What I’ve Learned From The Men I’ve Dated

I realized the other day that it’s been seven years since my longest relationship ended.

I also realized that in between that time, I’ve dated:

Producer–>Actor–>Director of Photography–>Editor–>Photographer–>Actor (word used lightly)–>Musician–>Comedian–>Apple Store Employee–>Painter–>Director–>Editor–> Photographer

Besides the accidental Apple Store employee who I wasn’t trying to hit up for his discount during the release of the iPhone 3G, though I should have, do you notice a trend?

“What are you talking about?! I don’t notice a trend at all!” I’d tell my mother when she’d point this out to me time after time again. However, it took writing the list out in an IM to a friend recently for the realization to sink in like a drunk semi swerving off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Digesting these two bits of information forced me to reflect back on what I have learned throughout my dating experiences. What have I learned through the years of dating men who enjoy their guitars, their cameras, their computers, or their phones more than me? Men who spend more time daydreaming out of their 1st class airplane seats, Four Seasons Hotel rooms, cramped studio apartments, shoddy vans, or parent’s basements than me? Men who’ve dumped me as soon as they got me and men I’ve dumped because I felt my time on this planet was better spent reading a book?
The answer is plenty.
Below is a list of little bits of dating wisdom I’ve learned from the men I’ve had relationships with, dated, had dinner with, or hooked up with (which has only been twice and considered failure by all parties involved because I hate everything about the ideology of hooking up, the word “hooking up”, and the act of hooking up…there! I said it!)
What I’ve Learned From The Men I’ve Dated:
1.) That it is physically impossible for a 5 year-old to build a bunker underneath his house equipped with electricity and a reading room by himself, even though I may have believed it at the time. (Age 5-8, NY)

2.) That when my family forces me into a relationship that I’m just not into, I begin thinking there is something wrong with me. Like I should like any boy who gives me any bit of attention even though deep down I’m convinced he’ll bring a machete into a crowded area. (Age 15-16, NY)

3.) a.) That I can fall in love with someone and b.) That just because I love someone, doesn’t mean that I’m in love with them anymore and sometimes I just need to know when to end it. (Age 17-21, NY)

4.) Adults will disappoint you and you will forgive them, until you reach an age where you realize you’re now a responsible adult and some people just don’t make good human beings. (Age 21-22, CA)

5.) That adderall and alcohol may make it difficult for some men to get it up. (Age 22-24 in haphazard intervals, CA)

6.) That mother issues and alcohol may make it difficult for some men to get it up. (Age 22, CA)

7.) That though I consider myself a very open-minded person, a Republican from Texas who likes to get “mani’s & pedi’s” can really test my limits. (Age 23, CA)

8.) That what they say about vegans is right… (Age 23, CA)

9.) That, unfortunately, a man can be the most beautiful blond hair, blue eyed creature that’s walked this green Earth and have the IQ of an inbred squirrel (Age 23, CA)

10.) a.) That while wearing a three-piece suit and living in a cabin in the foothills of Angeles National Forest may make you interesting (and really hot in both a temperature and aesthetic sense), it does not make you emotionally mature. In fact, I’m not sure how the vacant stare and frequency of shoving your thumb into the dirt to calm yourself down didn’t tip me off in the first place b.) That neurotic men captivate me. (Age 24, CA)

11.) That successful comedians are often not funny. (Age 24, CA)

12.) That, unfortunately, a man can be the most beautiful dark hair, dark eyed creature that’s walked this green Earth and have the personality of comatose squirrel. (Age 25, CA)

13.) That a man will say, in the same sentence, “I don’t really like you, but can I still use your discount at work?” (Age 25, TX)

14.) a.) That older men in Austin sometimes treat you with the respect you deserve b.) That older men in Austin sometimes like to sit around smoke weed or drink and suspend themselves in an arrested state of development. (Age 25, TX)

15.) a.) That a man might wake me up at 6AM jumping on the bed, blaring rap music in my face b.) That he may not understand why I don’t like him waking me up at 6AM blaring rap music in my face c.) That he may want to get a tattoo of a an underage Japanese girl getting raped on his arm d.) That he may not understand why I think that is the most terrible thing I’ve ever heard in my life. (Age 26, TX)

16.) a.) That I can actually lay next to someone and not think about anything else but that moment (Age 26, TX)

…Tell me what you’ve learned from your dating experiences!
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  • Reply IT June 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    The Universe has no center… or edge

  • Reply - B June 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    You must have some great stories to go along with these tidbits (esp. numbers 7, 10 and 13)!!

