The dictionary defines hedging as a verb: to protect oneself against a loss (on a bet or investment) by making balancing or compensating transactions. In the financial sector, hedging can go either way, you can either double or even quadruple your money, but in love… its a little more complicated.
I’m sure we can all recall a time when we’ve met someone we like, someone we started to really really like, but before meeting them we were loosely seeing someone else and we don’t want to drop option one for this new fresh option just in case it doesn’t work out, and god forbid we might end up alone. Then of course as well as the people we’re actually having sex and maybe eating breakfast with, we have several other back-up options: the people we Snapchat, the people we DM and the people we iMessage when we’re bored in the day, these are generally people who we wouldn’t completely object to having sex with but they’re not our main priority. The ease of social media and dating apps have increased our chances of finding someone and simultaneously minimised our urge to settle down.
There’s something terrifying about that moment when you meet someone you actually like, get along with, are sexually attracted to and can see yourself being with, you start to teeter on the brink of excitement and pure anxiety. What if they hurt you? What if you catch feelings too fast? What if they don’t reciprocate? No one wants to feel rejected. It’s far safer to keep that guy or girl you’re not that into on the side…just in case.
But what ends up happening, much like in finance, is that we hedge our bets too far, thinning out potential success rates with any one of them in the process. We give a bit of ourselves to each option and lower our chances instead of increasing them.
In a study conducted by psychologist Carl Rusbult called the Interdependency Theory, he theorised that the need to commit to a relationship is based on three main factors:
The individual receives many benefits with few costs from the partner.
The individual cannot get their needs met better elsewhere.
The individual has a number of important resources devoted to the partner.
And it’s the balance of these three factors that can make someone commit. Of course many social factors come in to play and technology has a lot to do with this. The immediacy and thrill of finding and cultivating partners can mean we all end up casting our eyes away from the prize in front of us, even if we truly like them and feel there’s something there, we’re encouraged to find bigger better options rather than settle with someone.
This meme below sums it up perfectly:
Situationships. I know far too many people in these. You care about someone, you think about them, you’re having great sex, you’re catching feelings but in order to protect yourself from seeming overly keen you continue seeing each other people to offset the energy. Then usually what happens is you get caught in this strange situationship purgatory where the person you like actually wants a relationship but is afraid to say it as well, you both get but hurt when you see each other flirt on the gram, they’re replaying your Snapchat’s endlessly trying to figure out whose male arm that is in the background leaning on your leg.
I once went on a first date where a guy felt it was okay to peruse through my texts and see what guys I’d been messaging, of course it was all fun and games until he saw there were of course, many other men in my messages, some friends, mostly friends in fact and the odd bit of flirty banter but no dick-pics or blackmail-able screen caps in sight. The whole situation turned sour very quickly and we both knew it wasn’t really going to go any further after that. He too had been hedging (with friends of mine) I later found out.
And this is where age-old double standards come in to play; in the famed words of Lil Kim: “If a guy have three girls then he’s the man. He can give her some head, then sex her raw, if a girl do the same then she’s a whore.” Us girls have to hedge silently and discretely for fear of being deemed a scarlet woman and not wifey material, but a guy can feel free to flex on social media or at the club with three or four girls while the girl he’s seeing is stood in the same room. Girl’s aren’t entirely innocent, we just conduct ourselves differently. If we like you, we’ll want to be around you irrespective of our knack for hedging, and if you invest some time, the other options will naturally get dropped.