Maintaining Frame is the same as setting Socio-Emotional Boundaries.
In the Manosphere, there’s been a lot of talk about the importance of maintaining an emotional boundary. This trait has assumed many labels (dependent on the context), including abundance mentality, detachment, Dread, maintaining Frame, remaining aloof, and Zero Farts Given (ZFG). I’ll go with detachment for the remainder of this essay.
In spite of the attention that this concept has received, I don’t think it has ever been described in great analytical detail.
I came across one of Ed’s old posts that actually describes this attitude from a socio-spiritual-psychological viewpoint. I’ve reposted it in full below. If a man can understand what this is all about, it makes it all that much more easier to construct this attitude within himself.
Do What’s Right: The Parable of Boundaries (2012 September 30)
If you haven’t spent time alone with yourself, feeling for your personal boundaries, you aren’t ready for life.
We could rephrase that for Christians as spending time in God’s presence, in prayer and meditation, but on the human plane the difference is nil. A spiritual awareness simply adds another level of imperative.
In many ways, the signal difference between childhood and adulthood is taking responsibility for yourself. You can’t do that unless you’ve spent time with yourself with a level of disengagement, detachment. You have to be out of your mind to usefully return to your senses. Infants have no ego boundaries. The awareness develops of itself, but means nothing without contextual teaching. We teach children by degrees how to disengage, but no one can do it for them. If they don’t have a sense of how they impact the rest of the world, and that it matters for its own sake, they remain children. We call this developing an ego, a sense of self-awareness.
By the same token, identifying the boundaries between egos also means identifying sane limits. Not in the sense we avoid crossing those boundaries; they will be crossed or humans don’t communicate. We can’t transgress them meaningfully without understanding them. We can’t take our place in this world until we sense the moral boundaries of human limitations. We already have too many people honestly incapable of rising above childhood without people simply failing or refusing. Children typically have an inflated yet fragile ego, and sanity means fixing that.
Whatever it is we imagine life is for, whether you believe in God or the Fall or whatever, we have to understand where other people are. Even if we choose to reject everyone else’s sensibilities, we still have to know what they are. The alternative is a madness to which we already stand too close.
There are a very large number of people yet gripped in their childhood mythology. They want reality to change to meet them, and stumble along with varying measures of success because too many people humor them entirely too much. Most of humanity are too polite in places where rudeness is demanded, and too rude where it really serves no purpose. That doesn’t leave too many of us sane people to shake things up. This is no crusade, but if you choose to sally forth against insanity, you’ll need this minimum consideration behind you. You have to change, at least in the sense of dumping everyone else’s fantasies for your own.
Most of those pulling the levers of social and political control are demanding you embrace a very bad fantasy. This won’t be easy. Strategically it won’t matter whether they actually believe those fantasies; it affects only tactics in the context. The problem is the fantasy itself, and their demands for uniformity.
So you’ll often encounter people who simply don’t grasp sanity, and some will be more annoying than others. Given our economic insanity, you may well have to share a lot of time and space with idiots. They’ll gnaw at your boundaries. They are so egregiously silly, they aren’t satisfied with ignoring them, but openly attack them, taking it as a personal insult you are different. God has all the power in the universe, and more, but He may not authorize you to escape them directly in time and space. That means creating a space internally, a space in effect. You can’t control them, but you can control yourself and learn to make them respect your boundaries to varying degrees.
The default is a detached regard. Attack the problem, not the person. Getting you to hate them is part of their attack; don’t surrender that. Don’t permit them significance until they earn it. Make it insanely expensive. Respond functionally to the issue when it arises, with a detached examination of how they respond back. Learn the tactics of boundary management as a normal measure of existence. Even a measure of dread is a win for them.
“Sure, act stupid all you like. I have all the time in the world to shut you out. I do this every day.”
It’s an art to discern the fatal flaw in another person’s madness, but it’s enough to simply know what you have to do to pass through this life. If you can’t, then don’t deal with certain things. This is why I suggest violence does have a place, even if it sits in a low priority position. Without any discernible passion, punch their lights out and remark on why and how to avoid it the next time. What does it take to keep them a safe distance? Meanwhile, develop your armor. If physical violence is too improbable for whatever reason, there are various measures of noncooperation which serve the same purpose. People with too much power still have their own limits, and you can find ways to negotiate boundary collisions. Be the smart one in the problem and you’ll suffer less.
