TempestTCup has a new blog post up exploring “The Making of an Alpha Widow.” Her post covers (naturally enough) Alpha Widows, a subject that I have covered before, and also does some theorizing about pair bonding in general. The essence of her position can be summed up in these two paragraphs:
Dana and I both think that the Alpha Widow is caused by very strong feelings associated with sex and the breakup. These strong feelings might come from a woman being infatuated with a guy for a while and then finally having sex with her infatuation. If this leads to a longer relationship, she has other memories of him and if the relationship putters out, no Alpha Widow is made.
But, if a man and woman start dating and she develops strong feelings for him, and then at the height of her emotions towards him, he dumps her or quits talking to her, this is what creates an Alpha Widow: The one who got away.
Before I address Tempest’s theory I would like to briefly cover pair bonding in general. I have never really devoted a post to it specifically, so I would say it is about time.
The exact nature of female pair bonding is unknown right now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. For one, I rather doubt you will see scientists delve into the topic, given how politically charged it is. In addition, brain scan technology is still developing, and at the moment very expensive. An effective and detailed study will require a broad sample size of women with varying levels of N’s, which further complicates matters. So for now I think it will be up to amateurs here in this part of the web to provide any thoughts and theories on the matter.
I should mention that while the exact cause is unknown, the results of broken female pair bonding are known. The most commonly cited reference is here. As for the mechanisms that create this kind of effect, here are some potential candidates:
1) The Alpha Widow Effect- This theory states that the results the Social Pathologist has uncovered are solely as a result of women becoming Alpha Widows. The reason why the risk of divorce increases the higher a woman’s N is because the odds of her becoming an Alpha Widow increase the more partners she has. Under this theory, a woman’s pair bonding mechanism doesn’t break, rather she simply has set the bar so high few men can ever hope to reach it. It is important to keep in mind that it isn’t a man’s placement (which N he is) that matters in whether he becomes the “one that got away”, it is the strength of the emotional connection that he establishes in the woman. This is the theory which Tempest and Dana advocate.
2) The Battery Effect- This theory states that woman have a certain amount of emotional attachment that they can establish with a individual man. The first man she mates with gets the full amount of attachment, or a 100% “charge”. After him though, she must “recharge” her emotional battery for every other man that she sleeps with. Unfortunately, each time she recharges the battery doesn’t go back to full capacity. Instead, the maximum amount of emotional bonding she can experience/provided diminishes, with the first “recharge” being the most dramatic. So her first lover might get 100%, and the 2nd 80%, and the 3rd 75%, and so on. Eventually, the battery “breaks” and she can no longer emotionally connect with a man.
3) The Canvas Effect- This theory operates as something of a mix of the two previous theories. It treats the female pair bonding ability as a sort of canvas upon which men can “paint” themselves. The skill and vigor with which the man paints himself upon the canvas determines the strength of the bond. The canvas has a limited ability to hold paint, however, and the more “painters”, the worse and worse each picture gets. This leads to a weaker ability to bond. Eventually the canvas simply no longer works as such. Furthermore, a painter who uses especially bright, vivid colors and bold strokes will leave such an impression that those who come after will not be able to paint the picture they want.
I suppose there might be other theories out there, but I have either never seen them or have forgotten about them. As for which one is right, well, they all have flaws with them. Women like Sarahsdaughter, who had very high N’s, but are still able to pair bond with their husbands, would seem to support the first theory. SD has said that she never really bonded strongly with the men before her husband, and thus never established the kind of emotional attachment which leads to Alpha Widowing. On the other hand, you have the fact that there is an obvious effect of a high H upon women, such that it is noticeable for those who know what to look for. The so-called “Thousand Cock Stare” (which involves a term I wouldn’t use in normal conversation) is an example of how women seem to “break” after enough sexual partners.
Personally, I am inclined towards the third theory. The Alpha Widow effect clearly exists, so we know that mechanic is in play. And there is enough evidence of a “number” effect to suggest that it can’t be Alpha Widowhood alone which affects female pair bonding. I should note that each theory has its advantages and disadvantages if true. The first theory is good news for women with high N’s, as it means they can still bond if their previous partners didn’t “leave a mark.” On the other hand, it also means that a man should be wary of a woman with an N of one, if that previous partner was a type likely to strongly imprint on the woman. The second theory has the opposite result: its awful for women with high N’s and far, far better for women with very low N’s. These advantages and disadvantages are important to keep in mind, if only because when women support different theories, their own personal experiences might incline them towards a theory which has a better outcome for them.
Lastly, I wanted to address Tempest’s final paragraphs:
Whereas I do believe that PUAs are creating a lot of Alpha Widows, I also believe that if you can make a woman feel those incredible highs and lows early on in a relationship, in accordance with all of the bonding chemicals of sex, you can become the exciting alpha that she ultimately bonds to.
You can become her new emotional high water mark and therefore cause yourself to replace the alpha she was widowed to. There have to be emotional highs and lows: a veritable roller-coaster of emotions. She needs the soaring highs and the depths of despair to make her bond fully if she is an Alpha Widow.
Sure, it would be great to stumble upon a nice fresh-faced woman with no previous experience or emotional distress, but these days of sex with and without relationships, it might be good insurance against the possibility of her inability to pair bond. This all sounds like a pain in the butt, but if it could possibly save a world of hurt in the future, it might all be worth it.
Also, women shouldn’t give men advice about women, so YMMV
Fortunately for Tempest, she ends her post with a reminder that a man shouldn’t listen to women for such advice. Otherwise, I would point out that she is engaged in a popular female tactic- shifting the burden of bad decision made by women from women onto men. As it is, her “suggestion” is worth addressing. Much of the way that society is structured now is set up to do just that: to shift the burden of errors and a lack of personal responsibility onto men. So my advice to men is to not let them get away with it. You are not responsible for the poor choices made by women. If a woman has gone and messed up her pair bonding ability, that is her problem, not yours.