The Boxes Concept answers a lot of questions people often have about nonmonogamous relationships, such as:

  • Can you fall in love with an MLTR?
  • I get having sex with more than one woman, but can you actually be affectionate with more than one woman?
  • How can I have sex with other people when I’m totally in love with someone?
  • Could I actually be in love with more than one person?

The Boxes Concept will help you clarify much of the confusion you may have about yourself while in a relationship with a special someone (or someones). This is a revision and update of one of the most popular forum posts I made many years ago. If you understand the Boxes Concept, it will allay a lot of concerns you may have about having these kinds of relationships.

The Three Boxes

Imagine there are a certain number of boxes cemented into your brain. Everyone has boxes, but everyone has as different number and combination of boxes.

Every time you have sex with or start dating a woman, she gets “installed” into one of these boxes in your mind. Only one woman can fit into each box.

There are only three types of boxes:

Sex Box – A woman in this box is an FB-only. You have sex with her, and that’s it. Maybe you’re friends too, or maybe not. There is no romantic affection for this woman at all, and there are no emotional feelings or connection with her beyond basic friendship. It’s just sex.

Affection Box – A woman in this box you are both having sex with and romantically affectionate with. You really like her and have a connection with her. You cuddle, look into her eyes, tell her romantic things, and mean it. It’s the box for WDs, MLTRs, OLTRs, and girlfriends.

Love Box – A woman in a love box is someone you actually love. I’m not talking about oneitis or NRE. I’m taking about real love. This box is for high-end MLTRs, an OLTR, a serious girlfriend, or a wife.

As I said, everyone has a certain number of boxes installed in their brain, but everyone has a different combination of boxes. Interestingly, some people are actually lacking certain types of boxes. I’ll give you some examples in a minute, but first we need to nail down how the boxes function.

How The Boxes Work

The boxes follow these rules:

1. Each box you have can only house one woman per box. If a woman is a box, no other woman can enter this box until you remove the woman currently residing in it.

2. No woman can inhabit more than one box at a time.

3. You can move women from one box type to another.

4. Empty boxes are allowed.

5. You cannot create more boxes, or least not quickly. Creating new boxes in your brain is a very long, difficult process. Most people are simply stuck with the boxes they have.

For example, a guy might have sex with a hot chick a few times. She’s in one of his sex boxes. Over time, he realizes he has feelings for her. Internally, she’s pulled out of the sex box and placed in the affection box. Externally, he upgrades her from FB to MLTR.

Still later, he actually falls in love with her, so she gets pulled out of the affection box and into his love box. Externally, perhaps he upgrades her from MLTR to his single OLTR. Or maybe he just keeps her as a high-end MLTR. That’s up to him. (It is perfectly acceptable to love an MLTR. It’s certainly happened to me.)

The boxes only describe what’s going on internally in your mind. They do not necessarily represent what’s actually going on in your life. For example, you could have a married guy who loves his wife, thus having her in his love box. Over 20 years, he falls out of love with her but stays with her for the good of the kids or whatever. Now she’s out of his love box and into an affection box or a sex box, even though he’s still married to her.

Examples Of Different Box Combinations

Every man (and woman) has a different number of boxes installed in his brain. This determines what kinds of relationships he’s capable of structuring, and also anticipates problems hey may encounter in his relationship life.

To illustrate this, here are some examples and what they mean.

Example 1: Blackdragon

I, Blackdragon, look like this:

1 love box
2 affection boxes
infinity sex boxes

This configuration means several things. First, it means I can only love one woman at a time. I simply do not have the ability to actually love more than one woman at the exact same time. I know, because I’ve tried. I can’t do it. My mind and personality aren’t built that way. Only one woman can inhabit a box at a time, so if I have only one love box, if I love a woman, she’s the only woman I love. Period.

However, notice I also have two affection boxes. This means I can be romantically affectionate with two women at the same time, no problem. This also means that if I really pushed the envelope, I could be in love with one woman and be (somewhat) affectionate with two others. That’s a grand total of three MLTRs I could have at the same time.

