If you recently binged through Gilmore Girls on Netflix, chances are you’re watching it for the second time through. Maybe this is the first time you’ve related more to Lorelai than Rory, maybe you have newfound sympathy for Emily, maybe you’re realizing they made a lot more references to pagers than you remember. But most certainly, your opinions on Rory’s boyfriends have changed. You get to a certain point in life where it’s no longer about which boyfriend you think is best for Rory; it’s about the fact that you’ve dated every one of them. At least, that’s true for me. By the end of Season 7, I not only experienced and survived Rory’s dating history but my own as well.
Your mom loved Dean. He planned surprises for you that rivaled spontaneous helicopter getaways on The Bachelor. He called when he said he would. And he took your need for solitude personally. In the end, you realized it was actually kind of personal; you just weren’t that into him. It was the little things at first: He wouldn’t eat Indian food, he didn’t share your dream of going to Asia, he didn’t read that book you gave him to read months ago. The little things signified bigger things: He was threatened by your independence, he didn’t like to try new things. But you didn’t think it was legitimate to break up with someone because he wasn’t as adventurous as you and he wore turtlenecks that were too big. You always wish you loved him more, and the romantic gestures and puppy eyes made you believe you did, up until the moment they didn’t.
He was so confused why you didn’t like him. After all, he thought you were cute; it was your turn to reciprocate. He got your attention by calling you names relating to your body type, virginity, and genuine interest in school assignments. It was the first time you realized it was too easy to deal with the patriarchy by just giving in instead of trying to fight. Thank god he moved. Thank god you started reading Bust Magazine and realized you didn’t actually have to put up with his negging. You only wish he’d taken a gender studies elective at his fancy private school. Right now, he’s sitting at a sports bar with his bro Todd, telling a hot girl that he doesn’t like her haircut.
You had never met anyone who really got Bukowski like you did. And certainly never anyone who got Bukowski and had hair like that. When you were together, it was you two against the world. When you were apart, it was just you against the world, having to explain why he didn’t show up to your family thing, why he didn’t call when he said he would, why you didn’t seem like yourself anymore, why he wouldn’t call you his girlfriend. But for every time he didn’t call, there was a time he kissed you, and that kiss would reacquaint you with your body. For every time he said “She’s not my girlfriend, we’re just hanging out,” he would give you a mix CD that would soundtrack the next several years. At the end of every explosive public argument, there was a glimmer of hope that he would change in the form of an elaborate apology, complete with gifts. But he never changed. Years later, you are still recovering.
You scroll past his name in your phone and you wonder “Which guy was that?” You assume you had a date once, but you can’t for the life of you remember his face. Was he Hairy Guy? Small Hands? The guy your friend nicknamed John Leguizamo when she saw his Tinder pictures? Did you talk about that New Yorker article you both liked? No, you think that was Ian. Did you go to that ’80s-themed bar together? No, that was probably Jonathan. Or was it Paul? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Who was this guy again, and why is he texting you that Oprah bees gif? From now on, you thoughtfully label your dates in your phone. First name: Matt, Last Name: Split the Bill. First Name: Toby, Last Name: Cargo Shorts. First Name: Brett, Last Name: Doesn’t Read Books.
He wasn’t your type. Too self-assured. Too down-to-earth. Too reliable. Too easygoing. Too interested in your hobbies and passions. Too humble. Too willing to help. Too comfortable introducing you to his friends. Too supportive of your dreams. Too hardworking. Too pleasant to your family members. Too patient when you didn’t know how you felt. Too comfortable with your lack of chill. Looked too much like John Mayer. Too respectful of you as an equal. Too appreciative of your introverted nature. Nah, you wanted a guy who would challenge you. You know, a neurotic lit major who enjoyed arguing for fun. Now Marty has his own design firm, a one-bedroom in Soho, a top knot, and a leggy girlfriend from Belgium he met in art school.
He winked at you like he was an old movie star and you were Ava Gardner. That would normally make you gag, but he really did make you feel like Ava Gardner. He dazzled and dashed, and you were a little ashamed to admit it but you quickly grew to love those $25 cocktails at the British boutique hotel lounge. Before meeting him, you thought of yourself the kind of girl who preferred dates at dive bars to prix fixe dinners, but you realized it’s because they were the only kind of dates you’d ever been on. You were used to being the more mature one in a relationship with more life experience, but you realized you didn’t even know a garnish from an appetizer before he came along. He gave you a fantasy life; he didn’t know how to give you real life.
Mari Andrew lives in Washington, DC where she plays the same five chords on her guitar, draws pictures of interesting people on the bus, and writes about her feelings. You can find her on her website, on Twitter, or in the facial product aisle at Sephora.
[All illustrations by author]
[Featured Image via The CW]