You gotta know when to hold

First this story:

Just a day after Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced that the terms of their divorce had been finalized, TMZ reported that the woman who’s dating the Amazon CEO has filed for divorce from her husband.

Divorce papers were filed on Friday to end the marriage between Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor, and Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of the Hollywood talent agency WME, according to TMZ. The couple, who were married for 13 years, reportedly asked for joint custody of the two children they have together.

Today, for the first time in a while, I spoke to a Venezuelan friend of mine who now lives in Angola. Being South American he is full of wisdom passed down from his grandmother, some of which is even half-sensible. The one piece of advice of his which really stuck in my head, despite it not really applying to me, was that you should never, ever quit a relationship in order to be with someone else. The decision to end a relationship should be made solely on the pros and cons of the relationship itself, in isolation of whoever might come along afterwards. Similarly, the suitability of the next relationship should be considered in isolation, not benchmarked against the one you’re in now.

It’s hard enough to weigh up a relationship clearly and objectively on its own, let alone when it’s wrapped up in the context of another. Judgement gets clouded, and grass appears greener. This is why Thai bars are full of divorced expats in their fifties with a look on their face which says they’re still trying to work out how they got into this mess. It’s also pretty difficult to ascertain whether the new person is a suitable candidate for a long-term relationship when you’re already in one, because the dynamics are so different. Even if they’re running concurrently for a long time, things will inevitably change once the old relationship ends and the new one formalised. Anyone who reckons they can work that someone they’ve known for a month or two will make a better long-term partner than someone they took years to properly get to know is a fool. And we’re back to Thai bars again.

Women aren’t a whole lot better. They can be single for years before meeting someone, and then six months into the relationship a bloke smiles at them at work and suddenly they think they’ve got options and start ramping up the pressure on their partner to commit in some unwise manner. Some are even dumb enough to jump ship, even those with kids and in full knowledge of the effect a rotating roster of men dating their mother will have on them.

Any relationship born out of another will take place in a pressure cooker. One or both parties may feel intensely guilty, and be feeling the wrath of family and friends. These are not emotions you want kicking around when trying to build something from scratch. Any shortcomings in the new arrival will automatically be compared against the skills the ex had in the same area. Negatives will be amplified, and the person who’s switched horses midstream will be under intense pressure to make things work because failure means admitting having made a terrible decision.

There’s also the small matter of how far you can trust someone who’s ended a relationship to be with you. I knew a young buck in Sakhalin whose wife kept complaining he was shagging everything that moved. The problem was, she was his bit on the side when he was married to his first wife. As Jimmy Goldsmith said, when a man marries his mistress he opens up a job vacancy. And if a man trusts a woman who’s just ditched a long-term partner to be with him, he’s a fool.

Jeff Bezos will probably do all right, given he as a few hundred billion stashed behind him. But he should probably have invited my Venezuelan mate around for a chat over a bottle of rum anyway.

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The Times they are a-changin’

Theophrastus alerts me to an article in The Times:

Almost certainly, the most exciting thing that ever happened to me occurred one evening last January in freezing weather when I — in a hideous outfit of ankle-length Puffa and beanie pulled down to eyebrow level — was stomping along the South Bank in London. By Blackfriars Bridge a tall, dark, thirtysomething man, not unattractive, ran up to me, gasping, “Excuse me,” in a foreign accent, “are you Swedish?”

“No!” I barked. “I am British!”

“Oh,” he said, nervously stroking his phone, then: “Are you single?”

Hello, I thought, but replied: “I’m married.” The man frowned, then said: “Sorry, but I have to ask . . . I’m Mexican, my wife is Swedish. We wanted a threesome, but . . . could you join us for a foursome?”

Any article which starts off vying for a winning spot in the Didn’t Happen of the Year Awards is unlikely to get better as it goes on.

My response — along with desperately trying not to laugh — was to decline politely, hurry off and call my nonplussed husband to crow that I’d still got it, and he was invited too. But I was confused as to why this poor chap needed to shiver by the river, accosting any vaguely Scandinavian-looking woman for group sex. Surely there was an app for this? I was right.

Hence your article, and your need to invent a story as a lead-in.

He could have been on Feeld, “the app for couples and singles”, which allows you “to meet open-minded people”. “We call it a space to explore your sexuality,” explains Feeld’s joint founder Dimo Trifonov. Launched five years ago, the app was initially called 3nder (pronounced “thrinder”), but Tinder sued, so they rebranded.

“We didn’t like 3nder anyway,” says Trifonov, 28. “That name came with all this clickbait stuff about us being the threesome app, the orgy app, the sex app, but what we’d done went way beyond this.”

Not for the first time on this blog we’re hearing people who engage in meaningless sex with random strangers attempt to ascribe a deeper meaning to it.

Oh really? “Yes, people who’ve been with us for a long time write to us saying, ‘You’ve changed my life,’ ‘You’re a breath of fresh air.’ They say we’ve allowed them to feel more whole. Feeld is like an open field, a field of feelings, and you just jump in to find things you’ve never discovered before. The world is still binary, but we are trying to provide a space which is less dependent on labels and the usual norms.”

Yes, that is pretty deep.

Sitting in the Stygian basement of a hipster Shoreditch hotel, Trifonov and his co-founder and girlfriend, Ana Kirova, 27, don’t come across as a pair of sexual revolutionaries, but rather — with him all in black, dragging his fingers repeatedly through his hair (“It’s a tic”) and her in specs and a pink sweatshirt — like an adorable couple relaxing after a day’s hiking in the Cairngorms.

They are from Bulgaria, and met six years ago in London, where she was studying and he was working as a graphic designer. Not long into their relationship, Kirova found herself falling for a Frenchwoman she was working with.

A bisexual Slavic graphic designer who’s into orgies and polyamory? If it transpires she’s a regular at Burning Man, I’m suing for copyright.