Three MLTRs is a lot of damn work, especially with someone of my boxes configuration, so it’s very rare I have that many. I like to keep things to one or two MLTRs, max. The point here is that I’m emotionally capable of three.

If I had an OLTR, that means I would not be allowed to be affectionate with any other woman but her. However, I could still have sex on the side as long as the women were just FBs. If that were the case, I would have one woman in the love box, one or two women in my sex boxes, and my two affection boxes would be empty. Which would be perfectly fine with me.

Let’s talk about those sex boxes. I have infinite amount of those. Crazy! That means that in theory I could have infinity FBs on the side and be emotionally okay with that. Externally in the real world, infinity FBs would be impossible of course. The point is that the number of FBs I could have is limited only by external factors, like my schedule and energy levels. These days I rarely have more than two ongoing FBs, but that’s because my busy schedule couldn’t handle any more, not because I’m mentally incapable of it.

Two FBs plus one or two MLTRs means a total of three to four women at all times, usually three. That’s a good range for me. More than three takes more time, and my time is precious. Less than three threatens my constant flow of sex and raises the odds of betaization (and thus drama and rules) from the women in my life. Yuck…can’t have that. So three women (or so) is a good number for me, based on my internal limitations (my boxes) and my external limitaitons (my goals, lifestyle, and schedule).

Now let’s look at someone very different from me…

Example 2: Lover Guy

Let’s examine a more emotional open/poly relationship Alpha Male. I’ll call him “Lover Guy”. Real-life PUA examples of this hypothetical guy would be Zan, JWS, Nashville Playboy, or Johnny Soporno. If you don’t know who any of these men are, imagine a dashing, emotional, passionate Alpha Male like Casanova, and that will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.

Lover Guy is definitely an Alpha, but he’s different than me. His brain looks like this:

Many love boxes
NO affection boxes
Few or zero sex boxes

Unlike me, Lover Guy can actually love more than one woman. What’s nice about Lover Guy is he doesn’t need to worry about not having affection…he always has it from the women in his love boxes, and he’s very good at keeping the love boxes full at all times.

Amazingly, he loves all the women he dates, so he doesn’t even have (or need) separate affection boxes. He’s is much less compartmentalized than I am, which is nice. The downside is this guy is in for much more relationship drama and ups-and-downs than I am. Pros and cons.

This is how some men can actually love more than one woman at a time. They have more than one love box in their brain, unlike myself.

Example 3: Extreme Pussy Beta Male

Now let’s look at the polar opposite from both Lover Guy and myself. This would be the absolute, needy, AFC beta. His brain looks like this:

1 love box
NO affection boxes
NO sex boxes

If you look at that for a minute, you’ll see the huge problems this guy is in for. He has no sex boxes and no affection boxes. That means as soon as this guy has sex with a woman, he instantly falls in “love” with her. Cue all the usual relationship and neediness problems.

This poor bastard is a complete slave to his emotions and to the woman he’s with. He lives a life of slavery, misery, worry, drama, jealousy, betaization, and pussification.

Even worse, if he starts to have sex with a second woman, he will automatically start falling in love with HER instead, because he only has one box, a love box. Bad news. This guy is in for a lifetime of worry, chaos, and major, major relationship problems.

Example 4: Typical Beta Male

Let’s move one level up from that hopeless bastard and look at the typical man, which in today’s era is a typical beta male. His brain looks like this:

1 love box
NO affection boxes
1 or 2 sex boxes

This guy is one notch better than the complete pussy, but not much. Unlike the pussy, the Typical Beta can indeed love one woman and have meaningless sex (or friends-only sex) with one or two other women without getting oneitis for them. He can’t be affectionate with more than one woman though; he doesn’t know how. That’s reserved only for the woman he loves.

As a result, like the complete pussy, Typical Beta is going to have his ass dominated by the woman he loves, and he’s got drama, problems, and major oneitis for her. He’ll likely cheat on her (since he can have sex with side women without getting affectionate), but his life will be severely limited by the fact that the woman he “loves” will dominate his life.

