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I'm sorry but these two passages do not seem to jib with each other

  • 1

Evolutionary history of monogamy

Although, scientists discuss the evolution of monogamy in humans as if it is the prevailing mating strategy among Homo sapiens, only approximately 17.8% (100) of 563 societies sampled in Murdock’s Atlas of World Cultures has any form of monogamy.[33] Therefore, “genetic monogamy appears to be extremely rare in humans,” and “social monogamy is not common, … often reduc[ing] to serial polygyny in a biological sense”.[10] This means that monogamy is not now and probably never was the predominate mating system among the hominid lineage.[33][34][10]

  • 2

Incidence of social monogamy Murdock has estimated that 80% of marriages in societies that allow polygamy involve only one husband and one wife.[33] White has analyzed the distribution of husbands by number of wives in societies that allow polygamy (see Table 1 in White, 1988, pages 535–539).[47] His analysis also supports the claim that around 80% of marriages in these societies involve only one husband and one wife. In fact, so many marriages are socially monogamous that Murdock had years earlier stated:

"An impartial observer employing the criterion of numerical preponderance, consequently, would be compelled to characterize nearly every known human society as monogamous, despite the preference for and frequency of polygyny in the overwhelming majority." (Murdock, 1949, pages 27–28)[48]

which is it? 18:29, 30 May 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jarwulf (talkcontribs)

Now the article says even more confusingly: "Scientists discuss the evolution of monogamy in humans as if it is the prevailing mating strategy among Homo sapiens, although only approximately 17.8% (100) of 563 societies sampled in Murdock’s Atlas of World Cultures has any form of monogamy. These societies with monogamy account for much larger than 17.8% of the World population.[31] Therefore, “genetic monogamy appears to be extremely rare in humans,” and “social monogamy is not common, ... often reduc[ing] to serial polygyny in a biological sense”.[2] This means that monogamy is not the predominant mating system among the hominid lineage and probably never was.[2][31][42]"
We know that most married people at the moment are married to one person (the figure could be calculated quite easily but it's probably well over 90%). That's because in the most populous cultures monogamy is the norm by law or custom (at least outside the small group of wealthy men and certain subcultures). In this light the the text above could be seen as misleading because a reader is easily left with an impression that a majority of married people are married to many people. Furthermore I fail to see how the prevailing mating system is not monogamy when a huge majority is using it as their primary strategy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

On body dimorphism[edit]

I disagree with the assertion that the comparatively small body dimorphism between the sexes indicates monogomous behaviour in humans. It is clear we are a polygynous species, anthropology and biology demonstrate as such. Whilst the majority of polygynous mammals have evolved substantial physical differences between the sexes, it doesn't follow that because we haven't, we must be monogomous. Our intelligence has always been the single most decisive force in separating humanity from the animal kingdom. Could it not simply be that it is the quickest of wit who wins the women? Why must evolution have selected our physical strength as the ultimate determination of our sexual prowess, when our minds were ripe for competition and a collective advance of the intellect? Sexual selection chose intelligence over strength in humanity, compared to our fellow beasts who without intelligence must suffice with the vulgur pursuits of battle. Strange that men continue to wage war. Perhaps sexual selection kept her eye on physical prowess after all! (Matt1705 (talk) 18:54, 13 February 2009 (UTC))

Where is that asserted? I can't find anything in the article. Oh and btw, intelligence is used for war in lieu of strength. Fresheneesz (talk) 20:01, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Just a point worth mentioning[edit]

It is logically impossible for men and women to have different rates of extramarital sex - well, that is assuming that large numbers of men don't secretly have sex with eachother and not tell anybody about it... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:46, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

No. You're wrong. Its more or less impossible for the number of incidences of extramarital sex to be different between sexes. However, if say married women have sex with tons of unmarried guys - its easy to see how that doesn't have to be the case for the opposite sex. Not everyone's married. duh.. Fresheneesz (talk) 20:03, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Imagine this scenario as an extreme example. You have a community with 100 men and 100 women in 100 monogamous heterosexual marriages. 99 of the women are sexually monogamous. Each one only has sex with her husband. 1 woman has had sex with every man in the community. This would give a sexual monogamy rate of 1% for the men and 99% for the women. (The sexually active woman's husband has only had sex with her.)

Are Humans A Monogamous Species?[edit]

Note also that unlike some other species, Homo sapiens is not "automatically" monogamous, and the existence of a legally monogamous relationship (marriage) is no guarantee of a monogamous one in fact. Some societies have formally or semiformally recognized that married persons may have other sexual partners outside of the marriage relationship, while in societies that do not condone this practice it is nevertheless not unusual.

Homo sapiens isn't at all monogamous. It is naturally polygynous and a lot of anthropological and biological evidence supports it. --Taw

New Comment: This is a very controversial statement.

Let me preface my criticisms by saying I'm arguing that social monogamy is natural and prevalent in humans. I'm not arguing that sexual fidelity is natural and prevalent. It's critically important to distinguish between social monogamy and sexual fidelity. Social monogamy just means two people live together, acquire food together, manage a household together, have sex with each other, and raise offspring together. They do not have to be sexually exclusive with one another in order to be socially monogamous. The fact that most monogamous species are socially monogamous and not sexually fidelitous is is one of the more interesting biological findings about mating systems in recent years. I'm arguing this same pattern is predominant in humans.

While a large majority of societies express acceptance of polygyny, a large majority of males in those same societies do not actually practice polygyny. Polygyny tends to be something practiced by social elites and wealthy males. Some estimate that only 5-10% of men in the 'polygynous' societies actually have more than one wife simultaneously, which implies that somewhere around 90-95% of males practice social monogamy. It's also interesting to note that the Standard Cultural Sample, which included 186 of the best described pre-industrial societies from various regions around the world, classifies cultures as fully polygynous if 20% or more the males engage in polygyny. This means up to 80% of males could be practicing social monogamy and the culture would still be classified as fully polygynous. Even Murdock, who authored the ethonographic atlas so frequently cited as evidence of the prevalence of polygyny, once wrote: "An impartial observer employing the criterion of numerical preponderance, consequently, would be compelled to characterize nearly every known human society as monogamous, despite the preference for and frequency of polygyny in the overwhelming majority." (Murdock, G.P., 1949, Social Structure, pp. 27-28, New York, Free Press)

Human anatomy argues against a high prevalence of polygyny in our recent evolutionary history. Polygynous species tend to exhibit a large amount of body dimorphism because males have to aggressively compete for female mates. This is true for birds as well as mammals. In polygynous primates (e.g., baboons, orangutans, and gorillas), males are roughly twice the size of females. Socially monogamous species, on the other hand, show very little body dimorphism between males and females. Human males and females show very little dimorphism compared to other primate species. Human males and females have dimoprhism that is about equal to or less than the dimorphism shown in chimpanzees, which are clearly not polygynous. This suggests social monogamy has been around long enough in the human evolutionary heritage to affect body characteristics. Controversy has arisen concerning the dimoprhism shown in australopithecines. Early evidence suggested large dimorphism, but more recent analyses have cast those conclusions in doubt. If the evidence tips in favor of relatively little dimorphism in australopithecines, that would argue for social monogamy dating back 2-3 millions years in human evolution.

Another aspect of human anatomy inconsistent with polygyny is testes size. Males in polygynous species tend to have small testes relative to their body size because their sperm are not competing with the sperm of other males for reproductive success. Gorillas, for example, have proportionally small testes because they are polygynous, while chimpanzees have proportionally large testes because they are promiscuous. Humans males have testes that are intermediate between gorillas and chimpanzees. Recent studies of DNA related to sperm have also lent support sperm competition in human males. Evidence for a moderate amount of sperm competition in human males is more consistent with a pattern of social monogamy plus occasional extra-pair sexual relationships than with a pattern of polygyny.

