10 Signs You’re Dating an Asshat, 5 Tips to Avoid Them

Asshats. We’ve all been in love with at least one. Haven’t we? If you haven’t, do me a service and lie.

What defines an Asshat? (I’m going to refer to men, but Asshatism crosses all gender lines). My #AsshatCriteria:

1. He never does what he says he’ll do.

He doesn’t call when he says he will. He doesn’t show up when he should. You frequently think he may be dead, then want to kill him when he’s not.

2. He is angry and grumpy for no apparent reason.

He won’t talk to you and you don’t know why. There are long awkward silences that make you want to bash him in the face with your running shoe.

3. He secretly cheats on you.

He overtly cheats on you. He cheats on you in a box, with a fox, wearing socks. He tries to make your feel crazy and paranoid when you offer your suspicions. When he is caught in the act he gets mad at you for being mad at him because he cheated on you.

healthy relationship

4. You frequently try to break up with him, but you just can’t quit him.

5. You suddenly get religion.

You pray for God to make him faithful. When that doesn’t work you pray for God to help you to stop loving him. When that doesn’t work you think God might be an Asshat too.

6. You start therapy, a 12-step group, Kaballah.

7. You start wearing crystals to clear your chakras, reading self-help books on co-dependency.

You become a regular at the Bodhi Tree on Melrose, where you buy over-priced Buddhas and nausea-inducing incense.

8. You see a Shaman, a Psychic, a Past-Lives Medium and a Hypnotist.

9. You read Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus and try to wait for your man to come out of his cave and snap back like a rubber band.

You decide that motherfucker, John Gray, doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

10. You are unhappy all the time.

You feel lonely, desperate, grasping and fated to live your life forever dissatisfied or alone.

There’s more, but I think these 10 will have to suffice.

Now here’s the thing about Asshats. We don’t have to judge them or revile them.

They are, quite simply, damaged people. We don’t know why they’re damaged, and even if we think we do know why, we must accept that WE ABSOLUTELY CANNOT FIX THEM.

Here are my 5 tips for avoiding them entirely:

1. Do not, under any circumstances, allow your vagina (or penis) to choose a relationship.

Just don’t do it!!!

There’s a reason some cultures still insist on chaperones and on arranged marriages. Because they don’t trust vaginas (if you’re male just insert penis every time you see vagina) to make good choices.

My vagina can walk into a room, instinctively find the biggest Asshat there and pounce on him.

My vagina has, historically, gotten me tied down for years with men (two of them) prone to all kinds of Asshattery.

By the time I met my husband Henry, who is the antithesis of an Asshat, I didn’t trust my vagina anymore at all. 

True to form, when she met Henry she gave him the cold shoulder (yes, vaginas have shoulders).

She just didn’t find him intoxicating, because he was reliable, kind, conscientious, a gentleman and he wasn’t swarthy.

Fortunately, I ignored her and decided to date Henry anyway.

The irony is, in my previous relationships fraught with Asshatalism, the sex got worse and worse; whereas the sex life with my loving husband has gotten better and better.

I had to reprogram my vagina, which was a challenge, but so worth it.

2. Wait to have sex.

This is the follow-up to #1 because you really need time to get your vagina to simmer down.

How long is long enough?

In my case, I really think I should’ve waited at least three months before engaging in sexual activity with a prospective beau.

I realize that in this day and age — unless you’re supported by your religious community — that’s it’s very difficult to wait.

But I have to take a page from the book of my babysitter’s 20-year old daughter, Lilly.  

When Lilly began dating in earnest as a teenager she informed any interested suitors that she absolutely would not consider having sex for at least six months.

And if they weren’t okay with that then she’d understand if they walked away. And many of them did walk away.

But Lilly stood her ground, weeded out the Asshats, and is now in her first (and maybe permanent) relationship with a loving, supportive boyfriend who treats her like a queen.

Which leads me to my next tip:

3. Come to know in your very bones that you are lovable enough, beautiful enough, talented enough, worthy enough to be treated with respect.

I offer you Exhibit A: Halle. Berry.

Halle Berry is ostensibly one of the most beautiful, talented women in the world. Yet again and again she has ended up with cheating Asshats.

(Fingers crossed that Olivier Martinez isn’t another one).

And they didn’t cheat on Halle Berry because she wasn’t enough, they cheated because they were cheaters.

People who lie, cheat and emotionally abuse you aren’t doing it because you’re not worthy.

Chances are they’ve behaved the same way with partners that came before you and will continue said-behavior with partners who arrive after you’ve made your escape.

Damaged people do damage. And it’s not about you. Unless you let them in.

4. Avoid the “Familiar” if you come from a home with damaged people.

From the ages of 2 to 10 my mom was married to my step-Asshat.

