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Cheating, Sex, Marriage and Monogamy

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The big headlines, in almost every big media publication, right now, are about Dominique Strauss Kahn, chief of IMF, who has resigned form his post and Arnold Schwarzenegger, California governor, Movie star and former seven times Mr. Universe and former Mr. Olympia. These are just couple of other never ending stories in our lives, some of those make it to big news media and a vast majority of those never make to big media. There is one central point in these stories: man and / or woman cheating on his and / or her spouse and / or sexual partner. In United States, cheating is now the number on cause of divorce. Question is, why the people who were once madly in love with each other and decided to married each other, in other words, decided to commit their lives to each other, ultimately cheat one or the other or both? This is a question that is being asked for a long time by so many and is being answered in different ways by many experts. A large number of studies, reports and surveys are done, all over the world, on topics related to this issue, with widely varied, mostly inconclusive, results. What is even more important in this regard is that the actual prevalence of cheating in different human societies is far more then what we hear, see or experience or what is being reported in media, reports, studies and surveys. In many cases, one or both of the spouses keep cheating on the other or each other and for various reasons the like finance, economy, religion, ethics or traditions, the marriage is kept intact and these very large number of incidences are never reported or even told to anyone. In many marriages and sexual relationships, the loyalty is not required, even. One or both of the spouses are allowed to ‘cheat’ as part of mutual understanding and these cases, too, mostly go untold and / or unreported. Question is, why the prevalence of “cheating’ is still so high in a world, where this is an increasingly worse taboo.  To find a honest and natural answer to this question we have to look at the history of marriage and sexual relationships, and scientific studies done on monogamy

In the beginning. prehistoric era, sex was free just like in any other specie of animals or plants. Any male or female would have sex with any other person of same or other sex, anytime, anywhere, not just with humans, but, with the animals, too. With the passage of time, questions like, ethics, religion, mine and thine, security of kids born and sanctity of close relatives like brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and grand relatives came into play. Gradually, various boundaries were drawn between, right and wrong sex, good and bad sex and allowed and not-allowed sex. These boundaries still vary a lot in different societies and cultures. These developments gave rise to social trends like prohibition of sex with first relatives, sex strictly within the boundaries of marriage, heterosexuality only, sex for breeding only and monogamy, among the others. Due to various vested interests in different societies, these new boundaries were so forcefully enforced that anything contrary became a sin, bad, unacceptable, wrong  and / or even a severely punishable crime. In spite of all this, it is still all about our perspective and how we grew up and how and what we were thought and what we learned. Families and groups that practice incest still ask the question, if it is all about love then, why is it okay to have it with a stranger but not with someone you really love? In many societies and cultures, including Muslims, there is still nothing wrong with marrying a cousin. Proponents, of multiple marriages like Amish and Mormons ask, Isn’t multiple marriages are better then everyone cheating everyone else? Even in United States a large number of people like Heffner openly practice polygamy and are proud of it. Many studies are showing that keeping multiple sexual partners is getting increasingly popular in newer generations and younger people.

Getreligion.org published an article

Got news? Monogamy and gay unions

mentioning that only 50% of gay couples are monogamous and the readers were commenting, “only difference between homo and heterosexuals is that the heterosexual couples lie about it”. The book,

The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People

written by David P. Barash Ph.D. and his wife Judith Eve Lipton

has mentioned, “Baby people are more like baby birds than baby mammals. To be sure, newborn cats and dogs are helpless, but this helplessness doesn’t last for long. By contrast, infant Homo sapiens remain helpless for months … and then they become helpless toddlers! Who in turn graduate to being virtually helpless youngsters. (And then? Clueless adolescents.) So there may be some payoff to women in being mated to a monogamous man, after all.” The scientific America’ commented on this book at Amazon.com, “Monogamists, this husband-wife team says, “are going against some of the deepest-seated evolutionary inclinations with which biology has endowed most creatures, Homo sapiens included.” One of the readers of this book commented on Amazon.com, “Their real message and theme from this outstanding book is that although by nature, humans are generally not faithful to their long-term mate (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend), we have evolved so much that we can chose to be faithful and monogamous to our partner and truly be satisfied, fulfilled and completely happy.” As far as the sexual behavior in humans and animals is considered, “Even our closest relatives all retain individuality among their members.” comments another reader of the book. This is what another reader of this book has to say, “Will Durant once addressed this issue by noting that many of our current vices were once indispensable virtues in the struggle for survival, and in keeping with this observation, it would seem reasonable to posit the idea that humans haven’t had enough time to evolve biologically or culturally beyond certain genetic features that have outlived their primal usefulness, and yet continue to stubbornly hang on–despite societal taboos.”

Queens University in Belfast tracked the mortality of about 1,000 middle-aged men over the course of a decade. The study, published in 1997 in the British Medical Journal found that “men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm enjoyed a death rate half that of the laggards”. Wikipedia article mentions, “The report also cited other studies to show that having sex even a few times a week may be associated with the following: improved sense of smell; reduced risk of heart disease; weight loss and overall fitness; reduced depression (in women); the relief or lessening of pain; less frequent colds and flu; better bladder control; better teeth; and improved prostate function. The report cited a study published by the British Journal of Urology International which indicated that men in their 20s can reduce by a third their chance of getting prostate cancer by ejaculating more than five times a week.”

There have been numerous studies indicating that excessive repression of the sexual instinct leads to an increase in the overall level of aggression in a given society. Societies forbidding premarital sex are plagued by acts of rage and tend to have higher rates of crime and violence.

“There may be a link between sexual repression and aggression, insensitivity, criminal behavior, and a greater likelihood of killing and torturing enemies.”

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