Turns Out Mr. Right Has A Quirk

dealing with men's quirksMr. Right is hard to find. He’s not Mr. Right because he is perfect. He is Mr. Right because he is right for you. Even if he is right for you, chances are he’s going to have a few quirks that annoy you.

They seem trivial, but annoying quirks can gradually drive a wedge between two people, especially when only one person realizes it’s even a problem. Here is a simple plan for disarming the negative emotional impact of his unusual quirks, along with a warning about the meaning of certain kinds of quirks.

Which is easier, finding a new Mr. Right with no quirks, or learning how to adapt to his unusual quirks? Of course, there is a third option, which is to gently train him to change the annoying behavior.

But let’s start with the assumption that the relationship has not yet reached a point where correction and feedback of his behavior would flow smoothly. Let’s start with a potentially painless fix you can use on yourself so that you don’t find his quirks so annoying.

Very often, the annoying features of someone else’s habits annoy us precisely because we have an opposite tendency or trait. For example, some people are annoyed when a housemate does not wash the toothpaste-spit down the drain after brushing their teeth. That same person probably feels annoyed with a partner who leaves their socks on the floor in the living room instead of walking them to a laundry hamper.

If you are the person that leaves your socks laying around, you probably have less of the personality trait psychologists call “conscientiousness.” It’s not that you don’t like the look of a neat and tidy home or sink; it’s that you don’t care nearly as much as someone who is very high on the conscientious trait.

Here is a simple way you can decrease your annoyance with Mr. Right when he obliviously annoys you with some habit or behavior.

One way of dealing with men’s quarks is by looking for the underlying personality trait that predisposes him to that behavior and then think of three positive tendencies that go along with that particular personality trait.

Here’s an example. I once dated a woman who had the highly unusual tendency of using her thumb to clear boogers from her nose while having a conversation with you face-to-face. You probably wonder why in the world I would date someone like that, but it wasn’t nearly as dramatically gross as you might imagine. She did it in a single movement that looked almost like she was just brushing at her nose.

Nonetheless, it jarred against my personality trait which is on the opposite end of the same neurotic scale. I’m neurotically conscientious about the impression I’m making on others. That comes with its own annoying traits that she has to put up with.

So here is how this principle works. I ask myself, “What kind of personality traits predispose her to be so relaxed about the impression she is making on others?” The answer is that she does not present a false self to the world. The idea of holding her cards close to her chest is foreign to her. She does not keep her thoughts, emotions, desires, or motivations hidden. To her, people matter, not pretenses.

Now that I have identified the personality trait that predisposes her to that unusual quirk, I ask myself what benefits I personally receive because of those personality traits she has. Here’s a quick list that comes to my mind now as I think about it:

1.I can trust her. I know who she is and who she is not. There’s no anxiety about how she secretly feels about a relationship with me or anyone else.

2.She doesn’t care that my face is peeling from a sunburn when we go to meet her parents.

3.She gives me matter of fact advice with no awkwardness or hesitation when I ask her opinion about things.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. I mentally frame the annoying behavior in the context of things I like about her, and voila! Suddenly I find myself easily dismissing the angst that was building inside me just a moment earlier.

And now a warning:

Quirks reveal things about your partner’s personality. Most of those quirks are harmless, annoying features of their behavior. However, there are a few quirks that speak to an underlying incompatibility you should seriously consider.

The nature of quirks is that the person who does them is generally unaware that they are doing them, or unaware that other people find those behaviors odd or annoying. As a result, they often reveal things about a person’s personality that they might otherwise choose to hide from you during the early stages of a dating relationship.

If he chooses to hide the fact that his car is always messy, it probably is not a really big deal. If you are a very conscientious person, maybe it would be a big deal to you, but probably something most people could live with. However, if he is trying to hide a cynical, sarcastic personality trait that reveals itself in the quirk of occasionally berating a waitress with unnecessarily harsh criticisms, consider how that same trait may transfer to the way he treats you, or your children at some point in the future.

dealing with men's quirksHe may laugh, smile, and go back to his pleasant interaction pattern just thirty seconds after tearing the waitress a part. If he does this, don’t be fooled. That kind of little quirk signals the presence of a monster lurking beneath the surface. That monster could be an anger monster, a manipulator monster, or the monster of untamed narcissism.

I don’t mean to scare you. I’m only pointing out the obvious, trying to raise your awareness of a simple tool that can improve your relationships. Here’s the recap. No one is perfect, so when you find a pretty good man, learn to appreciate the personality traits that cause him to have a few quirks. Quirks are also unconscious signals of personality traits (much of the time). As such, they are useful tools for recognizing personality traits the person may suppress when in your presence.

James


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43 thoughts on “Turns Out Mr. Right Has A Quirk

  1. Judy said:

    I agree with you on the hidden traits you can identify through quirks. The one I find most difficult to identify early is dishonesty. Dishonest people seem to have learned how to cover this trait for a long time so you invest a lot of time before realizing this. Any suggestions on seeing this trait in a person more quickly?

    • James Bauer said:

      I think you are right about that, Judy. Some people really don’t see other people as extensions of themselves…people to love and build-up. They live their lives in isolation, cheating and stealing and lying as long as they can get away with it…and they learn to get away with it.

      One thing that can help with this is a trick I learned from a bird. I forget what it is called, but it is a bird that feigns a broken wing if it sees a predator (like a snake or cat) moving toward the eggs in its nest. It flutters its wing and flops along the ground like it can’t fly. This distracts the predator and causes it to forget about the eggs as the bird leads the predator away (before flying off suddenly and to the surprise of the predator). Here’s the idea in a nutshell. Give him an easy way to take advantage of you and feign ignorance of the way you could be cheated on or lied to (lying is the easiest and most sensible way to test for dishonesty). Use a situation where he could get away with bragging about something that is not actually true, or something like that. Make him think it is a situation where you will never get feedback to the contrary. Just see what he does with it.

      For example…

      “You gave that waitress an unusually big tip, didn’t you? You like to show kindness to others without bringing attention to yourself. I admire that. Or was I wrong when I thought I glimpsed a twenty as we left our table?”

      A normal guy would say, “Oh. I wish I could tip people that much, but I didn’t…unless I made a mistake. Let me check my wallet.”

      You know what the other guy would say. It’s ironic that there is an element of deceit in this trick, but it is not deceit designed to harm someone else or take advantage of them in any way. It is merely a litmus test to see what level of honesty a man has.

      • raji said:

        James, thank you for your insightful and thoughtful posts!

        I would suggest being cautious about using “tests” such as this. Years ago I read something very interesting about testing. In the middle of a self-help book appeared the oddly – and incongruously – titled chapter “How to Become Paranoid”! The instructions were to check that all your doors and windows are locked several times before going to sleep or leaving the house. The claim was, if you do this enough times your brain will manufacture a reason for you to be checking… et voila! you find yourself paranoid and NEEDING to check the door.

        in addition to the obvious implications for relationships (you starting to believe he is not trustworthy), I believe there are other reasons to be careful testing in relationship. If you are testing him, 1) I believe at some level he senses it, which could lead to him trusting you less (maybe without really knowing why), and 2) if you are testing him, you are likely to believe he is testing you. None of these seem like a good foundation to an honest and trusting relationship.

        What would I do instead? When I feel untrusting, here is what my best self would do: check myself for past hurts that lead me to be untrusting, then admit my mistrust and ask my partner about it openly. I watch the reaction, and sense my inner feelings about the truth of the response. If it feels untruthful, it might be a good sign that the relationship has deep problems, evidenced by my tolerance of or blindness to my partner’s untrustworthiness, or my own mistrust of my partner.

        I also think: how one does anything is how one does everything. I try to find little ways to discover trustworthiness eithout resorting to paranoia-encouraging tests.

        That’s my two-cents worth! Additional thoughts?

        • James Bauer said:

          Those are good points, Raji. You make a good point about checking our own biases and feelings that have been influenced by our own issues from the past. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

        • Dave McConeghey said:

          James,
          You continue to lead me to new awareness of better ways to look at how we relate to others. Thank you.
          Raji,
          Your thoughts and writing are wonderfully insightful as well. Do you have a blog or email letter to which I can subscribe?

