The Monogamy Gene


I don't think so. The morning news team wants me to believe that there's a gene that makes some people more monogamous, perhaps more dependent, more connected, more loyal. There are people genetically predisposed to commitment and marriage, who are more in it, than others.

Maybe it's true. They say men with two copies of RS3 334 were more likely to be unmarried than men with one or none, and if they were married, they were twice as likely to have a marital crisis..

Fascinating stuff, but very hard to believe. And yet, if it's true, it could affect the way we do therapy.

I can tell you, however, that I've talked to men whose fathers literally put notches on their belts to indicate the numbers of women they have bedded, and yet, would never have considered leaving their wives, the idealized Madonnas of the family. These sons can be conflicted about their own extramarital affairs, yet they still have them.

But maybe that was their genetics talking, not what they really wanted or valued. The ironic functionality of the extramarital affairs in the above example, is that if he's happy (and why wouldn't he be, so many women, so little time), she's happy (no job of sex necessary, phew! Switch genders if you like.

The proud notches on the belt tell me fidelity is learned, no matter the genetics. Fathers give permission to sons.

Boy, but stuff like this makes it easy to question everything you know, doesn't it?



porcini66 said…
The proud notches on the belt tell me fidelity is learned, no matter the genetics. Fathers give permission to sons.

It's taken me some years (years!) to process the fact that my husband had an "emotional affair" over the internet...with an "erotica" model, no less! It's a long story and my own T has the details, but yeah...affairs. Genetics? I don't think so...

I'm still learning how to deal with it and the repercussions went far beyond the "yuck" factor. Through that betrayal, I learned that I played my own part in things. That every story has another side (maybe a couple) and that there is no such thing as THE truth.

I learned that I need to be much, much MORE than I thought if our marriage is to work. Being myself is fine, but only if I am my BEST self. Reserving part of myself isn't really allowed if I want emotional intimacy, is it? I have to wake up every morning and commit to making our marriage work...just for today. And at the end of the day, I have to thank the powers that be that, just for today, it did.

See, I had this crazy notion that an affair could never happen to ME! And then, when it did, I had this crazy notion that I had to either swallow it whole or walk away completely. I was like that - black and white. I'm learning though. I am not so black and white anymore.

Was it a good thing in our marriage? No, absolutely not. It was without a doubt the darkest time I have faced so far. Am I glad that it happened? Well... kind of. Cuz it made me face up to my own realities, my own distorted perceptions and my own expectations. Expectations that were killing him.

There are days when it still rankles me. There are days when I still get soooo angry about it. But they are further and fewer between. I am beginning to love him again. Slowly.

Affairs...big topic. And yeah, I have to say that I agree. Fathers teach their sons how to treat their wives. At the same time, wives teach their husbands how they are willing to be treated, don't they?
therapydoc said…
Right, P. There's much to be said for demanding respect. I hope he realizes what he's got.
MAK said…
It's nature and nurture isn't it? But in this case, it could be the two working hand in hand. Learning from observation, as well as having a pre-dispostion. (not that I agree that there is such a gene, but still...)
Jack Steiner said…
I am waiting for the day when science covers me on anything and everything.

"Sorry sir/madam,

Genetics is the real culprit here. I am just following nature."

I'm remembering the only Sex and the City episode I've ever watched, when Carrie explores what (she believes) it would be like to "have sex like a man," i.e. bed any guy she knows, with no emotional connection and no commitment to his sexual satisfaction, only to her own.

(spoiler ahead) By the episode's end she meets a guy who calls her bluff by suggesting that only someone who hasn't been in love would behave that way. The proof is in the reality, I guess. There are plenty of guys who manage to stay monogamous throughout long-term relationships. At least, I hope there are.
therapydoc said…
And the good new, NAD, is it's a RECESSIVE gene.
therapydoc said…
Jack, it's freaking me out here, to tell the truth.
therapydoc said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
SeaSpray said…
And how does it affect the daughters?

Does it teach them they should expect the same?

does it set up a lifetime of jealousy and mistrust?

Do THEY go out and do the same thing?

We had a doctor at our hospital who had a major reputation for sleeping with a lot of women anywhere, anytime possible.

I heard his wife had died years before. I don't know if he cheated then. But I also heard that he cheated on girlfriends.

One day I was in a local grocery the frozen food section and across from me were some young girls who worked in the store.

They were gossiping about this doctor's daughter and how jealous she was about her boyfriend and how she was going to lose him if she didn't stop.

My instant thought was that she had seen a lot with her father and got the message men couldn't be trusted.

Well that was my 2 cent psych eval anyway.

I am going to put something out there that will sound odd but I've heard it and read it. There is a scripture in the old testament that says the sins of the father (I am sure it would me mothers too but in those days they didn't reference women)would be visited down through the (I think)4th generation... like a generational curse.

If that were true...then it would seem it is a spiritual problem.

They say if one generation doesn't do the same thing.. then they will have broken it.

I thought that was interesting.

Interesting post and comments. your business... do you find emotional affairs are increasing with such easy availability with the internet... or perhaps that happen anywhere?
therapydoc said…
I think it's the sins of the 3rd and 4th generation (ki sisa, shlachl'cha in the Torah) according to my local biblical scholars.

But I always thought the Torah made it seem like a punishment, and we're talking about a transgenerational phenomenon, and YES it crosses genders and YES everyone in the family learns the lesson.

And transgenerational stuff has no end, doesn't stop 3rd or 4th generation, necessarily.

But I haven't read any long-term studies, so who knows?

MAK, according to the genetics thing it's nature and nurture. This really surprised me. I would have bet on nurture.

That's why I'm all shook up. A new paradigm is always exciting.
SeaSpray said…
I can see where it would be.

Interesting and I suppose obvious thought..excluding the gene theory.

I suppose if a person "breaks the generational curse" in essence what they have done is demonstrate a healthier and wiser behavior for the following generations to emulate.

Popular Posts