Doubts have begun to creep in, like ants crawling over a summer picnic.
It starts with a relatively innocent request: a sexy photo for her to moon over late at night. So one evening I get home from the office, wriggle into a slinky LBD and dim the lights ready to titillate my paramour.
I pout rakishly from the bed, squinting aggressively at the camera in a series of photos that look increasingly lecherous and, I fear, deranged. Like 95% of the British population I’m only ever accidentally sexy: once in a blue moon I’ll look up to see a pair of blushing, wanting eyes and have no I idea what I did or how I did it or if I’ll ever do it again.
At last I settle on a simply smiley shot with a flash of thigh and ping it across, slouching grouchily into my pyjamas. Sexy photos are for young people! I huff.
Soon though, like any good addict, she’s back for more.
“I’ve got loads of uni work to do today… I think I need some sexy motivational pics to give me strength… “
I tell her that I’d rather not; that I’m worried about security and frankly, it’s just not worth the risk.
“It’s fine!” she chides with the recklessness of the young. “I’ll put them in this digital vault thing, it’s completely safe!”
I bristle with irritation at her pushiness. Can’t she just let it go?
There are more demands: lap dances, flowers. “I like romance!” she barks on our fourth date.
She points out all the lovely things her ex did for her: holidays to Tuscany, dinner at the Shard. She tells me girls message her on Tinder and offer her free tickets to gigs and exhibitions and it suddenly dawns on me: maybe she isn’t looking for a girlfriend but a financial backer?
I assumed that women want to be equals in love; that in the absence of social norms the old gender stereotypes would simply melt away like big, fat scoops of ice cream in the sun. Now I’m starting to wonder if it can really be that easy.
When she brings up naked photos again on the phone I snap.
“Look, I’ve told you a hundred times, I don’t want to do that. Why can’t you respect my decision? If a guy was pushing me to do it I’d have chucked him ages ago!”
“I’m sorry,” she says in a small voice “It was just a joke…”
Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t but in the end she’s made me feel awkward, uncomfortable and cheap. There’s nothing funny about that.