Indian Takeaway

Following yesterday’s rather serious post and the heated discussions that followed (thanks everybody), here’s something a little lighter:

Is online dating racist?

A question that keeps my readers awake at night, I am sure.

It’s hard out there on hook-up apps — but it’s even more of a challenge when you have an ethnic name, says Radhika Sanghani

I have more than 100 messages in my Tinder inbox from men of all different races, and a quick count suggests that a quarter of those mention my race/ethnicity/name in some capacity — even the fellow Indians.

She’s on a hookup app where one’s interest is signaled based on looks alone. Tinder’s use varies between countries, but in London it’s main function is to find a simple, uncomplicated date for the same evening followed by meaningless sex. She pretty much admits this in the next sentence:

There are questions about where I’m from, whether I’m religious

If you’re online looking for a serious relationship, asking where a potential partner is from and their religious beliefs seems somewhat sensible. Of course, if all you’re looking for is a crude shag with some random bloke, I can understand why such questions feel like an intrusion. Better just skip the small talk and get down to business. Women are empowered these days, don’t you know?

It’s exhausting having to field questions constantly about your ethnicity but the real problem is the racial bias that underlies it.

A Tinder profile comes with a set of pictures and your name. Insofar as talking points go, there’s not really much to go on so anything remotely unusual gets picked up on, e.g. a tattoo, or a funny hair colour, an exotic setting – or a foreign name. And yes, you’re in the UK not India. If I were to set up a Tinder profile in Delhi with the name John Smith I’d be fielding a lot of questions as to where I’m from compared to someone going by the name of Harbhajan Singh.

I wouldn’t mind talking to people about the meaning of my name (I’m named after a goddess, naturally) if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been unmatched when people realise I’m originally Indian.

Not everyone in the UK wants to date an Indian. And I wonder how many of these unmatchings occurred when the question “Are you Indian?” was followed by three screens worth of feminist harangue.

I’ve been asked about cooking curry, and I’ve been fetished for my skin colour.

Exotic foreign woman on hook-up app complains about men liking her skin colour? Start burning those bras sisters, there is much work yet to be done!

Research from OkCupid shows that black and Asian women are less popular on the dating app than white and Latina women — with black women ranking as the least popular.

Dating apps seem to be the last bastion of the internet where one can actually state ones preferences without fear of being branded racist and hounded off the platform. I expect this won’t last long.

“On an individual level, a person can’t really control who turns them on — and almost everyone has a ‘type’, one way or another,” says app co-founder Christian Rudder. “But I do think the trend — the fact that race is a sexual factor for so many individuals, and in such a consistent way — says something about race’s role in our society.”

Oh, it does. It says that, in general, people prefer dating partners of their own race, and that a minority find other races exotic. But we didn’t need data from dating apps to learn this.

Another app, The Grade, ranks the “hottest” names for men and women in terms of receiving the most matches online. There is not a single obviously ethnic name in the top 50 for either sex, with the most popular including Erika, Lexi, Brianna for women

To me, this suggests men are attracted to women who share their names with porn stars.

In a bid to prove this racial bias on apps I once changed my name from Radhika to Rachel. I kept my photos and bio the same and swiped left on 100 men for both avatars. In an hour, Rachel had 28 matches — double the amount as Radhika — and not one of hers asked about race. Radhika wasn’t so lucky.

So men prefer dating women who, based on the extremely limited information available, are more likely to share their language and culture. Also, note that earlier in the piece she was complaining people were asking her about her name and “fetishing her skin colour”. Now she’s complaining people are put off by her name. So if you like her name and ask about it, it’s a problem. But so too is not liking her name. She sounds a bit confused, the sort of person best avoided on a dating app – or anywhere else.

The hope is that things are starting to change. In a study this year, Tinder found that 68 per cent of its users are “very open” to the idea of interracial dating or marriage

Tinder? Marriage? Gulp.

When I was with my (white) ex, I did notice our lack of emoji representation, and in true #FirstWorldProblem style, was forced to use separate emojis to symbolise our relationship.

I can’t imagine why this lady is still single.

Interracial emojis will fix this problem,

Ranking alongside penicillin, the transistor, and the internal combustion engine as a contributor to the betterment of mankind.

and may even join the royals in spreading awareness of the very real issues couples of different races still face today.

Few people are better placed to communicate the difficulties everyday mixed race couples face than a prince and a TV celebrity (whose blackness I am only aware of because people won’t stop going on about it; I certainly couldn’t tell by looking at her).

As a journalist and author with a public profile, I have added struggles.

Yes, I’m getting that impression.

Apps such as Tinder and Bumble automatically link to your Facebook account, so potential dates know my first name and profession.

I thought you were a journalist?

For Radhikas who are journalists, this is enough to pull up everything about me on Google, including articles that touch on past relationships and political views.

This would explain those sudden unmatchings. How do women with Indian names who aren’t insane fare on Tinder?

