Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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The Independent Online

I started to wonder if the whole feminist movement had been some kind of cruel hoax when I heard my ex-boyfriend Shaun announce the following at his engagement party this week: "Women want to marry to have someone to talk to. Men just want someone who will shut up."

I first dated Shaun when I arrived in London and had no friends and no money. Things went wrong when I started to become more successful. He couldn't handle "having a girlfriend who is so ambitious," which basically meant he wasn't happy seeing a girl who wasn't willing to quit her job and spend her days scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush.

While the assumption that a girl who is passionate about her job should be condemned to a future of watching Trisha in a tracksuit makes my blood boil - at the time, I was devastated. Incidentally, he's marrying his PA, who is utterly devoted - and completely dependent - on him.

I'm happy that he's happy and, of course, respect any woman's choice to stay at home. But his dinner-table diatribe left me cold, because I'm about to have my first date with Luke, a very successful entrepreneur whose ex-wife gave up her career to run the household. Will he expect the same from me?

Last week, American editor Michael Noer wrote in Forbes magazine that men were fundamentally unhappier in marriages to career women who earn more than they do. Noer's biggest revelation was that men are afraid high-flying women will cheat on them; the same problem that women married to successful men have had for decades. Meanwhile, researchers here have concluded that British men want to marry their mums. Apparently, smart men with demanding jobs would rather have old-fashioned wives, like their mums, than equals - and having a high IQ hampers a woman's chances of getting married. Maybe, instead of moaning about their partner's success, men should raise their own game.

My friend Victoria's boyfriend says that he is incredibly proud of her career as a high-flying marketing executive. "We've been together three years and I haven't been bored for a second!" I've always believed that being creative and satisfied in the boardroom translates into the bedroom. As my job has got hotter, so too has my sex life.

Back at the dinner party, I wondered why I had ever wasted my time worrying about Shaun. Any guy so insecure that he has to date a girl with the personality of a lampshade is not someone I want to be with anyway. I felt sorry for her as well, because he kept making fun of her.

Walking home, I drunk-dialled Luke and asked him if he found me too intimidating. He laughed. "Hell no. I find your passion for your life and work one of the sexiest things about you. And remember my ex-wife, is my EX-wife" I'm really looking forward to a date with someone who will hopefully stimulate my cerebrum as well as my clitoris. I want to be his sex kitten, not his secretary.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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