very good and compelling reasons why I think what I believe has made my life better and why I think faith can make a difference for others? Of course. But all I can do is share. I can’t impose upon the free will of another.

    2. 18.2
      Holly

      Yes, the desire to be loved and experiencing sexual desire to more than one person is natural, I agree. I’d just add that though both are natural, they’re not always good. For example, it is not good to make finding someone who will love us the main focus of life, to the exclusion of more important things. It is also not good for us to abuse our sexuality by spreading ourselves around. If we can’t learn to master our desires and say no, then what good is our yes going to be when we finally marry?

  19. 19
    Peter 51

    MOnogamy happens when two parents are required to raise the young. Birds are monogamous because one must sit the eggs. Humans are monogamous because big brains mean helpless babies. There is some view that tropical humans may be less monogamous than temperate zone (winter) humans. Humans are about the only monogamousa mammal. Another unique feature in humans is that women display like peacocks. This suggests that men’s choices are significant for women’s reproductive success. Men don’t take on just any sexually receptive woman as a reproductive partner. Men choose where to spend their resources = limited harem size (1.6 probably) and long term commitment, at least for high value partners.

    Australian Aborigines, the closest descendants of the first “out of Africa” migration are monogamous. Bushmen women tend to have serial. Relationships with high status men whose harems fluctuate. Evidence in both directions. Bushmen eat well. The Australian outback is tougher.

  20. 20
    Karl S

    I wonder whether there might be a chance for both predispositions (monogamous and monogamous) to thrive equally in a species, since evolution is not actually “survival of the fittest” so much as it is “survival of the good enough”. Humanity has dispersed itself enough for a multitude of different mating traits to pass on successfully without one gaining absolute supremacy over the other. I don’t have enough facts and figures at to back up that idea, but I don’t think it’s implausible.

    I think the issue of stability is a big factor in the success of monogamy. I’d say I’m naturally predisposed towards nonmonogomy, but I’m also sick of being dropped by people at the drop of a hat who know they can get always someone else. I’ve been the side-salad in enough people’s open relationships. They never fight for you if things get too busy or complicated.

    Maybe one can have the best of both worlds if they find a “primary” partner of their own who they can rely on to stick around while you both enjoy casual fun elsewhere, but otherwise I’m giving monogamy my best shot at the moment.

    1. 20.1
      Karl S

      *monogomous and nonmonogomous I meant before.

  21. 21
    rajai

    I believe EMK was asking the simple question “how do we balance the opposing forces of nature in marriage”, we desire to have sex with other people but we also want to keep the love we have with our mate. My answer is there is no solution other than what we do now, we repress/hold back our sexual urges in order to keep our marriage in tact. I would say men deal with it by masturbating to porn to get the variety they crave & women (who’s urges aren’t as strong) tend to seek the attention of other men when they crave variety via flirting etc. Maybe some use porn? Just my 2 cents. I’ve only been married 3 years & I’m already bored outta my gourd sexually with my husband, but I still love him very much. Our sex life is good & he still turns me on just takes a bit longer. He’s my best friend & I wouldn’t want to lose that just for a quick fling for the rush of a new partner/experience/variety.

  22. 22
    Sparkling Emerald

    My unscientific observation is that men seem to be eternally jealous. Just look at the sexual hypocrisy behind the double standard. Men (not all) get jealous of women for the men that they we’re with PRIOR to them, and I have experienced a man’s jealousy of my relationships AFTER we broke up. (The break up was his idea ) I really only care about a man’ other relationships while we are together. Some men seem to want a woman’s fidelity, before, during and after the relationship, while considering his own fidelity at any point to be optional.

  23. 23
    Karen

    From my years of experience and reading on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that men are physiologically polygamous because of nature’s push to spread seed to create as much life as possible. This doesn’t mean men have to go against the norms of a modern society like we have today. Women, I believe, are not “naturally” polygamous because of the amount of oxytocin she produces that bonds her to the first male she is captivated by. She has sex with him and is bonded to him as her protector and provider,albeit, for the survival of the species. Hormones and chemistry have more to do with behavior than we acknowledge.Both behaviors ensure the next generation.

  24. 24
    Artemis

    Everyone talks about male infidelity as not as important because a man can still provide and protect one woman even if he has kids with another…and another…and another…

    The fact is, the more women/kids a man has, the less time and yes, resources any one woman or child gets. It’s not a bigger crime for a man to “invest” time and money in a child that’s not “his” than it is for a man to divert his time and resources outside the primary family unit. The plus of monogamy is that almost all men have a chance at having a wife and children (not just the aggressive or high-status guys who hog all the women) and the women enjoy the concentration of the husband’s time and resources. It is very hard to share. Any account of polygamous family systems will show this to be true (the Bible, for starters, or modern-day polygamy in the middle east–or the movie Raise the Red Lantern, etc). The jealously and pain of step-families is caused by division of resources, favoritism, and sexual jealously too–there just doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.

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