“It was really scary,” Kirova recalls. “I was so attracted to her, just like falling for a guy — I couldn’t talk to her, I felt uncomfortable near her. But at the same time I really was in love with Dimo and I just didn’t know what to do — exploring my feelings on my own would be cheating, right? And if relationships are based on trust it’s really important to be able to communicate how you feel.”

So she lacks impulse control and is driven by short-term gratification. Sorry, why is this in The Times, exactly? Did readers complain Oliver Kamm was sapping them of their will to live?

If it were me, I know I would either have told Dimo nothing and suppressed my feelings, or told Dimo nothing and embarked on an inevitably disastrous affair. The more enlightened Kirova wrote a confessional letter to her boyfriend. “I thought it was creepy and odd and that Dimo would feel disappointed and threatened and shocked, but instead he just said, ‘That’s such a normal feeling, don’t worry — there must be people feeling like you everywhere. Whatever makes you happy.’”

“Do whatever you want, I don’t care,” is so romantic I’m surprised poets haven’t made more use of it.

The couple tried to explore Kirova’s yearnings for extracurricular relationships, but were ostracised on traditional dating sites. “People were like, ‘What are you doing here? This is not for couples’, ” she says. Yet the swinging world carried distinctly grubbier overtones of car keys in bowls.

Whereas if the selection process is done via app it instantly becomes classy.

“I remember connecting to a couple who were so excited that we were also in a couple, they kept pushing to meet me just because of my couple status. I felt a bit violated, like, ‘I’m not an object’. I didn’t even know if this was my thing, I just wanted to explore,” Kirova says.

I expect they’d encountered single people who’d entered the scene and found them too creepy even by the standards of polyamorists. And that’s saying something.

And so, “more as a social experiment than a serious thing”, Trifonov set up a website for people wanting threesomes. Overnight it attracted tens of thousands of visitors. In 2014 he launched the app, which was downloaded 40,000 times. It grew so fast it crashed — a problem when it came to raising funds — but three years ago with $500,000 of investment it was relaunched “to a high industry standard”.

An app promising easy sex, no-strings-attached sex is popular? These people must be marketing geniuses.

The biggest markets are the US, Brazil and the UK, where the busiest areas are London, Bristol and Glasgow.

Can you imagine the state of the average subscriber?

About 35 per cent of users are on the app with a partner, and 45 per cent identify as something other than heterosexual. The dozens of sexual preference options on the app include androgynosexual, objectumsexual and skoliosexual (“I have no idea what this means but I love the idea,” confesses one user who has chosen this as his identity),

I’m glad my concern such an app would attract weirdos hasn’t come to pass.

while the people you are looking for can identify as — among many others — gender-nonconforming and two spirit.

Two spirit? These Canadians get everywhere.

Feeld is similar to many other dating apps — full of young, shiny people in swimsuits

I expect that “full” is doing a lot of work. Even normal dating sites look more like a response to a casting call for The Lord of the Rings. I can’t imagine a threesome dating app in which Glaswegians feature prominently brings much improvement.

“I was amazed at first to see all these people saying, ‘I like BDSM, I am also a company director and I like cycling,’” Trifonov says. “I was like, ‘Wow! I always thought people who were into BDSM were freaks, but they happen to be normal people.’”

Aren’t all cyclists into BDSM, of a sort?

Among their generation polyamory is increasingly seen as a viable lifestyle option, with a recent survey of 2,000 people by the healthcare company EuroClinix pronouncing one in five to be enjoying — to give the dictionary definition — “multiple, non-monogamous relationships”.

Which means one in five people have a cohort of Tinder hookups on standby in lieu of one person with whom they can build a functioning relationship.

Feeld’s employees include several practitioners of polyamory, including one couple in an open marriage. “It’s a bit like having many friends and being able to explore these friendships. So you might have a tennis friend — no one thinks that’s dangerous for a relationship — but instead of tennis you could have a friend for something kinky,” Kirova explains.

Ah yes, this was my Katya’s explanation of polyamory. It seems to rest on the assumption that having sex and playing tennis are similar activities. Although I confess, when it comes to Maria Sharapova I do wish there was more crossover.

“It’s no different to a standard monogamous marriage — if you care, you’re going to make it work.

Making your bed is no different from learning Swahili. If you care, you’ll just get it done.

There just needs to be trust and communication.”

Areas in which the polyamorists featured on this blog have been famously good, of course.

In the period between falling for the Frenchwoman (nothing happened, Kirova realised “it was just a crush”)

Nothing happened between me and Sharapova, either. I realised with her spending so much time playing tennis and showing no interest in bluegrass, it probably wouldn’t work out.

and setting up the app, the couple — in her words — “had experiences with people, but nothing that could be considered a relationship”.

I didn’t bone my secretary, I simply had an experience with her.

Since working together full time, the pair have become “extremely monogamous”. They tried to meet other people through the app, “but it felt like we were just trying to do something for the sake of it, so we ended up doing nothing,” Trifonov says.

Far be it from me to suggest these two people don’t know what the hell they want.

Still, they say, polyamory may be part of their future. “I’m still with this awareness that attraction happens to everyone, regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not,” Kirova says. Her favoured term for their partnership is “monogamish”, which means that you’re committed to each other, but can have relationships with others. “I really like that.”

So they’ll kind of stay with each other unless and until someone else comes along. Sounds like the basis for a fulfilling relationship.

Monogamish, monogamous — either way the couple have found a potentially lucrative niche. Are they rich? “Not really,” Trifonov says.

I did wonder how the connecting of 40,000 weirdos could be monetised, at least outside of Burning Man.

They’re not sure if they will marry or not. “In London you can consider these things later in life. In Bulgaria when you’re 22 you have to have babies,” Kirova says.

As I’ve said, I have no idea what this article is doing in The Times but since they’ve decided to encroach on Cosmopolitan‘s market share anyway, can they at least promise a follow-up on these two in a few year’s time? I have a feeling it would make for good blogging.

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Cupid Stunt

A reader sends me this article, assuming (correctly) that it’s right up my alley:

Let me explain. Matchsmith works like this.

