So we set up rules and hope our partners will comply, and in this way we preemptively secure faithfulness by keeping a tight leash. Desire is insubordinate; actions are susceptible to reason and so are easier to control. You’re not allowed to have close personal friends of the opposite sex. You can’t go to the movie with so-and-so unless other people are there. No videos we can’t watch together. No strip clubs, except for bachelor parties. No male dancers. That dress is too revealing. You can’t reminisce fondly about exes, and you certainly can’t see them alone when they pass through town. When our anxiety is too much for us, we fall back on more primitive means of control: we spy. We check credit card statements, the browser’s “back” button, the gas tank, the cell phone, scavenging for information. But these strategies invariably fall short. The interrogations, the injunctions, and even the forensic evidence fail to assuage our fundamental fear of our partner’s freedom. Our beloved might desire someone else.
Trouble looms when monogamy is no longer a free expression of loyalty but a form of enforced compliance.
Mating in Captivity
Esther Perel 2006