In my opinion, if you’re over 25 and don’t have at least one “bad boyfriend” story, something’s wrong with you. Mine, who I dated right around 23, was a totally self-absorbed, not particularly cute, questionably gay co-worker who was occasionally kind to me, yet more often a serious ass, bringing that annoying Katy Perry “Hot ‘N Cold” song to life. Seriously, I could spend weeks posting insane accounts of his jerk-tastic behavior or the emails my friends sent me pleading that I please, for the love of God, cut him loose. Because I probably spent more money on Kleenex than rent during the tenure of our relationship, looking back, I want to smack young, immature me for putting up with his nonsense for so long. What kind of self-assured woman lets a dude treat her like dirt? I did, but, believe it or not, I’m glad he’s included in my relationship Rolodex. Had I not dated Mr. Not-So-Incredible, I never would have been able to fully appreciate the warmth, kindness, generosity and – gasp! – maturity of Mr. Truly Incredible, who I later married. If you too have partnered with a total tool, you’ll love the first-person recollections and redemptive lessons in What Was I Thinking: 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories (edited by Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubelman) as much as I did. Penned by authors like Carrie Fisher and “Sex and the City” writer Cindy Chupak, the stories are more than, “Seriously, how much did he suck?” rants — they’re celebrations of the instant when logic, common sense and simple self-respect triumph over the need to be loved — or, at least, the need to be in a relationship.
Though there’s a requisite amount of ex-bashing (it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without some, right?), the authors never shy away from taking themselves to task, examining how and why they got involved with a jerk in the first place. Thankfully, the authors steer clear of any annoyingly self-indulgent amateur psychoanalysis, instead choosing to include a hefty dose of humor, as in Kerri Cesene’s “The Yogi”, the story of her fling with a yoga instructor:
“He pulled me on top. I smiled and leaned down to kiss his sacred lips. I closed my eyes. The I felt…his hand…on my …shoulder…which he gently rolled back…and I thought, ohmygod, is he correcting my posture? During sex?!? Since then I’ve been amazed to discover how many douchebags become yoga teachers.”
Also priceless are the stories of a woman whose ex told her friends he thought her ass was too big – after she left to go to the ladies’ room; one whose former boyfriend accused her of ruining the soup by making it with the wrong-sized noodles; and, of course, a woman who once dated a guy who stole her stuff. Not joking.
It’s comforting, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, to realize that you’re not the only one who’s taken a trip down dating-a-loser lane. And as you do, I bet that you too will realize that despite any heartache you incurred while doing so, you’re better off for having endured the journey. And if anything, you’ve got a kick-ass story for the next edition of this book.