Example 5: Typical PUA

Now let’s look at something completely different: the stereotypical player. A PUA would look something like this:

1 love box (that is either always empty, or rapidly switching women all the time)
NO affection boxes
infinity sex boxes

This guy gets laid a lot, with lots of different chicks. He can have five or six one-night-stands in a month, in addition to four FBs on rotation, and feel perfectly fine about all of it. Many PUAs don’t have oneitis because they always keep their love box empty, and have no affection boxes.

On the other hand, many old school PUA guys like Mystery, Style, and David DeAngelo always have a woman in their one love box, and they just keep swapping her out for a new woman every few years, while sporadically having sex with random women on the side. This could almost be considered the PUA version of serial monogamy. It’s a very time consuming, up-and-down, high-drama way to live in my opinion, but it’s what these guys like.

What About Women?

So what about women’s boxes?

Women’s boxes work the same way as man’s boxes, but with one key difference. While a woman’s love boxes and sex boxes work the same as a mans, a woman’s affection boxes are temporary.

A man can have a someone in his affection box for 20 years, no problem. Not so for a woman. For her, the affection box is simply a temporary holding area for a man before she shoves him into either a love box or a sex box. No man can remain in a woman’s affection box for very long.

As a matter of fact, if a guy remains too long in a woman’s affection box, she’ll actually start to get uncomfortable. If you’re in her affection box, she quickly needs to move you in either her love box or a sex box so that she’s “comfortable” again. Don’t ever plan on being in a woman’s affection box for very long.

Keeping that in mind, here are some female examples. And please note I’m generalizing here, and there are always going to be unusual exceptions to every rule.

Example 6: Typical VYW (woman under the age of 23)

A very young woman, age 16 to around age 23, looks like this

1 love box
0-1 temporary affection boxes
Many sex boxes

Women this age have no problem fucking lots of dudes. However if they fall in love with a guy, he’s definitely going to be the only one (though she can still be having sex with other men).

Some VYW have affection boxes, some don’t have any, but even the ones that do only have one.

Example 7: Typical Woman

The typical woman between the age of 23 and 33 has a brain that looks like this:

1 love box
1 temporary affection box
1 sex box.

This woman is not quite as sexually promiscuous as the younger chicks, rarely having sex with more than two men at a time. Other than that, she’s structured about the same.

Example 8: Over Age 33 Woman

When a woman crosses over the age of doom, and ventures into that dark, ASD-filled land of over-33 females, she likely has a brain that looks like this:

1 love box (that is usually empty if the sex box is full)
NO affection boxes
1 sex box (that is usually empty if the love box is full)

Unlike younger women, older women don’t separate love and affection. Either she’s having sex with a man she “loves” or is “serious” with, or she’s having meaningless sex with a friend with benefits. That’s it…nothing else is allowed. She finds the concept of getting emotionally affectionate with a man she’s not “serious” with as offensive and slutty. (Because a “lady” doesn’t do that. Or something.)

Like all human beings, she can cheat (and statistically will cheat if the relationship lasts long enough). So she can love one guy and cheat on the side with another guy. That side-guy will be “just sex”. However, since she has no affection boxes, if she starts getting affectionate with the side-guy, she will start falling in love with him. She won’t be able to help it. Worse, since she has only one love box, she will stop loving the main guy she’s with. (I’ve sure you’ve seen this happen with women who cheat on husbands or serious boyfriends with a long-term side-guy.)

As you can see, the lower the number of boxes you have, the more difficult and problem-prone your relationship life will tend to be.

Your Boxes

This boxes stuff is all conceptual. Now let’s talk about how to take this information into the practical world.

1. Identify your boxes. Which ones you have, how many you have, and which ones you lack. Just doing this is going to really shed some light on any recurring problems you’ve had in your relationship life.

2. Your goal should be to develop boxes in all three categories. If you want to be a happy, relaxed, confident, well-rounded, non-needy, guilt-free person, you should ideally have at least one love box, one affection box, and one sex box. If you have even more, that’s even better, but ideally you should have one in each category.

How do you develop new boxes you don’t already have? I’m not a psychologist so I don’t have any easy answers. I was more or less born with the boxes I have, so I’m lucky. However I’m sure I’ve added a few affection boxes as I grew and matured as an Alpha Male 2.0. So I can give you a few clues:

– Work on your confidence, outcome independence, and inner game. The more confident you are, and the more outcome independent you are, the more boxes your brain will “grow”.