    One thing I've learned is that some mothers really are insane when it comes to their sons and will release their crazy on unsuspecting girlfriends without warning.

  • Reply One Blonde Girl June 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Oh, we don't have enough time to get into everything, but here's a couple of tidbits:
    1) boys do in fact have cooties (aka chicken pox) and they are in fact contagious (age 4-5, NY)
    2) some men are only hot and desirable when they have an instrument in one hand, a mic in the other and are singing a song they wrote about you (age 20, FL)
    3) it's possible to discover (and, unfortunately, lose) your soul mate who will give you the best sex you've ever had in your life (age 30, NY)

    Great post. Sounds like you've put up with some… um… interesting men.

  • Reply Rebekah June 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    OH this is a fun topic.

    And you definitely need to share the story behind the guy in the woods.

  • Reply Adria June 18, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Too good. Need the woods story.

    1) Sometimes you need to convince yourself that a relationship may work again in the future to get over it in the present. (18, NJ)

    2) That if someone you think you're dating says they're not looking for a relationship and then starts dating a tall blonde, and then breaks up, says he isn't looking for a relationship and then starts dating a short blonde, lather, rinse, repeat. He will never be your boyfriend. (18-21, NY)

    3) A guy whose life ambition is to be a wayward sailor, he's definitely sleeping with other people. (22, NY)

    4) If a guy would rather get up at 5 am to work out than stay in bed and have sex with you…you don't want to date him anyway. (23, NY)

    5) If you're dating three guys at once, none of them are going to take you seriously. (23, NY)

    6) Sometimes you have to break your own rules to get what you want. a) I don't want to date a fellow actor, b) I don't want to date a guy who isn't from the Northeast, c) I don't want to date a guy who has no money, d) I don't want to date a guy who spills on his clothes and always has food in his teeth. I've never been happier. (23-24, NY)


  • Reply Hipstercrite June 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    @IT-too heavy, man

    @B- #10 I have lots of stories about. That one really made an impression, I'll say. You're right about Moms. God bless 'em..they are the best things on this planet….but come on!!!

    @One Blonde Girl- I hear you on #1 and #2, luckily, I don't think #3 has ever happened to me. If it has, I'm too stupid to know.

    @Rebekah- One day I will share the story of the man who lived in the woods!

    @Adria- Ah! I think your list is waaaay better than mine! Reading your comment gave me comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Thanks! I smell a post coming on….

  • Reply outoftunepiano June 18, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    that he's not actually a photographer, as he claims, if his only income is from waiting tables at some crappy family restaurant with a bunch of high school kids.

  • Reply Pizza Girl June 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    1) Making love should be about rubbing tummies together. (5, NC)

    2) Relationships in highschool are awesome because they start with a nervous "Wanna go out?" instead of dating limbo. (14-17, TX)

    3) The traditional wisdom about marrying young is true in most cases. (17-23)

    4) Men with magnetic personalities will use it to their advantage and I'm not as immune as I thought I was when I started this whole dating thing. (24)

  • Reply Big Mark 243 June 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    What you learned in #4 should keep you from adding to your gaining further knowledge of any of the other lessons.

    I would have to do a 'what I have learned from Women' post… but perhaps it would be better as a warning for females of their vulnerabilities.

  • Reply Meghan June 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Oh God this made me LOLZ. So fucking funny.

    Loves it.

  • Reply Polly Syllabick June 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I learned:

    *that YOU need to blog more about your dating

    *that we've been dating hybrid versions of the same people, except the dude who puts his thumb in the dirt, because there's only concrete here…my version of that dude massages his own bald held in place of thumb stickage

    *that i love your blog

  • Reply cjschlottman June 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Lauren, as you know, I haven't had a date since 1974 when I married the love of my life. Is this what I have to look forward to? Think I'll pass and stick with my purple rabbit.

  • Reply TabithaVenasse June 19, 2010 at 2:29 am

    My learnings – That men actually are far more complicated than women.

    emotional men can't tell the difference between lve and a deep sense of caring.

  • Reply Magda Joyce June 19, 2010 at 3:11 am

    I've learned that it's possible to love someone more than you ever thought you would (or could), but that it won't necessarily make them love you back.

  • Reply The Mad Dame June 19, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Wait, what did the day about vegans that is true?

  • Reply S.I.F. June 19, 2010 at 5:44 am

    I love this list!

    I learned that I should never date a neighbor… ever.

    That dating a guy with kids takes on a whole new level of serious that I should be better prepared for.

    That some men just will not stop trying to convince you to take it in the butt.

