Exclusively yours: Keeping your lover satisfied and wanting more

So he makes you feel special (tick), you’re having a good time (tick) and you’ve stuck to the 90-day rule – as in no sex for the first 90 days (yeah right!). Next step, says the Dating Bible, is to have “The Talk”. This is the moment where you establish mutual exclusivity, where you seal the so-called deal, and apparently this needs to be done vocally (and soberly) and, short of actually signing a piece of paper, must result in absolute clarity of consensus.

Silly old me for thinking presuppositions hold sway; for simply assuming that, if you’re spending as much time together as you can, exchanging secrets, sharing intimacies and exposing vulnerabilities – in short, if you’re surrendering yourself to the magical, unnerving process of falling in love – you’re establishing exclusivity. That despite the fact that you watch as someone literally blossoms before your eyes and that you yourself are positively aglow with the blush of love, it’s still naïve to take for granted that neither of you will fool around.

Do you really need a conversation to drive home the point? Yes, says The Book. Without having The Talk you’re as good as cast adrift in an ocean of potential infidelity. No matter how unchartered your course, the spoken word provides an anchor (or a gangway, depending on how you look at it).

Now I’m not denying that there is comfort in establishing that you’re both on the same page and I’m all for unsmudged boundaries and tidy little boxes, but somehow the idea of a cast-in-stone relationship antenuptual seems almost juvenile. For one thing, it says nothing for the implicit agreement that, when two people commit to the process of discovering one another, they naturally consent to trying their damndest not to hurt each other. As if, until the words “going steady” are actually uttered, we’re still free to inflict grievous bodily harm without blame or liability for the consequences. Secondly, in a world where marriage vows are broken every day, what weight does a verbal contract really carry? And if one partner refuses to sign? What then? Continue as before? Do not pass Go? Do not collect $200?

Sure, it’s nice to hear “Baby, be my one and only” but words ring hollow if the unspoken agreement is not already there. And once it is – once you’re both speaking the same language – is articulation even necessary?

– Single-again Samantha

Single-again Samantha: Once bitten, twice shy

A snap survey of friends and colleagues reveals that many believe there must be something wrong with you if you’re a divorcee. Your partner left you because you didn’t quite cut it in some department or other, and, as a jilted bride, you’re insecure and needy. Which all makes getting divorced for the second or third or, god forbid, fourth time, downright dysfunctional then, in the eyes of these people.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no intention of getting divorced again – why would I want to put myself or my child through all of that for a second time? – but that’s not to say that I’m so afraid of marriage I run a mile when the plumber goes down onto one knee to fix a leaking faucet.

Fact is, divorcees have every reason to be more cautious when it comes to setting sail on the marital journey again. Statistics show that the second time around can be no better: only 20 per cent do not end in divorce again. I guess this has a lot to do with all the obstacles so often facing a second marriage – kids, exes, baggage.

However, I continue to have faith in the matrimonial union. I still believe that marriage is a life-long commitment, I just sometimes think God made it way because it takes a lifetime to make a successful marriage. But what’s the point of making mistakes if you don’t learn from them. The wisdom that comes with age should ensure you go into a second marriage so much better prepared for what lies ahead. And I’ve always maintained that singledom provides a great opportunity to do some serious soul searching. After all, if marriage is a gamble, it helps to play with a full deck of cards.

– Single-again Samantha