One of my favourite sayings – and hence one I say an awful lot because it is a part of a veritable litany of Very Wise Stuff I Say – is Never Get Bitten By The Same Dog Twice. Not Getting Bitten By The Same Dog Twice is the ultimate in protective behaviour. If someone has done something once, they are bound to do it again because humans, if nothing else, are generally consistent. Being wary of the dog (human) that bit you once means you are less likely to be bitten by that same dog (human) again. It’s a metaphor that suits all manner of situations: the manager to whom you give helpful information and who proceeds to promptly bite your head off. That “friend” who has a chronic tardiness issue and can’t seem to get their act together to meet you on time. That Italian man you know you really shouldn’t have given a second chance, but – because you believe from the depths of your soul that it was Meant To Be – ends up breaking your heart.
Yeah. About that. Hold that thought – we’ll come back to that in a minute.
My patched-up, blue-tacked, soldered-together heart and my 50 years on this planet gives me (what I like to think of as) practical experience in the Romance Department. I’ve had my fair share of short-term lovers, longer-term boyfriends and de facto relationships. Hell, I was even engaged once. I’ve had relationships where I’ve been excruciatingly, unbelievably happy, and relationships where I’ve been excruciatingly, unbelievably miserable. I’ve been in relationships where I have been so lonely I thought I was living solo on my own island, and relationships where I felt so crowded I wanted to implode. I have had sex that simultaneously curled my toes and made me melt, and sex which was cold, mechanical and alienating. I have kissed enough boys and men to know that kissing is an excellent indication of said boys’ and men’s attention to matters of an intimate nature. Good kissers are invariably good in the sack.
In matters of the heart, I am the first person to tell other people to protect themselves. There are all manner of players and sociopaths and people of dubious character and nefarious means – both male and female – wanting to use you for their own deep, dark purposes. And then there are people who are just messed up, and don’t mean to drag you under, but do anyway. I tell people that they need to ensure their filtering system is finely tuned, and that they remain alert but not alarmed to signs of trouble. Not that you should expect trouble, but it’s about protecting your fragile, delicate, brave heart from disrespectful dissidents, and unlocking it for Those Who Are Worthy.
Of course, this filtering system goes a tad haywire if sex is involved. With all those feel-good hormones and endorphins and neurons sparking themselves silly, good sense gets short-circuited. It does for me anyway, and this is one of the reasons that I am really bad at casual sex. And am certainly less inclined to go there as I get older. I seem to get sex and emotions and attachment all mixed up and intertwined and can’t seem to compartmentalise and rationalise and differentiate between them. I get myself all confused and I can’t seem to get out of my own head. Which makes life quite uncomfortable while I try and sort it all out. I’m much better in longer-term propositions where I can build up trust with someone, and where there is a level of predictability and consistency over short-term, casual affairs. In my experience anyway, there is nothing casual about casual sex. For me, it’s a rather fraught affair, pardon the pun.
So – and despite all this – at Christmas, I embarked on shenanigans of the I Just Need To Get Laid variety (clearly ignoring myself viz a vis the previous paragraph). As far as I was concerned, that episode was done and dusted (follow the previous link to find out what happened). I had moved on. Case closed. Except. It happened again. Last week. With the same man. Completely unplanned. Almost serendipitously. It was good. Better than before, even. It was – for all intents and purposes – a do over. But now, as the classic overthinking, non-casual sex proponent that I am, I have a stack of questions* that I need to ask him – and myself. What does this mean, if anything? Is this going to be a regular thing? Or was it just an opportunistic once-off? How can I protect myself from someone who has disappointed me in the past, but who I like? How do I know I can trust him? When will I know? What does he want? What do I want? Does he now have a stash of tea in his kitchen? And why did I not ask these questions before I embarked on more shenanigans? Gah!
See what I mean about that biting dog? It’s much more sensible to just stay away.
* I would ask him, but he has gone overseas for a couple of weeks. And if I have learned nothing at all over the last 6 months, I have learned that these sorts of questions should neither be asked – nor should answers be sought – over email or text. No good ever comes of it. What is good, though, is his absence. It means I can get my overthinking (mostly) under control, and cultivate insouciance.