Romance & Love For Beginners: Lessons from my exes
If my 'romance life' has taught me anything it's that life is not a Nicholas Spark's novel, or even a rom-com. Despite my best intentions (and efforts) boys come and go. That's the nature of life and love it seems. Every boyfriend is the one, until other wise proven. At least when a relationship ends and the dust settles you can look back and attempt to learn a lesson from the relationship you've just come out of. I've taken to trying to be objective about some lessons and vaguely feel prepared for the next poor soul that walks into my life.
This list is by no means 'it', the lessons I've learnt from my various exes are many. However, I don't want to look (too) bitter, if I listed every grievance and lesson learnt we'd be here all day and I don't think I'd ever find a new boyfriend. As it's looking I'm leaning towards a feline companion anyway.
1 - Not even affection can bridge a 1ft5 height difference
My first boyfriend was 6ft4 and I stood (and still stand) stumpy at 4ft11. Standing next to him was like standing next to the Empire State Building whilst I was a single story first time buyers home. Holding hands was like reaching for the stars and having a permanently sore side for holding my arm up in the air.
I like to date tall men, and realistically at 4ft11 it's not hard to find men taller than me. It's useful because they can reach for the top shelf where you hide your snacks or can fix broken light bulbs for you. However, even I have to concede that at some point the height difference is ridiculous. Wearing heels is cute, what's less cute is crippled feet and when he rests his head on yours as if you're his personal head rest.
2 - If he's got a Lostprohets tattoo that should be a red flag
I started dating my first long term boyfriend well before the whole Ian Watkins story hit the news, but knowing that he had a Lostprophets tattoo really should have been my first warning sign. Even before the news about Ian Watkins came out, we all knew he was creepy. That aside parts of the tattoo were wonky or badly done so it wasn't even a good tattoo from an artistic perspective.
However, I was still partly in an emo and pop punk appreciation stage and for some reason, which I'm still not sure I understand, I thought it was cool. We live to learn from our mistakes.
As it turns out ironically around the time Ian Watkins was first arrested, this ex boyfriend began his 6 month cheating stint.Now I take great schadenfreude in the fact that he's had to spend large amounts of money on tattoo removal. You know what they say about karma...
3 - You're not a real couple until you have a fight in IKEA
Oh IKEA, it seems like such a fun idea at the start of any fledgling relationship: let's go pick out a Billy bookcase that you wanted for your new place but let's also play the 'dream home' game, have meatballs and sauce for lunch and then buy more stuff we don't need in the market hall and spend £20 on candles.
As it turns out it's less 500 Days of Summer and more Black Friday carnage. First you realise whilst strolling around the showroom that your tastes are not at all similar. You like a grey sofa, he points to a black leather couch. He likes the green apple candle and you like the pink rose candle (nobody should ever like the green candle, be wary of people who do). He doesn't see the point of a faux sheepskin rug but you saw it in a blogger vlog and need it 'because of reasons'. Then he finally settles on the bookshelf he wants for his room, but neither of you drive or own a car. "How are we going to get this into a taxi?", "We don't", he says "I'll leave it here." I tell him to just call the taxi company and ask for the biggest taxi they have, he's horrified by the mere idea. Male stubbornness ensues and we have a stand down in aisle 25. The taxi journey home (sans billy bookcase) is silent and once home he stoically builds his Expedit as a sign of manliness and competence.
We never went back.
The only man I can ever take to IKEA is my long suffering father who has built and dismantled more IKEA shelving and furniture in his life than he wants to admit. A never once complained (to my face at least).
4 - An ex is an ex for a reason
It doesn't always feel fair or right; you love them, you miss, them you want them back. Or you hate them, despise them and want to burn everything that reminds you of them. Dealing with an ex and the emotions from a break up, regardless of who broke up with whom or why, is hard. Keeping perspective is even more difficult, thinking about your ex can be all consuming and very counter productive.
But remember: if that person was the right person for you, you'd still be together (bad tattoos and IKEA shelving arguments aside). Once the emotional fog lifts and you have time to look back you realise that it's true: an ex is an ex for a reason. I strongly believe that the right person will walk into your life at the right time, in the meanwhile at least you have ridiculous stories about exes to make you life and remind you to keep you standards high. Very high.