Recently I was chatting to an old colleague, who’s in a long-term relationship but has started having feelings for women:
“I don’t know whether to talk to my boyfriend or just, you know…go have fun,” she said, flushing.
Maybe…try not to cheat?” I said gently.
I can’t say I’m surprised to be honest – not about her specifically, but about women in general. All the signs pointed to a day of reckoning: the fact that 50% of women over 50 identify as bisexual; the fact that women are more in tune with their sexuality than ever. You can see it on a night out: girls flirting and snogging and copping a feel on the dancefloor. It was only a matter of time before the housewives shed their pinnies and good wife status and bolted for Lesbos.
We are living through a unique problem of our time; a mass, simultaneous sexual and romantic awakening. This presents a real challenge to some people who are on the spectrum but who happily burrowed into heterosexual relationships before the tide turned.
You’ve settled down, safe in the knowledge that you’ve played the field, only to realise there’s a whole new field you didn’t even see; a field that, dear god, smells like heaven and has grass as lush and downy as a kitten’s paw. Of course you want to play in that field, even if it’s just to have a bit of a kick-about before scampering back to the man you love.
Suddenly, you can’t help wondering, did I make the right choice? It’s much easier to answer that question when you’ve had everything to choose from; when half the stock wasn’t piled up in a warehouse next door. Ten years ago you tottered home clutching your new purchase: I love them, I love them, I love them you sang….but…wait…what are all these other things?
Time brings clarity. Either desires are powerful enough for us to walk away from our relationship or they’re not. For many people, these feelings will fade; a brief, sharp tang of pleasure that mellows. For others, they’ll get stronger, rising through the relationship’s foundations like damp until they can no longer be ignored.
Still, how do you handle these feelings when you love someone already? Is it cheating to want to explore your feelings for other women? Or is it justice for the years we were denied? Personally, I don’t think infidelity is ever the answer. Talk to your partner. Lavish yourselves with honesty and kindness. Turn your ears back to front and listen to what your body and heart are telling you. Be brave enough to stay – and to walk away.
That’s not to say people won’t get hurt. We’re in the midst of a major correction; a re-evaluation of everything we know about love, passion and partnership. With the best will in the world, when you plunge headfirst into a sea of brambles you can’t expect to emerge unscathed.
But what when we shake off the thorns, what will we find?
Love: unfiltered and unbound. Lives lived authentically, with no limitations or fear, loving whichever way the wind blows. Yes, it’s awful and scary and heart-breaking for those left behind. But at the end, don’t we want to be with people who had everyone to choose from – but chose to be with me?
How grand, to find someone truly free, but night by night, sleeps next to me.