Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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The Independent Online

A few days ago, after Paul told me that he loved me but definitely wants children soon, we got into a huge fight and ended things. "I'm falling for you," I said, "but I can't be with someone who thinks my sexiest organ is a uterus." I added that the only person wearing a school uniform anytime soon would be me - preferably with no knickers. Two days later, I saw him out with a young blonde. I guess his fatherly instincts really are kicking in. So I related to Kylie Minogue after I read that Oliver Martinez was spotted out with three different women within 12 hours of dumping her.

Thinking about my ex-boyfriend sucking face with a supermodel lookalike is miserable. Especially since it's nearly Valentine's Day, and I'm being bombarded with images of loved-up couples cooing at each other. When the waiter at my local pizza joint offered me the "Valentine's Day Special" (a heart-shaped pizza), I had to fight the urge to stab him with my fork.

According to my male friends, the love rats have the right idea. "You need to stop over-analysing everything and shag someone completely inappropriate," my friend Michael told me. He has a point: drowning my sorrows on a night out is depressing, but I doubt if sitting around the house, chain-smoking and cutting his head out of photos is any healthier. After all, I'm not going to find my soulmate in a tub of Cherry Garcia ice cream.

So when Will, a hot bartender, called to invite me to a 1970s-themed fancy dress party celebrating the opening of his new bar, Victoria insisted that we go. I put drops into my bloodshot eyes, ditched my stained tracksuit and pulled on a pair of gold hot-pants. Four free tequilas later, I started thinking that the only way to avoid hitting rock bottom was to end the night on top of someone else. I may not have been able to control the break-up, but I could shape the aftermath.

"Sometimes relationships are like broken glass," Will said. "It's easier to leave it alone than to hurt yourself trying to put it back together." This cheesy line sounded like sage advice at 2am, so I started dancing on the bar. Will kissed me, and for a few seconds I was blissfully oblivious to the pain of my split.

Then I opened my eyes, and got dizzy. I started to suspect that emotional upheaval wasn't my only concern as I ran outside and vomited. Will held my hair as, between hiccups, I apologised.

He told me that my desire for a relationship autopsy is natural. "Women discuss everything with their friends, and then get over it," he said. "Men jump right into another unsuitable relationship, and only realise what they've lost much later."

I knew then that dealing with a break-up like a man - by waking up in some random person's bed - isn't for me. I'm saving that for the rebound phase.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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