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For how long does forever last these days?

Infidelity is a popular subject in the news these days. Tiger Woods has had one too many birdies; John Terry has been playing away and a pair of swans have 'divorced' at a wildfowl sanctuary in Gloucestershire.

It's the swans that have confounded scientists, though. Let's face it, a sports celebrity going offside is hardly big news. Swans, on the other hand, are the symbol of monogamy. In fact, it is only the second time in 40 years that a 'separation' has been recorded at the centre where 4,000 pairs of Bewick's swans have been studied.

When people question monogamy, they tend to cite the human's inner animal instinct. Consider Sienna Miller's controversial remarks: "Monogamy is a weird thing to me. It's overrated because, let's face it, we're all f**king animals."

Not entirely true. Though rare, there are certain animals who stay together forever. If anything, they have a better chance than humans.

Only when swans start going off-side, you have to ask just how reasonable it is to expect people to stay together forever. It raises the question: is monogamy a myth, a grand masquerade that we're all playing a part in?

Really, what's more unusual, Tiger Woods going off-side or a couple remaining completely faithful to one another until death do them part?

Take Hugh Hefner's response to Woods' philandering: "I think the only surprise in it, quite frankly, is that anybody would be surprised."

A long line of US presidents have risked all for the sake of their mistresses. When French President Francois Mitterrand died in 1996, his mistress and their daughter attended his funeral, at his widow's invitation. Even Alfred Kinsey, the father of sexology, was a serial polygamist. He'd certainly agree with the premise of the recent book by esteemed French psychologist, Maryse Vaillant: Men, Love, Fidelity. The author wants to "rehabilitate infidelity" based on her findings that an estimated 39pc of French men cheat on their wives.

Meanwhile, the author of When Good People Have Affairs, Mira Kirshenbaum, insists that cheaters should never own up.

There are even services for people who want to embark on extramarital affairs. The Ashley Madison Agency, a dating website for married men and women, boasts the motto: "Life is short. Have an affair."

People are questioning the probability of remaining monogamous, but an alternative is still rooted in deception. With affairs, the damage is caused by betrayal.


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