Monogamy Can Be A Calculated Sexual Strategy

Reader Question: I’m not sure I have a specific question for you, so much as a general topic. How do you deal with random other men in your spouses life and what are the appropriate reactions? I don’t mean male friends… we don’t believe in that. Rather, I’m talking about the randomly assigned project partner or the TA in her graduate class; the occasional substitute yoga teacher; basically any man that she cannot avoid, but isn’t going to be a complete stranger either.
I try my best to be aware of it all, without ever tipping my hand and asking too obviously. Should I just not worry about it at all? Is there a specific way to handle it that you’d recommend? What are your thoughts on these types of unavoidable situations?
For background (although I would assume this question can also be answered more generally for everyone), we’re newly married (less than a year).  She’s naturally friendly and outgoing, which sometimes bothers/worries me around strangers, but she also comes from a traditional family, is a first generation American, and cooks/cleans/runs errands since I work. I have a good job, and almost certainly have a higher sex rank than her by a point or two, but had almost no success with women before her despite being handsome and smart because of a lack of confidence with girls (I didn’t discover ‘game’ until after we began dating). I was her first sex partner and she might as well have been mine (I had a handful of one night stands that I look back on with shame due to awkwardness and poor performance), and there’s plenty of passion in the bedroom.
Athol:  You don’t have anything to worry about with these guys.
Also it’s impossible to police her over incidental interaction with other men and trying to will start to be viewed as controlling and needy. Speaking of The Police, how creepy is this song?

The defense against incidental contact becoming something more, is you maintaining a good Sex Rank and her being sexually moral/conservative – and it sounds like she is.
Reader Reply: That’s what I figured, but the confirmation from you is helpful.
Athol: I didn’t go into the exact reason in my exchange why this is so, but I’ll extend it now. Monogamy is as I’ve said many times before, a sexual strategy. We are all wired for the possibility of opportunistic sex outside of our primary relationship partner. The shorthand for such sex is usually “EPC” for “Extra-Pair Copulation”.
Because we all invest a lot of time and energy into our primary relationship, and we would like our primary partner to remain faithful to us, most people in relationships typically advance the default position of monogamy as being a good thing and their moral viewpoint as well as their personal preference. While this is not exactly a lie, it is a bit of relationship spin control.
However before one breaks away from the actual practice of monogamy and actually has an EPC rather than just idly dreaming about one, there is a serious weighing up of the risks involved before going ahead with it. The people that say “it just happened” are full of it… it never “just happens”, the feelings may just happen, but actual action to do it always is decided on with the deliberation of a chess move. The EPC always risks some form of discovery and potential loss of the primary relationship.
So for our couple in question, let’s take his claim he is two points higher than her at face value and say she is a 6 and he is an 8. For her to benefit from an EPC and do better than an 8, she’s got to pull the interest of a 9 or a 10. That’s going to take a fair bit of work to pull off and very likely she will tip her hand that she’s trying to EPC with someone. That of course would risk her relationship with her 8 husband, who is frankly already a far better primary partner than she deserves or could ever hope to replace. So the risk/benefit decision strongly suggests that she not try and find an EPC.
The majority of men she will have incidental contact with will be in the 4-8 range anyway. So none of them are actually better than her husband. So it is essentially convenient and efficient that she simply have an enjoyable day and come home to her husband for her sexual needs.
The other thing is that she is sexually conservative by nature/upbringing, so when she makes a risk/benefit decision about having an EPC, she weights her decision toward the staying monogamous option. Or in other words, a male 9 asking for a quick fling with a female 6 (who has a male 8 partner) is going to have a reasonable chance at succeeding. But if the female 6 is sexually conservative, she is far less likely to crack for a 9. She might crack for a full male 10, but that’s very likely a moot point as male 10’s have to be having a slow day to take the time out for a female 6.
So a sexually conservative female 6 paired with a male 8, is going to have an extremely high likelihood of staying faithful – even if offered discrete sexual opportunity. The one thing that could screw it all up though, is excessive mate guarding behavior where the male 8 acts like a male 4 or 5 and hovers around her trying to intercept every other male approaching her for sexual reasons or not. Acting like you’re on the verge of losing her will make her start to think that she is the hotter half of the couple… and therefore could do better.
So if you are truly hotter than her, just relax and be yourself. It’s rational for her that she stays faithful to you. For her the monogamy sexual strategy is a winning plan. After all, she’s a female 6 that landed a permanent 8, so that totally rocks for her. Though of course she’ll just call it being in love and being a moral person…
…which is also true. So enjoy it.