Still, don’t surrender more than you can afford. You are the only one who knows what that is at any given time. That’s why you need a frequent dose of human isolation, to reset and make those inevitable readjustments, or at least reaching out there and feeling for those boundaries again.
From Ed’s description, we can get an understanding of how detachment is very healthy, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. We can also understand why detachment is attractive to women — because it is an indicator of inner strength, authentic independence, and maturity in a man.
Now that we understand exactly what detachment is, a man can go on to the next step of trying to identify exactly what is preventing him from developing the inner boundaries required for the manifestation of this detachment. Below, I’ll offer a list of the possibilities.
- A lack of purpose
- Neediness — a lack of self-sufficiency.
- An unhealthy or underdeveloped ego
- Unrealistic or unreasonable expectations
- Ignorance of what you personally require out of the interaction, or not sticking to it.
- Caring too much about the outcome, which may lead to manipulative avenues of control
- A sinful mindset — thinking that your way is the only way, the best way, or the right way, as opposed to having a shepherd’s heart and being led by the spirit.
As you can see, basically all these can be summed up as a lack of Frame.
Case Study 1 – The Abundance Mentality of Detachment
AngloSaxon and Derek argued that a man does need a woman. Derek writes,
A man needs a woman for marriage. In “What Constitutes Biblical Marriage“, I listed six reasons implied by Genesis 2 in the ‘one-flesh joining’ of marriage. These are things that only a woman can give a man when she becomes his wife.
- Metaphorical one-flesh joining: teamwork or shared purpose
- Literal one-flesh joining: permanent spiritual bond that mirrors the relationship with God.
- Blood ties (extended family)
- Relationship permanence
That’s a great way to reframe the “abundance mentality”. IF a man already has those things, then it becomes a list of things to be thankful for. But for those men who don’t have all those benefits of marriage already under his belt — single guys, and men with sub-optimal marriages — then dwelling on that checklist of “needs” is not going to help him develop confidence and an abundance mentality, which is the kind of frame necessary to attain those things.
In the same comment, Derek paraphrases a passage from 1st Corinthians 12:12-27, which describes Unity and Diversity within the Body of Christ. I’m not certain these verses apply specifically within marriage. But if we jump back to 1st Corinthians 7, we find a chapter about marriage.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none,
It sounds to me like these verses are saying that a man doesn’t need a wife. St. Paul even goes further to say that being married is a burden. I’ll amplify the phrase “trouble in the flesh” as meaning “a royal pain in the @$$”. However, as Ed and Derek pointed out, life is exponentially better when you have one. All this is assuming that the woman in question is actually worthy to play the role of a wife; that she is spiritually obedient, helpful, pure, good willed, free from vices, submissive, maintains herself, and so on. A man definitely doesn’t need a wife who is anything less than this.
Who can find a good wife? ~ Proverbs 31:10
10 years of debate in the Manosphere has come to the general conclusion that it’s the guy who can adopt an abundance mentality and maintain Frame, among other things.
Case Study 2 – Self-Sufficiency is the Power behind Dread
I lifted this short testimony from commenter RPC over at Dalrock. It’s basically one man’s story about how he discovered the truth behind soft Dread game.
“One of the worst things I ever did for my marriage was read “Every Man’s Battle” when I was newly married in my early 20s, and then followed the advice and told my wife all about my “sexual sin.” I really did both her and me a great disservice. On my part, 10 years of irrational shame and guilt. On her part, 10 years of paranoia.
Then, I red-pilled a few years back, read up on some of the churchian doctrine regarding male sexuality, and realized it’s all bullshit. I essentially told my wife to butt out, stopped defending myself every time she saw me glance at an attractive woman, and held my head high about my sexuality. The result is a better marriage and far more respect from her, and no more neuroticisim. I know it might not work that way for everyone, but I would encourage all men to stop with the self-flagellation. It does wonders for your confidence.
An ironic byproduct is that the group of men I used to meet with for “accountability” have started treating me like an apostate. The martyr complex is strong.”
I’ve heard many men say something like “your marriage won’t improve until you’re ready to leave it all behind”. A wise man realizes that leaving it all behind is not the point, but that having a strong sense of purpose is the key. If a man is so thoroughly self-sufficient that leaving it all behind is a viable option, then he is closer to home. Many men never come to this realization, and so their marriages continue in perpetual stagnation.
Case Study 3 – Detachment is a Qualifying Trait of Attraction
Scott told this story in a comment under Christianity and Masculinity’s post, Generating and handling attraction from the opposite sex (2020 July 8).