It is by no means clear from anthropoligical evidence or biological evidence that human beings are predominantly polygynous. In fact, a close inspection of the evidence suggests the natural pattern for human beings is a high prevalence of social monogamy with a moderate prevalence of extra-pair sexual relationships.

Never heard a better joke for most (statistically) humans are trying to behave monogamous, even when they are obviously not mg.

The anthropological and biological data supports what the researchers want it to support. Some humans are inclined toward monogamy, while others are inclined toward polygamy, even asexuality. To take statistics indicating a high incidence of extra-pair copulation or any other such data and apply them to the whole of mankind is to discount all those who deviate from that norm. The nature of a sapient species is not so easily defined. More succinctly, H. sapiens is not monogamous, but neither is it polygamous. -- MLS

This sentence apparently means "sexual partner" rather than "spouse":

The practice of restricting contact to a single spouse for a limited period of time, then ending that relationship before beginning another (though in practice there may be a brief overlapping time-period) is refered to a "serial monogamy."

Since monogamy is a term that applies to sexual relationships in the animal kingdom (wolves, swans, etc.) in general, and only in a specific context to marriage, I'm of the opinion that the article should begin with the biological and then give the social example. Biology has been around longer (arguably) ;-)

Not only that, but in the dating world, the word "monogamy" gets used all the time to refer to a relationship in which both parties, though unmarried, have an exclusive arrangement and thus agree not to see anyone else. -- Egern
Also, doesn't the gamy part refer to sex or reproduction, and not necessarily marriage?
this is a usage question and cannot be answered by an appeal to etymology. Nor is there one correct or best usage. How people use the term depends on why they are using the terms.
When people use "monogamy" to compare and contrast different human societies, they are generally interested in social variation; therefore they compare and contrast different marriage practices. Conceptually, "monogamy" means the custom of having only one spouse at a time, and is contrasted to polygamy (multiple spouses). In this context, monogamy has nothing to do with sexual fidelity or sexual practices; there are many societies anthropologists and sociologists characterize as monogamous yet where many people have multiple sexual partners.
When people use "monogamy" to compare and contrast different animal species (including human beings), on the other hand, they are not intersted in cultural institutions (obviously, many other ansimal species do not have culture, as anthropologists define it); rather, they are comparing and contrasting mating practices.
obviously one can use the term monagamy in either sense when talking about people. But bno one usage should be priviliged, it all depends on what point you are trying to make in what context. -- SR

Does the external link to The Virtues of Promiscuity really belong in the monogamy article? It's interesting enough, but why is it here? Wouldn't it be a better fit elsewhere? -- Tlotoxl

I agree; the link would be much more appropriate to an article on polygamy. Alternatively, the link would be a better fit if the Monogamy article itself addressed the relative advantages of monogamy and polygamy. --MLS

Changed the statement on homo sapiens not being naturally monogamous. Using the term "natural" creates a surprisingly large number of philosophical assumptions. Better to bypass that statement and just state the fact that legal monogamy is no guarantee of sexual monogamy.

Roadrunner 04:52, 31 May 2004 (UTC)


Why are Gibbons monogamous? How do they "learn" to behave monogamous without a pope? mk 20050910

No one is suggesting gibbons "learn" to be monogamous, I don't think. A number of species are monogamous, though there is usually a greater or larger amount of what we call "playing around". Its still a matter of discussion among ecologists, but most believe there are two predisposing factors:

1: If females are in short supply, like strong male competition or sparse population, it enables the male to keep at least one female to himself.

2: In a difficult environment if paternal provisioning or defence is helpful then it benefits the female. Chevin 18:40, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

NPOV and Offtopic Problems[edit]

Is it just me, or is this article extremely focused on polygamy, with little discussion of monogamy? I'm not saying one is superior, just that an article on monogamy should probably be ABOUT monogamy, with links to related topics.

Switzerland, November 11, 2005 I could not agree more with the last commment. Reality is tough to deal with when we start from the wrong assumptions (and even there...); besides, what's the point about trying to change the meaning of words under the pretense of "political correctness", if not to impose your views to a larger group?

Agreed, this article needs a major overhaul. It reads like it was written by someone with an anti-monogamy agenda. Suggest wiping the slate clean and starting with a basic structure of "Monogamy can mean various things in various circumstances. The most common North American usage is a very loose idea of a romantic relationship between two people who have mutually agreed to not have romantic and sexual liaisons with anyone other than eachother." and then go on from there to discuss the anthropological "social monogamy" the zoological case of wild animals that mate for life, and a third section with alternate relationship models critical of monogamy in human society, with links to the articles on polygamy, polyamory, polyfidelity, asexuality, and swinging? Anyone else have any thoughts? Jason

I agree. Obviously, discussion of polygamy should take place in the article on polygamy. It should only be referenced in this article as an antonym, and other discussion should be on the topic of monogamy. James_Aguilar (talk) Flag of the United States.svg 05:30, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Animal monogamy needs its own page[edit]

I am nearly certain that I am not posting this comment correctly; forgive me for that, please. I am a biologist and my only involvement here on Wikipedia is to occasionally correct significant problems on pages related to mycology in the interest of avoiding spread of misinfomation. But in this case I'd like to make a VERY important point: the subject of this page is "Monogamy" and by definition this term is far more broad than the very limited scope in which it is presented here. The "Monogamy" page should be about monogamy from a broad biologic perspective that includes not only people and other animals but also plants, fungi etc. If anything, "Human Monogamy" needs its own page, not "Animal monogamy." (Monogamy, by the way, is a strictly sexual/reproductive issue; "social monogamy" is an odd term that contradicts itself, if you consider the root of the term "monogamy" and view things as a biologist.)

Mycologyauthor (talk) 16:35, 7 April 2010 (UTC)Mycologyauthor

If you look at how the categories are evolving, I think that you will see that "Animal monogamy" is way up in the "Sexuality" area and the "Human Sexualily" and (Human) "Sexuality and Society" are the big dividing line. It is very much like the relationship between the Alcohol/Alochols/Ethanol categories. Once you add humans, the complexity splays out. The only way to make sense of this is to make human involvement the dividing line. -- Fplay 17:59, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Practicing monogamy doesn't preclude a polyamorous orientation[edit]

I disagree with the point above that because 80-90% of males in a polygynous society practice monogamy, therefore these societies (and humanity at large) should be categorized as monogamous. It seems to me that the defining characteristic of a polygynous, polygamous, polyamorous, etc society (or individual relationship) is its acceptance of the appropriateness of multiple simultaneous relationships, rather than the actual current practice. Consider by analogy singles in American society. In practice, they're not even monogamous - they're practicing chastity, or perhaps onogamy would be a suitable term? But we don't disqualify them from being thought of as monogamous - it's their belief in monogamy as the appropriate relationship structure that determines whether or not they're monogamous. Likewise, if an individual or society accepts that multiple spouses or loving relationships are acceptable or desirable, the fact that the current number of spouses happens to be 1 doesn't seem to make someone monogamous (in my mind).

Of course, since most traditional societies are either polygynous or polyandrous, but generally not both, the number of people who actually have multiple spouses is naturally very limited. But if a modern society were to move to a gender-egalitarian form of polyamory or polygamy, the proportion of people participating in plural marriage could become quite high.

- Steve Anderson, 12 January 2006

Why shouldn't a society in which 80-90% of marriages are socially monogamous be categorized as as socially monogamous? This seems like an attempt to classify societies based on impression management (what someone wants people to think about human nature) rather than measured observation (what the numbers turn out to be when measurement are taken).

The real question, however, is why there are relatively few polygynous marriages even in societies that allow them. The answer to this question is complex and involves many factors. Some important factors that favor the formation of socially monogamous relationships include increased parental demands due to the altriciality of infants, the economics of polygyny (e.g., men simply can't afford it most of the time), and psychological processes of attachment and bonding (e.g., the need for bonding between parents and infants that doesn't get turned off in our adult romantic relationships). These factors don't go away just because one adopts a philosophy of gender-egalitarian polyamory.

