Mother To Please Her

One of the paradoxes of modern feminism is that it’s granted certain women freedom but at the expense of their ability to function as adults. Take a look at this article in – where else? – The Guardian:

It feels very personal, the fight you have with your partner about who does the laundry or cleans the bathroom.

But the second-wave feminists were right. The personal is political. The unequal division of labour at home is a systemic issue that needs structural social change to solve it.

Yes, we must restructure society because some entitled princess doesn’t want to clean the bathroom.

Housework, writes Megan K Stack in her book Women’s Work, is “a ubiquitous physical demand that has hamstrung and silenced women for most of human history”.

Until the invention of the washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, and vacuum cleaner. Which, coincidentally, is about the time feminists found the time and energy to complain how terrible their lives were.

Like many heterosexual couples, it was the arrival of children that set my husband and me on divergent paths at home. I’ve been an avowed (and untidy) feminist since I was old enough to say the word.

Western feminists like to boast they’re untidy, hoping it signals a carefree mind occupied by loftier matters than keeping the place clean. What it actually signals is she’s a lazy slob.

We were together for 10 years before the birth of our daughter – he knew his co-parent had zero aspirations to be a homemaker. So how did we end up so easily slipping into the prescribed gender roles that we’d dodged up until then?

Well, what happened when the sink got blocked?

There are a few reasons that come to mind, such as structural issues like the lack of parental leave for fathers and the gender pay gap.

I have another theory, related to the note at the bottom of the article which says “Nicola Heath is a freelance writer”. At a guess, you decided to indulge in a poorly-paid hobby rather than get a proper job, leaving your husband as the main breadwinner. Given he’s at work all day while you knock out boilerplate rubbish for The Guardian, it’s probably only fair that you clean the toilet occasionally.

Becoming a parent is already a huge transition. Your identity is reforged in the crucible of sleep deprivation and newfound responsibility. The pre-kid lifestyle of Friday night drinks, free time and sleeping in becomes a distant memory.

Having a baby changes your life. Who knew?

In this period of chaotic readjustment, it’s easy to fall back on what we know. Even in this era of dual-income households, women take the reins at home and men … carry on pretty much as they always did, with less sleep.

The complaint seems to be that when feminists have babies they adopt behaviours which work rather than stage a political protest.

But the tired and outdated breadwinner model is just as limiting for men as it is for women. The pressure men feel to provide for their families means they work long hours and miss out on time with their children in the name of economic security.

Indeed, driven by crippling mortgages to pay for houses they might not have chosen had they been married to a Filipina called Cherry.

A report by Deloitte put the value of unpaid work in Victoria at $205bn, half the gross state product,

How much of that was performed by men?

while PwC research from 2017 found that women performed 72% of unpaid work in Australia.

I hope that study was better than the one I cited here.

Some women don’t want to work outside the home – and that’s fine. But others do, and for them pursuing a career can be an uphill battle as they try to manage paid and unpaid work.

Because men don’t mow lawns, clear gutters, paint sheds, unblock drains, change car batteries, assemble wardrobes, replace loose slates, bleed radiators, and take care of the home insurance while pursuing a career.

If women want their partners to do more domestic tasks – which would free them up to do more work outside the home – it’s not going to happen without some uncomfortable conversations.

Such as: “Tell me more about this work outside the home, and how much money will it bring in?”

Change is difficult. We’re asking someone to give up their privilege, a sticking point articulated by pioneering New Zealand economist Marilyn Waring in her 1988 book Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth. “Men won’t easily give up a system in which half the world’s population works for next to nothing,” she wrote.

Ah yes, those 20th century miners, farmers, fishermen, labourers, warehousemen, soldiers, sailors, construction workers, all fighting tooth and nail to maintain their privilege.

For many women, this is a hard conversation to initiate. It requires saying, “my needs are important too, and what’s best for the family isn’t necessarily best for me” – something that goes against how we expect women to behave.

