Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

It's a fine line between hot sex and guilty sex
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The Independent Online

"Cat, hey, you're looking hot as ever!" he yelled, snapping several shots and looking down my top. "And you've still got great tits."

Fortunately, a friend of mine approached, saving me from admitting the ugly truth: I'd slept with the photographer, on and off, for one summer eight years ago. Despite his annoying personality, he was amazing in bed.

I'm not the only one who finds that sometimes the men who get me most excited are the ones I feel least comfortable taking to a cocktail party. There was the bald tattooed bartender, and the ex I continued to drunk-dial for booty calls even after he told me he didn't want a girlfriend.

Sometimes, channelling my secret slut side feels like the 3am trip to the kebab shop that leaves me bloated, with lamb juice all over me - deliciously satisfying, but slightly guilt-inducing and definitely not appropriate in public.

My chums gave me many reasons for hiding after-hours liaisons: their conquests may be married, twice their age or, in one case, still living with his mum at 37. Liz, a travel agent who wears pearls and twin sets to work, normally dates high-flying executive types. But she confesses that, on lonely nights, she picks up her "shag buddy" - the Turkish guy from the chip shop.

My friend Victoria shuddered as she described her "coyote shag" - a short accountant at her company. "I took him home after about two bottles of vodka at the Christmas party and didn't tell anyone about it," she says. "Then, when he told someone at work that we kissed, I completely denied it and laughed. I still feel a little guilty, but I didn't want my friends giving me a hard time about something that wasn't going to last."

It all highlights the fine line between hot sex and guilty sex. My friends claim to stay quiet because they don't want to be judged, but often they are judging themselves.

Over cocktails, my friend Michael confessed: "I met this crazy girl who wanted me to do all these insanely kinky things to her, so we hooked up a few times - always after midnight - at my place," he said. "The sex was mind-blowing, but I had to end it when she tried to attack me with a claw hammer after she thought I'd lost her mobile."

According to Michael, men don't feel guilty about keeping dodgy hook-ups to themselves. "Girls have this thing about confessing everything and being honest, but would your boyfriend tell you about the time he woke up at some girl's house and her husband showed up? It's just too much information."

Still, I took a chance when Andrew walked me home. I casually mentioned the photographer again. "To be honest, I slept with him once in 1997," I said. "Not exactly my finest hour."

He took my hand and laughed. "Well, he certainly seemed fixated on you," he said. "So if I sleep with you, are you going to affect my life a decade from now?"

I smiled and kissed him. "Shall we go upstairs and find out?"