Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

September 26, 2007

Outgrowing the Jerk

Whenever a guy complains to me, "Why do women always go for the jerks?" I usually respond with sympathy followed by the question, "How old are the girls you are dating?"

I say this because it is a pretty well established phenomenon that a large percentage of girls in their 20s (I say"girls" and not "women" here for a reason) do find themselves strongly and often inexplicably attracted to the biggest asshole in the room.

I should know. I was definitely one of them.

I have a lot of "issues" that I'm willing to cop to. Fear of abandonment (cause: father died at an early age), distrust in men (cause: cold-hearted, still unexplained dumping by Naval A-hole, "fake engagement" to Only Child), and an often juvenile sense of humor (cause: you got me on this one). Not included among my "issues" however, is my now-reformed attraction to jerks. In fact, many of my most well-adjusted female friends went through it too. I just call it immaturity.

A brief history. In high school I loved the beer can crushing, high-fiving football players (much to Wine Guy's disgust) who seemed far more interested in football than me. In college I moved away from the meatheads and towards the potheads. These relationships consisted of sagging couches, bad TV, the munchies, and awkward kissing interrupted by laughter. These guys were basically like brick walls in the relationship. Whatever I threw at them just bounced right off and back at me.

After college, the pickings were slimmer because I actually had to do something other than "hang out" to find a guy to date. At this point I was in my mid 20's and living in Los Angeles. I'd managed to date one guy who was nice enough, but so obviously not ready for a girlfriend it was more of an exercise than a true attempt on my part to have any sort of meaningful relationship.

Then came the jerk that ended it all -Trust Fund Boy.

I met TFB at the first party in the Hollywood Hills I ever attended (and the last). I was feeling as uncomfortable in the "Swingers" wannabe crowd as I expected so I started exploring the old home. I ultimately found my way out onto a bizarre porch that was essentially the roof. I sat there smoking a cigarette (so I looked like I had a reason to be there) with my feet dangling off the edge. The next thing I knew, I was talking to a confident (borderline cocky), attractive guy who actually laughed at my jokes. (Trust me, guys in LA do not generally want their women to be funny, so this was kind of a stand out moment for me).

Turns out, Trust Fund Boy was actually not an actor. He was, however, unemployed. He told me he was a "student," which I later found out meant he didn't do anything but live in a big house in a bad but "cool" neighborhood, go surfing all day, and snort coke with his party-hopping friends. In between all of this, he studied a little bit for his stock broker's license to keep his dad off his back.

He was from old-money, horse farm Virginia and he had three names with a roman numeral tacked on at the end. I had never met a guy like this and the fact that he looked like Ben Affleck (an obsession I have since long gotten over - thank you Jake Gyllenhaal) didn't hurt either.

But what interested me the most was his money. Not that he was rich and would buy me things (he didn't). Quite the opposite actually. It was more that I was fascinated by what the hell life must be like for someone like that. I had to work all through college and since graduation had basically been one step ahead of the bill collectors. The mini-sociologist in me wanted to know more about this world. Not necessarily to be a part of it, but to understand it.

So I dated him. I met his equally unemployed and filthy rich friends with stunning homes in the Hills and Malibu. They took endless vacations around the world and housesat for each other. They dined in chic restaurants without signs and called each other "darling." I even met his textbook snob of an older sister who cornered me at the dinner table and said so all could hear, "Sooo....[Trust Fund Boy] tells me you're Jewish?" As if that was the most interesting little tidbit she had ever heard and wanted to see if it could possibly be true.

I had no business - and no real desire - to actually be in this "relationship," but I let it go on for several weeks because it was all so fascinating and, I admit, a little dangerous and exciting to the 24 year old me.

The fundamental problem was that I had absolutely no respect for the life he chose. I was merely fascinated by it. And now that I think about it, he probably felt the same way about me. I'm sure he had never dated a semi-neurotic Jewish girl who had to work five days a week. He probably found it amusing.

It finally started to dissolve when he invited me over - again- to his friend's place in the Hills where he was housesitting while they vacationed in the Hamptons. I blurted out, "They're still on vacation!?" They'd been gone two weeks already. "Don't these people work? Don't they have jobs?!"

This was the first time I heard him get defensive. I'd made snide comments like this before, but it was under the guise of a joke. This time I wasn't kidding and he could tell.

I went over there anyway. I wish I hadn't. We swam in the pool and I stayed the night. But in the middle of the night I jolted awake and sat up in a sheer panic. Mostly, I was full of self-disgust. I knew I didn't like this guy. In fact, I had not an ounce of respect for him. Yet there I was, next to him in bed. He didn't work. He was spoiled. He snorted coke with his friends when I wasn't looking (I had just found this out - yuck). What the hell was I doing there?

I jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed for the door, fumbling with the lock in the darkened room.

He woke up. "What's wrong? Where are you going?"

"I need to leave. Goodbye."

And I was gone.

He tried to call me over the next few days but I wouldn't take his call. After another pleading message, I finally gave in and picked up the phone (I couldn't believe he was willing to plead). I felt bad. "Look, I just don't think we're a match. I'm sorry."

"But why?" he asked.

"I just can't do it. It's, uh, the drugs." Who's going to argue with that one? I said I had to go and I hung up.

It wasn't his fault. He hadn't actually done anything wrong. He is who he is. The person I was disgusted with was me. Apparently, while I was sleeping next to Trust Fund Boy in that big, fancy house in the Hills, I outgrew the jerk phase.

Only Child was the next guy I dated and, although our relationship ended up being a bit of a six year fiasco, he was and still is a "Nice Guy." Never again did I knowingly pick a jerk. (Yes, one picked me, but he hid it really well and everyone agrees there was no way I could have seen that one coming).

So if you're one of those 20 something girls with a Jerk fetish, don't beat yourself up too badly. Hopefully you'll grow out of it too. I just strongly suggest you do it before all the Nice Guys get married off. Trust me, they go fast.



walt said...

Interesting post. Sounds like TFB was a bum, not a jerk, but I get the point. My theory is that women are often attracted to the biggest asshole in the room, because he's often also the best looking guy in the room. Great looks, and the attention it brings, breed arrogance. We men clearly see that in women. So, she may not be attracted to his asshole behavior, she's just ignoring it because she's swooning for his chiseled jaw.

Sonny Amou said...

"You want to sleep with the 10, but you end up marrying the 7," -Adam Carolla.

Probably one of the best insights on male immaturity out there.

Samantha said...

That is a really great and insightful story. I think most girls have been through something like that in their emotional growth. I know I have.

Michele said...

My 20 something brother-in-law was at our house for dinner this week and he made a snide but I think serious comment. He said he had not yet found a girl who was "worthy" of him. I've always known he was a total jerk but hadn't realized just how much of one until that comment. Afterwards, my husband said his brother had all these women throwing themselves at him but he wasn't going to be happy until he found a woman stronger than him ... basically a female jerk. So it seems that the jerk attraction occurs on both sides of the fence.

Ellie said...

Woah...keep looking. I'm new at this blog,m so I had to read around a little to catch up. Thanks for posting this. More people need to be open about thing like this/

Anonymous said...

So you're saying 'wait for the women to go out, have fun and kids, and then _settle_ for marriage to a nice guy'?

Too bad guys are wising up to that.