It goes against how we expect anyone to behave in a functioning relationship with children involved, to be honest. There’s a reason why it’s a hard conversation to initiate: you run the risk of being exposed as possibly the most selfish individual to ever progenate.

My eldest daughter is now six, and while my husband does a great deal around the house, I have never returned to working full-time. His career has forged ahead (to our collective benefit) while mine has adapted to the demands of childcare.

I can taste the oppression.

If we want women to flourish, we need to make some concessions.

Might I suggest you take this up with your husband rather than the general public?

But the result – men and women better fulfilling their potential inside and outside the home – is worth it.

If your potential outside the home was anything other than minimal, that’s where you’d already be.


Special Victims Unit

This doesn’t come as a surprise:

The American Psychological Association has established a task force on “consensual non-monogamy,”

They’re going to classify polyamorists as mentally ill? From what I’ve seen that sounds perfectly reasonable. Ah, wait:

“Finding love and/or sexual intimacy is a central part of most people’s life experience. However, the ability to engage in desired intimacy without social and medical stigmatization is not a liberty for all. This task force seeks to address the needs of people who practice consensual non-monogamy, including their intersecting marginalized identities,” the website for the task force of the APA’s Division 44 explains.

It was only a matter of time before polyamorists carved out a special victim box for themselves, gaining privileges in an age of rampant identity politics. Nobody can say they haven’t been agitating for it for a long time, duly assisted by the dimmer end of the press corps.

Andre Van Mol, a board-certified family physician in Redding, California who co-chairs the committee on adolescent sexuality for the American College of Pediatricians, said in an email to The Christian Post that this is yet another example of marginal sexual practices being promoted as normal with academic gloss, making destructive things sound helpful and good.

He’s right, of course. I wonder if he’s a reader here?

“Their sexuality divisions have long since been taken over by extremists. Unless parents push back, it won’t be long before this will be taught to our children in school with the usual emotional blackmail that to do otherwise is to stigmatize.”

He added: “Since American mental health experts have largely given up on their job of investigating underlying factors that may be contributing to marginal sexual behavior, this is what we are left with, the cult of affirmation.”

This argument should be at the front and centre of our socio-political discourse, but instead it’s relegated to a couple of paragraphs in an article about polyamory. This goes a long way to explain how we find ourselves here.

(Via two different people who I’ve forgotten. Sorry.)


Meet Markets

A reader sends me this interesting essay about dating apps and the modern sexual market place:

Dovetailing these concerns is an academic cottage industry on the “increased female unhappiness” of Western women. The theory here is that modern women are less satisfied than their grandmothers because they now delay childbearing to an advanced age while simultaneously holding down demanding jobs in the competitive globalized workplace. Arguably, however, the amount of “happiness” for women has not decreased, but merely been frontloaded to their early 20s when they are having copious sex before settling down for marriage with lesser men. The actual “redistribution of happiness” has been to the alpha males who secure more sexual pleasure in their 20s at the expense of betas who remain lonely until they later make terms with leftover women.

Go read the whole thing.


Paul Maul

Staying on much the same topic (no doubt to the disappointment of my more sophisticated readers), a Kiwi reader sends me this article:

A Kiwi woman who married her Bumble match on the first date has split from the man two months later so she could return to a polyamorous lifestyle.

Sarah Elliott, 34, a nanny in the UK, matched with lighting technician Paul Edwards, 37, on the dating app on December 15 last year.

Aw, how sweet!

After the wedding, Elliott, of East Sussex, revealed her love of BDSM and fetish parties, the Daily Mail reports.

Ah. Not so sweet.

The dominatrix told the newspaper how she moved her then-husband Paul Edwards into her flat after they got married – which she shared with two ex-boyfriends also called Paul.

As the weeks went by she tried to introduce Edwards to the fetish community but claims he found it too difficult and was often jealous.

I expect he was told he was being “judgmental” and it was his fault for not being open-minded enough. To be fair it is his fault, but for being an idiot and marrying someone he didn’t know, not anything else.

