1. The boy next door.
Maybe you’ve known him forever, the two of you used to play in your backyards and you sat side by side on the bus growing up. Or maybe he helped you hook up your desktop in your dorm, and offered to do so purely out of the goodness of his heart. He was the person you knew was always there. Whether it was 2 PM for a last minute lunch or 2 AM and you just needed a place to crash. He was always there. Reliable, safe, an always. The way you loved him was in that comfortable, safe way. Like the feeling of wrapping yourself up in a blanket in September for the first time in months, or the way it feels to be back in your own bed after traveling. And even years after he’s not walking distance away, or someone you can call spontaneous and know he’s there, he’s still in the back of your mind. Still present, and still somehow feels safe.
2. The one who loves you more than you love him.
You probably knew it long before he did. You knew that you were going to break his heart. It was something in the way that he looked at you, and the pressure that you felt whenever he reached for your hand. It wasn’t that you didn’t love him, it was that it wasn’t enough. And you knew it. He told you that it was fine, that he could deal, that he just wanted you. But you couldn’t do it to him. You couldn’t bring yourself to hold him back with you when there was the possibility of him finding someone else who could actually give him what he needed. So you let him go. And it will always still hurt knowing how much pain you caused.
3. The one who doesn’t love you back.
This is when you’ll finally know what it feels like to beg someone to give something that they simply do not have. You stay up nights waiting for him to realize it, waiting for him to say, “You were right all along.” But that moment will never come. You’ll become obsessive, entirely too focused on something that realistically won’t happen. You will look for every opportunity to show him that it’s there, that he CAN love you. And it won’t matter. In the end it won’t happen, he won’t give you what you want (what you need), and you’ll be empty and lonely and forced to move on.
4. The one who your parents cannot stand.
Something will be off. Maybe it’s in the way that he argues with your dad about politics but never seems to be willing to listen, or maybe it’s because you always call them when the two of you are fighting and that’s tarnished their view of him. But they can’t stand him. You know it, they aren’t ashamed of it, he knows it. Hell, the waiter when you forcibly go to dinner together knows it. There’s an unbelievable tension that is present whenever he’s around them, or he’s simply brought up, and it reaches a point where it’s impossible to ignore. You begin to question if you can live with tension forever, and the answer becomes painfully clear. No.
5. The one who cheats on you.
Maybe he’s the love of your life, maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s just someone you thought you were having fun with, maybe you’d pictured your wedding. Regardless of the serious factor or however you chose to define your relationship, it doesn’t change the fact that infidelity breaks your ability to trust people. His decision, his choice to do something so dishonest and so reprehensible will scar you in some way. It’ll be the mark you can’t get rid of, the little voice in the back of your head telling you to not believe people. Even years after he’s out of your life, the memory of being betrayed like that will still be there. And it probably always will be.
6. The bad boy.
You know you’re a cliché. “Falling for the bad boy” is just such a ridiculous label and even you roll your eyes at the notion. But you can’t help it. Something about the way he clearly doesn’t give a shit about you, has habits that borderline on problematic, or just the way he looks in your bed at 4 in the morning is absolutely addicting. You fall for him in a way that’s difficult to narrate, and even harder for anyone who’s not in it as deep as you are to understand the why. So eventually, you stop trying to explain it. He’s just a part of your past.
7. The one who got away.
There was a part of you that truly believed he was the one. That he was your forever. That he was your person. That the two of you were in it to win it, that this was it for you. But somewhere along the way, something changed. Something shifted. There was something missing in your life that he couldn’t, that he didn’t fill. And try as you might to say, “But look how good I have it,” and, “Maybe this will pass,” it was never a feeling you could shake. So you went off, you went in different directions and spouted the ever-so-popular, “if it’s meant to be it’ll be” line that everyone says to make tough decisions easier to swallow. And then…it didn’t “be.” You didn’t find your way back. You never came back to each other. And it haunts you. He haunts you. Because there is a part of you that wonders if letting him go was the right choice. And there’s an even bigger part of you that wonders what would have happened if you never had in the first place.
8. The best sex you’ve ever had.
You probably didn’t actually love him. Calling it love would be silly. You didn’t love him. But your body absolutely did. Your body craved him like a smoker craves nicotine, like addict craves their next fix. Because he made you feel things you didn’t know where feasibly possible. He electrified you. He set your skin on fire and your breath on the very edge of possibility. You wish you could help it but when it’s 1 AM and you find your fingers gravitating below your waist, he comes to mind. You will fight the urge to say his name in bed for months. You’ll still think it.
9. The one who ruins your life.
He will break you in a way that you didn’t know you could be broken. You will cry harder than you ever knew you could. People will be worried about you. Your parents will treat you like you’re in high school again. People will ask you if you’ve eaten, how much you’ve had to drink today, if you’re paying your bills because you will be such a wreck in his wake that it’s unbelievable that you’d be able to function like a human being. You will lose sleep, you will lose weight. You will, for all intents and purposes, break. You will finally understand how it is possible for people to die of broken hearts. And you will mourn them and mourn him and mourn the version of yourself that existed before he came into your life.
10. The one who you never get over.
He might be a combination of any and all of the boys previously mentioned. Or maybe he’s none of them. But you handed him your heart, he broke off a piece, and he didn’t bother returning that ventricle when he left. You feel his absence in every lonely night, in every quiet moment. You miss him even when you’re so happy you can’t realistically understand how it’s possible to still miss someone. He’s a name you hesitate to say out loud, convinced that if you bury him deep enough he’ll actually disappear. And then you’ll see someone wearing the same jacket as him or with the same haircut and you’ll break apart because even outwear and highlights can remind you that you’re not the same without him. You’ll read every article about moving on, put every notion into practice in an effort to make him a memory that doesn’t haunt you, and still…he will. Because moving on isn’t a math problem, and there is no definite answer. So every day you’ll keep trying to solve it. And even after you come up with the correct formula, you’ll still hurt a little bit.
Because sometimes, even when you’re okay again, you can still miss people after they’re gone.