“Hang on, is this guy a total jerk?”
It’s a thought that none of us wants to have when we’ve been dating someone who (up until now) we thought was a good guy.
Maybe it’s come out of nowhere and you’re left scratching your head over why he is acting like a jerk all of a sudden.
The sad truth is that guys who pretend to be nice can only keep up the facade for so long.
Sooner or later the act will slip and his true colours will be revealed.
Here are 15 subtle signs that show you he really is a jerk.
1) There are red flags from his previous relationships
Beware the guy who has “crazy exes”.
His subjective interpretation of the story will most likely focus on how unreasonable his ex-partners have been.
But the real question you want to be asking yourself is, even if they did behave in some strange ways, what drove them to that?
Sure, occasionally we can all attract the wrong type of person into our lives, only discovering when it’s too late some serious character flaws we weren’t aware of.
But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango.
That means any disastrously explosive relationships from his past, he too played a significant part in.
Where there is smoke there is also fire, and a pattern of troubled relationships suggests there’s more than meets the eye to the story.
For example, I recently dated a guy who told me that he ended up “getting into trouble” with a girl he’d been seeing “just twice a week” for not being a good enough boyfriend when he didn’t even think of himself as being in a relationship.
Although this tale was told as though the woman in question was being unreasonably weird — that’s not what I heard.
Now, there are of course two sides, and I’m sure a lot of miscommunication (or nonexistent communication) got them to that place.
But his naively “innocent” and responsibility dodging attitude set off some serious alarm bells for me.
- It told me that this man probably does not communicate very well about what he feels, thinks or wants from someone romantically.
- It also suggested to me that this man was potentially not emotionally available for forming deeper relationships right now (aka he wasn’t looking for anything serious)
When you are looking for subtle signs that a nice guy might not be as nice as he first seems, his relationship history is going to give you some vital clues about the truth of his character.
2) He cancels plans but always seems to come up with a plausible excuse
There’s a certain amount of trust that is essential when we’re dating.
So you might, quite fairly, adopt an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach to make sure that you aren’t jumping to any unfair assumptions.
If a guy has to cancel your date once or twice and offers good reasons whilst trying to rearrange and make amends — it’s not such a big deal.
But if this starts to become a habit or happens more than on the odd occasion, your patience should wear thin as you start to wonder if he’s actually just a bit of a jerk.
His dog died, his parents unexpectedly came to visit, he got called into work at the last minute — plenty of excuses can on the surface sound totally plausible.
Of course, we all want to be understanding and stuff inevitably comes up in life.
But if you sense this is happening way too often and something seems suss — then you are probably right.
Whilst a total player might be more overt or even stand you up and cancel without explanation, plenty of other men will just lead you on in a way that leaves you totally unsure of where you stand.
Don’t be afraid to call this behaviour out. It’s better to send him a message to clear things up and know for sure.
Something along the lines of:
“Ok, I totally understand. But I also want to check there’s nothing more to it? because that’s the second time in a row you’ve had to cancel now.”
At least then if he is stringing you along, you’ll find out sooner rather than later.
3) He undermines you
Dismissing someone else’s feelings, thoughts or opinions in a relationship is toxic, but at first, you may not always notice it happening.
It could start with simple things like interrupting you when you speak or contradicting you around other people.
He may even assert himself in ways that feel like he is almost telling you who you are, rather than asking you.
For example, throwing out comments like, “You’re so indecisive” — as if he knows you better than you do.
Debating and sharing opinions in a relationship is something many of us value.
But if it feels like he frequently questions you in a nonconstructive way, it’s one of those arrogant boyfriend signs that should have you running for the hills.
4) He makes easy gestures but never priorities you
It’s fairly easy to send a text in the morning to say “Good morning beautiful, have a great day”.
But it’s totally another thing to decide to spend Friday night with you instead of going out drinking with his buddies…again.
Sometimes the simple, but ultimately throw-away gestures, keep us convinced that deep down a guy is nice.
But ask yourself whether his thoughtfulness is made up entirely of lazy behaviours that require very little effort?
Does he ever go out of his way for you?
Especially if you are putting in more effort than he is, you may sense an uneven balance between just how invested you and him are.
If you make him a priority in your life —but that isn’t being reflected back— it’s a sign he is a waste of time.
5) Your instincts tell you
Let’s face it, as soon as a guy has us googling for signs he might be disingenuous — it’s a warning that something about him or his behaviour just doesn’t add up.
There’s a chance that you’re just being paranoid, right?
That could be true, only you can ultimately be the judge of that.
It’s fair to say that when it comes to matters of the heart most of us usually have our guard up a bit more.
But if his words and actions don’t make you feel secure, there are most likely genuine signs and signals that you are subconsciously picking up on.
We just often don’t want it to be the case, so are looking for ways to explain it away.
So much of what we call “gut feelings” are actually our innate ability to read people and situations.
Your intuition is really your subconscious mind, which is picking up on countless pieces of information that your conscious mind simply isn’t aware of.
It is a powerful intelligence and should be ignored at your peril.
6) He’s always has a sob story
Plenty of shitty things happen to us all in life that we often have very little or no control over.
But if he tells “poor me” stories on repeat, it’s perhaps one of the more surprising ways to spot a jerk.
Victimhood is so last season **rolls eyes**.
Instead, well-adapted grown-ups choose to take responsibility for themselves and their own lives, rather than always trying to point the finger elsewhere.
So if you notice within him a tendency to criticize and attribute blame everywhere but on himself — you might want to leave the pity party pronto.
7) He gets jealous over little things
You can try and kid yourself that it’s flattering he cares so much, but jealousy boils down to control.
