A Polyamorist View of Monogamy

We think of monogamy as natural, but it’s actually quite advanced—the trouble is we default to it out of fear instead of choosing it consciously.


by Michael McDonald

photo courtesy of Marija Mandic

filed under Advice, Sex

As a polyamorous person, I have great respect for the monogamous, for their depth of commitment, for the work and growth and courage necessary to pull off a conscious decision to remain monogamous.

As a formerly monogamous person, I have great respect for the polyamorous, for their excellent communication skills and ability to transcend cultural norms. Navigating multiple romantic and sexual relationships tends to bring up more of their “stuff,” faster, necessitating the need to address feelings like jealousy. The polyamorous work hard to foster the opposite of jealousy: compersion (the warm enjoyment of your lover’s happiness with another lover).

Arguably, polyamory requires a lot more “work” than monogamy. It’s logistically more challenging managing multiple relationships—there are  only so many hours in a week. With more people, there are more emotions, more stories and needs and personalities to address, so there is more learning and personal development required.

But if monogamy is so much simpler than polyamory, why does it feel like so much work? Shouldn’t one relationship be easier than two or more? In my experience, monogamy is hard in a way that polyamory is easy.

Contemplating this several years ago, everything clicked into place for me. I had an aha moment, and the evolutionary ladder of polyamory and monogamy suddenly made sense to me:

Monogamy is more advanced than polyamory.

Now, before the polyamory camp gets offended and the monogamy camp gets righteous, I’m about to reverse the offense:

Monogamy is more advanced than polyamory, because monogamy is less natural than polyamory.

Nature, as I’m using the word here, is what happens of its own accord. Our human nature is what happens when we are connected with our inherent well-being, free of habitual patterns, emotional wounds, limiting beliefs, societal conditioning, and oppression. Obviously none of us are living 100 percent within our nature, but the more we see it, the easier it is to gravitate back toward it.

Secure attachment is natural. Anxious and avoidant attachment is unnatural.

Having a growth mindset, acknowledging that we are ever-evolving and that our personality and capacities are not fixed, is natural. Having a fixed mindset of “That’s just the way I am” is unnatural.

And while secure attachment between two people is very natural, the assumed exclusivity and the duration of monogamy are unnatural, a purely human creation that requires the restraint of our nature. If monogamy were natural, an expression of our inherent well-being, it wouldn’t require so much willpower. It wouldn’t require a commitment. Cheating and divorce wouldn’t be as common, and staying committed would be just as easy as when you first fell in love.

Monogamy is normal, but not natural. It is the cultural norm, with centuries of assumptions and confirmation bias backing it up, and it may seem like sacrilege to say that it is unnatural, but then again it was once sacrilege to say that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around.

This doesn’t mean that humans cannot be or should not be monogamous, because:

Humans are not limited by their nature.

We, with our potential access to greater consciousness, self-reflection and will, are able to adapt, abstract, resist, and reprogram our nature. As humans, it is our nature to embrace our nature, and also to rise above it. Not to leave it behind, but to both transcend and include it.

Monogamy is an advanced form of relating that requires us to transcend what comes naturally to us in relationship. Monogamy is like putting a man on the moon: It is something rare and magical. It’s not something that happens of its own accord. It requires a great deal of courage and support to pull it off—and it can be worth it if you treat it with the proper respect.

So then, if monogamy is so advanced, why is everyone doing it? Why does it seem easier than polyamory? Because there are two kinds of monogamy. What I’ve been pointing to is conscious monogamy, but most monogamous relationships are stuck in unconscious monogamy.

How most people practice monogamy is a form of anxious attachment, using monogamy to “fix” their fears, to “get” love and support from the outside because they don’t think they are whole on the inside. Unconscious monogamy is based on expectations instead of agreements. It lacks the distinctions and positivity and naturalness of polyamory. It is focused on security instead of possibility.

Conscious monogamy is where both the natural and the unnatural aspects of monogamy are embraced. Conscious monogamy is a consciously chosen and co-created relationship structure, a container, to encourage more personal and relational growth. It’s turning up the heat on evolution. Conscious monogamy is a long-term transformational workshop.

If I had the power to reach into culture and rearrange what and how people learn about relationships, I would be encouraging polyamory as the norm, and monogamy as the advanced, only meant for the most experienced. There should be books and workshops and university classes about how monogamy works, building upon the principles learned in polyamory. Each monogamous relationship would be a uniquely designed and ever-evolving relationship, made up of consciously chosen agreements, and an acknowledgment of its challenges. Monogamy should be reserved for the experts.

Michael McDonald is an integrity coach, writer, speaker, workshop leader, the creator of Relational Alchemy, and the leader of the Quiet Giants movement.

  • Megan
    Posted at 18:29h, 13 February Reply

    Wow, I love this

  • Ange
    Posted at 01:13h, 14 February Reply

    What a thoughtful and beautiful article. As someone who moved from polyamory and consciously into monagamy, I feel incredibly grateful to experience a relationship that’s of my making and choice. It’s refreshing, fun and so much easier than the previous unconscious relationships I had.

    The certainty I feel is so unexpected, compared to the fear based security I’d sought in the past. Polyamoury gave me the confidence to trust in my own wants, seek my own happiness – that I’d found felt restricted from in monogamous relationships. So I avoided them at all costs.

    The best part of the human experience is using our capacity to change/transform our ‘self’, or experience. Through polyamoury I healed my splintered character and embraced my real self. When I met my partner my unconscious barriers were no longer in place. I was able to make a real connection. It’s scary as fuck, letting go of what you think you know, to the possibility of what could be. However, had I not been polyamourous I may not have learned to be open to such possibilities.

    Polyamoury isn’t easy or necessarily right for everyone, however through it I learnt so much. Enough to advance to satisfying and yeah conscious monogamy.

  • David Wood
    Posted at 06:40h, 14 February Reply

    love it Michael. Thank you.

  • Michael
    Posted at 07:57h, 14 February Reply

    This is clever but the analogy just plain doesn’t work – like a replica of a car made out of resin, foam and plastic, but isn’t actually a car. The reader is left with two BIG ideas about monogamy in this post.

    1.) It’s like the moon landing.

