Monogamy is rare when it comes to animals but in case of humans, it has been followed since decades. When we can have multiple sex partners why do resort to just one? Why did several cultures restrict one man to stick with one woman and vice versa?
Let’s first see the benefits of polygamy (having more than one partner)
- There is plenty of sperm and most of it can be used effectively with multiple partners.
- If a child has different fathers, he can be well protected.
- The most important benefit, man will never be bored.
So why was monogamy invented and why is it favored so much in so many cultures?
When humans changed their lifestyle from hunter gathering and settled down to farming, polygamy died out. A group of researchers writing in Nature communications gives us the possible reasons.
Risk of STI’s
Hunter gathered society was small and so the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections were less. Even if there happened to be someone infected with STI, it did not pass on and died out due to small size of population. Also, hunters did not travel far. On the contrary, agricultural societies expanded rapidly and so did diseases. Polygamous individuals were punished to control the spread of diseases.
If an epidemic of STI’s broke, it posed sever dangers to man. An outbreak of syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhoea could lead to infertility or even death. Earlier, men were not equipped with technology so they could do nothing to treat these diseases.
If a man was the father of a child, he needed to protect him so he could have a heir. If he didn’t look after his family well, his children would be killed by other men. They would then use the female for their sexual pleasures. Thus, to protect lives of infants and prevent them from being murdered, monogamy was adapted.
As population rose, land became scarce. More heirs meant more division of land. Hence, the value of land would decrease letting poverty set in. Monogamy was the key to this problem as only true heirs would inherit their parents estate.
There are many theories that support the evolution of monogamy such as female competition for males and guarding one’s man. Now, technology have found ways to beat down STI’s and contraceptives prove to be an added advantage. But man is keeping up with his ancestors and limiting himself with one partner.