'There are websites for people like you...'
The clue should have been when Siobhan texted asking where I got my laser hair removal done and whether it hurt.
I texted her back with the answers, a bit surprised since she’s never been especially bothered about hairiness. Not that she’s a yeti - far from it - just that she’s quite open about not bothering to shave her legs in winter and only getting a bikini wax for holidays
But I didn’t give it another thought until we got together over half term and I remembered to ask her whether she went for it, which she had. A bit wistfully she told me about all the women in the beauty clinic who were there for Other Things, mainly botox and fillers. Suddenly her eyes had been opened to the reality of what half the women of our age are up to. Siobhan has always been completely against’ injecting poison’ into her face but now it seemed as if she might be about to do bit of a U-turn…
I narrowed my eyes. 'What’s happened?', I asked jokingly. 'You’re not having an affair are you?'
'No. But I might be about to.'
Siobhan, 44, who has been with Oliver for nearly twenty years and married to him for over fifteen of them, has 'met someone'.
These days if you stick with somebody for nearly twenty years, it means something surely. Staying in an unhappy relationship for that long is a thing of the past - you would think. And yet for the last ten years, probably longer, she has endlessly considered leaving him, worn down by his controlling behaviour, his negativity and his capacity for sulking. At the beginning I was more supportive. These days I just listen, since there’s nothing left to say.
When you see them together, most of the time they seem to get along. Then again, nobody except my sister knew how miserable I was with my ex - it’s not hard to put on a show when there are other people around.
Siobhan tells me that she had been thinking (yet again) about the possibility of leaving Oliver and wondering (yet again) how it would work financially, when she met a guy through work - she has a job which doesn’t often put available men her way.
His eyes were hanging out on stalks apparently. The affair has now progressed to emailing, a text from him in plain view of her entire family which luckily she noticed first (she’s got a lot to learn when it comes to mobile phones and affairs) and a snog, which she told me was a bit disappointing. Likewise the conversation, which was okay, but didn’t totally sparkle.
Though she hasn’t slept with him yet, the idea of being wanted by another man has kick-started her sex drive, which has had the knock on effect of reigniting her sex life with Oliver. Ironic isn’t it? In fact, she actually admitted that if she compares the two men, it’s Oliver who comes out on top and that she would never leave him for the new man. So all’s well that ends well you might think. Meeting this guy has made her look at her husband through new eyes and realise how lucky she is.
Except that’s not the end of the story. The thing is, apart from a brief fling in her twenties, she’s only ever had sex with Oliver and however much Mr New might not be the one, she’s suddenly woken up to the possibility that, when it comes to playing the field, time is running out. It no longer feels like the problem is her marriage exactly, it’s the reality of only ever having had one sexual partner.
Time isn’t running out as far as I’m concerned, even at our age - but I do understand that in terms of her confidence, how she feels about herself, her sudden curiosity about sex with other men feels a bit behind schedule. As someone who has had lots of relationships I’ve always wondered how it felt to have slept with one person. I sympathise with her. And yet isn’t this a classic mid life crisis, the kind men are often slated for?
There are websites for people like you, I told her. For people in long term relationships that just want to have fun. She looks at me, appalled.