His specialty was rampant infidelity, which drove her to the brink of madness. After almost eight years of emotional abuse my mom pulled herself up by the bootstraps and finally walked away for good and into a much healthier more loving marriage a few years later.

But the dye was cast. As a young adult I was drawn to men who were just like my stepdad.

Tall, dark, handsome, usually in very macho professions that yielded a coterie of adoring female groupies.

I instinctively responded to these types of men because they felt familiar. They felt like “home.”

Unfortunately, my “home” wasn’t one I wanted to recreate. And sure enough, infidelity on their part, and madness on mine ensued.

Like George Costanza, when it came to dating again, I had to think about what I would normally do, then do the exact opposite to find a healthy relationship.

Which leads me to my last tip …

5. Give the regular guy/gal a chance.

I have a friend who doesn’t date. Ever. Being the inveterate match-maker that I am, I’m always trying to set her up.

I’ve gone so far as to snap photographs of perfect strangers and get their information to send to her and she NEVER BITES.

The men are either too short, too round, too white, too black, too hairy, too hairless, too flabby, too muscular, too … you get my point.

Finally I exasperatedly asked her, “So who would be good enough for you to date?”

Without missing a beat she said, “Brad Pitt.”

Brad Pitt. I’m going to leave you with that for just a moment. Brad. Pitt. Well, who the hell wouldn’t want to date Brad Pitt. Reality check, he falls for women like Angelina Jolie.

We are not Angelina Jolie (although I worry she’s too skinny). We have got to start picking people in our ballpark, ladies and gents.

There are myriad lovely people out there who are capable of loving us back to Happiness.

And once we are able to let that love in, they are no longer too short, too round, too white, too black, too hairy, too hairless, too flabby, too muscular.

They are, quite simply, ours.

Shannon Bradley Colleary, healthy relationship
Considering my track record, marrying my best friend was more surprising to everyone than seeing pigs fly. My four parents sat in the front row with mouths agape. Which wasn’t flattering, come to think of it.

That’s all I’ve got for today about how to avoid abusive relationships. Please let me know if any of this information was useful. 

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22 thoughts on “10 Signs You’re Dating an Asshat, 5 Tips to Avoid Them”

  1. Isn’t Brad Pitt actually the guy you describe at first? Yes he and Angelina did everything a couple could do in order to redeem their reputations, but the women he’s been involved with seem a particularly dramatic, unhappy with men lot — Gwyn, Jennifer, Angelina. In other words, the kind of women who either act like or get involved with Asshats.

  2. Don’t forget the dude that can’t handle his drinks, and say falls on his face and breaks his nose when he trips getting out of the shower because you ditched him when he said someone else’s name. Total Asshat.

  3. Yes relating to familiarity and guess who is in therapy becaue of it. I love going now rediscover myself of who I was before marrying my asshat that I am divorcing.

    1. Vickh — I logged many hours in the therapist’s office. Best money I ever spent. Good for you for investing in yourself in this way. xo S

  4. I married (and divorced) my Asshat and learned my lesson early on!! I have been with the same man I started dating when asshat and I divorced 20+ years ago and even though we have had our ups and downs, I couldn’t ask for better!

  5. Perfect advice article: true stories from your own life, gentle humor, and the truth about humans. I would love it if a friend sent me pictures of strangers as a set up. It’s like you are living, breathing, tinder! I am finding if a man is impeccably beautiful he is boring and selfish in bed.

  6. I could have written this post. I was actually in THERAPY trying to figure out what was wrong with me. She convinced me that it was not me, it was them, and that I needed to get off the drama roller coaster. I dumped the guy, then I met my husband. I fell in love with him not because of what he said, but what he DID. He sent flowers. He chased, but nicely, not stalker-y. He called when he said he would. He is the antithesis of an asshat. I LOVED this article!

  7. Great post. My time spent married to a Lifeguard “asshat” (very much like a fireman) was the most painful and best thing I ever did. I would not have said it at the time but, during that relationship, I healed my childhood, through many years of group and individual therapy. I went back to school and became a Therapist and when I found self love, we divorced. I am now married to the most wonderful caring “normal” man that adores me and our sex gets better every day. I am a 45 year old wise warrior with heart that helps various men and women leave asshats by walking the same path of self growth, worth and love. The irony is that during that time, I could barely function much less help myself and now I am helping others. By the way, he and I are still friends, and I see him so clearly now, not through those familiar dysfunctional family goggles I wore before . Keep up your cause its a great one.

    1. Michelle I really feel like you’re speaking my language. Were you in a 12-step program? I was in Al-Anon and that program, along with a determined sponsor are what helped me change myself enough to welcome normal into my life. It seemed to take forever, but it was worth the slog. So glad to see you here. BTW if you’d ever like to contribute an article to my relationship site let me know! Best, S

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