    Well, a lot of people view becoming a multi-planet species as an important part of our evolutionary trajectory, if you will. Something which, like breathing air instead of water, or growing limbs instead of fins, is technically “unnatural” behavior that “turns the heat up on evolution” (as you put it), therefore becoming natural. “Magical” and involving a lot of work, your assessment firmly ensconces monogamy in a spot on an oversimplified and linear trajectory of being “the next thing.” Where we transcend our mere animal natures and level up to the next plateau of human evolution, something that only the few and the proud, or NASA, can pull off. It must be, therefore, everything miraculous about our ability to make tools and tech. How I can live in New England – a place that regularly tries to freeze me to death – as opposed to just throwing in the towel and going back to a warmer climate, which is more “natural.”

    the problem is that monogamy *is* natural for many people. Quietly. Easily. Once partnered, a switch is flipped, and they really just don’t have any inclination toward anyone else. They’re genuinely happy. These are people who are well aware of polyamory, relationships anarchy, and all that noise, and have realized, through an honest taking stock of themselves – not through a herculean “lifestyle decision” – but have REALIZED that they are, in fact, already monogamous. If they meet a similar partner, maybe they’re set, and maybe for life. We could quibble about how many people would have been monogamous were it not for the fact that our culture shoves it down our throat with its constant blaring of Hallmark normalcy, but the point is that having multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships is no more or less natural for many people as having one singular relationship.

    The second problem is how you invoke the “heat being turned up” on evolution – something that creates such vast changes as breathing air, growing limbs, living in New England, or becoming a multi-planet species. The truth is these things are always born out of some big-picture necessity. Changes in food supply or atmospheric balance, changes in the availability of mates, etc. will pull a species along toward the unnatural. This, oddly enough, makes that kind of evolution…dare I say, natural? I digress, but it does suggest that things are not so linear. Is monogamy evolutionarily critical to achieve? Are we being pulled in that “higher” rocketship direction, or is it (more likely) something like this:

    * Some people are, in fact, quite naturally monogamous, and we need to give credence to that and acknowledge it.
    * Yes, some people are not naturally monogamous (the unconscious aspect you mentioned), that is certainly true.
    * Some people are completely hard-wired poly (or inclined toward some form of open relationship etc.)
    * Some people are not inclined one way or the other, and could quite happily do either poly or mono depending on a partner, and for them it’s not hardwired, and actually *is* more like a lifestyle choice. They could go either way, NBD.

    This leads me to believe that neither monogamy or polyamory is, in particular, being selected for some kind of evolutionary launch. And some people who are indeed naturally monogamous, aren’t good at it, and some are. Some people who are indeed naturally polyamorous aren’t good at it, and some are. The same principles that make ANY relationships work well transcend relationship type: honesty, transparency, humility, vulnerability, knowledge of self, emotional literacy – all these are healthy, natural things that generally get modelled for children in healthy relationships, or are tragically hobbled by dysfunction of whatever ilk.

    The second BIG thing the reader is left with is the following:

    2.) Monogamy is for the experts.

    This last point, with which the whole post is tied up, declares that monogamy should be left to the experts who have achieved the highest video game level ups. The Shaolin monks. The Everest sherpas. Don’t try this at home kids. Once more we’re elevating monogamy on a false linear trajectory, because for a lot of perfectly open-minded monogamous people who, from the outside looking into the world of ethical open relationships, it’s genuinely the other way around. It is poly people who are the kung-fu masters of all things relationships.

    A clever post, but sorely lacking in nuance. There are umpteen other analogies that would soar whereas this one falls flat. I find this binary, non-inclusive, seriously non-representative of the reality of genuinely open-minded monogamous people, and seriously non-representative of the reality for a lot of polyamorous folk. I would have preferred an article that didn’t artificially place mono and poly into these bizarrely oversimplified camps connected, incorrectly, to such lofty concepts as evolution in ways that clearly invoke an axis of superiority. Nature is not so simple. Which one is natural? Which is based on nurture? Which one is epigenetically expressed over time? The truth is, while I think more people would be poly given less stigma, that human beings are inclined toward many different arrangements, and they’re all perfectly fine if they’re honest and true.

    Stay warm!

    • Mellissa
      Posted at 16:23h, 14 February Reply

      True in my view. This comment says it very well. And I’ve lived both ways.

    • Jan Miami
      Posted at 06:56h, 15 February Reply

      Well argumented. Thanks Michael 😉

    • Genevieve
      Posted at 07:42h, 15 February Reply

      Thank you for the nuances! Just what I couldn’t put into words ^_^

    • Tania Allan
      Posted at 14:11h, 15 February Reply

      Hit the nail.

    • Kat Espadza
      Posted at 09:00h, 16 February Reply

      Well said! I very much agree with you last sentence!

    • Alex
      Posted at 11:11h, 22 February Reply

      I came here to read the article, but this comment made the trip worthwhile.
      I’m not saying that the article was unworthy, but I had the same thoughts as I was reading it as Michael.
      I had couple of further thoughts, and do bear in mind that my intention here is not to offend, my comments are offered as the opinion of an outsider to polyamory, if not completely ignorant of its intricacies.

      It has long seemed to me that polyamory is an inherently selfish practice, with no negative connotation attached to the “selfish” part.. To take the nuance from Michael’s comment, I would say I must be one of these “naturally monogamous” people. I can easily see why that is so by imagining myself in a poly relationship. I would feel that I am shortchanging some or all of my partners by dividing my attention among them.
      I am in a relationship with a woman at the moment, and could not justify withdrawing any of my attentions and time spent with her to pursue another woman; to divide the affections I have for her in order to provide for another. She is worthy of me entirely, and I would feel selfish for the reduction of investment of personal time and resources.
      Concordantly, I have always felt that the “serial monogamy” theory is probably the one most natural to tribes of humans, especially given the existence of jealousy among the many quirks of the human psyche.
      While it may be argued that monogamy is imposed by society and culture, our visceral reaction when that monogamy is broken is less easily explained by societal norms, and more by some form of genetic driver to come together as a couple for a period of time until children are autonomous, then drift apart, possibly to other partners.

      Just as importantly, I think that rather than push an idea that poly is somehow superior, we should be advising people to find relationships they are truly happy in, rather than settling, as so many do, for unfulfilling substitutes.
      By all means, then. If you want to have a relationship with many, and that makes you happy, that should be your path. However, if that sharing type of relationship makes you unhappy, then don’t stay just because that’s the most you can get from a particular person.

