Why are we monogamous? Some evolutionary psychologists believe that humans are, by our very nature, promiscuous animals. According to such claims, the size of our testes and the length of our penises, are believed to be adaptive in sperm competition (the phenomenon that arises whenever the sperm of different males compete to fertilise the female's eggs). Our penises, for example, are the largest of the great apes, both in absolute terms and relative to body size (the poor gorilla, at 3cm, has the smallest).
The topic of monogamy came up during brunch yesterday with friends (at the appropriately named "Cheeky Monkey" Cafe). We were discussing extra-marital affairs (biologists would call these 'extra-pair copulations' or EPCs for short) and whether or not it is acceptable (and under what circumstances it would be so).
One of our female friends was the victim of a cheating husband. According to her husband, it had only happened once and he was so wrought with guilt that he confessed everything to his wife. After some marriage counselling, all now seems to be well. In the case of our friend, the husband actually engaged in an EPC with another man. Our friend is certainly not alone.
I once met an elderly gay man who told me about his 'closeted' past as a married man with a wife and two kids. I guess he was half out the closet for most of his marriage. His wife knew about his indiscretions (with other men) and the kids only found out when he eventually left his family for one of his lovers.
Of course, both of my examples involve men being unfaithful to their wives with other men but even without the homosexual element, it DOES seems to be common for males to be the ones seeking the EPCs. That's not to say that women are more inclined to mate monogamously but let's keep the focus on men because I wonder if this is the reason why gay men are often so promiscuous even when they are in a stable relationship. I was telling my friends at brunch about this gay couple I knew who were married and in an open relationship. Why go through the trouble of marriage if one is to engage in sanctioned EPCs? Before getting to the answer, our conversation had already moved onto another topic (whether it is OK for friends to kiss each other on the lips).