1. Your high school boyfriend. This guy isn’t technically someone you’ll meet and date at college, but he will consume a significant portion of your early college experience. Oh, he’s not the jealous type? Right. Give me that line again in three months when he’s stalked every guy in your dorm on Facebook and calls you fifteen times at 3AM because one of them liked your status. At first, all the long distance calls and texts and old pictures posted next to your bed were cute. But nothing lasts forever and we all know hearts can change, especially after a couple cups of jungle juice and more than enough botched Skype sex sessions. You will probably cheat on him and he will cheat on you, especially if he’s a freshman at a different college. Oh, this dude is older and still lives in your hometown? Bet. In four years you’ll be drunk on Thanksgiving at a hometown bar and he’ll be rocking a scraggly beard and serving you Jagerbombs. Or he’ll be a Dad. Either way.
2. The stoner/small time drug dealer. When you first meet this dude, you’ll be hitting him up for weed, but in good time he’ll be hitting you up to hang out, then to hook up, and ultimately for emotional support as he figures out just how high he needs to be on a daily basis in order to function. Sure, he seems like a chill nature boy at first: indie playlists, Pulp Fiction poster, a wardrobe of laid-back cotton tees and worn in jeans. But soon those things will pale in comparison to his bowl, bong, and inevitable vape volcano of doom. People will knock on his door while you have sex and yell for a dime, and that dime will not be you. This dude means business, so long as the business is getting high or getting money to get others high. He’s not about you—unless your name is Mary Jane and you can be crushed up and smoked out of a glass elephant with a hole in it.
3. The frat boy/budding alcoholic. Not everyone will have the pleasure of dating a member of one of our nation’s fine fraternities, but nearly every girl I know dated a guy whose impressive ability to do a keg stand quickly transitioned into an uncanny ability to get really profoundly inebriated and break things and/or nearly die. You meet him in class, he seems sweet, and even after you learn he’s in a frat, you give him the benefit of the doubt. Fraternities, after all, are just about friendship and benevolence at their cores, right? Kind of. They’re also about getting everyone wasted, wearing tank tops with pastels, and talking a lot about said getting wasted. This is the most identifying and exhausting part of dating a budding alcoholic. You’ll know that it’s a problem when half of your conversations involve some recollection of a previous night: “Alex was so blitzed Friday, dude. BUT I was pretty messed up too. Yeah, we did make the jello shots strong. You used Crystal Palace, man?!” It’s like watching a sporting event without seeing any of it in real time and watching the instant replays on a loop with shitty commentary. One day, this boy will find God or Goldman Sachs or a very commanding, almost abusive woman who will set his life straight. Well, Goldman Sachs will make him transition from alcohol to cocaine, but you see the trajectory at work here.
4. The sexually confused guy. You’ll meet him through mutual friends and he’ll seem instantly more interesting than anyone else. He’ll engage in conversation with anyone, seeming just as interested to talk to you as he is the nerdy guys who play table tennis in your dorm. There will be something about him you just can’t pin down, something mysterious and unknown. Unfortunately, this thing will be his preference for men or women. It would be fine if he was just openly bi, really, but he’s not. He’s closeted something. He’ll tell everyone that he’s dating you and only you, but he’ll spend a lot of time “studying” for music appreciation with the openly gay guy down the hall. People will ask questions and you will pay them no mind. You’ll get drunk and high with him one night and he’ll suggest a threesome. With your roommate? No. With his study buddy. Oh. You’ll realize that you’re either a stepping-stone on a larger path out of the hetero world or that you’re a conquest in a long history of low-key bisexual adventures. Shrug it off and cherish this breakup: it’s one of the few times you can ever “be friends.” Plus, it’s better than dating the ‘male feminist’ in your gender studies class who wears a beanie and reads Bukowski and actually hates women. Trust.
5. The tortured artist. This guy might be the beanie-wearing Bukowski fan, or he could be the guy in a blazer who smokes outside your dorm all the time and has no idea what his major is but is constantly going on about his most recent “work.” This could be poetry, painting, sculpture, music, theatre, improv, or even (the darkest of them all) a web series. It doesn’t matter. It will be unproductive and futile. These dudes give real artists a bad name because they talk way more about their art than they actually accomplish any ‘work.’ He will talk about his novel but view any kind of profitable writing as below him. These guys hate money, and it’s probably because they grew up with so much of it to blow on sad albums and flannels. He’ll often literally call himself miserable and avoid any kind of commitment by saying that he’s “fucked up in the head.” Just do yourself a favor and believe him. He’s a loser and you’ll end up a blog entry if you stick around. If he ever gets around to setting up that blog, that is.
6. The one who you kind of want to marry. This dude is the worst by far because he is the best. He’s good looking, smart, and gets along with your friends. You’re in a serious relationship and everything seems to be going well. He’s actually so good looking that you feel like you have to show your friends pictures of him because they just don’t get it. “But look at his JAWLINE!” you’ll gush as they grimace. You guys are cute and it’s nauseating. He’s not an addict, an artist, or a secret homosexual. He’s great. Everything is great. And it feels terrifying. When will it end? You don’t know. It has no expiration date and this gives you a kind of crippling, euphoric anxiety. You almost want to put a ring on it now, but you’re 23 and an idiot and you can’t propose anyway because you just aren’t that progressive, liberal arts degree be damned. So maybe I lied. Maybe he isn’t the worst. If it blows up in your face and ends in some kind of long distance career split or an explosive emotional screaming match, you’ll probably think he was the worst of them all. In the end though, he’s just the first real one. And for better or worse, that feeling itself is worth its weight in all the awful dudes who came before him.