So back to our reader asking the question. She’s probably so playfully chatty and “up” with the whole world because she can’t stop thinking about you… cue her theme song.

(Now don’t screw it up with her.)

As as aside, my orginial idea for the post title was “Fuck The Police, Get Her Stoned”. I thought it was a clever teaser and tied into the bands in the videos as a faux defense. Jennifer just kept saying “dude, dude, dude” over and over, both laughing and appalled all in one. Anyway… I thought it was cool but I’ll defer to Jennifer’s judgment on this one and make no mention of it. Oh…


  1. What about if the other man or men have a higher sexual rank than you, not necessarily in terms of looks but more in terms of status. For example, if she works at the same place as him and takes her job seriously, she is likely to admire his higher status. Can this lead to her resenting you?

    I think there may be some warning signs, mostly in the way she talks about her day and how much she includes the other man. If she keeps talking about how funny or smart or… he is on a regular basis for long periods of time, there may be some cause for concern.

    I'm just thinking aloud here so any of your thoughts will be appreciated.

  2. Looking Glass says:

    Hehe, Athol sneaking in just a little more "Alpha into Beta" at the end of a post. Always fun.

  3. Stingray says:


    My suggestion would be that you have to make yourself a higher status than this man at home while with your wife. If possible (and I do realize how difficult this would be), increase your rank at your own work as well. If not possible, there are other ways to increase your rank in her eyes that have nothing to do with work. Work is not the be all end all of sexual rank.

  4. I'm sure most women would be suspicious of a highly attractive and sort after man with much higher sex rank than herself taking an undue interest and avoid being persuaded into sexual contact. Nobody likes to be used. However, not being trusted and being surveiled will drive a wedge in a relationship – man or woman.

  5. The Reader Who E-Mailed says:

    Thanks for the post Athol… I look forward to hearing from the other commenters.

    To be clear, I don't ask her about these other men, or verbalize my insecurities. I'm just a natural worrier and wanted to get a reality check from our wise host. And as usual, he didn't disappoint.

  6. Anonymous says:

    "She's naturally friendly and outgoing, which sometimes bothers/worries me around strangers"

    Why should it bother you if you,

    "almost certainly have a higher sex rank than her by a point or two,"

    Here is the key here in your own words.

    "but had almost no success with women before her despite being handsome and smart because of a lack of confidence with girls (I didn't discover 'game' until after we began dating). "

    I think you should brush up on your game, then. ;) You seem to be quite worried about your wife's confidence and ability to get on with Men Why?. It's quite obvious that you STILL lack confidence.

    Sheesh, I get on very well with men, but my husband knows full well, that he is the only one for me. The only man that will ever rock my world…

    This post of yours says more about you than your wife.


  7. @TR most of the time you don't have to outrank every man on the planet, you just have to outrank your wife. But if the behavior becomes inappropriate, you have to work it out and not let it lay there.

  8. The Reader Who E-Mailed says:


    I appreciate your thoughts, but I think you're reading into things that aren't there.

    No one can EVER been 100% certain of faithfulness. You'll notice I never said that I thought these contacts with other men are inappropriate. But you can't deny that they COULD become inappropriate at some point.

    I could just have blind faith that that would never happen… or I could pay attention, be pragmatic, and ask for advice here. I can't imagine why you'd advocate the former.