  • Beth Crawford
    Posted at 13:19h, 14 February Reply

    Being self aware and the search for consciousness IS our nature, this is our purpose. This is the most natural thing to us.l, not something that reprogrammed us, sobering that’s programmed in us. You really think of yourself and humans as animals having to overcome urges and restrictions. Does a penguin struggle to be monogamous? No, because it’s within his nature. Like in nature animals are gay, straight, monogamous, poly… All humans are different what suits one will not sit another. But a lot of what said is filtered through your lens, it takes “courage” maybe for you, it’s “unnatural” to you but not others.

  • Patrick
    Posted at 17:47h, 14 February Reply

    gee, each of my monogamous relationships were so monotone.

    Is it really “monogamous” if it is “serial” and not “one time forever”?

    • Patrick
      Posted at 17:48h, 14 February Reply

      PS very cleaver and lots of nuance.

  • Leckey Harrison
    Posted at 19:31h, 14 February Reply

    Rather interesting. I look at things through the lens of trauma, because I know it breaks everything, including sexuality. As I heal my own, I wonder about polyamory, and multiple sexual partners, and multiple emotional partners, and wonder if its doable. I may never know. I’ve also learned to never say never. I am curious as this issue unfolds here in America, where it seems the issues around sexuality face more repression that in the rest of the world. Well Europe any way..

  • mitch
    Posted at 20:14h, 14 February Reply

    Michael, I appreciate the time and effort you spent articulating your thoughts around the topics of monogamy and polyamory. I see you have spent a lot of time thinking about these things

    I would like to share with you that as someone interested in polyamory, I felt annoyed, aversion, tense, pain, yearning, and vulnerable when I read this sentence “Monogamy should be reserved for the experts.” because it did not meet my needs for understanding, choice, autonomy, expression, growth, support, community, love, intimacy, safety, security, and sexual expression.

    My request is your consideration of the use of comparative thinking, comparative language, and more specifically comparative vocabulary such as the words “advanced”, “natural”, “unnatural”, “norm”, “most”, “more”, “easier”, and “is like”. This approach suggests that one thing must be better than the other and I really don’t connect with that.

  • Bridget Pilloud
    Posted at 22:48h, 14 February Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with Michael.

  • Matt
    Posted at 23:24h, 14 February Reply

    I’m wondering where the author gets the idea that monogamy isn’t natural. Like all animals inherently just fuck the crap out of multiple partners, so we must be out of our natural state by not fucking everything that walks past us. New flash, the animal kingdom has both monogamous and polyamorous relationships. There is no evidence to what you’re claiming, not even a seed of evidence other than your “aha” moment, and if there is evidence you fail to provide it.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not a claim that polyamory is wrong or not natural, I don’t have evidence to that and I could never make that claim… but I also know that there is nothing that would just make me suddenly make a claim to such because I suddenly THOUGHT I knew the answer without any cultural, psychological, or recorded evidence to point me towards that decision.

  • Devin Jaboe
    Posted at 00:42h, 15 February Reply

    I don’t think that is how nature works. Jealousy isn’t something we made up, it’s an emotion we have evolved to feel. Jealousy is natural. Aggression when ones mate is involved with another is so natural it’s almost impossible to find a species who does not demonstrate it in some form, among at least one gender or both. Anxiety is natural. Fear is natural. Nature gave us these things because nature is full of danger and loss and uncertainty.

    The kind of casual, enlightened, go with the flow philosophy espoused as natural here is anything but. It is a product of our peaceful, idyllic modern lives; lives of excess and ease. We can afford to rise above our nature. If we can move beyond jealousy, it is because we live so outside of nature that we can conceive of a way to move beyond our inherited worries.

  • Shei
    Posted at 02:45h, 15 February Reply

    In Nature there are creatures that are naturally polyamorous and others that are naturally monogamous and mate for life, so I guess it really depends on the sort of human you are, some are naturally inclined to spread themselves out with many partners and maybe different connections give them something unique they don’t get from other partners and monogamous relationships if done with a conscious desire to grow together and expand each other can be highly rewarding as you grow together over time 🙂 and the passion can definitely deepen if both are nurturing the relationship, its all giving and receiving in balance we are learning 🙂

  • Raven Pagan
    Posted at 04:33h, 15 February Reply

    This article open my mind to an entire new world of possibilities. Thanks!

  • Kristina Amor
    Posted at 05:40h, 15 February Reply

    Basically I think that both partners have to know about polyamory, not like for example the guy is visiting three girls in a week and the girls do not know others are existing. It needs also respecting and caring about your partners.
    And if polyamory is harder, why to even practise polymory? And to be honest, some people are cheaters, it is in their genes or blood… and it is good catch to try to speak how good is polyamory.

  • wolfpaw
    Posted at 07:30h, 15 February Reply

    I believe the author has it backwards–monogamy is more natural for humans–unless one is referring to most of the animal and avian species. Civilization simply would never have occurred without monogamy as the norm. I’ve got no beef with polyamory-if it works for you then great. But trying to redefine a practice that has been foreign to most mature adults over thousands of years is simply delusional.

  • Kripto Seriak
    Posted at 11:21h, 15 February Reply

    I like your aproach – very understanding for the both sides, with pripper arguments.
    I just want to point out one small detail about polyamory. There are some people who practice it withough knowing, but also without reciprocity. First i’m talking about the people who are emotionally enaged in two relationships with at least one monogamus person. But because they don’t face the same “partner sharing”, they lack the perception that they actually cheat on that person. Second is the case of people who are both monogamusly posesive and poliamory. They don’t want to share a possibly polyamory partner, asking for monogamy and exclusivity by their part, but imperiously require being shared themselves as a manifestation of the other’s love…

