59 Flake

Years ago when I was a young, single man beginning my career in the oil industry, I was introduced to a rather attractive woman a few years younger than me who was sort of on holiday. In the circumstances of our meeting we were the only two people in our twenties while everyone else was over fifty, so naturally we got on quite well. That evening the two of us went to a nightclub, and for some reason I brought a Canadian soldier along too. We got horrendously drunk which culminated with the girl lying unconscious on my bathroom floor while I explained to the disappointed soldier that she’s getting the spare bed and he has a choice of the sofa or the other half of my pit.

The next morning she woke up with a major hangover and went home. That afternoon she called me and said she wanted to go out again, and in the evening we did. We got on very well and, as I may have already mentioned, she was rather good looking. To cut a long story short we ended up back at mine, sans Canadian soldier. From that point on this girl gave every impression she’d fallen for me and wanted a relationship. She said I was awesome, and she’d never met someone like me before, and when she left to visit London the next day she said she needed to come back ASAP and I ought to get myself over to the US pronto. Over the next couple of weeks we exchanged emails, messages, and talked on the phone. Every indication was that she had found someone she wanted a relationship with. This put her on much the same page as me. By chance I found myself on a business trip in London while she was still there and we met up. It was brilliant. She was delighted to see me, we ran all over town, and had as much fun as two twentysomethings can have when they’re falling in love. The next day she was going back to the US, and she said she’d be back out to where I was living soon. I kissed her goodbye in her hotel lobby, sure I’d see her again.

For the first week she was back in the US, we spoke every day. And then suddenly she didn’t pick up her phone, and she started taking longer to answer messages. I knew something was wrong and then, just like that, she lost interest. We exchanged a few emails and broke up, leaving me more than a little disappointed. I wrote it off to the pitfalls of a holiday romance – which it was for her – but it wasn’t the practicalities of a long-distance relationship which had put her off.

I was connected with her on Facebook and I watched over the next couple of years as she’d move to a new town, get together with a young man who’d gush all over her, then suddenly quit and move elsewhere. There was a musician in London who went from posting artsy photos of them kissing against a wall to increasingly desperate messages about where she’s gone and what the hell just happened. She turned up for a while dressed like a Mormon in the family pictures of a new boyfriend, before they were all taken down.

I caught up with her six years after our first meeting via the same people who’d introduced us. I was heavily involved with someone else by then, so there was no question of retracing my steps. We got along fine and didn’t bring up the past, but she did talk a lot about her amazing boyfriend who, from what I remember, was a DJ with a severe drug addiction and mental problems. A few years later she passed through town again, and we arranged to meet up. By then she was with another boyfriend, and I waited for her to confirm the meeting time until it got so late I went to bed. She later apologised to say she got “caught up in a vibe” (by now she was over thirty) but I suspect her boyfriend objected to her meeting me.

Because we have mutual friends I still know what she’s up to. She seems to be doing well but she’s still single, and she’d be in her late thirties by now. What this experience taught me is that there are women out there who say they want a relationship but don’t. For whatever reason, this girl – despite being pretty, smart, fun, and from a good family – didn’t want to commit to a relationship. Which is fair enough, but she said she did. I was there when she assured me she was ready for a relationship, and using flattery and much talk of a future together she convinced my skeptical side that she was serious. And then I watched her do the same to a succession of other men. She’d put in considerable work to enter a relationship with a man, and at the moment he’s fully committed dump him citing trivial reasons and move on. It seemed like an exhausting way to live, constantly seeking attention and the thrill of a new relationship but never taking it further.

What I never forgot was how I just knew, immediately, that the relationship was going cold. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but the subtle changes in the tone of her voice, the length and vocabulary of her text messages, and the delays in responding sounded a warning. No matter what else I told myself, I knew something was wrong and the relationship would end.

I mention this now because I found myself in a similar situation recently. I happened to meet someone who was adamant she wanted a serious relationship and pulled out all the stops over the course of a month to convince me I was the one it should be with. No sooner had I agreed when I noticed an odd delay in our correspondence from her side and a reply which should have been a touch longer. I knew what was coming. Twenty-four hours later she’d called it off for unspecified reasons and refused to talk to me any more. When pushed, she resorted to insults and blocking. Now there were red flags fluttering high in the breeze from the very first moment in this particular case, and I wasn’t daft enough to go in with my eyes closed: I just decided it might be worth a shot and I didn’t have much to lose. But the most telling of these was that over the course of about two years she had been on dates (of one kind or another) with 58 different men. I was the 59th. She was pretty, clever, and not an obvious nut (at least initially), but that statistic alone speaks volumes. This is not a case of her needing to meet the right man, but addressing the issues keeping her single.

Clearly there are women out there (and probably men too) who say they want a relationship and go to considerable lengths to find a partner, but for whatever reason can’t make the commitment and bail at the first opportunity. So here’s my question. Do they realise they spend half their time lying to people, or have they convinced themselves they’re genuinely interested in meeting someone? I get the impression it’s the latter. It’s an odd world, isn’t it?

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Polykilla

When I was in the US a couple of mass shootings took place, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. I really couldn’t be bothered reading the commentary on either of them because there have been enough of these lately to know exactly what everyone’s going say anyway. But a Twitter follower alerted me to this factoid regarding Connor Betts, the perpetrator of the Dayton murders:

Connor and I kept our relationship on the down-low due to the polyamorous nature of it. I was engaged to another man while dating Connor, and all parties involved knew about the situation.

I don’t think there’s much data to suggest that polyamorists go around massacring innocents with firearms; murdering beauty standards is more their shtick. But we should hardly be surprised that a mentally unstable individual such as Betts should be attracted to polyamory. The question that remains is whether the additional strain of the relationship tipped him over the edge.

Incidentally, this passage sheds some light on the standards polyamorists adhere to when dating:

A couple of drinks later, Connor asked me if I saw the video of the synagogue shooting. As someone who makes a point to never watch those videos, I hadn’t. So, he pulled out his phone and I was too drunk to care that I was watching it. Thankfully the bar was too loud for me to hear what was going on. Connor gave me the play-by-play of what was happening. Even then, I did realize that that was a weird thing for a first date, but not too weird given the context of our class.

If a normal person was on a date with a bloke who pulled out a video of the synagogue massacre she’d be out of there in a flash, returning home to delete her Tinder account and spend the next month contemplating her life choices. But if you’re a polyamorist you’ll not think it anything too much out of the ordinary. Remember folks, they’re normal people.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You gotta know when to hold

First this story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Times they are a-changin’

Theophrastus alerts me to an article in The Times:

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

“No!” I barked. “I am British!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, that is pretty deep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you imagine the state of the average subscriber?

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

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

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

Two spirit? These Canadians get everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There just needs to be trust and communication.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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