        • Wendy Alva said:

          I wished I’d paid more attention to my previous relationships more. Who’d a thunk? I have waisted so much time during my life. I’m almost 60, and time’s too short. I mean, noticing the little things, that may be unruley to get past. Or noticing the way he talks to other people, is he sincere, how he treats your pet, does your pet like him. That kinda thing.

  2. Pearl Munroe said:

    Thanks for this very informative lesson.I will share.Please continue to encourageme and others

  3. withheld said:

    quirk? hell no he is just a JERK. lying two faced SOB I am so sick of men who lie to me and cheat on me., thats why i NEVER want to have another relationship with a man ever again. Its not worth it. no matter who i meet its the same damn shit over and over and over. Men are nothing but self centered lying cheating losers and users. NO THANKS. I am 51 and this is all I have had is relationships with men who use me and cheat on me. phukk this bullshit. Im done. no one wants to see me happy period.

    • James Bauer said:

      This is a time to turn to trusted friends and people who love you. Let your heart be replenished with love and let time heal your pain.

    • Lynn said:

      Yeah I know what you mean withheld..they are lying cheats. That is the reason I investigate them…to find out facts early on when they trigger suspicion in me. I am seriously thinking of meeting up with this “roommate” he has to confirm their relationship. I am 99% sure it is a romantic relationship now and not just a roommate. I am going to show her all the evidence (text message, email, online profile AND what I have observed with him.

    • justme said:

      withheld – I wonder how happier you would be when you decide to take responsibility for your own happiness?

      Do you actually want to see yourself happy? Truly happy… Yourself…

        • Shante Williams said:

          Hmmm, I just believe that whenever you depend on someone else to make you happy, you run a greater risk of getting your feelings hurt and your heart broken. Sometimes even good people take advantage of certain situations, mainly because, even on our best day we are still human and there is always that small part(though large for some) of use that wants to satisfy our own immediate need or desire, in most cases at the expense of another person’s feelings. However, if you tap into inner joy and peace, get to know yourself, your value and learn to fully appreciate you, (because nothing about you is by accident) you’ll feel better about. When you reach that point, yiu attract the opposite of what you were attracting before. What man doesn’t want a woman how knows her worth, and realizes she is priceless!!???

    • Dela said:

      I can understand completely, after 28 years of living with a lieing cheating man who finaly went back to his ex afer cleaning out the bank accounts. I felt the same way untill a two years ago. I fell in love with a wonderful man I had known for many years, he treats me like a queen. And if there is one thing I know I can trust him, He has never lied to me. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, just wish this would have happened many years ago. I hope that someday you can find someone you can trust also. good luck

  4. Lesa Barber said:

    Eveything I have read in your emails is such good information and easy to apply to my life. Thank you.

  5. Kat said:

    This post was of particular interest to me because I dated a guy that started out charming, funny, sweet and attentive. After a month or so, he started to withdraw, played mind games and I found out he was very selfish and unfeeling. Turned out, I was dating a full-blown narcissist (which at the time did not know anything about them and what they were like). It was a very confusing relationship. They’re “false self” is presented until you are hooked. I found myself feeling it was my fault, and wanted to “fix” the problem. I still care for this guy, but he is emotionally unavailable. I found he is just not emotionally unavailable. It is extremely hard to see these traits in the beginning of the relationship because they project themselves to be you soul mate in the beginning. You stay in the relationship because you want back what you had in the beginning. Sadly to say, it was fake and an illusion of a perfect partner. This has been the hardest relationship I have experienced. I still miss what I thought we had and still want it back. It was “perfect” because it was fake. I am afraid I am looking for that “perfectness” now when I am trying to date again. I don’t know how to move past that.

    I read you posts often and appreciate your advise.

    • James Bauer said:

      Kat,

      You describe that so well. I wish you did not have such an intimate knowledge of the narcissistic mind, but at least you are able to see clearly what he was so you could extract yourself from that relationships. Thanks for sharing.

      • Glen said:

        James, what happens when we feel _we_ could possibly be narcissistic? I mean, at the beginning of a relationship, we’re starved to connect with someone else, but as the relationship goes on and seems to get heavier and heavier with responsibilities, compromises, issues, or texts and phone calls, we’re suddenly thinking, “Whoa, maybe I was better off alone,” and start retreating into ourselves? Is that being narcissistic, or is that a sign of a relationship going way too fast?