It means I’ve been on far too many first dates where men have admitted they’ve Googled me.

Everyone does this, including her. And she seems to have been on a lot of dates, but she’s still single. I can’t think why.

In a bid to escape the weight of my ethnic name, I have resorted to drastic measures. I have created a new Facebook account with my nickname “Rad” to link up to my dating profiles


I do feel guilty about it — am I denying my roots just to get a date? — and it brings with it the awkwardness of realising you’re on a third date with someone who still doesn’t know your full name.

Word’s probably got around that anyone who mentions your name, or asks anything about it, or makes a passing reference to your roots will find themselves on the receiving end of a lengthy diatribe on racism. And if they met you on Tinder, they’re likely more interested in the name of your nearest Underground station than your surname.

Plus, it works. Not a single man has managed to ambush me with my life history on a first date since I became Rad.

So the measure of success of her dating efforts is not actually finding a partner, but avoiding anyone talking about her background, culture, job, political views, and articles she’s written when on a date.

I fear it will take more than interracial emojis to help this woman.


Six things young women need to know

This is actually pretty good:

Here are 6 things young women need to know about their future lives

Go on.

1. By the time you hit 30, the likelihood of your deciding that marriage and family—not career—is the most important thing in your life is astronomically high.


2. Whom you choose to marry, not which career you choose, is the single most important decision you’ll ever make.


3. The quality of your marriage will have more effect on your happiness and well-being than anything else in life.


4. Divorce doesn’t solve problems—it creates new ones.

Probably true in many cases, possibly even most. There will be exceptions, though. If your husband is kicking the shit out of you, it’s probably best you don’t stick around. And this:

getting divorced will likely ruin you financially

If only that were true of women, we’d probably see a lot fewer divorces.

5. If you remarry, rest assured your new husband will have just as many warts as the first.

Yup. As someone wrote in a review of my book: “as you get older everyone has baggage. The key is whether people with different backgrounds can justify their decisions and create a compatible relationship”.

6. There are things you can do to strengthen your marriage so it doesn’t crash and burn.

A relationship takes work, particularly communication and compromise. A lot of people I’ve met don’t seem to understand this.

Trying to be a big shot powerhouse and still be a sane, loving and engaged wife and mother is futile. Those two worlds don’t intersect—they collide. They are in direct competition with one another, as Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, courageously admitted in 2014.

I recently listened to a Freakonomics podcast with Indra Nooyi, and she came across very well. She appears, at least to me, to be a genuinely successful female CEO and deserving of the post, not one just parachuted in to please the diversity department. Whereas this:

Each to his own, but I’d be a lot prouder if my partner’s promotion didn’t come about as a result of a gender parity pledge. If I was a woman who genuinely deserved to be elevated to partner, I’d be absolutely livid at this.

Anyway, back to the list. Can you imagine what a list of 6 things young women need to know about their future lives would look like if it were compiled by the BBC, Guardian, or Laurie Penny? It would pretty much fisk itself. That’s why I found this lady’s post rather refreshing:

And finally, because at the end of the day it is our relationships, not our jobs, that matter most.

Well said.


Swan Son

A few people have brought this article to my attention:

In Tuesday’s books podcast, we marked LGBT history month by interviewing Christine Burns, a campaigner for transgender rights, about her history of the UK’s trans community. The next day, my son was in a TV documentary – deep breath – about polyamory.

Sounds edgy. Do go on.

Love Unlimited wasn’t about trans people, but about life choices that challenged traditional thinking about relationships. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word polyamory back to 1992 and says it is not to be confused with casual recreational sex, serial monogamy or swinging.

Similarly, Playboy is not to be confused with pornography. Because of the articles.

My 24-year-old son was one of a dozen or so young people – gay, straight, bisexual, trans and cis – interviewed about love lives that to them seem entirely normal, but which all involve the possibility of committed partnerships with multiple lovers.

So there is no actual committed partnership in these polyamorous arrangements, merely the possibility of one. Meaning, it’s possible in theory or they spend time thinking about it. In which case, my own love life seems entirely normal but involves the possibility of weekly sessions in a hot tub with Maria Sharapova and two of her closest friends. Ahem.

The interviewees included three gay men, two of whom work as nurses, who are filmed whiling away an evening with board games in their Edinburgh flat before retiring to their two bedrooms (there isn’t room for all three to sleep comfortably in one bed, and shift work means often only two of them are in anyway). Their setup is known in polyamorous circles as a triad or “thruple”.

Three gay men shagging each other is news? Did we suddenly slip back in time to 1950?

What, they say, could be more ordinary?

Indeed. The only mystery is why this became a TV show.

My son’s arrangement is a daisy chain, in which each person is free to have other lovers while remaining committed to each other.

An arrangement which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is not to be confused with casual recreational sex.

