One of the more dangerous concepts of our time is the conflation of serial monogamy with actual marriage. Once this fatal mistake is made, the foundation is set to presume that serial monogamy is therefore more moral than other forms of promiscuity. The idea is both seductive and nearly universal, and we see it from Christians and secular people alike. The problem is if you are thinking this way you are miles away from understanding what marriage really is, and are almost certainly providing moral cover and even moral encouragement for immorality.
I think the basic mistake comes from looking at serial monogamy from a snapshot in time. Look, there are two people who love each other and are having sex only with each other, just like marriage! This same error would cause one to falsely conclude that this man is levitating while relaxing with a beer. Only a fool would think this.
The Christian sanctioning of serial monogamy tends to favor serial marriage over pronouncements of “No sex before monogamy”. Sheila Gregoire is an excellent example of this frame, although if you note the lack of controversy about her statements outside of the manosphere you can see that she isn’t outside of mainstream Christian thought:
The wife had decided to leave, and was interested in another doctor for a second marriage (not just an affair, and she certainly was not going to sleep with him until they were divorced. She also considered her marriage over). So I don’t think it’s that she was “whoring”, as much as it was that he had broken the vows and was completely unrepentant (at the beginning of the movie) and pushing her away.
Key to the Christian implementation of morally sanctioned serial monogamy is to find some pretense for divorce. This pays cursory respect to the Scripture so you can still claim you are talking about Christian marriage. Fortunately as Sheila explains “emotional abuse”* or a husband viewing pornography (which she categorizes as an affair) qualifies as a woman’s ticket to ride the serial marriage train:
Yes, she’d taken off her wedding ring, but I would argue that he had already had an affair (with porn)
In the secular world the moral elevation of women’s preferred form of promiscuity is most often phrased as I described in the title. No sex before monogamy is actually good practical advice for women who are pursuing promiscuity. It fits with their natural urges and all else being equal sets them up for a more pleasurable experience. It also slows the rate of damage they are doing to their own marriage value, should they want that as an option once they tire of the carousel.
The fundamental problem comes when this practical advice for getting the most out of hookups is mistaken for a moral path. It has to be seen within the proper context. If you are going to hookup, you should do so smartly. Morality aside, this is sound practical advice. Roissy and Roosh advise men on how to navigate the promiscuous SMP on their own terms. Susan Walsh and Patti Stanger do the same for women. In Susan’s case to her credit she is often very open about this being a purely pragmatic issue. For example, in her post last month Tough Call: Sex Before Commitment? she advises women to be true to themselves, choose monogamy if they want it, and to only have sex with men they really like:
There’s a difference between employing sound strategy by not showing your hand too soon, and being an impostor in your own life. If you’re not a casual kind of girl, don’t have casual sex. The odds of feeling regret are extremely high, and it complicates any subsequent communication as you try to sort out what it means.
Have Sex Only If You Really, Really Like Each Other
Hopefully, you know if you like him. If he’s not the only guy you like, don’t go there. If you’re dating multiple people, as in online dating, and you’ve gotten intimate with someone else recently, don’t go there. If he’s great but probably not right for you, don’t go there. If he’s great for you, but you’re still getting over your ex, don’t go there. Don’t have sex with a man unless you are emotionally available and know what you want.
Again, this is all sound practical advice for the woman who has decided to be promiscuous. If you are going to hookup, hookup smart. Find out if you like him first. Get him to invest in you emotionally first. This is the same kind of practical advice Roissy and Roosh offer men. The problem is noone mistakes Roissy and Roosh for offering (traditional) moral advice. As a result we have many people who without really considering it are presuming that Roissy and Roosh are offering advice to men on how to be immoral, while Susan is countering them with her own moral advice. Susan herself may be partly to blame here, because at times she seems to frame her practical advice to women on how to hookup as moral in nature. For example, earlier this month Susan explained her mission for Hooking Up Smart:
That is all filtered, however, through the mission of this blog. I am biased. I want people to be in relationships. I want them to get married. I want them to be loyal, faithful spouses who stay together through the rough times. I believe that is what most people want in life. I also believe marriage is good for society, good for civilization, and even good for the economy.
If you don’t believe in monogamy, fine. If you want to advise men to never marry, that is your right. If you believe I’ve climbed onto a deck chair on the Titanic, you’re entitled to your opinion. You may even be right. But I don’t want to hear about it. It’s not my thing, and it’s counter to the mission of what I’m trying to accomplish here.
This is a blog to help people figure out how to navigate the hostile terrain of the contemporary SMP to get a relationship.
Note how “relationship” “marriage”, and “monogamy” are all offered on the same plane of thought. I don’t doubt that Susan sees marriage as the most moral of the three, but it does seem that she attaches significant moral weight to the other two terms outside of the context of marriage. She also has a tendency to use the word commitment to refer not to a couple committing to stay with one another, but to describe a man becoming emotionally invested in a woman and/or promising (for the moment) monogamy. From her Tough Call post:
Some men happily commit to women they have first night sex with. Even if the odds are against it, there’s a potential opportunity cost to rejecting those men.
