“Men are polygamous, and women are monogamous”, “all men go to the left, this is masculine nature”, “women are always waiting for their one and only” - such opinions with striking frequency can be found both on the Internet and in decent communication. These stereotypes are sometimes so persistent that it never occurs to us to question them. However, how true are they?
What do scientists say?
In nature, about 90% of bird species and 5% of mammals are monogamous (that is, they create stable pairs and raise offspring together), and among primates (to which scientists include humans), such 23%. Scientists are still debating whether Homo Sapience is inherently polygamous or monogamous.
Some researchers believe that people are polygamous and the biological task of a man in this case is to impregnate as many women as possible, and the task of a woman is to get pregnant from the most status and physically strong man.
But this point of view is not supported by historians and anthropologists. According to them, our ancestors, as well as modern primitive tribes, formed pairs for living together and raising children. Such alliances were beneficial in terms of population survival, as they allowed both parents to share responsibilities and take care of the offspring. According to researcher Tom Smith, “On the one hand, such marriages guaranteed the wife and children care and support from the husband / father, and on the other hand, they guaranteed the husband that the children in which he invests his resources were from him. Contrary to popular belief, there have not been and do not exist societies where sexual and love relationships would not be regulated by tradition or law. These traditions may be more or less harsh, but they are always there. However, no matter what point of view the scientists adhere to, they agree that all people should be considered monogamous or polygamous, without making a division into men and women.
When talking about the differences between men and women, scientists also often point out that men have higher levels of testosterone, a hormone responsible, among other things, for sexual desire. But on the basis of this, it is impossible to draw a conclusion about the tendency of men to polygamy, since testosterone stimulates sexual desire, and not the desire to have as many sexual partners as possible.
What do sociologists and psychologists say?
If we were writing an article about hamsters, or dwarf jerboas, then the discussion could have ended - all biological theories have been sorted out, there is nothing further to discuss. However, humans, unlike animals, are not controlled by physiology and hormones alone. Therefore, let's look at how the sexual behavior of men and women differs, based on modern sociological research.
In general, according to the results of surveys and social experiments, men do tend to have more sexual partners, move to sexual relationships faster and even think about sex more often than women. As a result of a social experiment conducted in the United States, 72% of men agreed to have sex with a pretty stranger. While all the women in the experiment refused to have sex with a handsome stranger.
According to one survey, American men, on average, would prefer to have 18 sexual partners during their lifetime, while women, on average, preferred to stay at 4. But in reality, both men and women had approximately the same number of sexual partners (4 for men and 3.5 for women). In addition, a fairly large percentage of Americans, regardless of gender, remain faithful to one partner all their lives (among people over 60, this is 40%, and among those in their thirties, 25%).
In other words, in opinion polls, both men and women, as a rule, express only their desired position, trying to comply with social norms as much as possible, prescribing that a man should strive to have many sexual partners, and a woman should strive to find “that very one”. The real situation may differ significantly from what it appears on the basis of dry statistics. In practice, the number of sexual partners for men and women does not differ much.
And what is the attitude to the ideas of polygamy / monogamy / cheating in Russia?
According to polls by the Levada Center, regardless of gender, the majority of Russians (63%) consider cheating unacceptable. Among men, those who do not see anything reprehensible in treason are 34%, while among women - 16%. But these differences are not so significant that it could be argued that men are more likely to approve of adultery or are more inclined to it. Regardless of gender, Russians are more likely to target monogamy in regular relationships.
In a word, each person builds his own personal life and decides for himself how many sexual partners he will have - one, a couple of dozen or none at all. But whatever choice we make, it is we who make it, not the X or Y chromosomes in our DNA.