Monogamy and Polygamy Essay Example

Posted on April 13, 2020

It would be reasonable to say that the standard of the constitution of a family, as well as the type of sexual preferences one should endure, have been the topic for discussion for many decades. In such regard, reasonably, people start to question whether the current state of monogamous relations is more beneficial than polygamous ties, something that is more spread in a natural realm. More importantly, the question of a particular mode of relationships people pursue indicates an important socio-economic direction within society. Laws are passed, and specific regulations are imposed favoring a particular type of gender and family politics. In such a context, the two most well-known modes of relationships between people will be examined. The evidence will be elucidated to determine whether appealing to the social construct of monogamy is more potent and beneficial for humankind than the more natural-based notion of polygamy.

In light of the matters compared, the importance of the topic is self-explanatory. When several modes of relations are compared, there will be one more beneficial than another. In such regard, the general direction of the paper is to show and prove that monogamy is a more favorable mode of gender relations than polygamy. While naysayers often perceive monogamy as limiting and the one coercing human freedom of choice, the paper hypothesizes that the opposing sides of polygamous relations outweigh its benefits. In light of such factors, the author will use a comparative analysis to prove the hypothesis that monogamy is more beneficial than polygamy. As a result, when comparing polygamy with monogamy, various social, economic, and physical factors should be considered.


When it comes to comparing two modes of relationships, the first thing one should do is about defining key terms. Speaking about monogamy, it is essential to indicate that such type of relationships occurs when an individual has only one mate or partner for the entire lifetime or some specified period. It is classified as a mating system where the preference is made of building stable relationships with one mate rather than with many people (Klug 2). In contrast, polygamy is defined by the fact that a person engages in a multiple mating process, something that is often associated with the fulfillment of males’ natural reproductive success (Klug 1). The crucial thing is about understanding where both terms stem from. As to the polygamy, naturalism is the root. Namely, the critical assumption standing behind the notion is that in nature, the environment where males have a limited number of female mates, having multiple relationships, and mating partners is a direct way of increasing lifetime reproductive success (Klug 1). In contrast, while monogamy is less common in nature than monogamy, it stems from social and cultural norms, suggesting that human beings are prone to establish strong relations while having only one mate for a lifetime. Importantly, in history, monogamy was often associated with poor social and economic classes. At the time of the Roman Empire, when Christianity was rising, monogamy became a favorable concept often popular among impoverished members of Roman society (Schuiling 58). It is crucial to understand that there is no strict and direct answer concerning a particular mode of relationships each person should endure. However, one can offer evidence, thus giving people an ability to make a reasonable decision whether they want to appeal to either a monogamous or polygamous mating approach.


Starting with monogamy, one should indicate that the notion is a recent novel idea. Based on existing genetic studies, about 10,000 years ago, monogamy began to prevail over polygamy among early human populations (Burton 1). Keeping that in mind, the assumption can be made that monogamy is a social construct that developed along with the development of human civilization. Interestingly, there is a theory assuming that monogamous unions emerged because of human populations becoming agricultural, something that helped to preserve land and property and provide it to the same narrow kin group (Burton 1). From a historical perspective, monogamy was critical for the development of human civilization. As to the natural world, the evidence shows that monogamy is a relatively rare phenomenon among animals. According to G. Schuiling, “3-5%, from a total of 4000 mammalian species,” engage in monogamous relations (1). Considering such data, it is clear that the phenomenon is the one mainly associated with humans. While the existence of the notion is perplexing for many evolutionary scientists, namely because from the perspective of natural world and evolution, mating with as many partners as possible provides better chances for passing a genetic code, the crucial thing to understand is that monogamy is tightly associated with human culture and civilization (Klug 1). As a result, from the evidence mentioned above, one can suggest that monogamous relations is the one crucial factor for the development of human civilization, and the ones that exist regardless of the type of system utilized in the natural world.


When it comes to arguments favoring polygamy, people often point toward adverse sides of monogamy, claiming that rising divorce rates is one of them. It is suggested that monogamy is often associated with legal, religious, and economic restraints, something that did not offer people mating choices expect of monogamy (Schuiling 60). While such a perspective was true several centuries ago, nowadays, with the decline of the importance of restraints mentioned above, people have a freedom of choice between polygamy and monogamy.

Starting with the benefits of polygamy, one should indicate that a person with more than one mating partner is something associated with improved sexual satisfaction and socio-economic status. Burton argues that a person engaging with multiple partners have a better chance of making a greater offspring that will “supply him with a ready source of labor, and the means, through arranged marriages, to forge multiple social, economic, and political alliances” (Burton). As to the benefit of polygamy for women, there are several insights worth mentioning. It is believed that a female living in polygamous relations is released from a heavy burden of housekeeping and childbearing, namely because there are more people in the mating system that can take upon some parts of such processes (Burton). Finally, people might argue that polygamy is beneficial when it comes to increasing the population. In the case of war or increased mortality, polygamy can be used to produce more offspring, thus saving the gene fond (Burton). As a result, there are various benefits of polygamy to consider.

