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For twenty years, I’ve researched a theory about men and me.

It started when I was 19 in my secret “Man book.” If you’ve ever had a diary dedicated to males, then you’ve also had a “Man Book”. I aimed to date 50 men in a year. 50 seemed like a reasonable amount of due diligence to test the dating pool and find my ideal mate. I aimed to document the dates and prove my theory. I wrote my theory in bold across two pages. It said:

“The man you want will want you too.”

This man mantra was to set me straight after years of being boy crazy and falling in love with boys who didn’t love me back. He will want you too. That’s how you’ll know, Lauren, that’s how you’ll know. 

But twenty years later and I was still researching my theory. It’s only true if you can’t disprove it, right? And how many times should you test a theory? A hundred? Ten years? Twenty? I think one life sentence is probably enough. Maybe? No, it is. My research phase concludes. 

Lauren’s hypothesis is, in fact, not true. 

The man I want will not want me back.

I will want him. 

And all the men who want me, I will not want. No thanks, next. 

Men were interchangeable. The result? The same.

Welcome to the awkward diary of a love addict.

In 20 years, I’ve dated hundreds of men. And I’ve written about it online. When I was 19, I wrote about my dating experiment as the resident “Man Eater” for Student Life Magazine. I thought it was super cool to be a South African Carrie Bradshaw in my very own Sex in the City life. Very Hollywood.

I did a stint as the agony aunt, “Pussy Galore” and even went onto a TV show in a Queen Elizabeth mask to answer dating questions. I didn’t like the sexual connotation of that name, so hiding inside a mask felt comfortable. You can look at me, as long as you don’t know it’s really me inside this mask. I’ve always blended the lines of public and personal personas. There’s no better place to hide than in the spotlight, whether that’s the stage or screen. But writing has always been a way out for me. Seeing all my messy thoughts and feelings in black and white gave an order to the chaos. But when FHM magazine offered me the writing job as a sex columnist, I drew the line. I happily modeled for them, topless in a thong (more on that another time), but writing about sex? What would people think?

I wanted to be a desirable pin-up, not a desperate, sex-crazed maniac. I was dating for love and marriage, not hookups! Dating, not mating, I’d clarify, in case my future husband was reading my articles. He was.

When I thought I had found a match, I paused my theory. I didn’t make it all the way to date 50 because I married number 27 and got myself a husband. For a while, I thought I’d written myself into my very own happily ever after. Falling in love was easy for me because the thing is, it was never really about the person. It was all about my projection of who they could be, if only they lived up to the potential I thought they had. I liked my men half-baked, not fully formed, fixer-uppers, works in progress, projects that I could complete through loving them whole. Trust me to finish the job his parents failed at. I wanted to raise my very own man-child through my misplaced maternal instincts.

Because when it came down to choosing between fantasy versus reality, I’d choose fantasy every time.

After I divorced 27, I went from a “good” wife to a wild woman/party girl. I did all the things I’d hoped that getting married early would stop me from doing.

Love or content?

I chose content. Some were just coffee conversations, others were whirlwind 72-hour romances. All of my attempts at love crashed and burned. And I continued writing about them online. 

I started the “Love, Lauren” blog and detailed my dating horror stories. When I wrote “Love, Lauren” I swore it wasn’t me begging readers to love me, it was just, you know, love from me. I wrote a full blog explaining the comma. Bottom line? If he would just stick to the script I’d written in my head for him, then “happy wife, happy life” would be my happy destiny. But that never happened and so reducing men who hurt me to 1-pagers made me feel better about another failed attempt at love.

I didn’t know that love and fantasy addiction was a real thing. When I’d say, “I don’t do drugs, I do people,” I was just unproblematically self-aware. I’m a creative artist – of course, I’m obsessed with Love. Turns out, using men to medicate the pain of being alive is not the healthiest solution to hopelessness.

When I stopped drinking and got sober, I decided it was too mean to blog like that anymore. It also wasn’t very professional and businesswoman of me, so, my Love, Lauren alter ego had to go. I wanted to kill off all the awkward parts of myself. The lonely, desperate, obsessed, and depressed parts that believed if I was just better, it would all be better and I could control the story of my happy ending. I was a strong, successful, sober woman now. My suffering in love was behind me.

Besides, who would ever want to date a person who wrote about men online? 

It’s so awkward.

Yes. Yes, it is. 

But what I’ve realized in peeling the onion of recovery is that it’s not about improving myself but accepting myself and that means all the parts I’ve thrown away. There’s a place for the part that wants to be loved and the storyteller who loves fantasy and the healing version that’s changing every day. All the parts belong here. I don’t have the answers, but I do have stories. Lots of stories. So, some stories I’ll share here are new. They’re inside the category of Sober Dating. Some are from my old blog, in the category: Love, Lauren.

My problem is still reality. I just don’t like it very much. And sometimes, the best thing I can do with being so uncomfortable all the time is to drink a coffee, light a candle, cry a little, and then create something from my confusion. I do my best to pass my time in a way that entertains me and hopefully you too, because life feels better with an audience. Enjoy my salacious, scandalous, sometimes sad, surprising, and sensational stories. I’ve made them for both of us.

Love, Lauren

P.S: If you enjoy these stories, buy me a coffee. I always want another one. Thanks x

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