At first the three Pauls got along, she claims, but rows quickly started and the situation got out of hand.

In an effort to work on their strained relationship the couple went to a sex party at the Torture Garden Club.

This is like an alcoholic trying to overcome dependency by going to the Munich beer festival.

But she says, Edwards was unable to contain his jealousy and things deteriorated further.

Despite another reconciliation bid at a sex party at Le Boudoir in central London, Edwards eventually moved out.

I don’t suppose they tried just talking it out in their living room, did they?

Another of the Pauls also moved out, leaving Elliott struggling financially.

I’m amazed other aspects of this woman’s life are a complete sh*tshow.

Elliott set up a dating profile with OkCupid in May and is already seeing a 29-year-old and a 27-year-old at the same time, she told The Sun.

As I’ve said before: go long on 1) those who hold the patents on anti-depressant medicine and 2) cat manufacturers.


Milfs & Poon

A Twitter user alerts me to this article:

Unlike most everything else she did in her life, Amanda, a 41-year-old executive at a Boston-area creative agency, began her affair without much thought. It was just drinks with an old friend. When drinks turned to dinner, and dinner turned to sleepovers four months in, she didn’t stop it. It wasn’t weakness at play, she thought, but something else.

“As awful as it was to my family, and I knew it was awful, I couldn’t resist the draw,” Amanda, whose name we have changed to protect her privacy, says today. She had a thriving career (and salary to match), plenty of friends and interests, a devoted husband, a beautiful home by the beach. And yet what she liked most, she says, besides the great sex, was the ability to be someone else for a while.

So a woman, probably bored in her marriage, has an affair. It being 2019, this must be interpreted as a new dawn for women.

Once assumed to be the purview of powerful men — a notion #MeToo has done little to debunk — adultery has become something of an equal opportunity endeavor.

As I’m fond of saying, modern feminism is largely about encouraging women to adopt the worst behaviours of men.

Numbers from the National Opinion Research Center’s 2016 General Social Survey, meanwhile, show that although the percentage of men who admitted to infidelity has held steady over the past two decades, the percentage of wives who reported having affairs rose almost 40 percent — a trend that’s holding steady in 2018, says Tom Smith, director of the survey.

Or maybe just more are admitting it?

There’s also economics. The increasing number of female breadwinners means more women are not financially reliant on men.

Yeah, we’ll get back to that in a minute.

The fact is that good old-fashioned lust appeals to plenty of women, too.

Many experts now believe that women struggle as least as much as men and probably even more with monogamy,” Martin says, “and that they actually require variety and novelty of sexual experience more than men do.”

And as women have more agency regarding who they pair up with, they’re more willing and motivated to make a move when something’s not working.

It’s ironic the article contains this passage while also mentioning the MeToo movement. Here we’re being told that women’s sexuality is a lot like men’s in that they too enjoy lots of hot sex with strangers, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have it if they can get it. But we’re also told women are subject to an increasing volume of unwanted sexual advances from men on the street, in bars, and at work. Well, what do you expect? If you go around telling men that women are up for sex in the same way they are, i.e. right now behind the nearest dumpster, they’re going to chance their arm with every cute girl they run into.

Fewer women are marrying out of need, Fisher says; instead, they’re marrying to please themselves. But that also means when they’re dissatisfied with something, they can feel justified to go elsewhere.

That certainly seems to be the modern view of a relationship. You’re committed right up to the point that something better wanders by, then you jump ship.

That’s not to say they want to go so far as divorce — and, in fact, even as adultery is on the rise, divorce rates are falling.

Probably because women have worked out that even if they commit adultery, the man is the one who gets cleaned out in the divorce. I doubt this situation is sustainable.

Martin puts a more overtly feminist, or at least sex-positive spin on it: “Why would you get divorced just because you want to have sex with someone else? What is that equation? It makes no sense to lots of women, just like it makes no sense to lots of men.”

