Back When Dating Was Easy


Written By Katie Tetz

I found some love notes from my ex-boyfriend

If having a boyfriend was a skill, I used to be pretty good at it. I was good at finding them, keeping them, and not ever making them too mad. Things seemed to naturally progress from crush to boyfriend. And if it ended, it usually ended on mutual terms or with the elusive phrase “there’s just something missing”. No cheating, screaming, or lying; no wars broke out. I’d give it a year or so and then find another one.

I’d like to share just how smitten and perfect my love life was at seventeen. Prepare to be sick. When I moved last summer I found a box full of notes from an ex-boyfriend that my mother had failed to throw out when a decade ago, in tears, I had ordered her to burn. A box full of GOLD for this blogger. Here are some excerpts.

“When I hear you laugh, it puts joy in my heart. When I see you at my football games, it makes me want to play that much harder. When I think about this past year and how far we’ve come, how much we’ve been through, I am overjoyed that we’re still together. You’re my heart.”

Right!? That one was actually really nice.

Then I picked up a note titled: Happy 2 Months! It goes on for a while about how he’s going to stop with the over protective boyfriend thing. Then he tells me that the picture I gave him of myself (How narcissistic am I?) is in a silver frame with a red heart sitting above his bed. Then this: “I think I would go on a double date or two…pretty much until I start getting made fun of really really bad. I’m entering uncharted ground with you Katie…so I apologize in advance when I do something stupid, but I just hope we can keep having a good time and who knows where we’ll end up…hopefully we’ll both still be really, really ridiculously good looking. Love, your boyfriend.”

For our 2 month anniversary I also received a crayon colored coupon book that allowed me several back massages (20 minutes max) and multiple sexual favors which I checked off every time they were redeemed. There is no check mark on the last page which was a “FREE coupon of KT’s choice”. Shit, why didn’t I use that?

Well, there’s nothing written about an expiry date…

But seriously what a great gift! Who wouldn’t want a coupon book full of sexual favors that you could redeem whenever you wanted? I had it pretty good back then.

I also enjoyed this rambling one: “You wanna know something I don’t like? Email chain letters…man oh man…send this to 5-15 people and you will not be cursed…MY ASS…” Literally the whole note was him venting about how many email chain letters he was receiving from some girl named Isabelle who we went to school with.

Then this sentence near the end which definitely made my sixteen year old heart gush: “I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next little while…I wish you could be right here next to me in my bed…and I could hold you and never let go…except to go get something to eat and go to the bathroom. But that’s IT.”

Then it was our big 3 month anniversary. “Happy 3 months! Wowee. 3 months. It feels like just last night I was writing you the 2 month note. That sure went by fast, maybe because I was having so much fun with you. I really feel like we’re best friends. I know it’s gonna be a big step for the both of us but I think we’re ready to do stuff OUTSIDE your house.”  Was he being serious??? I think so. “I mean with football I don’t really get a chance to show you off (smiley face). I got some good rap in my disc-man today I’m listening to rap superstar right now.”

Young love. Remember when something so simple was a big step? And remember disc-mans?

Then I picked up a break up note. “I miss everything about you Katie, especially making you laugh. I wanna be with you, but you don’t trust me anymore, and more importantly I don’t trust myself. Your feelings are way more important than mine, you have been hurt enough by me and it would be selfish of me to try and make this work again…I’m sorry I said things that I could not back up. I’m sorry you ever met a f*king fool like me who would do this to you. Thank you for being the best girlfriend a guy could ask for. I didn’t deserve you. I hope you find someone who does.”

That is actually a really nice apology. Like, way nicer than any apology or explanation I’ve gotten from anyone since.

Then of course we got back together and there were a lot of notes with promises not to give up on each other. This one I probably squealed and showed all of my friends: “For some reason whenever I watch Newly Weds I always think of us. Maybe just because we’re also really hot. But I always get this tingly feeling about us getting married. I know, weird, I’ll stop there. I love you katie. You’re 99% of my heart. (Ya gotta have 1% for other stuff).”

In a time before cell phones or cars, and when we still had our virginity in tact, there were exchanges like this: “Even though I’m nowhere near having enough money to buy a car I’m sure excited about it! Then we could make out in the back, or something like that. And you need to learn how to drive so you can come to my house more! I love you, I was so happy when I realized that I did (smiley face). Now all we have left to do is just chill and make each other laugh and have sex… I guess…I’m not really sure what that is (winky face) but I hear it’s okay. We’ll see. I don’t want to yet and neither do you so that’s cool. We can talk about it again at 6 months, which is 1/2 year and 1/4 of 2 years and 1/10 of a decade. I did some math tonight (winky face). Happy 5 months!”

I want things to feel that simple again. “I love youmeant all you had to do was keep making each other laugh? Now “I love you” is often followed by a whole ton of questions and fears. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect relationship? You realize you love each other and then you can just chill, make each other laugh, and have sex. No worries.

The best one was really suspenseful. On the outside read, “The article contained in this note may not be suitable for younger children..reader discretion is advised. Open if you dare.” Then when you opened it in bold letters at the top it says, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, people of all ages…” It was a lot of suspense for a note that was mostly about how he’s not very good at writing notes, and this: “You know that fancy way you folded my note? I had to show like 3 girls in my foods class how you did it because they didn’t know.” With CAUTION written on the outside of that note I was really hoping for something raunchy like what was in my coupon book.

What was nice about being seventeen and in love was that there was never any doubt in my mind that he was whom I wanted to be with. We weren’t thinking about where we were headed or whether or not we had the same values and vision for what we wanted our lives to look like ten years later. I didn’t have a list of must-haves that needed checking off. We didn’t have any baggage. We just had crushes on each other, decided to date, declared that we were in love, and that was enough.

It wasn’t until I was twenty four and dated my first older guy that I was slapped in the face when our little crush didn’t effortlessly turn into a happy relationship. It actually really crushed me. But what he said was perfectly true and accurate: “We’re just too different.”

We were. But that never seemed to matter before. Before being a decade ago when we were all young and innocent and no one had hurt us yet. Now I have friends tell me that if for some reason their happy long-term relationship didn’t work out, they would have no clue how to navigate the world I live in.

In between laughing as I read those notes I had the thought that my seventeen-year-old relationship might actually be one of the best ones I’ve had. Not because he was the guy for me, but because it was so simple and easy.

You weren’t afraid to give someone 100%, or in my ex’s words, 99% of your heart. And where-is-this-going didn’t matter. It was a time where love actually was enough and kissing in cars was the best thing ever.

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