16/30: Mate Guarding

I was talking with a friend yesterday who had recently entered a monogamous relationship. We talked for a long time about how it was making him feel, because he expected it to make him a lot happier than it currently was. I ended up telling him:

“The ironic thing is that mate guarding is a lot more stressful than looking for a new one.”

Girls are naturally going to throw out IOIs, when you’re with them and when you’re not. They’re going to go out for drinks with their friends. And they can always load up dating apps on their phone. At the end of the day, though, you’ll never know the objective, actioned truth so you just have to accept the situation. The problem is that your ego tries to solve the question of “is she faithful?” That question leads your mind around in circles but can’t ever be fully solved; you can only surmise. It makes you even more frustrated.

At least from the non-monogamous viewpoint you have the mental get-out clause of “but I can’t do anything about it”. I sometimes think about whether or not my regulars are fucking other people but I can consol myself with the fact that I chose the situation, and that I wouldn’t promise to be exclusive and then lie. So really I’ve brought it on myself and shouldn’t complain: a mindset which helps to soothe the issue.

Looping this back to my friend’s situation, this actually goes beyond mate guarding and into a much wider implicit frame battle. The rules of engagement have changed massively and now there’s so much up in the air for him and the girl to sort out. How often do they message each other? How often do they see each other? Will they meet each other’s friends and family? If so, when? There are so many more open loops to close, which in the beginning attraction – comfort – seduction phases, have clear answers and so wouldn’t weigh on your mind. For him these questions present unexplored territory and so a lot of concern over what the possible answers are.

Yours unfaithfully,

Thomas Crown

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