Q. I’m a 30-year-old man who’s been in a wonderful new relationship for a year. I care deeply for my (female) partner and feel our connection may well go the distance. As someone whose twenties were rather chaotic – emotionally and otherwise – it’s a great relief to have found someone who makes me feel grounded.
Lately, though, I’ve found myself reminiscing about a wild phase from my past where I engaged in casual flings with other men I’d met online and – on the wildest occasion of all – a male/female couple. I couldn’t be happier to have left my lost years behind but something about these moments has stayed with me. I l relish my partner and our sex life but I can’t help thinking that – somewhere amongst all that bed-hopping – I inadvertently uncovered a truth about myself: I love the thrill of anonymous sex.
I tell myself that good relationships are built on honesty and I have nothing to lose from discussing this with my new beau. That there are ways we could incorporate my thrill-seeking without bringing other people into the bedroom and the like. But then I also tell myself it’s time to grow up and move on – and that doing anything that risks what we have together would be stupid. I know I can’t have it both ways (no pun intended), so which is it to be?
A. My first reaction was to say that if you were ten years into this relationship, or five even, I’d advise you to have a word with your girl about the possibility of broadening both of your horizontal horizons because sexual fatigue is as understandable as not wanting to eat the same dinner every day. BUT JUST ONE YEAR? This is meant to be The Honeymoon Period where you’re so *into* the Significant Other that every other person on earth emits all the sexual magnetism of a twice-used teabag.
When I read up on the subject, though, I felt quite the dewy-eyed ingenue. (Not easy when you’re a thrice-wed sexagenarian.) A 2017 survey for the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes found that women generally grow weary of sex with the same partner long before men do – usually around the twelve-month mark. (Not so much the seven-year-itch as the one-year glitch.) A lot of this has to do with co-habitation – ‘Moving In With Your Boyfriend Can Kill Your Sex Drive’ was the Newsweek take on the same survey which took in more than 11,500 British adults aged 16 to 74: ‘For women only, lack of interest in sex was higher among those in a relationship of over one year in duration…women living with a partner were more likely to lack interest in sex than those in other relationship categories.’
Co-habitation is a poisoned chalice; we crave intimacy, yet when we live with someone, they become our family. And what sort of weirdo wants sex with a relative? As a friend of mine put it; ’Once, X and I had nowhere to have sex, yet we did it every chance we got. Now we’ve got five rooms all to ourselves and we don’t want to do it in any of them.’
Under some circumstances, you might just have a nice talk with your girlfriend, maybe after a few drinks, and be pleasantly surprised to find that she has just as open a mind as you and also believes that, on occasion, three’s company. However, there are two troublesome elements. Firstly, you don’t indicate that you are cohabiting, which makes reminiscing for your walks on the wild side a little less understandable. And two, you were romping down the primrose path with men. Personally, I’d be less upset about any man of mine *cheating* with men rather than women as it’s a whole other ball(s) game and one could never be comparing and finding oneself wanting in the T&A department.
But if your mind is already straying, it can’t be long before your body follows it. Thirty is young to settle down but not young to have children, which your girlfriend may already be thinking of. You need at some point to make a decision about her which I’m aware will offend some fellow feminists who abhor the virgin/whore trope; is she dirty or isn’t she? If she isn’t, you may have to shut down a part of your nature if you love her too much to lose her or else risk blighting her life. But if she is, lucky you – the fleet’s in!
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