The Wild One
Maybe you lock eyes at a bar, maybe you meet through a friend. Maybe she’s in the military, an aspiring writer, or a nursing student. The setting and the characters will be different, but the story will always be the same. You are two people on different but briefly intersecting trajectories. Like a tropical storm, these women will breeze into your life and leave the landscape of your heart forever scarred and altered.
This is the type of woman I fall for time and time again. These women are beautiful (although not always in a conventional way), worldly, and captivating. They’re starting to settle down after years of partying or dating assholes exclusively, and their fickle eye will land on you, because you’re sweet and safe but just malleable enough be fun. You quickly realize that you have little in common, and your friends will think you’re crazy—but you won’t care, because you’re already smitten.
Just by being around them, these girls will drag you out of your comfort zone—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. You’ll drink more. You’ll spend more money. You’ll go to places or hang out with people you wouldn’t normally, because being around this woman makes you feel like someone switched on a 10,000-watt light bulb inside your heart. But you’ll never be able to shake the feeling that she’s out of your league, somehow. And with mounting panic, you’ll watch her lose interest and eventually slip away. Eventually, you’ll realize that you were a romantic palate cleanser: someone who managed to straddle the divide between her past and her future lives just long enough to make a connection before she continued on her inevitable path.
Although they’ll drift far, far away from you, these women will seldom cut the cord completely—which may eventually lead to a place of mutually understood friendship, years down the road. Until then, however, that cord will be a lifeline of longing for you. Sure, maybe you’ll be friends, one day… but not before you’ve spent many a sleepless night listening to sad bastard music and looking at her Facebook, her OkCupid profile, or even her Instagram, wondering if she thinks of you at all—and knowing deep down that she doesn’t.
The Nice One
If you want to tell if a romance is doomed, just listen for these two deadly words: “She’s nice.”
But she will be, though—so nice, and so sweet… and so wrong for you, ultimately. You’ll want to fall in love with this girl, but you won’t be able to, not fully—and you’ll hate yourself for it.
For me, this type was even more firmly defined than the first: almost always a few years older than me, pretty but not gorgeous, nice but not captivating. Most of these women will have been through some heartache in the past, and they’re usually looking for that “nice guy” to settle down with. They’ll hope it’s you, but it won’t be. There’s a certain brittleness there, a certain insecurity borne of past wounds that will make you uncomfortable. While they’ll be drawn to your charm and your adventurous streak (which you no doubt inherited from The Wild One), you’ll eventually realize that you’ll never feel comfortable in the sedate life they’ve crafted for themselves. You’ve been conditioned to crave something else.
These relationships always end badly. You’ll do some damage here and you’ll feel terrible about it. She’ll cry, you’ll cry, and you’ll spend weeks wondering if you did the right thing or not. But it doesn’t matter: this girl is gone for good. These are the ones who will block you on Facebook, delete your number, whatever it takes for them to forget you. Months, even years later, you’ll still feel a wave of regret whenever you think about her, and you’ll stare off into the distance, wondering and hoping that she’s forgiven you… but knowing deep down that she never will.
You’ll never date this girl and chances are you never seriously wanted to, but this relationship will be just as defining as the ones that end in heartache. Maybe you went out once and things never clicked… or maybe you never got that far because you’re not her type or she’s not yours, but without knowing it, your closest female friends will become the benchmark for all of your other relationships. Maybe she’s the most beautiful person you know, or maybe she’s the funniest, or maybe she’s just all-around awesome, but this girl will become your friend, your confidante, and your gold standard. You’ll commiserate over countless late-night beers about relationships that went wrong, you’ll try (usually unsuccessfully) to wingman for each other, and you’ll do enough single-people activities together that people will start to wonder if you’re dating.
Until you find your future spouse, this may be one of the most meaningful, permanent relationships you have—after all, if she sees all of your bullshit and foibles week in and week out and still wants to be your friend, that’s saying something. Just remember, she probably knows you better than anybody, so if she finally does tell you that you’ve found a keeper, you damn well better listen.