– Date lots of women. By “date” I don’t mean go have a bunch of one-night-stands. That’s PUA stuff, not dating. I’m talking about having ongoing relationships even if they’re just FBs. Boxes are like muscle cells. They multiply with use.

– Get out of your comfort zone and practice different types of relationships. If you’ve been monogamous your whole life, try to do a single MLTR and see how it goes. If you’ve only had OLTRs, try an MLTR or two instead. If you’ve never had an OLTR, try one out. You get the idea.

One of the reasons I have a nice selection of boxes in my brain is because I’ve had just about every type of relationship you can possibly think of over the course of my life, including monogamy. My brain is very experienced and nuanced as a result.

3. Determine what would be the ideal boxes configuration for you.

For example, I have one love box, and this is perfectly fine for me. I have no desire whatsoever to create more love boxes. I respect men who have more than one love box, but frankly if I had more than one love box it would create more work and/or drama in my life and I’m not interested. Moreover, my two affection boxes are fine too. My current configuration works very for me, and will work for me long-term, so I’m good to go.

You must figure out the configuration that not only works for you, but works for your long-term goals in life. And then get to work to create that within yourself.

Possible Changes You’ll Need

Here are some examples of clearly dangerous configurations you may have.

If you have no love boxes, something is very wrong with you. You may be a victim of a childhood trauma or similar. You may require counseling or at least some very serious soul-searching to determine why this is.

On the other hand, if you have too many love boxes, you’re going to be living a life of constant, extreme and drama and emergencies. That’s no fun either (unless you enjoy drama).

If you have no affection boxes, and a lot of people don’t, you will have constant relationship problems because as soon as you encounter a woman you like more than an one-night-stand or FB, you’ll immediately get oneitis and start to betaize yourself. Bad news!

If you have too many affection boxes, your life is going to get very complicated very quickly, and you’re going to be very tired and stressed.

If you have no sex boxes, you’re going to be a very stuck-up, anal retentive, demanding, bossy prude. You’ll never have sex unless someone makes your “checklist” of screening items, and this often won’t happen. You’ll find yourself going without sex for long periods of time, and this isn’t healthy.

On the other hand, if you have too many sex boxes, you need to be damn sure that you are very responsible, deliberate, and careful when it comes to your sex life. I have “infinite” sex boxes, but I’m careful. I don’t do one-night-stands, I use condoms, I get frequent STD tests, I don’t sleep with complete strangers, I don’t have sex with huge numbers of women, I never get drunk, and I never get oneitis. (NRE sometimes, love rarely, but never oneitis.)

So having lots of sex boxes is okay, but you’d better have your shit together and a healthy dose of self-control. Otherwise you’re the definition of “promiscuous”, and you’ll have all kinds of problems, including STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Not cool.

That’s the Boxes Concept. I realize it’s a lot of information to assimilate. Re-read this article if you need to. I promise that once you understand this, it will be extremely helpful to you (as well as to the special women in your life).

20 Comments on “The Relationship Boxes Concept

  1. So the sex box is for recurring fbs, the affection box is for mltrs and the love box is for either wives, monogamous gfs, or oltrs (i.e. Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed). Here’s what I’ve noticed about PUAs. Those that specialize in night game are sex box oriented; almost exclusively. Its all about ons and rotations. BradP was the model for this. But Daygamers are more like you; a balance of mltrs and fbs. This will also scale to age. The older a man gets, the harder it is to get ons, especially from night game.

    As for women, I told you something similar just recently. As women get older they are emotionally uncomfortable with sex that is not either in or leading to a monogamous commitment. And their comfort levels with the mltr structure basically vanishes. They’ll do fbs for a while until they find a relationship candidate. But an mltr is rarer for 33+ women. I think this is because women are not bio-chemically wired to handle uncertainty.

    There have been studies, one recently, that show that women experience lower cortisol levels (and thus lower stress) when they feel that their financial and emotional needs are secured. Men however do not have the same responses. It seems that women get stressed when the future is in doubt to a greater extent then men do. This makes perfect sense given a Darwinian view of the human animal and the division of labor between the genders.

