Every woman has a string of ex-boyfriends she looks back on with either slight fondness or extreme disdain. Whether the breakup was mutual, crushing or for the best, there’s always some love lost.
Along with the possible STD, some bad mixtapes and a collection of hoodies, every woman leaves a relationship with a hefty bag of lessons. Because you never go from love to hate without some type of lesson learned.
These lessons -- these devastating, heartbreaking and sometimes cold lessons -- are present in any relationship, no matter how special or important you thought your relationship was compared to the lot.
These lessons are many times hard to find, mainly because we throw our exes away like bad fruit or that Vera Bradley tote you had to have in sixth grade.
We don’t always like to think about them, about the people we were when we were with them, and we definitely don’t like to delve into their winning or less-than-desirable qualities.
In order to grow, however, sometimes we must go back. We have to take a cold, hard look at the men we used to think we loved and learn from them.
While all our exes are diverse and unique, what they taught us is universal. Certain qualities, characteristics and traits are undeniably inherent in all men.
And in those stints (whether long or short) when we're single, we can look back at all our past loves and realize that while some of them couldn’t have been more different, sometimes they were exactly the same.
Whether it was the boy in college who broke your heart, or your first love in kindergarten, there are similarities in all the men who've entered your life -- maybe not in who they are and how they treated you, but in what they taught you.
They all underestimated you.
Every man you’ve been with and broken up with was always guilty of not appreciating you the way you needed to be appreciated. But don’t blame him, that’s men in general.
Women have been put down unconsciously (and consciously) by the male species for centuries. It only takes a few bad exes to realize that sometimes women really do get the raw end of the deal.
They all brought you closer to knowing what you want in a man.
It takes a slew of ex-boyfriends to find what it will take to find a man worth fighting (and crying) for.
Every one of your past loves showed you what you don’t want and got you that much closer to figuring out what you do.
They all made you that crazy, boyfriend-obsessed girl.
It only takes those few times you’re with someone to realize that even you can become that girl. And after being that girl, you can take it easier on your best friend when she becomes her.
We’ve all fallen into the trap, the trap of the obsessed, lovesick, annoying single girl who found someone for five minutes and thinks she's going to be happy and in love forever.
Gag me now, please.
None of them could do shower sex.
No matter how good the sex was, shower sex was never good. Every attempt with every ex brought you one attempt closer to understanding that shower sex will never work and eventually you should just stop trying.
Save the guy you're going to marry the humiliation.
None of them could take a hint.
Your boyfriend is never going to be able to understand you the way your girlfriends can. He can’t read facial cues and pick up on bad moods. He’s not in-tune to the female psyche and will never know what's going on in your mind.
As much as you wanted him to be a mind reader, he'll never be able to read beyond the few facial cues you think are so obvious. After you figure this out, you'll be better able to understand the male species. And while you'll always be disappointed, the severity of it will lessen.
They all were unchangeable.
If the guy he is now isn’t the guy you want to be with in 10 years, then he’s not the guy for you. It takes a few exes who won't change to figure this lesson out.
It takes time to come to terms with the fact that if he's not who you want him to be now, he never will be.
A cheater will always be a cheater, and a liar is always a liar. And a guy who likes to wear Timberlands and basketball shorts will always have bad taste.
They were all clueless.
Don’t get me wrong, some of them were very smart and will go on to lead admirable and distinguished careers. But when it came to some things -- like reading past “I’m fine,” or the fact that you really didn't want a Michael Vick jersey for your birthday -- they can be absolutely clueless.
Realize this, accept it and declare yourself the dominant species (even if you never tell them).
They all hurt you... if only for a second.
They’ll make you cry, but not forever. Your tears will stop and your heart will mend itself again. You'll experience pain and then, just like it came, it'll go.
Nothing lasts forever, not your boyfriends, not love and definitely not that lump in your throat.