Date a loser at least once

Everyone should date a loser at least once in their lifetime. That way, you truly understand where you fit into the world of love and war. Maybe some of you have already. Who knows? Maybe you were the loser in a relationship once. Getting dumped because you’re a loser is equally beneficial. Listen, I’m not telling you to wander through moms’ basements scouting for trolls, or to sleep around indiscriminately.

No, do it the right way.

Your loser should have enough redeeming qualities to make the relationship viable. It’s even better if you don’t know you’re dating one at first. Trick yourself. For example, I’ve dated at least two losers. Both of them were incredibly attractive, though. One of them liked science fiction and fantasy, so that was a bonus. We could have conversations. If nothing else, we had physical chemistry on fleek (people still say that, right?). Maybe my losers turned me on so much precisely because some part of me knew our relationship was doomed. I find lost causes highly erotic.

What made them losers? One had been trying to give up cocaine for months. The other lived with his parents, and didn’t have a full-time job. Also, he’d failed some college courses. For a future professor, that’s unforgivable in the long run.

Date a loser, but don’t marry one. Ultimately, I knew I’d have to dump mine when he lost his temper over a game of Risk. That’s right. We were playing Risk with another couple over drinks. If you haven’t played Risk while drinking hard liquor, you should.

The night had gone well until my date captured all of Asia. He held it for three turns, gloating about his intellect until I invaded him through Australia. Classic oversight. My mate literally glared at me, then engaged the silent treatment when we started making fun of him. Major mistake. Why? His knowledge and skill with Risk was somehow intimately tied up with his self identity. He used to win at Risk all the time. Based on the way he talked about Risk that night, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it listed on his resume.

My invasion offended him so greatly that he wouldn’t even kiss me or hold my hand the rest of the night. I’m not kidding. That’s how seriously he took that fucking game.

This incredibly attractive 24-year-old was literally pouting over a board game. Because I was pretty smashed, it didn’t register right away. For about two hours, I thought he was pretending to pout. So I teased him. Eventually, he went to bed. (We were spending the night with our guests.) The next day we went for a hike, and he spent most of it lecturing me on loyalty. Why had I betrayed him? We were supposed to be a team, and was that how I planned to act as a wife?, and all kinds of shit.

It’s hard to make out with a man-child and not feel like a pedophile. After our first fight, his rating started to fall. Maybe he knew, and that’s why he pitched three more fits about stupid shit. One time, he actually ran off like an 8-year-old-girl might and hid in a bathroom.

My advice to anyone: Don’t ever run off from a lover and pout. You can’t recover from that.

Anyway, everyone needs to experience the act of dumping someone. For me, that day was a turning point. Beforehand, I’d either stood on the receiving end of breakups, or we’d made the decision mutually. Some people might think dumping someone feels great. Actually, it feels worse than getting dumped.

You know that person everyone hates, the one who sends food back at a restaurant? Well, when you dump someone, you feel like you’re treating the other person like a plate of food. Yeah, I know I ordered him. Sorry, I didn’t realize he came with olives. Sure, I could pick out the olives, but that’s too much trouble. Just give me something completely new.

Dumping someone gave me a sense of ownership over my love life that I’d never felt before. I’d always treated romance and relationships like forces beyond my control, as things that happened to me — not things that I made happen. That was a whole new way of thinking. I could make conscious decisions about my relationships.

My newfound clarity transferred over into some of my friendships, too. Fuck, did I have some toxic friends that needed cleansing. This one friend of mine infected me with her bad ideas on a weekly basis. She was fun, but made terrible life choices, and then sought my validation for them. Having to tacitly approve poor decisions fuck up your own logic, and eventually I was starting to hold myself less accountable and make excuses for myself.

Oh, didn’t get that job? Those people were assholes. Someone charged you not returning a rental on time? That’s so unfair! She made the cocaine addict I dated look responsible by comparison. At least he didn’t try to convince me that our graduate student health insurance should cover plastic surgery. And even cocaine addicts can make it to the airport on time. If they miss their flight, they don’t call up their friends and complain about the airline for half an hour. They just do a line of coke and then go about their day. My friend had no excuses for the mess of her life. In fact, steady drug use may have improved her ability to function considerably.

One night, this friend and I met for drinks to talk about her online dating and how she might lower her standards. “This one guy I’m seeing, he’s nice and intelligent. When he touches me, though, it feels gross. But maybe I should try to compromise on that.” Oh, and he wore sneakers with khakis. All the time. Guys, don’t ever do that.

Nope. Don’t do it.

The real thing I learned from this period in my life? Value myself more. Many of us date losers because we think that’s the best we can do. We think of our relationships in terms of trade-offs. You can have a hottie, but he won’t have brains. You can have brains, but not chemistry.

Fuck that.

You can have both. You deserve both. Your spouse doesn’t have to be a model, rock star, or neurosurgeon. They might have flaws, but don’t settle for someone with a number of serious ones because you think they’re the only game in town. To top it all off, you don’t even have to date! Until you find someone worth all the work of a relationship, you can just enjoy your vibrator. It gives so much, and asks so little in return.