New relationship? They seem so nice most of the time, right? Or, is there something you can’t put your finger on but it just seems off? If it’s one of these 8 red flags they could be a jerk in disguise. This applies for both men and women, both sexes can be jerks in disguise.
Most women have encountered him: the “nice” guy who suddenly reveals himself to be an asshole, needy narcissist, jealous jerk, or passive-aggressive, entitled player. Or, if you’re really unfortunate, a combination of all of these wonderful traits.
So how do you tell if someone you just started dating is genuinely good, or just a dick?
Here are eight warning signs that there’s a not-so-nice jerk lurking beneath the surface:
1. They Say Mean Things in a Nice Way
“If they say unkind or hurtful things to you couched in a kind voice, or in the name of ‘I’m just being honest,’ that’s still mean. Or, if they make cutting or belittling comments and then laughs it off by saying, I was only joking! Why do you take things so seriously?’ They just may be a jerk in disguise.
2. They Pout When You’re Busy
You may be flattered that they want to spend every free moment with you. But how do they respond when you aren’t available? A great person will be able to express disappointment and that they’ll miss you. A jerk in disguise will pout and give you a cold shoulder or a guilt trip for choosing someone else over them.
3. They Buy You Nice Things…That Really Aren’t Your Style
If they are buying you lavish gifts that don’t fit your look, there might be reason to question motives. They may be a jerk who is trying to change your appearance under the guise of generosity.
4. They Try Deferring to You in All Decisions
This might seem super thoughtful at first, but it can actually be a big red flag. If they always want you to decide things—where to go, what to do—that is a warning sign. Healthy people are able to both express their own wants and also consider the input of their date. If a person agrees with everything you think, or say, or do, they are either not being genuine or don’t have a good sense of who they are—and may look to you to prop them up or inflate their self-worth.
5. They Talk Trash About Ex’s
This is kind of similar to that advice about never dating a cheater. If they are really nice to you, but trash talks all past partners and blames them for their breakup, they’ll probably talk poorly about you and blame you, too, if things don’t work out. There are two sides to every story, and someone who paints themselves as the victim in every break-up they’ve ever had is likely not telling the whole truth.
6. They Keeps Tabs on You
Communicating via little love notes and occasional check ins when you’re apart can be an important part of a healthy relationship. But if someone’s constantly keeping tabs on you, That could be a sign of jealousy and insecurity—even if they couch it in the name of love.
7. (Men Only) He has Strained Relationships with Other Women in His Life
This one applies only for the male jerks out there. Although if a lady has a poor relationship with her mother and zero female friends that also says something about her personality. If he treats other women in his life poorly, or speaks about them disrespectfully, that’s a clear indicator that there’s likely a jerk lurking under that nice exterior. “If he has a pattern of strained, negative, or disconnected relationships with other women, but claims to adore you, proceed with caution,” says Hanks.
8. They Show no Other Emotions
No one feels nice all the time. Failure to express other emotions can be a major warning sign. Excessive niceness can be a cover for a lack of a secure sense of self and emotionally neediness. Healthy adults can express a full range of emotion—happy, mad, sad, scared, surprise, shame—and don’t need to hide behind a facade of niceness.
Ultimately, it’s important to learn to trust your gut. If your instincts are telling you that something about someone feels off, don’t disregard that feeling.