Taylor Swift said it best: we collegiettes have a sixth sense for sniffing out bad boys. Troublemaking is about more than just being the unwashed, tatted up, leather-clad guy on the motorcycle (although anyone who reminds you of Russell Brand in any way should probably be given a wide berth). We’re talking about the guys who aren’t quite so obvious about their womanizing, the sensitive artists, and the quarterback types who, underneath their shiny nice guy exteriors, just might be Charlie Sheens in training. We asked real collegiettes and Dr. Carole Lieberman, renowned psychiatrist and author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them, to weigh in on the seven sure signs that he’s a heartbreaker.
He’s a last minute, late-night caller
You know that your guy has free time during the week – last we checked, watching hockey wasn’t an academic requirement – but he waits until 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night to ask you to hang out. At first you’re flattered and, of course, pumped to get to spend time with him. It isn’t until the next weekend, when it happens all over again, that you think to yourself, “Why didn’t he make plans with me earlier?”
Katrina, a recent grad of the University of Connecticut, once asked herself the same question. "I spent nearly all of my sophomore year trying to date a guy who would only text me on weekend nights to meet up, usually when he was inebriated,” she reveals. “It’s definitely a red flag when he needs liquid-courage (or even beer goggles) to hang out with you. Needless to say, the ‘relationship’ went nowhere and eventually just fizzled out."
Dr. Lieberman isn’t surprised when guys like the one Katrina dealt with don’t turn out to be keepers. On only hearing from your crush after sundown, Dr. Lieberman says, “This means you’re his last-minute girlfriend – the one he calls after the others have turned him down. Or, at least, you're not very high on his priority list. If he only calls at night, he’s looking for a booty call – not for a real date who he'd have to talk to or spend money on.” Needless to say, if you’re not number one on his list of ladies – or if he has a list of ladies at all, for that matter – he isn’t worth your time.
He goes MIA
In the modern era of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, there’s hardly any way a college kid could slip off the radar. Yet, somehow, that troublemaker of a guy you’ve been texting has successfully managed to go missing. He doesn’t text, he doesn’t call, and he doesn’t answer any of your messages (which hopefully weren’t very many).
Then, days or weeks later, he’s back out of the blue, asking you to hang out. No explanation, no excuses – or else, incredibly lame ones. What gives?
After dealing with an MIA guy once before, Katey, a collegiette from the University of Texas at Austin, doesn’t fall for the disappearing act anymore. “Everything would be fine and we'd see each other often, and then every two or three weeks he'd drop off the face of the earth - no calls, texts, anything,” Katey explains. “I’d see other girls uploading photos of him on Facebook from bars or clubs, and there was even one photo of him shirtless in the girl’s bedroom. Then, on Monday, I would finally hear back from him. When I called him out on it, he’d get super defensive and say the girl was his cousin (if this is true, he had a lot of cousins) and that I was insecure and horrible for not trusting him. Looking back on it, I was super naive for believing him.”
“When a guy is MIA and doesn't even care enough to craft a really good excuse, it means he was with another girl or girls, and proud of it!” says Dr. Lieberman. “And if you’re thinking, ‘Yes, but he came back to me,’ it might just mean that he likes [having] a harem, not that he's seen the error of his ways and likes you best. Or, the other lady may have realized – quicker than you – that he's a jerk.” Don’t let yourself be the last to know when the signs are already loud and clear!
He badmouths all of his exes
There are two simple explanations behind your boy-toy’s trash-talking: first, that he’s perfect. Of course all of his last relationship’s problems were his ex’s fault, not his, because he’s infallible. Case closed. The other more likely explanation is that he’s self-righteous, critical, and would rather take a punch than a rejection.
“This is a guy who has very poor self-esteem and cannot stand the idea that a woman would end a relationship with him, even if he was a jerk with her,” concludes Dr. Lieberman. “He has to criticize his exes as a rationalization for why they’re not together anymore, implying that he broke up with them – not the reverse.”