    Maybe it's tough to understand as a woman, but feelings of insecurity from childhood don't just disappear because you gain confidence. Even Neil Strauss says he still feels nervous when he approaches a girl.

    I'll worry about my confidence when I let my fears effect my actions. But I'll worry about my marriage when I just start assuming I have nothing to worry about without thought or reflection.

  9. The Reader Who E-Mailed says:

    I gave it some more thought on the ride to lunch and back.

    I don't mean to be defensive. If I'm doing something wrong, I want to know… it's why I asked Athol the question.

    I'm just not sure I agree that privately worry about these things in my head, and then asking Athol about them, constitute reactions as (perceived) harsh as 'you lack confidence, brush up on game' and 'this all says more about you than her' (which is self-evident, but also an implied admonishment).

    Either way, I should've *ended* by thanking you for your comment. The best part of MMSL is the were-in-this-together atmosphere so absent at similar blogs of this type.

  10. Stingray says:

    Reader Who E-mailed,

    You are going to have to be very careful that your worry does not cross over into your actions, at all. If you do this she will start to lose respect for you and she will get very tired of proving herself to you (I know it hasn't gotten to this point yet, but it very seriously could).

    She married you and she loves you. At some point you are going to have to have faith in her and your marriage. Do your best (I know, not easy) to not worry until you see some actual reason for worry. Random men that she works with or might meet on a daily basis is not a good reason. It's inevitable.

    Do your utmost to just let this fear go, or sooner or later it will being to leak into your actions and she will pick it up. You do not want to get into this spiral.

  11. I was never remotely suspicious of my wife's contacts with other men, until she started giving me a reason to be. I found out she was preparing for her post-married dating opportunities. That was a real blow, I have to say.

    I reacted badly at first, but it led me to learn about Game, and that essentially changed my life.

    So, I speak as someone who has handled extra-marital competition from other men in two ways — with jealousy/suspicion, and with self-improvement. There's no contest as to which is the more effective path.

    Suspicion is neediness incarnate. There is nothing that will lower your sex rating faster or with more certainty than emotional neediness, especially a need for validation of your desirability as a mate. You simply cannot show your mate that you need her to reassure you that she is committed to you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just curious, as the wife who is more worried about the husband straying due to childhood and past baggage, would it be a bad thing to articulate my fears to him? They crop up once every few weeks, and then they go away for a while. He is not that kind of person, and has given every indication of being an honest and faithful man. But I still worry.

    We probably rank about equal, but we are both fairly young (under 30), and I worry that as we age he will outpace me in status, and I won't be able to compete with young girls.

    Another reason I worry is that I want sexual and other types of attention from him more than he seems to want it from me. He has been on SSRIs for several years which could have lowered his sex drive. It makes me feel not as desired though.

  13. Reader, I agree with Stingray. Your wife loves you. Men will respond to an attractive, vivacious woman, and that is okay. It doesn't mean she is going to stray. She comes home to you everyday.

    Cal is spot on with this:
    "There is nothing that will lower your sex rating faster or with more certainty than emotional neediness…"

    Be confident that you have an awesome woman, and blow her away with your manliness and all your other good man qualities. Make sure you are a skilled lover, and fake the confidence for a while until you actually feel it. I think what you are feeling is akin to women that feel self-conscious of their bodies. It's normal, but it takes time to work through for some. Good luck.

  14. Anon 1:33,

    Could he switch his meds to something less likely to affect his libido? Have you told him how you feel? It is very, very normal for a woman to not feel desired when she has a higher libido than her man.

    Has he had his hormones checked? Sometimes guys have low testosterone levels, too. Increasing the testosterone could up his libido.

    Has he given any indication that he would stray? If not, then you really shouldn't worry about it. It is probably your feeling of not being desired that is making you feel that way.

    Of course, if he is sending signals that cheating isn't off the table that is a whole different scenario.

  15. Anonymous says:

    He is on sertraline/zoloft and gets major withdrawal symptoms if he is not taking it for more than a few days. I don't think he has low testosterone though. He also drinks alcohol on a regular basis.

