Hypergamous Addiction to Choosing.

Haley’s Halo has a fascinating piece on the bad marriage advice given to Evanglical Christian women titled The importance of having chemistry.  She references advice given to a woman from boundless.org, a part of Focus on the Family.  The woman’s problem was that after two years of dating a man, she still didn’t have “chemistry” (sexual attraction) with him.  The man is preparing to propose to her and she wanted advice on what to do.  Haley pointed out that the reply was to essentially shame the woman into marrying the man even though on the sexual attraction scale the man was (Haley’s words) “Not In A Million Years”.  I’m entirely with Haley on this.  This is in my opinion just another example of the church loving weddings more than it hates divorce.  In my last blog post advising men on marriage, I started with the assumption that the couple was head over heels in love with each other, and had great chemistry.  Shaming people into marriage when the marriage isn’t likely to be successful is short sighted and neglects the risks both to the spouses themselves as well as their future children.

However, what struck me more than the bad advice being dispensed was how unbelievably cliché the woman’s predicament was.  She was torn (in her mind) between an old boyfriend (badboy rocker who dropped out of college to join a commune) and her new one (pre med dutiful beta).  At this point I found myself strangely compelled to clutch the monitor to my bosom, sigh wistfully, and sip some chamomile tea while musing ahhhh, which to choose….

Ok, I admit I made that last part up.  But flashbacks of being forced to read tripe literature from the Bronte sisters in High School did sear my brain, as well as this image:

But even more surprising than how profoundly cliché her situation was, is the fact that I’m evidently the only person to see this.  This is one of the most common themes in entertainment targeted to women.  The theme is so powerful a woman Senator recently felt compelled to ask the current supreme court nominee which Twilight love interest she would choose.

My wife thankfully can’t stand chick flicks or romance novels, but has noted the common theme in many Danielle Steel novels/movies where the woman moves to a new exciting place after becoming a widow, only to fall in love again (where’s my chamomile tea?).  She’s troubled by the fantasy being sold to women of having their spouse die so they can re choose another love of their life.  I agree, but I’m convinced they only sell this because there is such a willing audience.  If men fantasized about their wives dying and meeting an exciting new woman in some exotic locale, you can bet that Spike TV would be showing male equivalents of these Lifetime movies.

But the idea of the choice frozen in time, the re-choosing after choosing, reconnecting with an ex, and replaying the choice in an endless loop are strictly female entertainment themes.  Occasionally you may see this theme altered such that the man is the one choosing, but even here the target audience is women (just like the recent trend to insert wedding scenes into superhero movies).

The male equivalent to this female instinct is to have multiple women at the same time.  This you will see played out on Spike, porn, you name it.  So here’s an easy rule of thumb.  If the central conflict of the story is which twin to choose, this is aimed at women.  If the central conflict is how to get with both twins at once, this is aimed at men.

But there is another difference.  Men’s instinct to be with multiple women is acknowledged by society and curbs are placed against this instinct.  Obviously this is an instinct which doesn’t fit well with marriage.  However, women’s instinct to endlessly re-choose is continuously fed at a fantasy level while denied as being real at a societal level.  Women who fantasize about their husband’s death so they can choose another man aren’t shamed the way that men are shamed for wanting to build their own private harem.

Moreover, for all of the shaming directed at men for objectifying women with pornography, women don’t get called out on this.  In the example of the christian woman who had constructed her own personal twilight fantasy, there is no shaming for her mistreatment of pre med man.  No one called her on her behaving as if he was a character in her own private play and not a real human being.  Her only hesitation against marrying him was her own dissatisfaction;  it never occurred to her that he deserved to find a woman who honestly loved him.

This entry was posted in Choice Addiction, Marriage. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Hypergamous Addiction to Choosing.

  1. Gorbachev says:

    This is very apt.

    It’ll be interesting to see if women can be shamed into disavowing this fantasy.

  2. Aunt Haley says:

    You called my post “fascinating”! I must be People.

    I don’t think “reconnecting with an ex” is a strictly female fantasy trope. There is a strain of male-protagonist stories where the man, once a hapless omega, now a successful exec or such, seeks to impress the girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day in high school. Or the man dated a sweet girl in high school, dumped her, then has an epiphany and goes after the “one who got away” before she marries someone else. Or the man who has a best gal-pal he ignores so he can chase the hot girl, only to discover it’s the gal-pal he really loves. It’s not as common as the female version, but it’s out there. Where you see as an “endless choice” fantasy, others (like myself) see a “second chance/redemption/maturation” theme.

    Women who fantasize about their husband’s death so they can choose another man aren’t shamed the way that men are shamed for wanting to build their own private harem.

