Rachael Hope, I didn’t read your comments before responding to Joe’s response — which is a bit lazy of me, but I was trying to do too many things at once first thing in the morning.
I absolutely support people actively choosing and embracing monogamy, but that’s mostly what isn’t going on. People are falling into the relationship paradigm that they have been told is right and the only one available to them. Obviously, people can break out of that, as you and I both have, but most people are deeply conditioned to monogamy. I do not believe that it is what’s natural for humans (although again, it’s still fine to choose it). For 97% of human history people were not monogamous. Men have only begun to be expected to be monogamous within the past 200 years or so. Enforced monogamy for women was a control mechanism to ensure parentage — so that people who now had land and other private possessions for the first time in history (at the advent of agriculture) could pass those along to heirs of the blood.
“Are there people out there with happy and healthy monogamous marriages? Sure, but overwhelmingly not, or not entirely, if you go by the statistics. Could monogamous married people put a lot of these same principles in place? Absolutely! But the fact of the matter is, most of them don’t because they are bought into a paradigm that was designed 10K years ago as a method of control. Sure, it’s evolved some since the time when a wife was literal property, but not all that much really. We didn’t have marital rape laws in all US states until 1993. So, many of those same ideas and constructs are alive and well in the institution of marriage today — which was my point; which was born out by the study that I cited about why women initiate divorce 70% of the time, but dating break-ups are 50/50.”
Is It Monogamy’s Fault?
A relationship style formed within patriarchy can’t help but have issues
Pair bonding of some kind is natural, I think, but not sexual or emotional exclusivity. I think this is what Joe Duncan means when he says that humans are kind of geared for both. And as you’ve noted, not all people who practice polyamory are living up to the highest possibilities of it — but I do firmly believe that it is a relationship system that at least has aspirations for individualism, egalitarianism, co-creating the relationship, communication, not taking your beloved for granted, etc.
Traditional marriage gives lip-service to some of this and leaves the rest off entirely. I cited a study in the above article that reports that something like 52% of Americans believe that the father is the lord and master of the home. Whether or not someone believes that in their personal relationship, an institution that is part of that kind of culture is going to inadvertently color it for nearly everybody — because most people aren’t undertaking the necessary work to deprogram from that. I view marriage as a very patriarchal thing (because that’s where the roots of marriage as we know it began). Even more than men having control over women, patriarchy is a dominance hierarchy all around. It fundamentally believes that someone has to be in charge (rather than partnering). Although this still doesn’t mean that poly is inherently better than monogamy in individual practice, as far as relationship systems go, I do believe it’s far superior largely because of the dependency and control that are a fundamental part of the roots of one, but not the other.