Two years out of a mentally abusive marriage, I find I’m always looking for casual sex. I want to be loved, so why do I always end up dumping men?
Casual sex is not something that women can readily admit to because blatant double standards celebrate males who put it about as ‘studs’, while females with higher than average partner quotas are condemned as ‘sluts’.
Despite the fact that condoms and contraception mean that sensible women can protect themselves from the side-effects of casual sex (increased risk of infection, unwanted pregnancy), women who go through more than a couple of partners in a year have a much more difficult time protecting their self-esteem.
In reality, casual sex is a complete misnomer.
Most women are not casual about sex at all and only a tiny minority enter into sexual liaisons with the express intention of never seeing the person again.
If a girl meets a guy, and she likes him enough to go to bed with him, she generally hopes that it might lead to . . . (sigh) . . . a relationship, which might turn into true love . . . (deep breath) . . . which might turn into marriage and babies.
Books such as The Rules, by Ellen Fein (Warner Books), suggest the best way to achieve this is to wait until you get ‘the ring’ before you agree to have sex but, when there is more than a decade between you and your virginity, tactical celibacy is pointless.
In the real world, contemporary dating, particularly among the over-30s, is a cut-throat business.
Turnover is a lot higher than it was when Barbara Cartland was a girl and a woman who makes herself sexually unavailable is likely to find herself erased from the little black book.
So, don’t beat yourself up about having casual sex.
In reality, you probably entered into each and every one of those liaisons hoping you would find the love you say that you are looking for.
Instead, you should congratulate yourself on being independent enough not to settle for a compromised relationship just for the sake of having a partner.
That you managed to leave your abusive ex-husband shows strength, too.
Don’t worry about dumping men either. They’ll survive.
Do consider bolstering your confidence with a course of cognitive behaviour therapy.
This is a talking therapy that is much more interactive than psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or counselling.
Patients are asked to do homework — writing letters to your past, keeping a diary of your present or setting out goals for your future — and treatment is fast: a maximum of 16 one-hour sessions.
It would help you to put your past into context and understand how you can change the way you think and behave to help you function better.
The National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies maintains a register of qualified practitioners see www.nacbt.ie
You can also boost your sense of self-esteem by improving your physical fitness and investing in your appearance.
You could join a gym, a yoga class, a rambling association or a running club and, if you could do with losing weight, I can personally recommend WeightWatchers.
To broaden your social horizons, try getting involved in group activities.
You could join a pottery classs, or do some voluntary work.
Keep yourself busy and concentrate on all the good stuff in your life and you will, eventually, find the love that you really do deserve.
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