Lesson #27: How to Make a Treasure Map and Love Those Who Have Screwed You Over, or, Rules #7-#13

by Rachel on September 22, 2010

In Lesson #18: How to be Wrong About a Guy and Be OK, I wrote about how I truly believe that every guy who doesn’t work out gets you closer to the right guy, and that I could make a map from all the Threes, Fours, and would-be Fives I’ve been wrong about to where I am in life right now. And, the other night, I decided to do just that.

When I did made my map, I realized that each of these guys gave me some of my most important rules.

If you don’t believe me that you can get through your heartbreak, frustration, and disappointment and get everything you’ve ever wanted, make a treasure map of your own.

Now, let me show you what I discovered on mine…

(We’ll use arbitrary initials to protect the ones who got away.)

Z — My first Five, and he was a Five at first sight. I learned what true chemistry feels like and why people should say you should marry your best friend. I realized that no matter what, I would hold every guy I met to that standard for chemistry. I wanted a guy who could finish my sentences the first day we met, who just got it like he did. From Z, I learned how I am when I meet a Five; I had never been like that before. I’ll credit him with Rule #7: Chemistry is King.

It was also from him that I learned how to never, ever be treated, under any circumstances. Not only did I learn how I was when I met a Five, but I also learned how I was when I lost him: self-destructive, self-absorbed, and broken. I got another new rule from this — Rule #8: If a Guy Sleeps With You…and Then Sleeps With a Bunch of Other Girls…and Then Tells You About It Even Though He Knows You’re In Love With Him…and Then Says You’re in the Wrong for Being Upset…FORGET CHEMISTRY.

A — Oh, my. I’ll credit both Z and A with the next one…Rule #9: Thou Shall Not Try to Date A New Guy Until Thou Is Over the Last Guy and/or Until Thou Is Sufficiently Badass Enough to Handle Rejection. Thanks to Z, a fifth of tequila, and a slutty iPod costume, I made a series of huge mistakes (um, mistakes that it took me a while to even remember making). And I just felt so sorry for myself and I totally thought the world was out to get me and that all guys were just assholes. I spent so much time wondering how A could treat me so badly that I never stopped and accepted my behavior for what it was: deplorable. Eventually, months later, I came to recognize Rule #10: Yes, Sometimes Guys Are Assholes — But Sometimes Women Are Assholes Too.

Through both of these guys, I realized how much I needed to work on myself. Yes, Z was horrible to me, but I needed to be able to handle horrible without becoming horrible too.

B — This was my first post-college dating experience and it was exactly what I needed at that time. I needed to remember why I liked dating so much. I needed to remember what it was like to date a guy who actually was looking for a girlfriend. I didn’t feel like I had to work super hard to get this guy’s attention — he wanted to take me out every weekend! He wanted me to meet his friends! He didn’t want to bang other sorostitutes and tell me about it! I realized that even though I didn’t see myself with this guy for too long, I had stumbled upon Rule #11: Always Date Guys Who Want to be Dating.

C — Shall I write a lesson on how to confess that you’re in love with your best friend? I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more raw than I did that night. But what was frustrating is that the whole thing could have been avoided if I had just obeyed Rule #2: No Secret Crushes. When I did accept that knowing is better than not knowing and decided that I needed to know, I went back to Rule #9 — that I would never, ever again engage in such self-destructive behavior because a guy rejected me, even a guy who I thought was amazing in every way. So I followed the rules and told him how I felt. And…he didn’t feel the same. But I was right in my thinking that I could handle it this time around. I spent an emo day in bed, went and ran 12 miles in Central Park, deleted him from my phone, and let it fucking go.

D — With all the rules under my belt, I was ready for this one. I was over the last guy! There was so much chemistry! He wasn’t an asshole and neither was I! So this was when I had the big realization that I wanted an adult relationship, and it was going to look a hell of a lot different than the (pseudo) relationships I’d had before. He was the oldest guy I’d ever dated (28!) and that was a big deal. I learned that in adult relationships, you will talk about real things: family, exes, career, life goals, what you need to be happy. You’ll argue more because you’ll stand up for yourself more. You’ll talk about sex and say what you really want in bed because you’re no longer afraid that the entire frat house is going to hear about it. You can also own the mistakes you made up until this point and not worry so much that you’ll never make the leap from ho to housewife, because, oh, turns out…Rule #12: Sometimes Guys Are Assholes and Sometimes Girls Are Assholes, But Seriously, Everyone Was An Asshole In College.

That relationship could have gone on a lot longer, but I went back to Rules #2 and #9 — that I needed to know where things were going, and I could handle if we didn’t want the same things. (And, oh, I handled it all right — we may not have wanted to the same things, but we did both want to have sex in hotel rooms after meeting Chelsea Handler!) So even though I believed for months that getting drunk and poking a guy on Facebook and having an awesomely bad first date would make for an awesome “How I Met My Husband” story…I also knew it was time to let it go.

(Don’t get me wrong…that would make for an awesome story. But, unfortunately, it won’t make for mine.)

Anyway, my point is, this is what I knew after these experiences:

  • That my perfect guy would be someone with whom I had amazing chemistry, who wanted a girlfriend, who wanted me to be his girlfriend, and who just got it. He’d let me talk about what I really wanted in bed, and (more important?), he’d understand my stance on LLOLs. And he’d make me LLOL a lot.
  • That when I met him, I’d be up front about my feelings, and I’d be able to accept the outcome, even if I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t put all the blame on him if he didn’t treat me well, and I would do my best to treat him well whenever possible.

And I never would have known that if I hadn’t been wrong five excruciating times.