Let's Get This Article Rewritten[edit]

Okay, I hope we can get some agreement on three points.

First, biologists have recently discovered that many animals once presumed monogamous in fact have extra-couple sexual matings, sometimes leading to offspring. This has led a number of biologists to begin distinguishing "social monogamy," "sexual monogamy," and "reproductive monogamy." These three kinds of monogamy can occur in different combinations. If anyone doubts these claims, I can provide several academic references where they can read about it. These distinctions would probably be good to include in the definition of monogamy.

Second, there is genuine dispute about monogamy and human nature. Some of this dispute arises from incomplete scientific data. But some of this dispute also arises from a struggle over self-identity and social acceptance. To say that monogamy is "natural" or an intrinsic part of "human nature" implies that people who are sexually non-monogamous are somehow deviant or unnatural. This is not good for the self-identity or social acceptance of sexually non-monogamous people. To say that sexual non-monogamy is "natural" or an intrinsic part of "human nature" implies that people who are sexually monogamous are victims of socialization and behaving unnaturally. This is not good for the self-identity of sexually monogamous people (social acceptance not being such an issue for the majority group). So, people pick the claim that makes their own lifestyle out to be the "natural" one, and defend that claim like a religious belief. I don't think we should try to resolve this dispute. I think we should present both sides of the scientific evidence, and discuss the underlying social struggle over self-identity and social acceptance, and let readers draw their own conclusions. The section on monogamy and human nature should describe an ongoing dispute.

Third, an article about monogamy should be about monogamy and not about various forms of non-monogamy. The current section on human monogamy does in fact spend much more time on sexually non-monogamous lifestyles. Those are worthwhile topics. But they belong on other pages (we could link to those other pages as related topics).

If there is general agreement about these points, I volunteer to rewrite a new draft for the article.


I am confused about the distinction you are attempting to make regarding sexual and reproductive monogamy; if you could clarify, that would be be appreciated. I would also be very happy to see a draft to this effect. You might think about writing one in a sandbox in your user space and then asking for comments before integrating it with the primary article. (Or Be bold and go for direct inclusion). -SocratesJedi | Talk 05:31, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I will write a draft and offer it for review by interested parties prior to modifying the actual article.

The distinction between sexual and reproductive monogamy is not mine, actually. It's in the biological literature. Basically it has to do with the fact that not all sexual encounters result in offspring. Reproductive monogamy is sometimes called genetic monogamy. Suppose the partners of a socially monogamous pair engage in extra-pair sexual activities. The extra-pair sexual activities constitute sexual non-monogamy. If the extra-pair sexual activities do not result in offspring, then the pair is:

  • socially monogamous
  • sexually non-monogamous
  • reproductively (or genetically) monogamous

If, on the other hand, the extra-pair sexual activities do result in offspring, the pair is:

  • socially monogamous
  • sexually non-monogamous
  • reproductively (or genetically) non-monogamous

I hope that helps clarify the distinction.

Here's a quote from a recent academic book on monogamy:

"Social monogamy refers to a male and female's social living arrangement (e.g., shared use of a territory, behaviour indicative of a social pair, and/or proximity between a male and female) without inferring any sexual interactions or reproductive patterns. In humans, social monogamy equals monogamous marriage. Sexual monogamy is defined as an exclusive sexual relationship between a female and a male based on observations of sexual interactions. Finally, the term genetic monogamy is used when DNA analyses can confirm that a female-male pair reproduce exclusively with each other. A combination of terms indicates examples where levels of relationships coincide, e.g., sociosexual and sociogenetic monogamy describe corresponding social and sexual, and social and genetic monogamous relationships, respectively." (Reichard, 2003: 4).

Reichard, U.H. (2003). Monogamy: Past and present. In U.H. Reichard and C. Boesch (Eds.), Monogamy: Mating strategies and parnternships in birds, humans, and other mammals (pp.3-25).Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

I really think that approaching this as a scientific question misses the boat entirely. I think that the stuff you're talking about would be appropriate to an article titled, to borrow from the book you quote, "Mating Strategies." To my mind that would a be a neutral, non-sociological zoological article about the various behaviors of different animals in their attempts to breed. To my mind, Monogamy is something unique to human sexuality and is a social value that has to be talked about in sociological terms. Attempts to justify one behavior over another, which is what the current articles on human sexuality are bogged down in, particularly by reference to other species are not particularly informative. To be truly NPOV, the article should note that as a value, Monogamy should be described, it should be noted that it was a valued social good in some societies, including modern mainstream western culture, and it should be noted that there are some societies historically and presently that do not value monogamy as a social good and instead place value on the integrity of some other sort of family structure. arguments for and against the current valuation of monogamy in western culture belong more in the articles about those movements in society attempting to challenge the status quo, like polyamory, swinging, etc. Links to those articles should be provided from this article, and this article should merely note that at present that at present there are several alternative sexual relationship structures which have been proposed by various groups and individuals to supplant monogamy as the normative model for western culture.JFQ 17:13, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

In response to several points:

  • The distinction between the types of monogamy is a small section of the overall article. It's an important distinction that can help in understanding human monogamy. People who are socially monogamous may or may not be sexually monogamous. I don't think that's a controversial viewpoint. The terminology introduced in that section helps us talk about variations in human monogamy.
  • Sociology is a science. To take a sociological perspective is taking a scientific perspective. The draft actually draws very little on biology. It instead relies heavily on a variety of anthropological, psychological, and institutional information sources.
  • You say monogamy should be described. The draft offers a broad definition of monogamy, followed by a delineation of three types of monogamy observed both in animals and humans, then reviews the incidence and psychology of monogamy in humans. The phenomenon of monogamy in humans is being described.
  • I'll provide additional links in the related topics section that point to alternative family and mating structures (e.g., family, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, group marriage, and so forth). The article already mentions that 80-85% percent of cultures allow polygyny, and the article already contains criticims of monogamy as an ideal family or mating structure.
  • Why should arguments about the value of monogamy only be the province of pages discussing challenges to the status quo? Monogamy is the very status quo they're trying to challenge. Monogamy is at the very heart of those arguments. Why is it better that authors of articles dealing with challenges to monogamy are the only ones who get to speak on the topic? How does letting just one side speak to the topic promote NPOV? Finally, a person doing research on monogamy should be made aware that people disagree about the value of monogamy, and that person may not visit the other articles challenging monogamy (e.g., their school report is on monogamy and not swinging or polyamory).
  • If you have concerns about a POV being pushed in the draft, please let me know exactly what you see as the offending paragraphs and exactly what POV you believe they are pushing.
Kelly -- I agree with what you've said and I think it would be great for you to do a proposed re-write in your sandbox. I agree that including a description of the types of monogamy would be a very useful part of the article. And, to me, it makes sense to include a discussing of the pro/con and advantage/disadvantage of monogamy in the monogamy article. I would go so far as saying that if something is the "normative standard" it is even more useful/interesting to include the arguments against it.