        • James Bauer said:

          Glen,
          The fact that you are asking the question suggests you are NOT a narcissist. As you begin to feel comfortable in a relationship you will have to work as a team to make the relationship a positive give-and-take that involves compromises and effort to lighten each other’s burdens. However, the more you focus on just loving someone else without expecting much in return, the easier it is to give to others in a relationship without feeling drained by it. It’s a paradox.

      • Janice said:

        Kat in the beginning use your intuition, trust it like nothing else! Set boundaries – don’t be too accomodating or too compromising or too giving. and love and value yourself more than him, this is what I have learned from being with a narcissist. Keep reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the more you know the less you will feel for this guy or want him back. Next time you may not find someone perfect but you may just find someone…genuine 🙂

    • Mercedes said:

      My situation as well…sux

  6. Michelle said:

    This was really eye opening for me and I think it could be helpful to know more about this subject. Any book or website recommendations?

    • Leslie said:

      Malignant Self-Love by Sam Valkin, Meaning from Madness by Richard Skerritt, and Melanie Tonia Evans’ Quanta Healing program are all great resources for learning about and recovering from narcissistic abuse.

  7. mari said:

    Thanks for the advice you give on this site James – it is so true to catch yourself and your thoughts in time before they can get big and then negativity sets in etc. Yes we need to ensure to pick up the things that are important to pick up and be careful, yet let the things go that are not bothering us– yet finding that balance is based on the individual & what they find attractive. So true about watching for the destructive habits though, some people are good at pretending /hiding them.

    I personally think that you attract the kind of person you are — so if someone wants to find someone fun, be fun too & spend time with those people that seek the same things,:)
    cheers!

  8. Odette said:

    I love reading your emails; they make so much sense to an avid self improver who has spent 5 years recovering from 22 years with a Sociopath ex husband that left me penniless.

    My new man is wonderful in so many ways, but has this annoying thing where he cuts off abruptly at the end of a phone coversation or leaves without much affection or good-bye. I wonder if he is cold at the core and really all the lovely texts are a cover for a colder soul…. I have trouble trusting my instincts after having been fooled so completely by my ex-husband.
    Thanks for your wisdom

  9. jeanne said:

    Odette,
    your instincts are always right.If you feel you’ve trouble trusting them, write a note on how the man makes you “feel” , instead of using your mind to logically think about it.

    For eg: I feel left alone when he cuts off abruptly – not a good sign, and notice other good/bad things and write them. When he makes you feel special, write it too. Consider having a husband who cuts you abruptly on the phone, can you live with it ? answer this honestly to yourself. If the answer is no, find yourself a man that treats you well.

    some “Sweet” men often appear caring in the beginning just to grab attention, but within 2-3 months, their real qualities show off. I’d say you should date atleast 2-3 men at a time, to prevent from falling for one too hard, this makes you feel like there are other possibilities and you MUST not accept anything less than the best behavior from men, ‘coz you deserve it !

  10. Odette said:

    Thankyou jeanne, you are absolutely right! As I have become older and wiser I have learned to trust my instincts more and more…. It is great to know the distinction between your mind and your feelings, because, as you say, often to two are in conflict. Helps to get a better perspective for sure!

  11. Victoria said:

    What about a man who lies all the time about his whereabouts? I do not see any reason for these “small” lies since it does not cover anything critical but… Do you think it is a pathology? Do you think that a man who lies in small things will definitely lie in big issues?

    • James Bauer said:

      I don’t really know, Victoria. I have seen it go both ways with men. Sometimes they see little lies as no big deal but then show better character when something really matters. Most of the time I have seen the opposite. Those who rely on white lies all the time become selfish when things get tough or sacrifices need to be made for the relationship.