Had I not learned from my past experiences/heartbreak/tequila mistakes, I would have potentially (actually undoubtedly) messed things up with the next guy who came along. But I finally got it right and not a moment too soon. Because finally, my treasure map brought me to E and his delightful sack of gold!

It only took me five goddamn times.

I mean, seriously, 20-year-old Rachel — what the fuck?!

Let’s add one more.

Rule #13: Your Soul Mate Does Not Spell It “R-E-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S” or “D-E-F-E-N-A-T-L-Y.”

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sophie @ yumventures September 22, 2010 at 7:18 am

This is an awesome post! Z (my Z, not your Z :) ) and I have had the same conversation. You have to go through all the bad people to know whats good for you and to find the right one! But oh lord, if I made a map of my mistakes….shudder. I totally wish I could post some of my ridiculous stories, but that would just take up too much space :)

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2 Cat September 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

I made a similar map not too long ago and it was liberating to be so raw about the twisted positives that each relationship actually produced despite how absolutely HORRID they seemed coming out of them. I applaud your honesty and will probably share this post with a few friends who need a swift kick in the rear when it comes to the pity party of our pasts that we all fall into eventually.

I’m a fairly new reader and I so appreciate your honesty in each post!

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3 Meredith @ An Epic Change September 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

“Never date a guy who doesn’t want to be dating” — a rule I’m learning myself at this very moment. Love you Rachel for always having my back when it comes to dating, I may need some advice soon :)

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4 Suzanne September 22, 2010 at 10:50 pm

SERIOUSLY.
Uh, may I also add on: just because a guy wants to sleep with you (repeatedly) does not necessarily mean he will want to date you.

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5 Lauren September 22, 2010 at 9:14 am

ugh improper spelling of basic english vocab is almost as bad as the excessive use of “U” and “LOL” in text messages.

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6 Emily September 22, 2010 at 9:25 am

“Rule #10: Yes, Sometimes Guys Are Assholes — But Sometimes Women Are Assholes Too.”
My girl friends get all bent of shape when a guy acts like an ass and whine and cry about it, and the whole time I just want to scream “You treat him like shit too!” or “You are doing this exact same thing to that other guy who is in love with you”

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7 Secondhand Smash September 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

I definitely think that girls learn Rule #11 once they are out of college because dating is SO different afterwards. Very good rules and I believe I’ve experienced most/all of these. As much as I LOVE Rule #13, my man cannot spell, which I knew upfront, so it doesn’t drive me as crazy as it usually does with others. <3

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8 Carolyn September 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

Rule #12: Sometimes Guys Are Assholes and Sometimes Girls Are Assholes, But Seriously, Everyone Was An Asshole In College.

I laughed so hard. I’ve definitely had my moments. Even the best catches now were once assholes.

PS It took me 2 guys to find the perfect one now. I was once engaged! You’re right: every guy who doesn’t work out gets you closer to the right guy.

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9 Manon September 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

Holy shit Dr Rachel…..I think I just figured out why I’m an asshole!

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10 Rachel September 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

Really!?!?

…Should I send you a bill!?

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11 ashleigh September 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

I love this post :) My favorite is rule # 13.. REDICULOUS? come on now.

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12 Di September 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

LOVE these rules.

It definitely sucks to have to go through shithead after shithead (and to sometimes be a shithead) in order to figure it all out, but that’s what makes us better people, right?

And I can’t for the life of me understand why people spell it rediculous. I majored in math (meaning that I gave up all hopes of being able to spell well or write a sentence that’s grammatically correct when I was 18) and I STILL know that’s not how you spell it. :)

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13 angierunner September 22, 2010 at 10:59 am

I love your blog! You keep it real! Totally agree with you on how your past relationships help you in your future relationships!

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14 Mel September 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

You live in my head, don’t you?

Sigh. I love this! You can find a lot of purpose – and beauty – when you trace back..

and rule #12?! Thank youuuuuu I am forwarding this post on!

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15 Libby September 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Strange fact: sometimes I feel like having a lot of bad relationships versus a lot of “just okay” ones made me better equipped to embrace something awesome when it came along. When my college friends hear about my happy, stable relationship they tend to be a little shocked (shocked, I tell you!), but to me all the messiness has been part of a big movement toward something great.

In short, I totally identify with this post and all of your rules, and I’m so happy you’ve found someone awesome.

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16 Bridget@PavementandPlants September 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I think everyone has to go through that one horrible relationship that leaves you eating pizza in bed and drinking until you black out. Once you get through that, it’s like you’ve earned a good relationship!

I HATE when women are the assholes and blame it on the men. Then, if you try to say something, you’re the bad friend that’s siding with the guy. So annoying.

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17 Jaclyn September 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Not only is your timing impeccable, as usual, but Rule #13 seriously makes my life complete. A-mazing.

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18 Stephanie @ Single in the City September 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

All I have to say is my guy better be coming my way soon, because I’ve had my fair share of ASSHOLES! Hell, I even married two of them!! Seriously, it’s time for me to find lasting happiness…

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19 Rachel September 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm

It’s gotta be out there! You should definitely read “The Dating Optimist.”

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20 Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl September 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

Just found your blog through I’m an Okie’s tweet – and I’m already hooked!

Love your writing – love how you keep it real and love your rules.

Also, I’m with ya on the LOL. I’ll definitely keep readin’ :-)

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21 Xi June 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Amen to that! Although part of me wishes I had not gone through all the heartache and trouble past relationships have caused, I do realise now more and more that each one taught me something new. Your post just nails it down for me and crushes out any lingering doubts about my instincts. My biggest lesson was to trust my instincts and react to them rather than pushing them away in the fear of being seen as rude or too quick to judge. I have paid the price in more ways than one and now my instincts are gold dust to me. So thank you Rachel for this post!

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