    This is why younger women have the sex patterns that they do. If all women at all ages conducted themselves like 33+ women, there would not be the PUA/game/player/alpha phenomenon that we have today. Men would basically be competing to be the best long term prospect that a women had. That, incidentally, is what forced monogamy does, make men compete to be husbands and fathers (which is why Social Conservatives argue for that).

    But women when they are young are not desperate for long term emotional commitment. To them, their youth is infinite. They don’t look that far ahead. So its about chasing experience. This makes them open to the player/PUA who has trained himself to provide them with that experience and thus offer himself as a short term sex partner or a short term romantic partner (mltr). Older women, however, have greater needs of emotional security. Their time is running out.

    Your box analogy is very helpful. And it jibes with what I have experienced the last 2 and 3/4 years.

  2. If I had a comment Hall of Fame, yours would be in it. I agree with every word.

    The only thing I would add to “As women get older they are emotionally uncomfortable with sex that is not either in or leading to a monogamous commitment” is that older women can have fuck buddies and be comfortable with it, as long as either A) they are 100% sure it will never lead to anything serious, i.e. younger-man cougar stuff, or B) they already have a “serious” relationship and the FB is a guy on the side.

  3. Meh. I’m 37. I would say, I have 1 love box, multiple sex boxes and affection boxes that tend to either turn into love or just sex fairly quickly, most turn into sex only.

    I think women over 33 are a lot more promiscuous than you give them credit for. We’ve just gotten better at hiding it.

  4. Lovergirl my love, when it comes to sex, you are nothing like the typical over-33 woman. Not even close.

    (When it comes to the emotional rationales they make, that’s were you become more typical.)

  5. Jack, you said “That, incidentally, is what forced monogamy does, make men compete to be husbands and fathers (which is why Social Conservatives argue for that).”

    It seems to me that forced monogamy is bad for men, bad for women, but in the past it has been good for the nation-state that implements it, since it results in men that are driven to produce more economic value during their prime adult years. Or, at least, that was certainly true during the middle ages when manual labor was a very valuable economic asset.

    Now that technology is replacing the need for so much manual labor, the need for forced monogamy is pretty much gone. It’s time to start changing our culture to be in alignment with that fact.

  6. You can find over-33 women like Lovergirl with their temporary affection boxes; unfortunately they’re often on sites like AdultFriendFinder or Fling.com with their wonderful 20-1 male to female ratios (not counting couples/swingers)

  7. Now that technology is replacing the need for so much manual labor, the need for forced monogamy is pretty much gone. It’s time to start changing our culture to be in alignment with that fact.

    Damn. You guys are on fire today.

  8. Hey Blackdragon, I have a question, what is your criteria for determining whether you love somebody or not? How do you distinguish in reality between love and simple oneitis or NRE?

    You said “love” is probably not love unless the relationship lasts at least 6 months, but this is just a condition for love. What exactly changes, emotionally speaking, between love and not love? How do you realize that you actually love a woman?

  9. Hey Blackdragon, I have a question, what is your criteria for determining whether you love somebody or not? How do you distinguish in reality between love and simple oneitis or NRE?

    That’s a very big question, and not one I can answer in a simple comment. One simple and incomplete answer is that oneitis/NRE comes on very, very fast, like within a week or two of seeing someone new (or perhaps a month or two at the latest). That’s not love, so if/when I experience feelings like that, I know I’m not in love, I’m in NRE. (Which is fine. NRE is awesome. It’s just not love.) Love comes later.

    If I’ve been seeing someone consistently for an entire 12 months and I really, really start to like that person even more, I’m (likely) in love. At that point I look inward and ask myself some very hard questions if this is the case. “Is this really love, or something else?” then I give myself the answer.

    Not an accurate answer to your question, like I said, but that’s the best I can do in a simple blog comment.

  10. I’m probably reading this wrong but this post suggests that if you ended up in an OLTR, you’d have the same boxes as the “Typical Beta Male.”

  11. I’m probably reading this wrong but this post suggests that if you ended up in an OLTR, you’d have the same boxes as the “Typical Beta Male.”