  • Missis Lucy
    Posted at 17:01h, 15 February Reply

    Well, one way to know what is “natural” is to look at our evolutionary line. (I am sorry, english is not my mother tongue). There is no species of animals that lives in sexually mixed groups and has monogamous relations at the same time. There are many birds that are monogamous while they breed, but at the time that they fly south all together they are not sexually active. Clearly for the evolution it is a big issue for the males to know if the children are carrying their genes. One way to know this is to make sure that there no other grown up males can ever come near their females. Thats what gorillas do. And it means that only a small part of males would survive. Clearly with this solution it is impossible to live in bigger mixed communities- and also their is no hunting. Gorillas are vegetarians. Bonobos have the opposite construction: every individuals has sex with every other individual of the group. Therefore the males cannot know at all which of the children are theirs. Everyone could be- so they protect them all. Also they live in matriarchy. Power goes from mother to daughter and son- for the mother knows for sure which babies are hers. Chimpanzees are “the first” to have more complicated relationships. They live in big mixed groups- and they go hunting. Only the alpha male is allowed to have sex with any female it wants. BUT: their community is a kind of a democracy: every five or six years there is a fight and the winner will be the new alpha. But was is very different from the gorillas: the looser is neither killed nor has he to leave the group. On the contrary: he will have an new chance in the next election period. And also every alpha male has good friends who help him politically and in exchange are allowed to have sex. Not as much as the alpha- and only after him. But still: for almost every male there is a chance in some periods of his life to procreate. None of them can be completely sure which children are theirs. But also they COULD be- it a question of percentages of probability. What we see as a consequence is that they all protect the babies against other groups or other animals. But nobody actively helps the mothers with the upbringing. So a female chimpanzee can have only four or five babies in her life (that is as long as the fertile period in human life).
    And then came the humans. for some hundred thousand years we don’t know much. But we see that human females had many more children then chimpanzees. And it is common belief now that this is the most important factor how humans conquered the earth: they managed to live and work in big sexually mixed communities, but the women could get one child a year. what means that they must have had help. Obviously there were and still are very different forms of community. There are still cultures in which there is complete segregation of males and females.- like in gorilla clans. But it looks there has been this form of couples that claim to be sexually faithful to each other. And it is very probable that this was for one never true and on the other hand this very successful solution for the problem of living together in mixes groups and still let the males know what children carries their genes and therefore provide for them. So this looks like a gigantic success story. And it probably started some hundred thousand years ago. So for many of us the need for a livelong and exclusive partner should be in the genes by now and therefore “natural”. But at the same time there is no logical reason why the impuls to find as many sexual partners as possible for the males to spread their genes as widely as possible, and the need to find the best male for the women (the strongest or the one with the best status in given circumstances- so this could also be the most intelligent one or the richest or the best at building houses etc) to make a baby with him- so being promiscuous would also be natural for everybody (and a much older “natural”). So I am afraid there is not one form that is more natural than the other. What is most natural in this system is cheating. And when I try to sense my own feelings that is just what is in me: I long for “love for life”- I want a partner who will be with me for ever, who is the one for me. And at the same time I want to have sex with many others. I am clearly attracted by the newness of people. And the partner that I love more then my life tends to get less and less attractive the longer we are together. Also I feel very strongly that having sex with somebody else does not mean that I do not love him or would like to change to another partner. And although i “know” with my brain that it is probably the same for him, I also suffer from jealousy. And more than that: I can feel that his – male. jealousy is somehow deeper and more ancient then mine. What makes perfect evolutionary sense. And – terribly enough- this jealousy also feel natural. Not like an acquired flaw. . So it is terrible- but it sees that what is natural and has been for hundred thousand years for our species is the inner conflict. So probably when we want to go with “natural”- we should go with the declaration of monogamy and with lifelong cheating and hiding. (Thats what swans do by the way. The stay with one partner for life- they swim with their long necks tangled around the neck of the partner- but one of for little swans is not his……) Or we can work with our brain. We can make each other understand that it is not about getting pregnant all the time any more. That we can now find out who is the father without being faithful to each other. But it will hurt- we must be aware that there will not be a “Higher form” that feels “natural” – anyway not for some other hundred thousand years….

  • Lark Mee
    Posted at 21:54h, 15 February Reply

    Another pointless ‘personal’ take on the differences between polyamory and monogamy.

    Firstly I’ve yet to meet a polyamorous person that doesn’t have ‘anxious attachment.’ Sure they’re trying not to. But I’ve seen numbers of women sat in corners crying, while the man that supposedly ‘loves’ them shows up with another woman he’s bonking. Severe lack of respect for others feelings.

    The ‘natural’ tag is also a smokescreen.

    I’ve tried monogamy and polyamory. I’ve had the most growth and healing from my monogamous relationships. There are no stats available on polyamory so to say it’s a relationship firm that works better than others is pure speculation.

    Polyamory is lazy. Sure it’s hard to date four women at a time. And pretty much impossible to connect deeply with any of them. That’s because you’ve got no time to get to know partners properly.

    Almost as pointless as that stupid book ‘Monogamish.’

  • Someone
    Posted at 22:55h, 15 February Reply

    What a wonderful discussion. I disagree with the article but appreciate other points of view. I don’t think poly is natural. I attempted it, it left me feeling torn, hollow, and never establishing a real bond with anyone. I understand poly works for some people. I certainly am not saying it is wrong. But I have only known one poly couple out of many that actually lasted.
    I also don’t understand the need of poly people to constantly defend themselves. If it works for you, do it. I don’t run around singing the praises of monogamy. “Thou doest protest to much”

    I am far from the norm. I don’t follow politics, haven’t watched commercial media in 20 years, have no particular religious views, I could go on and on.

    One of the most disheartening things for me is when I make poly friends and they find out I am not, they walk away. It use to hurt but I have come to understand, there lives are so full looking for and working on so many relationship that they just don’t have time for me.

    Cheers to a reasonable discussion on the matter.

  • Bob Garrett
    Posted at 00:11h, 16 February Reply

    It’s also natural to kill and steal. It makes it easier to kill or steal in certain situations. It does take a great deal more strength to choose life and work instead of stealing.

