In a recent post I questioned whether douchebags can be redeemed. To recap, Bessie wrote in about her two-month old relationship with Jacob after she learned he’d “treated other girls in the past like a “douchebag” would (including leading them on and using them for sex).” He claimed to have changed since discovering true love with her. But Bessie had doubts:
“I don’t doubt that he loves me and cares about me, he shows it everyday. However, I’m a bit heartbroken to find out about his past, and feel that his past behavior speaks about his character, and possibly also about his future behavior with me. Should I take this as a red flag and move on?”
I advised her not to break up with Jacob immediately:
“Sometimes people do change. The jury’s still out on this one, and Jacob will need to demonstrate over time that he is worthy of her. I will add that if Bessie were to learn that there’s more evidence of selfish behavior and a bad reputation, she should reassess. There’s immature knucklehead bad and there’s sociopath bad. It’s up to Jacob to convince her he’s only guilty of the former.”
Chalk up a win for the sociopaths. I’ve just received this update from Bessie:
“Sorry it took me a while to get back to you. I decided to wait and see before making any judgments. Well, I waited, and turns out he cheated on me three times, making out with two girls and having sex with another. He’s also been lying to me about seeing this friend of his – he said he wasn’t visiting her when he was. She was probably just a friend, but he still hid it from me even though he knew it would hurt me.”
Thankfully – and wisely – Bessie ended the relationship immediately when she learned of his cheating. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have advised Bessie differently. Although there’s no guarantee she would have taken different advice, she might have avoided wasting two additional months on this terrible guy.
“Sometimes people do change.”
Yeah, maybe. But most of the time they don’t. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. And when that behavior shows a lack of empathy, a willingness to deceive others for personal gain, and a coldhearted, calculating ability to betray trust while saying “I love you,” change is likely impossible. His sociopathy is baked in.
I often tell people not to go through life looking in the rear view mirror, but here’s one case where looking backwards gives the clearest picture and tells you everything you need to know about a person.
Bessie ended her email to me with this:
“Thank you for all of your help, and for always being there for your readers. I’ve learned a lot from your posts.”
My hope in writing this follow-up post is that I can redeem by own bad advice by offering Bessie’s experience to you. I hope you learn something from it. There’s a lot that Bessie did right. She asked hard questions and she listened to her gut. She did not waver when she confirmed his true nature. I’m sure she feels very hurt, but it could have been much worse had she stayed with him, unaware or in denial about his actions.
Bad boys are rotten at the core, they never change, and they’re never worthy.