If you’re dating a ‘loser’, you may recognize in your partner some of these characteristics described by Consulting Clinical Psychologist Joseph M. Carver, PhD. This article continues with a note on dangerous versions of the ‘loser’ and offers guidelines for detachment. Also see the new “Relationship Quiz: True Love or True Loser?”, which may help you to identify and highlight experiences of concern within your relationship.
- Public Embarrassment: In an effort to keep you under control while in public, “The Loser” will lash out at you, call you names, or say cruel or embarrassing things about you in private or in front of people. When in public, you quickly learn that any opinion you express may cause them to verbally attack you, either at the time or later. If you stay with “The Loser” too long, you’ll soon find yourself politely smiling, saying nothing, and holding on to their arm when in public. You’ll also find yourself walking with your head down, fearful of seeing a friend who might speak to you and create an angry reaction in “The Loser”.
- It’s Never Enough: “The Loser” convinces you that you are never quite good enough. You don’t say “I love you” enough, you don’t stand close enough, you don’t do enough for them after all their sacrifices, and your behavior always falls short of what is expected. This is another method of destroying your self-esteem and confidence. After months of this technique, they begin telling you how lucky you are to have them — somebody who tolerates someone so inadequate and worthless as you.
- Entitlement: “The Loser” has a tremendous sense of entitlement, the attitude that they have a perfectly logical right to do whatever they desire. If cut off in traffic, “The Loser” feels they have the right to run the other driver off the road, assault them, and endanger the lives of other drivers with their temper tantrum. Keep in mind, this same sense of entitlement will be used against you. If you disobey their desires or demands, or violate one of their rules, they feel they are entitled to punish you in any manner they see fit.
- Your Friends and Family Dislike Him: As the relationship continues, your friends and family will see what “The Loser” is doing to you. They will notice a change in your personality or your withdrawal. They will protest. “The Loser” will tell you they are jealous of the “special love” you have and then use their protest and opinion as further evidence that they are against you — not him. The mention of your family members or friends will spark an angry response from them — eventually placing you in the situation where you stop talking about those you care about, even your own family members. “The Loser” will be jealous and threatened by anyone you are close to — even your children. In some cases, your parents or brothers/sisters will not be allowed to visit your home.
- Bad Stories: People often let you know about their personality by the stories they tell about themselves. It’s the old story about giving a person enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. The stories a person tells inform us of how they see themselves, what they think is interesting, and what they think will impress you. A humorous individual will tell funny stories of himself. “The Loser” tells stories of violence, aggression, being insensitive to others, rejecting others, etc. They may tell you about past relationships and in every case, they assure you that they were treated horribly despite how wonderful they were to that person. They brag about their temper and outbursts because they don’t see anything wrong with violence and actually take pride in the “I don’t take nothing from nobody” attitude. People define themselves with their stories, much like a culture is described by it’s folklore and legends. Listen to these stories — they tell you how you will eventually be treated and what’s coming your way.
- The Waitress Test: It’s been said that when dating, the way an individual treats a waitress or other neutral person of the opposite sex is the way they will treat you in six months. During the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, you will be treated like a king or queen. However, during that time “The Loser” has not forgotten how he or she basically feels about the opposite sex. Waitresses, clerks, or other neutral individuals will be treated badly. If they are cheap — you’ll never receive anything once the honeymoon is over. If they whine, complain, criticize, and torment — that’s how they’ll treat you in six months. A mentally healthy person is consistent — they treat almost all people the same way all the time. If you find yourself dating a man who treats you like a queen and other females like dirt, hit the road.
- The Reputation: As mentioned, mentally healthy individuals are consistent in their personality and their behavior. “The Loser” may have two distinct reputations — a group of individuals who will give you glowing reports and a group that will warn you that they are serious trouble. If you ask ten people about a new restaurant — five say it’s wonderful and five say it’s a hog pit — you clearly understand that there’s some risk involved in eating there. “The Loser” may actually brag about their reputation as a “butt kicker”, “womanizer”, “hot temper” or “being crazy”. They may tell you stories where others have called them crazy or suggested that they receive professional help. Pay attention to the reputation. Reputation is the public perception of an individual’s behavior. If the reputation has two sides, good and bad, your risk is high. You will be dealing with the bad side once the honeymoon is over in the relationship. With severe behavior problems, “The Loser” will be found to have almost no friends, just acquaintances. Emotionally healthy and moral individuals will not tolerate friendships with losers that treat others so badly. If you find yourself disliking the friends of “The Loser”, it’s because they operate the same way he or she does and you can see it in them.
- Walking on Eggshells: As a relationship with “The Loser” continues, you will gradually be exposed to verbal intimidation, temper tantrums, lengthy interrogations about trivial matters, violence/threats directed at others but witnessed by you, paranoid preoccupation with your activities, and a variety of put-downs on your character. You will quickly find yourself “walking on eggshells” in their presence — fearful to bring up topics, fearful to mention that you spoke to or saw a friend, and fearful to question or criticize the behavior of “The Loser”. Instead of experiencing the warmth and comfort of love, you will be constantly on edge, tense when talking to others (they might say something that you’ll have to explain later), and fearful that you’ll see someone you’ll have to greet in public. Dates and times together will be more comfortable and less threatening when totally alone — exactly what “The Loser” wants, no interference with their control or dominance.
- Discounted Feelings/Opinions: “The Loser” is so self-involved and self-worshipping that the feelings and opinions of others are considered worthless. As the relationship continues and you begin to question what you are feeling or seeing in their behavior, you will be told that your feelings and opinions don’t make sense, they’re silly, and that you are emotionally disturbed to even think of such things. “The Loser” has no interest in your opinion or your feelings — but they will be disturbed and upset that you dare question their behavior. “The Loser” is extremely hostile toward criticism and often reacts with anger or rage when their behavior is questioned.
- They Make You “Crazy”: “The Loser” operates in such a damaging way that you find yourself doing “crazy” things in self-defense. If “The Loser” is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 pm — you call Time & Temperature to cover the redial, check your garbage for anything that might get you in trouble, and call your family and friends to tell them not to call you that night. You warn family/friends not to bring up certain topics, avoid locations in the community where you might see co-workers or friends, and not speak to others for fear of the 20 questions. You become paranoid as well — being careful what you wear and say. Nonviolent males find themselves in physical fights with female losers. Nonviolent females find themselves yelling and screaming when they can no longer take the verbal abuse or intimidation. In emotional and physical self-defense, we behave differently and oddly. While we think we are “going crazy,” it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as “normal behavior” in a combat situation. Rest assured that your behavior will return to normal if you detach from “The Loser” before permanent psychological damage is done.
In This Section
- About Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Counselling, Psychotherapy & Mental Health Bibliography
- Mental Health News
- Online Therapy and Online Counselling
- Self-Help and Overviews
- Are You Dating a Loser? Identifying Losers, Controllers and Abusers
- Depression: Understanding Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Emotional Memory Management: Positive Control Over Your Memory
- Spanish Translations
- Stockholm Syndrome: The Psychological Mystery of Loving an Abuser
- Understanding Personality Disorders in Relationships
- Symptoms, Diagnostics, and Medications
- Types of Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Web Resources in Counselling, Psychotherapy and Mental Health
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by