Monday 28th March
Firstly let me state that I have never had a mistress. I once had two girlfriends at the same time; at first I thought I had won the pools but in a very short time it turned into a nightmare; the lies, the deception – when I suspect that they both knew I was being unfaithful. Thankfully that only lasted a few weeks, and I really wonder how some men can carry on two lives at the same time. Double the stress, double the complication and maybe not that much more love. And the mistresses (by the way there seems to be no accepted male equivalent)? What is all that about? Of course the established wisdom is that they are waiting for the man to leave his wife, which rarely ever happens. But I wonder if something else is going on and they know that he will probably never leave her, and somehow this possible sense of injustice and victimhood is the glue that keeps them attached. Whatever, we never truly begin to understand other people, let alone ourselves.
But in England the mistress is in a difficult position, firstly she is usually kept a secret, even from her own girlfriends. And married women of course, if they knew would shun her; possibly scared it would give their own husband’s ideas. To publicly acknowledge that one is a mistress is seen as brazen, close to being a slut almost (another pejorative term for which there is no male equivalent). But here in France it is not only accepted as normal but mistresses have a status. Not as high as the wife of course, though in some ways though she has the house and the money of the man she obviously does not satisfy him in bed and so is slightly ridiculed too. The mistress is often publicly acknowledged, other women do not shun her, she has a certain status – and nobody is shocked by either her or the husband’s behaviour (or the wife’s acceptance of the publicly known situation). Maybe this is far better than the secrecy and guilt of illicit sex in the U.K., but it does take a little getting used to.