What I know about men
- The Observer, Saturday 29 November 2008
I didn’t have boyfriends until my late teens. I was at a girls’ boarding school and my stepfather disapproved of me going out with anybody. I never really came across any boys. When I did, one of them asked me out and I was petrified. I felt like a fish out of water and it was excruciating.
My father was with us in the family until I was 10. But I don’t have any recollection of him talking to me or communicating with me. He was very remote. He’d been a pilot in the war and I think he was slightly damaged.
George [Harrison] and I met when I was 19. After two years, we had a nice house and we were decorating it together and it seemed like a natural progression to get married. George was the first person that I properly fell in love with. He almost felt like a brother. I’ve got three brothers and I felt very easy in his company and he was great fun. It was my ideal of what a family life would be but I wasn’t able to have children.
Men find it more difficult than women to be alone. They function better with someone in their lives. Being married they are rooted, so they feel safe to go and do what they want to do. When I married Eric [Clapton] I was dealing with someone who was not well due to alcohol abuse. So a lot of the time I had the upper hand, which I didn’t like. But it was a role that I became used to. And then I needed it. I needed him to be ill for me to feel in control. And that’s a sick relationship.
I think both of the men I married were so unfaithful and destructive because they were adored by hundreds and thousands of people. It’s very seductive, and easy to misbehave. Am I as much to blame? Probably, because I didn’t put my foot down. I didn’t feel that I had the right to. It takes two to tango, and I suppose in a way I colluded with the effect of their huge fame.
I think men are mainly unfaithful because as they get older, they feel the urge to prove to themselves that they are still attractive. They need proof from outside the marriage. It’s really sad. It’s all about them. It’s not about their wives at all. With George and Eric it was simply because they had women telling them how wonderful they were all the time. Women make the mistake of thinking that sex is love. Men are able to be a bit more detached about it.
I read Eric’s autobiography and his description of our marriage. His reflection of it is much colder than I believed he felt at the time. I fell into his seductive trap and I believed it, whereas reading his book it seemed like he had forgotten how he was when we were together. Women hang onto the romanticism of a relationship. But a man compartmentalises it into the past and then gets on with his new life. I wasn’t very happy with his version of events.
I’d say I had the greatest passion and chemistry of my life with George. I think I was a romantic inspiration to Eric and George because I gave as much as I could to them both, to the detriment of myself. I was always there for them. Which I think is really what a muse is. You are living your life for somebody else.
I don’t know if one has choices about men or whether life is mapped out for us, and you meet somebody and there is chemistry and that’s it. You think you’ve chosen them, but maybe you were meant to be with them anyway. But I do know that I wouldn’t go for somebody now who drinks too much. I’d like to go for a man who is a grown-up. But there are not many of them. That’s why I’m on my own.