Disclaimer: If you married your high school sweetheart, you may not relate to this story. (That is, unless you had some very busy junior high years.) The rest of you, however, will recognize at least a few of these relationship archetypes—and the longer you’ve been single, the more familiar they’ll be. Here, six significant others you’re likely to encounter by the time you turn 30.
Sigh—this one's the best, isn't it? So extreme, so deep, so passionate and so all-consuming. We remember feeling as though we absolutely would not survive when it ended. Then we (read: this editor) met up with said lover 10 years later, and he made a pass despite having a pregnant wife. We don't suggest similarly ruining your memory of your life-changing first love, one that should remain forever sweet.
This is the one you think about constantly, whose texts you wait for in anguish and for whom you doll yourself up at inappropriate hours. While you're jumping through every emotional hoop—and spending outrageous sums of money on clothes, waxes and the like—he or she has zero clue you think you're in a real relationship. Eventually, a kindly friend confronts you with the truth, or your dignity is challenged to a point you can no longer ignore. Either way, this heartbreak is a doozy, but the good news is that once you're over this person, it's impossible to ever again see him or her through the same rose-colored glasses.
You might root wholeheartedly for the Aidan Shaws of the world when it comes to other people, but you can't quite get there when this archetype enters your own realm. You know you should love this person, and you do—in a way. No matter how hard you try to make the relationship work, though, you know deep down that you shouldn't have to force it, and eventually you break his or her heart. Afterward, you end up thinking about them every now and again, especially when things get rocky with the next people you date, because they're never as "perfect" as your Aidan.
Sometimes this one overlaps with the one you wish you loved, but more often this selection feels entirely random. It's the person you dated for a few months years ago whom, inexplicably, your folks can't stop talking about. When and if you do get married, your parents might even bring up this person on your wedding day, and God help you if you go to them with relationship problems—you'll be forced to hear this ex's name at least half a dozen times along with the smug I-told-you-sos.
You deserve a king (or queen!), blah blah self-esteem yada yada. Still, this person is just so clearly out of your league that even your loved ones can't help commenting on how lucky you are. Hopefully, you get to marry the person you feel this way about, but it doesn't always work out. Sometimes, this too-good-for-you partner eventually upgrades to the supermodel with whom he or she is intended to procreate. You are okay with this, because it restores balance to the world.
This person has no redeeming qualities. We mean it—zero. You know this, but you can't help but fall for him or her anyway, despite the fact he or she doesn't treat you well. Sometimes, your attachment to this person becomes so tragic that your loved ones are forced to stage an intervention, but don't worry—it's a rite of passage to love someone so wrong. It's all a part of your journey to the one who will be so right. Besides, you haven't lived until you've defended some loser to your friends only to later eat your words, relying on them to console you as all their dire predictions materialize.