Sunday, 24 February 2013

The keys to the toybox

I meet Amanda for dinner. We haven't seen each other alone for ages. When she asks why I'm not having my usual strawberry milkshake I explain that I'm off sugar for sexual health reasons. I order a cheeseburger, make a face and say that I've been getting infections.

Amanda nods sagely: 'Well that happens when you sleep with new people. Who have you been sleeping with?'

No flies on Amanda, although she's wrong. I beam because now I can pretend that I have to tell her because she asked: 'Well actually I have been sleeping with someone new but that's not what caused it. It was those antibiotics I had to take last year.'

'So who is it?' asks Amanda, who knows everyone.
'Jay Jones,' I say, grinning. 'I know he's your Facebook friend. Do you know him in real life too?'

I have the satisfaction of watching Amanda's eyes widen as the penny drops and she says, 'Oh! You mean Jay, who's so lovely and gorgeous. He has girls hanging off him and he should be conceited but he doesn't even seem to realise.'

I feel the pride of ownership, or maybe just squatters' rights, but whatever. I crow: 'Yes he is lovely – and really hot. How well do you know him? Have you two..?'

It's a reasonable question but it turns out that Amanda actually knows Jay through his old flatmate. (Jay tells me later that he witnessed it in a taxi they all shared one evening.)

Amanda has seen me through some really rough open relationship times. She's taken me out to dinner on nights when Virgil has been with Sarah and I've needed a friend to help occupy my mind. She knows how it's been and now she's pleased for me.

'I've had so much of the shit side of an open relationship,' I say. 'I'm really delighted to be getting the good side for a change. It's amazing having sex with a new person. It really takes the pressure off between me and Virgil too. Sometimes recently Virgil has wanted sex and I haven't been bothered!'

This is something else we share. Amanda and her partner Alex have sex maybe once a month. They've only been together for a year and a half. Apparently it's Alex who can't get into it.

Who says that men are more desirous of sex than women? I don't think it's true. I can name straight off three close girlfriends in LTRs who found either that their men went off sex with them entirely (two of those relationships ended) or (like me and Amanda) that we simply want sex more, and more often, and (to be honest) for longer, than our partners.

I know she's done it before so I say, 'Can you open things up? At least you could go and have sex with other people.' Amanda looks confounded and shakes her head. He won't. We've talked about it. I really love him and the last thing I want is to split up but it's frustrating. I told him: "It's not fair to lock the toybox and then refuse to play." He says he wants to go back to how we were at the beginning but doesn't know how.'

It's hard to know what to say. I fought hard against solo adventures and it has been so hard. Even now, should things fizzle with Jay I'll be really sad, I know it, and in the meantime Virgil goes on seeing Sarah... but I can now at least understand how having an open relationship really can be really good and healthy in a long-term situation.

And getting-to-know-you sex with a new person is something that everyone should get to experience at least once in a while. It's sweet, even though it leaves me wanting more ;)

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