  12. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    It’s wonderful to read everyone’s comments. Really helps to get things into perspective. I have had a strange long-distance relationship with a man for a year (I’ve known him for five years through a friend and always fancied him). Unfortunately, he has a lot of problems. He went to an English boarding school, has low self-esteem – had a nervous breakdown and lost his business as a Family Lawyer, became bankrupt, lost his marriage and moved to a less-than prestigeous neighbourhood. Now his “best” friend is the woman next door who comes round to booze with him and they get drunk together. Of course, she tells him to get rid of me because she does not want to lose her drinking-buddy. He has very little income, and has little money to live on because of the booze. Quite often he doesn’t even eat. He plays the organ in church (he is a wonderful organist) and at weddings and funerals, but now has to have an operation on his eyes, so is worried sick about that, as he may not be able to read the music, and is struggling now. I love and adore him and wish he could give up the drink. No-one would know his secret. He looks beautiful and is always well-turned out, as only an Englsih Lawyer can be! He is lovely to everyone, and always eager to help everyone. He is a lovely, sweet, gentle man, tells me he loves and adores me, but now has trouble commiting, and keeps pushing me away. I suppose he feels he has nothing to offer me. He also has problems with erectile disfunction (not surprisingly) and says he wants to spank me. I wonder if that is a way of controllng me, and the situation, because he feels so out-of-control himself, but I am afraid he will end up hurting me. I don’t understand these sexual fantasies and am trying to get my head around that, as well. He is 60 and at 65 I am very green when it comes to these things. Sex is a different thing now to when I was young and learned the “rules”. I was married for forty years to a sexually repressed man with Aspergers. I know I should give this new man up, but I so want things to be better. I keep making excuses for him, because I know he is a lost soul, and he needs all the friends he can get. He doesn’t have many now. I hope that when he has the operation on his eyes he will have to give up the drink, so am setting a lot of store by that. But in my heart I know I am living in a dream world. I just keep hoping and praying things will get better. They can’t get much worse!! Surely the only way is up, if I help and support him? LaLa

    • justme said:

      Lorna – you are worth more than that! He needs to save himself first before he is worthy of you. And he CAN do that, but he is not. And You can NOT do that for him. Imagine for a moment this was your best friend who wrote that about her man, or if you have a daughter, if that was her – how would you feel about what it says in your post? A man of worth will get up and try again. And again after that. And he will also do anything for his woman, to make her proud of him. This man has given up. He is content enough, although he does not feel that he is worth much anymore himself. He needs to find that again, on his own terms. Go find a man who is worthy of you and allow that man into your life. Do this for yourself. You are worth it!

  13. Bev said:

    Lorna Honey…wrap your arms around yourself & hold on before you lose yourself completely. You are in love with the man he used to be…not WHO HE IS NOW. The more you try to help this man the more he will resist & the more he will test you to see how much you will give up for him (the spanking thing or getting drunk with him). Never do anything you are not comfortable with. He enjoys his drinking buddy because they accept him with no expectations. Maybe he has no friends because people don’t like him…he isn’t pleasant to be around….you don’t like him much yourself. Erectile dysfunction is very frustrating….I know from experience. You cannot build a relationship from pity or on the hope things will get better. They won’t! You will become more & more frustrated, confused & unhappy. Life is too short…you have already lived a challenging life in your last relationship & no one knows how long we have. You need to believe in yourself & love yourself. You know the “praying hands prayer”…”accept the things you cannot change & acquire the wisdom to know the difference.” You are the ONLY one who can provide the life you truly deserve. Be strong & confident! All the Best.

  14. Nini said:

    In a long distance relationship for 4yrs. Divorced with 2 teenagers. I was fine with meeting up once a month all along. But now I need more from him. He is most times emotionally unavailable. He only initiates when he wants his physical needs met. Not communicating much except by text n what’s app. Busy schedule on his side. I try to understand, but he seems to have the narssisictic character. He makes a lot of promises but fails to deliver.
    Not fulfilled at all. Shld I move on? He’s 52 n I’m 44. He’s been separated for the past 10yrs, though a lawyer by proffession he has not finalised things with his ex. Is he stringing me along?

    • James Bauer said:

      Nini, I would advise against putting more energy into a man of this description unless there are some very strong positive factors you failed to mention.

