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Lauren Conrad Turns 26: Look Back at Her Love Life

USMagazine, Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 5:02pm (PST)

"The best relationships I've had started as friendships," Lauren Conrad -- who turns 26 Wednesday -- once told Us Weekly. "It's someone I'm already comfortable with."

Viewers first watched the California blonde fall in love with Stephen Coletti on Laguna Beach in 2004. "We were so young," Conrad said of her ill-fated romance with the One Tree Hill actor, who famously left her for high school rival Kristin Cavallari.

PHOTOS: LAUREN CONRAD'S LOVE LIFE

She soon found love with bad boy Jason Wahler, but his hard-partying ways took a toll. The experience taught Conrad that "sometimes love is not enough. You have to do what's best for you."

Conrad briefly dated Brody Jenner in late 2006 and exchanged onscreen kisses on The Hills in 2007. "We're attracted to each other, but we don't work," she later explained to Us. (She also went on a few dates with Jenner's pal, Doug Reinhardt.)

PHOTOS: Lauren Conrad's best hairstyles ever

The fashion designer's most significant relationship began in 2008 when she laid eyes on My Boys actor Kyle Howard. Conrad shielded their romance from the MTV cameras -- one of the many reasons she walked away from The Hills in 2009.

Despite being a seemingly perfect pair, Howard, 33, and Conrad called it quits in June 2011, leaving the former reality star "heartbroken," an insider said.

VIDEO: Inside Lauren's awkward reunion with Kyle Howard

"He saw the relationship as distracting from his goal of being the next Robert De Niro," a source close to Howard explained at the time. "He wasn't supportive of her career."

Post-split, Conrad was linked to Teen Wolf star Colton Haynes, 23, Dancing With the Stars pro Derek Hough, 26, and Gossip Girl actor Chace Crawford, 26.

PHOTOS: Lauren Conrad's BFF history

"Lauren is just enjoying herself," a Conrad pal recently explained. "She's not taking anything too seriously!"

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