Hoping To Help (talk) 23:07, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Discussion After the June 14th Revision[edit]

About the Revision[edit]

  • There appeared to be sufficient material for several articles, so this article now serves to point readers to appropriate Wikipedia articles.
  • Information about forms of relationships other than monogamy belong in the many Wikipedia articles devoted to poly relationships. Links to articles dealing with other forms of relationships have been included in all the monogamy articles.
  • Obviously, I exercised the Wikipedia philosophy of being bold in making changes. I fully expect collaborative changes to the articles. kc62301

Religion and values of monogamy[edit]

The religious comments added to the description of the article on Value of Monogamy were not referenced to a credible source, which Wikipedia requires as part of its policy on verifiability. The article on Value of Monogamy is an appropriate place for religious discussion of monogamy. Please read the Value of Monogamy article first, and be sure that whatever improvements are made are based on verifiable sources. Kelly 21:31, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Monogamy as a virtue?[edit]

I find the classification of Monogamy in Category:Virtues a bit strange. Fidelity is a virtue, is just a condition... -Rdavout 09:48, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Do you mean it is not a virtue? Well, even so, it is commonly held to be that by some people, so it might still be held there. As long as it is also held under an orientations (better term than 'condition') category to show the opposite viewpoint, it should be fine. Tyciol 00:42, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Monoamory redirect[edit]

I don't like that Monoamory redirects here, it deserves it's own article. Monogamy and Polygamy have often come to imply marriage, legal or otherwise. Amory refers more to love. Marriage is a bond meant to imply dedicated amory, although really, it has a separate meaning in loveless marriages. Amory does not require marriage, and cannot exist without love while marriage easily can. Thoughts? Consider how polyamory and polygamy have separate articles already. Tyciol 00:42, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Do it. Split them. Stevage 23:32, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Monoamory should not be here[edit]

1) Even though monoamory is redirected here, it is not mentioned once in the article. 2) Monoamory and Social monogamy are two separate concepts. Whoever thought that the merger was a good idea, thinks too that sex equals love when they are two totally different things. Otherwise, the article about Love (or Romantic Love at least) should redirect to sex. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:54, 7 October 2013 (UTC)


I just wanted to say what a great page this is. With the 'read more' links, you've really summarised a huge amount of material, and structured it very well. Even the Talk page is so well structured! --Duncan 23:18, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the above comment. I learn best about what something is through learning what it is not. The 'fluid relationships' bullet is very informative, but I wish I'd heard about it from a resource other than an encyclopedia. Maybe CNN needs to start consulting wikipedia for fresh stories. ^o^ 03:33, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

No history[edit]

Disappointing to see that this article treats monogamy almost exclusively as a sociobiological matter, while completely neglecting its history as a social institution. The medieval Church played a huge role in establishing monogamy as the norm in Western countries, as you can find described in, for example, the work of Georges Duby. There's the ideal of companionate marriage coming from the (largely Protestant) bourgeoisie, and Romantic ideals dating from the late 18th century, to name just a few other influences.--WadeMcR 21:46, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

    • There used to be paragraphs briefy describing the contents of the other essays on monogamy (see the related links). But, someone must have felt it is bad to let readers know about these other essays, so he or she deleted the paragraphs. The fact that anyone can be an editor means idiots can be editors. One of the major flaws of Wikipedia.
I'm not at all sure that the xtians established monogamy as the norm in Western countries. Monogamy was normative among the pre-xtian Romans and Celts. Qemist (talk) 11:22, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Biology vs. sociology (and Anthropocentrism POV, added by (talk) 08:29, 14 February 2009 (UTC))[edit]

The biological perspective is that humans are "animals", specifically mammals (a type of primate, to be precise).

But sociologically, and in most general discussions, humans are not animals.

I think that discussions of social relations should take the sociological perspective.

When listing the types of mammals in a biology article, primates should include homo sapiens as a species. But that's the only appropriate context for that designation. In English, nearly everyone in all other contexts acknowledges a distinction between:

  • human beings
  • all other living creatures

Let's follow established usage. --Uncle Ed 15:56, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

"Someone is wrong on the internet" comes to mind :). The thing is that "the established usage" is heavily anthropocentric. This distinction between human beings and all other living creatures is simply a cultural construct. But then again, Wikipedia is a product of our culture, so I'd expect it to be culturally biased. Still that doesn't stop me from saying that Anthropocentrism is not NPOV. I'd really like to see homo sapiens listed under primates. - (talk) 08:22, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
  • (Belated reply) Biologists do list homo sapiens under primates. To emphasize this, I put it into the lede of that article today. --Uncle Ed (talk) 19:11, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
And of course sociology sees humans as special, because humans are it's object of study. Sociology has nothing to do with non-human animals. But biology studies all life and it clearly says that humans are animals. - (talk) 08:26, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

Human being are naturally polygamous[edit]

Should this be noted in the article?-- 22:46, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Only if you have a source. Whether humans are - or should be - polygamous or polyandrous is a bit of a controversy, isn't it? --Uncle Ed (talk) 19:12, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Extra-pair copulations[edit]

The first reference is a link to an outside webpage that is nonscientific and does not cite any sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:00, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

And now it has 15 citations. Someone please fix this. Myrkkyhammas (talk) 17:57, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
It still has 15 citations. That seems obsessive. Someone appears to be anxious to use Wikipedia as a soapbox to demonstrate that promiscuity is "natural." — ℜob C. alias ᴀʟᴀʀoʙ 14:54, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Only two of the named citations were reused, so I cut the 15 footnotes down to 3. It still makes for a ridiculously long block of text in the article source code. I marked the beginning and end of the block with <!-- comments --> — ℜob C. alias ᴀʟᴀʀoʙ 15:14, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Isn't this article way too short?[edit]

and why is half of the article about animals? What about the role it played in history of various cultures and its current status? Arguments in favor and against it? If there are separate articles for them, I think they need to be mentioned and linked to here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:50, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

It seems to be lacking any information about human monogamy. The variations in the degree to which humans have practiced monogamy, both in time and between cultures, are surely worthy of note. Is there some wiki-taboo I don't know about? Qemist (talk) 11:17, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
The taboo isn't limited to wiki. Social psychologists do in fact perform extensive research on monogamy. However, many of the studies do not gain widespread attention. To make a long story short, much research on monogamy shows that it is not the natural or not necessarily the most beneficial form of relationship. In order to avoid political or religious groups condemning the field as a whole, these findings are generally downplayed. O76923 (talk) 19:44, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

biological basis[edit]

Just an idea. Maybe this article could do with information about the biological bases for monogamy, or evidence for it (which is probably relevant, considering the arguments of some, without any evidence, that monogamy is a cultural thing). Topics such as attachment, companionate love, the limbic system (bonding), oxytocin, jealousy in relationships, etc etc.. Also the obvious evolutionary basis, in that parents have incentive to know that their children are theirs (genetically), coupled with the fact that humans are the most helpless of all mammals after birth -- when humans evolved, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible for a mother to have a child, take care of it, and at the same time provide food to feed both of them. If a father has an attachment to the mother, there is an obvious increase in the probability that he will help care for the mother and child and thus make the child more likely to reach adulthood. Peoplesunionpro (talk) 04:09, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Merge from lots of article[edit]

I've merged a bunch of different monogamy related articles here - because this page was too small for such a huge topic. Many things need to have a better organization - and the psycology section needs some summay content from its main article. I'd appreciate any help. Fresheneesz (talk) 07:36, 21 November 2008 (UTC)


The footnote tags look extremely gross e.g. at the start of the maintext. You might find Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Shortened_footnotes a better solution (simply cite all authors that way in a single footnote). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 22:08, 28 February 2009 (UTC)


In the lead we read: Monogamy is the state of having only one husband, wife, or sexual partner at any one time.

I find it better to use a modified definition from the polygamy article, hereby expressing that the term relates to any relation (male-male, male-female, female-male, female-female) in which each partner only has 1 partner.

