How did monogamy become so normalized across almost all cultures and religions?


How did monogamy become so normalized across almost all cultures and religions?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Assume a society of perfect freedom to select your partners. Such a society is inevitably polygamous. Women choose to mate only with high status men and high status men choose to mate with as many women as they can.

However, this is often disastrous for societies.

For men who aren’t in the high status class, this means they have virtually no access to romantic partners. These men tend to become what is termed ‘surplus males’. This isn’t just bad for the men who are ‘surplus’ – but often devastating for society because surplus males have a tendency to turn violent and otherwise act in socially disruptive ways. One of the consequences of this is that polygamous societies tend to be violent and warlike.

On the other hand, women aren’t very pleased either. While women would prefer to mate with high status men, they’d prefer to *exclusively* mate with high status men. That is, they don’t want to share the resources of that high status male with other women. In a polygamous society, women have virtually no value to high status men and are treated as disposable objects. In practice, this means that women exert limited social, political and economic power in a polygamous society.

Note that these polygamous effects can be observed even in nominally monogamous societies. The U.S. is technically ‘monogamous’. But has polygamous characteristics. What actually occurs is that high status men may only be married to one woman at a time, but they’ll generally go through multiple wives – always selecting a high value (young, beautiful) wife to replace a low value (older, fading) wife. At the same time, they’ll also have (young, beautiful) women on the side as mistresses.

Given the inherent instability of polygamous societies, they tend to persist for shorter times than monogamous ones – and that means, over time, the majority of societies will be monogamous.

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