He currently has only one partner, but “they” – the pronoun of choice – are also in a lesbian relationship, so I resonate strongly with the splendidly upfront mother of one of the gay nurses as she recalled her initial reaction to the introduction of a third partner: “[I thought] that’s my baby’s man … Does this mean they’re not going to get married? Is my baby going to be lying in bed alone at night crying because his partner’s not there and is away shagging some other bloke?”

Paraphrasing from Fawlty Towers, there’s enough material there for an entire conference.

The film says my son and his partner regard themselves as non-binary “in that they identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine”. Wrong, says my son, when I discuss it with him: they see themselves as neither exclusively male nor female, but his partner strongly identifies as femme.

Such delicate distinctions can wrongfoot the best of us. Pronouns, in particular, have been an issue in my household since my son came out as trans. I am clumsy in my attempts to negotiate a way around “he” and “they”. Childhood anecdotes in particular frequently leave me blundering back to “she”.

Life’s tough in modern Britain. Who is writing this gibberish, I hear you ask?

Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture for the Guardian


Meanwhile, via Whiteboard Technician:

Bisexual Polyamorous Goose Love Triangle Ends In Tragedy

Which is only marginally more ludicrous than the first story.

Homosexuality has been widely documented in the animal kingdom: 1,500 known species display this behavior, and more cases are likely to be discovered. Luckily for them, there is no indication that homophobia exists outside of humans.

Nor does consent.

Thomas’s multi-partner inclinations are also no oddity in nature – significant evidence of polyamorous behavior (not to mention polygendered individuals) has been recently observed, prompting biologists like Antonia Forster to keep challenging our understanding of sexuality.

Presumably we should also be sniffing each other’s arses, licking our balls, and flinging shit around too, then?


One Girl, Two Kilts

Barely a week seems to go by without another polyamory puff-piece turning up in our media. Reader Robert Harries alerts me to this one from the BBC:

Noni is polyamorous – she has two boyfriends and is committed to them both equally.
The 23-year-old, who lives in North Berwick, says she felt trapped and claustrophobic in monogamous relationships, no matter how much in love she was.

Readers will be astonished to learn one of Noni’s boyfriends has a tangled beard and ponytail.

She tells the BBC Scotland documentary Love Unlimited: “There is nothing wrong with one partner.
“I just don’t see why I should artificially limit the amount of love that I put out into the world.
“I’m greedy. I like people liking me.”

Polyamorists have the annoying habit of assuming normal people have never considered the possibility of having sex with multiple people at the same time. So wrapped up in their own sense of uniqueness it’s never occurred to them that almost everyone considers this, but prefers the benefits an exclusive, monogamous sexual relationship brings.

Although she is only 23, Noni insists that polyamory is a lifestyle choice she intends to continue and does not think it is incompatible with raising a family.

Oh yeah? In all my writings on polyamory I’ve never once heard a quote from a sane, functioning adult who was raised in a polyamorous relationship. The only ones we hear from are those whose own wishes appear to come before anything else.

She says: “I know people who are polyamorous and have children.

I knew hookers who had children, too.

“There is an assumption that polyamory is an overtly sexual thing which it does not have to be. You don’t have to have an orgy house.”

It doesn’t have to be, but it usually is because it’s the sleeping arrangements which define a polyamorous relationship. However she goes about it, her kid is going to have to process its mother disappearing frequently to be with her other partner, or the father disappearing frequently to make space for the other man. How is either good for the kid?

“It is really outdated to think a child needs one mother and one father.”

This is true, provided nobody really cares what sort of adult the child becomes and there is a healthy welfare system in place.

Noni says polyamory is not actually new but it is still taboo, though that could be changing.

That’s certainly what those who commission these articles are hoping, at any rate.

“People have been practising polyamory for as long as people have existed,” she says.

Yes, it was called “shagging around”, or even “dating”.

“I would not say we are blazing a trail but we are definitely creating an environment that allows for a healthy community.”

As Wikipedia would say: citation needed.

These articles are seemingly endless. There’s an agenda here, isn’t there?


Dating, New York Feminist Style

My research assistant sent me this article in Elle magazine, which asks a bunch of women who, to me, all seem the same about dating in a “post-Harvey Weinstein world”.

Here’s a flavour of the responses:

I don’t just march misogynists into my life. My screening process is intense. I ask a lot of questions and try my best to carefully analyze the photos of anyone I meet. A sampling of inquiries include: What do you do? Where do you live? Where are you from? Who did you vote for? Do you have tree nut allergies? Etc. Still, when I add up all the dates I’ve been on this year, including the good ones, what I remember is: The casual racism, the constant interruptions, the arrogance, the insistence that he knows best about literally anything and everything.

So screening men with questions like “Who did you vote for?” lands you on dates with racist, misogynistic assholes? Heh. Want to tell us how they answered?

A date recently asked me ‘where I was from’ after telling me I had ‘an exotic look.’ When this kind of nonsense happens I cut it off right at the head. In response to this dude, I just went silent, too angry to even engage.

