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

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!



    1. You nailed it. "For every broken heart, for every girl done wrong by a boy with a guitar, there is a bright side." I enjoyed this article. Thanks.

    2. Katie Garrity - North Central College says:

      Shoutout to Alex, my heart sparkling editor, for her hilarious Editor's Note. I love you.

      1. Alex- University of South Carolina says:

        I had a moment at my desk when I read that. Oh, how they grow up so fast. Love you always!

    3. 20somethingmusicguy says:

      Classic article…stumbled on this somehow and as a musician myself I find it hilarious. You pretty much nailed it when you said "musics the love, gf just the side project"…dead on…

    4. Ellen - University of Manchester says:

      Seriously, every 'Confessions of a Twenty-Something' post is amazing, such a good read

      1. Katie Garrity - North Central College says:

        Thanks girl!

    5. Anonymous says:

      It's all about finding the right type of musician! My man is very musically talented (plays electric and string bass, and various percussion and wind instruments, as well as arranges songs from time to time) but he also has a day job as an engineer. Of course, it helps that I play several instruments too so I can understand where he's coming from and share that passion. Have you considered learning an instrument?

      1. Katie Garrity - North Central College says:

        I really enjoying singing! But that's about all I have going for me unless you want to count marching band in elementary school:)

    6. Danielle Rogers says:

      "selfish and moody and lazy" Dead. On.

      1. Vicky says:

        Yep… I have so many examples of this that it would take a novel for me to explain it all!

    7. […] Dating a Musician Kind of Sucks [Confessions of a Twenty-Something] ( […]

    8. Molly - UNL says:

      I can't believe I am just now reading this. My hear too, got trampled on by a musician. It's wonderful being a muse, until you're not anymore. It is fer sure love turned up to 11. That's sooooo accurate. He actually told me to my face that the band came first and I will always be second place, and that's when I left. HELL NO. I'm too wonderful to settle for second. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS I LOVE YOU KBYE

    9. Sara says:

      Wow, spot on. You made me realize a lot.

      1. Katie Garrity - North Central College says:

        Glad I could help you, Sara!

    10. KellyLynn says:

      Extremely well written and right on point. It’s refreshing to read the words as if I’m speaking them myself. It’s also settling to know I’m not the only one that struggles with a musician. Thank you!

    11. Music Store says:

      Musicians are definitely a different kind of bread. The important part is that you understand the risks before going in.

    12. Lina says:

      Hmm…well, living in Philly, I've met a bunch of musicians. I think a lot of what the article speaks to depends on tye type of musician and the women who go after them. First, not all musicians are the same…some of them have day jobs outside of "the music" so they don't have to travel around the country and rely on gigs as their only source of income. Second, some of them have degrees in music, so they arent the stereotypical musicians you see on TV or hear about…they give private lessons or are professors at the local university. Third, some of them are in relationships and committed to their partners, so it doesn't matter how many girls are interested in them. Now, as to the women…first, as a lawyer, I can say that none of my lawyer colleagues are impressed by a guy who plays in a band. Second, it depends on the age of the woman…when we're in high school, we're not looking to get married and have a family, but when a woman gets older, she starts to look for a guy who can support a family. Third, after a certain age, telling people "My boyfriend is in the band!" isn't cool anymore.

      Lina Shah,
      Attorney at Law

      1. Lina says:

        I should add…I've asked musicians around Philly whether they get a lot of women (groupies) and they smile and say no. In fact, they say many women are turned off by the fact that they play music for a living and would much rather date a doctor or a lawyer.

    13. Ginny says:

      I've been dating a musician for 2 years and I just broke up with him. Someone else can deal with that bullshit!!!!

    14. Nick Kellie says:

      looks to me like you have been going after poser type musicians (tattoos, long hair, beards etc) …

    15. Sara says:

      Thanks for the article! This was a very true and straightforward article.

      All musicians are different; it can depend on the genre they are in and overall, the type of person he or she is. But always the girlfriend comes second and music comes first. This has been a struggle for me; and has caused a lot of insecurities. I know many women will feel the same.

      I am dating a musician by chance. He wasn't in a band when we started dating and six months in he began his band, which is beginning to get really popular. They have a following and may get a record deal in 2014. My boyfriend really wants this, but I know it woud be stressful for me. I have never ran after musicians; I am a left brained girl whose love is animals, biology, and nutrition. He is more creative than I am; I am creative too but not in the way he is. I will say this: I am 24 years old and getting into my field as a career, and most of the women I talk to are NOT impressed I am with a musician.

      My boyfriend said he feels torn between two things he wants in life: a musical career of traveling around and having a financially stable career, being a husband and father. I hope he can find a balance between the two for my sake. My boyfriend likes stability, and he even gets turned off by the weirdos that come to his shows. However musicians welcome them because they bring in money.

      Great article!

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