1. The one who messages you once a year to say something incredible.
Every so often, you’ll wake up to a text or a Facebook message from him, something about how he thought of you last night, or how he wants to see you, or when are you going to be in his city? It will fill you with a sudden whoosh of excitement and hope. But no matter how carefully you’ll try to reply to his messages — to seem casually interested, but not like you’re invested in his sudden attention — he’ll always fade away again, and you’ll somehow be left feeling desperate, even if he’s the one who reached out to you. You’ll delete his number from your phone to prevent yourself from drunk texting him, but you’ll still look at his profile every now and again.
2. The one who doesn’t like your friends.
He’ll hang out with them from time to time, because to not see them would be unreasonable, but he won’t like it. He’ll pout and text a lot and demand your attention, and then when the two of you are walking home, he’ll say nasty things about them. One time your friend will come over late at night, crying because she just got some very, very bad news, and the two of you will sit on your couch, drinking wine and talking until 3 AM. You’ll tell him about it the next day, and he’ll make an offhand comment about how your friends are “so fucking dramatic.”
3. The one with the interesting tattoos, who makes you say “yes.”
One day you’ll be standing outside of a house party, drinking a beer and talking to people you don’t really know. He’ll be sitting next to you on a cooler, wearing a frayed, deep-cut t shirt that shows off all of his interesting tattoos — black lines, strange symbols, words written too small to read from your distance — and rolling a small cigarette on an open pack of Drum. You’ll look down at him for a second too long, and he’ll say “Want one?” It will feel like some kind of royalty has chosen you out of a crowd. You’ll say yes, even though you don’t really smoke, and for the next three months, you’ll do a lot of things that you don’t really do, just because you want him to think of you as 20 percent cooler than you are. And then he’ll sleep with someone else, and you’ll be devastated, mostly because it won’t even count as cheating — you never even declared yourselves a couple in the first place.
4. The one who changes around his friends.
Your relationship will be like a secret that only the two of you can ever know about, and every time he’ll be in the same room as his friends, it’ll be like a light switch has suddenly been turned off. He’ll be cold, and sarcastic, and not want to do any of the charming, silly things the two of you like to do together in private. “I’ve seen you naked drinking milk in front of the refrigerator, you asshole,” you’ll think, “Don’t you act like you’re cool all of a sudden.” And suddenly, all you’ll want is for him to be kind in front of them, to prove that you’re not insane, and that the version of him you know in private really does exist. Then he’ll use the word “pussywhipped” in conversation once or twice, and you’ll realize that will never happen.
5. The one who is already with someone.
You’ll think that you can change him. You’ll think that, if you only present yourself as the perfect alternative to his current situation, he’ll leave her and fall madly in love with you. But all that will really do is make you hate her for no reason, and at best, make him cheat on her when he has the time. You’ll make your friends promise you that you’re not the other woman, even though everyone knows that you are, and somehow the only person who will get out of this situation without making any enemies will be him. And in four years, you’ll cringe at the person you were during that time.
6. The one who drinks too much coffee and is always working on a project.
You’ll meet him in the back of a coffee shop, looking intensely at his computer screen and drinking what is likely his third Americano of the afternoon. He’ll be wearing earth tones and glasses, and everything about him will feel warm and passionate and deep. You’ll ask him questions and all of his answers will be vague, and challenge the very construct of the question itself. He will be “freelancing” and “between projects” and “working on something right now,” but you’ll never see anything tangible come of it. You’ll leave him a few months in, and a year later, you’ll see him at the same coffee shop. Only this time, it won’t seem intense or earthy, it will just seem sad.
7. The one who gets you into music, but doesn’t really share it.
He’ll seem so thoughtful and cultured, and play you records (real ones, because the sound is just that much better) while the two of you share a joint on the mattress in his bedroom. You’ll be afraid to talk during any of the songs, because you don’t want to mess up the mood or seem like you don’t “get” it, and you’ll spend nights at home poring over his favorite bands’ catalogs to seem like you are as much of a real fan as he is, and not just pretending to like them. And when you break up, you’ll come to hate that whole genre of music — mostly because you’ll be ready to admit that you never liked it in the first place.
8. The one who “isn’t ready.”
Everything will go perfectly, and make sense, and you’ll let yourself forget all of the signs from the beginning that it was never going to be serious. You’ll pretend not to notice when he doesn’t call you his girlfriend unless you do it first. You’ll pretend not to be bothered when he doesn’t offer to introduce you to his parents when they’re in town. You’ll pretend not to be devastated when, six months later, your whole relationship is reproduced with someone different than you, and he calls her his girlfriend every time he talks about her. You’ll keep telling yourself that he just “wasn’t ready” to settle down with someone, until you are finally far enough away from it to admit that he did want those things — he just didn’t want them with you.