The definition goes:

The term monogamy (a Greek word meaning "the practice of singular marriage") is used in related ways in social anthropology, sociobiology, and sociology. Monogamy can be defined as any "form of marriage in which a person [has] only one spouse."[1]

As for the group marriage; this is -in my opinion- not a form of polygamy; as their isn't a single person that married multiple persons, it are multiple persons which married multiple persons. As such, it should be described as a marriage form on its own: a table can be made in the right column indicating the main marriage forms are: - monogamy - polygamy - group marriage

Please include in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:44, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

We read in the lead now (June 2010): "Monogamy is the state of having only one sexual partner at any one time". This description is too narrow: monogamy relates not only to sex as the very therm mono-gamos Greek (one marriage) shows. Marriage is indeed something more than just sexual partnership. On the other hand we cannot speak about marriages between plants, so this article needs to clarify that there are in fact two meanings of the word "monogamy": 1. relating to procreative powers and sexuality in the plant-animal world and 2. type of relationship among humans --Quodvultdeus (talk) 10:50, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
The entry uses the English term "monogamy". The etymology is of interest but the ancient Greek meaning does not define the content -- current English use does. I also doubt that you get "one man and one woman" from the etymology as you have claimed in your edit. Please discuss major changes here before making them.Griswaldo (talk) 11:59, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
Griswaldo let's look at the dictionaries.
  • Regarding the English use of monogamy:
Britannica World Language Dictionary, p. 1275: Monogamy 1. The practice or principle of marrying only once. opp. to digamy now rare 2. The condition, rule or custom of being married to only one person at a time (opp. to polygamy or bigamy) 1708. 3. Zool. The habit of living in pairs, or having only one mate" (R.C. Preble, Oxford-London 1962).
Exactly the same text may be found in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, W. Little, H.W. Fowler, J. Coulson (ed.), C.T. Onions (rev. & ed.,) Oxford 1969, 3rd edition, vol.1, p.1275.
  • Regarding the Greek meaning of "monogamos". Marriage in ancient Greece was strictly monogamous - that is one man with one woman. Cf. eg. Harry Thurston Peck, Matrimonium in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers (1898), "In the rest of Greece monogamy was of slow growth as against promiscuity of sexual relation; yet in the Iliad and Odyssey the households described are monogamistic, even though concubines are mentioned".
You doubt "you can get "one man and one woman" from the etymology" - what do you mean than by monos?.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 14:33, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

The Merriam Webster Dictionary repeats the Britannica deffinition, but omits the zoological meaning. So I suggest to follow the Britannica Dictionary and give the lead informatin as follows:

Monogamy is a therm describing basic type of institutionalised human relationship called marriage of one man and one woman. The word monogamy comes from the Greek word "μονός", monos which means one or alone, and the Greek word "γάμος", gamos which means marriage.[1] In modern language of the Sexual revolution the therm tends to be confined to human sexual activity only and is used to describe a state of having only one sexual partner at any one time. In wider sense monogamy is applied also to the animal world, where it describes animal union of one male with one female mate destined to produce off-springs.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 14:50, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Ancient Greek marital practice is not equivalent to the meaning of Greek words which current English words are derived from. The current definition is the most inclusive one. I agree that the more common specificity when discussing human monogamy is "marriage" and that point can be made more clear but it does not only refer to the institution of marriage.Griswaldo (talk) 14:54, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
How about this [1]?.Griswaldo (talk) 15:01, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Griswaldo let's stick to Wikipedia rules. I put my doubts in three points

  1. Sources. Is what you propose a result of your own private research? What are your references? Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own research, unless it is backed by verified sources.
  2. You tend to understand monogamy in terms of sexual activity. Perhaps nowadays many do so as well, but it isn't by no means the only approach. Neutrality of Wikipedia requires presentation of all points of view on the subject. Than you will be able to speak about true inclusiveness. Otherwise those who understand monogamy, opposed to polygamy, as a married life, a form of social institution, will be excluded. Quite a number - if you take into account all those who live in legally established marriages.
  3. Do you who have the right to change the lead information without discussing with anybody? Why my editions are instantly removed by you? Are we not equal? Do you have special rights?--Quodvultdeus (talk) 22:54, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
How on earth is your perspective excluded by the new text? -- "Monogamy is the state of having only one mate at any one time, and usually refers to institutionalized marital monogamy." The first part is broadly inclusive of all the common definitions and the second part specifies that the most common is monogamy as a marital institution. The purely sexual aspect isn't even in the first sentence, but in the one that follows and points out that this is a more modern usage. I made the change specifically to address some of your concerns. Do they not address any of them?Griswaldo (talk) 23:11, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
And by the way that's not my original research ... it reflects the very dictionary definitions you have brought here yourself, and those in the Oxford English Dictionary.Griswaldo (talk) 23:12, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
In American English, people use the word "monogamous" to mean that people have only one sexual partner at a time. I personally think that the key rule here is: WIkipedia is not a dictionary. It is not our job to document all uses of a word. It is rather out job to use words to write articles about topics. I think this article should therefore not be on the English word "monogamy" but on the social institution "monogamy." And I think the simplest lead is, "Monogamy is a social institution in which there one person has one spouse at one time." IT is clearly about marriage, not mating. By the way, there are many societies in which people are monogamous, but have several spouses over the course of a lifetime, often because of divorce and remarriage. I one tried to find out whether anthropologists had one name for this and discovered that some called it serial polygamy (I guess because one person has multiple spouses, just in a series) and others called it serial monogamy (I guss because one person had a series of monogamous marriages). Slrubenstein | Talk 23:50, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
OK but the usage that denotes having only one mate is not a product of modern American English. The OED records this usage as far back as the 18th Century -- "3. Zool. The habit of animals, esp. certain birds and primates, of living in pairs, or of having only one mate." We usually do not see this type of behavior existing in human groups outside of socially sanctioned institutions and we usually refer to this particular institution as "marriage". I don't disagree with that whatsoever. However, this behavior does exist outside of the institution of marriage, and it most probably always has to some degree or another.Griswaldo (talk) 00:30, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Also for consideration is the fact that the manner in which anthropologists define marriage, or don't consistently define marriage, is not the end all in the discussion of marriage. In contemporary Western societies marriage has taken on a very specific institutional meaning, which does not work cross culturally. For instance, there are growing numbers of individuals who chose life long pairings with other individuals outside of the legal institution of marriage. What they partake in is an institution like marriage which if found outside of the West would most probably be called "marriage", but cannot not and should not in this context since we have more precise legal definitions of marriage and they are legally outside of this institution. These individuals are absolutely practicing monogamy, however. I do not say that simply because they have one sexual partner, but because they have one procreative partner, one economic partner, etc.Griswaldo (talk) 02:08, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Well, I agree with you that this article should not be just on what anthropologists say, but anthropologists are along ith sociologists the scholars who study these kinds of relationships most. Anthropologists have also been creful to take note of sexual relations outside of marriage, so it is not like they only look at marriage. My main point is that Wikipedia is not a dictionary and schould focus firstly on how scholars study a topic rather than on how people use words, which is what dictionaries do. "Wikipedia is not a dictionary" is a principle from waaaaaaaaaay back. Now, to your point: I think one thing to do is to saks zoologists how they use "monogamy." Are gibbons monogamous? Or do zoologists favor other phrases (like, "pair-bonding," which I think may be the prefered standard practice)? My sense (and it is only an opinion) is that monogamy as an institution developed in relation to marriage, and then the meaning/usage of the word, like so many other words, has extended to other cases. That this happens should not surprise anyone and should not hold up an article. NPOV requires us to provide all significant views in relation to their prominence. Surely you acknowledge that my view is legit; I do not dismiss your view, the question is how to organize an encyclopedia article so that it educates the public about the curent research and complies with our policies. Your point about sexually exclusive relations may not belong in the first sentence, but there could be a second paragraph in the lead for other ways the wod is used. Or it may not belong in the lead but there could be a lter section on other ways the word is used. What most encyclopedia readers do not know is the research done by anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and yes, sexologists, and I think a good article will educate people on what they do not know or will not learn from a dictionary. By the way, if you want a good base-line source for anthropological views, I suggest two: a book called Notes and Queries which has gone through multiple editions and ANY edition post 1930 will be fairly reliable. Also, HRAF, Human Relation Area Files, which attempts to code information for all human societies. I do not on the former, and do not have ready access to the latter, but if you are interested in monogamy among humans, you are bound to find what those sources say to be interesting. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:43, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Lets do this a bit differently. Do you have a problem with the current wording and if so what is the problem?
  • Monogamy is the state of having only one mate at any one time, and usually refers to institutionalized marital monogamy. In current usage monogamy may refer more broadly to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or sexual reproduction.
Anthropological perspectives on marriage have been changing quite a bit in recent years, and particularly amongst anthropologists who do fieldwork in Europe and North America. In these settings "marriage" is not simply some more or less universal category that is descriptive of a human practice. It is a term used to designate a legal institution which may vary in its structure between localities, and which people may chose not to partake in even if they practice something very similar to that institution. So or instance when many northern Europeans decide not to marry in the eyes of the law but still to live like monogamous married couples do, cohabitating, mating only with each other, raising a family together, sharing resources, etc. they are practicing monogamy, outside of the legally recognized institution of marriage. This may also be outside of what is recognized even as common-law marriage. But common-law marriage serves as another important example, because the essence of this institution is that human practice, as opposed to the direct sanctification of a legal or religious authority, defines the institution of marriage in the first place. Most of western history is a history of common-law marriages of one form or another. But times have changed. What the afore mentioned northern European cohabitators are doing is not always recognized as common law marriage, and is often chosen as a lifestyle specifically because it is not "marriage". Once gain these people are however monogamous, and once gain not simply because they don't stray sexually, but because comparatively they are engaging in a form of social practice that fits the bill. Anyway, please feel free to respond to any or all of this, but please if you do first answer the question about the current wording. Thanks.Griswaldo (talk) 13:55, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
I just thing monogamy can mean sveral different things. One thing it can mean is an exclusive sexual relationship. Another thing it can mean is a type of marital relationship, where "mate" and sex may not be essential to the marriage or monogamous relationship. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:33, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Well I agree with you about that of course. What do you think of the current language?Griswaldo (talk) 14:42, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
I still can't understand why do you not refer to any publication on the subject. Though all your ideas may be fine, the Wikipedia is not destined to present your own ideas but the state of knowledge on the subject. And it aims at doing it as comprehensively as possible, showing all points of view and all approaches - and not only the "right" one or the most modern one. So please if we are to take into account your views - use and quote the existing publications on the subject. And this should not be something that "reflects" them, as you have put it, but a due presentation. E.g. when OxEnDictionary speaks about "being married" - it does not says the "state of having only one MATE at any one time" because mate is used in the animal world. In human world the term we use to refer to marriage is the word "spouse". So it should rather read "state of having only one spouse at any one time" - as Slrubenstein has put it. Also, marriage context is the first and most basic one for monogamy. Non-marriage monogamy, being one of the phenomenons ever present in the history of human kind (see. eg. Augustine of Hippo early years) is a wider sense and should be presented after the marital meaning of monogamy.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 16:10, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
In case you didn't realize it human beings are part of the "animal world", and human beings take mates just as much as other animals do. Human beings have also institutionalized mate pairings into what is most commonly referred to as marriage. Oxford dictionary is not speaking about "being married", but about "monogamy" when it refers to having one mate at one time. The point is that monogamy exists inside and outside of the institution of marriage. It makes absolutely no sense to start from the particular and then go more general. The first sentence that I wrote clearly states that the most common form of monogamy is associated with the institution of marriage. And by the way you have not provided sources to back your position either. We have both provided dictionary definitions and that's all.Griswaldo (talk) 20:04, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

