Mate replaceability is a belief system.
Mate replaceability is defined as abandoning a romantic partner because he or she does not fit your overall mate preferences.
We often replace a mate simply out of convenience, or because a core partner is not “acting right,” or for reasons that have nothing to do with relationship. Some people replace a romantic partner because it is a habit that they have developed over the years.
Some people replace a mate out of sheer spite and/or sport. Some people replace a mate because of haste, thinking and believing the mate is cheating and deciding against reason to follow it up with some action. Some people replace a mate because they are testing the waters, so to speak, to see if the person will reach out first. Lastly, some people replace a mate because they feel entitled to do so.
This article is about mate replaceability as a belief system that people adopt and how it affects the development of romantic relationship-building overall. Jumping from relationship to relationship is never the answer to deep-rooted issues for which you may need therapy, counseling, journaling, prayer, and any other tool that could help you work through your abandonment issues.
Typically, if you are abandoning a partner by using mate replaceability as a belief system, you are ultimately rejecting that person before he or she can reject you. There are always deep-rooted issues when it comes to rejection.
This discussion derives in part from Chapter Five in Toxic Encounters: Why People Pursue Rebound Relationships, Part I, which is available on Amazon. In addition, one or more examples are provided in this article to make the case about mate replaceability as a belief system as well as psychology-based topics to help you further understand the concept. Further, a list of resources is available at the end of this article. You can also click the “Rebounding” tab on the website to access the full research bibliography. The article ends with video resources as well.
I remember an episode of Martin where Pam met an older romantic partner in Simon, who characterized himself as impulsive, falling in love quickly, and married six times. Pam thought she had met the one! But Simon gave her a wakeup call, suggesting that he only believes in staying married for two years and that all his ex-wives have been financially supported.
Pam did not want to take the risk of not having love long-term, so she broke up with Simon, gave up the financial potential, and complained all the way to Gina’s house. Pam even gave back the engagement ring!
Strangely enough, I didn’t realize the impact of that episode until I experienced a breakup. My situation was largely about rebounding. My ex-partner could not let go of his ex-partner, a person who did not want to have anything to do with him but wanted sexual access at whim. He thought she wanted him back. She knew she didn’t want him back. He ended up marrying someone else.
It was my first true experience and understanding about mate replaceability. I had friendships where a friend replaced me for another person, but I had never had a true romantic situation where I was cognizant that I was being replaced.
I am very glad that he chose someone else because in choosing that person, he might be a better husband to his new partner. But I have always believed, too, that you cannot mess over good to get to better. However, his relationship is not my business. His marriage is his own, and I have moved on.
Rebounding is that type of mate replacement that people often employ when they are mad at a core partner. There is a difference between the core partner, whether you are married or enduring long-term cohabitation, and the rebound, side chick, mistress, and any other derogatory term used to describe someone having an affair with a male partner.
Rebounding is defined as a short-term mating strategy with which one person who has recently broken up with a core partner consciously seeks a rebound as a distraction and/or as a coping mechanism. Rebound relationships do not last long, but there are times that the partner of the core relationship will attempt to keep the rebound at arm’s length to maintain the attachment.
A core partner of a romantic relationship usually refers to the marriage context or to a long-term live-in situation. Partners continue in the relationship with the expectation of fidelity and loyalty. They commit to each other with the hope of reaching forever. However, there is never a guarantee that two romantic partners will last until one dies out of the relationship. Divorces and breakups are always standing nearby like two friends waiting for their chances.
When there is a divorce or breakup on the horizon, rebounding, or “getting yourself out there again,” becomes the mate replaceability tool that people use to distract themselves from the pain and the ensuing grief to come because it is just much easier to project investment into something else that may be fleeting than to project care onto the individual self who needs it the most.
Mate replaceability, thus, as a belief system helps to validate one’s choices and preferences for moving hastily from one romantic situation to another without time for self-reflection.
Mate Retention Behaviors
Mate retention is based on one’s perception of mate value, which is further defined as the perception of one’s on mate value compared to the mate value of available partners on the mating market. There are two types of mate retention behaviors:
- Benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors
- Cost-inflicting mate retention behaviors
The following definitions derive from the Toxic Encounters books. The hyperlinked citation is housed also in References.
Benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors are behaviors that men largely use to increase relationship satisfaction. Benefit-provisioning mate retention behavior includes compliments, gifts, expendable resources, etc.
Cost-inflicting mate retention behaviors are behaviors that men (and women) inflict on their partners to keep them from leaving the relationship. Cost-inflicting mate retention behavior includes sexual jealousy and limiting a partner’s social contacts.
After reviewing these two types of mate retention behaviors, these definitions beg the following question: What if a romantic partner’s behavior never changes after employing one or both strategies in response to a conflict? In other words, just because you bring someone flowers or use sexual jealousy to get someone’s attention does not mean that the person’s mate value will increase or that your perception of the person’s mate value will change.
It is not whether the person’s mate value changes or your perception of the person’s mate value changes because if you believe in replacing a mate after time has passed, then you simply believe the mate is replaceable. This belief is predicated many times on whether you have someone waiting on your decision to choose him or her. Some people do not need to rebound to another partner to replace a mate. Some people merely just need to rebound to a single life existence without using one of these behaviors as a guide.