You’ve just told us you filter men by asking where they’re from. A man asks you the same question and you seethe with rage. As for the “exotic” comment? Well, so what? Some women like being called exotic.

I’ve blocked more guys from more means of communication than I can count over the last 12 months.

Which speaks volumes.

Woke bae is out there somewhere … I remember things that my own father would say years ago that he would never say now and that’s because he’s got two razor-tongued daughters that continually check him at any opportunity … at the moment, I don’t have a concrete solution for this problem and I also don’t have a boyfriend either.

I can’t imagine why.

For example, I was talking on the phone with the guy I’ve been seeing for a few months…he was subjected to a long rant about how such reports often fall on deaf ears, how reporting often creates more conflict in the woman’s life than in the perpetrator’s, how shame is dealt unfairly in such situations.

Lucky him.

To him, I’m a whole person, my own universe, rather than simply a satellite in his universe—a first for me in a romantic relationship. But recently, I’ve often struggled to maintain composure and openness while explaining things to him that every woman I know understands intuitively.

Even luckier him.

My litmus test was simple: casually mention scandals in the media and gauge his reaction.

This is on a first date. Can you imagine an actual relationship with this person?

But above all, don’t, absolutely don’t go back with a guy to his apartment unless you want to engage in some sort of sexual activity—especially with the guy you only went on two dates with who said you would just watch a movie.

Finally someone’s said something sensible.

The article illustrates one of the most bewildering contradictions in modern times: the feminist idea that modern women should be carefree, promiscuous, powerful, go-girrrl high-flyers as portrayed in Sex and the City, while at the same time:

To be safe, you must follow the rules: Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from man, because he may roofie it. Don’t make eye contact with the guy who catcalls you on the street—he’ll just see it as an invitation to talk to you. Remember that creepy old doorman who tried to ask you out after seeing you pass his building on your way to the gym each morning? You haven’t forgotten how uncomfortable that made you feel, and it’s been months.

I’ve reached the conclusion most of them are barking mad.


I Want, I Want, I Want

There was time when folks used to entertain themselves by visiting loony bins and laughing at the antics of the inmates. Nowadays we have TV programs like Geordie Shore and BBC articles like this one:

Ten months ago, thirty-something Jessica was eager to get pregnant. A series of relationships had failed so she tried a radically new approach – she posted an advert online.

The request was posted on Craigslist, a website better known for second-hand goods.

A decent editor would have deleted that wholly superfluous “better”.

The potential father needed to be over 5ft 9in, under 40 and prepared to take an STD test. He would also be required to have “a few days of frequent sex”.

This woman would prefer her offspring to be tall rather than smart.

“Our grandparents didn’t spend years and years cohabiting and watching boxsets,” she says.

No. No, they didn’t. Which is why they didn’t have to resort to advertising on Craigslist.

“Starting a family was very much the goal of their endeavour.”

Indeed, they wanted a family and so got on with the job of making one rather than suddenly realising it at 30.

She’d also watched many of her friends start families after falling “madly in love”, only to split up later in a cloud of angry recriminations.

So her friends are unable to maintain lasting relationships, kids be damned? Why aren’t I surprised?

“I decided I could sacrifice romantic fulfilment as long as my child had two parents who loved and cared for them,” she says.

Because the relationship between the parents has no effect whatsoever on the child; what matters is the woman has what she wants.

She posted her advert on Craigslist while on a bus from her home in the suburbs into central London – and by the time she arrived at Oxford Street, she already had a number of replies.

From men who are more used to seeing such adverts with prices attached.

A year earlier, Jessica had been in a long-term relationship with David. Like her, he wanted children… but he was in no rush.

“He was aimless. He wanted to wait until he felt better about his life and his career. You just think, ‘Come on!'” Jessica says.

So he couldn’t get his life together, probably didn’t want children with her, and all she could do was think things to herself? Hurrah for female empowerment!

She had wanted children since she turned 30 and was envious of friends who were starting families.

I used to be like that. The feeling wore off after lunch.

She was also shaken by a visit to her aunt in hospital. Her aunt didn’t have children, and Jessica believed she had been ignored by doctors as there had been no-one to insist on better care.

“I thought there was a risk of me ending up in a similar situation if I had no kids of my own. They can act as insurance for when you get older.”

Firstly this kid will learn that its mother didn’t care who its father was. Then it will learn its primary purpose for being brought into this world was to ensure its mother is looked after when she’s old. The BBC takes no issue with this.

She ended her relationship with David in March 2016 and almost immediately started dating her colleague, Scott. He was keen to have a baby, but after six months of trying they had nothing to show for it. So they went to a GP, who suggested blood tests – and while Jessica’s results were clear, Scott’s revealed a range of fertility issues.

I can’t think of a single person who is more fortunate to be infertile. Trust me Scott old chap, the Gods are smiling on you.

“He didn’t react well to the news and basically fell apart. I didn’t feel I had the ability to support him through it,” Jessica says.

Meaning, he was no longer useful to her so she abandoned him.

