Up until about seven years ago, I had a somewhat black and white view of sex and adultery within a committed relationship. Case in point:
- Infidelity – infidelity was for arseholes. If a man has an affair, he most likely thinks with his dick and lacks the inner strength to work through the challenges relationships bring. If a woman has an affair, she is jeopardising her family, demeaning herself, and betraying the sisterhood.
- Sex – I liked sex as much as the next woman. That is to say, I used to. But by 2011, I was 40 with two children under six. I was working. I was trying to run the household. To be frank, I still thought my husband was attractive, but I just wasn’t attracted to him. I had no interest in sex anymore; or on the odd occasion I did feel a tingling between my thighs, by the time I weighed up the logistics of following through, the moment had usually passed.
- My husband’s sexual needs – I wasn’t meeting them. I didn’t want sex and he was going to have to get used to it. Have a pull. Jerk the chain. Do whatever, but don’t expect me to roll over and think of England. To put out when I didn’t really want to felt like a denial of me; an insincere gesture to us both. Besides which, I was bloody tired and resentful.
Talking to my friends, many of them shared the viewpoints I held, especially points one and two. Some of them were happy to put out even though they weren’t interested – “I enjoy it once I get going” – and for that I admired them.
Call it a mid-life crisis if you want, but some time in my early forties it started to bother me that I had no sex drive. I felt like I was 40 going on 65.
I decided there was only one way to Find My Mojo: and that was to have an affair. I wanted the incredible rush involved in having a crush on someone; I wanted to anticipate their kiss, look forward to their message. And having sex – actually wanting to have sex – was also an appealing prospect. Reconciling this new desire with my attitudes to infidelity (refer to point one above) is a whole other story; but somehow or other, I managed to justify it and so begun the process of trying to find a lover.
So, here I am seven years later. In that time, I have met with around 60 men, for coffee or a drink. Of those 60, around 90 per cent were married or in long term relationships, the remainder single. What started as a desire for an affair (and yes, I had a couple) evolved instead into a study, of sorts. I have become a keen observer of that elusive species: the Married Man Who Has an Affair.
So… what can I tell you about those 50 or so married men? What did I learn?
The first thing that struck me – confused me – is that, from my brief yet insightful interactions with them, they weren’t arseholes. Quite possibly I screened out this sub-species with my thorough selection process because -without exception, ALL seemed like nice men. Family men. Decent men.
This was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a sub-section of married men who were charismatic, sexy but essentially flawed; great lover material but never someone you’d trust, or want to be married to. Instead I found myself having brutally honest conversations with sincere men, very decent men, not so different to my husband, and my friends’ husbands – men who seemed just as devoted to their wives as I believed my husband was to me. And yet, here they were. Talking to me about committing adultery. Confiding in me about their experiences so far.