  • Elanra
    Posted at 01:32h, 16 February Reply

    Interesting perspective through your limiting lens 🙂 if everything is OUR creation…. it more comes down to.. what it is WE choose to create here WHILE we are here…. why would it be that monogamy is a “Conscious monogamy is a long-term transformational workshop.” when everything in our creation literally always is a very CLEAR refection of where we are at in our evolution. Since we all are magnetic attracting thought spaces as well as the center of OUR story. we learn, it is wise to take full responsibility for everything we are creating as it has a major ripple effect for the next seven generations to come… There is a reason why there is a yin and a yang and not a yin/yang and a yin so to say. There is a reason why Jeshua has been projected to be on the cross and magdalene is WHERE? for so far there has NEVER EVER yet in human history ever before been a divine union couple fully merged as equals. So…Monagomy is just another way of describing a blueprint in our matrix for something that still never has reached its high peak of full merging of the divine couple. so yes… everything is an exploration in our journey of ascension. the question is… what do we choose? What seeds do we wish to create? and are we aware that just the slightest “text message” in the direction of creating something from wholeness or something from a place of lack or separation takes quite the warrior to discern which is which…. I challenge you to dive deep….And I meet you there. We rise as one. where no one is left behind. Peace Elanra.

  • Susann
    Posted at 03:51h, 16 February Reply

    I like the quite respectful view of this article towards both sides. Nevertheless I refuse these comparisons between different styles of living/loving. For me the decision to live in polyamourous, monogamous or other forms relationships is not based on “nature” or evolution. It is rather a question of personality and occasion. Each relationship has its challenges. How they are managed depends on the personalities involved and the environment, that surrounds them. Relationships can be easy or difficult, close or loose, healthy or abusive etc – no matter how many people are involved. Because of this more individual view, I don’t agree with any generalizations. Every relationship is unique.

  • Saul francis dalton
    Posted at 06:24h, 16 February Reply

    Seems like an excuse to stay promiscuous rather than to grow up and think less about yourself and more about the family unit,

  • sc
    Posted at 06:33h, 16 February Reply

    Wow, This is completely WRONG. Many times in nature we see plenty upon plenty of species maintain a level of monogamy including wolves, birds, and other mammals. Sure its more common in nature to sleep and move on, but state “It’s not in our nature” is a load of BS. It all depends on what you prefer and Polyamorist is another way to say bachelor. You dont want to be tied down and that’s fine, You want to have sex and nothing else and that’s fine, but it just means you dont want to commit to one person. And obviously this person is completely ignorant of what Monogamy means. It exactly means being with ONE PERSON and it’s not limiting, Youre with them for however long you can make it and duration is completely natural. When youre with someone long enough youre happy to be with them. .it’s actually liberating.

    If you want to play a tune on ignorance, just look at your lies in the mirror and claim them as the only truth, which is what you are doing. I mean yeah pointing out the following: Its unnatural to accept certain truths about ourselves, but that’s not what you are declaring. Having sex with multiple people doesnt make you more mature, doesnt give you a greater sense of naturalism, and it certainly doesn’t give you the GROWTH you so claim about. Growing is about learning, just having sex with different people only leads to you more likely getting STDs. You dont mature as a person, you dont get superior insight on life, and you most certainly dont have the right to claim monogamy is unnatural when it actually does occur in nature.

    Yes, Polyamorism is natural too, but dont declare wild bullshit because each person is different and you most certainly have every right to believe this, but honestly, it’s a load of BS. This is what a spiritualist douche bag says to someone who doesnt want to stay after sex. This is what that spiritualist douche says to pick up women, and honestly, you make little sense. You really have no idea why divorce rates are so high, it’s because people like you think it’s okay to sleep around when your other is away. It’s being inconsiderate and stupid.People cheat because they want attention, or sex, or something the significant other isnt doing which it shouldnt be either way. Your FREE LOVE speech is for hippies and yeah it is a sharing experience, it doesnt mean humans are devoid of monogamy and declaring it unnatural really shows you have no concept of it. If you want to keep playing the bachelor game until youre an old man that’s fine, but you really have no concept of monogamy. Monogamy is being with someone you can ultimately trust, appreciate, and be with every day. It’s hard to sync with someone, it’s not a thing to take lightly which is what most idiots do every day. So to say Polyamorism is hard is the only truth you spoke of so far. It’s hard to find someone to have sex with every day. Sharing your body with strangers is what it is and nothing else. Please quit sniffing your own bullshit as some deeper meaning to fucking. It’s sex, nothing special. You dont gain a new level of evolutionary awareness by doing it. So please quit proclaiming like youre the messiah of relationships and sex because youre just some guy whose too busy snorting his own farts of pomposity and smugness to realize youre just an average guy who doesnt want to be tied down or find some, it’s fine, it’s understandable, but monogamy is not unnatural. If it were, our ancestors wouldnt have been doing it then.

  • Thomas Wyse
    Posted at 08:06h, 16 February Reply

    The integrity of the article was lost when two terms were defined in the title and then three terms were defined in the article:
    1) Monogamy
    2) Polyamory
    3) CONSCIOUS Monogamy

    This creates bias. The author is only addressing a perspective through weighing the evidence with a bias.

    So, where’s the definition of conscious polyamory? The article makes it seem like poly-amorous individuals are just out getting laid and the conscious aspect of the engagements is forsaken for a quick score. What this article does very effectively is polarize sexuality more deeply than it already is by avoiding discussing the implications of what happens when individuals practice conscious lovemaking in all aspects of their lives.

    It’s not the monogamy that is challenging, it’s the bringing consciousness to it. It’s not the polyamory that is easy because it is natural, it is bringing consciousness to the polyamory that is very challenging.

    To be clear it is very ‘easy’ to function as an animal – eat, sleep, fuck, protect self. There are no social anythings to consider except the social structure that brings the appearance of safety in numbers. The lying, cheating and stealing is still very active and rampant.

    What is challenging is bringing conscious awareness to every experience – Why do I act like this, where did I learn it, is this beneficial to me AND my environment, how will this impact myself and my environment tomorrow, next week, 50 years from now, do I wish to change, grow or evolve, what purpose/intention does this serve, etc etc etc.

    To be in an ‘open relationship’ is what I define as being in a relationship where commitment (to self, to other, to spirit) is non-existent or only mildly engaged, and maybe only engaged when it is egoistically driven. This should NOT be confused with polyamory. Polyamory REQUIRES love. Open relationships do not, they only require freedom. Freedom to be unconscious even.

