Douchebags Vs. Stage Five Clingers

Douchebags vs. Stage Five Clingers

“I’ve gotta get outta here pronto, I’ve got a stage five clinger.” – Jeremy Vaughan

As a lady, dating in the postgrad scene can seem like a never-ending battle in Mortal Kombat. I’m experiencing way too many fatalities and not enough flawless victories. I think most of us can relate to that on some level. But lately, I keep stumbling across the same reoccurring themes. The majority of guys that I meet usually fall into one of two categories: Douchebags, or Stage Five Clingers.

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of douchebag is as follows:

“Someone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and asshole, however not yet reached fucker or motherfucker.”

In my opinion, that’s a little bit harsh. I more identify a douchebag as a dude who has an inflated sense of self-worth, is a little too self-involved, might be a bit of a misogynist, probably uses too much gel in their hair…you get the picture.

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of a state five clinger is as follows:

“A member of the opposite sex that is likely to become overly attached, overly fast.”

That one nails it on the head. Absolutely. It sounds innocent when described as such, but trust me, it is quite the opposite.

Neither the douchebag nor the stage five clingers are folks that you want to get involved with; neither is going to be a jolly experience. I’m just trying to get some answers on which really is worse, here. Dealing with either is really just choosing between the lesser of two evils, but I’m here to talk out our options.

Now, let me preface this column with the obvious fact that no, not every single guy I’ve casually dated has been either a douchebag or a stage-fiver. I’m just saying that most of them have been one or the other. And this is really starting to wear on me.

It seems that I’m having a really hard time meeting guys who fall somewhere in the middle, in the happy medium, right in that sweet spot. Someone who isn’t a complete asshole (read: douchebag), but also isn’t on the other end of the scale, someone who needs to call or FaceTime me at random times, multiple times a day to discuss what they’re going to make for lunch or when we should go grocery shopping together (read: stage five clinger). *shivers* In short, someone who challenges me intellectually, is sarcastic in a funny way (not a dickhead way), but is also kind and lets me know he likes me without suffocating me to death with his love.

I’m gonna try and weigh our options here, and come to a consensus by the end of this column.

First off, let’s talk about the douchebag. This is the guy who is attractive and knows it. But, he doesn’t just know it- he talks about it. He probably talks in depth about his haircuts, his gym habits, on-and-off relationship with protein shakes and his #gainz, etc. He probably tells mean-spirited jokes or stories about his past hookups and ex-girlfriends in an attempt to try and impress you, his date. Little does he know, that any chance he had with hooking up with you is slowly drying up like the Sahara Desert…literally. I will never understand that particular strategy that douchebags love to use. Talking shit about other women in your life is not funny to me, and I know that should this date go any further south that it already has, the next poor gal who agrees to meet up with you for drinks is gonna have to hear about how much of a loser I was, too. Probably for turning you down. Or not laughing at your mean jokes. Or not complimenting your snapback, I really don’t know. The douchebags are hard to place a finger on.

On the other hand, we have our stage five clingers. These guys can definitely still be as attractive or more attractive than our douchebags; the difference is that they certainly don’t know it. This can sometimes be even worse than the self-absorbed d-bag, because sometimes this shows itself in the form of self-deprecating humor or self-loathing. As an outspoken and independent lady, this lack of (normal, non-douchey) confidence is a turn-off. If you hate yourself and don’t know why I’m going out with you…I don’t know buddy, you’re not really giving me any reason to stick around and decide why I should be going out with you either. The stage fiver is the type that hates on themselves, yet compliments you too much. And no guys, I know y’all are gonna be up in arms about this, there is nothing wrong with complimenting a girl you’re going out with. But there is an art to complimenting a girl, and I think the stage fivers out there are missing the mark. More on that in a moment.