You meet up with Holly and the two of you go through a long list of likes and don’t likes in a potential partner, any particular physical characteristics you might be after, and deal breakers. (Also, any exes who might be lurking out there.)

Then it’s onto you: How do you normally interact with potential paramours? How much information would you normally give out? How long before you normally take things offline?

Basically, Holly learns everything there is to know about YOU and your dating style. Then you give her your Tinder, Bumble, Hinge (or whatever app you fancy) login details and she gets to work.

Yes, women are now outsourcing the initial stages of dating. Remember what I said just a few weeks ago:

One of the most peculiar aspects of modern dating is middle aged, professional women citing as a priority their desire to find a lifetime partner, but refusing to make the slightest effort to find and accommodate one.

The founders of this Matchsmith app have worked out there is an abundance of wealthy women who can’t be bothered putting in time and effort on dating apps and have generously offered to do it for them, in exchange for a fee.

I can’t tell you how much of a relief I found this. My dating forays usually go like this: Swipe with glee abandon for several nights; get nice messages from nice boys; chat to nice boys; then either go on a terrible date with one of these ‘nice’ boys or they stop responding to my messages. Feel overcome with depression, decide I will obviously die alone surrounded by my towering collection of Tatler back issues and cats. Drink wine to commiserate with self.

She seems to think the reason she’s single is because she’s picking the wrong people on dating apps. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that she might be partly responsible for dates being terrible or men suddenly quitting a text conversation. This mentality rests on the delusion women buy into whereby “they just need to meet the right person” instead of sorting out the issues which are keeping them single. If women can’t find a half-decent man in New York, London, or Sydney it’s likely the problem is on their side.

(It would seem I am far from alone in this weary state of affairs. “Swipe-focused apps especially can leave you feeling disheartened if you’re coming across hundreds of profiles of people that don’t seem at all right for you,” Holly says.)

Basically, a lot of women rate themselves a lot higher than they ought to. Look at these graphs:

I’d go so far as to say the single greatest impediment to women finding a partner is they consider the men in their dating pool to be beneath them. Men, when push comes to shove, are prepared to compromise.

Which is why I love that Matchsmith – it takes that particular demoralising aspect out of modern dating.

You’ve outsourced rejection. This is not adult behaviour. Here’s how the article began:

Josh* and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was our first date and we were sitting in an inner-city Sydney pub on our second round of drinks. Tattooed and with a beard, he was definitely not the sort of bloke I would normally go for but that evening was turning out to be a delight.

So Holly’s basically matching you with hipsters.

And, truth be told, I didn’t pick Josh. My ‘dating EA’ or ‘Bumble concierge’ did. For nearly three months, Holly Barter, the genius founder of Sydney’s Matchsmith, who has been swiping, chatting and arranging my dates – all as me.

As far as Josh knew, he and I have been swapping pithy jokes and witty asides for a couple of weeks. In reality, I read ‘our’ conversation history in the Uber on the way there.

I’m just throwing this out there, but I suspect relationships which only get started thanks to contrived, professional deception don’t last very long.

After a couple of weeks, Holly messages me with pics and some details about three guys ‘Daniela’ has been chatting to and asks me if I am happy for her to give them my number.

While they weren’t necessarily blokes I would have picked, they all met my criteria (must like puns, wine and more puns) and I was open to meeting anyone who seemed funny and smart and willing to come to my postcode.

A common feature of these stories is women revealing trivial aspects of their character – wine and puns, really? – as if it makes them look fun and carefree. What it actually makes them look is unserious, shallow, and immature. You never hear they’re into something genuinely interesting, like playing the violin or sailing, things which require some degree of effort to participate in.

The first guy ended up having to go overseas for work…

The date went so well he immediately volunteered for a ten-year assignment in the jungles of Papau New Guinea.

…the second stopped returning my texts (ah, the joy of modern dating)…

Like you’ve never done that. Rather a lot of women boast about the men they’ve ghosted or blocked, as if it’s something to be proud of.

…and the third was the delightful Josh.

Who at some point will find out he’s been lied to.

(One thing I gave a lot of thought to was when and if I would tell him that during ‘our’ chats he had actually been conversing with another woman. On one hand, I did feel a wee bit duplicitous however Holly did an amazing job of being me – her puns and quips were ON FIRE. I decided that if any of these dates progressed to a second or third outing, I would explain the situation.)

How is this different from putting up a picture which isn’t you? Any man worth his salt is going to quickly realise the deluded fool sat in front of him isn’t the one who’s been sending him all the puns.

After my date with Josh, over the course of the next two months, Holly matched me with a number of great guys.

So you never saw Josh again?

I went on dates with an American businessman who has just relocated to Australia and enjoyed a lengthy WhatsApp flirtation with another that didn’t quite make it as a real-world match.

I know a chap who works in an American bank, and he told me in his younger days he used to pull a trick. He’d be sent on business trips to some town or other and would go on Craigslist and find himself a date. He’d say he was in town for a job interview and he was hoping to move there permanently in a month or so, which would make his date a lot more likely to sleep with him. When he got back to his office he’d drop them a note saying “Too bad, I didn’t get the job.” I must ask him if he’s been to Australia recently.

While I didn’t find The One (maybe starting a wedding Pinterest board was a little bit premature now I think about it), the whole experience completely renewed my enthusiasm for dating. From jaded and misanthropic, I had become more encouraged and much more open-minded about meeting boys. Each new encounter was a wonderful reminder that there are smart, kind and funny guys out there. Seriously. I have met at least three of them.

If you need professional help to meet smart, funny guys (who then don’t seem interested in anything long term with you), I’m not sure you’re addressing the root of the problem. My advice is to make yourself more interesting.

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No sex-attached strings

From Slate:

I am a single woman in her early 30s. I’m attractive and have never had issues attracting a partner.

When you were in your twenties, you mean?

But after a series of disappointing relationships, each around a year, I’m just not in a mood to engage emotionally with men right now.