    To be in a poly-amorous relationship is what I define as to begin to (and deepen into) act(ing) more naturally AND being radically honest with self AND other AND spirit. It is to master one’s organism by listening to the environment and responding with intention, integrity and accountability. The universe as I know it is causative/consequential – I act and it responds and I must respond in like. The impact of my breath has repercussions that I must own, where I place my breath and with what force is inspired by the reflective nature around me. If I wish to ignore that causation then I must stop breathing, and own the consequence of that (in)action. Polyamory means, quite definitively, many loves. It does not mean many fucks, or many sexual partners, or many pursuits for what I think love means. It means I love everyone and am free to express that love in whatever way is appropriate and in integrity with my agreements to self, other and spirit.

    Polyamory is challenging because it means I have to face my true God Nature. It means I have to be in alignment with the universal laws. It means I must love myself unabashedly, undeniably, and implicitly regardless of the will of all others who might wish to make me think or believe I am limited in any way, including and not overlooking the time it takes to express my love to everything I wish to express it to when I am not focused solely on my own inner processes.

    I would consider every sexual bodyworker poly-amorous. Why? Because even within the structure of personal intimate ‘monogamous’ relationships they have outside of the ‘office’ they take time and energy to process individuals (in monogamous, open, undefined or poly-amorous relationships) AND couples AND sometimes groups with emotion boundaries, past traumas, future expectations and engage the sexual body at varying levels of intensity and with varying types of interactions between the therapist(s) and which-ever clients are in the process together.

    To preach or promote monogamy from that position is deceptive unless it is the client’s desire to play that game. When it is the client’s desire to play a monogamous role group exercises need more awareness brought to them as well to retain the awareness of the implications of what those group-exercises will create in the accountability of the monogamous conceptual framework.

  • Agape Love
    Posted at 10:04h, 16 February Reply

    Such clear and helpful perspective.Thank you for your article. “Conscious monogamy is a long-term transformational workshop” well said!

  • yvy niyom
    Posted at 13:20h, 16 February Reply

    Totally share the view of Monogamy as a developpement of humans and not a ‘Nature’ it self… Naturaly we are annimals and we are not tied to have one partner, however with evolvment if we did not limit our genes to spread like virus we would witness our own extinction due to genetical shared annomalies!

  • Caitlyn Johnston
    Posted at 20:10h, 16 February Reply

    This confirms what I’ve thought for a couple of decades: polyamoury is for cowards with a fear of commitment . They want the stability of a committed relationship without having to actually commit to someone.

  • Paula M
    Posted at 22:58h, 16 February Reply

    I reject your idea that modes of human sexual behaviour can be more or less natural or more or less advanced in this context. That’s just plain silly and giving people justifications they probably don’t need. And although I agree that people should endevour to communicate well and understand the principles of a relationship, your assertion at the end that monogomy should be reserved for experts is also silly.
    MESSAGE: All you need to do people is open your heart and do as thou wilt. whether it be this way or that way, don’t be convinced by someone elses personal analysis.

  • Brad Farrow
    Posted at 03:14h, 17 February Reply

    Monogamy is 100% natural, and humans aren’t even close to the only species that uses it for mating or companionship

  • Matty
    Posted at 11:15h, 17 February Reply

    My problem with this article is it never once explains how monogamy is NOT natural. It just expects the reader to accept that as fact. Monogamy seems pretty natural to me. Can someone give me any examples of how monogamy is unnatural?

  • Dean A Campbell
    Posted at 15:02h, 17 February Reply

    Thank you all for this discussion of a very complex subject. My thoughts include what hampers people’s clear thinking …. of all things in Life….including relationships ?? I believe that we are all born with great capabilities in all areas Human …. including Intelligence. I believe that little attention is paid to the connection between Emotion and Intellect. Many of us were brought up by adults who had little attention/patience for their child’s emotions. Early on, we babies repeatedly got the message that our caretakers did not want to hear it……not our crying, nor our screeming anger or frustration. This dynamic interfered with the natural, preprogrammed process that all babies have ….. the processing of Emotion through its physical expression …. crying, screaming, etc. When this process is stopped/discouraged/interfered with, the Emotion is held back/stuffed down and begins accumulating. Over the years, this accumulation of unexpressed Emotion becomes our. “Baggage..” I believe this Emotion Accumulation interferes with our Intellects ability to process the constant stream of stimulation flowing into our brains through our senses. Example…….HOW TO SUCCEED IN RELATIONSHIPS. How do we succeed in securing the emotional and physical closeness we all want and need ?? This requires very complex, clear thinking/processing. The more Baggage we carry inside, the less success we have in processing and the less success we experience in our lives.. SO THE QUESTION BECOMES…….HOW DO I CLEAR THIS OLD ACCUMULATION OF UNEXPRESSED EMOTION ??? So that I can think clearly about complex subjects like……Polyamoury and/or Monogamy. Of course there are many tools to address this problem……..PLZ SHARE ALL THE TOOLS YOU HAVE USED TO HELP YOURSELF.

  • sarah
    Posted at 17:05h, 17 February Reply

    Biblically unsound. And a detriment to truth. We were meant for one partner. So much more to say here – but at the end of the day- challenge you to read the Bible with an open heart, and see what it says. We are spiritual beings, not meant to be wrapped up in our flesh- it is a blessing to know one person intimately and completely…. try it. .. why not? You have nothing to lose. .. and everything to gain.

  • Vinny arora
    Posted at 00:47h, 18 February Reply

    Interesting read!!!! True too.

  • Henry Newton
    Posted at 15:49h, 20 February Reply

    Really? It’s 2016 and we’re still appealing to what is considered ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ as arguments for relationships? Please. Do you not see how this line of thought has supported homophobia for centuries?
    Nothing ‘happens of its own accord’. There is no hard line between what is conscious and what his habitual in non-human animals; the gray area is far larger in human ones.
    And, even if we accept that something is ‘more natural’ than another thing, in no way does it necessarily follow that there is an inherent good in following that supposedly ‘more natural’ thing. Modern medicine is generally held up as a clear example of this.

  • Daniel Harris
    Posted at 22:58h, 20 February Reply

    This is a funny (strange) old piece of writing for sure. It’s got so many gotchas I’ve had so much fun finding them all. I’m also having loads of fun reading through the comments and liking the fact that some of the commenters even think a bit like I do.

    Michael McDonald, the author, uses a number of devices (frequently used in the art of persuasion) that I’m finding being increasingly used in writing across all sectors these days. I’m really not sure if he is doing this consciously or unconsciously. Simply put, he’s making assertions based on dubious (but assumed) common foundations. His use of NLP (neurolinguistic programming) techniques is rampant.

