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My boyfriend can be a jerk

Hi! Me and my boyfriend have been together for just over a year. I often get irritated and annoyed as he behaves a bit strangely sometimes. For example, one minute he can be the best boyfriend in the world, and seems to be almost perfect, but the next minute he can treat me really badly. When we talk, he rejects me, and sometimes just gets up and leaves – it’s hard to explain, he just basically acts like a jerk. I don’t know what to do, and I’ve been hurt quite often. Do you have any idea what I should do, should I even break up with him?

From a teenage girl.


Dating can be really difficult, there are so many good times, but lots of frustrating moments too! We really need a lot of wisdom to understand how it all works.

The question of how you should relate to your boyfriend when he isn’t or doesn’t do what you’d like, really depends on whyhe acts like this. In some cases it might be that if for example guy A thinks that girl B is dismissive and rejects him, but it might be because she herself has been hurt previously and doesn’t want to make herself any more vulnerable by being open and helpful. Or it could be that she has hurt him already, and she’s afraid that she’ll just hurt him again (and more) if she tries to make it up. This may not be the case for either of you, but the point is that it is quite hard to understand each other if you don’t talk about it!

This is why communication is so important. Small problems can easily become big ones if we don’t talk about them. If you don’t discuss the difficult issues they will begin to rub and chafe, and in the end one of you may just erupt in anger. In that case the other person may not understand why, as the problem was never brought up before it grew so big.

It’s hard to really know what’s going on, as we have very few details to work with. In some relationships, for example, guy A might tease girl B in a way he thinks is just friendly or playful, but she might feel that he is humiliating and intimidating her. When we flirt, we often assume roles in relation to each other, which are not our true selves. As we play this role it can be hard for people to really understand what the other person would experience as being funny, or what would make them uncomfortable. If we aren’t true to ourselves, we can feel bound to accept the limits which flirting has put on us. Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t understand that he’s hurting you? We are seldom experts on the subject of other people’s feelings, and it can often be a good idea to say clearly what you want or feel.

We don’t know whether he acts in good faith or not – maybe he doesrealise that the things he does are hurtful? It’s very easy for people in romantic relationships to be a bit lazy in relation to each other, and just give of themselves or be a good partner when they get something out of it. It can be easy to forget or neglect your partner if you know it won’t lead to any negative results. If you let your partner walk over you without saying that it is hurtful, then he or she will just continue to do it. If this is what the situation is really like, then it’s important that you let your boyfriend understand that your feelings are also important. We don’t need to be demanding or expect that the partner has to do everything every other partner does, but if you don’t feel respected you really need to think about whether you are prepared to live like this for the rest of your life. After all, the reason we have boyfriends or girlfriends is because we’re thinking about marrying them. Do you agree? If you can’t imagine spending the rest of your life in this way, then it would be valuable and in fact important to have a conversation about it. This would also be a way to show him respect: if you hold him responsible for his hard-heartedness, you are acknowledging that he is a person who is responsible for his own actions.

This leads us to the question of what is the main principle we are trying to live by when we have a partner: are we simply interested in having a nice time now, or will we invest ourselves into the other person and build a safe and lasting relationship? Talking about this will often help us get an idea of where we stand. If we tell the other person that we get upset when they do this or that, and if the other person trivialises it or doesn’t care, then that might be a sign that the relationship will not be healthy in the long run. They say that love can’t exist without honesty, and this is true – a relationship needs love to function, but it also needs us to be open and honest with each other, and to treat each other in such a way that the other person feels safe enough to tell us about their feelings. If you are in a situation where you don’t feel secure, and where you are worried about what the other person would say if you told them what you feel, then it’s even more important to talk about it. The most important thing is not that we feel in love all the time, but that we actively choose to be there for the other person. But then we also have to trust that the other person will feel and act the same way.

We also have to remember that usually people make the best effort to be a good partner early on in a relationship. At this stage there is still a need to make an impression, to charm and so on. It’s during the initial phase of the relationship that there is the most chance of losing the other person. As a general rule, many of the negative tendencies your boyfriend has may well become much more challenging over time, because the feelings of being in love decrease and you discover the real person.

As you talk about these things, remember to be careful not to accuse him by saying, for example, ‘you hurt me’ . It is much easier to relate to comments like ‘when you do this, I feel that …’. If you have sat down and talked, and worked together to try to understand why things are challenging, and if you have sought help from a mature Christian couple who you know, and if you still feel badly treated or not valued, then it is fine, and perhaps even important, to stop the relationship. As a partner, you can’t demand all sorts of behaviour from your boyfriend (and remember, no one can be forced to love), but if your boyfriend doesn’t show a will to at least try to improve over time, then you mustn’t have such a low respect for yourself that you simply pretend that it’s OK if everything just carries on as normal.

Having said all this, you might find that an honest conversation will solve this if he really understands that he needs to treat you with more respect than you feel he gives you now. He may well want to be a good boyfriend, but he is just immature. You might be able to have a much better relationship if you are more open about how you feel when he does or says certain things. Remember, your boyfriend is just a young man and is just as inexperienced as you are. He also needs recognition and respect from you, and perhaps he feels insecure and tries to feel like a man by showing that he can do what he wants and being a ‘jerk’ sometimes. Tell yourself that it is important for you to be treated with respect, and don’t accept being ignored, but also show him the respect and recognition that you want, and remember that if things don’t change, it would show more respect for him and for yourself if you break off the relationship.

This answer could have been much longer, in fact books have been written on this subject, but we hope you find out what is best. And remember, love always has to be honest.


Best wishes

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