Not a week goes by when one of my friends, my rather fantastic, very attractive and wildly successful single friends, won’t lament the lack of decent men in New York City. It has often been noted that it would be easier to go back to the days of Downton when all such things were dealt with years earlier. But sadly we live in the age of online dating and casual sex rather than arranged marriages and nary an exposed ankle out on the town on a Saturday night. So when there’s a dearth of potential partners to take to the farmer’s market every Saturday and pay over the odds for organic kale, what is a girl to do when it comes to certain needs that must be fulfilled?
We officially have a problem. The generations that went before didn’t do what we have done. They married younger, they had families in their twenties and if the marriage ended in divorce, they either remarried relatively quickly or stayed single and presumably, somewhat frustrated. And while it might not seem like it, my generation has suffered. We suffered the luxury of choice. We had the choice to get married or not get married, to have kids or wait a while. All well and good but what happens when you’re 32, not in a long-term relationship and you want to get laid? All of my friends have, at some point, had serious relationships and I can’t imagine this is news to anyone but there isn’t a single virgin amongst us (unless someone is a big fibber and I very much doubt it), it’s not as if we don’t know what we’re missing. And in case that’s not clear enough, what we’re missing is a convenient and reliable penis.
So what do you do? The dating game in New York is full of rules and politics when it comes to dropping trou. If you like a guy, you’re supposed to wait until the third date at the very least. Professional matchmakers and relationship experts like my friend, Amy Laurent, say eight weeks. Patti Stanger from Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, says no putting out until monogamy. It’s a grand plan and maybe it will help sort the shit hot wheat from the crappy chaff but dear god it’s hard sometimes. You’re on a date, you’re with a man, there is booze, there is kissing and is it so weird to want to get laid? Obviously it’s OK if you’re a man, actually it’s more than OK, it’s expected. You’re just sowing wild oats, being one of the boys. But when a woman wants to be one of the boys, for all our talk of sexual equality, it’s still frowned upon and not just by men, by other women too. That’s the heartbreaker for me. A grown woman with a successful career and $1000 handbag can still get called a slag by her girlfriends just because she wants to get some on a Friday night.
Between us, my friends and I have been through every scenario you can think of. Between us we’ve had friends with benefits, serial one night stands, sex with the ex and serial monogamy – because it’s not a one night stand if you convince yourself you’re in love every time right? I do know women who would be classified as a ‘Samantha’ and while they’re having sex on the regular, I can’t hand on heart say they’re any happier in their single status than anyone else. While having a warm body in your bed might be comforting for a moment, is it really anything more than a very elaborate wank? If Ann Summers could work out a way to combine an orgasmatron head massager with the Rabbit, would any of us bother with a one nighter? It’s hard to see why you’d risk any number of STDs (New York has a terrifying amount of herpes flying about and that shit’s for life) just to get a disappointing shag. Of course, for a lot of women there’s the hope or at least passing fancy that it could turn into something else. Stranger things have happened and it has happened to me so I can confirm it isn’t just an urban legend. It’s just rare. Personally, I’ve always been terrible at sex for sport. Call me an old romantic but I can’t separate the physical from the emotional, for better or for worse. And honestly, it mostly feels like it’s for the very, very worst. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I haven’t tried it. In the last couple of years, I’ve given one night stands the old college try, I really have. One resulted in a ridiculously messy and emotionally destructive transatlantic affair that still twists the knife when I think of what might have been. Another ended in me gently explaining to the chap that we probably weren’t going to get married while he threw up all over my bathroom floor. He asked me to brunch the next day, I politely declined.
My most spectacular failure came almost almost year ago and dear god, it was a corker. I always thought my biggest problem with in and out hook ups was that, if I liked someone enough to let them put it in me, I liked them enough to oh, I don’t know, go for coffee? So, fresh off the back of an impressively horrible and protracted break up, I decided to change my tactics. I hadn’t had sex in nearly four months and spring having sprung, that had to change before my vagina sealed over. Enter stage left, the very handsome, very clever, older, wiser, complete cad. Who I hated on sight. It really was impressive, I literally loathed him, couldn’t stand to be in the same room as him. And then, half-way through a glass (cough, bottle) of wine with my girlfriends, I realised it was because I was stupidly, insanely, break the bed in two attracted to him. So, once I sobered up, I put a plan into action and before I knew it, I had a date. And not just any date, a sex date. I was going to get on a train, travel an hour out of the city on a Saturday night to meet him for ‘a drink’. It was so innocent, I had a change of underwear and a toothbrush in my bag. My friends were by turns, shocked, appalled and delighted. The smart money was on me being home in my Brooklyn bed, alone, by midnight. The smart money was wrong.
Glossing over the actual antics, the plan was successful. Too successful. The sex was amazing, I still couldn’t bear him and when I got the train back to New York the next morning, I met my friends for brunch, toasted with celebratory margaritas and swore I would never speak of it again. Of course, it’s ten months later and I’ve just got of a flight to LA to visit the self-same cad. As Jenny Lewis sort of once said, ‘talking leads to touching and touching leads to sex.’ What she didn’t bother to mention was that sex leads to more sex leads to more sex leads to more talking leads to actually starting to give a shit leads to sort of accidentally falling completely in love with someone you can’t have. As you can see, I’m not very good at one night stands.
Without wanting to overshare (despite the fact that is the main point of this column) my number remains very low. Single numbers low. Only just but still. I always thought it was an active choice but just late, it’s become wildly apparent the only reason I’ve failed to maintain more bedpost than notch is because I can’t have sex like a man. I totally envy the girls who can eye a man across the bar and see multiple orgasms rather than the father of her future children but the idea of sleeping with someone then giving them a slap on the arse the next morning as you shut the door leaves me cold. And that’s just it, I’m not cold, I’m still warm. I’m still hopeful, still optimistic. I still believe. Honestly, never ever take up romance writing for a living…