I’m having a chat with my friend Diane about working abroad when she makes a dramatic announcement. “I’d be off like a shot,” she says, “And what about your boyfriend?” I ask casually. She looks at me blankly as if to say, “What about him?”
Diane has been seeing her boyfriend Anthony for about three years and yet without scarcely a second thought, she’s willing to skip the country and wave goodbye to her “significant” other. Welcome to the wonderful world of love lite. Tired of the dating game, many women have chosen to disengage their hearts and have purely physical relationships with men.
They want physical intimacy but without the ties of a conventional, long-term relationship. Bed and breakfast, yes; full board, no thanks.
“There’s definitely a trend towards having sex with Mr Make-do while waiting for Mr Right,” says my friend Anna. “It’s because there aren’t enough good men out there and women like me won’t put up with any old rubbish just for the sake of companionship. Times have changed,” she adds.
“We don’t have to do that anymore.” Susan agrees: “I have a lot of guys around me,” she says. “I don’t have a big-time relationship, but that’s not a big deal for me because I’m enjoying my life.”
For growing numbers of women, love lite seems to be par for the course. The alternative seems to be drifting along in an unsatisfactory relationship and settling down to a life of all-too familiar domesticity – Argos and the supermarket on Saturdays, DIY stores on Sundays. It’s shacking up with Mr Make-do because you can’t find Mr Right.
Some simply can’t face being single – or can’t afford to be. London’s property prices make it almost impossible to live on your own unless you earn mega bucks. It makes breaking up that much harder to do when you consider you’ll have to hunt for an affordable house or apartment.
Still, the idea that women can only enjoy sex within the boundaries of a steady relationship is a myth. Women, like men, don’t need to be in love to enjoy sex but the social implications for women who make it known they enjoy “casual encounters” are still tricky . There’s still something not quite right about a woman owning up to lust without love. Double standards still exist
– it’s okay for men to have a “quickie” but single women still have their “good names” to consider, whatever that means, and must keep their legs crossed till the right man comes along. Unfortunately, they could be waiting a long time.
But why toe the good girl line and pretend that your libido has gone underground just because a relationship isn’t on the cards? Part-time loving could be an inevitable stage in the sexual evolution.
Women of the Noughties have higher expectations of life than previous generations and more money to boot. Our increased economic power means we have the confidence to follow our impulses. Now that we don’t need to be buoyed up by a man financially, we have the freedom to think about what suits us. Getting wed just to escape life in the single lane is a fast fading option. If that means part-time loving, then so be it.