The good thing about exes — actually the only good thing about exes — is that they each teach you a lesson you needed to learn. Although it may take time, at some point, you’ll have one of those “A-HA!” moments and realize that having loved and lost that person taught you something valuable that you can now carry with you forever. (You know, aside from the fact that you should immediately collect your things after the breakup, so that three years later you’re not still kicking yourself over the fact that he still has your guitar. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.)
Most likely, you will date many different types of people in your life. Some will be awesome, some will seem like they’re the offspring of the devil, and some will be fairly forgettable. But no matter who they were or what they meant to you, they made some sort of impression and changed you in one way or another.
Speaking from my own experience (and the experiences of my friends) there are some specific types of exes you can expect to have in your 20s. Here is each type, and the lessons they're likely to teach you.
THE BAD BOY/girl YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD CHANGE
Lesson: You can't change someone. The bad boy is “bad” for a reason, and that reason is that chicks (initially) dig bad boys. At some point, he'll even tell you that he doesn't want to change, because he's happy just they way he is ... cheating on you.
THE BARTENDER YOU believed cOULD eventually COMMIT
Lesson: You can't change a flirt. Similar to the bad boy, bartenders love the attention they get when they’re slinging drinks and giving the, “Hey, how you doin’,” look around the bar. They’re not looking to be tamed, and while they’ll commit for a hot minute, it’s a literally for a hot minute.
THE TRUST-FUNDER WITH THE SUMMER HOME
Lesson: The problem here is if you don’t come from old money, their parents will never, ever approve of you. It’s sort of like Legally Blonde — Elle was just never going to be good enough for Warner, because there’s a big difference between living next door to Aaron Spelling and living next door to a Rockefeller.
THE STRUGGLING ARTIST FULL OF POTENTIAL
Lesson: Part of them genuinely likes the struggle, and always will. It may seem exciting at first to live on Ramen so he can spend all his money on the expensive oil paints, but there are only so many different ways to spice up Ramen.
THE PERPETUALLY UNEMPLOYED EX
Lesson: They will never be able to keep a steady job. They're either too good for it, or have issues with "the man."
THE TOO-NICE EX
Lesson: Even at you're absolute sweetest, you still can't help but feel like you're walking all over them. Nice is a lovely personality trait, but too-nice just makes you feel like the bad guy all the time. No matter how much you try to provoke them, they will never be mean.
THE NO-CHEMISTRY EX
Lesson: The sex will never be what you need. It just won't. It doesn't matter how hard you try, no chemistry is no chemistry. End of story.
THE FIGHT-AND-MAKE-UP-SEX-ALL-THE-TIME EX
Lesson: People break up for a reason, and when they break-up over and over again, it's just proof it's not meant to be. Most of us have to learn that lesson the hard way in our 20s.
THE BAD TIMING EX
Lesson: Star-crossed lovers are great if your life were a Shakespearean play, but since it's not, what you learn from your bad-timing ex is that timing is everything. It's no one's fault.
THE DIFFERENT VALUES EX
Lesson: How you even ended up with them in the first place will always make you wonder what you were thinking. But now that it's over, you understand that spending 90 percent of your relationship debating over social and economic issues, religion, and civil liberties is not your idea of a good time.
THE Never-LIKEd-YOUR-FRIENDS EX
Lesson: People we date are replaceable; friends are not. If they don't like your friends, then there's obviously things about you they don't like, too. Those people are your friends for a reason, and you should never date someone who doesn't like them.
THE OBSESSED-WITH-WORK EX
Lesson: You will always come second, vacations together will never exist, and they'll be at the office more than they're with you. Best to learn early if it's not for you.
THE Heavy Drinker
Lesson: As someone who loves to overindulge in the sauce, having dated multiple men with drinking problems seemed to fit for a while. But then you realize that the fact that they seem to be drunk all the time is indicative of other issues. It’s when you step in to help and end up hitting a brick wall with them that you're forced to understand what you've always heard: You can’t help those who don’t want to be helped.
THE ONE WHO PROPOSEd (BUT CALLed IT OFF)
Lesson: Complete and utter humiliation is a real thing. Also, sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. You'll survive, and learn that when it comes to love, nothing is ever certain.
Lesson: Everything — and I mean everything — will be used as material. Behave accordingly.
THE CHARMING OLDER EX
Lesson: Turns out, they weren't any better in bed. You will have plenty of time later in life to go to bed at 8 p.m. on a Friday. I promise.
THE FAR-LESS-CHARMING YOUNGER EX
Lesson: Sadly, the younger ex will just make you feel older than you actually are. It's a tragedy that you can no longer dance until dawn or keep up with their young and hot stamina the way you did at 19, but that's what dating someone younger will teach you.
THE NEIGHBOR YOU SHOULD HAVE AVOIDED
Lesson: Never sh*t where you eat. Ever. Because running into that person over and over again until you finally can come up with the necessary funds to move is hell on earth.
THE ONE WITH EX Drama OF THEIR OWN
Lesson: They're no longer together for a reason, and depending on how they parted ways, this could really put a damper on your relationship. Either have to accept that there will be patches of drama that borders on sociopathic behavior, or bail.
the hot one who was never that into you
Lesson: Even if they're cute, you now know you're better than that.
the one you've already forgotten about
Lesson: Sometimes, you get lonely. What was their name again?