I have this friend. She’s actually one of my best friends but I don’t write much about our adventures together. Just know that we are close.

But not close like that. That would be weird because we’re such good friends.

Anyway, I’ve known her for almost twelve years now and if there’s one thing I can tell you about her, it’s that she’s protective of her buddy Dan. And by protective, I mean that she’s super over-protective of her buddy Dan.

We laugh about it all the time. She doesn’t jump for joy over very many of the girls I bring around. Not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because they don’t always fit the idea she has floating in her head of the kind of woman I should be with.

See, my friend knows that I’m sensitive. She knows that I strive to have a genuine heart. She knows that I’m kind. And she wants me to find someone who’s “worthy” of that (I guess). She wants me to date the kind of girl who only giggles, is always ready for a quiet picnic in the woods, and doesn’t have a messed-up or mean bone in her. You know… the perfect girl from the romance movies.

In fact, a lot of people feel the same way my friend does.

Problem is, I tend to like girls who are at least a little messed-up. I like girls who have a hard shell. I like girls who have some good baggage and who are, dare I say it… maybe even a little bitchy when I first meet them. (Hear me out on that.)

I remember once there was a cute girl that I wanted my friend and her boyfriend to set me up with. “You wouldn’t want to date her,” she told me. What she meant was, she didn’t want me to date her.

“Why is that?” I said.

“She’s just going through a lot of stuff right now. Too much baggage.”

I groaned. “Hey! What if I like people who are going through stuff? What if I like baggage?” She looked at me like I was crazy. Or desperate. I’m not sure which. “I mean, why can’t I just enjoy people’s messed-upness?” I said.

It was the first time we had talked about it, and the first time I’d really thought about it.

And I wasn’t just saying it.

I actually enjoy women who have had struggles, challenges, and are dealing with crap.

And I know why.

They’re the ones I feel most comfortable in my own skin around.

They’re the ones I feel okay being imperfect around.

They’re the ones that I feel okay making mistakes and being stupid around.

They’re the ones I can tell my darkest secrets to without fear of them judging me or liking me less for them.

They’re the ones that get just how uncontrollable life is. And that’s attractive because, if I’ve learned anything in 32 years of life, it’s that controlling life is impossible.

But I think more than anything, women that have gone through or are going through serious crap are stronger or will be stronger. At least if they’re the kind of women who take their trials and make life better in the aftermath.

I guess to clarify, I should say that I’m attracted to women with high levels of messed-upness if they are always working to make things better and if they know how to learn from what they’ve been through. Heaven knows I’ve met plenty of messed-up girls who thrive on the drama and attention that comes from such things. They never change, they never move away from it, and they never really want to (despite what they say). Yeah, I’m not attracted to that at all.

But a woman who has had as unpredictable a life as I have? A woman who has seen failure after failure like I have? A woman who struggles with some of the same things I have? A woman who has messed up big time a time or ten? A woman who has walked through hell and survived? Yeah… that’s the kind of woman I like. That’s the kind of woman I want to be with. That’s what I find to be sexy.

And then there’s the bitchy thing.

I know that a lot of people here, especially women, will not like that I said that I’m attracted to a woman who is a little bitchy, at least at first. After all, people should be nice, right?

I guess. But see, I literally don’t see bitchiness when I first meet a “bitchy” woman. I see only a protective wall that she has put up because she’s been abused, hurt, or objectified by too many people. Bitchiness is just a way that a lot of women protect themselves from being abused, hurt, or objectified by more people. Sometimes it’s a symptom of the struggle to love herself. Nothing else. I can tell you from personal experience that there are very few women in this world who are bitchy just because they’re bitchy.

And I suppose that’s one reason I’m attracted to them. I love to see who the real woman is below that surface shell and the only way to ever see it is to be willing to push past it and not mistake the symptoms for the cause.

This isn’t to say I like mean girls. I really don’t like mean girls. You know the kind. The kind that are vicious, and hurtful, and rude to others without care for anyone’s feelings. There’s a big difference between conditionally bitchy and always mean. One is offensive one is defensive.

And with all that being said, I have to wonder. What does it say about me that this is the case?

What does it say about me that I like a girl that it is a bit messed-up and sometimes even (at least at first) a little bitchy?

I don’t know.

But I think I know what it means.

I think it means that deep down I feel like just about everyone on this planet is messed-up and sometimes bitchy. I really do. I feel like everyone has been hurt, abused, and objectified to the point that they deserve to put up some walls when they need to. I also know that every person has the ability to work around those walls or break them down altogether.

In other words, I’m attracted to real people. Happy, real, beautiful people.

That’s who I think they are, anyway.

And can’t that just be okay?

Can’t it be okay that I believe the perfect woman is the one who’s nowhere close to perfect?

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing