Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

Sitting in a dark cinema watching the scene in The Omen when Liev Schreiber prepares to plunge the knife into his son - the perfect boy who turned out to be the Antichrist - my mind turned to my ex-boyfriends. The film was a recreation of the original, yet I was glued to the screen - desperately hoping for a different ending. Walking home, I wondered if relationship "remakes" work the same way.

Even though the men I date seem different on the surface, the ones I really fall for share very similar personality traits. They are all outgoing, intense alpha males who seem to be the life of the party - but this outer confidence often hides a darker, insecure side.

By going for the same "type" in different bodies, I feel that I'm hurtling toward the same inevitable conclusion each time - and just like when Liev's character unearths the jackal bones from the crypt - the ending is not going to be pretty. So am I destined to keep dating the same guy over and over?

I had the chance to answer the question this week when Mark, a tall, dark and handsome ex-boyfriend who moved to Hong Kong last year, came back for a visit. We always had an incredibly intense sexual connection, but our personalities are so similar that we ended up clashing in fights that could rival anything from the Book of Revelations. My friends all warned me that he was bad news.

"You realise that everything tonight has to be strictly platonic," I told him when we met for drinks. Yet, two bottles of champagne later he had me pinned against the wall, his hands sliding up my dress as I wrapped my legs around him. We continued to shed clothing in the cab, and stayed in his house - and his bed - for 36 hours straight.

It wasn't long before old patterns started to emerge: as the post-orgasm glow subsided, we got into a childish argument over who could have the last chicken wing. It ended with him throwing it out of the kitchen window. "We should have seen this coming," he laughed, shaking his head. "We drive each other crazy, in a good way - and a bad way."

Life would be so much easier if we had a rating system for men, like for movies. But in the first flush of infatuation, warning anyone about their lover is about as useless as screaming, "Don't go in there girl, he's got a knife!" during a horror film.

When it comes to love, people are masters of self-deception. But this time, rather than try to make the intensity of our sexual affair translate into a relationship, Mark and I have decided to keep it real.

"Just because a fling doesn't turn into the love of your life doesn't mean it's insignificant," Victoria said. "You guys obviously have a bond, it's just not meant to be permanent."

For now, while Mark and I are both single, we'll be friends - with benefits. So, after a night out, I texted him from a cab. "I'm on my way home," I wrote, "any chance that you are up for some fun?" He said yes. We're not disappearing into the sunset together, but, for now, I've got my happy ending.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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