So at the age when those in a relationship need to grow up and take it seriously, you found one or both of you weren’t up to it.

The thing is, I have a high sex drive, and I can’t fully satisfy myself on my own—though believe me, I try. The cliché is that this should be an easy problem to fix: Plenty of men want to have sex with a woman with no strings, right?

Yes and no. If you’re under 30 then yes, pretty much. If you’re over 30 the number of men into that sort of thing drops off a cliff and you’re left with, well, those who will always be into that sort of thing.

Here are my limitations: In the past, when I’ve had hookup buddies,

So far this woman has spent her twenties having “no issues attracting a partner”, her late twenties/early thirties having “a series of disappointing relationships”, and now there are multiple hookup buddies thrown into the mix. Like many women who write these pieces, she appears unable to build lasting relationships and thinks bed-hopping is a substitute.

I like them, but it never really is just sex—we inevitably get to know each other better and then I end up getting entangled with him, whether I want to or not.

Unless you’re a sociopath this is true for just about anyone. Women really ought to watch less TV.

I also am not really into sex parties or the poly scene; for better or worse, I like the intimacy of one-on-one connections, even if all I want is sex right now.

For the sake of my blogging that’s a shame, but it’s refreshing to find someone who admits the poly scene is more about sex than intimacy.

So I’m not really sure how to proceed. I’ve identified a few bars in my town that are … good for this sort of thing, but that is hit or miss for finding an attractive guy.

What’s this, the 1990s?

Tinder and similar apps for straight people are full of creeps who have no game, and I’m afraid if I’m upfront about what I want, I’ll attract even more of that type.

Eh? You only want sex with no strings attached, but the man must have game? Why? And yeah, Tinder is full of creeps. What did you expect from a hookup app, a roomful of Rhodes scholars? And yes, announcing to a bunch of strangers online that you just want a shag is going to attract all sorts of weirdos while men with options back away slowly. Most will probably take a few antibiotics afterwards just to be sure.

Here’s the advice she’s given:

It’s true—even when both parties are completely uninterested in anything serious or romantic, you can still eventually end up in the bath-products aisle together debating whether your connection means anything and having moments of odd, sticky feelings toward each other.

Well, yes. This is why polyamorists who watch their lovers go into the bedroom with another person on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are either sociopaths or an emotional wreck inside.

In your case, it sounds like at least some of the entanglement is coming from your end. So put reminders in your phone: Make the guys have names like “Chris Nothing Serious Johnson” or “Joe This Is Just Sex Beatty.”

Yes, this is perfectly normal.

Whatever will underscore the boundaries you’ve set and need to respect for yourself, in addition to expecting the guy to adhere to.

This no-strings sex is looking a little stringy.

Hopefully that’ll make it easier to keep a good casual connection going (once you’ve found an acceptable partner) without tipping into what you don’t want.

Yes, your innate biological desire to pair-bond can be outwitted by putting reminders in your phone next to men’s names.

As far as apps go, I’m wondering if you’ve specifically tried Bumble.

Bumble is middle class Tinder, where people pretend they’re looking for friends to hang out with in cool capital cities while actually just looking to date. Instead of making duck faces, women put their grad school on.

I’m also wondering if it’s possible to go back to former flings for another round or two.

I’m guessing self-respect isn’t a consideration here?

Having a few partners you see somewhat less frequently might make it easier to prevent the entanglements that can result from too much close proximity.

I suspect her real problem is the hookup partners aren’t there any more and she’ll be doing well to find one who isn’t a complete weirdo. Everything was so much easier when she was 25, wasn’t it?

Still, unfortunately, you’re going to have to get out there and wade through at least some potential creeps.

Let’s switch the sexes around for a second: still, unfortunately, you’re going to have to get out there and wade through at least some potential sluts.

They might all turn out to be mostly benign, but some might not.

They might all turn out to not want payment, but some might.

Meet in public places that are likely to have people around, be careful with the location of your home, and remember you can always leave if you get uncomfortable or feel a weird vibe.

It beggars belief that this needs to be said to a woman in her thirties. And that turns out to be the end of the advice. Not very helpful, was it? Then again, what can you do? My advice to her would be to engage in serious thought about why her previous relationships failed, perhaps with the assistance of a trained psychologist, and look at what she can do to improve her chances of success. But that’s not the modern way, is it?

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Online Poke Her

I found this interesting:

[An] experiment with Tinder that claimed that that “the bottom 80% of men (in terms of attractiveness) are competing for the bottom 22% of women and the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men.”

A couple of years back I saw another analysis of one of the big dating sites which showed that most men considered something like 70% of the women to be attractive enough to date, whereas most women saw only 20% of the men the same way. The two studies suggest women who go on dating sites are unrealistically fussy, especially considering they’re on a dating site in the first place. Men, being men, appear to be more open to compromise on looks if it means getting laid and (possibly) having a relationship. None of this will be new to those of us who are over thirty and walk around with our eyes open.

The trouble is, I’m not sure women quite understand the dynamics of dating sites, which the statistics above confirm. I recently had occasion to watch a couple of young women swiping away on one of the dating apps, and they got all giddy over a dashingly handsome young Italian complete with a tailored suit and designer stubble. I expect they imagined the possibility of a romantic relationship, but what I saw was a chap who’s probably having a whale of a time ploughing through those 78% of women dumb enough to think he’s boyfriend material. Unfortunately, anyone who didn’t match this guy’s looks got immediately discarded. What’s even more unfortunate is one of the girls was about hot enough to attract a guy like that. I suspect this has always been a problem for pretty girls, but it’s likely to be accentuated in the era of dating apps: they’ll attract the attention of the best looking guys, who will find them average rather than special and have few qualms about ditching them in favour of the next one. While many women talk about their disappointment with dating apps, I’d imagine for good looking women it’s a rollercoaster of flattery followed by inexplicable rejection.