    I think it is one of those things that is not a major issue since we are still active a few times a week, but my insecurities do flare up from time to time. I wonder if guys respond to it better than girls do?He is on sertraline/zoloft and gets major withdrawal symptoms if he is not taking it for more than a few days. I don't think he has low testosterone though. He also drinks alcohol on a regular basis.

    I think it is one of those things that is not a major issue since we are still active a few times a week, but my insecurities do flare up from time to time. I wonder if guys respond to it better than girls do?

  16. Besides the sertraline, drinking too much alcohol is also a libido killer. A few times a week is good unless either of you are unhappy with it.

    He could switch meds. by seeing his doctor. I do not recommend just going off those pills. The withdrawals are horrible.

    So you think your insecurities are unfounded? That is very possible. If he is a good guy and isn't giving off any signs of cheating then you need to not worry so much. :)

  17. "I don't think he has low testosterone though."

    You have no way of knowing without a blood test. The T-level that the mainstream, old school medical community considers "normal" is, in the opinion of many modern endocrinologists, actually well below what a man needs to be healthy.

    You should both browse around this site:

    Also, he can't just stop taking SSRIs. They have to be reduced very gradually.

    And, as he tapers off, he needs to replace them with exercise, which is generally as effective as SSRIs. But not just any exercise — it needs to be short-duration, high-intensity exercise, like sprinting, weight-lifting, or burst-oriented sports like tennis or basketball. As a side benefit, these exercises increase testosterone!

    Testosterone affects more than just libido. Apathy, motivation, irritability, etc. It's all dependent on the T.

    Also, beer is anti-testosterone. I gave it up, even though I love it. Science is science.

    As for you, don't waste your time worrying about his wandering eye. Channel your worrying energy into hitting the gym, getting tan, doing Kegel exercises, and learning some techniques for the bedroom. Men are visually-stimulated.

  18. You recommend tanning? I know it may look good now, but it will age people pretty quickly. That is something unfortunately a 30-year old woman needs to think about.

  19. There's tanning and there's tanning. As I understand it, the most long-term damage is done by burning, especially when it occurs in people under 25. I think some mild, natural tanning is nice-looking, but it's not essential. There are plenty of extremely attractive women who are very fair.

    My wife looks great in a bikini, and when she sunbathes topless, it pretty much drives me insane with desire. We're talking caveman-crazy. But that's not a universal thing, I realize.

    General health and fitness, with an appropriate body fat percentage, is far more universally attractive.

    Also, in addition to mere appearance, behavior counts a lot. A woman who is a fun, upbeat, lively, sexy companion will have most of the men in a 10-mile radius beating a path to her door.

  20. I totally agree, Cal. You are a wise man.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I'm not one to work on a tan. I tend to avoid the sun and still have medium complexion.

    But I am almost 2 months pregnant and in the thick of nausea and exhaustion. Normally I work out a lot and keep a good figure (19 bmi), but the pregnancy beats that out. So no gym or diet for me, and I have not been having a great attitude due to the morning (or mostly all-day) sickness.

    Yet I still desire him a lot. Pregnancy hormones are probably also causing me to go a bit nuts. I also feel less desirable being pregnant. Anyway, maybe after the first trimester I'll have more of a fun and upbeat attitude.

  22. Oh, yes, those pregnancy hormones are crazy. They make you sick, neurotic, tired, and sometimes horny. A lot of men find nothing sexier than the woman they love being pregnant with their baby. Get some rest and take care of yourself, sweetie.

  23. "I totally agree, Cal. You are a wise man."

    Thanks, but I consider myself less "wise" than "recently clued-in." Better late than never!

    @Anon: Yeah, pregnancy changes the equation. I'm a big believer in fit pregnancies, though. There are plenty of small-scale things you can do, that (I'm told) will make the pregnancy easier. My wife packed on the pounds for her first pregnancy, and decided she wouldn't do that again for her second. My wife's goal shifted away from trying to stay pretty, and more toward making the pregnancy easier on herself.