      James

  15. Nini said:

    Thank u so much James. I have learnt so much about relationships from following your blog. I was married 4 20yrs. Only ever involved with the man I married until we got divorced. Then in this four year rltnshp that is getting stagnant. I forgot to mention on my 1st comment that he dissappears or hirbenates for days with the excuse of being too busy, too busy to even send a hello msg? Could he be hiding some personality trait? I have told him many times that I don’t like that @ all. No improvement in four years. I have learnt to also shut him out during his periods of non communication. Considering that that we are in a long distance rltnshp ,him dissappearing online is not good. And he switches the phn off when we are physically together. It makes me wonder, that when I cannot reach him on cell phn could he be with another woman?
    Online constitudes main contact and how we bond as a couple. During this shut downs I feel so alone and abandoned. He will apologise but has no remorse about his conduct of dissapearance.

  16. I just left a 10 month relationship that seemed perfect because he seemed everything I could want (smart and talented in all the ways that matter to me- many arts and crafts) and we enjoyed the same books and shows. He was joining my major activity and I was learning his square dance, and the sex was marvelous. He was, however, 6 years younger than I (both in our 70s). The morning after a great birthday celebration he confessed that he’s seeing someone else, so I’m back online (looking). In the meantime, I put my house on the market and I want to live near whoever it will be, so now I’m in no hurry to sell. At my age, I plan to find someone for the rest of my life even against the odds. Always the eternal optimist as a Libra, I can fool myself even when others don’t try to. I have the advantage of being small and slender (5′ and 110) but my hair has always been thin and fine (Irish heritage) and I’ve started using some Menoxidil for that.

  17. Karen said:

    What is the underlying personality trait that predisposes someone to be very low on the conscientiousness trait described in this article? The guy who might be my Mr. Right leaves his socks around, newspapers where they were read, toothpaste in the sink without washing down, food crumbs where they fell, etc. I would like to see the positives that come with whatever personality trait it is so I can focus on these positives, but can’t figure out what it might be. Please help!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Karen. Conscientiousness actually is one of the “big five” personality traits that seem to show up in all the meta-analysis research methods designed to figure out how people differ from each other in personality. In other words, conscientiousness is it. There’s no root behind it. The opposite of the high conscientiousness trait is, unfortunately, being low on the conscientiousness trait.

      If you’re looking for the positive, you probably won’t find it in his tendency to be oblivious about the messes he makes and the lack of order in his wake. But you may find all kinds of other brilliant and beautiful things in his personality and way of treating people. Wishing you the best!

      James

      • Celeste said:

        James and Karen,
        I can think of positives for someone who leaves their socks around, crumbs on the counter, and toothpaste in the sink (aka, someone low on the ‘conscientiousness’ spectrum): this person probably is more concerned about other things of life rather than putting everything back where it should be. For example: perhaps they are more aware of cherishing people than putting everything away, or driven to work on a project or an idea in the works. These can be wonderful fip sides to this spectrum. These people can teach you to value ideals more than details, and encourage you to think of the bigger picture. And as an added bonus: if you ever let YOUR bed go unmade, or didn’t have time to clear your dishes, he probably won’t mind a bit! 🙂 (and of course, if he DOES notice, it gives you a great chance to have a discussion about how he can show his love to you)

        Just some thoughts! Hope this helps a bi at least!
        With best wishes to you, beautiful sister,
        Celeste

        Ps- I am a great believer in choosing battles when it comes to living with someone: I am not perfectly tidy, but there are some things I HATE: I lived once with a roommate who left toothpaste spit in the sink. I found it puzzling at first, then, with some effort, charming. But soon I realized I wouldn’t be charmed for much longer, so I talked to her, admitting it was a silly detail, but that it would eventually be a point of frustration for me if she continued, so asking her to stop. She appreciated my caring, my efforts to accept her, and my honesty- and realizing it would make our living situation better, she stopped, before I was frustrated! This strategy is a model to me now for living with another.

        • James Bauer said:

          Excellent! Thank you for your insightful comment!

          • Karen said:

            Celeste – Thank you!!! You have reassured me, and given me good advice on how to approach the topic if/when I decide to.

        • Karen said:

          Thank you Celeste! You have reassured me and given me good advice on how to approach the topic if/when I decide I need to.

      • Karen said:

        Thank you James…it IS all the other brilliant and beautiful things in his personality and kindness to others that makes me think he might be Mr. Right! He is actually very conscientious towards others and me, except the mess he leaves in his wake for me to clean up. I haven’t said anything about it and and still in a phase that I am amused by it. But I am wondering if I can tolerate it in the long run. Only time will tell.

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