I am constantly surprised by how naïve/conservative people can be.

Shockingly, this is not to be a post about the in-laws. Rather, it is about a few recent conversations with friends.

For example, I was at lunch with a friend I shall call Ginseng and she began talking about an argument she had with her current boyfriend on the basis of a drunken conversation with a couple of people over the weekend. (yes – there are many circles of ‘conversations’ here but bear with me – at least I’m not ranting). She said, in a totally shocked voice, that some random guy she had met at a bar had told her that he believed ‘that sex and love are totally separate’ and that when she discussed this with her boyfriend, he said he felt the same way.

Now, Ginseng is probably a decade older than me and has travelled the world so I am shocked that she can be shocked about this. I mean, doesn’t everybody know that sex and love can be separate and that men especially are want to live this mantra as much as possible?

Ginseng went on the elaborate that what these guys were telling her about was sexual experimentation such as having orgies or watching their wife have sex with nine men (I personally feel this is a bit of an urban legend because I wonder how easy it is to recruit nine men to have sex with one’s wife. I mean I’m sure there would be willing candidates but just going about soliciting them – keeping in mind the need for discretion – might be tricky). Ginseng was shocked and disgusted that these people exist around her.

My take is – how does it matter as long as they’re not hurting anybody? Of course, it’s another matter than I don’t actually believe that these practices can be undertaken without anybody getting hurt. Not just physically (I mean, NINE guys?) but emotionally.

The crux of her problem, it turned out, was that her boyfriend and the other guys were saying something on the lines of ‘if we sleep with women other than our wives, it’s perfectly natural and doesn’t mean that we don’t love our wives because it’s only sex’. My point is – yes, it’s perfectly natural to want to sleep with people other than your partner and while I agree on principle that a man may want to/and is likely to go out and have an affair and it could just be about sex so I should not let it affect me, the fact is I don’t think I could handle it. In my head would always lurk the question – what is it about me that is lacking that he went to someone else? (of course the answer in all probably would be just ‘variety’, that I am ‘not somebody else’). I think there are few people who could honestly handle there committed partner sleeping with someone else without it fucking them up in some way. If Simone de Beauvoir went through mental anguish over it, as her diaries reveal, what of us lesser mortals?

So my rule with my partner is – while I perfectly understand that you may have fantasies about sleeping with other women, keep them to yourself and also do not act upon them. Because you are enjoying the perks of marriage or a committed relationship, which is someone to come back all the time, and hey, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Anyway, it later turned out that Ginseng’s boyfriend had cheated on her. Huh! So much for me thinking I was a truly wise and insightful person and considering chucking journalism to study psychology. I swear I actually thought that.

* * *

My other conversation was with a friend who is worried about her current job because it is in shifts and it’s not possible to be married and have children and work in shifts because all her married friends have told her that they come home and hardly sleep for an hour and then wake up and have to make their children breakfast and I am thinking… huh? What are their husbands doing? And if you go into marriage thinking like this, you will be bullied into cooking and bowing and scraping around your in-laws for the rest of your life. And then it turns out she cannot even cook dal.

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