My Exboyfriend Was Amazing

He loved mountain biking and live music. How will I find another?

Dear Molly,

I’ve devoured so many of your sister’s columns in search of a key to let me out of my mind puzzle but I’m still stuck on it — now for almost as long as I was in the relationship with the not-so-good guy to begin with. So maybe what I need is a slightly more evil attitude adjustment?

Because I walked away from someone who was not emotionally capable of being a good partner to me — or even interested in trying, really. And it is so much easier to breathe now and yet I still miss having a partner who was, in so many (admittedly superficial) ways, my ideal partner. Or maybe the problem isn’t him even. Maybe the problem is that I’m almost 30 and I’ve been a lot of different people and liked a lot of different places. I meet plenty of people who I connect with over mountain biking or talking about books or going hunting for edible mushrooms or following a great band down the coast but I want it all in one person. So I’m weirdly nostalgic because I found this one rare person who seemed to contain all (or at least most of?) the same multitudes that I did — and I can’t stop missing this person because the alternative seems like settling for a partner who won’t be interested or capable of participating in huge swaths of my life. And I'm not rigid or hypocritical in this — I'm hungry for just about whatever new things others introduce me to.

I guess what I’m seeking is dynamism? But then sometimes I meet seemingly dynamic people and they often turn out to be flaky and I work hard to be reliable and available to my friends so I don’t have patience for this either.

And I don’t mean to suggest I’m uniquely complex. Maybe this is just how life is now that we’re all pairing up later and we’re so overstimulated all the time. And I know I’m supposed to just go the hell ahead and do it all on my own… but sometimes a little company would be nice.


Admittedly Very Difficult to Please


No offense, but you seem EXCEPTIONALLY easy to please. You say you’re holding out for someone who likes to *checks notes* mountain bike, hunt for edible mushrooms, and follow a great band down the coast? Sounds like you’d not only be perfectly happy with roughly 80% of the male population of the Pacific Northwest, but you could find happiness with pretty much every single Dead-loving, hacky-sack-playing, swaggy-bud-smoking jackass I hung out with between the years of 1987 and 1997. I spent a solid decade in the presence of such DYNAMISM, and let me tell you what, all I had to show for it was half a dozen urinary tract infections, an aversion to watching stoned people dance to “Uncle John’s Band,” and one or two lukewarm, half-eaten grilled cheese sandwiches.

Can I just ask who in the world is stupid enough to hunt for edible mushrooms? Do whatever you like, I guess, but at least don’t serve them to other people. I’m literally evil and I can’t understand the temptation to play Russian Roulette with something that could so easily kill everyone involved. Is that actually the draw? Are you secretly fed up with dudes wearing socks with their Tevas so you want to poison them all? Are you slowly coming to grips with the fact that there’s more to life than listening to one dude drone on and on about the brilliance of Hunter S. Thompson while another dude places his socked-and-Teva’d foot on the coffee table and plays “Tangled Up In Blue” on his plastic-bodied Ovation guitar?

I can’t even believe I survived those years. The whole thing was just so monotonous and bland, like a gigantic veggie stir fry devoid of salt, fat, acid or heat. That’s how hippies cooked in the olden days. I wish I had wriggled my way in with a cooler goth or grunge crowd, instead of drifting along with a herd of wilty Deadheaded douche bros. What. A. Waste.

Anyway, back to you. Snore. Seriously, I’m not sure I can do this.

OK. I’m going to concentrate really hard. Fuck me! My shitty cunt of a sister is so much more patient than I am.

Ok ok ok ok ok. Focus. Here we go: Dynamism. Right. I thought maybe you meant flexibility. Or openness. Or raw stank. I wasn’t sure what you meant by “dynamism,” honestly, and after the thing about following bands down the coast (“Live music is, like, so amazing, dude! It’s like the best!”) I also wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

OK. So I persevered and “searched it up,” as the kids say. (I hate this HERE’S A DEFINITION THING but these are good, trust me!) I found out that dynamism either refers to 1) “the quality of being characterized by vigorous activity and progress” OR 2) “the theory that phenomena of matter or mind are due to the action of forces rather than to motion or matter.” So either you’re super into the idea of doing shit all the time (like riding bikes up steep gravelly hills or eating poisonous fungi) or you’re some kind of alien from planet lit theory and therefore understand how the fuck a PHENOMENA OF MIND could occur thanks to A FORCE. Oh snap, are we talking about “Star Wars” right now or is that just that Girl Scout Cookie bud talking?

I don’t know, dude. I never really liked doing things myself. I’ve always felt that both vigorous activity and progress were wildly overrated. I also dislike any sentence that begins with the words “The theory that phenomena of matter or mind…” Where even are we right now? Give me some notable landmarks to this goddamn cognitive terrain. PHENOMENA OF MATTER OR MIND? Let’s nail down the molecular structure of this horse shit for a second. This is exactly the kind of frustratingly stupid abstraction that makes me start shouting.

