So, Think You’re Dating A Douchebag?

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I read a blog post recently titled 11 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath, and my first reaction was, “Jesus, some people are really oblivious!” Then, it hit me: I’ve been guilty of doing the same exact thing.

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: I’m not one of those women who think all men are inherently douchebags. In fact, most guys I’ve dated have been really, really nice guys. And ‘nice guys’ aren’t necessarily perfect – they too make mistakes. We all do – we’re human. My point is, this post isn’t an “all men are douchebags” pity-party. Rather, I’m referring to the blinders both women and men tend to put on when they first start dating someone.

For example, take Danilo*, someone I dated last year. We met on OKCupid and instantly began sending lengthy emails back and forth. As far as I could tell, he was attractive, smart and kind. He said he was really involved in his [ethnic group] community and spent an extensive amount of time volunteering with humanitarian organizations. Since it was a crazy time and I was traveling for a few weeks, it took us almost a month to meet in person. During that time, we got to know each other fairly well through non-stop emails. When we met, everything went great, and I was pretty much sold on him after our first few dates.

On our fourth date, he came over to watch a movie. The weather was terrible – the temperature was in the single digits, and it was windy and sleeting heavily. On top of it, the sidewalks were absolutely frozen over. I met him at the door with a parking pass, and he said he would put it on his car later. After thirty minutes, I tried to convince him to go put the pass on his car, as it was Saturday night and I live a block off of Clark Street – he was basically guaranteed a parking ticket. After several minutes of urging him to do so, I finally told him to give me his keys, saying I’d go do it for him. He gave me a slightly smug smile, threw me his keys and said “While you’re out there, go in my trunk and get some stuff for me.” He winked at me, kicked his feet up, and turned back to the TV.

I trudged a few blocks to car, stuck the parking pass on his windshield, and then spent ten minutes or so fumbling with the lock of his trunk, which was completely frozen. I walked back into apartment fifteen minutes later freezing cold and completely soaked. As I handed him his keys without any acknowledgement on his part, I realized something about this scenario kind of bothered me. However, I figured I was just being too sensitive and pushed the inkling aside. Over our next few dates, little things like that kept popping up – things that were relatively minor, yet didn’t quite sit well with me. Yet I continued to push these feelings aside because (cough) he was a “nice guy”, and I assumed I was just being cynical.

prettypink

Blaine: the ultimate Undercover Douchebag

A week or so after the first incident, he came over to watch a movie. The documentary we were watching featured a family with two children with a mental disability so severe, they required constant care. Upon seeing the children he exclaimed, “MAN! Look at those fucking window lickers!” Confused, I asked him to explain what he meant. Upon hearing his (absolutely terrible) explanation of the term, it hit me: this guy was a complete and utter douchebag.

Personality is everything – in fact, I’d say empathy, compassion and kindness are just as important (if not more important) as attraction. Mean or ignorant comments are deal-breakers. The thought of potentially raising kids with someone who, for example, thinks racist comments are OK and may pass that attitude along to our kids is terrifying. Although his comment had made me think differently of him, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Needless to say, on our next date (which, let’s be real, I should have turned town), he pulled a full-on asshole move on me, and I stopped talking to him.

After getting through that initial phase of feeling crushed, it hit me: I had been a complete idiot. I was so caught up in this image I had built of him – before I had even met him – that I continued to ignore the warning signs that he was not a very nice person. (A few months later he proved himself to be completely mentally unstable, but that’s another story for another day.)

After reading the aforementioned article, I realized – almost every single one of my single friends been guilty of doing this at one time or another. When it comes to online dating sites, it’s way too easy to fall into this trap and ignore the fact that you’re dating a douchebag or someone with other unsavory characteristics. While most digital natives are smart enough to know when someone is misrepresenting their identity, the lines become a bit blurry when it comes to your first impression of someone’s personality.

If you exchange enough messages with someone prior to meeting them, you automatically build up an idea of who they are in your head. In fact, odds are, you haven’t come to the “s/he’s a nice person” conclusion after seeing how that person actually conducts themselves in real life. Rather, your idea of who they are is typically drawn after reading through a well-written profile, seeing a few flattering photos of them hugging kittens and holding babies, and receiving a few charmingly sweet messages. Unfortunately, first impressions tend to stick – which can be a bitch when that first impression is based on someone’s online persona, rather than who they really are.

The moral of the story: never, ever ignore your gut feeling. Many times, you’ll find that your intuition is a heck of a lot better than you realize. Oh, and for heaven’s sake – don’t believe everything you read online.

 

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