LIZ JONES: Want to know why men cheat? Just have a look in the mirror
Hackers released details of those who signed up to cheating website Ashley Madison last week
The hackers did what they promised last week, and released the details of those signed up to ‘discreet’ (now there’s a misnomer) cheating website Ashley Madison – which has the slogan, ‘Life is short: have an affair’ – caused much excitement in the press. It was mooted that perhaps men had signed up just to talk, or to see what all the fuss was about.
Another line of defence for those outed was that perhaps pranksters had used others’ email addresses, so the advice, if you saw your name published, was to deny, deny, deny.
Experts wrote that these days infidelity isn’t the taboo it once was. That the internet hadn’t fuelled affairs, but had merely facilitated an existing desire.
That’s all very well. But what no one really examined was that maybe men are cheating for one very good reason. Us. Women in long-term relationships.
We are just awful! We are only appreciative of and loving towards men when forced: due to financial dependency, children who need supporting, functions that need attending.
Behind the scenes, though, men know we are sniping at their shortcomings.
I only know one woman who has a good word to say about her partner, and even she told me over dinner that her husband, when instructed to book a mini break, got the dates mixed up – so when they arrived at the hotel it was fully booked and they had to decamp to a B&B.
I don’t know one woman who isn’t in charge. There is even one of us in the new Jonathan Franzen novel: a feminist who insists that her husband urinates sitting down.
All of which doesn’t make for great sex, which is why women escape to books like Fifty Shades Of Grey, and men cheat.
Women don’t cheat as much – although married women certainly subscribe to that website – mainly because we are too busy bossing everyone else around, doing big supermarket shops, and making cakes, thinking baking renders us warm and fluffy, then endlessly demanding praise and thanks.
When my husband cheated on me, I blamed him entirely. I wasn’t jealous, exactly: I felt a frustrating lack of control, and incredulity that anyone else would find him (penniless, lazy) attractive. I threw him out of the house, divorced him, and didn’t give him a penny.
He had to slope off to a basement bedsit in Camden with rats. I think he’s now back living with his parents.
The leaked details from Ashley Madison – which has the slogan, ‘Life is short: have an affair’ – caused much excitement in the press
His career didn’t do too well after we split up, not because he wasn’t clever and talented, but because I was a colossus, straddling the media. When he wrote a piece about me in the Evening Standard, I phoned the editor who commissioned him and yelled: ‘Just back off, OK! Back right off!’
But, really, what man would want to have wild sex with a woman who, when he pours non-organic milk on her muesli, yells at him from the garden.
Or who tells him not to use the shower for 24 hours after the cleaner has been, as ‘I paid her good money to get rid of your water marks’.
Or steals his sperm. Or fills the fridge with so much food he becomes fat. Or writes in the national press about his ‘male-pattern cellulite’.
'"Love god! Sex animal! Clapham, seeks tireless, submissive bimbo..." That's not you, is it?'
But it’s hard to relinquish power once you have it. Then it becomes a game of pretend. We’ve all done it. I still do it. ‘Do you want to drive? Do you know the way, because I don’t. Can you park for me, I’m terrible at reversing.’
When my boyfriend tried to help me by fetching logs, I told him off for carrying the wicker basket to the garage, as ‘you will make it lose its shape’.
This is why men cheat: it’s revenge. I also believe male desire is stronger than female desire. I need all the stars to be aligned in order to make love: me groomed, bed linen fresh, no work the next day, nothing on telly – while a man will have a go even when we’ve just told him off for leaving a light or his socks on.
On Friday, this email landed in my inbox from my nephews. It told me I am not invited to their mum’s funeral, which takes place on August 28. It was my late sister’s express wish that I not attend. She wanted to dedicate Cry Me A River to me instead. Her sons know I helped her in person, acting as guarantor, paying for rehab, visiting her the last time she was in hospital – but they agree I shouldn’t have called her an alcoholic while she was alive, or written a piece about her death just two days after it happened. And for that, I apologise.
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