@Slrubenstein. I've done a quick search of a couple of anthropological databases to make sure I wasn't crazy, and the result is clear. Within the larger field of anthropology, "monogamy" is used most often in articles about primate behavior generally speaking, and not specifically to refer to a human social institution. Monogamy, in the most general sense, is about social systems and social organization, usually centered around mating but not only so, and irrespective of whether or not the institution of "marriage" is available. This is the most basic anthropological usage of the term. If you don't believe me have a look yourself.Griswaldo (talk) 12:42, 22 June 2010 (UTC)


The main image is best a schematic of 2 people having each an arrow to each other —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Picture made, please include to article
I fail to see what the gender of the participants has to do with this. Monogamy involves two individuals, each of whom can be male or female or anything else. Pseudomonas(talk) 17:46, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
The image would simply be used to clarify that 4 relations can exist; male-male, male-female, female-male, female-female —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:49, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
New version made: File:Monogamy 01.svg
This image does not clearly illustrate "4 relations". I assumed it represented heterosexuality only, which is why I came to the discussion page for clarification. infinette (talk) 01:48, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
I think there are 3 instead, male-female and female-male are the same to me.

"Incidence of sexual monogamy" edits[edit]

I have removed statements that large sample size reduces bias inherent in convenience samples. Bias in survey design is a non-random error, and non-random errors do not decrease with increases in sample size. Also, this section is internally contradictory, stating in one paragraph that extramarital sex is "universal" in some cultures, and in another that the majority of married persons are monogamous ina ll cultures.Jane Snow (talk) 23:23, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

Unfair editing by Griswaldo[edit]

Griswaldo (talk) has been consequently and unjustly removing the following information on monogamy in ancient Egypt. Please help me to resolve the conflict.

Ancient Egyptian society was based on the monogamous conjugal houshold. Both, instruction texts and official art prove that for the Egyptian man monogamy was the norm, though there is some evidence, especially from the Old and Middle kingdoms, for wealthy men having more than one wife. The only reason to take another wife was childlessness, although the Instruction of Ankhsheshonq stated that it was wrong to abandon a woman for such a reason. Evidence of monogamous household as basic social structure of the Egyptian society can be seen in tomb inscriptions: "His wife X, his beloved"' is the standard phrase identifying a wife of a deceased person. A testimony to monogamous relationship bears also a letter of a Nineteenth Dynasty official, in which he described his pain at her wife's death, and how he had remained faithful to her ever since (P. Leiden I 371).[2]

Thank you for your attention.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 15:04, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

mate and spouse[edit]

Monogamy, as the Oxford Dictionary shows, relates in the first place to human marriage, then to animal mating. The word mate relates to animal and plant world as the article mating clearly shows it, so it is not broader but narrower meaning. Monogamy may mean extra-marital relationship what is mentioned in the second sentence. There is no need to confuse human and animal relationships, if Griswaldo thinks it is the same, ok let's mention it as another opinion quoting some published sources. So I put "spouse or partner" instead of "mate" in the lead inofo.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 08:50, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Animal mating is the more general social (and sexual) system at play here. There is not confusion at all between human relationships and those of other animals. In fact there is specificity in the current lead since it goes from the more general conception of monogamy in animals to the most common human form, which is found within the institution of marriage.Griswaldo (talk) 13:39, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Dear Griswaldo let me remind you one of the Five Pillars of Wikipedia:
"All articles must strive for verifiable accuracy: unreferenced material may be removed, so please provide references. Editors' personal experiences, interpretations, or opinions do not belong here. That means citing verifiable, authoritative sources, especially on controversial topics and when the subject is a living person. When conflict arises over neutrality, discuss details on the talk page, and follow dispute resolution".
So if you want to contribute please give reference to your opinions.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 14:39, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
It is also referenced in the OED. What you are arguing about is what goes before what. Your justification is that one is the primary meaning, but I've pointed out to you repeatedly that the meanings are related and that one is more general and one more specific. You seem fixated with making this about marriage. Further down the article you seemed fixated with the notion of Greek marriage being heterosexual. What is your agenda here?Griswaldo (talk) 19:00, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
OED makes a clear distinction between marriages of humans and zoology. If you think that there is no difference, it's your right, but you will be able to present this view when you make reference to a publication, Wikipedia is no place for your private opinions. Apart of that there remains one statement in the lead info that still requires referring. If there isn't any we will have to delete it.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 20:28, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Agustin Fuentes. 1998. "Re-Evaluating Primate Monogamy." American Anthropologist. 100(4):890-907.
  • "Researchers propose hypotheses for the occurrence of monogamy as a social system in primates based on the assumption that there are a group of primates, including humans, which live exclusively in "nuclear families" and share a similar set of social behaviors.
If you search for monogamy in an anthropology database you'll get many, many more that deal with all primates. Now will you stop this please?Griswaldo (talk) 00:42, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
And just to be clear here is the OED once again -- 3. Zool. The habit of animals, esp. certain birds and primates, of living in pairs, or of having only one mate. Homo sapiens are most certainly primates.Griswaldo (talk) 10:27, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Very well, just take a couple of primates, maybe chimps, and arrange for them a legal wedding in your country. Or start a campaign to proclaim them persons by the law of your country. There is room for all aspects of the word "monogamy" in Wikipedia. There is room for "animalistic" approach as well as for "personalistic" one. They may differ. The word is used in relation to humans and, as you wiret, to animals: "However, the term is also used by anthropologists who study primates as well as zoologists". Both aspect should find room in the article on monogamy. Please respect neutrality of Wikipedia, and please do quote the publications of those "anthropologists who study primates as well as zoologists". We will gladly learn if there is something new about their discoveries.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 13:49, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
The policy of Wikipedia is to avoid external links, especially when they are not fully functional. Please live the quotation alone, deleteing a reference is an act of vandalism.--Quodvultdeus (talk) 19:46, 23 June 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cf. Monogamy - Britannica World Language Dictionary, R.C. Preble (ed.), Oxford-London 1962, p. 1275; Merriam Webster
  2. ^ Cf. G. Pinch: Private Life in Ancient Egipt, in: Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. J. M. Sasson (ed.), J. Baines, G. Beckman, K. S. Rubinson (assist. ed.). Vol. 1. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1995, pp. 370-374. ISBN 0-684-19720-0