    I would so desire that he would stick to just stating his desires for himself and let that be the starting (rather than ending) point for his thesis. I see this so much where writers are not confident enough just to speak from their “I” that they have to construct a world view where their desires are proven to be correct by scientific proof. People! Wake up! Desires don’t need to be proven to be correct; to be valid desires! What you desire is valid! That’s enough.

    What I also find a little sad and simultaneously laughable are those comments that pick up the obvious bait and continue the futile argument of what might be “natural” or “unnatural”. Well, I’m glad in a way, because it allows me to be smug about my viewpoint. But, ideally, I’d love you all to get this. And I salute a number of commenters who already do, such as Michael (07:57, 14th) “oversimplified”; Mitch (20:14, 14th) “comparative vocabulary”; Lark Mee (21:54, 15th) “smokescreen”; Elanra (01:32, 16th) “we choose”; Paula M (22:58, 16th) “plain silly”.

    I have an issue with the whole premise of this article. I just don’t buy that there is anything called “natural” in this world. And I challenge the use of that word and the use of the word “unnatural” too. Just as I would challenge the use of “truth” or “enlightenment”. These “comparative” words are incredibly divisive – essentially marketing tools to hook humanity into believing that they are not perfect as they are. And I just don’t buy any of them and I instantly question the motives of those who use these types of words.

    The one thing I do buy is “choice”. We choose to behave in one way or another and then we choose to justify or reason or analyse our actions by any number of criteria that we again choose. But this is all choosing. There is no absolute “right” or “wrong” – it’s all just choosing in a particular “context”. And, sure, we can individually choose to maintain a world view where we believe in “natural” and “unnatural” but surely it’s better to be aware of this particular self hypnosis. And, yes, I’m choosing this particular world view of “it’s all choosing” because it gives me lots of options but also puts the responsibility for the outcome of my actions firmly in my own lap – no one else to blame. And I like that world view because if everyone felt fully responsible for the place they are in right now (the present moment) then I reckon we’d all be having a lot more fun on this planet right now.

    The funny thing is I actually go with the underlying sentiment of this questionably written article, after dismissing the amateur hypnosis session (the groundless foundation); not speaking from the “I”; comparing and ranking very personal preferences; not presenting any scientific analysis but still using analytical language… Breathe… The sentiment, for me, is: try stuff out and see what works for you/me/us in any given moment. What else do we actually need to say?

    Don’t we all want to live in a world where we are all choosing from our highest vision of our selves every moment of the day? And, if that is the case, don’t we all need to be learning and teaching tools that assist us to access our vision (feelings and thoughts) and really be conscious of not trying to hypnotise any one of us to a particular action or way of thinking – unless we are really clear about explaining that this is what we are doing. Because that’s what I’m trying to do here and so are all of you – because language is an unavoidable form of hypnosis. 😉

    Did Michael McDonald get what he wanted? My cynical side thinks that he wrote a divisive article just to create traffic. Hey, it happens (a lot). But if we bother to read each other’s comments we’ll all have learnt a lot of useful information about sexuality and language and more – despite.

    Cheers Daniel

  • Eddy
    Posted at 17:06h, 26 February Reply

    I read the article. I always find in these types of articles everyone leaves out Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Why is that??? The more people you sleep with the more you are at risk.

  • Nik
    Posted at 13:33h, 11 March Reply

    Wow, great article and start of a topic (even if I think that poly, too, can be “conscious” or “unconscious”). The comments made it even better. Looking for the evolution in the author’s thinking (;-)) and the follow up article!

  • Nik
    Posted at 13:36h, 11 March Reply

    Eddy – to answer your question, because it is assumed that you practice safe sex with all your partners. If you do so, and screen yourself periodically, your risk would be actually lower than a lot of “serial monogamists” who tend not to (or have partners that cheat and don’t practice safe sex).

  • Diko
    Posted at 03:48h, 12 March Reply

    IMO the main issue in XXI century is the lack of time. This article also brings up a few questions about: kids, thinking women’s opinion and something else. Read it all people to find what I am talking about… or simply scroll to the end 😀 😀 😀

    As the author’s only claim that he supported briefly by pin-pointing with one sentence the hours in a week makes one think about own choices.

    Quality of life is perhaps our goal which includes self-development and value contribution to society. A person that has empathy can’t possibly invest that much time in multiple endeavors. It is the dynamics of the society that are a huge obstacle. Based on the assumption that any superficial poly-actions are what the author calls unconscious polygamy convinces me that in our society it is already less a matter of a herd choices.

    Additionally, I presume that the author is actually writing about, just as everybody else, of “oligamy” due to the psychological nature of humans of keeping social connections. We can maintain true social networks of about 150-300 people. FB friends number doesn’t count, alas! :-))) On the more deep personal level I haven’t come across to read about 🙁 I can educatedly speculate that More than 3-5 would be insanely hard and one would not have the time for other things 😉

    Kids and work play huge role in our life where a herd-driven society of artificially unconscious monogamous individuals – idiots, for short (please refer to the original meaning of the word). Both take time and energy. Both aside of fulfilling our needs should also be considered as token paid to society.

    -= Kids =-
    Can you imagine the complexity of raising kids properly making sure they won’t end up shooting their classmates? Are you ready to meet the dynamics of others’ choices about having own kids? We are no more amazon tribes and because of that it is much harder to make informed choices while considering all variables to make such a profound commitment for adequate raise of kids.

    There’s also the realm where parental engagement is not part of the commitment, but IMO today this is hard to achieve if kids are present.

    Let’s then talk about oligamy without kids.

    -= Work =-
    As roughly at least 1/4 part of our conscious life is transferring our value to society we spend time, energy and sometimes even emotions on while interacting with different people. How two or three persons (ergo oligamy and not polygamy) in your life can take a good part in it? By semantic separation: with Jane will share work related info, with Natasha my hobby interests mostly and with Emi – everything else.
    Quite the discipline is required.

