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.”