I’m not sure even those who run dating apps quite know what’s going on, or if they do they pretend they don’t. One of the biggest problems is men who sit there all day carpet bombing women with “hi how r u sexy?” messages or dick pics. Any woman will tell you that within weeks of joining a dating site in London or Paris, her inbox is full of vulgar messages written in atrocious English from manual labourers in Turkey, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Tinder attempted to deal with this by limiting “swipe-rights” to 100 per day, or something. Bumble took it one step further and made it such that only women could initiate a conversation, but as the statistics above show, all that does is fill up the inboxes of the top 20% of men while the other 80% wait in vain for the slightest interest, unable to chance their arm even with the biggest hound on the whole platform. In other words, they’ve sold rejection to the already rejected. The simple solution is to restrict men to initiating two or three contacts per day, but the business model is to get men using it for hours at a time and pestering them with ads, so they’re not going to do that. But if they were serious about hooking people up, which they’re not, that’s what they’d do.

I also get the impression women like their inboxes full of unsuitable proposals because it gives them an excuse for not making an effort. Every woman I’ve spoken to about her experience on dating sites says “Oh, I don’t have time, I get so many messages I can’t be bothered to go through them all.” From what I’ve read on blogs which cover this stuff, the sort of women who go on dating sites have a habit of not responding to genuine proposals for days or weeks, and only then grudgingly agreeing to a date because their days are crammed full of work, weekend breaks, yoga sessions, or after work drinks with the girls. One of the most peculiar aspects of modern dating is middle aged, professional women citing as a priority their desire to find a lifetime partner, but refusing to make the slightest effort to find and accommodate one. If women joined dating sites and found one or two serious, well-written introductions dropping into their inbox each week, they might be forced to accept their reasons for not responding were shallow indeed. Better to hide behind the avalanche of dick picks and conclude they’re above all that. By contrast, even the most eligible, suitable men who fall outside the top 20% must spend considerable effort writing thoughtful introductions only to receive a response once in every fifty or hundred attempts (I’m not exaggerating here).

If we are to believe dating sites aren’t the best way of showcasing your suitability as a mate, let alone finding one, the problem is compounded by the fact that most people below a certain age don’t know any other way. A few weeks ago on the recommendation of William of Ockham I listened to a Spectator Radio podcast which discussed the impact dating apps are having, and they speculated that da yoof spend all their time building online personalities at the expense of those they display in real life. This not only makes them reluctant to meet people in the flesh, but also pretty useless when they do, i.e. they have no idea how to flirt and interact romantically in the offline world. I can’t claim to understand the younger generation but I do meet a few of them these days, and I occasionally wonder if they put as much effort into developing communication skills and an interesting personality as they do their Instagram feeds, they may not need dating apps at all. One of the more amusing aspects of this era is when you hear a couple say they met in real life and they make it sound like a freak occurrence. Unfortunately, you more often hear a girl say she met her last five boyfriends on Tinder, without any idea of what she ought to deduce from that statement.

Me, I’m kinda glad I was born in 1977.

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Polyamor-Me

Back in 2015 The Federalist ran an article by a Sara Burrows on her new-found polyamorous lifestyle. Titled Polyamory Is Next, And I’m One Reason Why, we learned:

Four years into our relationship, we found ourselves in the typical rut of co-dependence, resentment, boredom, and fighting over the grocery bill. We’d had an unplanned baby, I’d quit my job to do attachment parenting full-time, and Brad was working long hours in a dungeon of a warehouse. I was stuck at home washing dishes, folding laundry and talking to a two-year-old, bored out of my mind. If we didn’t have anything to fight about, we’d find something, just to make life a little more interesting.

People who complain of a dull life rarely consider that they, not their circumstances, are the problem.

I had freed myself from the grips of government, religion, and parents.

As everyone knows, self-fulfillment is dependent on external forces and cannot be derived from within.

Enter polyamory. Polyamory means “many loves.” It is the practice of engaging in several emotionally and possibly sexually intimate relationships simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

If polyamory is the answer, you’ve not understood the question.

We’re both nervous and don’t know what to expect. I’ve pushed Brad to “go first” in dating and sexually exploring other women. He’s been on two dates so far, and we even arranged a crazy one-night stand to sort of break the ice and test our feelings.

Nothing screams maturity and responsibility like arranging a crazy one-night stand.

Since we’ve discovered polyamory, we don’t care about new houses or new cars or vacations.

As we’ve learned, polyamorists consider themselves on a higher spiritual plane to the rest of us.

We’re actually looking forward to the rest of our lives together now. When we were monogamous, our future seemed pretty mapped out: have a baby, get a better job, buy a house, get a promotion, buy a better car, start our own business, buy a better house, make more money, go on vacation, make more money, buy an even better house… grow old in it together.

All because of being able to shag around? Who knew something so simple could deliver such wide-reaching benefits?

We’ve gotten a lot of warnings and admonitions from well-intentioned friends and family members that we’re going to destroy our relationship and hurt our daughter, but we feel exactly the opposite.

Pah! What do they know?

For us, this is the perfect opportunity to save our relationship, spare our daughter from the heartbreak of a broken family, and give her the blessing of happy parents and extended family.

Quite. There is absolutely no reason to believe psychological issues such as loneliness, boredom, and detachment can’t be addressed through meaningless sex with strangers.

In her spare time, she blogs about their new journey into polyamory at polyamorydiaries.com.

So let’s have a look at the entry for the 11th January 2019, shall we?

It’s time to set the record straight. Most of this blog is bullshit.

Oh.

I was no longer in love with the father of my child/partner of 4 years, and he was clearly not in love with me.

The newfangled concept of “polyamory” was just a trendy excuse to play the field and see if I could find any better offers.

As many have observed, polyamory is often used as cover for people who lack the courage to get divorced.

Either I’d find someone who’d love me better… or Brad, out of fear of losing me, would shape up and start meeting my needs for emotional and sexual intimacy. Either way, I win, I thought.

But my subconscious plan backfired.