    Enjoy that middle trimester!

  24. Anonymous says:

    "Also, beer is anti-testosterone. I gave it up, even though I love it"

    Hmmm, I think it depends a lot on the individual, Cal. My husband is a builder(we have our own business)He is very fit. Gets around on rooftops in 40c degree heat. Comes home at the end of the day to a few cold beers and a home cooked meal, accompannied with a glass of red wine. He drinks beer every day. We have sex most days too.

    Sometimes he will wake me in the middle of the night. Though it's mostly me that does the waking in the early hours of the morning.. ;).

    Beer has most definitely NOT affected his libido nor his performance. He also has a very short refractory period.. (which is good for me :D)


    I should also add that he eats very healthily (no junk food)

  25. Athol Kay says:

    You should absolutely not just stop Zoloft or any other SSRI unless you are having a severe reaction to them. Even then you need to be calling the prescriber for direction.

    The SSRI's can all have serious withdrawal effects to just stopping and you will usually be more successful with a slow reduction.

    Also alcohol is a depressant. It's unhelpful to take a depressant and an anti-depressant together.

  26. Looking Glass says:

    @ The Reader:

    It's your instinct to worry about it a bit. That you need to stop worrying isn't the easiest thing to do. The worry will cause more problems than it solves. It's actually more likely to cause a break up than to prevent one.

    However, it doesn't mean that you have to just blindly trust all of the time. Keeping your own fitness & Game up is important (and will prevent most issues), but you can always do little things that display your Game and assure nothing could be going on.

    Randomly showing up to her work with something she likes and laying a 10 second kiss on her (in full display of her coworkers) is generally not a bad idea. You set out your territory for all of the other men at work (generally the place that can cause the most trouble), and increases your Beta rating with her (since you went out of your way to do something nice). It also makes every woman in her office jealous, which they will likely tell your wife (which increases your Alpha rank). It's little things like that which just do a "status check" on the relationship. If she responds well, you've got nothing to worry about. If she responds badly (and you didn't screw something up), then you have a reason to worry. You don't over do those types of things, but men are just as capable of doing Fitness Tests as much as women. They just have even less ability to recognize them. :)

    @ Anon 2:07 PM:

    I generally get concerned about people that are on SSRIs for an extended period of time. Unless you're one of the very, very few people that have a physiologically malfunctioning brain, you really shouldn't be staying on SSRIs for years. It's generally a sign you haven't dealt with whatever is troubling you and are just hiding from it. (If your husband is one with a serious issue that it helps, then that's a good thing, but I always get really curious when people say they've been on them for "years". And, it should be noted, you don't just drop a medication for no reason. These things are potent and withdrawal can be nasty)

    However, if you're 2 months pregnant, that could just be a lot of it. Hormones *do* effect thinking and they *do* effect the way we take certain stimuli. For the moment, that could be just as good of an answer.

    Still, worries are generally placed around things that are always possible, if unlikely. If he's had a rough family life, where adultery was an issue, then you do have a reason to discuss your worries at least once. You could even couch it in the terms of the pregnancy and how, for some reason, you feel like every woman is out to take your husband. You could actually play it off that way and still have a good discussion about it. Maybe it could even lead into a discussion about your sex lives (as you seem to indicate that maybe you want a little more), and discuss the things that you do that really increase the attraction. If we reference the "5 love languages", maybe you, naturally, are doing one that doesn't really jive with him. That might be something to look into.

    If you end up in this neck of the woods because your Marriage is going really badly, then you do have a concern and should rule it out. If you're just here by accident or after the fact, then you really shouldn't be worrying. That doesn't mean you just blithely ignore warning signs or setup situations where it's more likely to happen. You just shouldn't "worry" about it. Just make the occasional action that generates a continued good relationship, and if it doesn't go over well, then you have a worry. Few are so pathologic in their lying that you won't notice a hesitation to "good" situation. If there is hesitation, then you have a reason to worry.

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