5 Reasons to Question Monogamy.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 4.9
Hearts 1.0
Comments 1.1
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
1 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.


After the hack of Ashley Madison, the cheating website, a bolder inquiry into sexuality is needed.

Let’s look at both monogamy and commitment with fresh eyes and consider five reasons to question both cultural ideas.

Let’s not oversimplify the deceit exemplified by Ashley Madison. Widespread cheating suggests sexual impulses exist beyond monogamy.

Many arguments against freer sexuality provoke fear and even persecution exemplified in slut shaming, honor killings and LGBT harassment.

The discovery of trial and error expands our choices. Discovery also exposes our mistakes.

For example, discovering what sex will not do liberates us from our imagination.

I treat lovers as friends—this word means nothing without freedom.

My friends come and go, make love with whoever they wish and speak their minds. If their pursuits separate us, their happiness is still precious. A friendship doesn’t require our desires to be always in harmony. I live in such friendships whether or not the relationship involves sex.

I realized my sexuality does not exist to serve anyone’s ideas, including my own. I don’t believe any biological imperative comes to us with cultural ideas attached. The radical differences in cultural tendencies orbiting sexuality through time (i) suggests a wider human capacity than any idea labeled “normal.” Rather than forcing our sexual impulses to conform to concepts, we should adapt our concepts to our actual circumstances.

Let’s consider two ape species, the chimpanzee and bonobos, they both share a common ancestor with humans. With chimpanzees an alpha male dominates the females. Notably, chimpanzees “cheat” when the alpha is not looking. In contrast, a matriarch leads bonobo groups. Individual bonobos frequently have sex with many others for pleasure and procreation. (ii,iii) Our closest animal relative, lives in a sexually open society.

History suggests monogamy and property probably emerged as ideas when humanity transitioned from hunter gatherers to a domestic society. (iv)

Farmers protected their land and produce from hungry people and humanity also realized procreation requires a male “seed.” Husbandry (v) as a concept now included women and children. In the last century women gained more freedom. Mutual possessiveness emerged as the dominant relationship custom bypassing emancipation from the people-as-property idea.

Our cultural deceit remains with monogamy, just search any dating websites with the keyword “discreet.”

When we attempt to live consciously without monogamy we don’t solve possessiveness as a problem by adding more lovers to possess. Imposing the expectations left over from monogamy on non-monogamous circumstances seems to me a mistake. If our ideas do not adapt to new circumstances, let’s modify our ideas, not people.

How do we know if monogamy doesn’t suit us?

Five reasons to question monogamy.

1. Any affection we feel in a relationship usually emerges when each person freely chooses to take part without obligation.

If we value a meeting for some reason, we may extend an invitation to meet again. If our affection arose mutually without commitment, to say, “this meeting feels so good, let’s radically change how we do things,” seems counterintuitive. Clearly, neither commitment nor monogamy created the joy we discover meeting someone. We don’t secure intimacy by restricting choices.

2. If we believe deep intimacy requires a commitment, we accept a logical premise about intimacy.

Let’s scrutinize our sexual beliefs, not just appeal to reason when it seems to support our beliefs. Let’s consider consciousness as a vast sky. Let’s imagine a bird, feelings and sensation represent one wing and reason the other. We need these wings working mutually to fly more consciously (less habitually) in the sky of our choices.

3. We do not intentionally destroy a delightful meeting, regardless many commitments fail.

Commitment, expectation, belief, habit, generalizing and routine all have something in common, they all involve a prediction! We treat our imagination as a crystal ball, especially when we imagine what a relationship ought to be.

4. If commitment does not guarantee affection, we should doubt the prediction and the control any commitment assumes.

On what do we base the belief in commitment, when we witness or have experienced many disappointed expectations? If we can explain good circumstances in relationships without commitment, then why assume commitment as a cause? Can we simply feel affection and attraction for each other? Can we delight in love without a commitment? Yes!

5. Commitment is a business standard and, when legitimized on paper, we can sue (divorce) the person who breaks the commitment.

Before we point to admirable committed relationships, let’s distinguish between the admiration for affections and fortunate circumstances. More importantly, does what we admire in these sexual relationships only exist in our imagination? Haven’t we felt surprise when ideal lovers split and we realize the difference between our imagination and reality? When we witness committed relationships breakup, obviously the commitment did not secure the relationship.

We cannot truly agree to love the same way tomorrow.

A guarantee is commerce morality not affection. We should not confuse longevity or cooperation with affection. Love doesn’t exclude usefulness. If we confuse utility with love we mistake means for ends, we risk feeling unloved when we can’t use people.

Friendships exist for their own sake and they can include sex. If we don’t demand results beyond affection we allow lovers more choices in life including other lovers and creativity. Free love demonstrates a unique virtue by protecting the alternatives our life offers us without threatening the affection.

Without monogamy and commitment we lose a false sense of security because now we can’t simply relegate relationships to habit or imitating others.

