I can't imagine what kind of hot mess I would have turned out to be had I been nothing but a meek adolescent in the sugar-pop, baby-voice era of the early 2000s.
I often hear people say there is a massive personality gap between older Millennials and younger Millennials, and I personally chalk it up to the vast difference in popular music, not technology.
How could we not be entirely different creatures? You grew up with the Christinas and the Britneys, and I grew up with the Fionas and the Toris. Both are equally fierce and both have valid places in our culture, but they're entirely different breeds of artists with entirely different styles and agendas.
And our first great influencers are musicians, right? The '90s was the time when the strong female singer/songwriter thrived. You didn't have to search the underground vortex of music to find girls who played their own instruments and wrote their own song lyrics.
In fact, I would go on the record and say the girl singers of the '90s exposed me to the world of dating before anyone else did. I heard their dating stories when I was young, impressionable and knew nothing about life or love.
But I paid attention to these badass women singing about their relationships. They were heartbreakers as much as they were heartbroken. They were vulnerable and unbreakably strong at once. They were aggressive and hyper-sexual and wildly creative and just not to be fucked with.
They were multifaceted, like real women actually are but are rarely depicted as such in the media.
I fully credit them with the strong dating backbone I have now. I hear my younger counterparts talk about getting screwed over by some douchebag again and again, and I just think, Damn, if only you had the fierce, force of nature anti-hero Ms. Courtney Love as a teen to show you the ropes. Because '90s girls were feared and had a zero fuckboy policy.
However, as incredible as all the '90s girl singer icons were, they were all unique individuals with totally opposing perspectives on the world. And the one you connected with the most says everything about the way you date now.
Fiona Apple: You're a low-key heartbreaker.
Growing up, my favorite girl singer was no doubt the brilliant, the beautiful and the complicated, Fiona Apple. And girl, you better believe she has totally influenced my current dating style.
See, we Fiona girls are rarely satisfied. We have a lot going on inside of us, and have a tendency to turn inward when we're struggling. It takes a very special human being to keep us entertained, and we're fiercely independent.
In short: We would rather be alone than put up with your bullshit.
And hell hath no fury like a Fiona fan bored. When we're bored in our dating lives, we tend to get really naughty and do really "criminal" things, like writhe naked in steamy bathtubs right in front of you before we smash your heart into a million little pieces.
Because Fiona girls are low-key heartbreakers. We might be totally bonkers and infuriate you with our introverted tendencies, but you're just addicted to our incessant challenge, like a DRUG.
Alanis Morissette: You don't get sad; you get even.
I can't imagine the '90s without Alanis, and I don't ever want to. If you grew up listening to "Jagged Little Pill" blasting through the speakers daily (like me), you're now an adult who understands the power of the HATE SEX.
Alanis made heartbreak seem like anything but weakness. She wasn't lamenting over her broken heart all depressed and oh, woe is me. Nah, she was tearing up her six string guitar belting "ARE YOU THINKING OF ME WHEN YOU FUCK HER?" instead.
She made it OK for us to own our anger in our relationships, which is something women have been historically forbidden to do. So now, yeah, we can get angry and we can freak out on you, but in a totally fabulous, STRONG way that leads to the best salacious sex of your life.
Oh, and when we're dumped, we don't get sad; we get even. By making super successful art about what a tool you are.
But don't get mad. If you didn't want to get written about, you shouldn't have behaved that way, you know?
Mariah Carey: You're a hopeless romantic.
If you were a Mariah girl like my best friend Suzie was growing up, then you're now a hopeless romantic who never wants to see the ~dark side~ of love. Mariah was one of the more glittery, butterfly-loving, great romantics of the '90s.
Mariah fans might seem like sweet and sultry ladies who are easily pleased and will let you get away with murder because you'll "always" be her "baby" no matter what sins you commit. However, underneath that soft exterior is a ton of GLITTER, and GLITTER IS FIERCE.
You're a total diva who wants to be wined and dined and driven around in limos and only adorned in the sexiest lingerie. You're soft and romantic, as long as you're getting exactly what you want.
Ani DiFranco: You know how to date like a feminist.
I discovered the fiercely independent Ani DiFranco in the late '90s, and I can't imagine who the hell I would be without her as one of my great role models. All of us Ani lovers learned how to truly date like a feminist early on.
We don't subscribe to your stifling gender roles, and we won't ever be undermined or spoken down to by anyone because of our female identity. Like Ani D, we have "no criteria for sex or race"; we just want to "hear your voice and see your face."
Despite the strong political stances we take, we're deep, deep, deep lovers, and once we've dropped the steel guard, we will love you harder than anyone else ever will. SO DON'T EVER BREAK OUR HEARTS.
Sheryl Crow: You're the authentic, "chill girl," beer-drinking girlfriend.
If Sheryl Crow was your '90s girl singer, then you, my darling, have grown up to be an authentic "chill girl."
You're a ripped-denim-and-cowboy-boots kind of girl who is unafraid to slug back the beer and hang with the boys at the pool table. You don't merely bat your lashes and take cheap shots at being overly feminine; you sink back into your chair and chain-smoke cigarettes without giving two shits if you're "girly" enough.
You just want to have "some FUN," babe.
However, underneath your "chill girl" exterior is some deeply rooted pain. When the booze wears off, you need to be sure that your man is indeed "man enough to be" your "man." I mean, there are only so many times you can "party until the sun comes up over Santa Monica boulevard" before you have a breakdown.
Courtney Love: You get whatever the hell you want.
Courtney Love was the anti-hero style icon of the '90s, looking badass in her tiny babydoll dresses, torn tights and fierce boots. If Courtney Love was your greatest influence, then you date like a genius.
You get any guy or girl you want, and package yourself as a reckless mess that needs to be saved when really... you've got it all figured out.
You know how to get what you want, but manipulate the situation so your partner thinks it was all his (or her) idea. You refuse to take no for answer, you love to party like a hot mess rockstar, you're sexy and you're pouty -- but everyone knows you're a loose cannon not to be messed with.
Your partners are slightly afraid of you, and you hold them right in the palm of your chipped, nail-polished hands.
Lauryn Hill: You aren't wooed by sweet talk.
If Lauryn Hill was your favorite '90s girl singer, then you're a no bullshit dater. You have zero time for games, zero time for players and zero time for any lies in the name of love. You're a fierce feminist with a strong sense of self that will never get blurred in the thick of a relationship.
But despite your independence, you still appreciate and value love. You're just smart enough to eventually walk away when it gets self destructive. You'll feel the pain of a broken relationship, but know that this is "crazy."
Tori Amos: You love with an open heart.
If Tori is your main girl, then you're an ethereal dater. In fact, dating you is like dating a gorgeous creature who transcends basic humanity.
You're raw, uncensored and live your life with an open heart. You've got some demons, babe, but you haven't let that ever stop you from loving another person with a full, teeming heart. You're empowered by the pain of your troubled past, and connect with others (like Tori did with Trent Reznor) who embrace their pain, as well.
You need a soulful partner who appreciates and fully understands that you're a "precious thing." When delicate, soulful creatures like you are in the wrong hands, it gets dark. But you'll create some beautiful music about the experience when you eventually see the villains for who they are.