He can be anyone -- the star football player, the yearbook editor, the loudmouth class clown. Some of you girls out there might even think all you have to do to be a jerk is to be male. But using that logic can backfire on you -- if all guys are jerks, then all girls are suckers. Why?
Because some of you keep going out with them.
Breaking the Cycle
The first step is identification. It might not always be obvious who’s a jerk, but there are some telltale signs you should look for.
“First, there are jerks and then there is ’The Jerk’ -- the guy who brags and reveals he scored,” says Dr. Nancy Maloney, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Maloney suggests that you stay far away from guys like this if you know them. Because if they’ll say it about someone else, they’ll say it about you, which usually is a sign that they feel their attachment to you is more a conquest than a relationship.
“Another big sign is the guy who tries to change who his girl is,” Maloney continues. “They attempt to isolate the girlfriend from her friends, and will especially keep her away from their own male friends. So when they are together, they’ll say, ‘You’re my girl and I’m your guy.’ But when they’re around their own friends -- maybe at sporting events or in the school cafeteria -- they’ll turn around and act as if they’re single.”
“It’s a situation that’s very dangerous for girls,” she warns. “She ultimately ends up compromising who she is.”
In part, Maloney blames current social mores for putting a girl in the position to date a jerk and for encouraging or giving permission for a guy to become one. Typically, guys don’t put much energy into relationships, she says, and that has much to do with the fact that in our society men are seen and defined by what they do -- whether it’s “the athlete” in high school or “the lawyer” when they get older -- whereas women are often characterized by who they are with.
“Even after the feminist movement,” she adds, “women still seem to look to men for validation. It is often the case that the guy has got to be somebody and the girl has got to find somebody. Also, women are the ones who usually want more emotional nurturing, so relationships sometimes are seen as women’s work -- working on changing the relationship and changing the guy, which is impossible.”