Does it feel like your relationship is a roller coaster that you just can’t seem to step off of? Do you go from happy to sad at the drop of a hat? Have you stayed up late picking your friends brains about your man’s behavior?
If you found yourself nodding to these questions, it’s time to consider the strong possibility that you’re dating a jerk. In the past, I’ve talked about the signs you’re dating a narcissist, but the garden variety jerk is something that I haven’t talked about much yet.
Clearly, there are more obvious things jerks do, like lie, cheat and steal, but what about the more subtle signs that you’re dating one? The answers lie largely in how they make you feel.
(Note: Jerkiness is NOT gender specific, so you can apply what follows to both men and women even though I use male pronouns here.)
1. You Make Excuses For His Behavior
When he lets you down, you tell yourself (or worse, your friends and family) the most seemingly logical reasons why (“He’s tired.” “He was busy at work.”), but deep down you know better. His behavior sucks, and you’re doing your best to rationalize and explain it away.
2. His Attention Feels Like A Drug
When he shows you attention, you feel happy. When he lets you down for the 23rd time this month, his withdrawal hits you right in the gut. If he’s running hot, you can relax a little, but watch out when he goes cold. Your emotions hinge on his actions in an unhealthy way.
3. He Tosses You Crumbs
One night he may stand you up completely, then text you the next day happily, like nothing happened. You might have no luck getting a response one day, but the next, he’s completely on top of the communication. He has a hard time committing to making time for you. You feel like you’re dead last on his priority list.
4. He Regularly Flakes On You
You’ve come to realize that all plans with him are “tentative,” since he only comes through for you some of the time.
5. You Feel “Crazy” Or “Unhinged”
When the other person goes hot and cold, your emotions cycle from downright bliss to abject depression. A little bit of attention from him is enough to make you wonder if you’re going off the deep end. The crumbs of his attention and his lame excuses for his behavior are enough to make you wonder if it’s all in your head.
6. He Insists That You Do Everything To His Standards
You might not even know what his standards ARE, but it feels like whatever you do is wrong. He’s critical of efforts that you make even in good faith. The relationship feels difficult.
7. You Feel Like You Have To Chase Him To Get Your Needs Met
Because he doesn’t really have your best interests at heart (or even vaguely on his mind), getting appreciation, encouragement or even acknowledgement is an uphill battle. He may make vague promises, but, more often than not, he doesn’t keep them.
8. He Doesn’t Ever Ask About You
He doesn’t really seem to want to know much about you. Your conversations are deep and wonderful (because he managed to hook you in the first place), but over time it becomes clear that he doesn’t really seem to take much interest in you, except maybe when you’re in his immediate company.
9. When You Need Him, He’s Too Busy
Need a favor? He’s unreachable or has a lame excuse for why he can’t help you.
10. He’s Selfish
It feels like you’re constantly dancing to the beat of his drum rather than the other way around. When given the choice between doing something nice for you or himself, you suspect he’d choose himself every time.
11. He’s Disrespectful And Uses “Humor” To Insult You
Jerks make mean jokes at your expense. He might call you a mean-spirited pet name like “b*tch” or “a**hole”. When you get offended and speak up about his disrespect, he will try to claim that it was all a joke. Even worse, he might accuse you of being the sensitive one. He may tone it down for a while, but over time his disrespect keeps creeping back into your interactions.
12. He Uses How “Damaged” He Is To Excuse His Poor Behavior
As a fun, zany hybrid of excuse-making, he blames his shabby relationship behavior on “being damaged,” “previous bad relationships,” “not being sure how to love again” and/or “having trust issues.” If he’s particularly jerky, he’ll resort to sob stories and let you feel sorry for him AND make up your own excuses.
This is probably the case if you find yourself thinking, All I have to do show him kindness. He’s been through so much. This makes you want to heal his broken wing by being particularly forgiving. The worst part about this is that while you’re “being understanding,” he’s learning just how much he can get away with.