If there is one thing Amy S. knows for sure, it’s how she feels about her ex boyfriend.
“I don’t know what I saw in him,” she says now. “But at the time, I was so in love I couldn’t see straight.”
Amy had dated Clayton, a real estate broker in D.C., for nearly five years when she discovered he was cheating on her. She took him back for a short period of time only to find out once again that he was cheating.
“I thought there was something wrong with me,” she tells me one afternoon. “Here was this gorgeous guy with all the fixin’s – degree from Georgetown, condo in the city, running in the right circles – and I couldn’t get him to commit.”
Amy says she tried ten different strategies to make the relationship work – from backing off to practically moving in. Nothing seemed to steady she and Clayton’s volatile status. Finally she just gave up and let go.
“I cried for a long time and blamed myself. It took me years to finally realize that I was not the problem and that Clayton wasn’t as great as I thought he was.”
Amy says she learned the hard way that good on paper doesn’t necessarily mean good in person. I myself have seen too many women duped into thinking a great resume equals a great guy. Although a few of our suburbs were recently named some of the best places to find rich singles (Arlington weighed in at #2) that does not necessarily guarantee that you as a woman have your pick of the Nation’s litter. Just because a man has the right look, the right job and the right degree, doesn’t automatically indicate that you are getting the best guy. In the metro area, there are a lot of Clayton’s: Guys that only look like husband material on the surface. They are the guys that will wine and dine you, but won’t ever commit. They are the ones that will tell you every detail about their life, but fail miserably at asking about yours. They drop names, as well as car models and measure their worth by their vast collection of passport stamps. Some girls call these men players, or bad boys, or even jerks, but doing so would elevate them to a higher caliber than justified. After all, labeling a guy “a player” suggests that no woman is good enough to tie him down. No, I prefer to brand these kinds of guys more accurately and call them what they really are. Losers. For at the core of every bad boy, every jerk and every womanizer is simply a loser that happens to dress well.
Harsh? Maybe. Appropriate? Absolutely.
Allow me to lift the wool from your eyes and reveal the telltale signs of a loser. First off, you have to look past the well-packaged exterior and investigate what is inside. If you are the type to fall fast for a handsome face, your Lose-O-Meter will need to be recalibrated because loser’s these days have had aesthetic upgrades. Secondly you have to know that the true measure of a man does not rest in his bank account, job title, handsome face or 5-series. It rests solely in his character. And a man’s character can be seen in one very clear and unmistakable way: How he treats other people, especially those from whom he has nothing to gain.
A man of character respects others and therefore earns others respect. When you start dating someone new, ask yourself this; how does he treat the man refilling his drink? The girl he has no interest in? The friend that is in trouble? A real man does the right thing even when no one is watching. When a loser does something selfless he makes a public service announcement.
A man of character displays strength and discipline. A Player has neither.
A man of character knows the value of a good woman. A Bad Boy does not.
And a man of character is in complete control of his emotions. A Jerk let’s his run his life.
If you want to know if a man is worth his salt, don’t size him up by the clothes he wears, the people he knows, or the places he travels. Those things are trivial and don’t represent worth. Any fool with a Visa can buy a Rolex or fly across the globe. A real man is defined by his integrity and good nature; if he is true to his word, if he is moral in his beliefs, and if he is confident enough to carry them out.
Next time you meet a man that you find interesting, don’t be so easily won over by his attractive exterior. Instead dig deeper and find out what kind of person exists beneath the surface. Because like Amy, you may waste years thinking that you are dating the total package, when in reality the guy may just be a Loser in Sheik’s clothing.
For more on what to look for in a man, visit my blog on Washington Life and learn, “What your “must-have” list is missing.”New! As of September 27, 2011 – You can follow me on Twitter @iamJessMcCann or you can email me for a consultation here.
I had only been dating Palmer for a few months but I already knew I really liked him. I was twenty-one at the time and just finishing up my last year of college. Palmer avidly pursued me. I’d run into him at clubs and parties and he’d always slip away from his date and plead with me to go out with him. I thought it was exciting and romantic. I thought he was exciting and romantic. Finally after months of asking, I obliged a dinner invite and we ended up at restaurant near school. He was the perfect gentleman, opening doors and pulling out chairs. He paid for dinner and asked if he could kiss me goodnight. That date sealed the deal for me. I was falling for him.
A few months into our relationship, Palmer decided to enroll in my school. He had taken a few years off to wait tables and save money. I could tell he was nervous about his first day because he spent an extra ten minutes in the bathroom doing his hair and asked my opinion on three different shirts. When we got in the car and headed out to school Palmer was very quiet. He didn’t even turn on the radio. I reached over and rubbed back a little. “Hey,” I said. “Don’t be nervous. Everything is going to be great.” I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got.
“Get off of me,” he said with irritation.
An alarm went off in my head. I heard it. I tried to make sense of it. Why would he be upset with me? Why would he be annoyed at me for being supportive? I was confused. I looked at Palmer for a few seconds, hoping he would realize what he had said and apologize. But he didn’t. He just kept driving.
That was the moment that Palmer showed me who he really was. It was also the moment I chose to ignore it.
I continued dating Palmer for several more months and I can honestly say without a doubt it was the most emotionally exhausting, confidence wrecking relationship of my life. He was a moody, selfish person that threw anger tantrums if he didn’t get his way. He was also a womanizer that needed endless attention in order to feed his ego. At the time though, I blamed myself, thinking I was not good enough and couldn’t make him happy. That’s what happens when you don’t listen when someone tells you who they are. You get in too deep and you can no longer see them clearly. That day in the car I heard the alarm bells and knew that he had issues. But as I continued to date him, his issues disappeared and mine began to develop.
I have always loved Maya Angelou’s quote, “When someone first shows you who they are, believe them.” Over the years I’ve realized the importance of this message as it saves you wasted time believing in false hope that people will become who you want them to be. Who are we to tell them who to be anyway? All of us have been told at some point in our lives that people don’t change, so to some of you perhaps Maya Angelou’s quote may not be as profound a statement. But I think that the emphasis here is not to simply believe someone when they show you who they are, it is to believe them when they FIRST show you. That is the crux of the message. For if you ignore it the first time, you will lock yourself in for a long ride ending in disappointment. Had I gotten out of the car that day and decided that Palmer’s reaction was not normal, not nice, and not fine with me, I could have saved myself many months of heartache and many years of self-doubt.
Today I’m blessed to be happily married to my wonderful husband. I learned a great deal from my prior relationships and thankfully I was able to self-improve instead of self-destruct. But I was fortunate. I had good family, great friends, and God and the Universe somehow pulled me through the dark times unscathed. But other people have not been so lucky. So if you have been in an unsatisfying relationship because you’ve been ignoring your partners true self, open your eyes and start to see what they’ve been telling you all along.
Update: Over a decade later, Palmer is still in school, still waiting tables and still throwing anger tantrums.