I have always been a relationship guy.
I got my first girlfriend on New Year’s Day of 2000. We dated for three months. It was incredible and when she broke up with me it really took me by surprise. We never had a fight or anything like that. The big issue was that I was much more deeply involved in the relationship than she was.
But she was my first for a lot of things: first girlfriend, first kiss that wasn’t during a game of spin the bottle, first time cuddling on a couch watching Dawson’s Creek, among other things. I remember being very jealous that not only had she had a few boyfriends before me, but she kept mementos around her room of their relationship. And she kept some weird things around, like a little container full of sugar that someone had dared a boy she liked to lick off her stomach during a “legendary” game of truth or dare. That was really our only disagreement.
I was single from March 23rd to July 19th, when I started dating my second girlfriend. Not long into this relationship my first girlfriend started telling me how much love she was in with me and how she needed to get me back. I roundly told her no, but sadly, this would not be the last time, or the last girl to do this. I guess I’m the type of person that people like the thought of being with me more than actually being with me.
My second relationship was awesome. We had a ton of fun together. I fell very passionately in love with her, and her with me. This was the first time a girl ever said those words to me. I was constantly nervous about losing her. She was too good for me, out of my league in every way, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before she figured it out. Of course, the only thing she figured out is that I was constantly scared and overly protective. Her and her best friend always made a spring trip to Disney World. This was going to be the longest we had ever been apart, and we wouldn’t survive it.
She let me down really nicely, in retrospect. But I was certain she had cheated on me even though she swore she hadn’t. A year later she would tell me the story of how she did, in fact, kiss another boy she met at Disney. I was already dating another girl at this point, but my ex insisted that we get back together. We didn’t, of course, but there has always been awkwardness there between us. I’m not saying it is sexual energy or anything, I doubt that very seriously, but just the way everything was handled and everything that happened.
She broke up with me on April 27th. That next summer I spent attached to another female friend. I spent almost every day in her basement. We did kiss a few times, but she always insisted that we weren’t and shouldn’t date. Her longtime boyfriend had just broken up with her as well. We were riding out the sadness together. During this summer, a few girls showed interest in me, but I was pretty much stuck on either being sad or this girl I was hanging out with all the time.
By the end of the summer I started dating my fourth girlfriend. Not only was she in my close group of friends, but I also worked with her. Our relationship was very different than any I had ever been in. She wanted to play Super Nintendo and watch movies when we hung out. It was fun. It was also extremely short lived. I took this girl to Homecoming, but I made the mistake of accepting a dance from my ex. It was, in all reality, completely harmless. I was very happy with my new girlfriend. But my girlfriend didn’t see it that way and broke up with me the next day. I saw her point, even back then, and the split was pretty painless.
That fall, I dated no less than six different girls. I was all over the place and nothing was sticking.
One day that winter I was working at Kmart and after my shift ended at 10pm I drove to a long time friend’s house, a girl, because I was interested in dating her. I don’t really remember what gave me the idea, but I did. I knew that she had just gotten out of a relationship. It was cool. We hung out in the basement and watched a movie. I repeated my actions all week until we finally kissed. From there things progressed but we didn’t officially start being exclusive for a few months, March 16th, 2002.
It was the greatest relationship I had ever been in to that point. We had a lot of the same interests. She was devoted to school and I was devoted to my band, so time apart wasn’t an issue. We were very mature about everything. We lost our virginity to each other. Everything was very beautiful for a long time. She was the last girl I ever dated in high school. We continued on into college. We talked about getting married a lot.
But we also fought all the time, even in high school. What ended things was strange. We were going out to dinner and we were fighting, I have no idea what about, and she made me pull the car over and she got out and started walking home, in heels. After things calmed down, we agreed to take a break, with the specific idea of getting back together soon. She had taken a job at Oakland University where she would have to live in the dorms with incoming freshman as an orientation for a few weeks. I would go up and visit her a few times but I always felt unwanted. We agreed to not talk or anything for the last couple weeks of this thing and when she came home she broke up with me.
I immediately started seeing another girl, and it was when this happened that my ex started to change her tone a bit. First, she insisted that I had cheated on her with this new girl, which was silly. But next I found out she had been with another guy while living at Oakland. Much like past exes, she insisted that we get back together. And for a while we would talk on the phone or online a lot. I was confused in two ways: I wanted to be back with someone I had spent so much time with, and my new girl lived in Hawaii (she went to high school with me but moved there and went to school there). Because she lived in Hawaii we never fully committed to each other, at least, not for a while. So I was in a very strange and vulnerable emotional place. Very confusing.
This didn’t really go on that long. And eventually I did fully commit to my now new girlfriend who lived in Hawaii. I didn’t really find the distance and time difference to be much of a problem. We saw each other twice a year and talked on the phone every day. We were both busy in school and with work, so it worked out fine. I don’t have much to say about this relationship, it lasted a really long time and was really good, but she moved on and I treated her poorly.
We were on and off towards the end, but we officially broke up in the winter of 2006. And the nine months I was single until I met my wife were difficult for me. I had never been alone that long. I was a serial dater my whole life. And the worst part was that there were girls around, but none of them wanted to date me. I felt really rejected. And I also couldn’t find a job, which made everything worse.
One of the things I have often said to my wife since we got engaged is that I am happy that I am done dating. I really enjoyed dating. I love getting to know someone on a deep level. But I was done not being completely happy with the person I was with. I was done with the search. While I think everyone enjoys a first kiss, I was ready to forgo that and really settle in and get comfortable.
I think marriage can be dangerous because it is easy to forget that you are still dating someone. It is easy to make that person an extension of you, but they aren’t. Needs still need to be met, attention needs to be paid and you still need to experience life like you are dating. I’m glad I had plenty of experience with that.