My first year of college was nothing short of spectacular. I made the most amazing group of friends, became involved in many aspects of campus life, had an awesome job, and learned to love the new Southern California city I was in. Some students have trouble with the transition, but I embraced my new life; every day was an exciting adventure.
Of course, my experience with the opposite sex was an adventure in itself. Since I am currently in the midst of my second year of college, looking back at my freshmen year, I sometimes feel a little bitter and a little sad. However, I wouldn’t take back any of these experiences with these boys for anything. They all hurt — some more than others — but they all also taught me something very important that I hope to pass along.
Without further ado, here is a respective list of the five guys from my first year of college, along with the very valuable lessons I was able to take away from each one:
1: The Fratstar
He’s the guy that always had condoms in his wallet, owned three pairs of Sperry’s, and enjoyed shitty canned Bud Light a little too much. #1 was constantly stumbling back into the residence halls with his shirt half-buttoned and leftover duct tape on his wrists from the constant games of Edward Forty-Hands.
Embarrassingly, he was the first boy to give me attention in my new life — and by that I mean the first boy to open his mouth to the building that he thought I was cute — which resulted in us becoming some sort of “thing.” I mean, if you consider him texting me when he needed help with his essays or drunkenly stumbling into my room at 1 in the morning to pass out on my bed a “thing.”
Eventually, he began hooking up with other girls in the building (including one in the room a few doors down from me. Seriously?). One night he got so drunk that he threw his phone at the ceiling in our floor’s hallway and it got stuck in the panels for two days. Every time someone called him, “I Love College” by Asher Roth rang through our hallway.
The moment of clarity came very soon after that; the excess of Ralph Lauren polos and empty plastic handles were not something I could handle any longer. When I told him I no longer wanted to be involved, he just shrugged and said, “your loss.”
Yeah, don’t ask me what I was thinking with this one. I don’t have an answer for you. But in hindsight, the lesson I learned from the Fratstar was useful as I navigated through the rest of my freshmen year: Do not limit yourself too early. See what is out there.
Also, don’t trust a guy that gets so drunk/high to the point where he comes back to the residence halls forgetting what his name is.
2: The Hot Mess
This boy was the definition of a shitshow.
#2 and I met in one of my classes. When we first became friends, I remember thinking he was such a mystery. He was tall, skinny, and always wore converse and cuffed jeans. You couldn’t catch him without Chapstik, his headphones, or his bong tucked away into his backpack. He didn’t talk about much; the only thing he shared openly was his taste in music, which became subject of most conversation.
Little by little, I was able to uncover more details about the life he mostly kept secret. We confided in each other about many things, including the toxic relationship with his seemingly perfect girlfriend that attended school a few hours away, his divorced parents and my single mom, and the internal struggles we had on a daily basis. His was on a completely different level, however; he was constantly getting high to avoid feeling upset, and I couldn’t count how many times he said “I hate myself” to me.
The weekend that he and his girlfriend broke up, he drunkenly confessed that all of the time we had been spending together the past few weeks had made him fall for me. Unsure of how to react, I told him he needed to figure himself out and that I would be there for him, and we could revisit that possibility later. I was attracted to him of course, but he was a mess I was not ready to clean up.
But he didn’t give up: he would constantly make remarks about how amazing he thought I was, make small but meaningful gestures, and spend much of our time together trying to convince me to give him a chance. As naïve as it sounds, I listened to his spiels about being “so over” his ex and how “into me” he was. And I gave him a chance.
That was a huge mistake. Everything went well for a few weeks, and then he began to drop off the radar. He stopped going to class, began to smoke more than three times a day, and went to great lengths to avoid me. I was more confused than hurt. Nevertheless, when word got around that he slept with another girl in the building across the way, I was done.
A few weeks after we stopped dating, I found out via social media that he was back together with his ex-girlfriend. That one hurt like a bitch. I’ve spent a lot of sleepless nights over this one, even to this day. I keep trying to convince myself that I can’t take it personally, but in my head I can’t help but feel like I failed myself somehow.
It was through #2 that I learned one of the most valuable lessons that every girl needs to know: You can’t fix him.
3: The Emotionally Unavailable One
Ah, this boy. The one that comes with a universal red flag that all girls should know to avoid.
We had been good friends since the beginning of the year, since we met through all of our mutual friends. I had always thought #3 was cute, but had never carried a conversation with him long enough to know what he was really about.
However, that all changed one day when I casually stepped into his room to have a conversation that turned into three hours long. We had so much in common: we were from the same suburban area, we were both huge sports fans, and had similar views on social issues. All made for good conversation every time we saw each other. In my head, it only made sense for us to be together. He was single, I was single. We were both reasonable, good looking people. Why wouldn’t we be together?
