Not like that, you pervert. Get your mind out of the gutter. “Asshole” is the catch-all phrase we use to describe someone with less than desirable traits. It’s a label it get a lot, since I have the personality equivalent of “resting bitch face” (which is ALSO a thing I have. I hear “smile” an awful lot). But to your average person, I am standoffish, sarcastic and often cold. This buys me the asshole label, usually sarcastically, but hey, it’s a catch-all, right? More accurately, though, I am just not a huge “people person”, and buy and large, most people are OK with that when you’re polite and funny.
I try not to be an asshole.
But sometimes that term gets tossed around as an excuse. Not as a label for someone like me, who forgets to reply to your email for two weeks (sorry), but for truly unacceptable and reprehensible behavior. When someone is a serial abuser, but they haven’t abused you. “Man, he sure is an asshole.” No, an asshole cuts you off in traffic. An asshole takes too long to reply to your text or email (seriously, I’m sorry). Asshole behavior is the behavior that there is probably a reason for. They really needed to get over to make that exit. They were really busy and their dog died so they took a while to reply. Asshole behavior is not abuse, gaslighting or anything of that sort.
Because those people, abusers, they are nice people. They are people that everyone likes. Because that protects them. “There’s no way that could be true! They’re so nice!” That’s what those people do. They are very careful to not be assholes. Because when their abuse comes to light, there is a collection of people saying “They were always really nice to me. If that’s true, why aren’t you spelling out their abuse in graphic detail?” It may not be the same person saying those things. It might be a few people just whispering them, or pretending to under the guise of “I’m just sayin'”.
Or just lumping them in the basket of “well, they’re an asshole. That’s not a reason not to be friends with them.” Except, no. Assholes are those people who you wonder about at first, and then you get to know them and they are deep, warm people. Or maybe, they’re just not for you and your personalities don’t line up, so you keep calling them an asshole. But don’t use it as an excuse. It’s not like being friends with an asshole driver: yeah, sometimes they cut people off and drive too fast. It’s like being friends with a drunk driver: they put people in danger, and need professional help, and you should not get in a car with them until they can prove that behavior has changed.