Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

My high is fuelled by mind-blowing sex
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The Independent Online

"He's mentally stalking me," I tell my friend Victoria over lunch, cringing as I force her to dissect the meaning of each character of a text message he sent me.

She laughs when I tell her that I can't eat, can barely sleep and actually caught myself singing along to Whitesnake's "Is This Love" at 4am. "Relax and enjoy it," she says, "because believe me, a year down the line when he's cutting his toenails on the sofa, you'll look back and long for these days."

A year? Most of my relationships crash and burn before the milk in the fridge has expired. I admit it: I'm addicted to the first flushes of love affairs - and I tend to bale out long before the steamy sex devolves into sock sorting. Anyway, how can I "relax" when my stomach is churning, though I have to feign nonchalance when he calls lest he thinks I'm desperate? It's exhausting.

Unable to concentrate on anything else, including a rapidly approaching deadline for my book, I Google a medical website and come up with this: "The state of romantic love is often characterised by feelings of exhilaration and intrusive, obsessive thoughts about the object of one's affection." Apparently, scientists have discovered that the brain of someone falling in love resembles those of people who snort cocaine.

Ah. So that explains why I felt like I did after I painted my flat with the windows closed and got high on fumes. I'm high on dopamine, fuelled by mind-blowing sex.

The problem is, I genuinely can't tell if my infatuation is the sign of greater things to come, or merely a chemical reaction. My friend Jake, a lawyer, votes for the latter. "I could probably fall in love twice on the way back from the loo tonight if I see a gorgeous girl," he says as we sip cocktails. "The feeling usually ebbs away after I have slept with someone a couple of times."

Victoria nods, saying that she last experienced "love at first sight" with a Greek guy on holiday - and spent the next 10 days on the back of his motorcycle. "Of course, that was before I realised that we were actually running from the cops during our romantic drives on the beach." These days, she's very happy with a guy who was a friend first, a tactic she recommends. "Just don't get too carried away, after all you barely know him," she warns.

At that moment, I got the next text. He's invited me out, to a gorgeous hotel - in the middle of the afternoon! Probably not the behaviour of someone who's looking for long-term love.

I should really say I'm too busy. But it's a gorgeous day, the sun is shining and I decide to live in the moment and head off in search of my next hit. For the moment, I'm an addict.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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