    This is because most women don’t actually wish their husbands were dead, whereas many men would happily build a harem if they thought they could get away with it. More sex partners vs. “I wish my husband were ACTUALLY DEAD” isn’t a fair comparison.

    “Widow falls in love again” stories are appealing to women because women want to be assured that they are still attractive and that they will be able to find someone to love and care for them if the worst happened to them. That life isn’t over if their husband dies and that they aren’t sentenced to loneliness for the next 20 years. Most women don’t secretly hope that their husbands die so they can go back on the dating market at age 40 or 50 and find a new love of their life. If they wanted to do that, they could just get a divorce.

  3. J says:

    Ditto to what Aunt Haley said about women’s fantasies. Women are acutely aware that they will outlast their husbands and want to know that there won’t be alone when he goes first. I personally get a little nervous whenever some neighbor guy bites the dust, and I also nag about health care to my husband.

    I would hope that the Senator who asked Elana Kagan about the Twilight characters was joking. Does anyone over 17 have a favorite? Why would any adult woman, much less a Supreme Court nominee who is probably gay, care?

    As to chemistry, I think it is over-rated. Obviously, you have to have some chemistry to make a marriage work, but chemistry only lasts a few years at best. Then you are down to the hard work of marriage–all of which is easier if you have similar values and goals, mutual respect, etc. You’re lucky if you get the whole package, but–male or female–character should win over looks. For mature women it usually does. If a woman isn’t mature enough to see that she deserves what she gets. For all the guys who say they are helpless due to biology and choose hot over good, oh, well. Next time, use the big head to think with.

    It goes to the question of what is settling. If all a girl wants is “a sparkly vampire” then going for Haley’s pre-med student is settling. But, in my mind, a woman should look for character over sparkles. If you can get them in the same guy that’s great. If not, I do think that women need to ask themselves what is really important. If it’s sparkles and tingles, welcome to the carousel. If it’s a good guy, loving a man for his goodness isn’t settling. It’s an indication of character.

  4. dalrock says:

    There is a strain of male-protagonist stories where the man, once a hapless omega, now a successful exec or such, seeks to impress the girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day in high school.

    Yes, and these can be found on Amazon in the Women’s Fiction category.

    Or the man dated a sweet girl in high school, dumped her, then has an epiphany and goes after the “one who got away” before she marries someone else.

    Chick flick.

    Or the man who has a best gal-pal he ignores so he can chase the hot girl, only to discover it’s the gal-pal he really loves.

    Do you mean the version with Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, or Julia Roberts? Not that it matters. This is as Citizen Renegade would say, catnip.

    On the genre of fantasizing about becoming a widow, I’m surprised that you didn’t at least acknowledge that this is immensely tacky. If women were at least aware of the tackiness/insensitivity and understood that this was indulging in something which could easily get out of hand, I’d say “sometimes a smoke is just a smoke”.

  5. dalrock says:

    Good point on the childishness of the Twilight question. This was an area I decided not to try to explore here. We all have instincts/subconscious. Part of growing up is recognizing this and not letting them rule us. That such a question would come up from a Senator during SCOTUS confirmation hearings speaks volumes of the state of womanhood (for lack of a better term) today. Not all women, but the culture itself. It also speaks to the state of manhood that men largely remained silent on this.

    As to thinking with the big head vs small, this fits with the maturity issue (being overly ruled by instinct). And I think a wise man once advised young betas in love not to make such a mistake.

    I think I’m going to write a post on settling, so your thoughts are especially interesting and helpful to me there. My main point will be that women shouldn’t settle. But they should choose from the available options. Christian reader won’t be doing pre med man any favors by marrying him. He deserves better.

    On the issue of fantasizing about the death of one’s spouse, try turning this around. What if you were say 5 years older than your husband, and he found out that men who reach his age only live 2 years less than women. He does the math and notices that he likely will have 3 years of “loneliness” once you die. Heck, this is just the average, it could end up being 5-10 years. Who knows? Sure you are the love of his life, but come on; you wouldn’t want him to have to even suffer the thought of several years of loneliness while you are still alive, would you? So he starts reading stories about men who’s wives die and they start an exciting new life with another woman.

    Edit: I just saw your excellent reply on Grey Divorce and responded to it.

  6. Aunt Haley says:

    On the genre of fantasizing about becoming a widow, I’m surprised that you didn’t at least acknowledge that this is immensely tacky. If women were at least aware of the tackiness/insensitivity and understood that this was indulging in something which could easily get out of hand, I’d say “sometimes a smoke is just a smoke”.