Back to our douchebags. Another identifying characteristic that separates a douchebag from the rest of the pack is the fact that they’re mean. Assholes. Jerks. Pricks. Whatever you want to call them. These are the guys who will pretend that they don’t give a shit about you, won’t give you the time of day, and is probably banging 3+ other broads at the same time he’s spitting mad game trying to get with you. Now, try and hook as many fish as you can by all means, pal, if you aren’t exclusive, I’m not hating on that. To each their own. I’m talking about the guy who calls names, blatantly checks out and talks about how hot other chicks are in front of you, makes you feel bad about yourself. These are red alerts; douchebag alerts.

Me, being the crazy psychopath that I am, have a bad track record of dating these d-bag types. I tend to go for the ones who are pretty up there on the jerk scale…somehow that taps into my competitive side. Like I’m constantly having to compete for attention or to earn a spot as their #1, all the while dealing with sarcastic asshole comments which make me act like a little bitch right back. That is so extremely unhealthy and toxic. I know this. I recognize this. I am trying to escape this. But where the douchebag provides the “challenge” that keeps things interesting (for lack of a better word), the stage five clinger makes things too easy, and that’s where things also go wrong.

Stage five clingers are not going to be the guys that leave you hanging on their every last word searching for some kind of indication that they like you. In fact, they’re gonna say really weird things that indicate how much they do like you. Right after your first date. This is where the art of complimenting goes straight to train wreck status. I’ve already identified myself as having been through the vicious cycle of dating douchebags multiple times, and that’s because the clingy ones scare me even more. Unfortunately, I have this emotional/mental instability that makes it to where if a guy likes me too much, too quickly, I will turn and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. I’m talking a full-on Usain Bolt sprint. If a guy gets attached shortly after meeting me or hanging out with me, there is a huge possibility I am straight ghosting out of that. And here’s the thing: I hate that. I hate the ghosting trend. I think it’s a low blow when you could just tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore. The issue here is that stage five clingers don’t pick up on social cues like the rest of us.

You can short text, barely respond, screen calls, you name it, to a stage fiver: and these guys ain’t giving up The Chase. They soldier on, backs against the wind, trying to live to fight another day. No, guys. Please stop this. You’re putting me in a really weird situation. Stop trying to treat me like your girlfriend, or your mom, after our first date. Stop Snapchatting me 1,000 times a day in an effort to turn me into your best friend on the app. Don’t FaceTime me 6 times a day for no reason. Don’t ask me to meet your parents after two dates. Don’t meet up with me for a drink as our initial meeting and proceed to tell me that you’ve told all of your friends about me. Wow. Even as I type this, my fear grows. This is why I have always gone for the douchebags, it’s because I’m so afraid of the stage five clingers.

Douchebags are not guys that you want to date. They’re selfish, usually rude or mean, and just not boyfriend/future-hubs material. Stage fivers are also not guys that you want to date. They’re obsessive, intrusive, and base most of their existence around you. That’s not prime boyf material either. Either way, you’re striking out. But we’ve got to figure out who is worse here. I’ve laid out the groundwork for reasons why dating both prove to be difficult. But here’s my hot take:

The douchebags are worse. I know that seems surprising since I just went on about how I always date those types and how literally afraid I am of the stage fivers. But here’s the thing…douchebags can’t be changed. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve dated a guy who slept with his ex-girlfriend the actual day before asking me to become exclusive, weeks after “talking”, just to piss her off. I’ve dated a guy who was seeing someone else behind my back for months but still let me drop $1500 on his birthday weekend, in which all he did was get blackout/his tooth knocked out in a bar fight. These are not winners, ladies. These are not green jackets. These are chumps. You can’t try and love these guys into treating you better, or being less selfish. It doesn’t work that way. They’ll just keep being selfish and walking all over you.

Stage five clingers scare the hell out of me, this is true. But my choosing them as being the lesser of two evils is for this reason only: if you actually like the dude, you could always just tell them they’re being too clingy and needy. At least there’s a small chance there that this guy could change his approach and try and give you a little space. You might not be able to change the mean streak in the douchebag, but you might be able to convince the stage five clinger that he doesn’t need to email you all of those cat videos or tag you in creepy Instagram memes that allude to marriage. Good luck, postgrad ladies of the world, we’re gonna need it.

Image via Unsplash

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