We love more consciously. Lovers don’t exist to serve our desires.

Let’s avoid four dangers: violence, coercion, recklessness (use condoms) and deceit.
These rules don’t create an ideal, they exist to stop harm. If we liken relationships to a sea voyage, we learn from yesterday’s journey, still, we must meet the sea anew with a will to learn. Sometimes our greatest joy happens in discovery.


How to spot a fundamentally good, genuine person and what to watch out for; and why someone in every relationship has to do this one simple thing:

Soul Mates & Choices: When the End is not the End.



 (i) Robert Briffault, The Mothers, Group-Marriage and Sexual Communism (The Macmillian and Co., 1927) 

(ii) Evolution: Why Sex?; Chimps And Bonobos,” PBS, WGBH Educational Foundation and Clear Blue Sky Productions, Inc, 2001

(iii) Sex at Dawn; Sex, Evolution, and the Case of the Missing Polygamists. Christopher Ryan, Psychology Today, 2010 

(iv) Reay Tannahill, Sex in History (New York: Stein and Day, 1982), 46-48.

(v) Husbandry 


Author: Todd Vickers

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 4.9
Hearts 1.0
Comments 1.1
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
1 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Dec 11, 2015 11:19pm

It’s obvious here that you have never been in true love before. I agree with Stephen, I think you’re confusing monogamy and commitment.

anonymous Dec 10, 2015 10:45pm

Actually what you seem to be questioning here isn't monogamy, its commitment. No matter how many ways you try to make it sound well thought out or hip it just comes across as immaturity.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 9:59pm

Yes, while sleeping with multiple people, remember to use condoms and wear dental dams.

anonymous Oct 1, 2015 1:01pm

ggod: So, patriarchy and monogamy have been around for hundreds, lets even say 10,000 years. But humans as a species go back almost 4,000,000 years. The "modern family unit" is a conception tied to agriculture and private property. Cultures that lack these concepts also lack the "modern family unit". They also lack divorce and the pain and suffering that goes along with that. No divorce means a more stable family unit. Read Christopher Ryan's "Sex at Dawn". Blaming women for the "downfall" of society, is just wrong, dude. Bonobos have "alpha" females, and the females protect each other from rape. We are not plants, rocks or minerals. We are animals. Being naked is natural.Shame, is not. We are taught shame. And the chimps are not sneaking around because they think it is wrong, but because they fear punishment. They do, on the other hand, have a strong sense of right and wrong, as do other mammals. Read Frans de Waal. Fascinating stuff. Peace!

anonymous Aug 29, 2015 8:57pm

You seem to have forgotten patriarchy and monogamy have been valued for hundreds of years. The modern family unit is being destroyed through feminism, social media, american culture in general, demoralization of women and emmasculation of men. This is a relatively recent phenomenon less than a hundred years. Why do u think our grand parents had less divorce rates than our generation? There is a reason monogamy was valued by society for so long and with the recent phenomenon of more and more women not valueing it can have detrimental affects on society. And your point that chimps practice open sexuality when the alpha is NOT around proves my point further. We are not animals in the sense that primates do not produce art, philosophy, literature and so on. Until they can u cant hold the argument its “natural”. You know what else is natural? Being naked. But that doesnt mean we can all start walking around naked without being shamed.

You can argue even chimps consider it wrong otherwise they wouldnt have to sneak around the alpha.

    anonymous Aug 31, 2015 7:46am

    We are animals in the sense that we engage in sexual competition and rivalry, sometimes even leading to murder, which you would call a "crime of passion". "You can argue even chimps consider it wrong otherwise they wouldnt have to sneak around the alpha." – or that they don't want to be killed by the alpha…

anonymous Aug 28, 2015 7:28pm

Wow, super interesting and deeply written article. I will definitely ponder these points you made. Very logical, but yet abstract and emotional as well. Thank you for writing this and sharing your views.

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Todd Vickers

Todd Vickers is an author and blogger with a focus on non-traditional sexuality and conscious self-inquiry through meditation. As a teen he began meditation as a way to overcome bad habits. He abandoned the idea of a god and felt most attracted to Zen. He became a disciple of Osho in 1988. He met Papaji in 1994 in Lucknow, an encounter that changed the course of his self-inquiry. Prior to this encounter, Todd placed a great deal of importance on experiences induced through meditation. Through Papaji’s influence, he saw that the concept of the self is unsustainable as are any spiritual experiences. He felt motivated to write in an attempt to bring out the best in spirituality and to point toward toward self-inquiry.

Todd has published three books on self inquiry:
Vickers, T. (2015). The Relevance of Kabir. Vickers Publications. ISBN: 9-7813100307-0-3
Vickers, T. (2001). Truth Like Fire. Vickers Publications. ISBN: 0-9672632-1-2
Vickers, T. (1999). The Paradox of Self Realization. Vickers Publications. ISBN: 0-9672632-0-4

Connect with Todd on Facebook and check out his blog.