Everyone wants to have sex with someone else. The difference is you give up your ability to act on those impulses in return for the benefits which come with a monogamous relationship. One of the most common self-delusions among certain people is that you can have regular sex outside the marriage while keeping the benefits of a monogamous relationship. You can’t.

Amid the political spotlight on gender equality, there’s also not a little bit of earned rebellion going on, a backlash to the idea that if a woman cheats, she’s damaged and slutty, but if a man cheats, he’s, well, a man.

Oh, not this rubbish again. I dealt with this in my book (which I’m sure everyone on here has bought by now given the fact I’m writing this on my yacht). Past a certain age, somewhere between 25-30, there is nothing admirable about a man embarking on a string of one-night stands, and nobody is impressed by a man cheating on his wife especially if there are kids involved. The reaction from his friends is largely one of disappointment, concern for his long term welfare, and an outburst of “WTF are you playing at, man?” But I’ve noticed when women cheat her friends rally around and say “well, I’m sure there are good reasons why she did that” and inform her husband or boyfriend that he needs to work on the relationship.

Playing the role of the “good wife” — whether that means dutifully making dinner or, you know, not fucking the neighbor — is no longer desirable for most women.

I’m sure going to work every day and paying down a giant mortgage isn’t desirable for most men in isolation, but being a mature adult means making sacrifices for long-term goals, maintaining impulse control, and disavowing short-term gratification.

“The ‘privilege’ of infidelity has historically belonged to men. But female infidelity is the most radical but also the most basic version of female autonomy. And in that sense, it’s very much about power.”

There’s this odd idea among modern feminists that having a string of meaningless sexual encounters with men is empowering. Countering that view is one I heard from a Turkish woman who wasn’t brought up in the west, and she thought the real power of a woman comes from withholding her sexual capabilities and wielding them sparingly. I’ve gotta say, I’m with the girl from Izmir on this one.

“Men and women alike cheat when there’s no perception of ‘problems in their relationships.’ Plenty of women are in it for the sex.”

My marriage is fine honestly, I’m just sleeping with someone else.

Science confirms this, Martin says, pointing to the work of researchers Alicia Walker and Marta Meana, whose studies conclude that women’s sexual desire is no less strong than it is for men, and that, in fact, such desire could be stronger due to an evolutionary draw to increase one’s chances of healthy reproduction.

I don’t think anyone denies women’s sexual desire can be pretty damned strong. I’m just not sure this means women want to sleep around more.

The fact that Amanda is the family breadwinner didn’t factor into her affair, she says; she never considered the affair something to which she was entitled.

And this is the bit I wanted to come back to. I suspect a large part of the problem is Amanda doesn’t respect her husband because he’s not playing the role of provider, so she’s seeking fulfillment with from some “old friend” who’s probably out-earning her.

At the same time, Amanda says that she thinks her equitable marriage probably made her less satisfied in the bedroom

Exactly. Women don’t like to marry down, they like to marry up. If hubby isn’t earning what she is, she’s not going to want to sleep with him for very long.

“Wanting some heteronormalcy isn’t something people want to talk about in that bourgie Brooklyn world I live in.

Brooklyn. Who would have guessed?

Eventually, Susan says, she realized she was confusing power with novelty. She called off her affair and talked to her husband instead. “I had made something happen for myself,” she says. “It was a way of claiming independence. But once I had that, I understood: People who are truly empowered don’t need to lie or betray trust.”

Well, fancy that. These women are basically living out the lives of characters in beach-holiday romance books, all the while thinking they’re doing something new.


Galactic Cluster

I have five three-hour exams this week folks, so I’m afraid blogging will be non-existent or of poor quality. In keeping with that, via a follower on Twitter I’ve discovered an academic paper in the Journal of High Energy Physics entitled:

Do black holes create polyamory?

I confess I haven’t read it, and it’s not because I’m busy with exams. But it has made me wonder if I’ve not already covered a large chunk of my dissertation in this blog:

Is polyamory the answer to carrier bags and plastic waste?

A tenured professorship beckons.


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.


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.


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.


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?