“She asked, ‘Why would you spend £700 for sperm when you could go down to Yates’s [wine bar] and find someone who would gladly give you it for free?'” Jessica says.

It’s all class with our Jess.

She then started chatting to a single man on the website, until an insurmountable barrier got in the way – Brexit.

“He voted to leave Europe and I’m very much for remain,” Jessica says. “I said, ‘I’m not really sure we can parent like this.'”

She desperately wants a baby with practically anyone who can get it up, but draws the line at men who voted to leave the EU? This woman is fucking insane.

Jessica quit the website, which charged a monthly fee, and considered dating apps. But as a teacher she didn’t want to post a photograph of herself.

This train-wreck of a woman is a teacher?

“I didn’t want to use a dating website or Tinder in case a student saw a picture of me. Plus I knew Craigslist got a lot of traffic and was free to use,” she says.

The avoidance of monthly website fees being of utmost importance when searching for the father of your child.

“God, it sounds completely crazy looking back,” Jessica says.

I daresay it looked that way at the time, too.

She received a flurry of replies, including the obligatory slew of penis pictures.

She advertised free sex on Craiglist with almost no conditions. What was she expecting, flowers and a poem?

A number of men wrote claiming they had helped several women, which turned Jessica off.

“The last thing I needed was for my child to end up at a party and snog their sibling without knowing,” Jessica says.

Just try to imagine the thought process that led to her making this statement.

Another young man wrote to say he was desperate for a baby after his previous partner had a miscarriage. Jessica felt he was too vulnerable.

In other words, he might need something from her.

Then she received an email from Ross.

“He was 33 and also lived in London. He said he’d had some disastrous relationships but he loved being an uncle and wanted children of his own,” Jessica says.

Because nothing makes for a better father than a man with a series of disastrous relationships behind him.

They discovered they were of different faiths

Uh-oh. Swarthy foreigner? What do you reckon?

but agreed they wanted a “London approach” to religion.

Any problems are just part and parcel of living in a big city?

“We agreed there was one God who loved pretty much everybody and we would want a child to be comfortable with people of any faith or no faith.”

Before the boy was circumcised at the father’s insistence. Jessica wanted to object, but didn’t want another black eye.

Ross was very involved during the pregnancy and accompanied Jessica to hospital appointments. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though.

They clashed about who got to keep the original ultrasound pictures and whether to spend money finding out the sex of the baby early.

“Ross” didn’t want a girl, only a boy?

The couple told their parents Jessica was expecting a baby after the pregnancy had lasted 12 weeks, but didn’t reveal how they had met.

I have a feeling they’ll find out soon enough, under less rosy circumstances.

The couple have now been together just under a year and parents for two months. They are still discovering new things about each other.

Two months. Right.

What annoys me about these articles is they are presented without any scrutiny of such issues as the effect this arrangement will have on the child, or the fact that the woman’s own disastrous life choices have forced her into this. And we never get to read of the aftermath, when the entire situation unravels in a manner which could have been easily predicted by anyone with a brain. All we get is positive puff-pieces like this, while the costs of such lunacy are foisted on the rest of society.

(H/T My Burning Ears in the comments and @wibble80 on Twitter)


Inside the Mind of a Polyamorous Woman

Oh look, another puff-piece on polyamory, this time from The Guardian:

It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to say to my husband, Marc. Three years ago, I sat down and told him: “The idea of having sex just with you for the next 40 years – I can’t do it any more.” But I had come to realise that my life was built around something I didn’t believe in: monogamy.

We had been together for 12 years and had two children, now nine and seven.

Can you imagine a guy saying this to the mother of his children? Well, actually I can, it does happen, often following an assignment to Russia or a golf trip to Thailand, but such stories rarely get featured in The Guardian.

I love being a mother and I set the bar high from the start – cloth nappies and cooking from scratch. But I needed something more in my emotional and sexual life.

Oh, so it’s all about you. Got it.

Marc’s reaction was remarkable; he agreed to support me and open our marriage to other partners, although it wasn’t really what he wanted.

Perhaps he was concerned you would initiate a divorce leaving him penniless, homeless, and unable to see much of his children? At the end of this piece, Marc gets his say:

I did a lot of reading around the subject of ethical non-monogamy. It makes a lot of sense intellectually, but it doesn’t resonate with me emotionally. It didn’t feel right. I was prepared for our marriage to continue, with me being monogamous and Anita having other partners, but that proved more difficult than we envisaged.

So he dreaded the prospect and found it was even harder than he imagined? This I can believe. Why is his wife putting him through this, exactly? Oh, we know already: she doesn’t give a shit about anyone other than herself. As she says:

Sex is a big part of a relationship, but it is only a part. We didn’t want it to scupper us.

The only thing I can see scuppering this relationship is her sense of entitlement.

I quickly embraced the dating scene and discovered another side of my sexual self.

I’ll leave my readers to guess what she means by that.