    This sounds like your wounded ego, that your wife (theoretical wife, since your actual wife apparently has never insulted you by thinking about what she’s going to do after you die), while you are still alive, could possibly entertain the prospect of life after your passing. If ALL your wife is thinking about is what men she’s going to attract after you’re dead, then that is a problem. But I don’t see how it is so terrible and insulting that a woman enjoys a story that tells her that there is life after death.

    I can also tell that this issue is going to turn into another stalemate, so I’m done responding.

  7. J says:

    “Good point on the childishness of the Twilight question. …the culture itself. It also speaks to the state of manhood that men largely remained silent on this.”

    Yeah, if it was a serious question and not an attempt to lighten up otherwise boring proceedings for the cameras. There was levity at the hearings involving how Kagan spends Christmas as well.

    “I think I’m going to write a post on settling, so your thoughts are especially interesting and helpful to me there.”

    Thanks!

    “My main point will be that women shouldn’t settle. But they should choose from the available options. Christian reader won’t be doing pre med man any favors by marrying him. He deserves better.”

    Agreed.

    And I think a wise man once advised young betas in love not to make such a mistake.”

    Good advice indeed!

    As far as death fears (not fantasies) go, I’d actually want my husband to remarry as long as it didn’t hurt the kids. Why should he be alone?

    As far as my own remarriage, the idea of two teenage boys living with a stepfather who they might see as an interloper or who wouldn’t love them like their dad does concerns me. A lot of women look for a “new daddy”for the kids, but I see many potential problems there. I’d probably wait for the boys to go off to college.

  8. grerp says:

    That poor beta guy at boundless.org. If only we could hook him up with Athol Kay. But if he got some game going, would he still want her?

  9. J says:

    Dalrock, I left a comment at CR about settling that might interest you. It’s in the newest post and in is response a situation of Feminist X’s.

  10. dalrock says:

    Good advice, but casting pearls before swine I’m afraid.

  11. raliv says:

    Brilliant post. This provides some valuable insight on what it means to be an alpha male: being above comparison to the competition.

    Forget about blending in with your peers. You don’t want to be a product of your environment. You want your environment to be a product of you.

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  13. sdaedalus says:

    Her only hesitation against marrying him was her own dissatisfaction; it never occurred to her that he deserved to find a woman who honestly loved him.

    This is very true. A lot of people think they are doing a favor to others, whom they perceive as less attractive, if they get into an LTR with them. They feel they are providing something which the other person would not otherwise get. The difficulty is that, certainly as far as women are concerned, it’s very hard to be happy with someone who, at the beginning at least, wasn’t fairly strongly attracted to you. Otherwise, the presence of the other person & their attitude is just a conscious reminder that you weren’t up to the mark. Hypergamy is all very well up to a point, but I think the attraction of high-status males for women is the ego boost which comes from attracting these men, if they are not really attracted, then the hypergamy satisfaction doesn’t kick in.

    If someone has had a dry period in terms of relationships, they may be tempted to settle for someone else who’s settling, but I think ultimately most people dislike & resent others who think they are not all that, and a lot of resentment builds up under the surface.

    I’m not sure if it’s quite the same for men – I think the temptation to settle for a settlor may be greater for men than women – but that given the male ego the resentment may be much greater. I think this is often why a lot of men cheat.

  14. Indian Grandmother says:

    Sdaedalus, my granddaughter had an experience where the man felt he was “settling” with her and she developed low-self-esteem as a result, built up a lot of resentment, as you say, and lashed out in passive-aggressive fashion. Later on this man “traded her up” for someone that had to settle FOR HIM but he doesn’t appear to resent it. He got this woman pregnant and she married him because of the baby. The woman told us that had she not been pregnant, she would NOT have married him. He doesn’t appear bothered by that at all.

  15. sdaedalus says:

    Hi Indian Grandmother

    I have a grandmother too, who likes discussing this kind of stuff.

    I had someone who thought I was lucky to get him, and that this meant he didn’t have to put any work into the relationship, his presence on my arm at the occasional social event should be sufficient for me. Quite honestly I could have lived with the fact that he rated himself more highly, but I did mind the fact that he wasn’t prepared to put effort into the relationship.

    I suspect a lot of people who settle, take their partners for granted after a while even if not right from the beginning. Maybe the woman you are talking about doesn’t take this man for granted, maybe even though she didn’t want to get married she is putting her heart & soul into it for the sake of the child. If she isn’t, I think he will soon get fed up.

    Best wishes
    SDaedalus

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  25. Mosh says:

    Precient
    As a father
    how to educate my children?

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  34. Renee Harris says:

    Reblogged this on My Heart Guarded and commented:
    I write more later. Not that it matter. No one read this blog:)

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