Why do females of so many socially monogamous species regularly engage in matings outside the pair bond? This question has puzzled behavioural ecologists for more than two decades. Until recently, an adaptionist's point of view prevailed: if females actively seek extra-pair copulations, as has been observed in several species, they must somehow benefit from this behaviour. However, do they? In this review, we argue that adaptive scenarios have received disproportionate research attention, whereas nonadaptive phenomena, such as pathological polyspermy, de novo mutations, and genetic constraints, have been neglected by empiricists and theoreticians alike. We suggest that these topics deserve to be taken seriously and that future work would benefit from combining classical behavioural ecology with reproductive physiology and evolutionary genetics.