What Is “Jerk-Baiting” And How Can You Avoid This Terrible Dating Trend?

Another nasty dating trend has come to rain on our days. It’s called “jerk-baiting” and it’s actually more common than you might think at first glance. In fact, it’s probably happened to you before but you probably just didn’t have a catchy name for it. Here’s what you should know about “jerk-baiting.”

  1. It’s a (really lame) test. Is there anything worse in the dating game than feeling like the person you’re dating is testing you? It sucks, right? Well, that’s basically what’s at the core of “jerk-baiting.”
  2. The person pushes your buttons. The person you’re dating is jerk-baiting you if they’re set on pushing your buttons. They want to see you lose patience with them. They want to see how far they can push you before you lose it or walk away. Yikes. There’s no limit to what someone who’s jerk-baiting you will do. They might cancel a date at the last minute to see how you’ll react. They might be the most annoying dinner date ever by getting wasted before the main course to see if you leave. They might insult you and claim it was “a joke” to see if you’re going to splash your drink in their face or just smile and laugh.
  3. It supposedly tests your level of interest. Some people will jerk-bait their dates to see how much you’re really interested in them. How long will you stay after having to deal with being treated in such a way?¬† They might be tempted to find out. If you don’t walk away after being jerk-baited, it can make them assume that you really like them. It’s really screwed up.
  4. It can also be about jealousy. You know when you try to make your partner jealous so that you know that they really, really like you? That’s problematic in itself because signs of jealousy don’t necessarily even mean romantic interest. Plus, that kind of game also forms part of jerk-baiting so someone might ramble about their ex on a date to see if you express some jealousy.
  5. Jerk-baiting can fall flat. If you’re tempted to try jerk-baiting your partner, don’t do it. It can seriously backfire on you. Just because the person you’re on a date with doesn’t show that they’re jealous of your ex, it doesn’t mean that they’re not. Similarly, just because someone doesn’t lose their temper when you insult them and claim you were just kidding around, it doesn’t mean that they’re not seething. But the backfiring possibilities don’t end there.
  6. The person is writing you off. Deep down, when the person is a target of your jerk-baiting, they might be thinking, “What a loser.” Even if you say that you were just trying to get a reaction out of them, they’re likely to think that you’re childish, insecure, and pathetic.
  7. This doesn’t work on strong women. In the same way that negging someone is really stupid and doesn’t work to make strong women insecure, jerk-baiting will fall flat and make strong women walk away instead of put up with such BS. So that’s something for the jerk-baiters to consider before they make use of such stupid tactics.
  8. How jerk-baiting happens in long-term relationships. Sometimes jerk-baiting doesn’t just happen on a first date or after a few weeks of dating – it can happen in LTRs. The person might not even have to do anything direct to be seen as jerk-baiting their partner. Hear me out. They might, for instance, not clean the bathroom because they know their partner will just do it. They might come across as lazy and take their partner for granted, both of which can form part of jerk-baiting.
  9. The person might not even realize they’re doing it. That’s the most confusing aspect of jerk-baiting – a person might be jerk-baiting their partner by taking them for granted but not even realize they’re doing it or that they’re pissing off their partner. That’s why the best way to deal with being jerk-baited is to speak up and ask the person what’s going on, as well as to say that their behavior is making you feel bad. That’s so much better than being quiet or taking the bait.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.