The only thing missing from a plan this bad is an appearance by Roadrunner at the end.

I didn’t find a man who loved me more than Brad did, I just found a man who was more excited to put his penis in my vagina because I was novel and he’d gone without sex a lot longer than Brad had.

This is someone who, in a fit of childish pique, bragged of throwing off the shackles of family and religion. She’s now learned the hard way what her granny could have told her aged 16.

I was “in love” in a way, but it was the kind of love you fall into, like a trap, not the kind of love that you rise into, that has the potential to last and grow.

Is she a grown woman, or a high-schooler lamenting a one-night stand with the captain of the football team?

Because I couldn’t empathize with Brad’s pain over this betrayal, because I couldn’t even fathom it, he subconsciously set out to teach me a lesson.

Subconsciously?

He had to make me feel the pain he’d felt firsthand, so I could know it. So I could have sympathy and compassion for what I put him through.

So he went out and fell just as hard in love as I had, and rubbed it right in my face, until my soul was bloody and bruised and begging him to stop.

This doesn’t sound very subconscious.

Someway, somehow, we made it through the  two most awful experiences of our lives, and came out a million times stronger on the other side.

Maybe you’ll want to hold off on the grand pronouncements for a while, eh?

I think society should encourage and celebrate sexual freedom and exploration among teenagers.

I think because society does not do this, and instead represses our sexuality, we wander around still starving for that kind of passion as adults.

Someone whose life is an utter trainwreck thinks society should encourage teenagers to be more promiscuous? Should we ask the drunk sleeping under the railway bridge what he thinks of trade tariffs while we’re at it?

Now you’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

You’re in love with two people.

By now, they are both jealous of your affection and wanting you to choose.

Apparently this is a drawback of polyamory. Who would have guessed?

But you have more history, trust and deeper friendship with the old partner, not to mention a child or two.

Ah yes, the children. Let’s include them in a flippant afterthought.

As Osho says, it is the one we develop a spiritual friendship with who becomes our lasting soulmate.

As I’ve noted before, there’s a peculiar habit of modern, western women to loudly declare they’re rejecting Christianity before plunging headlong into the nearest weirdo cult.

The good news is there can be healing and deeper intimacy on the other side. Brad and I have been more in love in the last 6 months of monogamy than in our entire 8 years before that,

There’s nothing like 8 years of meaningless sex with a succession of insincere strangers to shore up a failing marriage.

and I KNOW it’s only going to get better from here.

Presumably on the grounds things can’t get a whole lot worse.

I don’t know if he’s 100% there yet, but I dream of the day Osho talks about, when we rise so high in love with each other that everyone else disappears.

She’s mentioned Osho 3 times, whereas all she says about her child is:

The sad part about option B is that children’s hearts are often needlessly torn apart along with their parents.

Which is why mature, responsible, functioning adults don’t engage in polyamory. From start to finish, this entire story can be condensed to “me me me”. Everyone else’s concerns are just a side-issue, to be ignored or reclaimed as necessary at her own convenience. And in case anyone thinks such selfishness is limited to female practitioners of polyamory, here’s a post on Reddit:

I’m a 34 year old man who is married to a 33 year old woman and we have a 13 year old boy. I recently went poly with an 18 year old girl, primarily for sex, but we have become increasingly close and she will be moving in soon. My son is very close to his mom, my wife, and I’m not sure how he will react to this. How can I introduce my girlfriend to my son?

What’s the betting this 18 year old has severe mental problems, possibly caused by an absent father and/or sexual abuse at the hands of an adult? Remember people, polyamorists are perfectly normal, just like you and me.

(Burrows story via Michael Story and several readers on Twitter. Reddit post via Robert Mariani.)

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Angel of Harem

A disturbing shadow falls across the world of polyamory:

Franklin Veaux’s work has shed light. His writings about polyamory have been valuable resources that have helped countless people find their way to happier, more fulfilling polyamorous relationships.

But:

Six women have come forward with stories of experiences with Franklin that do not align with his public persona, his self-described stories of his relationships, or the values stated in his writing.

How odd. Men who hang out at the intersection of unconstrained sex, feminism, and lefty politics are usually such genuine people.

The women’s experiences indicate that Franklin has patterns of manipulation, gaslighting, and lying; leverages his multiple partners against one another; tests or ignores boundaries; pathologizes his partners’ normal emotions and weaponizes their mental illnesses; exploits women financially; uses women’s ideas and experiences in his work without permission or credit; grooms significantly younger, less experienced, or vulnerable women; lacks awareness of power dynamics and consent; has involved women in group sex and other sexual activities that they experienced as coercive; and accepts no responsibility for the harm he causes by engaging in these behaviors — often blaming other women, or the harmed women themselves, for that harm.

Man who is best known for running harems turns out to be a bit of a cad. Who would have guessed?

These behaviors escalate when Franklin lives with a partner, and he becomes verbally abusive when his nesting relationships end. The severity of this pattern is illustrated by the fact that none of his former nesting partners will be alone with him. Two of them, over a decade apart, fled the homes they shared with him at the end of the relationships. Their written records from the time of leaving him show evidence of trauma.

This chap is best known for his book which argues the case for “ethical polyamory”. That would be like me writing a book called The Case for Holding One’s Counsel.

The women who have told their stories describe effects on them that range from lingering confusion and self-doubt all the way to self-harm, suicidal ideation, lasting trauma requiring years or decades to repair, and long-lasting or permanent damage to their ability to trust others, enjoy intimacy, or enter into healthy romantic relationships.

Well yes, that’s what polyamory does. Although I’d not like to be the psychiatrist picking through the rubble trying to separate the damage inflicted by polyamory from that which was the reason for attempting it in the first place.

Many people throughout many polyamorous scenes — including every member of this group, and some of the harmed women themselves — have played a role in amplifying Franklin’s narrative and expanding his reach.

Indeed, whereas those who consistently rail against polyamory are the true heroes. Time for a self-portrait:

Ahem, where were we?

