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Ace Of Hearts

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Maybe it was just best to give up on love. Karly had been going through the same bullshit cycle for as long as she could remember. Meet fuckboys on a dating app, meet fuckboys in person, get hurt by fuckboys, get shamed by her mom (who quite frankly had no room to talk), whine about it at the next Friends Of Saul meeting. Karly was tired of all of this. She was tired of the fake relationships, but she had no idea how to start a real one. When was the last time she had a proper romantic/sexual encounter? Oh, that's right, never.

All of her relationships - if one could call them that - had been online. Of course, there was nothing wrong with that by itself, but there was clearly something wrong with Karly. Why else would she keep letting men hurt and abuse her like that? It had to all be her fault.

It was an addiction, that's why she was there at Friends Of Saul, but it felt more like a chore. She didn't love her hookup apps in the same way that Henry loved his candy. She didn't love any of the men that she slept with. It ran much deeper than that - it was the thrill, the attention that she loved, but it was the wrong kind of attention and she was tired of it. How could someone as popular as her be so lonely? Did she even have anybody outside of the support group? No, she didn't, which was a shame, because she could be so good at love.

I could be so good at love, Karly kept thinking to herself during that night's meeting.

A lot of people at the Friends Of Saul were awkward or shy in some way, but Karly wasn't. She was almost too outgoing for her own good. But she still related to the deep underlying loneliness that the rest of the group felt. During the meetings, her and Ed bounced off of one another's conversations a lot, because they had a lot of similar experiences. If Karly had met Ed in any other context, if Ed had been one of the men in her pocket, she'd probably hate him. But instead, thanks to the support group, they became friends, and she got to see how he really was deep inside. He wasn't one of the types to hurt other people, at least not anymore. He could break his cycle of hurting. But Karly couldn't break her cycle of getting hurt.

To anyone else it might seem weird, to be ranting about porn with a half-full or half-empty cup of coffee in your hand as you sit in a room full of internet addicts. But it was Karly's life at this point, and she'd be damned if she didn't tell them all exactly how she felt and what she'd been through. She hadn't been doing very well recently, not making much effort towards recovery. She wanted to, really, because she hated herself and her life for being like this, but she had no idea where to start. Every time, she held out hope that maybe he wouldn't be like that this one time, and then she'd get disappointed when he was and blame herself.

Of course, not every single man mistreated her. Some of them were okay in personality, but terrible with pickup lines or they watched too much porn and had no idea how sex actually worked. Karly herself used to be similar, when she was younger, but she eventually became disgusted by the whole thing. It was too fake and too bullshit and too...lacking. What was love? Her parents weren't in love. Porn actors weren't in love. Karly wasn't in love. Sometimes she'd think she was, she'd meet a really great person who was genuinely nice to her and not a bad lover by any means, but then they'd leave and Karly would intentionally seek out someone who she'd know would hurt her. And theoretically, after seeing her parents' messy relationship, Karly could hypothetically be fine being single for the rest of her life. She knew she didn't need a man or a woman or significant other to make her happy. But she sought them out anyway.

Due to all of this, she felt like an outlier in the group. Except for Ed and maybe Jessica, she felt lonely even in her support group of friends, because she wasn't addicted to the vice itself, but rather the stuff that came with it, the hurt that came with it.

Karly sighed, exhausted after telling her story to the group. Did they not get tired of hearing the same thing every week? She certainly did, she got tired of herself. But it could be much worse. The people in the room were always a better option than the people in her notifications.