I seemed to forget one important thing: his feelings. Sometimes we are so caught up in our own ideas and emotions that we forget to factor in the other person’s. I definitely did this with #3. When I brought the idea of us up to him, he cringed and hesitated and immediately my heart fell. He gently told me what a great girl I was, but he really just was not looking for anything romantic right now.
His reasons are his, but I will still never truly know if it was because of me personally or because of his own reservations. As I write this almost a year later, though, he has still never been romantically involved with a girl.
So here is the lesson I learned: We all want to be that girl: the one that changes his mind, the one that becomes the exception, the one that is special enough to make him want to be in a relationship. It’s not that you’re not special, because you are; it’s just that more often than not, you’re not going to be that girl.
4: The (Too) Nice Guy.
He was one of the live-in staff members in my building, and we connected late in the second semester. When he started to show interest, I was open to trying it out just for the hell of it. Of course, he was so kind-hearted and genuine; I couldn’t pass up a date with him.
He was the one that was comfortable. He was the one that was always kind. He was the one that made you feel appreciated.
But he didn’t have any fire, any spark, any excitement. He always wanted to eat at the same restaurant every night, play soccer in the courtyard every day, and dressed in the same simple clothing with the same simple haircut.
There was never anything else to spark our relationship. He was so intelligent, but never wanted to challenge anything I had to say; he only ever wanted to agree with me. He was so open-minded, but never wanted to complain or tell me anything exciting about his day; he only ever wanted to hear about mine.
I know so many people who would criticize me for feeling this way, but it just felt… boring. He would have given me everything I needed, but not everything I would have wanted. He didn’t challenge me. He didn’t change me, the way I was used to guys I had dated in the past. Nothing we experienced together made me feel like I was growing. In the end, I just didn’t feel that head-over-heels passion that I have felt so many times before, and I didn’t want to settle for less than that.
When I ended things, I felt extremely guilty. He was so kind, and deserved someone who would be kind to him, too. But then of course, I met someone (#5) that made me feel every emotion possible and then some. I felt horrible then, but when I reflect back on it, I realize now that I did the right thing.
#4 deserved so much better. He deserved something real, just not with me. Another valuable lesson learned from this one: Do not settle.
5: The One Who’s Afraid of Commitment
When we first met, I was barely adjusted to my new life as a college student, and he was in the midst of his third year. Of course, since he was older, had beautiful green eyes, an amazing body, and the most impeccable style, I was completely enamored with him. I couldn’t believe that someone so perfect had noticed me. He was the type that was so polite and likable that you brought him home to your mom for dinner. He was the type that was so handsome to the point where you wanted to broadcast your connection to him on all forms of social media. He was the type of boy that was so perfect that you fell mercilessly in love with him.
I could write a novel on #5, but I will try my best to keep it short.
He made me feel like the type of girl everyone else was jealous of. He took me on fun adventures and would never let me pay for anything. And whenever we went anywhere together, we constantly drew attention from passersby, making me feel like I was on top of the world; we were that power couple that seemed practically unstoppable.
And all of a sudden, many promises, dates, and kisses later, he began to scale back his affection significantly. Confused and concerned, I asked about it, and he used the “I really like you, I just want to make sure our expectations are in the right place” excuse on me.
Slowly but surely, it all began to go downhill. I discovered that he still had a close connection to his (only) ex-girlfriend; they had been together for years and shared a group of friends. I could no longer look past the obsession with the likes of import models and half-naked girls; this made me uncomfortable and self-conscious, yet he continued such behavior. And when he stopped calling, texting, and requesting to spend time together as much as he used to, I called him out on it; he managed to dodge it every time and could not, for the life of him, take me seriously. When he found a way to continually avoid every serious talk, I finally realized what I had to do; it didn’t make sense to hang around someone that was afraid of commitment.
As much as I wanted it to work with the person that I thought would change everything, I knew at this point that it would not. I broke it off with him through text because he refused to call or meet up with me because he didn’t want to have a “drama-filled girl emotion conversation” (his exact words).
#5, you broke my heart into pieces. But here the valuable lesson I learned from you: Don’t let someone else create your expectations. Create your own, and if they are the right one, they will do anything to meet them for you.
Some of these boys are still a part of my life in one way or another, while some are no longer even a passing thought. One thing that they all have in common, though, is that they shaped me. As I write this a year later, I realize that they were extremely important at the time. They were all just as much a part of my college experience as the friends and memories I made, so for that, I thank all five of them.