Regardless, mate retention behaviors are relative to one’s perception of how central the romantic relationship is to their overall existence and whether the other partner is worthy of retaining. If not, then mate replaceability as a belief system kicks in and kicks the partner out!
High Value/Low Value
The last part of this discussion on mate replaceability as a belief system is about the difference between high mate value and low mate value. People will terminate relationships based on a perception of a partner’s mate value as being high or low according to global beauty standards and ideal attractiveness.
For example, there is the concept of the “come up woman,” in which a man who does not have the financial resources, yet, will marry a woman until he gets to where he wants to be, then drop the very woman he called “ride or die” for a woman who did nothing for him. He will project a status of high value onto the new woman while label the previous partner as low value once he defects from the relationship.
In other words, abandonment of the lower value partner is imminent, even though he hasn’t revealed this as a secret objective to the partner. Fear of losing the current partner while he is “trying to make it” will cause him to use one or both mate retention behaviors discussed within this article to retain the mate until he is out of the financial woods!
Therefore, a man, based on his perception of a mate, partnered to whom he believes is a lower value mate will replace that partner with a higher value mate, thereby risking termination using cost-inflicting mate retention behavior. For the time the individual is in relationship with the come up woman, he will allocate every effort towards mate retention.
However, when the financial situation changes, then the goal of a man in this situation would be to maintain high status, look for a woman with a desirable trait that reflects high status, and then officially replace the previous partner by marrying the new partner.
Thus, mate replaceability was not a new belief system the individual adopted. Instead, it was the goal the whole time in the relationship he had with a previous partner. In other words, the partner never intended to remain in the relationship, whether it was a marriage or long-term live-in situation.
Lastly, men are not the only ones who will defect from a romantic partner. Women who believe that status matters and that marrying a man with a higher mate value is important will also replace their mates with someone they believe can provide a lifestyle. These women are different from the women who believe that men should be financial providers as a standard relationship objective; in other words, these women are not gold diggers, as some people might assume.
The women who want the lifestyle and the finances to support the lifestyle are the ones who would be willing to mate poach to get what they want. This means that these are the women who will leave a lower value mate for a higher status man to support their financial fantasies. It is important to note that higher status people report greater life satisfaction. Refer to the Conroy-Beam et al. (2016) article for more information.
Mate replaceability as a belief system is predicated on the personal argument that people do not wake up one day and decide to defect from a romantic relationship because of whatever reasons they suggest. People who leave a romantic relationship leave because they want to leave.
Even if you do everything for people to make them want to stay, if leaving is in their heart, if replacing you and previous partners is their habit and pattern, and if deciding that you have fulfilled whatever goal they needed you to fulfill is complete, then that person replaces you for what he or she deems on the road to better and later best.
For this type of person, it is not always personal. It is like a business transaction. However, people have real feelings and when those feelings are involved, it makes it difficult to sustain mate replaceability as a belief system, considering the notion that you, too, might be replaced by someone you want to keep.
Thank you for reading.
Regina Y. Favors, Owner/Operator
https://reginayfavors.com/The Regina Y. Favors Website
The vision of the site is to be the preferred online curriculum you need for life recovery.
Favors, R. (2021). Toxic encounters: Why people pursue rebound relationships. Dallas: Favors Publications.
The Martin Channel. (2020, March 19). Home [YouTube channel]. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4razLq9kWec
Arnocky, S. (2018). Self-perceived mate value, facial attractiveness, and mate preferences: Do desirable men want it all? Evolutionary Psychology, 1-8. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1474704918763271
Conroy-Beam, D., Goetz, C. D., & Buss, D. M. (2016). What predicts romantic satisfaction and mate retention intensity: Mate preference fulfillment or mate value discrepancies. Evolution and Human behavior, 37, 440-448. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301855883_What_Predicts_Romantic_Relationship_Satisfaction_and_Mate_Retention_Intensity_Mate_Preference_Fulfillment_or_Mate_Value_Discrepancies
Miner, E. J., Starratt, V. G., Shackelford, T. K. (2009). It’s not all about her: Men’s mate value and mate retention. Psychology and Individual Differences, 47, 214-218. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237423458_It’s_not_all_about_her_Men’s_mate_value_and_mate_retention
Shimek Cassie and Richard Bello. “Coping with Break-Ups: Rebound Relationships and Gender Socialization.” Switzerland: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Apr. 2014. http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/3/1/24
Spielmann, Stephanie S., MacDonald, Geoff and Anne E. Wilson. “On the Rebound: Focusing on Someone New Helps Anxiously Attached Individuals Let Go of Ex-Partners.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. October 2009 35: 1382-1394. 22 Jul. 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Starratt, V. G., & Shackelford, T. K. (2012). He said, she said: Men’s reports of mate value and mate retention behaviors in intimate relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 459-462. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886912001857
The following video resources represent exploration of social psychology topics on how people determine you are replaceable because they know longer want to work with you and/or because they desire to utilize a short-term mating strategy when they are struggling with a core partner. You can access various YouTube videos on these topics. Here are the videos:
When People Believe You Are Replaceable
Using Rebound Relationships as a Short-Term Mating Strategy
Lower Value Mates Are Replaceable
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