And even petty jealousy can ruin any relationship — fast.
If he “wants you all to himself”, tries to get you to cancel a night out with friends, or questions connections that you have with other men in your life it shouldn’t be dismissed as “just guy behaviour”.
The dynamics of power struggles and insecurity are signs that maybe he is not such a nice guy after all.
8) He’s all talk but not enough action
Some men talk a good game, but when it comes to delivering the goods, they seriously fall down.
Kind words and compliments are wonderful to hear. They are definitely a language of love that we use to show someone how we feel.
But on their own, they are kind of empty.
A lot of the time when we fall for a wolf (or jerk) in sheep’s clothing, we fall under the spell of his words.
Assholes in disguise are often incredibly charming — I mean, they need to be to get away with their dodgy behavior.
You might not pick up on this charm as being a front in the beginning.
But as time goes on, if it is fake you’ll notice a growing gap between what he says and what he does.
Those sugar-coated words won’t be backed up by how he actually behaves towards you.
He may text you to say you are gorgeous and he can’t wait to see you again, but you’ll know whether he is sincere if he then tries to make an actual plan for it to happen.
Otherwise, his compliments just become the repertoire of a sleazeball who is potentially using the same lines on others to keep them hanging too.
9) He’s snappy with you
When a guy is suddenly rude to you, he’s showing you who he is, so you are going to want to pay attention.
Obviously, nobody is perfect, we all have bad days and can lose our cool.
But stay alert for how much this shows up in him and the ways it presents itself.
Because it’s this that will give you subtle clues as to whether it’s going to be a rare occurrence or a sign that he is not a nice guy.
Overreacting, telling you things bluntly, having a pretty short fuse, being grumpy or getting easily upset are all significant signs that he may be an impatient, moody, easily changeable or angry man.
10) He’s inconsistent
One of the most confusing things that has us questioning our own sanity and second-guessing ourselves is when a guy is mean to you, then nice.
Sometimes we get what we want from him, but other times we don’t.
How many times have you dated a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of guy and thought about how perfect everything would be if only you could ditch the Hyde part?
The problem is you can’t because he is both of these simultaneously.
Human beings are complicated creatures and no one is all good or all bad. We all have a mix of qualities.
But if he is your dream man one day and your worst nightmare another, then don’t kid yourself that you can iron out the kinks.
If he is inconsistent in how he behaves towards you and shows you that he has at least some jerk-like qualities, — these won’t just disappear.
11) He pushes your boundaries
No means no.
But if “no” to him no actually means “maybe” — just as long as he does some convincing — then it’s one of those signs a guy is pushy.
Does he struggle to take no for an answer, even for the little things like you not being in the mood to go to that party?
Or maybe you feel like the relationship has developed on his timeline, regardless of what you felt ready for or not.
Healthy boundaries are super important in any relationship, and if he doesn’t seem to respect, or even take notice of yours, that is total jerk behaviour.
12) He’s all “me, me, me”
Some people seem to light up the room and quickly become the center of attention.
This in itself isn’t a bad thing.
Certain people have more extroverted personality types, and can be natural entertainers who ooze charisma.
But there is a line where a vivacious personality becomes a self-centered personality.
No matter how fun or friendly he may seem, if he doesn’t show any interest in sharing the limelight with you — you may find you quickly become a supporting role in the “me show”.
Another side to this selfishness is him being a bit of a fair-weather friend who is happy to share the good times with you, but notably absent or unsympathetic when you’re dealing with something challenging in life.
13) He is disrespectful towards other people
In the early wooing stages of a relationship, we usually hide our least appealing sides.
It’s almost like a job interview.
Imagine if when they ask you “what are your weaknesses?” rather than put a positive spin on things you instead decided to lay out every single one of your flaws.
There’s a good chance they’re not going to hire you, right?
So it’s not surprising that we try to minimize certain sides of ourselves until we become more comfortable.
That means you may not see disrespectful behaviour directed towards you from the start.
But a strong indication of whether it could begin later down the line is how he behaviours towards other people.
Is he rude to the waiter?
Is he dismissive of problems people may have with him?
Does he talk badly about others behind their back?
Look out for patterns of disrespect that may soon turn upon you if you choose to stick around.
14) He sulks when he doesn’t get his own way
Passive-aggressive behaviour might be easier to ignore, but it is still aggressive.
Emotional abuse can fly under the radar for longer because we are usually quicker to explain it away or justify it.
If he tries to make you feel bad when he doesn’t have things his own way, then this is just manipulation.
It might be sweet that he misses you because you are busy doing other things.
But a decent guy will let you know that he’s disappointed he won’t see you with understanding.
A jerk on the other hand will sulk and spit his dummy out, perhaps ignoring you for a bit or trying to make you feel like you’ve done something selfish or wrong.
15) He’s too nice
I once had an ex-boyfriend who at first I thought was so nice, but it turned out he was just weak.
Hear me out, as I don’t mean that as a complete character assignation.
But he wasn’t actually anywhere near as nice as I thought, he was just emotionally repressed and incapable of conveying his needs and wants.
The problem with men who seem lovely 100% of the time is that it isn’t realistic.
At some point, those repressed feelings are going to come bubbling to the surface.
And because he has such difficulty in expressing himself, when his issues do come out, they often manifest in unhealthy ways.
Being “too nice” can suggest emotional neediness.
If you want to know whether his nice guy qualities are real or an act, look out for whether he also displays a wide range of emotions.
Even so-called “negative” feelings like anger, sadness, fear and shame are just a part of normal life and we need to be able to show them.
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