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-   -   To all mono partners (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25430)

Derbylicious 07-07-2012 04:30 PM

To all mono partners
I'm having a discussion on a facebook group with some people who assert that monogamy is not biologically innate. Since I know there are many of you here who are monogamous partners of people who are poly I thought this might be a good way to back up my assertion that monogamy and non monogamy exist on a spectrum. Could you please explain how you know that you're monogamous. Thanks so much.

CielDuMatin 07-08-2012 04:13 AM

Derby, so sorry you are having to have this discussion - I have been caught in a few of these and often I just end up thinking "what's the point?" The whole nature vs. nurture thing, as if it being in our DNA somehow makes it more "right". Then you get those that start going back and looking at what the cavemen did, as if THAT was somehow more justification for our nature.

How does the mono-to-poly scale help show whether or not it is biologically innate in us or not?

I saw similar discussions around the whole gay/bi/straight thing, and I just don't see how it can ever really get resolved by talking about it, or what use it is. The only way to prove it would be in a highly controlled way - identical twins, brought up separately, one in a mono environment, another in a poly environment. You would need control experiments and enough examples so that the results could be considered statistically significant.

Anything else, to me, is just psuedo-intellectual wank.

GalaGirl 07-08-2012 04:20 AM


Could you please explain how you know that you're monogamous.
The same way you know you are poly. You take the internal temperature of yourself and decide what framework you are going to play in.

Both mono- and poly- are relationship structures. Both are valid choices for an individual to make.

It's not biology.


bestofus 07-08-2012 04:37 AM


Originally Posted by GalaGirl (Post 142599)
The same way you know you are poly. You take the internal temperature of yourself and decide what framework you are going to play in.

Both mono- and poly- are relationship structures. Both are valid choices for an individual to make.

It's not biology.


I'm personally a huge fan of this particular answer. Biological makeup has nothing to do with your decision on what form of raltionship you choose to partake in. This is a choice made by self examination, feelings, and personal beliefs.


NovemberRain 07-08-2012 05:24 AM

I suspect that people who want to call it biology are loathe to examine the complexities of choices and free will, etc.

bestofus, I would argue that many people do not use self-examination and make a conscious choice for monogamy. Just like people don't make a conscious choice (often) to be straight. It's the default, it's the majority. Most people don't even know there's any other option. In order to do something different than the majority, one has to feel, and believe, and examine, and question, and CHOOSE.

Sorry, Derby, doesn't seem like we're helping much with your premise. :o

StarTeddy 07-08-2012 07:39 AM

As someone with an interest in neuroscience, I know that there's a lot of things that we normally don't consider biological in nature but in fact are. But there's also a huge interaction between biology and environment. Most likely, people are wired poly-leaning or mono-leaning, but the way they actually feel and the decisions they make are also determined by their upbringing and their current situation.

I guess that's not a very satisfying answer, but it would just be wrong to say that it's all biological or that it's all environmental.

StarTeddy 07-08-2012 02:52 PM

I was actually reading an somewhat unrelated article and I found some interesting information regarding the topic. The article isn't about poly, it's about infidelity, but it's easy to draw comparisons.


The attachment system, fueled by the neurohormones oxytocin in females and vasopressin in males, drives animals, including humans, to pair-bond to rear their offspring as a team. Both hormones are triggered by orgasm, and both trigger dopamine release in reward regions of the brain. But all animals cheat, even when they form pair bonds. In most mammals, the bond lasts only as long as it takes to rear the young. Among prairie voles, science's favorite model of monogamy, knocking out the gene that codes for vasopressin receptors abolishes their penchant for pair-bonding. And implanting it in their notoriously promiscuous cousins, the mountain voles, leads the males to fixate on a specific female partner even when alluring others are abundantly available.

More recently, in a study of over 500 men, Swedish researchers found that variations in a gene that codes for vasopressin receptors in humans influences the very ability to form monogamous relationships. Men with two copies of a specific gene variant scored significantly lower on a questionnaire known as the Partner Bonding Scale and reported twice as many marital crises in the past year. Those with two copies of the variant were also twice as likely to be involved in outside relationships and far less likely to have ever been married than those not carrying the allele.

In a study reported in 2010 in PLoS One, Justin Garcia, a postdoctoral fellow at Binghamton University, outlined another payoff—pure, passionate thrill. He found that individuals with a variant of a dopamine receptor gene were more likely than those without it to have a history of "uncommitted sex, one-night stands, and adultery." The motivation, he says, "stems from a system of pleasure and reward." Fisher suspects that's just the tip of the infidelity iceberg, and more biological contributors are likely to be identified in future studies.
The entire article can be found here.

YouAreHere 07-09-2012 01:39 AM


Originally Posted by GalaGirl (Post 142599)
Both mono- and poly- are relationship structures. Both are valid choices for an individual to make.

Monogamy is more than just a relationship structure, and this is what kills me when I see the argument that "monogamy is <x>". From my POV, there are two aspects of monogamy:

1. I only desire one person romantically at a time
2. I want my partner to love only me

The second is a relationship structure, as far as I'm concerned, and despite the fact that I'd prefer such a relationship structure, my relationship with my partner is worth learning how to adapt to a Poly relationship.

The first is me. Period. I have never had romantic feelings for more than one person at a time. Ever. When they grow for one, they wane for another.

The "nature versus nurture" argument gets a bit wonky when both aspects of monogamy get smooshed together, and I think they should be considered as two separate pieces.

redpepper 07-09-2012 05:15 AM

Monogamy is making a decision to love one person at a time and loving that one person at a time. I think people can come and go out of that, but like poly, its a struggle and with that comes decisions to make. Those decisions involve deciding to stay with one person, not allow feelings in for others, realizing that ones best place is with the one person they love, and many others that mean staying with one person at a time. Its a choice as much as it is someones nature depending on who they are and how they want to conduct their lives. Nature and nurture go hand in hand in whether or not someone is mono or not I think.

I don't think people really know overall about anything in the span of their lifetime, but they know in the moment that they either love one or more than one. What they tell themselves, what they tell others and what they believe and hold true for themselves is what is either mono or poly.

WhatHappened 07-09-2012 07:57 PM

Interesting question.

I guess to me, it's somewhat irrelevant whether it is or isn't biological.

I, personally, have had crushes on multiple people more than once and figured everyone does or could, given the right two (or three) people coming along. It's interesting to me to read that some people have never felt that way.

But I guess I see that as feelings, and monogamy as a choice of behavior. My feeling is that it's really beside the point if I have ever loved two or more at once or if someone else never has. I've never believed we need to act on all our feelings.

So, as I said, to me it's totally irrelevant whether monogamy is biological or not.

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