How to Recognize When You’re Dating a Patronizing A**hole

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.37.50 PM

The boyfriend is always the last to know.

I know from dating countless of a**holes that love blinds us—it’s true. I saw signs here and there, but rarely did I acknowledge them because I chose to live on the tail of my fantasies. But not anymore…

There’s nothing worse than dating a patronizing son of a bitch. At first I thought it was sexy. At the beginning it came across as confident, and in many ways hilarious. There was always a reason to playfully argue or tease, but the time came when I realized he thrived on it. He took pleasure in feeling like he was smarter than I was, which took time for me to see. Here’s what I learned:

He’s always in the mood to spar.

There are some people who love to spar with others no matter what the situation. You can say, “I think I’m going to have mustard on my hamburger…” “Oh! Mustard is the worst!” or you can say, “I love that movie, it’s one of my favorites…” “Are you kidding? That movie sucks, you want to see a real movie…?” or even, “This is what the doctor told me to take…” “Oh Lord. Who listens to their doctor? Come on I’m telling you. You need to…”

At first it might come across as comedic if he says it right, but eventually you’ll start to understand that it’s the debate, the argument and the need to feel powerful and dependable he really wants—not the laugh.

He says he’s “not like other guys you’ve dated…”

One of the most common characteristics a manipulative and patronizing guy has is a need to affirm that he doesn’t relate to other gay men. He’ll say he’s much more sensitive, monogamous, masculine or intimate because he wants to plant an idea in your head for later on.

In other words he insults your intelligence because he doesn’t realize that you’re a human being with a brain and can tell the difference between a good-hearted man and a poser. Think about it: if he was really so different from the rest of the guys in your life, you’d feel it in your soul. You’d know it as a fact without him even needing to tell you because it will feel GOOD.

Besides, we are the least qualified to judge ourselves in matters of character—that’s for the world to decide. So if a man constantly tells you how great he is, believe me, don’t take him too seriously.

He makes you think it’s your fault that you feel bad because you “misunderstood” him.

One thing he’ll love to do is blame you for “changing him” when you raise any kind of concern about the relationship. All misunderstandings of what he says or the things he does are your fault for “misinterpreting” his actions the way you did.

He loves to play games where he spins it around to make you feel guilty, ashamed and crazy for even bringing it up. For example, if you finally have enough courage to stand up to him and say that whatever he did made you feel bad, he’ll probably say, “Oh well that wasn’t my intention,” or “Stop trying to tell me what’s in my head,” or that you’re “Trying to project your own insecurities” on him.

Basically everything you feel is because of your own misunderstanding of what he said—wrong! Don’t fall for this trap. He’ll make you feel like you’re attacking him, which is not the case at all. You feel a certain way for a reason. There’s clearly something wrong and you’re smart enough to know what it is.

He only helps people because it gives him power, not because he truly wants to.

This guy gets off by helping people not out of the goodness of his heart, but because of the control it gives him. It’s also used as reference when he needs to prove how “good” he is either in front of you or at a party. It’s sort of like a crazy preacher—he tries to make you believe the good deeds are for the good of humanity but really it’s about him.

He’ll use this track record later on in arguments to gain control. For example, he’ll give an unprovoked attack on your beliefs, saying he’s just trying to get you think more critically. While it’s happening you feel torn because here’s a guy who does a lot of good in the world (how can you fight him?), so clearly he might know what he’s talking about—wrong! His “helping hand” is a façade to keep you submissive, therefore in his control. At the end of the day, no person has the right to make you feel stupid for having a different belief system.

He preaches more than practices because he wants to be validated first and foremost.

He’ll boast about anything—anything! He has a lot of ideas and ways to fix them, but rather than doing it he takes greater pleasure in having you affirm his genius. He’d rather feel powerful than prove it.

This is the foundation of his worth. It’s not that he wants to be smart or in control—he wants to be smarter and more in control than YOU. He doesn’t mind if there are other people who are just as powerful, but he wants to have more. This has nothing to do with practicing what he preaches and more to do with winning respect through mind control—that’s more valuable.

He refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his statements.

Empathy doesn’t come easy. When it comes to a relationship, both parties have a role to play. But a patronizing a**hole half-asses it while you’re left in the ring fending for yourself. His actions are hard for him to inspect externally, so shedding light on it can become dangerous. You walk on eggshells because you know he’ll blame you if ever it’s brought up.

He’ll pat your head and say, “Poor thing” or “We’ll try again another time” or “Bless your Heart” (or something to those effects).

This is the definition of patronizing. Again, it’s all about power. It might be cute the first few times he does it, but only because you think he’s making fun of the concept. But over time you start to wonder if he truly means it.

No man should ever make you feel like he’s better than you, but he should be proud to step into the field and build something together. Unless it’s agreed upon, he shouldn’t make you feel dumb after working so hard on something only to hear him say, “Aw poor thing.”

A relationship is a partnership, which means you progress and evolve together. You’re teammates that share equal power. When he’s constantly trying to pull power from you, there’s no use in fighting because it no longer is a relationship at that point. A boyfriend is not meant solely to kiss your ass and say how great you are at things—if you want that, go buy a therapist.

David Artavia


David is an award-winning journalist and editor at The Advocate, Plus, and Chill magazines. His work also appears at and OutTraveler. He lives in Los Angeles where he lives vicariously through his friends.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply