Monogamy versus Polyamory

Which is healthiest? Monogamy or Polyamory

I received some feedback from someone who diagreed with my assertion that having multiple sex partners was unhealthy.  The person sent me two articles

The BBC says that early infatuation “tricks” people into long-term relationships

The Guardian says that DNA can determine your best partner and that bonding with someone else too young can be a mistake.

Here is my reply———————————

You make strong good points.  If I understand it, these are your points.
1) Part of a man’s attraction is his sexual experience with others
2) Couples who marry young are more likely to divorce
3) A couple that is formed during a polyamorous “lifestyle” are more sexually compatible
4) That early sexual attraction over a short term tricks people into forming long-term relationships that are inherently unstable over the long term.

So, the question becomes, is monogamy or polyamory more healthy for a person and for society?

Now, there is an easy answer and a more time-consuming one.  The easy one is that God already gave us the answer – in the Bible – and therefore we already know.  Polygamy is natural – and was practiced by the early Patriarchs – but the ideal was always 1 male and 1 female and “what God hath joined let not man put asunder”

But I am a scientist and a doctor as well as a Christian.  So I should look at natural revelation as well as Biblical.   God revealed himself in nature as well as in the Bible.

So let’s look at your assertions.  Firstly, you state that sexual experience makes a man more attractive.  Yes, this is probably true.  We know that many women have a biological desire for “bad boys.”   But here is where we have to admit that nature is sexist.  The same cannot be said for women.   The biological desire is for men to keep a harem of women to himself.    1-male to many-female polygamy.  Historically, this is what happens in any culture where some men gain ascendency over others.    But these cultures are also viciously anti-women – like the Islamist cultures we see in the media.  It is also true in some Christian communities in the Independent African Churches.  If men are to be like lions and maintain a pride of lionesses, then each man has to be able to fight to defend his pride and also police his pride to make sure that the females don’t run off with a younger more attractive lion.

So there is some doubt that the idea that “a man should have lots of women before he ties himself down” is the healthiest one.  It looks, instead, to be just a way to justify male-predatory behavior.

Secondly, you state that young couples get divorced sooner than older ones.  I haven’t looked that statistics up, myself, but this seems to accord from what I have heard, and I am willing to agree for the sake of the discussion that the statistics are as you say.

But this seems to be one of those Category 1 (Correlation is not Causation) errors.  Not all young marriages are equal.  A young person who marries in order to escape an abusive home situation is not likely to form a stable relationship.  Conversely, a couple from a stable culture (say the Amish) that marry at what we consider to be incredibly young age seem to form very long-lasting relationships indeed.   In current American culture, families are increasingly fragmented.  Admittedly, my patient base is not representative, but I am so happy when I see a patient from a stable family.  His or her prognosis is far, far more positive.  Also, the likelihood of this patient having a stable relationship is far better.

In short, the youth/age prognosis of marriage is confounded by too many other factors in order to use it as a guide.  In my experience of a 30 year marriage – coming into the marriage as paired virgins and remaining monogamous, has yielded many benefits that I see lacking in my polyamorous patients.

I also believe that your confidence in the third point (polyamory leads to stability) would be much harder to justify with statistics.  The plural of case history is not data, but I think that the stories from the “lifestyle” communities do not lead one to expect long-term marriages.  I understand that the women tend to be passed around a lot.

The article that you link to stating that early dopamine attraction “tricks” people into long-term relationships is true.  But isn’t this an argument for the health of long-term relationships?  If Biology is “tricking” people into making commitment that the Bible already told us were good, then isn’t this proof that God’s written revelation and his natural revelation are in sync.  Biology, using the process of evolutionary natural selection, has stated that long-term relationships are best for the long-term survival of the species.  That’s what Moses and Jesus told us also.

I’m sure that it is much more convenient to believe that sleeping around as a young man is good for you.  But, I don’t believe that it is.  I didn’t try it myself, but I have family members who have.  I believe that life-long monogamy is most healthy, and it is God-endorsed and, well, God commanded.