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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.


Who is that green-hued wretch in the mirror? I don't recognize her. She is a tired cliché. She is not my friend. Widowed almost two years ago at fifty-two, I'm not looking for men who've been frozen in pods since puberty or recently defected from the priesthood.


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 feel the urge to inflict hairy cyber-warts on the angelic visage of "Jazzbabe."

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.



Wildlife Sanctuary by Sarah Norris

Post-breakup, I kept strange bedfellows.
Pulling It Off by Steph Auteri

I dared myself to pose nude, but I had more to shed than clothes.
Shot in the Dark by Diane Reynolds

I wanted to be a photographer. He wanted to be seen.
The Celibate Glam Rocker's Lament by Izzy Cihak

Why I won't sleep with you.
Shazam! by Sarah Clyne Sundberg

Me and the fetish wrestlers next door.
A Life in Lips by Elizabeth Manus

Twelve men, twelve kisses.

Comments ( 19 )

commented on May 15 09 at 12:56 am
there are so many things wrong with this article i don't even know where to begin.
tsh commented on May 14 09 at 1:57 pm
i think the article is an interesting mediation on the struggle between logic and emotion. logically we know we can't ever be the center of our partner's universe; emotionally, we often want to be.
ja commented on May 14 09 at 3:17 pm
Thoughtful article with good points and an interesting point of view that's not often presented. I will re-read the next time I'm feeling jealous, it's definitely not an emotion I like! Thanks.
RB commented on May 14 09 at 3:48 pm
this is extremely annoyingly gendered for Hooksexup.
ljh commented on May 14 09 at 3:50 pm
welcome to the new Hooksexup.
JK commented on May 14 09 at 5:18 pm
"an interesting point of view that's not often presented"? this article pops up everywhere periodically. men probably cheat, it might be easier if women accept it. while i'm not agreeing or disagreeing with this premise, it's certainly not an interesting point of view that's not often presented. it's a pretty boring point of view that's over-presented and represented.
tru commented on May 14 09 at 6:19 pm
I quite liked this article. The author's wisdom and humanity were refreshing, and I think she is speaking for both men and women.
UD commented on May 14 09 at 8:56 pm
Good article, i'm really glad to see one written by an older person for a change. You guys need to do that more often.
aj commented on May 14 09 at 11:00 pm
Thank you for expressing most eloquently similar thoughts I have had on the subject.
jd commented on May 15 09 at 8:13 am
I am a patently unjealous woman. I think there are a million ways to betray someone that would be much more devasting than having sex outside the relationship. My ex-husband, my current fiance, and most of my female friends think there is something wrong with me because I don't necessarily consider "cheating" to be the ultimate dealbreaker.
Kali commented on May 15 09 at 2:50 pm
Kali commented on May 15 09 at 2:51 pm
I thought I was the only one who called it a Yoni!
commented on May 15 09 at 11:18 pm
I just wish the person who said he/she couldn't even begin to say what's wrong with the article would just "begin." I find this to be an honest, direct, intelligent, witty, funny article that treats an age old problem with fresh insight, and offers a particularly modern solution. I LMAO. Bravo!
SU commented on May 15 09 at 11:30 pm
After reading Alessandra Stanley's petty take on this topic in last Sunday's NY Times, it's refreshing to hear from someone who suggests the human heart might be bigger rather than smaller; that the measure of love has more to do with generosity than possessiveness, more about possibility than limitation. Well done. As for "yoni", that's what my german-american grandmother used to call me in my youth: "Yohnny, put dem dishes in da zink."
JA commented on May 15 09 at 11:57 pm
Susan, I'm jealous of this essay. Smart, honest, hilarious...and written by someone who's lived, i.e., not a 20-something. Thank you.
abx commented on May 18 09 at 1:18 pm
a 20-something who whole heartedly enjoyed your essay and it's wise views on sexuality and relationships. i'm happy to say that upto this point there has been no green eyed monster in my mirror! i hope to keep it this way.
DMT commented on May 18 09 at 5:50 pm
Great story, so honest. I saw myself in it and I am going to breathe in and breathe out as I whisper the last sentence of it.
le commented on Jun 01 09 at 4:22 pm
The problem discussed isn't the ACT of infidelity; it's the associated DECEIT and MISTRUST. Maybe the swingers of this world are smarter than they're given credit. As a swinger once relayed to me, regarding he and his wife's activites, "don't cheat ON me, cheat WITH me." Problem solved.
EW commented on Jun 29 09 at 1:52 pm

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