Monogamy equals Monotony

Saturday 9 August 2014, 12.14am | Wilderness Festival

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Monogamy = Monotony
Are you in a happy, monogamous relationship? Lots of couples claim they are. But what they mean, when you push them to explain, is simply that they don’t have the sort of rows that unhappy couples do. What they don’t tell you is that their life is frankly monotonous. And why wouldn’t it be? Human beings thrive on novelty and diversity. Their most memorable moments, the ones they cherish, are the ones of conquest and seduction; glances of mutual appreciation; the regular rediscovery of intimacy. Yet bowed down by tradition, by doing what’s expected of them, those wedded to the idea of fidelity settle down with someone and within years if not months, find that boredom – inevitably – sets in. Monogamy kills the romance of life. As Oscar Wilde so aptly wrote about marriage: “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.” And the same goes for husbands.

That at any rate, is how the serial dater and philanderer like to tell it. But on examination, what kind of lives do they lead? When novelty and diversity pale and families lie broken what are they left with? Emptiness. Loneliness. The simple truth is that human beings need more than excitement. They need stability, acceptance and tolerance of frailty. Their deepest pleasures have to do with seeing their children thrive, of sharing memories and interests with the one they have chosen to spend their life with. And you only get that with long-term, monogamous relationships. Of course spending the majority of a lifetime with one person can be boring, tedious and repetitive. But that’s part of the human condition.

So is monogamy a good deal after all? Or are those who defend it simply trying to justify the terrible decision they’ve made? This August, come to the Wilderness Festival and judge for yourself.


About Wilderness Festival

Wilderness Festival is an award winning festival of music, gastronomy, revelry, literature and rejuvenation. Set amongst the lakes, forests and parkland of Oxfordshire’s exquisite Cornbury Estate, Wilderness is an inspirational weekend for all. With music from the likes of Metronomy, Burt Bacharach and London Grammar and food from Simon Rogan and Angela Hartnett, plus a Lakeside Spa, Wild Swimming and more…To see the full line-up and book tickets to the festival, click here.


“The most cerebral festival I have ever been to”

– New Scientist


For the motion

Helen CroydonHelen Croydon

Best-selling author, journalist and broadcaster. Her latest book Screw the Fairytale: A Modern Guide to Love and Sex looks at alternative models of relationships to the conventional marriage and monogamy set up.


Catherine HakimCatherine Hakim

Sociologist and author of The New Rules: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power and Honey Money: Why Attractiveness is the secret to success. Catherine was formerly a Senior Research fellow at the London School of Economics and Centre for Policy studies. She is best known for developing preference theory and, more recently, a theory of erotic capital.


Against the motion 

Andrew PierceAndrew Pierce

British journalist and broadcaster. He is a columnist and consultant editor for the Daily Mail and was previously assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph and of the Times. He is a Roman Catholic and is in a civil partnership.


Toby YoungToby Young

Toby Young is the author of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People and the co-founder of the West London Free School. In addition to being an associate editor of the Spectator, he writes a regular blog for the Telegraph and was formerly a contributing editor at Vanity Fair in New York.



Matthew TaylorMatthew Taylor

Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).




Speakers are subject to change.