This article was originally published as a guest post on HUGStronger in September 2012, a college advice blog that has since been discontinued, and was later reposted on College Relationships here.
We’ve all been warned. Before leaving for college, we receive a surplus of information from older friends, advising us both academically and socially. These friends also share their dating wisdom, cautioning us against falling for the “wrong” kind of guy.
Pop culture portrays the “wrong guy” as the unmotivated slacker who skates by on an academic probation, or as the misogynist who only wants you for your looks. However, during my freshman year, I learned that the wrong guy can be difficult to spot, because he often disguises himself as the nice guy you can’t help but trust.
That fall, I met a boy with whom I instantly connected. We fell into an easy friendship that eventually developed into more. With little dating experience behind me, I took his seemingly charming personality at face value.
In time, I learned that his “nice guy” routine was exactly that – a routine. He simultaneously pursued multiple girls who had no knowledge of each other, while feeding them the same lines and spreading hurtful rumors. Ultimately, I realized our relationship was unhealthy and would only drag me down.
Nice guys do exist, and I’ve dated a few since then. However, when dealing with new guys, watch out for red flags:
1. He says mostly negative things about his ex-girlfriends.
If he tells you extremely personal (or insulting) details about previous girlfriends, chances are he’ll say the same things about you when you break up. Of course, you don’t want to date someone who still loves his ex-girlfriend, but if he seems particularly vindictive toward the girls he’s dated, you might want to break things off.
2. He likes to tell you about all of his admirers.
Even when he claimed to be interested in only me, my not-so-nice guy would constantly rant about the many girls who were “in love” with him. I’m not a jealous person, but I often wondered why he needed to share this knowledge. It’s one thing if other girls find him attractive; it’s another thing if he’s using that information to try and upset you.
3. He mixes up his stories.
First he tells you that he was spending time with his boys last night. Then he casually slips in that another girl was there. Then he gets annoyed when you ask him for details about his evening, and accuses you of not trusting him. What starts out as simple curiosity can quickly morph into suspicion.
4. He plays hot and cold with your emotions.
If a guy is sending you mixed signals for any prolonged period of time, he’s not that into you. If he’s truly worth your time, he will make it known that he’s interested, and he won’t keep you guessing whether or not he wants a relationship.
5. He disguises condescending remarks as compliments.
In trying to win me back, my not-so-nice guy once explained that I had grown since we last parted ways, and that he now felt more attracted to me because of how “assertive” I had become. (Translation: “Now that you’re unattainable, I consider you a challenge worth pursuing.”) The truth was, I hadn’t changed much in that time, and I didn’t need his affirmation that I had “grown” enough to be worth his attention. Remember, you deserve to be treated well no matter how much you still have left to learn or accomplish. (Tweet this!)
Not-so-nice guys come in all forms. Be aware of the warning signs, so that you won’t fall into the same traps as many others. Don’t settle for anyone who treats you as anything less than you deserve.