LIFE IS SHORT: HAVE AN AFFAIR!
So goes the tagline of The Ashley Madison Agency, ‘the world’s premier discreet dating service’.
But really, what they mean don’t they, is life is long, so long. A marriage, a monogamous sexual relationship, can seem like it goes on forever and ever into the horizon of time. And one of the key reasons people have affairs is to break up the monotony, interrupt the never-ending trudge through life and love.
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I only know about Ashley Madison, because more than one person has recently alerted me to the fact that there is someone with a profile on there, who goes by the name, Quiet Riot Girl. This means more than one person I know has a profile on Ashley Madison! I can assure you now that this QRG isn’t me. I wouldn’t go on a dating site specifically geared towards the concept of ‘having an affair’, and all the cliches that go along with that. Even the picture on the front page of the website is offputting, with its blurred image of a lusty lady in black lingerie, ravishing a handsome, topless man behind a standard issue hotel room door. This is old-fashioned adultery, Mills and Boon Style. Not to mention the fact their ‘Affair Guarantee’ subscription costs a mind-boggling £250!! You could buy a session with a very accomplished sex worker for that. Or a stereo. Or a set of these …
This week I also saw a new book advertised, called Against Love, by Laura Kipnis. It defends ‘adultery’ against the impossible backdrop of the monogamous sexual relationship and deconstructs romantic love, particularly the kind which leads us into long term relationships (or LTRs as Internet Men like to call them).
‘Ever optimistic, heady with love’s utopianism’, writes Kipnis, ‘most of us eventually pledge ourselves to unions that will, if successful, far outlast the desire that impelled them into being. The prevailing cultural wisdom is that even if sexual desire tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, nevertheless, that wonderful elixir “mature love” will kick in just in time to save the day, once desire flags’ . But she asks, is ‘cutting off other possibilities of romance and sexual attraction while there’s still some dim chance of attaining them in favor of the more muted pleasures of “mature love” similar to voluntarily amputating a healthy limb?’
I don’t know if Against Love is any good but it would leave you a damn sight more change from £250 than the Ashley Madison Guaranteed Affair Package.
I have encountered many, many men looking for affairs, online. I have met some of them. I haven’t knowingly fucked any of them, though. Despite their cries of NO STRINGS ATTACHED and MUST BE DISCREET! and NOTHING SERIOUS! they have actually all put me off by being too needy, too conflicted, too fucked up. Some of them seem to think that if their partner found out they were contemplating fucking another woman (I suspect quite a few don’t actually put their money, or their dick, where their mouth is), the information would literally kill her. In these cases I always hope that in fact she is doing the postman, and not giving a shit whether or not her fella discovers them at it on the dining room table, one night when he comes home from work. But that’s just me.
I met one such conflicted individual, a beautiful man with the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen, after performing webcam wanking for him a few times. It seemed we may aswell actually meet, after sharing something so, intimate (and for me that out of character, abstracted exhibitionism was surprisingly, sensuously intimate. He told me how amazing my cunt looked; nobody had told me that before). We went for a drink in the sunshine. I walked him back to his car. As I leaned against his strong, thick body, and started to feel a bulge in his trousers, as I caught my breath, just as I was about to let myself go, I spotted out of the corner of my eye, two tiny car seats in the back of his car. The ghosts of his children were watching and I could not go through with it (whatever ‘it’ was going to be).
I have also been ‘unfaithful’ myself. I wasn’t very discreet about it, though, because it was an act of calculated revenge, against a partner who was involved with someone else, a predator I was well aware of. I wanted my boyfriend to know and suffer like I was suffering, or what would be the point? All is fair in love and war. Looking back I regret being such a dickhead, and not trying to talk to my partner more frankly about the situation we found ourselves in. We might have been able to, I don’t know, have a more ‘open’ arrangement, instead of enacting some kind of Jackie Collins storyline. I also regret being a prize arsehole towards the guy I had the affair with. His very existence reminded me of my guilt, and I made it clear I resented him for that reminder, whilst fucking him all the same. But I don’t regret the actual sexual infidelity. The orgasms were too frequent and too delicious, the warmth and release of genuine mutually satisfying sex too real, for me to regret.
I am no fan of the myth of heterosexual monogamy. I cast no judgement on those who try, but fail to live within its chilly confines. She who lives in a glass house, etc. But some men, when talking to me, as a potential ‘other woman’, come across so arrogant, so cocksure, as if their straying will boost their egos, score them some Man points, stick one to the bitch, that they rarely appeal to me. They also seem convinced that I am a certain type of woman, not the pure and therefore offensively unfulfilling type that lives with them (and not the type that would have any moral or ethical standards either). No, I am the Other, the desirable and at the same time undesirable, the deviant and therefore unloveable whore. So the last thing I want to do is have sex with them, not for free, anyway.
Suck a lie with a hole in it. Paranoia for lunch. Guilt, a sick, green tint… Carol Ann Duffy may be the Queen’s Official Poet Laureate, a respectable role indeed, penning odes to footballers’ injuries and hung parliaments, but she also knows a thing or two about Adultery , and not, I believe, from the ‘innocent victim’s’ point of view either. Though it is worth remembering that so does David Beckham and his achilles, and so do many politicians, not to mention members of the royal family! If Prince Charles, gawky heir to the throne, couldn’t keep his trousers on, married to the beautiful, starry-eyed people’s princess, how were the rest of us mortals, tethered to much less incandescent beings, supposed to remain moral and upstanding?
TS Eliot was right. Life is very long. (Between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence, between the essence and the event falls the shadow…)
It seems even longer, and harder to endure, when we turn it into a test of our virtues, or a punishment for our (or our lovers’) sins. Ashley Madison Agency is a lying, cheating dog, full of false promises and cheap, empty hotel rooms. There are never any guarantees. Just all these sweet moments strung together: pearls on a princess’s necklace. Why turn them sour? Why pay for the privilege?
As Elizabeth Jennings has pleaded, so I echo her plea: life’s a delight: each of us a joy, whether in or out of love. No-one should ever be used for use, was what I was thinking of.