Saturday, 24 April 2010


Connor disagrees with Dee's view that it's easier if you can vet the other partners and know what's going on. In Connor's opinion open relationships only work when you are in separate cities. Yvonne works for an airline. "Out of sight, out of mind," says Connor.

Virgil and I met Connor and his girlfriend, Yvonne, through a contact site. We went on a date a couple of months ago - and still might have a foursome with them, but we haven't yet. The only definite hitch is that Yvonne has a trout pout and it weirds us out slightly, but she is from south America and I think it's a bit more normal in that culture.

Connor and I are in a similar situation work-wise, as in we do a similar thing and neither has enough work. I'm talking to him while we have coffee one morning. We're about to do a skills swap, so it's sort of professional but we're hanging out too. Connor is of the opinion that men are totally different to women in that they can happily fuck without the least bit of emotional attachment, or even much physical attraction come to that. He adds that a man will never leave the woman who will let him have sex with other people, her generosity and self-assuredness securing his everlasting adoration and commitment.

I'm not convinced. Virgil has a much more emotional, romantic perspective on sex with other people than I do. We have already had a conversation about sleepovers that illustrates this perfectly. It's a day or two after the date story breaking and we're talking about my reaction to the news. Specifically, my shouting "I fucking hate you!" before slamming the bedroom door, pacing from room to room crying, passing a mostly sleepless night, crying again in the morning (I'm back in our bed by then, generously rubbing his face in my misery) while Virgil looks stricken and confused.

"How do you think you'll handle it if I go out one evening and don't come back that night?" he asks. "What are you talking about?" I say. Virgil says quite emphatically that although he has had a couple of one-night stands in his life he almost always spends the night with people he has had sex with. He says that to not be able to do this would cramp his style severely. He points out that public transport stops at a certain time. "You didn't sleep with me the first time we had sex," I counter, "Even though I invited you to. You came round on a Sunday afternoon; we went to bed; you left at nine. Sex can happen at any time of day. It doesn't have to be late in the evening."

I recoil at the thought that Virgil would want to actually sleep with another partner. That kind of affectionate intimacy is something I save for special. I love the warm entanglement of Virgil at night and the cuddles we have. "What, you have sex with someone and then get up and leave?" he asks, somewhat unnecessarily. Of course I do. That's normal when you're having casual sex, isn't it? I am pretty sure that is what most people do. Virgil finds that sterile, perfunctory and a bit sordid. He says that he doesn't want to have that kind of sex and that sex without romance is empty and unexciting.

"What do you mean by romance?" we ask each other. I could scream with frustration. I feel like I know nothing anymore. I can't even explain myself anymore. I know what I mean when I say romance. I know when I feel romantic about someone and I know when I don't. Virgil says that, barring sex parties and orgies, almost everyone he has ever had sex with has registered somewhere on a scale of romance. I imagine a fairground test-your-strength game, where you hit a bell with a hammer and it sends a marker shooting up a pole. That's not me: I have two scales. Romance either is or isn't there. It's a qualitative shift, not a question of degree.

Virgil is driving a hard bargain.

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