Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

Got dumped? Stop obsessing and play darts

I headed straight to my friend Victoria's flat. She made pasta, and we shared a tub of strawberry cheesecake Häagen-Dazs ice-cream while we dissecting every conversation The Ex and I had ever had. I showed her the sweet texts he sent, while we discussed all his behavioural traits. (Introducing me to all his friends = Good. Never being available at weekends = Shady.)

After unearthing a bottle of Absolut Mandarin from the freezer, she finished with a bitchy character analysis to make me feel that I was better than him. "He was a sweet guy, Catherine, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer - and he clearly had the emotional depth of a puddle." We made fun of his limited vocabulary: when I told him that I wanted someone a bit less ambivalent, he asked me what the word meant.

I cried a bit. Then, while watching re-runs of Nip/Tuck, I reflected on the different approaches of men and women to healing during break-ups. My female friends encourage me to talk about my feelings, and reassure me that I was too good for him. The boys encourage me to get laid.

The next day, with my confidence boosted, I called my friend Michael. "You got dumped?" he said. "Come out with me and Nick tonight. We need to get you drunk."

We met for cocktails which quickly turned into a full-on bender. Two hours later, when we were sucking down blackcurrant concotions, I was still talking about the break-up.

"Are we going to talk about this all night?" Michael asked. "Stop obsessing - let's play darts!"

Two hours later we were at Stringfellow's, downing an overpriced bottle of vodka while a pneumatic naked brunette with breasts under her chin gyrated in my face to "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy". Slurring his words, Michael revealed his true feelings about The Ex. "To be honest, I thought he was pretty boring. You're a very pretty girl, you can definitely do better."

While I suspect his logic is a bit simplistic, I also found it strangely reassuring. I'm not sure which approach is healthier.

Another of my girlfriends is still talking about her ex-boyfriend who used her as a cashpoint by "borrowing" £10,000 while living in her house rent-free and having several affairs. She still talks about him as the "love of her life", and most of her friends encourage her delusional behaviour to spare her feelings.

So even if Michael did admit that after his last serious relationship he broke several hearts because he hadn't dealt with his own heartbreak, I think there could be something to his brand of tough love. It's tempting to bypass the "hurt" and move directly to the rage phase, but a mixture of the two approaches is probably best.

I was pondering the evening's lessons when Nick, Michael's friend, walked me home. As I turned to thank him for being so understanding, he pulled me under the scaffolding outside my flat. "I can't believe that guy broke up with you. Was he blind and deaf?"

A cute, intelligent and sexy guy is flirting with me - it's by far the most effective healing tactic yet.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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