I want to warn you about an insidious recommendation that periodically makes the rounds in the ‘sphere, one that when employed can destroy the quality of your relationship and change the background music of your life into a relentless hum of anxiety. I am talking about the exploitative practice of a man’s instilling dread and fear in his partner to gain the upper hand in the relationship. In particular, the practice of your boyfriend or husband flirting with other women or reminding you in any number of ways that he “has options.” Here’s how the PUA thinking goes:
A woman will lose attraction for her husband if she doesn’t believe that he is actively desired by other women. Like jumper cables on a low battery, insecurity and jealousy work to kick start a flaccid relationship, or keep it finely tuned. Anxiety generates sexual desire. The goal is to first generate fear, then allay that fear. Rinse and repeat for the duration of the relationship.
Whew. I’m uneasy and exhausted just thinking about it. Do we like it when we get the prize guy, the guy that other girls want? Yeah, we do, we like to win the prize. And we like to parade that boy. “He’s mine, all mine! Eat your hearts out, ladies!” Of course, female intrasexual competition being what it is, some biddies are going to flirt with our man. “Hell no, don’t go there bitch. Because he loves me, and he’s not available. I know how to keep my man happy.” There is no better feeling than knowing that the love of your man is secure, that you have taken him off the market and satisfied him. It’s a requirement for a healthy marriage.
What happens when we see the man we love flirting with other women? Responding to them, maybe even encouraging them? How do we feel? Lucky that he has options, that he could leave and get another woman with ease?
God no. We feel ashamed. Why is the man who claims to love us seeking affirmation and sexual validation from other women? Now those biddies are laughing at us, they know the commitment is vulnerable – perhaps he can be poached. Apparently our man is lining up alternatives, “just in case.” We know he’s desirable, other women lighting up when he’s around tells us that. What we wish we didn’t know is that he’s milking it, wants more of it, is getting off on it. It’s deeply humiliating and painful for a woman in love.
A man who does this is displaying low relationship fitness, in one of two ways:
- He is genuinely interested in generating sexual attraction with other women, even while professing to love you.
- He is using this behavior as a ploy to keep you on your toes.
This kind of behavior should be a dealbreaker. If your boyfriend does it once, let him know how it makes you feel. If he does it again, get the hell out. If your husband suddenly starts flirting with other women, address it immediately. Figure out where his fear and insecurity lies, and rush to reassure him in every way you can. This dynamic is a relationship destroyer, and it’s toxic for children. Don’t enable it.