Dating a Musician Kind of Sucks [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

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We all have types. Some of us go for the nerdy, smart ones. Some go for the bad boys with the tattoos and motorcycles. Some go for the completely unavailable. Some go for the too available. Of course, I have a type as well. And it’s pretty much the worst type of all — the musician.

Whether they were the lead singer of a garage band or on the drum line in high school, almost every single guy that I have had an attraction to since Justin Timberlake posters graced my wall was musically inclined. I guess this isn’t a surprise to any of you because we’re all attracted to musicians, right? Why are we so easily wooed when it comes to a guy with a guitar? Is it the sensitivity? Is it the obvious display of talent? I really don’t know, but what I do know is that I can’t stay away. Most of you ladies are attracted to a guy with a guitar, but you’re also smart enough to only let it get that far. You resist the temptation of musicians and go for men with a little more stability and certainty. Don’t get me wrong, stability and certainty are two qualities that I would love in a romantic relationship, but for some reason, musician trumps everything.

Show me a guy with a scruffy beard and blisters on his fingers and watch me blush. There is just something about a man with a guitar and his heart on his sleeve that I will forever be in love with — and this is terrible for so many reasons I’ve had to discover the hard way. I have a bad habit of falling for the passionate, driven, sensitive, talented, creative guys — the musicians.

And now this is a habit I am trying to break.

I recently had my heart trampled on by a musician, and I blame myself (mostly) for this heartbreak. I knew he was trouble from the start, but I dove in headfirst without thinking about what could (and inevitably would) go wrong. It’s always amazing at the beginning. He writes songs about how much he loves you and how your eyes sparkle. He plays private shows for you. He lets you hear his new stuff before anyone else. He makes you feel special. You can’t get enough of each other. The sex is amazing and passionate, and you just know that it’s because he’s so careful and attentive and good with his hands. (Editor’s note: Katie Garrity!!) In the beginning, dating a musician feels like a whole different kind of love — love turned up to eleven, if you will.

But no one ever tells you that he’ll get writer’s block and start a fight with you just so that he can have some new material. No one tells you that he’ll disappear for days at a time because he’s “jamming” with friends and getting high and doesn’t think to call. No one tells you that dating a musician is near impossible. One thing I have learned from falling in love with a musician—you will always come second to the music. You’ll never be first. Music is his true love, and you’re just the girlfriend. You’re always going to place second in the race for his heart. He will never choose you over the music.

Sure there are a few perks to being the love interest of a musician. You’ll get some songs written about you. You’ll hear a lot of cool bands you wouldn’t know existed if it wasn’t for him. You will get to feel cool because that’s your man up there playing his heart out as people cheer and sing along. Musicians feel more than regular guys too, which I always thought was something special. Musicians are passionate, loving, and more emotional and in touch with how they feel. The problem is that they’re also selfish and moody and lazy when it comes to relationships. Music is their life — you’re just a side project.

And you’ll die trying to be a part of that piece of his life. You’ll feel neglected. You’ll feel insecure because, like I said, girls love musicians. You’ll feel annoyed when he constantly tells you that your taste in music is terrible. You’ll wonder where the hell he is as you wait for his phone call that will never come. You’ll listen to those songs he wrote for you and wonder where that person went. You’ll be jealous of the music. You’ll be jealous of everyone who gets his time before you. You’ll try so hard to be the supportive girlfriend who believes in his dreams and wants him to succeed, but in the back of your head, all you’re thinking is, “When the hell are you going to give this up and get a real job?”

You’ll need to learn how to be in a long distance relationship. (God, don’t do this unless you HAVE to.) Musicians travel a lot. They tour and promote and sleep on people’s couches. They will do anything for “the music.” They want to live out their dreams no matter how hard it will be or how long it will take or how many meals they have to skip to save some cash for gas money — and if you want to be with a musician, you need to respect that and deal with his shit. You need to learn how to be your own person outside of him because he has no problem doing his own thing without you. Don’t let his life as a struggling musician become your life and your struggle too.  You need to keep busy because if you don’t, you’ll feel lonely a lot. You’ll feel frustrated. You’ll feel confused. When you are so in love with someone, it’s hard to accept that you’ll never have them fully. It’s just a matter of how much you’re willing to take from him and how much you’re willing to give up.

Though I don’t regret falling for a musician, I am definitely looking at my love life through different eyes now. I have learned my lesson, and I had to learn it the hard way. To be clear, my musician is a wonderful person who I still care for and will continually root for, but his lifestyle and my lifestyle were never in sync. Our futures were too different. We also lived 500 miles away from one another. As his life became busier, he had less time for me. I became less of a priority and more of a chore. He didn’t want to make time for me anymore, I wasn’t willing to put up with it, and that was that. Long distance love is difficult enough and when you add the element of an aspiring musician into the mix, it’s just too damn hard. Granted, some people can make it work with a musician. I’m sure there are a million success stories. I applaud you people. It’s no easy feat. If I was willing to drop my life and go follow him as he played bars and clubs all over the nation, then yeah maybe we could have made it work, but life’s not that simple.

But for every broken heart, for every girl done wrong by a boy with a guitar, there is a bright side. As a woman and as a twenty-something, it’s important to learn lessons like this so that you can figure out what you want in the future. We need to kiss a bunch of frogs before we find our prince charming. This is the time in our lives get our hearts a little broken. Sometimes you have to let everything crumble down (such as your expectations about love) and rebuild something better and healthier. If I had never fallen for a musician, I wouldn’t know what I know now. I have learned more about what I want and deserve from a relationship. If I hadn’t dated a musician or any of the others that didn’t work out, I may keep going after the wrong guys and continually make the same mistakes when it comes to dating and love.

Being a twenty-something is all about trail and error. It’s time to get out there and try something new. It’s about experimenting and taking chances and making mistakes. It’s about throwing ideas at the wall (such as dating a musician) and seeing what sticks. And even if none of your ideas end up sticking, throwing them was still pretty fun, right?

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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