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Letitia Falk

Lab Technician/Recent MSc graduate, University of British Columbia

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Is self-consciousness a product of the expectations imposed by monogamy?

This idea came to me while reading "the Ethical Slut" by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.

Many of society's (at least Judo-Christian) values uphold the ideal that one man and one woman til "death do us part" is the ideal form of romantic relationship.

All of this emphasis on finding our "other half", our "soul-mate" or our "Mr/Mrs Right" has got me to thinking what an awful lot of pressure that is to hoist onto another person! If we only get one chance to get it right, no wonder we are so interested in not just finding, but also having the perfect body, brain, interests, career etc in order to be competitive in the relationship market.

If society was more accepting of the reality that most of us will go through multiple partners in our lifetime (and dare I even suggest that some of us may have more than one partner at a time?) then what I wonder is if that realization would make us more appreciative of each person's true strengths without trying to make our partner fit into a mold or expecting them to fulfill our every need?

And if we didn't feel like we have to live up to these sorts of expectations, or be afraid of our partners leaving us if they find someone better (at least in the case of polyamory), would we be more able to appreciate ourselves and others?

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    Dec 2 2011: Laetitia great discussion albeit a controversial one. Thank you for raising it.

    One factor hindering development of a sociobiological framework of mating system theory has been a recurring tendency for field workers to search for and discuss "adaptiveness" in the context of survival and well-being of the population or species. (Emlen&Oring, 1977)

    Personally I feel like the concept of socially required monogamy is a perversion or distortion from natural evolution. We all understand the basic carnal natures of mating, yet our societies depend on a system that stifles them. In my opinion, finding love should be an accident, not a demand. Something to hope for, but not expected. I believe this is the root of the issue you are discussing.

    When we as a community place a 'scarlet letter' on those who may simply be unlucky to not have found the perfect love- we create a pressure that motivates them to either commit to a relationship that is unhealthy from fear of being judged a harlot or womanizer, or to be a nonparticipant.

    How is that healthy? I would be very interested in any studies done on the history of monogamy in society and an unbiased analysis of its impact on mental health, and relationships. I have a strong feeling that the majority of the negative factors of polyamory that motivated the development could be somewhat controlled through modern technology and innovation. Examples might include STDs, childbirth, and division of assets.
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      Dec 7 2011: Thanks for your comment Timothy. I agree that a lot of what determines the success of a marriage is luck in getting it right the first time. Perhaps Monogamy is in fact the ideal (routed in our evolutionary past and need for pair-bonding), but Polyamory and Serial Monogamy are paths to finding a partner that you can truly be Monogamous with?

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