You know when you’re talking to someone, like say, a friend’s new boyfriend who thinks he’s smart but he seems – to your highly jaundiced eye – like an abject dumbass trussed up in words he stumbled on in his advanced Heidegger seminar, then scrawled in his leather-bound journal, then tattooed across his skinny ass, just so he would never forget to sound like a tedious blowhard everywhere he went from that point forward?

Or forget that guy. Let’s just say you’re talking to some doctor. Let’s keep it simple here. And the doctor is trying to explain something relatively uncomplicated to you, but he does it in a way that makes absolutely no sense linguistically. Like you’re obviously talking about some chemical process that happens at a cellular level, but he’s all “THEN THE CHOO CHOO TRAIN GOES ‘WOOO-WOOO!’ AND STOPS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRACKS!” and suddenly you’re like FUCKING WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING HERE? Like how stupid are you that you can’t tell that I’m not nearly as stupid as you are?

That’s when I want to shout. A lot. You know what else makes me yell inadvertently? People who don’t have a fucking sense of humor. You know the ones. Don’t call it earnest, either, that’s an insult to earnestness. You can be earnest and still have a laugh now and then. I hate withholding people, too. People who won’t throw you a fucking bone and they know that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re withholding bones.

Which brings us back to you and men. Listen the fuck up because I’m not going to repeat myself. All of these criteria you mention are simple matters of taste. These are meaningless activities that you’ve nonetheless imbued with great mystical weight and they matter not a fucking whit. What matters is this: Can you yell about what you need to yell about and your guy will listen and laugh and think it’s funny and fun? Or will he say JESUS COOL IT? Will he say WHAT ARE YOU GETTING WORKED UP ABOUT? WHY DON’T YOU FUCKING RELAX?

Will he understand about the fucking doctor who talks about choo choo trains? Will he understand what condescension feels like AT A CELLULAR LEVEL when you’re a woman? Will he want to try that on for size? Will he grok that what you crave is a (sloppy! At times uncertain!) discussion of cellular functions or mysterious proteins doing crazy-ass shit in your body (now proteins are something with great mystical weight, boy howdy are they ever!), or will he be confused and make a dumb dog face like “What even are proteins even, do you mean like the stuff in meat?” But he won’t say that out loud! He’ll say WHY DON’T YOU FUCKING CHILL OUT ALREADY?

Listen the fuck up, I said! You need a partner who understands why the fuck you’re yelling about nothing when you yell about nothing. You NEEEEEED THAT. That is your number one goal from now on, to find THAT. You don’t need some flaky fuck who likes kicking a tiny beanbag around for hours because he just drank a box of Chablis and huffed two whippets. You don’t need some motherfucker who can’t shut up about how deeply super mondo excellent live music is but doesn’t care to listen WHEN YOU START YELLING ABOUT WHY YOU LOVE THIS PARTICULAR BAND SO GODDAMN MUCH IT MAKES YOU WANT TO FUCK THE SUN.

You need to yell. And you need someone to listen to you yell, and enjoy it. That is all.

If that’s what dynamism really is, being able to listen when someone yells about some shit, then I apologize. It’s kind of a strange word. Maybe all the kids have picked it back up and now it works in a new way, like thirst. Fuck if I know, I can’t tell anything anymore.

I’m confused and I’m evil, but I’m still better than that drip Polly. Oh my god, you’d be seven thousand leagues into her vagina by now if you left this one up to her. You got lucky today, my lady.

But bottom line? Yes, company is nice. Complexity is also important. You are unique, too, I’m sure. Your taste may not be all that unique, but you are. So don’t look for an average person who matches your average taste. Look for a unique person who has crazy fucked up taste but his unique self matches YOUR unique self. Your unique yelling self.

Because yelling matters. Having things to yell about matters. Caring enough to yell matters. Feeling enough to yell matters. Giving yourself some room to yell about stupid shit matters. You don’t even know that, because that emotionally incapable, uninterested dweeb with the edible mushroom fetish that you can’t stop obsessing about probably made you WHISPER when you were upset.

That guy sucked ass. I give you my Molly Guarantee on that. Ask your friends. I’ll bet they hated that floppy goober. Look for character, OK? Character is fucking pertinent, in the words of my hero and savior Al Swearengen. Look for deep and genuine interest in you and what you have to say. Observe and remain underinvested until you see CLEAR, SUSTAINED INTEREST. Don’t just compare your weak list of hobbies to his weak list. Talk about things that might make you yell at some point. Dare to get worked up. Listen to what he gets worked up about.

Stop settling. You can be choosier, trust me. The second you resolve to be choosier, you’re covered in dick. It’s inconvenient, almost. YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK AND CASH IT, BECAUSE IT’S TRUE.

See? I’m yelling. That’s how true it is.

Now get out there and find your stinky slacker soulmate already!


Need some merciless advice from Polly’s evil twin sister? Send your letter to askmolly at protonmail dot com.