I recently heard Unsent by Alanis Morissette again for the first time in years. For those in the know, it's a song of short letters to her ex-boyfriends. I loved that song when I first heard it, though I had fewer experiences under my belt to appreciate it fully. Wait, fewer? In 1998, when that song came out, I had practically none. I mentally padded my history by considering unrequited crushes as some sort of past romantic life under the justification that my singular feelings counting for something. Ah, yes. The delusions of teenagers.
I'm just about finished reading I Don't Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner. Now there is a woman with so much experience a song would never do. The book is truly necessary. And damn if it's not a funny book that delights and horrifies me with its witty turns and shocking anecdotes. And that's funny because despite having a wildly different (read less promiscuous, more serially monogamous) romantic history, it's like reading someone whose mind is similar to my own, if my own mind were wired for plenty of experimental sex with men I don't know very well. And I like that. Unbridled and loosely restrained sexuality is very fascinating to me, being a more cautious type of person, myself.
What sorts of things would I tell my exes now? In some cases, I'm still in touch. In others, I wouldn't know where to begin to look. They could be dead for all I know, or in South America, living off lottery wins, or in a cult, or prison or down the street.
The very first boyfriend I ever had was when I was 16. He was... many things, one of which was wrong for me in every single way. I was quite desperate at that time to date a boy, beginning to fear there was something wrong with me. Looking back, I was untouchable at school. Untouchable as in Not To Be Touched. At first there were some guys who found me attractive, but that became a thing of the distant past by the time grade 10 hit. Some people thought I was gay, others found me unfeminine, and everyone thought I was weird.
This guy lived around my neighbourhood, so was unaware of my undateableness. He showed up in the winter at my doorstep without shoes to prove how excited he was to come see me. He was not much of a catch, sad as it is to say. He was not very good looking, nor was he very bright. He seemed to mean well and liked me a good deal, which at the time was enough for me. But he was also socially awkward, smoked constantly and had crass manners. It lasted less than two months. He lied a lot, to me and about me, and misjudged my level self esteem; he thought making fun of me would make me insecure enough to stay. Rather, it made ending things super easy for me.
I was so utterly embarrassed over my association with this character, that I had anxiety of anyone from my school ever meeting him, knowing of him and learning I dated him. But he served an important purpose in my life. I was much happier being sans boyfriend and the inner stigma I carried of never having been wanted or dated was gone.
After him was another neighbourhood boy, a good-looking, tall, kind, intelligent sort of person who was leaps and bounds a better choice than the first poor sap. But having learned how much happier I was being alone than with someone I wasn't into, his superior credentials didn't lure me in longer than a couple weeks. We shared a ridiculously funny kiss, broke up, stayed friends and I have him on Facebook. He's a really decent person. Too bad I hadn't dated him first; I could've avoided dating the other one.
I then dated an adorable boy I met at an anime convention. For a geek like myself, it was pretty much a dream come true. And he turned out to be gay and our relationship was the push he apparently needed to come out of the closet. I'm very happy to have been a part of that for him now, but at the time I was not as jazzed. I wish I knew what became of him. I haven't given him a lot of thought, but I'd still like to know if he's happy, dating anyone special, or a teacher like he planned on being. He was the first boy who ever dumped me, and it's a valuable thing to happen at some point because then you learn you'll get over it and that's a good lesson you happily cannot unknow.
I then entered my first long-term relationship, with B, the kind where you make future plans, meet each other's families and generally are happy. Except for the complete lack of romantic passion. But it's amazing what friendship, comfort, security and trust will do to keep two people together. This guy was a number of firsts for me. We were living together for the last year of our 3.5 year stint. We rarely fought, we communicated well and we genuinely liked each other. But we were like roommates.
I'd ended things before, but nothing so monumental as this. I had realized we were only friends wrongly titled boyfriend and girlfriend. I wanted an actual friendship and knew it was possible I would not get one. Luckily, he wanted the same thing. Not that it wasn't a process, or that a switch was flipped and things were hunky dory. But six years after the fact he's my buddy. Actually, he and the Dude are buddies and hang out; Dude sees B more often than I do.
Shortly after this relationship ended I met this attractive paraplegic, who in many ways was actually more wrong for me than B was. But what I had perceived as missing with B (Passion) was there with wheels, so I dove in. Now, this was another first for me. I'd fallen in love and was all high with the euphoria from it. But when the person you're in love with is wildly different from the sort of person you can be happy with, even if he loves you back, you're basically existing within a cocoon that has an expiration date.
And I learned a ton about myself and what sort of man I needed. This two-year relationship was a pivotal one for me in many ways. I was with someone who couldn't be on time for anything, whether it was dinner, family gatherings, funerals, didn't matter. He was 100% honest, which was awesome until it extended to things that were unnecessary and started to hurt my feelings. He was incredibly generous, very funny and warm. But he was a procrastinator, an idealist, a dreamer, and seemingly afraid of conflicts. We also wanted different things out of life, in the present, in the near future and in the distant future.
Something about him brought out all my neurosis. I became withdrawn as well. I kind of felt like I was a part of The Mr. X Show sometimes. I also knew in my heart he didn't really understand me, and moreover wished I was a different kind of person, which only made me more anxious and unhappy.
He ended it, I saw it coming and more or less severed contact. He wasn't a bad guy, not at all. Just bad for me. And then I found the Dude. He's punctual, and my friend. He drives me crazy when he brings things home he finds on the side of the road, but we communicate well. And there's passion and comfort and shared desires and goals.
#1, I'm sorry I went out with you, but I hope your life is going well. I don't really ever want to see you again, though. We didn't have anything special.
#2, Sorry I didn't give you more of a chance, but only because it probably hurt your feelings, not because it could have worked out. I'm glad we're on good terms.
#3, Where are you? What happened to you? Damn, I'm curious. I hope you're super happy. I wish I knew what you were up to.
B, I'll probably see you soon enough. Glad we're friends. I have nothing left unsaid with you. I think you're great.
My last ex, I probably have the most complex feelings towards you out of all them. I'm glad we were together, I'm glad we're not together now, and I hope you find or found what you're looking for.
Dude, I love you, you crazy bastard.