Ironically, this ability to not care (e.g. be outcome independent) is what helps to drive at least some natural attraction.
As painful as the roller coaster of serial monogamy has been for me, I feel it has provided me with some insights that can actually help in the MMP/SMP and comes from this truth.
The cycle ALWAYS follows (followed) this formula:
1. Relationship starts.
2. Relationship runs a predictable course. There is a loop within a loop.
- Highly charged, novel, getting to know each other, great sex
- First “fight”
- Sex starts to decrease
- Tension over the downward spiral
- Blah blah…
- More weirdness…
- …aaaand Breakup!
If SHE does the breaking up –> Depressed, “oneitis” “I’ll never meet another one like her”, negative feedback loops. Friends keep setting you up with new girls, you sabotage every one until you finally get over it and reach the following step, which you will already have reached if YOU DO THE BREAKING UP.
3. “Over it.” Don’t give a crap, totally self-sufficient. Not really interested one way or another.
4. Right at about that stage is when another on catches your attention, and not a moment sooner.
Back to 1. Meet cute, relationship starts. Ready, go.
(In between each LTR, there are FWBs, ONSs, etc. while you shoot around in the dark trying to make sense of how stupid everything is.)
My point is, being aloof seems to be more than just driving some degree of attraction. In my case anyway, it is a stage or condition that MUST be met in order to proceed to the next meet cute.
I’ve experienced this too. In my experience, being able to maintain a happy-go-lucky ZFG attitude doesn’t seem to be controllable at all. You can’t fake it. You’re either there, or you’re not. But when you’re there, the IOI’s pour in like Niagara Falls. This one factor alone adds credence (in my mind) to the argument that Godliness is indeed attractive, but if so, then true Godliness is not what we think it is. Could it be that defacto Godliness is not much more than a combination of the following?
- Being confident to game the woman or face the situation. (Fully trusting in God.)
- Not being distracted or burdened by guilt, shame, fear, worry, anxiety, etc. (Spiritual freedom in God.)
- Having a solid outcome independence. (Security in God.)
- Maintaining an attitude of abundance. (Satisfaction in God.)
If so, then how could a man cultivate this spiritual disposition within himself?
The answer to these questions might be found in the next Case Study of Boundaries.
Case Study 4 — The Power of Interpersonal Boundaries
Earlier this year, I browsed the books that were up for sale on Amazon under the label of “Christian Courtship and Dating”. The quality of the results was dismal.
However, the best-selling books under this category were variations of Cloud and Townsend’s classic seller, Boundaries – Boundaries in Dating, Boundaries in Marriage, etc.
When I saw this, I realized that this is probably the best information out there, concerning courtship in a Christian context.
Boundaries are the most fundamental element of maintaining control of one’s relationships, as well as one’s self.
Donal Graeme wrote a post a while back which covered the subject of setting boundaries, Knowing When to Escape (2013 December 15). This post is a must read for young single women, and fathers of the same.
Many secular writers discuss the concept of boundaries in mystical terms, such as being “grounded”, “based”, or maintaining a “locus of control”.
Even secular feminist authors like The Goddess Principles writes about “protecting/conserving your energy”, and how to use this power to trample over men. Basically, this is about preserving the ego through the use of boundaries.
So this information is out there in many forms, in psychology, philosophy, that new agey BS, but it is conspicuously absent from Christendom. The main problem is that these sources simply describe it as a nebulous power that you have to somehow develop out of thin air, making it seem as though either you’re born with it, or not. But actually, the habit of maintaining personal boundaries can be learned – but only if they are taught!
In summary, I’ll quote another post from Ed which is quite fitting, Practice of Purity (2013 December 19).
“You cannot touch eternity if you belong to this world.
While we are here, our whole purpose is manifesting eternity in how we pass through this brief time. It requires a sense of detachment, of being disentangled from even yourself. If you cannot bear in your consciousness a recognition that your true self is something other than your mere flesh and thoughts, then you cannot operate in God’s glory. While fully involved in human life here with a passion and ardor for what really matters, you hold an awareness on a higher level. You see clearly what matters here because your soul is not confined to this plane.
That sort of awareness has substantial consequences.”
- Donal Graeme: Picky Picky (2014 March 18)
- Christianity and Masculinity: Revisiting dread in the Bible with an anti-chivalry lens (2020 June 18)
- Frame: She Needs You (2020 July 1)