I think most people’s reaction was that Marc should have kicked me out.

If the divorce laws weren’t so stacked against him, I suspect he’d have done just that.

People who choose to be polyamorous often do so after delving deep into themselves and their desires, so it runs close to the kink scene, which was also something I wanted to explore. There’s a temptation to think that, had Marc and I explored these things together, our marriage might have worked without opening it up. I’m not sure that it would have, though, given that he wasn’t into it. It can seem quite intimidating, but I was so ready for it. The first time I went to a fetish club, I felt like I was at home – that I’d found my people.

I can’t help thinking people ought to work all this stuff out before they get married and have kids.

I now have a partner of two years, Andrea.

Oh, she’s hooked up with a swarthy foreigner. How original.

We work as a couple, but we also have sex with friends. He’s the only partner I have introduced to my children. I love Andrea and I’m very lucky to have him, but I don’t want to live with him – we both value our solitude too much. He and I can flirt with other people and ask for their number, but I still feel jealous sometimes. He went away with another woman and, yes, it was difficult.

My research on polyamorous people has led me to believe they engage in the practice to address issues which might better be dealt with in other ways. The above paragraph doesn’t do much to convince me I’m wrong on this.

Meanwhile, Marc and I realised we were no longer compatible. I had changed too much. We still share the family home and parent our children together. We still get on. We have counselling together, we spend Christmas together – we are still reading and learning as we used to. We wanted to keep all the bits that worked.

I suspect in reality this woman has told her husband they are no longer compatible, and “the bits that worked” are those that she relies on him to pay for.

We have had to learn so much about communicating better, and I think the children have benefited from that. We have explained that Dad needs one person to be with and Mum needs more people to make her happy. The talk is ongoing; we won’t wait to sit them down when they are teenagers, expecting them suddenly to get it.

And if they don’t? Well, who cares? Let’s see how they turn out after spending their teenage years with their mother chasing multiple lovers around.

You can craft your own polyamory, but I’m not sure I would want more than two or three other partners. I’m hoping two people I met recently will become lovers, but there’s no rush. People assume that I’m constantly having sex, but it’s not as simple as that. I want an emotional and mental connection with someone, so it takes time to build up to that.

But it is, mostly, about sex.

Monogamy, meanwhile, feels more like a competition where you need to bag someone before anyone else does. None of that applies in a poly setup, which is incredibly liberating.

There’s no doubt being free to fuck around as much as you please is liberating; the problem is in doing so you lose the benefits of a monogamous relationship. It’s a trade off, and one that most people figure out in their mid-twenties.

Think how strange it would be to have only one friend. You can’t get everything from one platonic relationship. Why would you try with one lover?

The few hundreds of millions of people who do just that might argue certain benefits come from a monogamous relationship, and trying to “get everything” is a fool’s errand. But what would they know?

On top of that, the amount of work involved in maintaining multiple relationships, sexual and platonic, is huge.

I’m sure none of this will impact the care and attention she gives to her kids.

Andrea and I look to the future, but there are no expectations.

I imagine Andrea made that point very clear from the outset.

I don’t see myself sitting on a park bench at 80 with one other person.

Oh, nor do I. I imagine you’ll be very much alone.

We seem to want a silver bullet for everything.

Says the woman who thinks polyamory is the answer to what looks like normal marriage blues combined with quite staggering selfishness on her part.

Appetite, a novel by Anita Cassidy, is published by RedDoor at £8.99.

Oh, this woman has a book on polyamory to flog? As it happens, so do I. Do you think The Guardian will run a puff-piece on my novel?


Where have all the good men gone?

Behold the agonies of a Guardian reader, who is looking for a man:

I am 31, with a successful career, friends, my own home and a close family, but I struggle to find relationships with men.

What’s that “but” doing there? Men, in the main, don’t care if a woman has a successful career or her own home (unless he’s a bum), and they are as likely to see friends and a close family as drawbacks rather than assets. How many of your mates are also single?

Now the time has come where I want to settle down.

At 31 the men in her dating pool will be between 33 and 40. She can find one who is handsome, smart, and single: pick any two.

I usually meet men online, though never really pass date three – this often being my decision. I find it difficult to “fancy” men I have met online, though I have fancied those I’ve met in real life. Sadly these encounters recently have led no further.

Translation: the men I want to be with are already married. All that’s left are men I don’t want to be with.

I usually find it’s the same reason I end up finishing with men online. They were not confident enough, not willing to take a lead, and I don’t feel sexually attracted to them.

If they were confident and willing to take the lead, they’d have snaffled a partner long ago. Remember those guys who used to chat you up when you were 25 but you turned down? Not looking so bad now, are they?

I really want a long-term relationship that leads to family life, but I don’t know how to find it.

This is a bit like a 31 year old man deciding he wants a military career.

The advice she receives isn’t bad, but it isn’t half dressed up:

First, change your criteria. If you’re looking for a long and meaningful relationship instant sexual frisson might need to slip down your priority list.