Humans vs Animals[edit]

We need to achieve consensus whether monogamy is primarily about human beings or primarily about animals. Traditionally monogamy has been considered as referring to marriage which is exclusively a human thing. I wonder why the content is ordered that it speaks first about animals then it carries on explaining human marriage customs and not the opposite? Is it because of our virtue of humility? We don't want to extol ourselves at the expense of our dear animal friends?--Quodvultdeus (talk) 23:07, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Monogamy is a Mating System in a biological sense and it is only one of three major forms of mating systems found throughout the animal kingdom. As such, it applies to ALL taxa including animals such as humans. Humans form only a small portion of animal kingdom. I disagree that "monogamy has been considered as referring to marriage". To sociologists, perhaps. This article is intended to encompass the broader sense of monogamy in all of biology, not only in the restricted sense applied to human social arrangement. It may however then branch off to the individual specialized fields such as anthropology and sociology if one wants to elaborate on the strictly human perspectives of marital arrangements. Then this can be done in a separate subsection referring only to H. sapiens species.

Pkauler (talk) 17:45, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Ideology approach to monogamy[edit]

I wonder what SypmatycznyFacet found "clearly ideology-based" in works published by Charles Taylor in Cambridge University Press and Karol Wojtyła (Love and Responsibility) in Ignatius Press. Was the removal of these references not an abuse to neutrality?--Quodvultdeus (talk) 12:27, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

I don't know, and it doesn't matter. Wikipedia includes all major points of view. The single BIGGEST point of view is that man and animals are different. A minority, around 15% in America, believes otherwise. --Uncle Ed (talk) 19:52, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
I guess I'm not sure what you intended to say. Could you clarify your position? It seems that in some ways humans are different from non-human animals (for example, language) but that in other ways they are similar (for example, Hox genes). How does this relate to Quodvultdeus's point? SocratesJedi | Talk 01:12, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Moving the material regarding causes of monogamy to the mating system article[edit]

Should not the discussion regarding the evolution and causes of monogamy better be in the Mating system article? It is a discussion of monogamy and other mating systems. Thus the mating system article seems to be the logical place to centralize such discussion. Otherwise we could have nearly identical discussions in the Polygamy article, the Polyandry article, the Polygyny, and the Promiscuity articles. Acadēmica Orientālis (talk) 21:08, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Ancient Israel/ Other Biblical/ Other IndoEuropean philosophies being considered monogamous[edit]

Okay, so, I would appreciate if we maybe clarified a few things towards the end of this article regarding Monogamy in ancient Israel. I don't know if this was intentionally placed there, but I feel that maybe we should clarify that Israel was originally a polygynous society. There are twelve tribes in Israel that resulted from twelve sons that came from different wives of Jacob. I feel that it would be truthful towards the real subject matter. I feel like, from outsiders perspective, that whoever wrote the end article was a little bias towards looking at the Bible as purely monogamous when indeed it clearly wasn't. If anyone would like, I could perhaps add a few things on to the article. Thank You — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jjimenez128 (talkcontribs) 17:44, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Just to clarify...the ancient Hebrews/Israelites weren't an Indo-European society but a Semitic one. Mia229 (talk) 10:25, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree fully with the comment posted by Jjimenez128. I have often had a huge problem with biblical-based assumptions used in reference to monogamy.

First of all, the sub-section "Early Christianity" in the main article does not reveal anything about monogamy during early christianity and it should be either substantially re-written or removed completely. As it stands right now, it merely reflects unsupported opinions of some members of today's Church. As well-intended as they may be, they are often based on misunderstanding of scriptures and scripture passages torn out of their originally intended context.

Secondly, to my knowledge which is based on all four Gospels, Jesus of Nazareth NEVER throughout His public ministry made any comment, reference to, approval or disapproval concerning polygamy or monogamy. Any references made to Jesus' statements with respect to monogamy would not be based on correct interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. Regrettably, Matthew 19:3-8 is one of the passages most frequently misquoted as Jesus' approval of monogamy. This is completely wrong however. Here, the argument is all about divorce NOT about monogamy. By saying that: '...for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife and the two will become one. So they are no longer two, but one' Jesus refers only, and only to the UNITY between a husband and his wife(ves) which according to Jesus is consistent with God's plan and should not be severed by a human-initiated divorce. It does NOT by any means constitute an approval for monogamy as often it is so portrayed. Another reference was made in the original article to the Book of Genesis 1:26-31, 2:4-25. In Gen 1:26-31 God merely says that He made humans to be a male and a female. Nothing else. No reference to monogamy is implied here. Yes, we were made a male and a female. We are not hermafrodites, nor do we reproduce by budding. We are made to be male and female for the purpose of sexual reproduction. In Gen 2:4-25 God refers to a man being given a female companion to help him throughout his life. Again, NO reference to monogamy is being made here! Why are these quotes used to indicate God's approval for monogamy???

Now I would like to expand on the point of Jjimenez128 above. To the contrary of popular claims made by some circles of this society, throughout the Biblical history God has always been very accommodating to polygamy. Abraham had eight sons with three wives/concubines. They were Sarah, Hagar and Keturah (in some scripture translations her name is spelled Ceturah)(Gen 16:1-4, Gen 25:1-4). God loved Abraham (Gen 15:4-7). As already mentioned by Jjimenez128, Jacob had four wives/concubines. They were Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah (Gen 29:21-35, Gen 30:1-13). Of those four wives came the twelve sons giving rise to the twelve tribes of Israel. God loved Jacob (Gen 32:29). Perhaps the most convincing God's approval for polygamy is the case of King David. By the time David was the king of Judah, he had six sons, all born in Hebron, from his six wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah (2Sam 3:2-5). When David became the king over all Israel he took more wives and concubines (2Sam 5:13). God loved David and supported him (2Sam 7:3). In order to accommodate polygamy in ancient Israel prophet Moses gave this command to God's people: 'If a man takes a second wife, he must continue to give his first wife the same amount of food and clothing and the same conjugal rights as she had before' (Ex 21:10). Again, not a trace of condemnation of polygamy within the human race. God does not contradict Himself. Jesus of Nazareth never spoke to the contrary and He would never struck down these rules for He said: 'Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to fulfill them. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the law will be done away with....' (Matt 5:17-20).

