Does anyone get the perfect amount of sex? My friends and I talk a lot about our love lives and so often sex is a bone of contention even in happy relationships. There seems to be a lot of mismatched expectation and negotiation: a lot of pleading, begging, gnashing, blocking, sighing, yearning, weeping, scrabbling, silent mounting and tearful pleas to “get off me so I can go to sleep.”
“Go on, send her a message.” “No.” “It’ll be fun! Look, she’s a pole dancer!” “No, what’s the point? I’ll be going home soon.” “That’s the point! Or what about this one? She’s cute.” “Dammit woman, no! I don’t want to have empty sex with some stranger.” “Fine.”
I think I’ve realised why people get married so young. I always wondered what the big rush was. What’s your hurry honey? Forever can wait another year or two. Strap on a backpack and hit the road. See the world. Make love with the wrong people. Make friends with the right people. Mess up. Learn. Fill your head with memories that will nourish you in the decades to come.
Forgive my ignorance, but what’s the deal with the whole lesbian vs bisexual thing we’ve got going on? I’ve felt it, the fear and the resentment and the willful misunderstanding simmering beneath the surface. Sometimes it bursts out on Twitter or Facebook like an angry boil and the trolls crawl out from under their bridges with spikes. How did we get here and why?
I had a friend once who had feelings for me. Actually, let me not mince my words, Englishify them like a cup of weak tea. He said he was in love with me. We were friends for years, first at work and then at play and I think, deep down, I always knew how he felt. A love like that finds ways to escape, in looks or gestures or the occasional drunken slur: “so, do you fancy going for dinner and then I love you let’s get married checking out thingy’s party?” Did I try and temper his feelings? Encourage him to meet other women? Give him space? No. I liked it.
I have a complex relationship with getting older. On the one hand, I love getting to know myself, all my strengths and weakness and weirdnesses. I love unpicking the assumptions I’ve made about myself and watching them slither to the floor: oh, so you do like mushrooms; you are an outdoorsy person; see, you are brave. When you’re young, you’re always rushing to fall in with the crowd. You wear shoes that are wonky on your feet because you want to fit in. Age brings understanding and confidence. You start to coax the real person out from their hidey hole, bit by bit, until all of a sudden they’re standing tall beside you. On the other hand, as soon as I hit my thirties, my tits collapsed. It was like – BYE! Have a nice life! I went from being a Baywatch Babe to basically a surfing board with a couple of very old balloons taped to the front, dangling in the wind.
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.
As you get older, friendships become so important. It’s ironic really, as often friends are the first thing to go in our big, busy lives. We get partners and kids and houses and suddenly we’re stressed, stressed, stressed and we’ve got no time and the babysitter just cancelled and why the fuck are my car keys in the dishwasher? and we let our friendships thin just at the time we need them most.
Sometimes I think if there were credit ratings for hearts then mine would be junk status: BAD INVESTMENT, the signs would say, PURCHASE NOT ADVISED. All the sensible consumers would keep a wide berth, tutting: “Don’t touch that sweetie,” a mother would say, “it’s rotten.”
Maybe I’m naïve, but I assumed most people had the same values as me: don’t steal or lie, don’t cheat on your exams or taxes or people, be kind to others, help if you can, work hard, protect your family, protect our world. Actually, I’ve been surprised at how often our values aren’t in synch: how many people are disingenuous or dishonest; how many are cruel or lazy or neglectful; how many can’t see how their actions make our world and hearts a bleaker place.