Moreover, Franklin is far from the only person with social capital to have wielded it in harmful ways,

Social capital = a sizeable store of woke lefty political boilerplate automatically deployed immediately on sighting a dim feminist with daddy issues.

nor are his former partners the only people to have experienced this particular kind of harm in polyamorous relationships.

I don’t suppose any of these woman are going to take some responsibility for their predicament, are they?

We hope that this moment can be used to propel forward the hard conversations that will lead to collective healing, accountability and transformation.

Or you could just quit obviously harmful, self-destructive, impulsive behaviour.

Polyamory is not an organized movement. We have no governing body to which we can petition for a process of justice.

What would you name a body set up to regulate polyamory? Offmeds?

We must rely on a loose network of organizers, spokespeople and other “leaders” to hear the women’s voices and take action that moves us all toward greater healing and safety.

Leaders like Franklin Veaux with his theories on ethical polyamory?

We therefore must ask our fellow activists, speakers, organizers and leaders, as individuals, to support our call for justice.

I thought polyamory was all about free love and transcending jealousy. This author sounds like hubby died and left her out of the will.

Franklin can be charming and kind. He has helped many people, and many people — especially people who have never been romantically involved with him, or who have spent only short periods of time with him — have had nothing but good experiences with him. Many of the women he’s harmed also experienced idyllic early relationships with him.

In that fleeting period where she was, being new, at the head of his roster.

Idyllic “vacation” relationships are especially easy to sustain over many years when a partner is long-distance.

Relationship are easy to sustain when it’s not actually a relationship.

His long-distance partners, and partners who have not been through the end of an invested relationship with him, may never have experienced the kinds of harm from him experienced by those who became more entwined.

It sounds as though this chap was running a cult. Which now I think about it, he was.

It is, as Franklin himself has written, possible for him to be simultaneously easy to love and dangerous to love.

This is consistent with the theory that a handful of men who get into polyamory are just regular, a-hole alpha males who’ve found a way to shag lots of women. A lot of polyamorist groups feature one man who gets all the sex while everyone else gets all the headaches.

Many people have tried many times over many years to explain to Franklin the harm he has caused and offer him a chance to change, with no effect.

And why should he, if women are queuing up to sleep with him?

He has been offered, and refused, a community accountability process at least once.

Sensible chap. Can you imagine what that would look like?

Nevertheless, we, and the women themselves, believe strongly that no one is disposable, and that a path to accountability — separate from the process of supporting the survivors — should be open to Franklin.

I think they’ve inadvertently founded a church.

Therefore, as a final gesture of goodwill, we have sent Franklin a call-in letter naming the harm done, asking that he initiate his own accountability process, and outlining what accountability would look like to the survivors. He has indicated via a public Quora post that he declines, but we stand ready to liaise with his accountability team should he change his mind.

If your sex life is such that you need to maintain an accountability team to deal with complaints, you may have gone off the deep end some time ago. Remember, folks: polyamory is perfectly normal and we mustn’t judge.

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Food for Thought

Consider this tweet by Israeli journalist Lahav Harkov, who is sound on a lot of issues:


Now I know there’s a whole swathe of the alt-right who believe women should never leave the kitchen, and I know the expectation that a woman is obliged to cook for her husband every night is old-fashioned. But that said, if a woman does cook for her husband that will go some way to defining her worth, both in his eyes and those of outsiders. Imagine the roles were switched, and Harry was cooking for Meghan every night: his stock would soar in the eyes of most women.

I know a lot of men my age and younger who can cook, and part of this is because feminists told recent generations of women they ought not to learn. “If he wants dinner he can cook it himself,” was the prevailing attitude. Well, that’s what they did and I know several families in which the man is the main cook (and enjoys doing it). The problem with that is it removes a valuable tool women of my mother’s and grandmother’s generations used to attract and retain a husband. Men of that era couldn’t boil an egg, so it was a huge incentive to settle down with someone if you wanted to eat properly the rest of your life. The phrase “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” isn’t repeated across languages and cultures for nothing. Of course it placed a burden on the woman, but having a stable job (that was often dangerous) placed a burden on the man. A marriage is a partnership in which mutually beneficial tasks are divided between the couple, each doing what they’re best at. If women decide they don’t want to cook, the man will either find someone who can or learn to feed himself. He isn’t going to starve. The standard feminist response to this would be: “Well, if all he wants me for is to be his slave, he can get stuffed.” And quite right too. But as I’ve just said, a relationship is a partnership. If she’s not cooking, what is she offering? Sex? That’s not enough, especially in the Tinder age. Sassy feminism? No thanks.

I’m being unfair. There are many women who bring plenty to the table, if you excuse the pun, without cooking for her partner every day. But on the other hand I keep reading articles on how hard it is for modern, middle class women to find a decent man who sticks around. Apparently, they’re only interested in Tinder hookups these days, and many don’t want relationships. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if these women had cooking skills in their armoury along with a willingness to deploy them regularly, they’d find men a lot less keen to skedaddle as soon as the first ray of sunlight touches her bedroom window on a Sunday morning. I base this on the fact that, if a woman meets a man who can cook well and likes doing it, she brags to all her friends and spends more time at his gaff than her own.

My point is, to find a decent partner you need to maximise what you bring to the relationship, and focus on those skills they might lack. You would be amazed at the degree to which my relationships have been based on an ability to unblock sinks, take down heavy boxes from the top of wardrobes, fit insulation strips to ill-fitting windows, and bleed radiators. Having someone who is willing to cook is a huge asset in a relationship, regardless of who is doing it. Being able to share the duties is even better. But modern feminism has taught women that being able to cook should not contribute to their worth in a relationship, and they ought not to even bother learning. Stripped of one of the most valuable skills they can bring to a relationship, they’re now howling at the lack of men who are interested in one.

As I’m fond of asking: whose fault is that, then?

