This was a comment submitted by RichardP,
@Ame: “… which one can a man trust to be that ‘one’ woman who will be faithful to him?”
A survey a number of years ago showed that job satisfaction was a function of one thing way more than anything else: a lack of alternatives. As the presence of alternatives (other jobs willing to hire them) increased, reported job satisfaction decreased.
That point can be applied to relationships of any kind: the more one knows that others find something about you attractive (without defining that “something”), the looser will be the bonds to the one at hand – without some kind of inner fortitude that generates commitment to the one at hand in spite of the abundance of alternatives.
Take that general concept and look at the patriarchy of long ago through that lens. Someone recognized the truth of that concept. Someone realized that all of society would benefit from helping its members find the fortitude to “commit” to the one at hand (whether love interest or business partner). Most of that social help was in the form of clearly-stated punishments for certain behaviors. And punishment swiftly followed breach of the social contract.
Fear (of whatever) is the great motivator, and dedication to commitment tends to loosen as fear lessens. The manosphere has phrases that find their birth in the concept(s) described above. “Abundance mentality” and “dread” are two of the more obvious ones.
Short version: take a look at the wife that Adam’s father gave him. We say that she was intended to be a help proper and suitable for Adam. We expect that she would be the perfect wife, since the God who can do anything he wants to was the one who made her. But she was far from perfect, as are all of her daughters. And we are correct to wonder what kind of help she actually turned out to be for Adam. Don’t ask “where is the wife who won’t cheat on her husband?” Given the proper alternatives to the one in hand, “job satisfaction” will always go down – perhaps to the point of acting out with one or more of the alternatives. (This also applies to the sons of Adam, but Ame wasn’t talking about him.)
Rather than looking for the perfect partner, one should look for a social group that will enforce encouragements to fidelity – because that is the only way fidelity has ever been maintained throughout history. There is a reason why partnership agreements (whether marriage or business) stress the issue of commitment: it is human nature to become attracted to the alternatives when they are present (Stephanie says as much upthread). Since that is true, we don’t trust human nature, we trust in the structures put in place to “encourage” commitment (whether with lovers or business partners). Woe to the society that has torn those structures down.
Paul can have the last word on this: Romans 7:15-20 – “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” There is no perfect solution to this, this side of the resurrection. But having social structures in place that encourage one to stay committed to what one once committed to goes a long way to helping folks honor the commitments they have made.
Hearty thanks to RichardP