Dating is tough. The search for The One can be long, disappointing and often frustrating. But every failed relationship, no matter how painful in the moment, leaves in its wake some invaluable lessons that take us closer to understanding what we really want from a partner and our lives. They teach us things about ourselves we never imagined. Here are 10 kinds of jerks men and women must date (hopefully not all of them, though) to learn some very important relationship lessons.
The "nice" guy
The guy who feels the need to tell you that he is 'nice' -- once, twice, several times, all the time -- is not nice. Dating a guy who never fails to impress upon you his "niceness", will teach you that truly nice guys are unconditionally nice; not only when they are being showered for gratitude for remembering that your mom eats only vegetarian food on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while picking a restaurant for dinner.
The "different" girl
Any girl who takes pride in telling anyone who will listen that she is "not like other girls" has a LOT of growing up to do; as well as learning respect for herself and womankind. "I'm different" almost always reeks of delusions of grandeur that can only be satisfied by deriding others. Dating such a person teaches you how to value a person strong enough to embrace their personality, even if it happens to coincide with other girls'.
The ex abuser
It's tough to remain dignified after a break-up, especially if you're the one that's been wronged or hurt. While most of us aren't self-actualised enough to never speak ill of our exes, incessantly criticising or abusing them in front of our current partners is a massive red flag. How a person speaks about their ex is a great window into a person's personality.
The jealous freaks
There are very few romantic relationships in the world that are completely devoid of any kind of jealousy. While occasional twinges of jealousy are normal in a relationship; we've all encountered people who cross the line from healthy possessiveness to alarming jealousy. The people for whom everyone -- from exes to colleagues and even platonic friends -- are potential love interests you'd cheat on them with. No one should suffer the indignity of constantly having to reassure one's partner that you're not sleeping with others when they're not looking. Dating a jealous freak teaches you that a healthy degree of trust is a prerequisite for a relationship and people who will sneakily check your email, Whatsapp, FB and Twitter are patently undateable.
The good-on-paper but awful-in-reality person
Who hasn't been set up and attempted to date someone who sounds almost unbelievably good on paper? In the beginning, you wonder how a person who checks all your boxes could still be single—smart, witty, intellectually curious, pleasing to look at. And then you find out why they're single. It could be something as harmless, but still gross. For example, they call servers at restaurants making that weird 'chich-chich' sound as if waiters don't get human language. Or are fascinating agents of misogyny -- if it's a guy, he will usually try flattering you by saying how well you can hold your drink 'for a woman'. Crossing paths with such a person, even briefly, is a great lesson in understanding your own priorities and deal-breakers. Sometimes, the answers can surprise you.
The ultimatum givers
We've all dated, or know of, at least one such person who thinks it is perfectly acceptable to use "If you love me, you will..." to get their partner to do or give them what they want. There is no acceptable end to that sentence, regardless of what's being asked of the other person. You never know when "If you love me, you'll take the day off from work" will morph into "If you love me, you'll invest your savings in my business." Initially, it can be difficult to see this line of thought as the emotionally manipulative ploy it is. But once you do, it makes you realise that love, and healthy relationships, cannot be held hostage to or proved by adhering to arbitrary demands.
The commitment phobic person
This is not to say that everyone, always, is fashioning themselves to be commitment phobes; but an embarrassing number of this variety are using it simply as an excuse to fend off the emotional responsibility one has towards one's partner. Dating, and dumping, a self-proclaimed commitment phobe teaches you self-worth and the need to date people who hold themselves to a higher standard in the way they treat their partners.
The perpetual baby
It is exhausting to date someone who is always one spoiled plan away from throwing a hissy fit and turning a small matter into a full-blown frustrating fight. Dating someone with the emotional range of a toddler teaches you that adult relationships that are meant to last require a lot of patience, hard work, and sometimes, even biting your tongue to keep things from escalating; and that you deserve to date someone who has these baseline adult abilities.
The credit hoarders
Anything good happens to you while you're with them? It's all because of their encouragement and faith in you, of course. Whether you published a book, received funding for your startup or made amends with a friend you had a falling out with, none of it would have happened without them. While a supportive partner's contribution in your success is undebatable, sharing your happiness with someone who cannot let you leave you alone in the limelight for one precious second doesn't double the joy, it halves it. Dating someone who can't be quietly supportive teaches you to appreciate the ones who are secure enough in their own lives to not seek validation or define themselves in the achievements of their partners.
The "insults are just jokes" kind
While good-humoured banter and ribbing between partners in the company of good friends is perfectly normal and healthy, the dating world is filled with people who can't seem to differentiate between a joke and an insult. Anyone who attempts to pass off a hurtful comment or an insult as a joke is either out of touch with reality or, worse, unwilling to see it. Anyone might go wrong with a joke once in a while, but constantly belittling your partner, alone, or while friends are around to laugh uncomfortably at the off-colour joke, is a sign of resentment or lack of respect for them. Dating someone who does this and having the self-respect to leave them teaches you to stick to your standards.