04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
George Clooney was abandoned by his girlfriend of three years, Celine Balitran, reports Esquire magazine in its October issue (with the former "ER" star flashing a sly grin on its cover). The actor (divorced from actress Talia Balsam in 1992) claims he loves the single life and blames the break-up with Balitran on his fear of intimacy and the amount of time he's away from home to work. "She lasted as long as I think she was going to last," he admits. "It was like, 'I don't really think I want to play anymore.' " Not that one of PEOPLE's Sexiest Men Alive seems lonely -- or begging for company. New York's Daily News spotted him recently downing tequilas with two stunning brunettes in a downtown Manhattan bar.