3 Reasons Why We Love Jerks

Once a Jerk, Always a Jerk

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It’s a universal mystery among “the nice people” and others who consider themselves learned about what constitutes for a healthy relationship: why do we love jerks? While it seems like a trick question because such a conundrum shouldn’t sensibly exist (honestly – who would want to date someone who isn’t nice?) — most people know at least one woman (or man) who has been in a relationship with someone no better described than as a big ol’ jerk.

And yet, the question remains — if he/she is such an unhealthy person to date, then why are we still doing it? If it was only as simple as recognizing a jerk from a crowd and quarantining with the rest of his kind to the Land of Jerks, maybe this question wouldn’t still be relevant. It goes without saying, though, that it’s much more complicated than that, and yet – upon a closer look – the mentality behind it makes sense.

1. Part Jerk, Part Sweetheart

If you’re looking at a relationship that you see as an unhealthy one from the outside — meaning you think you see a jerk in the picture — it may be difficult to drop the bias to see this union as anything else but that. The thing is, you’ll only ever see the bad because you’ve programmed yourself that way, subconsciously or not.

But truthfully — normal, everyday daters don’t fall in love with truly evil people. The make up of a jerk is so perfectly constructed that, often, the person dating him/her has programmed themselves to see the good — to see what they love. People in general want to believe that they’ve found their soulmate, their better halves that they’ve been searching for. And who wants to see their partner by all their ugly qualities, even if they are overwhelmingly apparent to others?

So, when they find someone who is affectionate and loving and everything they’ve dreamt of, they drink it up in gallons. And when they’re treated disrespectfully, or their partners are insensitive, hurtful and overall unkind, they  work desperately for things to be better. Once they get the apology and a healthy dose of “heartfelt” remorse, they’re more than happy for things to go back to normal. They’ll remember the fight by the end result: the remorse, love and the victory of being asked for forgiveness — not by the immense hurt they experienced first. They’ll envision their partner as a sweetheart more often than as a jerk.

2. It’s Like an Addiction

Ask yourself why people are victimized eating disorders, alcoholism, and other addictions and try to imagine a jerk as object of addiction. Addictions are often never-ending cycles of extreme happiness and sadness, and being involved with a jerk is similar. As mentioned before, the jerk is never entirely a bad person – which is the initial appeal. Food is not entirely bad, nor alcohol, nor a number of things than can become unhealthy for you. Of course, this is a very loose comparison but picturing it this way makes the vicious cycle easier to comprehend.

What baffles people more than why women/men date jerks is why they continue to date them or stay with them even when they, themselves, know they’re being mistreated. The problem is that the happiness and emotional fulfillment during the better times of the relationship tends to draw people back, as does the hope that things will get better and that the person will finally change. People are addicted to the feeling of love and security and when you get it, you don’t want it to end. Promise after promise, apology after apology — the addiction lives, and often you can find yourself stuck in a cycle that is difficult to escape even if you want to. People hope for the best, and find themselves giving “one more chance” every time which soon becomes an endless cycle.

3. They’re More Fun(?)

As much as you may hear someone babble on about wanting a “nice girl/guy to finally settle down with, after dealing with all the drama and dating all the jerks, blah blah” — it’s rarely completely true. The problem is that jerks are nice, too! Hello, that’s their whole trap (see paragraphs above). So, why date the “nice” people who aren’t actually that nice? Because they add spice to your life. As much as you may think you hate drama and fighting, things wouldn’t be as exciting in your relationship if there wasn’t an element of challenge: to please, to be loved, and to win over the other person.

Isn’t it an unfortunate truth of life that we always want what we can’t have? People vie for the attention and love of those who don’t readily give it to them. It’s sick, but we typically enjoy being teased with the bait of affection. With the “nice” person, we don’t have to try as hard, and sometimes that translates to him/her being boring. So, naturally we’re lured by the challenge, and — what we see at the time, the only slightly jerk-ish behavior.

I know, if this is true then there’s no room to complain about being mistreated, but this isn’t a defense argument of why jerks are attractive; it’s just the honest observation and conclusion of both an onlooker and participant of loving jerks.

Tell me, why do you think we love jerks?


12 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why We Love Jerks

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  2. I really like this…it’s interesting because so many people (including myself) spend so much time wanting for, looking for, and complaing about there being no good guys/girls. I think I’m one of the few people who is truly looking for a pure “good guy,” but I definitely understand being subtly drawn to the drama and excitement that jerks offer.

    Great post – I agree on so many levels, I could write a novel, but I won’t. You are very thoughtful and insightful and I look forward to reading more of what you have to say. 😀

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate the feedback! And you know it’s funny because I think I’ve finally got to that point too – just ACTUALLY wanting a NICE guy!

      But it’s so true – everyone spends countless hours complaining about wanting nice people to date and yet we’re naturally drawn to a little spice and a little challenge.

      A “jerk” can come in so many forms but usually the term is coined by someone who is looking from the outside who is wondering “Why is he/she with such a jerk?” — because unless the person is actually a bad person, we’ll never say “Oh yeah, I’m dating a jerk.” They’re just so carefully constructed, I feel like!

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