One of the benefits of sociobiology and evolutionary psych is that old conversations, victories, and hurts replay but before different stage lights. The feeling is similar to that reported by many who "discover" they have ADHD or bipolar disorder. Highlights and shadows change. "It all makes sense."
I remember years ago flirting with an engaged girl. She easily shed the ring but was left with a PR difficulty. What should she tell the ring's donor? (This was a larger issue than whether to give back the ring!)
Her strategy was perfectly Darwinian even though she was rapidly anti-evolution in her formal values which included elements of Jesus' returning any moment. (Is there a thesis on Darwinian consistency in the Old Testament? And, is it more so than the New?) She swore that he would never know that there was another guy because that "would hurt him too much." When I was introduced to her family a month later, there were comments that "You left George for someone else?" Comments that she denied although I was standing beside her!
How peculiar. Her theory was that it would be less devastating to George if there were no one else; that she would rather be alone and bored than stay with him. Good grief! I'd much rather lose a girl to a worthy competitor than because I'm too awful to be around.
Some more recent data make her tactics less bizarre. It is thought, on the basis of heart rate and GSR changes, that women are more affected by the loss of a male's "love" than by the thought of his infidelity. Males are thought, on the basis of similar data, to be more angered and hurt by the sexual infidelity of their true love than by her falling in love with someone else. Males often become aggressive when their girl is adulterous; adultery is a major antecedent to wife-killing. Thus, the two sexes may use "opposite" lies in order to avoid anger and depression in their partner.
There are multiple possibilities for her stance:
1) She projected her own sensitivities onto George by telling him something that would be less upsetting to her if the roles were switched. She wouldn't want to lose her partner's love to another; therefore, a less hurtful message to him was that there was no competitor.
2) She lowered the chances of retribution from him, whether in regard to the eroded affection or to presumed infidelity.
3) She may have been doing both of these things as well as leaving the door open should she opt to go back to him.
There are two other facets of this memory that seem Darwinian. She was motivated by a consideration for "feelings" rather than outcomes. She was, therefore, consistent with her sisters who remember birthdays and clump together during stress. Women seem to write the cards and letters, to make the phone calls, to sit with the ill more so than men.(1) The other Darwinian aspect was whether to keep the ring. She did and with little ambivalence. Again, she might have been leaving a door open or she may have been more interested in conserving her resources, including a diamond. (2, 3)
1) Our brains apparently are not committed sexually until some hormonal tuning occurs shortly before birth. Thus, we can expect to find two overlapping distributions of traits when comparing men and women.
2) She also dumped me a bit later, raising the possibility that I filled some of her "abandonment" receptors while she detached from the earlier male. Incidentally, there is a service in Boston that leases engagement rings. Payment responsibility moves to the female should the engagement end.
3) There may be competing evolutionary strategies, both represented in men and women. There are "Get Laid" and "Find a Partner." GL is associated with different standards for a mate (even if temporary) than FP (generally more stringent in terms of health, IQ, emotional stability, and economic resources). GL usually elicits later avoidance when people shift into finding a partner for having children. Each likely has its own collection of lies and gambits.