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 partner’s behavior?
If you found yourself nodding to these questions, it’s time to consider the strong possibility that you might be 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 what follows can be applied to both men and women.
Here we go:
1. You make excuses for their behavior.
When they let you down, you tell yourself (or worse, your friends and family) the most seemingly logical reasons why they let you down (he was tired, she was busy at work) but deep down you know better. Their behavior sucks, and you’re doing your best to rationalize and explain it away.
2. Their attention feels like a drug.
When they show you attention, you feel happy. When they let you down for the 23rd time this month, their withdrawal hits you right in the gut. If they’re running hot, you can relax a little, but watch out when they go cold. Your emotions, thoughts and feelings hinge on their actions in an unhealthy way.
3. They toss you crumbs.
One night they may stand you up completely and text you the next day happily like nothing happened. You might have no luck getting a response one day, but the next they are completely on top of the communication. They have a hard time making time for you. You feel like you’re dead last on their priority list.
4. They regularly flake on you.
You’ve come to realize that all plans with them are “tentative” since they only come 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 them is enough to make you wonder if you’re going off the deep end. The crumbs of their attention combined with the excuses for their behavior is enough to make you wonder if it’s all in your head.
6. They insist that you do everything to their standards.
You might not even know what their standards ARE, but it feels like whatever you do is wrong. They are critical of efforts that you make even in good faith. The relationship feels difficult.
7. You feel like you have to chase them to get your needs met.
Because they don’t really have your best interests at heart (or even vaguely on their minds), getting appreciation, encouragement or even acknowledgement is an uphill battle. They may make vague promises that they don’t keep.
8. They don’t ever ask about you.
They don’t really seem to want to know much about you. Your conversations can be deep and wonderful (because they managed to hook you in the first place) but over time it becomes clear that they don’t really seem to take much interest in you besides when you’re in their immediate company.
9. When you need them, they’re too busy.
Need a favor? Need help moving? They are nowhere to be found or have a lame excuse for why they can’t help you.
10. They’re selfish.
It feels like you’re constantly dancing to the beat of their drum rather than the other way around. When given the choice between doing something nice for you or themselves, you suspect they’d choose themselves every time.
11. They’re disrespectful and use “humor” to insult you.
They make mean jokes at your expense. They might call you a mean-spirited pet name like “bitch” or “asshole.” When you get offended and speak up about their disrespect, they try to claim that it was all a joke. Even worse, they accuse you of being the sensitive one. They may tame it for awhile but over time their disrespect creeps back into your interactions.
12. They use how “damaged” they are as an excuse when you get upset at their poor behavior.
As a fun, zany hybrid of excuse-making, they blame their shabby relationship behavior on “being damaged,” “previous bad relationships,” “not being sure how to love again” and/or “having trust issues.” If they’re particularly jerk-y, they’ll resort to sob stories and let you feel sorry for them AND make up your own excuses.
This might be the case if you find yourself thinking, “all I have to do is be nice to them, they’ve been through so much.” It puts you in the position of wanting to heal their broken wing by being particularly forgiving. The shitty part about this is that while you’re “being understanding,” they’re learning just how much they can get away with.
This post originated on Attract the One.