Five Kinds of Love by Kristen Thomas

It must have been in Cosmo that I once read "The Top Five Relationships Every Woman Should Have Before She Gets Married." Most of us have had the first kind: the quintessential first love. This is the one that sets the stage. All men that follow must measure up. I met my first love as a friend of a friend when the three of us went to see a movie. He and I didn't speak to each other the whole night, until my friend was dropping me off at my car. He asked if I would drop him off at home. I said, "yes," and my friend drove off, somewhat bewildered. We spent all night talking. He showed me his artwork. He lived in an attic space in his parents' home. It got hot. We got naked. We had sex; me, for the first time. I discovered I was multiorgasmic. We dated for almost two years, moved in together, and got engaged. It fell apart in the end, of course. He became my "measuring man."

The one-night stand is perhaps my favorite but least lasting. I was in my junior year of college, studying communications. Our eyes would meet from across the room. He was taking the same courses as I was. He would sit in the front; I would sit in the back. That's all there was for two years. On the eve of my graduation, I ran into him walking into a bar. We recognized each other and spoke for the first time. We hung out all night and eventually headed to my apartment. We attacked each other the moment the door closed. We had sex in every possible way until the sun rose. Then we ordered a pizza and ate it naked, lying on my floor. We laughed at how strange it was, the way things happened. He eventually left, and I never saw him again. He was in ROTC. A few weeks later I received a letter in the mail thanking me for being the last woman he slept with before he got married.

Next came the classic bad boy. This one provides the most excitement but lays the seeds for many issues. My bad boy spotted me crossing a room to visit a mutual friend. He pestered my friend to set us up on a blind-date BBQ thing at his house. Your basic ambush. He liked to wear black, collected guns, rode motorcycles, pumped iron, got in fights, and was on probation. The catch: he was also a hot, romantic Italian with a rocked-out bod who knew how to cook. Once he had my attention, he moved heaven and earth to woo me -- flowers, candy, stuffed bears, home cooking, and constant admiration. I heard a lot from my inner voice, warning me not to get involved with someone who moved that fast. I did it anyway. I fell deeply in love. The sex was amazing. His parents loved me. We moved in together. Then the shit hit the fan. Turned out he was a recovering alcoholic and addicted to porn. He forced me to attend his meetings and eventually convinced me that I was an alcoholic, too, because I was a drinker -- but we were talking a couple a week, at best. He insisted that I embrace his love of guns or else it wouldn't work. He pressured me to do a lot of kinky things that made me uncomfortable. He made me get rid of all my male friends because it was "a form of cheating." By the time I got out I had racked up a long list of major issues.

Next came the older man. He was 18 years my senior. I met him taking a tai chi course that he was teaching. Never in a million years would I have seen myself with him -- he was two inches shorter than me, bald, a stocky build, and three times divorced with a daughter my age. Our connection was very spiritual, and I often got lost talking for hours every night on the phone. He loved to take me out, knew how to order wine, and for the first time I felt what it was like to be treated like a woman. He never raised his voice at me, never swore, and made sure that our friendship always came first. He was an amazing artist, too, which nurtured and inspired my own talents. Sex was soft and gentle, with amazing foreplay, laughter, and intimacy. One night while making love I had a flash and saw my father in his eyes. I became repulsed and couldn't separate the image of him from my father. Not long after he began to take on a fatherly role in my life, controlling and managing. The age difference finally came between us, and it was over.

Then there was the younger man. He was ten years my junior. I met him at work. We became great friends and got along well. We kept in touch through e-mail and phone calls after I moved on from that job. The conversations eventually got steamy, and the friendship and chemistry came together. We shared an amazing connection in every way. Though the sex was exciting, what made it special was how effortless everything seemed to be. He told me he loved me and that I was his soul mate. He stands out for me as the sweetest experience, one that renewed my faith in relationships. I began to see having children as a possibility for the first time and took heart that friends could become even better lovers. Much to my disappointment, we were each heading in a different direction in life, in a way that made it impossible for things to continue.

Now that the list is complete, I wonder, "Where is my magic man?" That man I'm supposed to live my life with? Cosmo never said anything about how to find that guy. But no matter what happens, I've experienced these relationships that have been essential pieces in finding myself as I go down this strange and funny road of life.

Tell us the story of your breakup and/or date from hell and we will publish it and pay you ($100 for 500-2000 words).

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