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Sex and attachment: Why women can't have sex like men


Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in Sex And The City

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in Sex And The City

Getty Images

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in Sex And The City

"Its just sex!" she insisted. "We have nothing in common! I don't even fancy him, have you seen him? He's in bits!"

She was scoffing, so much so that little bits of saliva had begun to gather at the sides of her mouth in protest. Between that and the curly blow dry she'd just gotten for the man she apparently didn't give a rats about, she looked like a bearded collie with rabies.

I was nodding, but in a very patronising way that implied I knew she was full of sh*te. The conversation was happening with such regularity that I could set my watch by it.

She was lying, of course. I knew it, she knew it, and the 18-year-old bar-child mashing mint into our mojitos knew it too. Colonel Christopher Hadfield, were he still swinging out of space above us, would have been squinting down into Damson Diner sniggering "would ye G'WAN outta that! Even I can see you're full of sh*t!"

But why was my dear friend lying? Badly? Pride, that's why, because she'd gone back on her word, because her lady brain had deceived her, because she had done what she swore she would never ever do - she'd only gone and fallen deeply, madly in love, with her sex buddy.

Women believe they can sleep with men and not get attached to them, but I believe that this is, in fact a delusion. Lads can do it, we women can't - well, we can't do it well, anyway. Not because we're desperate, or because they spray out a hypnotic fragrance every time you walk past them like some sort of seductive Man-Wick, but because we're just wired differently to them. It's basic science, but more in an anecdotal, I know what I'm talking about kind of way.

For example, I recently compromised myself by accepting a dinner invite from a man half my size. I'm not talking 'Oh! He's a little 'short' isn't he?'. I'm talking full on Smurf material. Had we ever attended the cinema together, the rows behind us would have assumed I was there alone.

He was unimpressive in appearance, with few redeeming qualities, and a body odour not totally dissimilar to that shit you used to lash in your hair to kill nits. He'd been pursuing me for years and having continually spurned his advances (with one palm pressed down against his forehead) I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday with an entirely fresh outlook on men.

With zero opportunity to meet new ones, on account of living in Dublin, (the city that claims a population of 1.5 million but everyone knows there are in fact 11 people living here, six of whom have emigrated to Vancouver) I began mentally raking over the men I've met, visualising all these teeny tiny man heads popping up through the leaves of my life and getting stuck in the metal prods of my memories. It was all desperately autumnal; actually it was just desperate. Most men that I'd met in my life had to be kicked off into the hedge on account of pre-existing marriages, personality disorders or potential steroid addictions.

Eventually miniature Matt, let's call him, popped up through the foliage, and instead of sweeping him away, I was brought back to a night out where he'd told a funny joke. I'd laughed. I was sure of it. Was Matt hilarious? A hilarious guy who wanted to take me out? What the hell was I waiting for? I should grab the bull by the horns, seize the day, life is for living, YOLO, etc. (All terms learnt from overly eager Tinder profiles).

And you never know, I told myself, maybe he'll wear those magic shoes like Tom Cruise, with a large heel secretly stowed in the sole, and we'll meet face to face.

By the second time I'd slipped out of his queen sized bed and on to the bus, I was hooked. Within weeks I became entirely blind to his pint-sized status. To me, he became just like Vin Diesel, if Vin wore pleather waistcoats.

Five months in, he dumped me. During the obligatory 'it's not you, it's me' conversation (translation: it's entirely me and not him at all) he began to shrink in front of my very eyes, like little Alice in Wonderland minus the blue dress and the promiscuity. As he spoke, the torso of his tall man shell cracked open and out walked mini Matt, small and withered, delivering the sad news of our demise directly to my navel, in a voice that sounded helium induced, and a bit crap.

It was a sobering situation. One in which I felt obliged to remind him that he was in fact HALF MY BLOODY SIZE. Yet he continued to address me as if he was a man of human sized stature. I couldn't believe it. How had this Shetland pony won me over so easily? How quickly the situation had changed, and if that was so easy, who else was I capable of attaching myself to?

I recently heard of a similar story involving a girl that got swept up in an unlikely pairing. When she spoke, (which she did, always) it was as if a south side DORT had de-railed and was now travelling around the inside of her mouth. Cut her open and she'd bleed that weird foamy shit that Ugg boots are made of. In contrast, he rarely spoke at all, and when he did, it was only to address his mates as 'me ol' flower' and talk about his upbringing in a house partially made of tin. It was just sex, she said, but it didn't take long. Within weeks she'd fallen for him, her afternoons spent fantasising about all the cosy conversations they might potentially have if he ever actually spoke.

She continued to drive over to his flat, night in night out, with nothing more than a post coital burrito the topic of conversation. Then one night, as they rolled away from each other, she noticed his Paul Weller inspired fringe stuck to his forehead. She reached over to push it back out of his eyes, in her mind, tenderly offering him the gift of sight, and he slapped her hand away with his saying 'Ah here! Don't you go falling in love with me now'. You can imagine the sting, especially as that's exactly what she'd gone and done.

She claims she would have driven home immediately in a car full of mortification had it not been for the five West Coast Coolers she'd had earlier. To this day she credits Paul Weller lite with opening her eyes to the reality of their situation. It had not changed, but her feelings had, because that is her genetic make up.

I've no doubt there are all sorts of caveman reasons for this sexually induced attachment issue that most females suffer from. Believe me, I've been known to buy bras based solely on their flammability, but this is just one of those facts we can't move away from, and why should we? Is it anti-feminist to admit that in sleeping with someone regularly, we get attached? Or is it sexist to insinuate that men don't? I'll accept that neither are a strict rule and there are always exceptions. But it seems to me that women attach harder, better, faster, stronger in these casual fling type situations.

Sure look at Geordie Shore - story with your man Gary and his chronic inability to STOP SHAGGING OTHER WOMEN even though lovely girls genuinely like him? And look at that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie tries to have sex "like a man", fails miserably and ends up in the back of Big's limo, cruising down Fifth Avenue with love hearts popping out of her eyes on stylish stalks.

So what if it means our evenings are spent hitting refresh on some veritable stranger's Facebook page, and who cares if we fool ourselves into believing that this man means nothing to us, while we book ourselves in for a billion curly blow drys and a trillion spinning classes and secretly doodle his name all over our own legs. It doesn't make us weak. It just means we give a shit, and sure there's nothing wrong with that.

Joanne is appearing in Singlehood this weekend at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Irish Independent