No one likes listening to a whiner, and why hang around a guy who only focuses on the negative? Chances are he’d say similar things about you if you were to date and break up, and you definitely don’t want to be the next ex whose dirty laundry he airs in public.
He disses your friends
The golden rule of girl code: friends over flirts, always. It’s one thing if he’s disrespecting girls that he’s chosen to be with – the insecurity and blabber mouthing are never good signs, but he might regret dating those girls for legitimate reasons. It’s entirely another if he’s disrespecting girls that you’ve chosen to be with: your BFFs.
“If your guy implies that your friends aren’t cool enough, you can bet he’s really thinking that about you, too,” says Dr. Lieberman. “It means he’s just settling for you temporarily, and making plans to find someone he thinks is cooler.”
Kelsey from Boston University saw this particularly tricky breed of troublemaking firsthand. “My ex-boyfriend used to bad-mouth some of my closest friends to me – he even unfriended some of them on Facebook!” she recounts. “As a girl who considers my friends one of my best assets, I will never put up with that attitude again!”
You chose your best friends for a reason. Whether they’re witty, friendly, or wonderful wingwomen, they’ve earned your stamp of approval. If a guy says your friends aren’t worth your time, he’s not just questioning them; he’s also questioning your judgment. Definitely not okay.
He guards his phone with his life
It’s the most obvious sign in the trouble-spotting handbook: if a guy is secretive about or protective of his phone, he probably has something to hide. Chances are, whatever he’s hiding isn’t something that Prince Charming would approve of.
“This is a red flag waving in your face,” Dr. Lieberman says. “And the worst part is that if you sneak a peek and he catches you, he’ll become infuriated and blame you for not trusting him – even if you were right and his texts show he’s got a secret girlfriend on the side who he seems to like a lot more than you.”
If your guy is ignoring phone calls and texts, paranoid about letting you scroll through his pictures, and just acting sketchy in general, he probably has a skeleton in his closet. Or, more likely, another girl.
He immediately gives you pet names
Honey. Baby. Sweetie. If it sounds sugary, cute, and fitting for a fluffy new puppy, it’s a pet name.
“You may be flattered by his pet names at first, but then think about how impersonal they are,” reminds Dr. Lieberman. “Any girl could be ‘sweetie.’ Is he really seeing you?”
Erica, a recent grad of the University of Michigan, isn’t a fan of the nicknaming. “This new guy I met a few weeks ago refers to me as ‘sweetheart’ and ‘babe’ and I don’t like it,” she admits. “It’s too cheesy. [It] makes me feel like he doesn’t actually care about me and is just trying to be cute.”
The important thing to remember is that, though it may be an adorable name, it isn’t your name. Who’s to say he isn’t calling other girls by the same one? In the worst cases, it can be a way to avoid calling one girl by another girl’s name by accident. Yikes.
He’s only got guy friends
While it’s generally much easier to date a guy who isn’t attached at the hip to his best girl friend – none of us envy Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding, competing with best friend and all-around awesome lady Julia Roberts – it’s not promising when you’re dating a guy who has no girl friends at all.
Dr. Lieberman can spot this troublemaker a mile away, and collegiettes should be able to as well. “This is a guy who only wants to be around women for one thing: sex,” she explains. “If you’re not gonna give him any, he doesn't want to waste his time pretending to want to get to know you.”
A guy without any lady friends probably isn’t getting good dating advice, might not give women the respect they deserve, and almost definitely won’t be willing to sit through The Notebook with you when you’re sick. Cross him off the list.
Whether you’re looking for an FWB or the love of your life, you want to steer clear of the John Mayers and Harry Styles of the world. When you can tell that he’s trouble, steer clear! There are plenty of other guys on campus who will mean it when they say that they want to get to know you, and we’d bet big bucks that they’d give anything for you to give them the chance to do it.