I'm not the jealous type. I'm an authentic fatalist, the rare woman who accepts that sex happens, under a variety of predictable and unpredictable circumstances, in defiance of existing attachments, loyalties, vows or other claims to virtue. After all, we who are sexually alive gravitate toward others who are in the game. What's to be gained by succumbing to, or worse, acting on sexual jealousy? Evolved, confident women like me can only hope the uniqueness of our connection to our partners dulls their appetite for others.
I want to commune with available, presumably sexually active men who are likely to have lingering entanglements, men who, as one online profile put it, are "young enough to still want to do it and old enough to know how to do it right." But I'm discovering I am not as cool a customer as I think I am. It takes a tough hide indeed to venture online. Check out the competi I mean our sister-women's — online personals on this website. When I did so I was reminded of how as children, my brother and I used to amuse ourselves by blacking out teeth and erasing the eyeballs of every person in every photograph in the Sunday Times. Shamefully, I feel a similar urge to inflict a hairy cyber-wart on the angelic visages of "Willow23" and "Jazzbabe." And these women are not idiots. (They are, invariably and disproportionately, filmmakers.)
Not long ago I met someone I actually respect, laugh with, and crave. What are the odds? If after only a few conjugal trysts this man were to declare his exclusive, undying devotion to me I'd be terrified. Half of our — my — closet is still filled with my late husband's sport jackets. At the same time I have lately acquired a carefree bounce to my step knowing that for the first time in my adult life I have to answer to no one. The new guy is not a monk.
I know the answer to "if," but I know better than to ask "who." We live hours apart. What's the difference? There may be dating sites populated by people who really do want largely to "cuttle" (I saw this on Match), or to treat a woman like a "princes." But we are dealing here with grownups who, while looking ultimately for love (who isn't?), are momentarily wanting companionship. This is to say, sex. I love to cuddle, too. Conveniently, I have two dogs.
When jealousy encroaches on my otherwise-rational self, I remind that self that I've been doing some misbehavin' of my own. I also hold back plenty, mostly to protect myself, but also to give this new relationship room to breathe, like a freshly uncorked bottle of wine. But if the new guy is less than forthcoming about the baggage he carries, the green-eyed monster rears its unclassy, uncool head. I know this is one of those times I should cover my mouth with invisible duct tape.
Or I can resort to the humor that sustained my long marriage. My husband loved women and they loved him back. In the beginning I assured myself that this was a good thing, far preferable to the opposite. Deeper into the marriage, when he'd mention making a lunch date with a new friend — say, a woman he'd met at the gym, I'd reply, "Oh, that's nice. If it works out, bring her home and I'll teach her how to make your turkey meatloaf." Admittedly, I was only unflappable in this department because these women weren't threats (if they were, he would've lied, right, guys?) and because my possessiveness was tempered by my increasing difficulty imagining that anyone would want to steal a man who occasionally threw temper tantrums and spent two hours a day on the toilet. "You DO NOT want a new husband," a woman friend tells me emphatically and often.