We used to joke that I could make an instant decision if something cost a couple grand but would take hours trying to decided between the "regular" and "professional" version of a reciprocating saw. It just wasn't the saw, it was all of the little purchases take forever but the big ones are either "yay" or "nay" in a matter of minutes.
There is a lot of me in everything I write. This happens to be one of them. Rutejìmo can't make a choice because he doesn't know what he wants.
He has Chimípu who is as close as a female friend as he will ever have, but she is unobtainable. Like most warriors in this part of the world, Chimpu is sterile and spends her time among all the men of the clan but only where it doesn't interrupt with the existing relationships, which means mostly bachelors and couples looking for a threesome. In effect, the warriors are "married" to the clan as a whole and can't single out one member for their love. On the other hand, they are human which is why they help introduce the new adults to the world of relationships and sexuality. There won't be details here, but some references here and there.
There is also Mikáryo, the woman he has had a crush on for a decade. He hasn't seen her since the previous book, he doesn't know if she remembers him, or even if she is alive. But the events that happened in Sand and Blood still drive him. He loves her, but he also loves the idea of her.
And finally, this is the first point where Rutejìmo realizes that Mapábyo might be something more. Since I write in third-person limited, he glosses over it because he doesn't understand it.
The last bit is important. Cultural abuse is a nasty little thing that you don't realize is happening. Rutejìmo has been an outsider to the clan for years and they have gotten into a "rut" of treating him as such. I see him coming to the slow realization that he doesn't deserve love because of his differences or that he isn't worthy of it. He's given up over the years and expects to be a bachelor for the rest of his life.
Mapábyo doesn't treat Rutejìmo like the others. She doesn't dismiss him, which makes her scary and terrifying for him. The only other woman who does that, Chimípu, can never dedicate her life to him, so he's struggling with the idea that he can be something with Mapábyo. But, years of being told that it will never happen is pretty powerful.
The important part is that not everyone realizes that is what happening. People doesn't go into a marriage saying "he's abusive and destructive, but I'm okay with that." Most of the time, it is a slow progression that slowly consumes you until the point you finally stop and go "this is horrible, how did it happen?"
At the same time, I don't think abusers wake up and go "I'm going to crush the heart of someone today. That's awesome." Some of them don't realize what they are doing since they get into that rut and just do what they always did, not thinking about it anymore.
Rutejìmo doesn't know that Desòchu is doing what is he is doing. Desòchu doesn't realize it either (though the story Raging Alone has more insight into that). The same with events in the next book. Since Rutejìmo isn't conscious of this, he doesn't think about it which means the book doesn't talk about it.
You may notice that Mapábyo and Mikáryo have similar names. That was only partially intentional, mainly because these two women are going to be a source of Rutejìmo's confusion and struggles for a few chapters. The other reason is that when I first introduced Mapábyo, she was suppose to be an adorable little girl and a background player, not something significant. In hindsight, probably won't do that again, but there are no chapters in this or the next book where they both show up together. These two women, in effect, represents two very different parts of Rutejìmo's life.