By Brittney McNamara for Teen Vogue.
Relationships don't have to fit into any one model. They can look however you want them to, as long as everyone is consenting and being treated with respect. Our cultural conventions (marriage, dating, etc.), suggest monogamy is the norm. Marriage rates are on the decline, but plenty of people seek out "the one" to settle down with.
A new study suggests that there are many, many years of evolution to explain why monogamy is the standard in so many relationships. Researchers at the University of Waterloo suggest that prehistoric people were just as worried about STIs as we are now, leading to more desire for monogamous relationships.
According to the research, published in Nature Communications early hunter-gatherer communities had a few males that did most of the mating. These men would mate with many women in order to increase the odds that they would successfully produce offspring and spread their genes. As they began living in larger populations, though, hunter-gatherers began catching more and more STIs.
Because some STIs can lead to infertility, mating with as many women as possible no longer became the best strategy to produce a wide pool of offspring, the research suggests.
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"As societies evolved around agriculture and group sizes grew, the research predicts that prevalence of STIs increased amongst polygamist networks that overlapped. With the absence of modern medicines, infertility from syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea would likely have been high," a press release on the study says. "This made it more advantageous for males to mate monogamously, and more importantly, to punish other males who did not."
Here, we might have the basis for modern society's views on dating.
While monogamous relationships have a ton of health benefits, choosing not to be in a monogamous relationship doesn't mean you're doomed. Actually, research shows non-monogamous people are not necessarily at an increased risk of getting STIs.
Whatever type of relationship you choose is cool as long as you're safe and happy, but now we might have a better look into why so many people choose one life partner.
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