  • Reply Guise June 19, 2010 at 8:01 am

    #14 here. Have we met? Nah, can't be, you're too young to remember Club Foot.

  • Reply M.B. June 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

    1. More people like you than you will ever realize, so make with the self-esteem already. (age 10-17)

    2. That immediately losing interest in something that you're pressured to do isn't an immature character flaw, but a damn good strategy. (age 17-18)

    3. That most genuinely beautiful men seriously underestimate their worth…which may be a good thing. (age 19)

    4. That evil is real, but less important than it thinks it is. (age 20-22)

    5. If you feel bad for loving him less than he loves you, he's putting a deadly mindfuck on you, and you should run just as fast as you would from a drunk rager. (age 23-28…note the wasted time here)

    6. That once it becomes a battle for control of you, the relationship is already dead, and you're fucking a zombie. (age 28-29)

    7. After three or four tries, let miserable men be. (age birth-32)

    8. It's true what they say about younger AND older men. (age 30-32)

    9. Vaginas don't congeal from lack of use, and there are a lot of good books out there. (age 31-32)

  • Reply Allie June 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I loved 5 and 9, they were hilarious.

    1) if he suggests that when you marry the two of you live in his mother's house, run. (age 6, NY)
    2) you cannot date people just because they are nationally ranked in any sport. (age 13-14, NY)
    3) best friends are actually not supposed to kiss your boyfriend. (age 14-16)
    4) regular friends are not supposed to kiss boys who you are simultaneously kissing unless there are specific rules in that relationship that allow this to happen. (age 16-17)

  • Reply Charmalade June 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Compared to you (and practically anyone else, it seems), I have negative dating experience. There are times when I've wondered "what's wrong with me?" but I brush it off. It'll happen when it'll happen, right?

    But I have learned that…

    1) You actually can be friends with someone that you used to like, least in my case.
    2) You can be flirting with a boy who'll flirt back, but he still can dump you after a week if you don't "put out."
    3) Dumping a boy in an empty orchestra room might result in very awkward aftermath.
    4) I haven't dated any, but "nice guys" suck.

    PS: I may or may not have mentioned you in my second to last post where I may or may not have sounded dumb.

    Toast with Charmalade

  • Reply Langley June 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I've had the same disastrous times with girls too.

  • Reply Maria Elise June 20, 2010 at 3:34 am

    That sloppy drunk can be fun on ocassion but as a lifestyle…it's draining and just tragic (20-23, NM)

    That academics are hot and bright generally, but can be socially and emotionally delayed (23-26, Sacto)

    Humor and a short-term memory appear to be effective!  (29-present 35 Sacto)    

  • Reply the default attorney June 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    When someone you are with has made it abundtantly clear that they do not take your feelings very seriously, it is your own damn fault for not cutting it off right there an then. (Age 10-32, CA, NY, FRA, BEL)

  • Reply the default attorney June 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    or even worse, if they make it *abundantly* clear. 🙂

  • Reply Benny June 22, 2010 at 4:59 am

    1) Long distance relationships aren't worth it, mainly because they don't give you what you need. (19-21)
    2) As much as being an older virgin sucks, you still have it better than those who lost it too early (23)
    3) Having "good game" is not about tricking a girl, it's just about actually being positive and actually enjoying the part that happens before you make out. (24.. oh god, the late age of most of these is betraying my inexperience. the following are all 25)
    4) If someone used to be married, it wasn't just like any other long-term relationship for them, no matter what they tell you.
    5) People who are "damaged" are not dangerous, but people who try to hide from the fact that they are damaged are.
    6) People do change, but usually it's not worth trying to change them.
    7) If somebody is too flirty with the opposite sex, don't call them out for it. Trust that they won't cheat, but break up with them if you can't handle it anymore. To get angry will probably only make it worse.

    I don't know anybody who actually enjoys hookup culture. "Hooking up" every once and again, sure, that's fine. But to do it while believing it's good for you is to turn other people into fantasy objects. It feeds on narcissism alone in both sexes. It goes against human nature and it kills us on the inside.

  • Reply Writing Womb June 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

    i have learned from dating and living with men, that i really enjoy being single and alone…also it saves time for me to not be with a man as i don't shave nearly as often or care about what i look like…also i have learned that a vibrator has zero maintenance compared to a man
    great post

  • Reply Pauly June 24, 2010 at 2:30 am

    That romantic love, falling in love is a crock of shit. There….I said it.

  • Reply jeannie September 1, 2010 at 9:08 am

    That a vibrator, unlike men, does not need to be fed, cleaned up after, have washing done and will not betray you as you keep batteries in it.

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