Sometimes we even take pride in how little we know or learn. We can be a little irritating that way.
But some men, at least, have learned from their mistakes. Published in trade paperback this year, Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me is an anthology of essays by the likes of professional funny guys Steven Colbert and Patton Oswalt. It collects a number of these hard-earned nuggets of wisdom, such as "Dating a stripper is a recipe for perspective."
The more we thought about it, though, the more we realized it was in no way comprehensive. "Dirty girls make bad friends" and "I am a gay man" (by Dan Savage) are all valuable lessons. But the book's 46 entries are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what can be learned through suffering, trauma and stomach-churning regret.
So, inspired by the book, we asked some male friends what character-builders, if any, they had taken away from their more memorable, if unpleasantly savage, breakups.
Know your budget
"What do you get someone who you just started going out with?" asks Michael K. "I had no idea, so I panicked and started acting like a big shot and told her we could go to the mall and I'd take her out shopping and she could get whatever she wanted.
"Being in Grade 11 and making $3.65 an hour dish-pigging (aka: doing grunt work in a restaurant kitchen), there really wasn't much I could have bought her but I thought that was what dudes did. Much to my surprise, and later relief, she broke things off saying things were moving too fast. Don't start dating someone who's about to have a birthday, and don't do dorky things like offer to take them shopping."
It's not about her
"What I learned from the time I was dumped by my first wife -- when I thought I was mourning the loss of her, I was actually grieving the loss of self-esteem, the public humiliation, and the truths about myself I had to confront," writes Adrian M. "Which took far longer to deal with than getting over someone, which is relatively easy."
But then again, it might be
"I was going out with this girl, and I'd gone through all these changes for her, and then she broke up with me for another guy," says Robert D. "I couldn't figure it out. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't anything to do with me; she was just a possessive, jealous bitch. Not that I'm bitter."
Everyone's got an agenda
"Later that same year I dated a girl named Tonya (with an o) for a few months," writes Michael K. "She was a bit of a rocker, which was kind of hot, and a year older than me and could drive, which I couldn't. A few weeks before she dumped me, she asked if I could make a copy of her friend's Def Leppard Hysteria cassette tape for her, since I had one of those double cassette ghetto blasters. I gladly obliged. And the day after I gave her back her tapes, she dumped me. I felt used. Moral: don't copy your girlfriend's Def Leppard Hysteria tape out of the blue and assume things are going swimmingly."