There’s an unending philosophical debate that tries to explain the reason behind human villainy. Machiavelli believed we needed to expect people to be inherently evil, while Rousseau said we were born innocent and then led astray by society. However, if we see this through the point of view of science, we know that each action leads to a reaction. It’s this argument that closely resembles the factors that turn a man into a jerk.
One convincing hypothesis claims that men become louses after enduring a romantic disappointment that left them in a vulnerable state. This results in them taking on an arrogant attitude they believe will hurt others, while protecting their own heart. If we add on the sexist ideas that flood our contemporary culture, where men are praised by the amount of women they can trick into bed, then this character will unavoidably win the award for Outstanding Scoundrel in a Modern Day Romance.
In the now iconic sitcom How I Met Your Mother, this king of jerks is presented in the character of Barney Stinson. This man is the everyday man unconcerned and unaware of these actions that shed light on his misogyny, shallowness, and fear of commitment.
If some of these traits ring a bell or two, it’s likely you’ve found yourself on a date with this kind of jerk. These men are capable of doing or saying anything to get a woman into bed. Yet even as they do these atrocities to a woman’s heart, some long for intimacy and love without knowing how to find it. On the show this is especially clear when Barney falls in love with Robin. His blatant resistance towards intimacy makes his fear even more evident.
Someone who has been hurt in the past can use their own pain to distort their view on love. They can then use the other person as a way of inflicting, rather than receiving pain. However, eventually these defense mechanisms become their typical behavior. Instead of finding closure, they find themselves suppressing their true nature and perpetuating the cycle of pain.
When we see a character like Barney, our reaction is to laugh and enjoy his hijinks as comic relief. However, people in real life who hide behind this macho man’s man exterior are probably still choosing to hurt others rather than allow themselves to truly feel. Sadly, our current society appears to reward individualism and immediate gratification, two attributes that the ultimate jerk would excel at. We need to truly dig deep into ourselves to realize the reason behind some of our negative actions in order to truly be able to love others, while avoiding the pitfalls of falling for the wrong person.
Looking for relationship advice? Check out the reasons why you find yourself in dead-end relationships or 7 ways to fix your couple issues without breaking up.
Translated by María Suárez