Speaking about the drawbacks of the phenomenon, when examining the notion of the modern cultural and social lenses, one should indicate that the idea sanctions and perpetuates gender inequality. The evidence shows that societies appealing to polygamous relations tend to subjugate women and enforce them to marry at a younger age, thus bringing individuals into a setup fostering competition (Burton). While polygamy is the system that can help produce a greater offspring, one should understand that such offspring will be subject to a lesser quality of life. For example, when there are children from different women and one man, such individuals will receive less attention from their father, something that can have psychological and developmental repercussions (Burton). Finally, in polygamous families, there is a problem with violence and morality — the evidence is showing that infant mortality is higher in polygynous families rather than monogamous ones (Burton). Thus, polygamy is the mating system that has its benefits and significant drawbacks.


Having a particular perception of polygamy and monogamy, it is crucial to provide several points of comparison. In such regard, when it comes to specific benefits of monogamy, one should say that in such type of relations there is a lack of male desertion, there is more stable parental care offered to offspring, males achieve the greatest fitness benefits by mating with and defending a single female, and partners in monogamous relations are more likely to gain more shared property and resources (Klug 3). In such regard, when partners focus on building stable monogamous ties, there is a higher chance that such a union will be more productive and efficient than a polygamous one. Importantly, from a social and economic perspective, while many argue that polygamy is more beneficial in financial terms, monogamy became the norm because polygamy causes significant social issues. It tends to leave many males without wives, something that urges people to engage in risky behaviors (Reville). With such a social and cultural environment, one can expect increased rates of conflict and decreased rates of productivity in society. For instance, in China in the period from 1988 to 2004, because of preference to male children, the number of unmarried men more than doubled, something that led to the increase incrime rates along the way (Reville). While polygamy is legal in 58 out of 200 nations, the majority of populations favoring the phenomenon are Muslim countries in Africa and Asia that are known for gender inequality (Reville). The thing is that it is tough to engage in polygamy in practice without experiencing its adverse sides.

In such a context, naysayers might argue that with the majority of nations favoring monogamy, there is an increasing problem of divorces, something that is excluded from polygamous systems. Hadhazy argues that along with increased divorce rates, there is a steady rise of people who, while being in official monogamous relations, have additional sexual partners. The data shows that about 18 percent of married people have had a sexual partner other than their spouse while married (Hadhazy). The problem with such type of thinking is that a crucial factor and context is not considered. Namely, there are myriad factors that can force people to cheat in monogamous relations. However, the factor of creating a personal choice and not something that depends on the mating system itself is paramount for a proper functioning of society. One can assume that people might not be ready for monogamy, something that results in cheating and divorces. However, considering all the pros and cons, it is evidence that monogamy is better than polygamy on social, cultural, and economic levels. Such a system is crucial for eradicating gender inequality and making societies safe. Even though there will be a lesser offspring, childing will experience a better quality of life than if they were born as a result of polygamous relationships. Without a doubt, living in monogamy is a challenging process that requires self-discipline and readiness. However, when such a phenomenon is implemented correctly, its benefits greatly outweigh its flaws.


All in all, when the investigation and comparative analysis showed that considering various social, cultural, physical, and economic factors, one can declare that monogamy is more beneficial than polygamy. While being a social construct, it is associated with the development of human civilization and has played a crucial part in the matter of people becoming more sophisticated as a species. When polygamy is more associated with the animal kingdom, when the practice is implemented into a social realm, it can lead to gender inequality and a worse quality of life for children born in such a system. Proponents of polygamy claim that such a mating approach provides better opportunities and greater freedom of choice. However, people often forget that without taking responsibility for one’s actions, a person can find oneself in a chaotic environment, where competition for multiple mates becomes a norm, something that inevitably leads to social and cultural conflict. As a result, because humans are at the top of the animal kingdom, individuals are able to create concepts like monogamous marriage to battle personal animal instincts for the sake of greater good.

Works Cited
Burton, Neel. “The Pros and Cons of Polygamy.” Psychology Today, 4 Jan. 2018,

Hadhazy, Adam. “Life’s Extremes: Monogamy Vs. Polygamy.”, 9 Oct. 2011,

Klug, Hope. “Why Monogamy? A Review of Potential Ultimate Drivers.” Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 6, 2018, p. 106,

Reville, William. “Are Humans Naturally Monogamous or Polygamous?” The Irish Times, 4 Oct. 2018,

Schuiling, G. A. “The benefit and the doubt: why monogamy?” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol. 24, no. 1, 2003, pp. 55-61.

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