A religious American woman engaged to a Frenchman writes about her experience with him when he broke off their engagement. An old high school flame had come back into his life and, as he explained to his American fiancée, he couldn’t decide if he loved the old flame.
(Don’t old flames just have a sixth sense for knowing when their window of opportunity is about to close? goddamned eerie.)
The author decides to “stay” with him; that is, she does not harangue him with an ultimatum or break up with him in a fury of righteous indignation. She instead offers to give him the space he needs to decide with whom his love is strongest and whether to come back to her at an unspecified future date should he want to do that. She calls this a relationship limbo born out of love for him. They continue emailing and calling over the next several months (the author is vague about any chance that they met for quasi-makeup sex during the limbo interim), and the story ends with no resolution. He still has not chosen between the two women, and the author still loves him. In her words:
If the man I love does come back, it will not be because I have threatened or manipulated him. His return will not be mere capitulation to the all-or-nothing terms I have set. It will come from a place of deep self-knowledge that he has found in his own time. And if I take him back, it will be because of similarly deep self-knowledge, made possible by this very difficult thing I have chosen to do: live with limbo, and take responsibility for my own happiness.
I admire this. She is wise enough to know that ultimatums are the worst possible foundation for a marriage. She also senses, although I doubt she could comprehend the true reasons why, that men are capable of loving more than one woman simultaneously. This is an emotional feat most women cannot grasp, because it is not in a woman’s nature to love more than one man at a time. It takes a selfless woman with a grounded ego and big heart to be able to temporarily silence the hamster and admit to herself that, although she could never do it, perhaps her man really does love two women at once.
Maxim #200: Men acquire lovers; women share lovers.
But she is unwise in one respect: he may return, but not in love. There is no guarantee that he doesn’t return to his American lover simply because his options dried up. Perhaps years later the old high school flame gains weight and our intrepid alpha male* Frenchman loses his love for her, which impels him to seek the comfort and sexual satisfaction of his former lover once again. In other words, she may serve as nothing more than his safety snatch. Yet, for many women, playing safety snatch to an alpha male is preferable to playing top choice to a beta male. So we come round again to my admiration for her purity: she loves an alpha male, and she will surrender her ego to be with him, no matter the cost. I don’t fault her at all for her decision.
*How do you know he is an alpha male?, some of you are probably asking. We know because he has two women in love with him, and at least one of them has agreed to become a de facto member of his nascent harem. Or: it’s self-evident, Sherlock.
The implications of her decision, amplified a million-fold across the corners of the globe, should give betas pause. Women have a natural instinct to sort into concubinage under a sole alpha male. Now, this does not mean women favor such an arrangement to the exclusion of all others; ideally, women would like an alpha male all to their own. But given a world full of competing choices, a woman’s evolutionarily guided hindbrain impulse pushes her, continually like the slow but forceful eddies in a tidal pool, into an arrangement where she feels more sexually fulfilled, as a woman, being the second or third or even thirtieth concurrent lover of a powerful man instead of the first and sole lover of a weak man.
Of course, most modern women do wind up settling for beta males (usually at the tail end of their prime attractiveness years), not least because social taboos and restrictions prevent the large-scale formation in the West of openly recognized harems (to date; see: gay marriage slippery slope). Many women, unbeknownst to their conscious minds, find a loophole to this societal shaming mechanism by doing what the Salon author did: they drop out of the dating market to wistfully pine for an unavailable alpha male while he enjoys the pussy fruit of multiple women. Women who aren’t into the whole wistful pining thing prefer the alternatives of riding the cock carousel or cheating on beta boyfriends while keeping it on the DL.
The Salon author, Sharon Hewitt, very much resembles the protagonist from Story of O. She gives everything, including pride, in the service of love for a high value man. And she would have it no other way, though her actions violate just about every sacrosanct feminist principle of what it supposedly means to be an “empowered” woman. O, like this author, has discovered that the ultimate assertion of female empowerment resides in surrendering completely, despite all odds stacked against her and peer pressure to do otherwise, to love. Love, even, and maybe especially, for a man who would tell her he loves another, or would, like René, offer her body to strangers for sexual plundering.
That, my friends, is the unearthly pull of the alpha male.
So, a toast to Miss Hewitt, for reminding betas how badly the cards are stacked against them. You remain true to a man who has abandoned his wedding promise to you to spend time with another women. More than true, you remain in love with him. In doing so, you have removed yourself from the dating market, and ensured that one man enjoys the pleasure of two women while another man goes without the pleasure of any woman.