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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 7 2011: I think our need for pair bonding evolved from the helpless state of a pregnant woman. At the dawn of our species after a male impregnated a female, she would eventually become helpless and needy of his protection and services for gathering food, a state which extended into the early life of the child.

    As I quoted from Emlen and Oring above, 'adaptiveness' has hindered the development of a sociobiological framework for mating. This is because we as a species have created parameters for mating outside of what is evolutionarily necessary. Marriage is an example of this. It has no place in the evolutionary process, in fact I believe it actually hinders natural selection in that, by limiting each X to one Y, (in heterosexual terms), we place a limit on the frequency of interaction, thus slowing the rate of genetic mutations.

    Of course I believe that this adaptation towards monogamy has occurred simultaneously with diminishing returns on the genetic mutations necessary. We have simply grown too intelligent and clever to require much more change. Now it is necessary for our species to become more selective about mating to slow population growth.

    Now for me to be opinionated-

    All that aside, the point is that the man made religious rule; monogamy, doesn't play a part in our natural evolution, and as thus will not 'fit' with how our brain functions. Any deviation from what nature intended is likely to create undue stress on a human. This is more easily observable in attempts by homosexual people to 'straighten' out because 'the church says so.'

    I say let your love come naturally, if it takes 10 tries, so be it. If you are lucky, and try enough times, it will happen as it is meant to. After all, that is why we are all here.

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