From the discussion presented in the main article on monogamy majority ancient jews seemed to have maintained monogamy presumably for economical reasons. Just as it was noted for most other societies, polygamy was practiced predominantly by wealthier jews who could afford supporting their plural wives[52]. For Ashkenazi jews apparently this was so up until about a 1000 years ago when the Gershom ben Judah rabbinical synod struck polygamy down[61]. I have a difficulty accepting a notion that H. sapiens is a monogamous species. From the genetic evidence presented in the article on monogamy it appears that up until about 18000-5000 years ago H. sapiens was a strictly polygamous species[37]. With the onset of agriculture, human race shifts towards social monogamy for economical and practical reason[46] which then becomes established as a part of social and cultural complex[2] but human males compensate for their polygamous nature by an increase in extra-pair copulations (hence prostitution flourishes and becomes a quite prosperous trade [a,b,c]). Although classified as practicing “social monogamy” (because of convenience and social pressures), from the biological perspective, with their propensity for extramarital affairs humans can hardly be considered to be a “monogamous” species.

Now it may sound as if I was pushing the idea of polygamy. Not at all! Wikipedia is expected discussing various topics in a NPOV and we should not try hiding our own true nature which evolved for millions of years. The way monogamy was portrayed in the original article from the religious point of view however, it was heavily biased towards monogamy possibly to suit prevalent views of some western societies and religious groups. With this write up I wanted to present the facts and illustrate the bias which otherwise would make its way into the knowledge base. This article is not about polygamy, but it is about monogamy. I still firmly believe that a subsection including some reasonable views of the Church would be appropriate here. After all, the Church had marked influence on the acceptance and the spread of the idea of monogamy within the western culture[50]. Her views and motives (albeit perhaps somewhat controversial as pointed out earlier) should still form an inseparable part of this article.

[a] [b] Jenness, Valerie (1990). "From Sex as Sin to Sex as Work: COYOTE and the Reorganization of Prostitution as a Social Problem," Social Problems, 37(3), 403-420. "[P]rostitution has existed in every society for which there are written records [...]"

[c] Keegan, Anne (1974). "World's oldest profession has the night off," Chicago Tribune, July 10.

Pkauler (talk) 17:56, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Estrus and monogamy[edit]

Is it really correct that estrus is the reason for the rarity of social monogamy in placental mammals? In marsupials, whilst social monogamy is not absolutely unknown, it does not appear common, whilst it is not known in reptiles and amphibians which also lack estrus. Moreover, in birds, widespread social monogamy may reflect that before the Alpine orogeny and Quaternary glaciation soils throughout the world were so infertile that altricial birds needed not merely both parents but helpers to breed at all, as is still seen in such Australian species as the White-winged Chough and Varied Sittella. I therefore wish to state claims of the relationship between estrus and the rarity of social monogamy are dubious. Thank you, luokehao 22:31, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

It sounds to me that you are saying marsupials do not have an estrus cycle. This is not true. Marsupials do have estrus. Just search for estrus in marsupials and you get lots of hits. Probing Mind (talk) 02:28, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Adapt vs Evolve[edit]

The caption on the orangutan picture did use the word evolved but an editor changed in several months ago to adapted. The editor stated that evolution only meant changing to new species and adaptation referred to genetic changes within the same species. I disagree with this. Adaptation can mean many things. Animals can adapt to a change in their environment by genetic changes such as with lions being lighter in very dry climates and darker in jungle climates or by non-genetic changes like changing the time of primary activity to nighttime because of a new predator that is active during the day or having thicker fur in colder weather. The definition of evolution is the process of modification by successive generations. It does not have to produce a new species to be evolution. It may eventually produce an animal that is classified as a different species but does not always. Some possible examples of evolution in humans are: humans being born without wisdom teeth and humans becoming taller since the middle ages. If either of these are true evolutionary changes they would not result in a new species of humans. In light of these ideas, I am changing it back to evolved. I think the term better suits our readers. Saying that the orangutans adapted doesn't express the idea as completely as saying they evolved. Anyone who disagrees with this, please post a comment here. Thank you. Probing Mind (talk) 03:08, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

New Edit[edit]

Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I added a hyperlink for Amphiprion ocellaris into your article. I am a part of a Behavioral Ecology Class ( Washington University and our assignment was to create hyperlinks from our articles to other articles as examples. Best of luck with your article!! Gseehra123 (talk) 22:21, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Allegations of Biased Source[edit]

Which source is biased? Both are scholarly peer-reviewed journals. The editor that initially reverted the edit admitted to his mistake, saying he had done so in haste without checking the source. The cited sources as as WP:RS as they come. (talk) 20:04, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I reverted you the first time. Even after admitting I had done so in a bit of haste as I only saw the religious source mostly. I did not say that it meant automatically that it would be ok to add it to the article. Once again I do not see it fitting in monogamy. And not only that. I did mention NPOV and Undue Weight, etc. NathanWubs (talk) 20:43, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
There is no "religious source". Why do you keep saying that? Which of the sources cited in this page is religious? Once again, the fact a journal has the word "family" in its name does not mean anything. Its a journal for family professionals such as marriage counselors and the like. It is completely secular. (talk) 20:59, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
I was not talking about this page. I was talking about the other page, where you linked to the religious opinion article, that cites no sources. But just says its bad NathanWubs (talk) 23:01, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
Then why did you revert based on a supposed religiously motivated source on this page? That's the reason you gave on this reversion: This is something you've consistently demonstrated: not looking at or reading carefully what you get rid of. Please read an edit and its sources before reverting them in the future. (talk) 00:35, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
I already did, that is why I admitted my mistake and examined all your resources and everything you have brought after in extra Detail NathanWubs (talk) 00:38, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Bonadea and Misrepresented Sources[edit]

What, exactly, was misrepresented? Were the quotes not in the studies? Are studies on the psychological effects of monogamy irrelevant to an article about monogamy? (talk) 20:59, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

You added physical pleasure. While the abstract does not say its higher. Or lower for that matter. This is the abstract of the study. Just for a little bit of help. "This paper uses data from the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey to examine emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure from sex in intimate unions for adults in the U.S. Using perspectives from evolutionary biology and rational choice theory, we examine the effects of the following factors on emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure: time horizon expected for the relationship, sexual behavior within the relationship, and sexual exclusivity. We find a significant effect of measures for all 3 of these dimensions on emotional satisfaction with sex. For both men and women, time horizon and sexual exclusivity are more strongly tied to emotional satisfaction than they are to physical pleasure from sex, but sexual behavior has the same impact on emotional satisfaction as it does on physical pleasure." The abstract actually does not even say its less. It says there is a stronger tie for exclusive relationships. NathanWubs (talk) 00:17, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

The removed information[edit]

While mulling it over since I had some sleep and also some more time to think after. I will say the removal is correct. The journal talks more about sexual partners in general then the actual relationships. At least in their findings that are reported in the abstract. If it does directly mention monogamy and the emotional connections being better, etc as partners. I would be more willing to add it to the article and to weave it in there. But someone would have to show that by showing a page number and stuff. And hopefully quoting the paragraph where they got it. As I cannot get past the paywall sadly. So as it stands it seems the information that was removed is good. O yeah the second actual source that was removed talk more about how polygamy in these women has led to increased stress, etc. So that would belong in the polygamy article. I will make a post there about it. If you would like to read. Talk:Polygamy. NathanWubs (talk) 09:01, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Germanic people are the reason why monogamy is normal?[edit]

Are not Germanic people the reason why monogamy became considered normal in "western" societies? Germanic people seem to have emotions that back up monogamy while other ethnic groups that are in "western" societies are just acting like they are monogamous while being polygamist in secret. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:35, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

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This is a general note of advice to all editors: Do not use the word "recent" anywhere in Wikipedia. I was reading this article, and saw this phrase, "a recent review article." It was referring to an eleven year old article, which is ancient history in this field. Once in a Wikipedia article, the word "recent" will never change. One hundred years from now there will be too many112 year old journal articles that Wikipedia articles call "recent". Nick Beeson (talk) 14:38, 2 November 2017 (UTC)