In other words, she needs to drop the lofty standards she believes she’s entitled to and come to terms with the fact that she’s going to have to select from the blokes who are sat in front of her, not the married men in the office.

You should never force yourself to endure a physical relationship with someone you don’t fancy, but it can take more than one date for people to reveal themselves.

Underneath that beer gut and bald plate is a wonderful personality.

It might be better to pause your rigorous appraisal process and learn to make friends first.

A veiled reference to the modern woman’s 277 bullet-point list of requirements every partner must satisfy.

I suspect your determination to secure a lasting relationship could be the very reason it’s eluding you.

Your expectations are unrealistic, and you come across as desperate.

Life can’t be programmed to deliver the moment we want it to. We have to embrace the mystery and surprises along with the frustrations.

It’s not going to just land in your lap, dear. You need to work on this a little, starting with yourself.

This young lass could have saved herself the trouble of writing to the Guardian by listening to Grandma.


A Murder in Beirut

Back when I lived in Dubai I spent an evening in my flat in the company of three women: an Australian, a Russian, and an Uzbek (who was staying with me at the time). We were sat around my bar drinking tequila when the Russian, who was in her mid-twenties, started telling us about the problems she was having with her boyfriend, a Lebanese chap. Two nights previously she had gone out for a drink with another Russian woman and started receiving text messages from her boyfriend. As the night wore on the messages got increasingly angry and accusatory – a pattern which many women (and men) will know well. By the time she went home, rather distressed, her boyfriend was openly accusing her of going home with another man. She went to bed and heard a pounding on the door. Then she heard glass breaking. She went downstairs to find her boyfriend had put his fist through a window and was shaking with jealous rage. She let him in and he belted her one, but after much sobbing they both calmed down. She told us she didn’t know whether she should stay with him and try to work through his anger issues. At this point I asked how long they’d been together. Two weeks, she said. I reached for another tequila.

When I lived in Dubai I heard a lot of stories about women, particularly British and Russians, getting involved with Arabic men and things getting ugly. I know a Russian woman who unwisely entered into a relationship with an Egyptian waiter who regularly beat the shit out of her in a jealous rage; she at least had the sense and courage to eventually leave him. Just as Anglo-Saxon men go funny in the head around Asian women, and Frenchmen lose their senses in Africa, European women often get all giddy over swarthy Middle Easterners. (There’s a theory that this explains why white, liberal women vote to allow more refugees and migrants in, and there is probably some truth in it – stories like this certainly lend weight to the theory, anyway.)

I remember taking an English girl out on a date in Dubai and the first thing she did when she got into my car was turn off the bluegrass, switch to the radio, and retune the damned thing! She entered some station called Habibi (love, in Arabic) and explained the songs alternate between English and Arabic and she and her Lebanese ex used to listen to it. Bear in mind we’d barely left the car park at this point. She breathlessly went on about how charming the Lebanese are, and how romantic they can be, but he was shagging anything that moved and she dumped him (or him her, I wasn’t paying much attention). I’ll leave you to guess how the rest of the date went. I also met up with a Ukrainian girl who within minutes handed me a photo album four inches thick. I flicked through pictures of what looked like a group of gangsters in tracksuits stood beside a murky river a mile wide (this was her family on holiday) and found myself wading through a hundred photos of some dodgy looking Lebanese stood beside a pimped-out Camaro. She then rabbited on about how this guy was the love of her life, and very charming, and bought her flowers, and…you get the picture. Only he was “crazy”.

Now I actually got to know some of the Lebanese men in Dubai, one of whom became a good mate of mine (I stayed with him and his family in Beirut in 2010). He told me two things. Firstly, Lebanese men are only interested in serious relationships with Lebanese women, ones who their family will approve of. There are a few exceptions, but it’s a general rule that Lebanese men intend to marry a Lebanese woman (preferably a virgin) at some point, but until then they want to shag as many loose women as they can, regardless of quality. The Lebanese are descended from Phoenicians, and are first and foremost traders. The thing they like selling most of all is themselves, and Lebanese men are particularly gifted at telling gullible western women exactly what they want to hear in order to get them into bed. British men, when viewed alongside, seem plodding and unromantic. Secondly, my friend said a lot of the Lebanese men you encounter are rather low-class, hailing from farms in the mountains rather than universities in Beirut.

