‘I want to have sex all night long… just not with my hus­band’

Men want sex with lots of women while women are made for monogamy, right? Wrong, says Wed­nes­day Martin – es­pe­cially now that it’s eas­ier than ever to cheat

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

an­nika is a sub­ur­ban 30-some­thing mum. She is also a se­rial cheater. The rea­son, she ex­plains, is, ‘ You miss that thing where you’re ex­cited. It’s so new, and you can’t eat or sleep, you’re hav­ing such an in­tense time emo­tion­ally and sex­u­ally with this en­tirely new per­son. That’s what I kept go­ing af­ter. I couldn’t say no.’

An­nika, who is warm and en­gag­ing, with messy blonde hair, met her hus­band, Dan, when they were stu­dents. Even at the start, it was ap­par­ent that Dan had a lower li­bido. ‘I felt like I ini­ti­ated sex al­most all the time, and that made me self-con­scious,’ she ad­mits. Yet the time they spent to­gether – cook­ing, hik­ing, hav­ing deep con­ver­sa­tions – seemed to out­weigh this.

But sev­eral months later, dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days, when Dan was work­ing

and An­nika went trav­el­ling, she started sleep­ing with other men. This con­tin­ued af­ter they had grad­u­ated and moved in to­gether. ‘ We never dis­cussed it but Dan not want­ing sex made me feel un­de­sir­able. He said it was be­cause he had low testos­terone, or be­cause he was tired. So I had sex with men I met through work or at a party. I felt I de­served to have a sex life.’

There were sev­eral close calls over the years, once when a man she’d had over to their home left his jacket be­hind and Dan, sus­pi­cious, asked whose it was. Her heart pound­ing, An­nika made an ex­cuse: it be­longed to their friend. And yet the risks were worth it; it was ex­cit­ing to be with other men, and their de­sire was a kind of salve against Dan’s sex­ual in­dif­fer­ence.

They mar­ried, and for a while their sex life im­proved. But a cou­ple of months in, it hit a fa­mil­iar low. ‘I re­mem­ber the phone ring­ing and know­ing it was a guy I was sleep­ing with, and hav­ing to pre­tend it was some­one else be­cause Dan was stand­ing right there.’ An­nika only stopped cheat­ing when she be­came preg­nant – she had less time and in­ter­est, and felt more com­mit­ted to mak­ing their mar­riage work. But, she adds, their sex life never im­proved.

‘I’m re­ally… un­usual,’ she told me when we started talk­ing about her in­fi­delity. This is what most of the women I spoke to for my book, Un­true, be­gan by say­ing. ‘ Why’s that?’ I’d ask. ‘Be­cause I have a re­ally strong sex drive. And I’m not cut out for monogamy.’ Dur­ing my research, I found that the cheat­ing women I met all thought they were odd. Be­cause for decades, psy­chol­o­gists and sci­en­tists have in­sisted that women are nat­u­rally monog­a­mous and less in­ter­ested in sex.

They ar­gue it’s about bi­ol­ogy – we only re­lease one egg a month, we can only pro­duce one child every nine months, so we have to be se­lec­tive about our sex­ual part­ners, set­tling for one great guy who can pro­tect and pro­vide for us and our off­spring.

But women do cheat – up to 50% of us, ac­cord­ing to one US study. Typ­i­cally, the women I spoke to, like those who spoke to so­ci­ol­o­gist and in­fi­delity ex­pert Dr Ali­cia Walker, had com­pli­cated pri­mary part­ner­ships and wanted to keep their af­fairs sim­ple and purely sex­ual.

‘A lack of sex drove me crazy,’ ex­plains Tif­fany, 47, on why she started to cheat. ‘I fi­nally de­cided, af­ter many years of no sex, that I de­served to have my needs met,’ says Ge­orgie, 53. ‘I want the sex but not the com­pli­ca­tions that go with it,’ 33-yearold Trudy ex­plained. ‘I strongly iden­tify with an ap­proach to sex stripped of sen­ti­men­tal­ity,’ Priscilla, 37, said.

There’s good rea­son to be­lieve bore­dom is a big is­sue for women. Reg­u­lar sex with a long-term part­ner is es­pe­cially rough on fe­male de­sire, sev­eral sex re­searchers have found. A 2017 study of more than 11,000 Brits found that women who lived with a part­ner were twice as likely as co­hab­it­ing men to lose in­ter­est in sex. As one woman told me, ‘I want to have sex all night long. Just not with my hus­band!’

And it’s eas­ier than ever to cheat now, as one woman told me. ‘My life changed when I got an iphone. I didn’t have to have a text blaz­ing across my screen. Or a com­ment on my Face­book that ev­ery­one could see. I could use Snapchat, DMS on In­sta­gram to re­con­nect with peo­ple I hadn’t seen in a long time, and to set up hook-ups.’

So, if we are made for mul­ti­ple part­ners, why does so­ci­ety keep ped­dling the idea that women who re­ject monogamy are ab­nor­mal? The #Metoo move­ment has ex­posed how far we still have to come in en­sur­ing women have as much sex­ual agency as men. Its log­i­cal hori­zon must be that we start think­ing about fe­male­cen­tred sex, fo­cus­ing on women’s de­sire.

Women who re­ject monogamy and cheat do so for con­nec­tion and un­der­stand­ing, as well as sex. What­ever we may think of them, they are brave – and to­tally nor­mal. ‘ Un­true’ by Wed­nes­day Martin is out now (£14.99, Scribe)

i want the sex, but not the com­pli­ca­tions that go with it

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