I have loved music for as long as I can remember – like most of us – and thus developed a taste for its creators early on. I’ve been a fly on the wall enough to have witnessed hoards of girls lust after the guy wailing into the mic, or the dude whose fingers move across a fretboard faster than you can register the sound coming from his amp. And who doesn’t love a good drummer face?
I’ve also witnessed the trainwreck struggle of a naive chick who has no idea what she signed up for spiral in and out of insanity, while shit hits the fan in the relationship she romanticized in her head from the safety of the audience area.
Unsurprisingly, I began my adult life by a dating musician. When I meet his friends these days, I introduce myself as his ex-wife, and we all have a chuckle together. It wasn’t even intentional, and I never believed he’d fall in love with me, or that our relationship would ultimately outlast most modern marriages, but it happened. University freshman Emy fell hard for a guitar player who’d traveled across the country and back with very successful bands, and who had a ton of other projects under his belt. When we started dating, he still had fansites devoted to him and message board threads of delusional girls arguing over everything from basic facts of his personality, to who he was dating, to how he liked to play guitar naked for you in the morning if you got to bang him. It was pretty daunting.
Ohhhh, children, let me tell you how daunting. Dating a musician ain’t no easy thang! I can understand why girls who weren’t sent into the fire from the get-go might not understand how to process and temper reactions when faced with a musician boyfriend. I was lucky in the sense that I was young and impervious to craziness. I gave no fucks, and outside factors that would send most girls off the deep end mostly amused me or rolled off my back. And I don’t mean things he did, either — things other people did.
It didn’t take me long to know that 99% of band fan chicks are a bit loony. Realistically, many people in public positions with even with the most modest of profiles are subject to this — and so are their loved ones. For me, it was 10 years ago: rough looking AOL/Geocities/Angelfire websites, long defunct forums and barely literate MySpace blogs about my character are all I had to deal with — and I had to seek them out to even see them. I do feel for those of you who are doing it today and have twitter, Facebook, instagram and all other forms of internet stalkery to cope with when lapsing into inevitable fits of cyber insanity and relationship insecurity. It’s the wild west out there and shit is ugly.
When dating a musician, you probably get a confusing cocktail of the following ladies:
– delusional ex-girlfriends/delusional ex-wives
– baby mamas/angry baby mamas
– plain ol’ fans
– fans who want to fuck him
– fans who HAVE fucked him
– fans who are incensed that they have not yet fucked him
– chicks involved in the music biz whose vaginas tingle with entitlement
– don’t you think that members of the same/opposite sex are excluded here. Danger lurks in every imaginable genital combination.
So, let’s simplify. I can’t speak for all musicians, but I was a successful band wife for 7 years, who persevered through some pretty out there situations beyond the control of me OR my ex. Mama knows what’s up. Here’s how to do it:
– Have self-esteem. You should probably realize that you’re rad and have something to offer too — oh, and that you deserve something offered back to you!
– Support your dude/gal’s band — but have your own life! For real, you should absolutely have your own thing going on. Your life can’t boil down to waiting around for him/her to rehearse, load in, play, load out, schmooze, bring the gear back to the jam space and eventually get home to you. Boy, are you going to be a crabby patty if you do that.
N.B.: If you don’t have anything going for ya other than who you’re dating, you should deal with it immediately.
– Be sane. Your partner is both their own product and a part of their band’s product. They have to sell both. That means they’re going to be friendly with fans of whatever sex they’re into, and you need to either trust them enough to not be affected by career hazard-based flirtation, or face your raging insecurity head on and deal with that monkey on your back.
– Okay, while we’re on the topic of flirtation: did you know that it’s kind of a natural, primal thing we all do? It’s not a direct threat to your desirability, how faithful someone is to you or your personal worth as a sexual or intelligent being. People need to flirt, like they need to eat and fart and breathe. Don’t freak out. It’s not a reflection of you as a lesser human specimen. It’s a mixture of business and harmless ego. You like being flirted with too, don’t lie to me. I know you do. It’s part of how we feel vital, and sometimes, it’s a turn on to see that someone else is attracted to the person who’s going home with you.
– Obviously related to the above, jealousy is emotional and relationship cancer: Whether it comes from you or them, recognize it, neutralize it and move away from it. It won’t get either of you anywhere. It’s fully controllable through honest assessment of your mutual situation and taking logical action based on those results. Possessive isn’t sexy.
– Their job is way too much fun (on the surface): And excessive and unlike most people’s, to boot. If you can’t handle weekend gigs, weeks-long tours that keep your partner on the road and away from home, and various other sacrifices of normalcy for their craft, what do you really want with a musician? Figure that out. No relationship is a trophy, and they always require compromise and mutual consideration. Understand that the person onstage isn’t necessarily who you’re going to come home to every day.
I suppose I could go on, but let’s keep it simple: have your own passions; establish mutual trust and confidence; be reasonable. These simple tenets apply to most relationships, but I acknowledge that everything’s a bit heightened in rock n’ roll. Drama, emotions and egos run high. We all hear a little less clearly through the peals of reverb, and vision is thick and blurred by smoke, shots and musical euphoria. I believe we can do better, though. We can indulge in our gluttonously rock n’ roll lifestyles and relationships without being insane or alienating one another to the point of restraining orders.
Most importantly, “band wife” is not a profession. It’s fun to a point, but you’re going to need more for yourself eventually. Travel if you can, dabble in the lifestyle, but not at the expense of your own ambitions.
And if you don’t think you can stomach any of the above, please don’t bother. Those of us who are good at it have our plates full as it is.