You learned from your parents not to call people names like “jerk.” To be fair, though, some persons have meritoriously earned this designation.
If your past relationships have not gone well, you may find yourself drawn to jerks. They always seem to find you, somehow. However, there’s a more reasonable explanation: YOU are the one who breaks the pattern of being drawn to jerks.
To start, figure out why you are pulled to them:
• Your self-respect is shaky.: Some people are far too willing to put up with rude behaviour or mistreatment, and this often comes down to a lack of inner strength.
To be in a healthy relationship, you should fully expect to be treated with dignity and decency. Jerks have a way of sensing lack of self-respect and taking advantage. Respect yourself, and expect it from others.
• You’re a sucker for good looks.: It’s blatantly apparent that our society is obsessed with appearance. But individuals are also hardwired to favour good-looking people. It’s human nature.
The problem is, external beauty is not a reliable predictor of internal goodness. Initial attraction pulls you into a relationship, and only later do you discover that good looks and charm mask insensitive—or idiotic—behaviour.
• You’re not listening to your friends and family members.: When you were dating a jerk before, people who cared about you said, “Why are you with this person?” Listen to those who are trying to protect you and want the best for you. Moreover, invite those close to you to share their opinions, since these people see things that you can’t.
• You haven’t learned from past experience.: The old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Mark Twain put it more succinctly: “There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a mule.”
When you’re tempted to date another mule (a.k.a jackass), think long and hard about previous relationships—all the headaches and heartaches. Learn from those experiences so you can avoid more of them.
• You’re too willing to compromise.: Experts tell us the importance of compromise to ensure cooperation and harmony within a relationship. But compromising about weekend plans or work schedules does NOT mean compromising about a person’s basic behaviour.
Nearly all of us have things like “honesty, respect, and loyalty”on our must-have list. These represent a person’s fundamental qualities—and should not be compromised on.
• You hate being alone.: Some people loathe the thought of being single the rest of their lives. Others can’t stand spending another Friday night in front of the TV alone. This is what drives them to put up with rude or irresponsible treatment.
The thinking goes that, “A not-so-great partner is better than none at all.” Not true. Expand your social network, date better prospects, and dump the loser so you can find a lover.
• You think you can transform a jerk into a decent human being.: Maybe you’re a starry-eyed romantic. Maybe you’re codependent and need someone to “fix.” Or maybe you’re just overly optimistic. It’s always possible for someone to become better and nicer, but it’s not likely if that person isn’t even aware of his/her need to change. It’s the jerk’s responsibility to overcome his or her jerkiness—not yours.