This terribly muddies the waters, because when most people read commitment they are thinking of the word in the context of marriage for life. This is something else entirely.
As I’ve written before, there is much which I agree with Susan about. For example, I agree with her assertion in her post Manwhores: For Casual Sex Only that women shouldn’t marry alphas. Likewise I advise men not to marry sluts. This isn’t moral advice, since it isn’t even addressing the question of repentance. The advice is practical; don’t marry someone who is likely to struggle to keep their commitment. I take this a step further and tell men they have a moral obligation to not marry a woman who isn’t extremely likely to be able to keep her vows, but this is a moral imperative to be practical when choosing a wife, not a conflation of the moral and the practical.
Part of what makes this confusing is the practical advice to promiscuous women is at direct odds with the practical advice to promiscuous men. This creates an apparent contradiction, which many take as a sign that one set of advice is practical and the other must therefore be moral. We can see this clearly though when we look at the advice men like Roissy and Roosh offer to women. Roosh’s practical advice to his own sister is an excellent example:
Understand that before sex, you have all the power, but afterwards you have very little. A guy who was jumping over himself to hang out with you will be more nonchalant after sex, like he doesn’t even care.
The only way a man will value you is if you made him put in a lot of investment before sex. The more work he puts in, the less he can rationalize that you were meaningless to him, and the more likely he will continue to pursue because he considers you above the rest. Each man you have sex with that doesn’t call you back will kill a part of your soul, and it’s your job to guard against that. Only have sex with men who earn it.
He is telling her how to keep the power position as a woman in the sexual marketplace. Not surprisingly Susan agreed with this. Almost two years ago Roissy offered his own advice on when women should put out to get the most from men:
Coy is good, but don’t be a cocktease. A greater beta, (if all things go in your favor, the best I believe you can shoot for), will quickly tire of you if your goodies aren’t parceled out on a fairly brisk timetable. So pace your makeouts. Aim for closing the deal around date #5 or 6. Any earlier than that and your dreamboat may decide you were under his maximum potential since you gave it up without much work on his part. Any later than that and he may decide you are too much work for the deal you are giving him.
Note how similar this is to Susan’s recent Tough Call post. It is not a moral argument, even though many mistake this kind of advice for one. The reality is that someone is going to be in the power position in the SMP, and someone is going to be getting the short end of the stick. Depending on who you are talking to (man or woman), the tactics of how to avoid being the chump in the bargain are very different. But the goal is still the same; utilize the strategy which is to your own advantage. No sex before monogamy is sound practical advice to women, just as advising men to avoid all investment in women they haven’t already had sex with (outside of a narrow and very rare case where the woman is truly following the old rules for courtship and marriage) is sound practical advice for men.
Unfortunately this moral confusion is so deeply ingrained in our culture that even men who are accomplished at game find themselves feeling that they are being immoral not for being promiscuous, but for failing to volunteer to be the chump in the arrangement. Blogger Rivelino recently wrote about his own conscience nagging him for keeping himself in the casual sex power position:
i think i just feel guilty — again! — that i am having blondie come over to cook me dinner when i would much rather be alone.
although that’s not true.
i want to F*** blondie but i don’t want to spend any time with her.
see the dilemma?
but when i AM f***ing her, i do feel emotionally attached to her — i feel grateful.
Commenter Sinjun puts it in perspective:
You’re over analyzing. A perfectly f***able girl wants to come over and make you dinner. Let her.
A perfectly f***able girl is bringing her work clothes with her for the next day, telegraphing that she wants a good rogering. Don’t disappoint, and f*** her!
She KNOWS where she stands with you. Women are extremely intuitive, don’t think she can’t FEEL the vibes you subconsciously emu mating. THAT’S why she’s trying so hard. The ironic part is, if you were to start exhibiting beta like behaviors and being needy, the relationship dynamics would change; and I don’t mean in your favor.
I think your letting your conscience get the best of you here. Think back to your beta days and how the chicks were merciless. Do you want to go back to that? Remember the pain?
Sinjun is absolutely right. There is no moral reason men should offer to play the chump in the freewheeling SMP. It would be good advice to tell Blondie to be smarter about the way she hooks up, but it would be wrong to tell Rivelino that he has an obligation to offer this woman (temporary) exclusivity and emotional investment. Sinjun reminds Rivelino that this woman is an active participant in all of this:
I’m NOT advocating bitter revenge, far from it. But don’t let yourself go soft. Live with integrity. Do what pleases YOU, and let her do what pleases her. If she doesn’t like something, she’s an adult and can disengage herself from the situation. This girl’s been with at least 20 guys right? Well guess what? She knows the deal. This isn’t her first lap around the track.
Do you, and let her do her.
*Note: I quoted Sheila’s statement on “emotional abuse” from the comments section of one of her youtube videos on this post. I now see that she has disabled comments for the video and all previous comments are removed.