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Pop Op: Games of the heart

Playing the field after being in what I thought was a stable relationship for about a year has me looking at guys from a whole new perspective.

I’ve found myself being rather cautious when it comes to affairs of the heart. That being said, I’ve been very upfront with the guys I’ve been seeing lately, explaining to them that I’m not ready for anything serious, but I wonder if I am really just making excuses.

It got me to thinking, in a post-breakup scenario are we all just playing a game without any rules?

Here’s the pitch

Over a year ago I met “Michael” when he was only 20 and I was terrified by the fact that he was so good looking and so young and for some inexplicable reason … interested in me. But then I wondered; while I was making up all kinds of excuses not to go out with him, was I the one playing games?

Before I could make any mistakes like falling for him, or possibly leading him on, I met someone and it put the brakes on anything that might have happened. It was a good thing until I recent bumped into him at the gym and he commented on my relationship status, or should I say, lack thereof. Apparently, he has been keeping tabs on me.

The next day during an IM on Facebook chat, he made a rather shocking proposal: “I know you don’t want to date me, but can you at least have sex with me?”

Instant replay

“Wait, he’s 20 and he just wants to have sex with you?” my friend Hunter said to me, recapping the details of the proposed hook up as we headed out for lunch later that day. “I don’t see the problem.”

“He’s 22!” I said defensively, “and still, I don’t need to be dating anyone that young. I don’t need to be dating anyone. I am still not over he who shall not be named!”

“That’s your problem,” Hunter went on to say. “You’re emotionally weak, that’s when they sucker punch you. This one is going to try and make you fall for him.”

Faking it

A few days later at happy hour, I realized I wasn’t the only person playing games or more specifically playing with fire.

When I showed up at the table with my first drink, a plan was already being hatched by my friend Christy. Her plan was to use the newest addition to our circle of friends, Jacob, to catch a friend's husband whom she was certain was gay.

“They have been married for 10 years, she says they never have sex, but when they do he insists on wearing a condom,” Christy explained. “And now he tells her that he thinks he might be bi-curious.”

“So what are you two going to do?” I asked, knowing that I was witnessing the beginning of what could be a fabulous train wreck.

“We’re going to bluff,” Jacob explained. “I’m about to call her friend’s husband and pretend like I’m calling someone else to invite him to the Abbey for drinks”

“He totally won’t answer because he won’t recognize the number,” Christy added. “But when he hears a cute guy’s voice inviting him to the Abbey for drinks he’ll probably call back because he’s curious!”

“I love plans that are conceived while drinking,” I said eagerly as I sat down. “This isn’t going to turn out the way we want it to at all, but it will be fabulous!”

Playing with fire

While Jacob and Christy waited to see if their gamble had paid off, I made a gamble of my own by meeting up with “Michael” for a drink. Of course drinks led to us going back to my place. The next thing I knew, our game had gone into overtime and the sun was coming up while Michael was still asleep in my arms. As I laid there and thought about what I had done, I smiled.

“You don’t know how much I needed that,” I whispered very honestly to Michael the next morning -- and I wasn’t talking about the sex.

“Well then I hope you want more of it,” he responded.

And the truth was … I did.

Rules are meant to be broken

It’s all fun and games, until someone’s heart gets broken.

I went into my little one-night fling with Michael making it very clear that I’d had my share of heartaches lately and I didn’t want anymore. What I wasn’t expecting was how it would feel to just be comfortable with a guy in my arms.

Sometimes we can make up all of the excuses in the world and tell ourselves how and what we are going to do … but is the game we are playing with our own hearts?

More importantly, what happens when we call our own bluffs? The truth is, sex is easy but it’s not always a comfort and when it was all said and done, I think Michael and I both got what we needed out of that night.

Maybe I got even more.

Travis D. Bone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a graduate of the University of California at San Diego. After spending 13 years in San Diego where his journalism efforts earned him a San Diego Press Club award he took his chances on moving to Los Angeles to become a television writer. Now he’s working in finance for a studio, so that didn’t turn out quite the way he expected. On the upside he’s still writing, still single and still living it up splitting time between Los Angeles and San Diego. In short he’s got a lot of stories to tell.