    Mashup techniques could help in all-in-one mix strategy. And yet the time factor is not on our side neither. Truly getting all of one, let alone three, relationship(s) is quite questionable. In short-term, yes could happen indeed, but our brain evolved to “let the semen do its Mojo on most possible candidates” not on spending leisure time and interactions for long periods of time e.g. decades. 😉

    People change and that is only a string of the dynamics in relationships. Friends – yes, Sexual partners ONLY – yes, but getting on personal level in all of the above – IMO impossible.

    On the other hand true polygamy would be more like what is called “scalping” in financial trading I would imagine. “10 sec buy-in & sell-out” is not a bad option neither. That is a true polygamy. That is what primarily we males have evolved in for 50k years. And than the woman ruined it all for less than 2k years. 😀 😀 😀

    I love it the fair part of the oligamy game that the Muslims play. Up to 4 women if you can pay for it. How the women express their needs, however in that side of the religious coin is another topic. The importance is that even they have found a restriction to down number it to an oligamy instead of polygamy.

    -= Women =-
    Now-a-days it is even more complicated: Women want to be “self-sustained”. Ergo that is why more and more women wish to have relationships with no strings. And that is why we even bother to discuss it here. Some of them even want to raise kids alone. Now here is the big question:

    * How are these men represented to the kids?
    * And how will affect these children while they grow up?

    Ultimately this is what concerns me most. I have my observations on offsprings from post-war Germany where the lack of father figures back then was tremendous. But would these observations be valid today? From mechanical-analog world to purely digital-electronic society the abyss might be huge.

    I also wonder what is the different opinions of thinking women (the other women I don’t care about, ’cause they are “so-wie-so” (anyway) a part of the herd).

    My main concerns are:
    * Time needed without affecting personal quality life.
    * Kids development in a herd driven society that can be a huge pain in the ass.
    * Oligamy vs Polygami – I know there is no discrete answer to that one 🙂

    • Diko
      Posted at 03:51h, 12 March Reply

      P.S. I don’t know if I just tailored “oligamy” or someone did before me. Never-the-less its usage seems pretty clear to me 😉

  • Your Full Name
    Posted at 10:33h, 06 April Reply

    The truth is you haven’t looked at other species in the wild. Monogamy and Polygamy are two ends of a spectrum and there are species that are more monogamous than us. Some species will not even find another mate after the death of their initial mate.

    As humans I believe we are not at one extreme, and as such are pulled in two directions. Some more than others. I personally can feel that pull but have tended towards monogamy.

    I’ll leave a quirky link for you to ponder about:

  • Sudeshna Sengupta
    Posted at 11:38h, 11 May Reply

    Some excellent points made but I am not sure why he keeps refering to monogamy as advanced. It’s an option just like the option of polyamory … a bad option for many, a good option for many, the best option for some and yes it needs to be mindfully enjoyed, thoughtfully navigated, developed with respect and care, and definitely needs to be fine-tuned and polished throughout the entire journey … because it’s a very complex and sophisticated idea, like the idea of democracy, for instance. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wheeler
    Posted at 20:40h, 25 May Reply

    This is natural. This isn’t natural. Nature as concrete. Concrete isn’t natural. Sorry, Michael.

  • Eva
    Posted at 04:37h, 26 May Reply

    I’m with Michael above too. My parents are genuinely, happily married after 45 years, along with most of couples in my extended family. And my father will argue till he’s blue in the face that human beings are naturally monogamous. He sure is! My brother too. But, because of this, I assumed that I had simply been socialised to be the same. The men I am attracted to are often not monogamous, so I decided to try reprogramming myself… I wanted to open my mind to other ways of doing things. Unlike the argument in this article, I tried to change what was natural for me and do what was not natural. First I tried to detach love from sex. I failed. I fell in love to some extent with everyone I slept with more than once. Eventually I figured out that being in love doesn’t have to equal being committed and monogamous. So for the past few years I’ve had multiple partners who are also close friends and I love them dearly. At the end of the day however, I can’t guarantee any of them will be there for me in a sudden emergency, I can’t make future plans with them. I have no one to share financial burdens with. And I don’t feel anywhere near the same level of depth to those relationships as what I’ve had with my longer term monogamous partners. I’ve had two relationships over five years and my desire for sex with them didn’t decline, nor did I ever even wish to look at other men. Once I’m in love with one guy I don’t even notice the existence of others. So, I can say without a doubt, having tried both, polyamory is no more natural than monogamy. For me it’s been much harder and more painful than monogamy could ever be. And I’m sure there are plenty of other people like me! I simply can’t find the right guy to settle down with.. but when I do… it will be such a relief!

  • Bolu
    Posted at 08:01h, 26 May Reply

    Insightful post!
    I see in the post a diversion of our minds away from the norm. I will like to think of monogamy as one of those things society has imposed on us most especially the many rules accepted by default. The normal agreeable thing for everyone is to be with one partner, justifying insecurity, leaving our leisure and confidence to be based on one. This is not to bad mouth monogamy but the truth is so many people are far gone into what they are not because of norm.
    To understand norm, we have to step away from it.
    I have been choked severally in monogamous relationships, the very moment I decided to step aside from the norm; I saw a lot of things clearly-So much so that if I were to remain a polyamorist, I will and if I were to go back to monogamy, I will totally enjoy it as well. All these can be attributed to my realization of the fact that I was letting norm get the best part of me. Michael through this post has made us see outside the norm so much so that even if u want to remain in monogamy, it is now, with a more open mind.

  • Joe
    Posted at 15:14h, 13 June Reply

    It seems to me someone’s insecurity is labeling monogamy as “advanced” vs the natural thing.

    Advanced huh?

    What a chicken.

  • Burl Bird
    Posted at 05:44h, 10 July Reply

    What a load of…
    So there are sexual preferences that are somehow “less natural” than others?
    Would you call me a retarded homophobe if I dared say that homosexuality is less natural than heterosexuality? I am sure you would. I would call myself a retarded homphobe if I would claim something like that.

  • What Monogamists Can Learn From Polyamorists » Together
    Posted at 10:01h, 20 July Reply

    […] That’s not to say we’ll all end up polyamorous one day. Monogamy, when chosen consciously, is an extraordinary expression of love and completeness—it’s just that it’s often not chosen consciously. […]

  • PoMoNoNo
    Posted at 06:10h, 26 July Reply

    Nice story but of no intellectual value, you’ve just taken your opinions and presented them as fact.

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