Home » Blogs » Relationship Corner » Is Monogamy a Thing of the Past: 5 Reasons Monogamy May Not Work
Relationship Corner
with Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

Is Monogamy a Thing of the Past: 5 Reasons Monogamy May Not Work


Dating and relationships can be a really trick balancing act.

We have all heard stories of love at first sight, meeting our soulmate, living happily ever after, etc. However, for many people the struggle to find “the one,” remaining in a monogamous relationship, and living happily ever after seems to be an ever-elusive dream.

Typically, we enter into a relationship with the greatest intentions and often blinding optimism. Wearing our heart on our sleeve, we often run headfirst into a relationship without properly exploring the interests, motivations, or desires of those we are interested in. Unfortunately, relationships that aren’t properly and immediately defined will often fall victim to relationship failure or extinction.

Although, there is no specific time frame to have discussions about what each person is looking for as well as his or her intentions, the sooner you have the conversation the more likely you are to make better personal and relationship choices. There is no rush to have the conversation about commitment, thoughts, feelings, intentions, etc., but when you don’t, it can lead to hurt feelings, and generate mixed signals.

Monogamy in and of itself is not for everyone. Some people have not reached a place in their lives that will allow them to be truly committed and monogamous with someone else. To be honest, monogamy for the right reasons can be a very enriching and fulfilling option. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention monogamy for some people can be the wrong choice or not a viable option.

Monogamy can be a bad choice for those who have not truly developed an understanding of themselves, their wants, needs, desires, and reached a level of maturity that will allow them to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the relationship and their partner. It is not uncommon for people to get into a committed and monogamous relationship for all the wrong reasons. The reasons can include wanting to prove something to himself or herself, feeling like they owe something to their partner, guilt, societal expectations that we should meet, pair up, and live happily ever after, etc.

We must live our own lives without allowing society to outline or dictate our life. No one has to be monogamous in a relationship. It is a conscious choice and desire to remain committed to one and only one person.

We have all heard the various arguments that monogamy goes against human nature and no two species are made or even capable of being together forever. Many theorists have asserted because we were “not meant to be with only one person, infidelity occurs.”

Notably, when you choose a partner with the same or similar relationship interest, the likelihood of successfully going the distance in a committed and monogamous relationship increases. Understanding what it takes to be in a monogamous relationship does not come easily to everyone; some people do not have a frame of reference to draw from. Needless, to say when we grow up in an environment that includes a constant shuffling of partners, broken relationships, or co-occurring relationships, we are likely to repeat or engage in similar behaviors.

By watching people who are in a monogamous relationship we get an idea of what is required to make the such a relationship work, how to make love last, how to grow individually as well as part of a partnership in the relationship.

5 Key Reasons why monogamy does not work in some relationships:

  • You are not doing it for yourself. Monogamy will not be successful if you attempt to do it for reasons other than your own. You can’t be monogamous because this what you think society expects, because your parents were in a long exclusive relationship, your friends feel you need to settle down, or your partner feels that you should be in a monogamous relationship. In order to be successful in a monogamous relationship you must identify your own reasons for wanting it.
  • You crave sexual variety. If you desire sexual experimentation and exploration with more than one partner monogamy may not be an appropriate choice. If you are unable or unwilling to explore and experiment with just one person, then a monogamous relationship will not likely be unsuccessful.
  • You do not have a thorough understanding of your sexual needs and desires. Being in and remaining in a committed monogamous relationship requires honesty with yourself, your potential partner, or current partner about what you want and desire from the relationship.
  • Unrealistic choices of a partner. Monogamous relationship are more likely to be unsuccessful when partners want different things, have different interests, or differ in what they want and expect from the relationship. A lot of people erroneously engage in a relationship thinking they can “change the other person” or have the ability to make him or her settle down. People do not achieve monogamy in a relationship unless this is something they truly want.
  • Love and respect has ended in the relationship. When love and respect has ended in the relationship we tend to explore options outside of the relationship to compensate for what is missing. This compensation can include emotional and sexual infidelity.

Whatever your reasons are for being in a monogamous relationship, make sure it is what you want not want you think others expect of you. You cannot be successful in a monogamous relationship unless the choice to be monogamous is a desire and a commitment you are willing to make.


Is Monogamy a Thing of the Past: 5 Reasons Monogamy May Not Work

Bates-Duford, Ph.D., LMFT

My name is Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford PhD, LMFT, CRS, CMFSW, BCPC I have a PhD in forensic Psychology specializing in familial dysfunctions and traumatic experience. I work with individuals and families struggling with familial dysfunctions, trauma, rape, and incest. I also have a masters in Marriage, Couples, & Family therapy. I am a certified relationship specialist with American Psychotherapy Association (#15221). I have more than 15 years in the field of mental health, relationships, and behavioral sciences.

4 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Bates-Duford, T. (2016). Is Monogamy a Thing of the Past: 5 Reasons Monogamy May Not Work. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Aug 2016
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.