Can you really avoid all the douchebaggery in your love life? Illustration: Ankita Mitra
Can you really know the signs of a Mr Wrong when you fall for one? Maybe you can, maybe you can't. Let's assume you can't. But you can definitely learn a lot about yourself in the process. And that's exactly what our team's fun, romantic, spirited women will tell you. They should know because they've dated men who are all kinds of trailblazing-wrong.
These men may have temporarily left them puzzled and shaken even, but definitely couldn't break their spirit. Here's what they've learnt from these failed relationships.
Why would an otherwise no-nonsense, practical and (at the cost of sounding immodest) intelligent woman make such blunders when it comes to the men in her life? That’s one question I kept on asking myself ever since I reached adulthood and I continue to do so even in my mid-30s. From hopelessly falling in love with some of the most commitment-phobic dudes on planet Earth to trying to save some ‘damaged’ souls and getting royally screwed myself — mine's been one eventful love life.
So why do I fall for such fallen men? After some self-analysis that would have made Freud proud, I have reached the conclusion that I suffer from a saviour complex. The more damaged a person seems, the more I want to reach out and ‘rescue’ him from his troubles.
As for my trysts with commitment-phobic men — blame it on my supersized ego. I love the chase and my stubbornness makes me pursue dead-end relationships, which any sane person would avoid like the plague. The funniest part? There have been instances where, after the man has eventually given in, I have lost all interest I had in him. You may feel that self-awareness can save me from further trouble but, as they say, old habits die hard.
In my defence, I didn't think I was dating a douchebag. None of us do, right? More so, because when you're in love, you only focus on the good aspects. And the bad ones? Well, you accept them as if they were a new perspective. At least I did. And it was my biggest mistake.
When he made zero plans on my birthday (for all the years we dated) and said “it's just another day, what's so special?” I believed he was right because I wasn't a kid anymore, and not that he was belittling the things that mattered to me. When he said, “You'd look perfect only if you lost some weight”, I thought he was trying to encourage me to get fitter and not actually body-shaming me. When he said, “Red is not the colour for your complexion,” I thanked him for saving me from a fashion faux pas rather than calling him out.
The funny thing is these aren't even the worst things he's said and even then these were sure signs (I know now) that proved that he was definitely a douchebag. And every time I curbed myself, I took a step closer to depression that were to loom over me like a dark cloud. The horrible part about it all? It still does.
If you've ever dated a douchebag, you'd know that all you get in the end are a lot of emotional baggage and some bags under your eyes. And I should definitely know because I've dated not one, but two of them. What I didn't get, though, is wisdom.
In my defence, they don't come wearing a label. Okay, the second one did come with some red flags that I blissfully missed in the hope of a red hot romance. And that makes me wonder why I don't learn my lessons. According to Urban Dictionary, a douchebag is a man who "firmly believes that he is the smartest, most desirable, and most charming person in the room". The guy I dated came with these warning signs along with a troubled relationship history — a recipe for disaster that Gordon Ramsay would gleefully garnish with f-words. But all I did was fall.
So, did I turn into a douchebag just because I chose to be with one? No, I didn't. Yes, there's been hours of self-introspection and self-loathing. And once I was done with that, I was seriously done — with the relationship, and with the douchebag. Yes, I made a mistake. But that's all it is.
And I don't regret making the mistake either. Neither has it put me off men. Because I know there might be douchebags lurking around, but this isn't a douche-world.