I've Started Keeping An Asshole Jar To Keep Me From Repeating My Love Mistakes

The asshole jar is a reminder of what I’ve wrongly settled for in the past, and what I won’t stand for in the future.

Apr 2, 2014 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

I love obvious assholes. Those generous men and women who very kindly show the world upfront that they are jerks. They’re pretty easy to spot and swiftly run away from (unless you are related to them, which sucks, but at least you can limit your time with them to holidays and funerals). It’s the clandestine assholes you have to watch out for. I’ve dated more than a few. I’m drawn to them, or I was, out of intrigue, guilt, and taking comfort in what you know. 
 
They always have a spark of something. A sad, barely lit match of a man that I mistake for a powerful fire. It’s not just my brain hardwired to trick me into thinking they’re harboring a love that I just have to work really, really hard to gain access to -- it’s them, too. The way they give not much, but enough to rouse romantic hope, and the way they show just enough vulnerability, and at just the right moment, to make me feel that maybe my softness will soften them. But it won’t. You can’t warm a cold heart, no matter how hard you try. 
 
Underdogs are great in movies and sports teams and sometimes in life. I’ve been the underdog in my own life for so long, I relate more to Rocky Balboa than a non-boxer should. Underdogs are not so great when you find out they’re still married, conflicted and refuse to introduce you to their friends. Underdogs in love are to be avoided. You shouldn’t have to root for someone to love you. I want only the high achievers in this area, please. 
 
I’m not trying to pigeonhole men. I used to have the same problem with female friends -- allowing myself to be mistreated because I didn’t realize, for the longest time, that I had a choice. It was an Oprah “ah ha!” moment when it dawned on me that I didn’t have to stay friends with people I went to junior high school with just because they know my middle name and were there that time I drank too many purple coolers and vomited violently, and violet, all over the side of my friend’s white house.  
 
It’s taken me considerably longer to come to the point where I recognize my ability to choose in romantic relationships.
 
My life has become an ongoing project of choosing happiness, and trying not to inflict pain and sadness on myself. I’ve had a lot of both, and they are unavoidable in life, but when you keep repeating the same doomed love story, swapping out one troubled leading man for another, sadness becomes comforting and addictive. It’s a sick cycle I’ve struggled to break. 
 
For these reasons, and more, I’ve started using “The Asshole Jar.”
 
image
 
In it, I stash the written, unpleasant attributes of people I don't want to interact with, let alone date. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and as a mostly intelligent person, I can identify the traits I don’t like in men I’ve dated. Also, those obvious assholes you encounter in day-to-day life serve as great reminders. 
 
While out in the world, if I encounter a rude person, a mean comment, or notice something off-putting about someone (Ed Hardy car decals, mistreating customer service reps, having misspelled tattoos), I write it down and put it in the jar.
 
The other day, I was at the grocery story and forgot what I wanted from the wall of greens, so I stood there for a second, collecting my thoughts, when this women, wide eyed and fuming, rounded the corner and nearly took me out while rolling her eyes dramatically and shaking her head at me like “What an idiot you are.” It was like I ruined her perfect day because I paused briefly to look at asparagus. When I got home, I wrote down, “passive aggressive freak outs” and “mean to strangers” on little ripped pieces of paper and threw them in The Asshole Jar. 
 
I can be overly sensitive, just like Emily, and when you are this way, you tend to carry other people’s negative loads on your shoulders, without them wanting or asking you to. Writing down what a person who hurt my feelings did, and stashing it in the jar, is a way to stop thinking about it and let it go. 
 
image

You know that “Let It Go” scene in Frozen? Totally did it first.

 
Similarly, if I go on a date with someone who uses an offensive word, I will write that down, put it in my jar, and never speak to that man again. This practice is giving me a weird strength in my own better judgment. Where I might have made excuses out of attraction or intrigue in the past, I now identify these unchangeable, unwanted traits as the deal-breakers they ought to be. 
 
I add to The Asshole Jar a few times a week and empty to reflect on once a week. My hope is that having reminders of what I don’t want will help me to walk away from bad seeds with confidence if and when the time comes. It might seem simple, but it is an ongoing revelation for me that I can choose who I want to be with, and not feel guilt-bonded by some invisible, constraining love glue to an unstable, unintelligent, or unworthy man. 
 
Some women do those, “all the traits I want in a man” lists, but all I could ever come up with for those was: "nice, funny, not a troll." The asshole jar is a reminder of what I’ve wrongly settled for in the past, and what I won’t stand for in the future.