The best thing about ex boyfriends is where they live: the past. This means that technically, your ghosts say a great deal about who you were, but not much about who you are now. (You’re you!) Instead, think of your exes like fun dinosaur bones. They are pieces that make up a larger picture — a picture that you may choose to crop the shit out of.
  1. Peaked Way Too Early
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    You caught him at the pinnacle of his 6th-grade-success. Same grade as you. He was the class dodgeball star, least likely to get bloody noses and voted “most dreamy” among those peers who hung posters of teen-zine-mandated heartthrobs on their walls. He asked you out over AIM and from there, romance. What it said about you: you were a sucker for Disney Channel swag, peanut butter breath and the sound of a digital open door. Even now, you're secretly questioning if you, too, peaked.
  2. Bad News
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    Everyone warned you against him. You warned you against him. He likely even warned you against him. But you didn’t listen. What it says about you: you thought you could perform miracles after growing up on a diet of bad-boy-reformed influences (Ten Things I Hate About You, Grease, Judd Nelson). Turns out you could not. You got your heart broken and can now smell a red flag a smile away. (T or F, though: you still have a soft spot for guys just like this one.)
  3. The Younger Guy
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    This wasn’t too long ago, was it? He was sweet and likely had great hair. You cannot be blamed for enjoying the attention of someone who thinks you’re awesome and has yet to grow jaded by “the scene.” At the time, this relationship said you were just looking for fun. It also may have been the very thing that prompted you into searching for the polar opposite…
  4. The Older Guy
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    He tends to follow the younger guy. You were “done with the bullshit” and ready to date someone “mature.” His educational profile may have ranged from the raunchy to the Freudian-paternal, but once it ended, you realized you weren’t as prepared to grow up as you thought you were.
  5. Perfect On Paper
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    You either met him online or were set up through a friend. He sounded perfect. He looked perfect, too. Then you met in person and something didn’t click. You probably blamed yourself for not liking this person because, hello, he was perfect. What’s wrong with you? All it really said about you is that this wasn’t your match, but at the time, it whispered a false destiny into your ear: future cat lady.
  6. The One
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    The one until he wasn’t — is there any greater heartbreak? If you’re still calling him “The One,” you’re not over it. Ask Isaac about that. Or date your three best friends. 3 > 1.
  7. The Question Mark
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    This is the hardest kind of ex to have because it’s the hardest kind to talk about: if you weren’t ever technically together, then how can you technically be over and apart? Calling someone your ex when you never DTR’d can be more awkward than calling them your boyfriend or girlfriend — what if they find out? …What if they never actually ended things and you just missed a text? An Instagram like? WHY IS HE STILL OPENING YOUR SNAPCHATS?
  8. The Foreigner
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    This person swooped you off your feet during three months of studying abroad. You came back a changed woman who will forever reference “that one time in Belgium” with a dreamy look on your face. Your friends will roll their eyes and remind you that this makes you no more international than an IHOP. You will remind them that you’re now technically considered bilingual.
  9. The Really Sweet, Kind Of Nerdy Guy
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    You tried because your friends loved him even though you knew it wasn’t gonna last. He was great, and that sucks. But you weren’t ready. Don’t future-trip, either; latent realizations of fictitious love will only trap you in a projection room of some theoretical life you could have had. You know mom’s famous words: if it’s meant to be, it will be. For now, remind your friends that if they love him so much, they can marry him.
  10. The Asshole
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    What’s that saying again? Everyone’s got one? In the case of your exes, depending on how long you’ve been dating and in what city, you could be a medical anomaly and have at least five. Ask around, though: in the dating world, this is perfectly normal. Nothing to be worried about — so long as none of them flare back up.