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Hidden Figures

In the comments under my latest podcast on the subject of sexual promiscuity, Jim makes an interesting point:

I would suggest that in hard numbers a man in later life will still be viewed better by women for X previous partners than a woman would be by men for the same number, assuming a similar quality of partners on both sides.

This is true, and it explains why women lie about the numbers. Recall that my podcast was prompted by this tweet:


If women didn’t think their value in the dating marketplace was devalued by the number of partners they’d had, there would be no reason for them to lie about it. Sure, men lie too, but mainly to inflate the numbers. Then when they settle down and their partner asks them, they deflate the number to avoid looking like a complete fanny-rat.

However, both men and women lie about this stuff in part to avoid hurting the feelings of someone they care about. This is why sensible women who have enjoyed themselves at college learn to shut the f*** up, or lie when asked. A point I made in my book is the truth often doesn’t matter as much as how it’s presented. Most blokes these days know they’re not marrying virgins, but they’d prefer their partner applies some discretion and not mention their sexual history, and the same goes for the man. By being tactful, it’s a sign one partner respects the other and doesn’t want to hurt them unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, modern feminism decrees a woman should openly brag about her promiscuity. Not only does this put potential suitors off for crude biological reasons, it’s also a sign she doesn’t respect her partner nor care much for his feelings. Put simply, having several sexual partners doesn’t in itself devalue a woman, but it does if the bloke gets to hear about it. As I said, sensible women bury this stuff in a vault.

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Ex Boss

A reader sends me a link to this article. Let’s take a look:

I’d had my eye on the biggest company in my field for a couple of years, just waiting for the right role to come up. They had a reputation for staff retention, beautiful offices and great workplace flexibility, and after proving myself and climbing the ladder at the company I joined after I finished uni, I was ready for a new challenge.

Some questions for my readers. Do you think this is a man or a woman writing this? Do you think he or she is in role where outcomes matter, or whether following the process is more important?

A friend had alerted me to the opportunity, which wasn’t being advertised publicly, so I thought I was in with a good chance. I stayed up past midnight one night polishing my resume and ensuring I tailored it to the values of my dream company.

I’ve tailored my CV to a particular role, but never to the values of a company. It sounds as though she just filled it with whatever drivel she found on the corporate website.

So I was thrilled when the HR manager – a guy named Brendan – called to offer me an interview. I told him I’d see him tomorrow, and left work early to go home and prepare. I practised answering curly questions with my housemate and made sure my best corporate outfit was pressed and clean.

I had to look up “curly question”. Apparently it’s Australian slang for a difficult question. In any case, this reads like something from a teenager’s diary.

I felt ready when I walked up the broad white stairs of the building, through the glass doors and up to reception. I told the receptionist my name and who I was there to see, and I waited.

I might have guessed the interview didn’t take place in a porta-cabin at the muddy end of a building site.

He was Brendan. From Bumble. We’d chatted for three solid weeks before I’d decided he was a snoozefest and unmatched with him.

The joy of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, for those lucky enough to not need them, is that – as long as you haven’t exchanged phone numbers yet – you can unmatch with people on there at any time and they have no way of finding you again.

I use this function to my advantage all the time because I hate telling guys I’m not interested. So I will talk to them for weeks in the app and then either go on a date – at which point I have to offer up my number – or unmatch and disappear forever.

I’ve written before about how the mobile phone has allowed people to dispense with the normal politeness that governed ones behaviour when dating. If she lacks the courage to tell people she’s not interested and simply disappears, it’s hardly surprising she’s on Bumble looking for a boyfriend.

Brendan seemed like the perfect guy for me when I first swiped right on him. He was good looking, fit and had a good career in HR.

People will say that about me soon.

But as we chatted back and forth over the weeks, I realised he’d never really done anything off the expected life plan. He’d never messed up. He’d never travelled or been arrested or even bared his bum in public.

In short, he was too straighty-one-eighty for me.

I like my guys to have a past. Some perspective on life so they know what they’re doing is the right thing for them. I want them to have stories about being arrested in Amsterdam or streaking at the soccer in Rio.

And being convicted of possession with intent to supply and smacking their ex-girlfriend in the eye when she got a bit lippy. I’m reminded of this post.

Brendan had none of that, and he had to go.

I expect she did a backpacker’s trip to Europe with ten thousand other Australians and now considers herself worldly.

And all I could think about in this moment was that I shouldn’t have ghosted him.

Because it’s a cowardly thing to do, or because it might now affect what passes for your career?

I could identify the exact moment, as he reached out and shook me hand, that Brendan realised who I was. There was a flash of recognition in his eyes but it quickly disappeared as his professional face took over, and he ushered me into an office with two of his colleagues.

A penny for Brendan’s thoughts here.

I was rattled, but I tried to shake it off and focus on the interview. I still really wanted this job, and I couldn’t let a failed dating attempt get in my way.

The trio fired question after question at me, and I think I answered pretty well. I even started to think for a moment that perhaps Brendan didn’t realise who I was.

Then, after I had asked a few questions about the role, and we were winding up the interview, Brendan said, “What about challenging conversations? How are you at having those?”

This is the kind of thing HR people ask at interviews for a job requiring complete and utter obedience.

I could see amusement in his eyes as he asked and I could tell he was toying with me. But the others didn’t know that so I knew I had to be careful how I answered.

“I’m comfortable dealing with people at all levels and I’m not afraid to have difficult conversations,” I lied. “I believe if I conduct myself professionally and communicate openly, that will foster respectful and clear conversations with others, so everyone can get on with executing their roles to the best of their ability.”

She lied then, and she’s lying now. There is no way on earth she said that.

The other interviewers seemed pleased with my answer and Brendan smirked as he said, “Thanks Sophie, we’ll be in touch.”

I was so relieved to get out of that office, and was surprised when one of the other interviewers called me later that day to offer me the job.

I don’t know how I’ll handle things with Brendan now that we’ll be working in the same office but I do know I’m about to become an expert on having challenging conversations.

I expect it will end in your very own MeToo moment. At least you should be able to get another article out of it.

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