There’s something I observed, and learned the hard way myself, in my travels around the world. Working out the class background of somebody is extremely difficult if you’re not from their culture. I can pick out a British chav in seconds simply by the clothes, habits, and vocabulary. I’ve learned to do it with Russians too, but that took some time. Otherwise, if I’m honest, I have no idea who’s who when I first encounter them. This poses a problem for men turning up in Thailand, for example. They have no idea that the girl they met in the bar is actually a peasant from the jungle on the Cambodian border who grew up in hut and has four years of schooling. Middle-class Thai women exist, but they don’t mingle with foreigners on holidays and sure as hell don’t dance on tables in bars in Pattaya and go home with some fat fuck on the back of a scooter. A lot of the guys who turned up in Sakhalin didn’t realise the pretty, seemingly-classy women they fell in love with spoke a rough version of Russian littered with profanity and grammatical errors – something which would mark them out as lower-class in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

When I was in Lagos I had a colleague who was British-Nigerian, and he’d married a British-Nigerian woman. She came out to visit for a while and joined us at the pool in the Eko Hotel. There’s a bar area next to it which is a favourite spot for the local prostitutes to pick up expats, and my colleague’s wife saw this and her eyes went wide. What stunned her was that these western men were talking and canoodling with absolute, low-grade peasant women, the types ordinary Nigerians stay well clear of. Being a middle-class Nigerian she could see what class of women they were, but the expat men couldn’t. She was still talking about how shocked she was when she came to leave two weeks later. Similarly, my well-educated and middle-class Turkish friend is absolutely astounded by the willingness of British and Russian women to sleep with Turkish barmen, waiters, and boatmen who come from remote villages in the country’s east and can barely read, write, and hold cutlery. These women would never in a million years be interested in some villager from their own countries, but faced with a swarthy foreigner they can’t pick his class and are blinded by the exoticism. The same was true for the girls who dated Lebanese men in Dubai.

This is all a very long-winded prelude to my comments on this story:

Police in Lebanon investigating the murder of a British woman who worked at the UK embassy in Beirut have arrested a man, a source has said.

Ms Dykes, who is believed to have been in her early 30s, had been working in Beirut as the programme and policy manager for the Department for International Development since January 2017.

It is thought Ms Dykes had spent Friday evening at a going-away party for a colleague in the popular Gemmayzeh district of Beirut, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Martin Patience said.

After leaving the bar at about midnight it appears she was abducted. Her body was found close to a motorway on the outskirts of the city.

What I’m about to say is complete speculation, and I may be completely wrong. It may well be that Ms Dykes was jumped by a complete stranger when alone outside a nightclub in Beirut and murdered, that is indeed possible. But I’ve been to Beirut and it’s not really that kind of place, especially where expats hang out. There is terrorism there, and political violence and kidnappings, but it’s never been known as a place that’s unsafe for foreign women. Your average Lebanese is a pretty decent sort and if a western woman has been abducted and murdered fresh off the street it is a very unusual occurence.

Which makes me think she knew the guy who killed her. Whereas I can’t imagine a Lebanese guy deciding to abduct a stranger, I can well believe a Lebanese guy could fly into a rage and murder his western girlfriend. Let’s do some more speculation, the kind of which her family wouldn’t want to read. She’s around 30 and there’s no mention of a husband or kids, so we can assume she was single. She works for the Department of International Development so she’s probably a bit of a lefty, maybe a do-gooder type. Lefty, do-gooder women in their 30s often have this bizarre belief that the greatest danger to their well-being is from old, white men and foreign thugs won’t hurt them. Indeed, I’d hazard a guess that any sexual harassment training women get in the Department of International Development – even in the embassy in Beirut – talks more about white men making lewd remarks than foreign thugs who view western women as nothing more than sluts.

So here’s my guess. She arrived in Lebanon in January and started frequenting the expat bars and nightclubs. At some point she’s got into a relationship with a local (or perhaps someone from a nearby country) without having any idea what the guy was like, or his history. She’d have been blinded by the initial charm and exoticism, and assumed he was the same as the educated Lebanese she’d met at work. The embassy would – like everyone else – have heard plenty of horror stories about western women who get entangled with the wrong sort of local men, but don’t want to actually warn their staff about it as that would deviate from the approved narrative. The result is a dead employee.

We probably won’t ever hear the truth about this case and I might be completely wrong anyway, but I reckon the smart money is on the killer being someone she was (or had been) romantically involved with and he won’t have a university degree.


From whence the anger?

Today somebody actually replied to my question on Twitter as to whether the unpaid work done by men gets counted when declaring that women are suffering under the crippling burden of housework, which I wrote about here. Sadly, it wasn’t from the study’s author but a deranged feminist:

Can you imagine being in a relationship with such a person? I can’t, and I think it would be a safe bet that this woman has never had a stable, functioning relationship in her life. I post this because having spent a year or so exploring modern feminism, or third-wave feminism as it’s often called, I have reached the conclusion that much of it is driven by women whose personalities are too poisonous for them to build a relationship with a man of their choosing. That’s not to say all third-wave feminists are single, but a lot of them seem to despise their partners (e.g. Jessica Valenti) or show signs (e.g. Laurie Penny, and the woman in the tweet above) of being such unpleasant characters that no sane man would want anything to do with them.

Which leaves us with an interesting question. Is their obnoxious personality a result of their failing to find a decent partner, or is their failing to find a decent partner a result of their obnoxious personality? My guess is it starts with the latter, then forms a vicious circle.