Sleeping Around: Catherine Townsend

The danger of dating Dylan types
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The Independent Online

I agreed to a first date with Dan, the wannabe novelist, after he told me that he had recently written a book about death. Our mutual friend warned me that he was moody, unreliable and had a serious substance-abuse problem, yet I was drawn to the lone man in the leather pants like a heat-seeking missile.

Over the next few weeks, we met regularly for Black Label whisky - which I paid for - then we would head back to his flat for hours of very intense sex. Afterwards, he would tell me how "damaged" he was. Yet, despite his erratic behaviour, I kept going back for more. I called him a misunderstood artist. My girlfriends called him a wanker.

Call it the Dylan Thomas syndrome: since artsy boys are often charismatic and attract loads of attention, it's not surprising that so many of my girlfriends have fallen for the "Do you want to come upstairs and see my etchings?" line. In fact, a recent study concluded that poets, writers and other artistic types get laid a lot more than people with more normal jobs. Researchers found that the creatives had about twice as many sexual partners as the others. But since men have also figured out this logic, it's worth remembering that Dylan Thomas had something that most of the boys in skinny jeans and faux-hawks don't - real genius. I know one guy who made his last film, a 15-minute sequence about an evil troll doll, as a joke. But even he managed to engineer a threesome after his "screening". He told the girls that it was "conceptual art".

"My last guy was a poet, which, in his case, was pretty much shorthand for 'unemployed'," says my friend Amy. "On the plus side, he always took his time in bed. But then again, he had lots of it."

The study also unearthed the darker side of dating artists: they can have traits usually associated with schizophrenia, and are more prone to depression. This may make them great for a one-night stand or fling, but it means that their long-term partners may constantly be expected to buoy up their fragile egos and play cheerleader.

This was certainly the case with Dan, and the novelty of dating him faded when he started calling me at midnight to talk about how depressed he was, and couldn't seeing the irony of telling me that I was "selling out" while racking up my bar tab. The final nail in the coffin was reading his "novel" - a cliché-ridden nightmare with a first chapter entitled, "Why I Want To Kill Myself". By the fourth chapter, I was starting to feel the same way.

As a neurotic writer, I've realised that the only thing worse than one narcissistic artist in a relationship, is two. I would agree with scientists that the bohemian lifestyle of creative types mean that they are sometimes more open to sexual impulses and opportunities. After all, drunken carousing and the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure are two of my favourite pastimes. But these days, I'm much more drawn to buttoned-up guys, and revel in helping them find their wilder side.

So, when my last date, a strait-laced consultant, commented that I must have an interesting sexual past, I just smiled and referred him to the study. Then I asked him if he wanted to "come upstairs and see my manuscript", a line that works every time. Maybe these scientists are on to something after all.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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