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.
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.)
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.