    Your boxes do not change based on whatever relationship you happen to be in. They’re cemented in your brain forever. But they can be empty.

    If I got into an OLTR, my boxes would not change. It’s just that my two affection boxes would be kept empty (by my choice). If my OLTR ended, I could fill those boxes right back up again if I wanted to.

  12. Hey BD, stoked to see you’re still kicking. I’ve been reading your posts since the mASF days and you were always one of the guys that resonated with me. I’m trying to read your eBooks but the 4 that I got emailed don’t work. Any other source on the web to pick them up?

  13. The 4 free ebooks “don’t work”? They’re standard PDFs with no DRM. Send me an email at the contact page above and I’ll manually send you them. But make sure you’re using a normal version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

  14. They should make Blackdragon required reading for all so-called relationship experts, many of whom imbibe their zany theories from fantasies and cosmo magazine. Well done, lad. I will re-read this again and again until I can handle my boxes with more skill.

  15. Over 20 years, he falls out of love with her but stays with her for the good of the kids or whatever. Now she’s out of his love box and into an affection box or a sex box, even though he’s still married t(o her.

    (Subconscious) hate box needed for this man.

    Let’s talk about those sex boxes. I have infinite amount of those. Crazy! That means that in theory I could have infinity FBs on the side and be emotionally okay with that.

    Why crazy? The world is full of people who are fond of their in-the-hundreds video game, film, music album, book collections, and these are limited only by time or money contraints.
    I think the opposite would be odd: to have a finite amount of sex boxes. 0, 1, unlimited are the three reasonable possibilities,seems to me.

  16. I am not sure I agree with telling an OLTR or MLTR that I can only Love one person at a time but still be affectionate with multiple people.

    First, it seems they would just think that I am full of shit and that I really do love multiple women.

    Second, Love to me is more of a Verb versus a Noun.  Denoting Action.

    Third, it seems that if they believed that I was in love with her only, that she would take this to think that I have Oneitis and it could lead her to more drama and trying to Control me.  I could see her wanting proof that I only love her!  LMBO.  How does one prove that?

    Couldn’t one claim you have “Love Oneitis” and that you need to run out today and find another women to Love and if you are not capable of loving 2 women at the same time, you will be doomed to sadness once she leaves you.

    I would think that in order to prove something so silly, it comes down to who we spend our Time/Money on the most correct?

    Wouldn’t an easier or more simple strategy with this whole “Love” issue be to replace them with words like this:

    I really like you a lot
    I care for them/her but not like I do you
    I enjoy loving you
    I enjoy making love to you
    I like you enough to want you in my life long-term

    Can you imagine if we eliminated this word from our vocabulary all together in relationships lol!?

  17. I believe  I have many affection boxes and zero of the other two. You say this is a problem because women only have 0-1 very temporary affection boxes. It seems that creating love box(es) should be a priority, and your assumption that those without love boxes likely have childhood trauma/abuse that they haven’t dealt with is certainly true in my case. However, at 23, maybe I just haven’t had enough time to fall in love yet.

     

    I think the biggest problem with regards to the sex box is that I have a very difficult time getting aroused if I don’t feel safe or comfortable enough with the girl, which so far has only been achieved through lots of affection.. Your theory about childhood trauma is likely at play here too.

     

    The only woman I’m currently having sex with, and the only woman I’ve ever had sex with is a close friend, who I love in the same brotherly, caring way I love my other close friends, both male and female, but I’m certainly not IN love with her. The other women who were willing to sleep with me I couldn’t get it up with. Even with her, I wasn’t  able to get an erection until after she spent weeks cuddling, eye gazing, and being super affectionate with me.

     

    This has gone on for several months, and I think it fits into the MLTR/affection box, even though we still consider ourselves friends. Since the female affection box is temporary, I obviously need to be prepared for the end of this, which I guess is either a new box or a return to the way things were before.

     

    What advice would you have for someone like me, aside from just dating more women? Obviously you’re not a psychologist or anything, (and I probably need one) but if you have time to answer I’d really value your opinion.

    Apologies for the length of this comment

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