Why Is My Boyfriend a Jerk When He Is Around His Friends?

He may pick fights or act cold when he's around other people.
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When he's around you he's romantic, sweet, attentive and the best boyfriend a girl could wish for. Add his friends to the mix and suddenly he goes from a joy to a jerk. If your guy switches between nice and naughty when his friends enter the picture, understanding why he makes this change can help you to better deal with the situation and keep your relationship on a positive path.

1 Identify His Identity

Before you ever met your boyfriend you both had your own separate identities. You both had your own likes, dislikes, wants and needs when you entered into your relationship. Even though he might not throw away who he is the moment he meets you, he might make some changes to better suit your needs. While taking this to the extreme and losing his own identity completely is far from ideal, he may show one part of his personality around you and another around his friends. His jerky-seeming behavior may be another side of him that you aren't used to seeing. For example, he's calm and caring when the two of you talk, but when he's around his friends he shows a louder and more brash side that comes off as far from sweet.

2 Peer Pressure

If your guy is part of an all-male clique, it's possible that his jerky behaviors are coming from a place of fear or anxiety. Being part of a clique means following the group's code of conduct, according to the article "Coping With Cliques" on the TeensHealth website. Fitting in with his clique may require your boyfriend to act not-so-nice when he's around them, showing his "friends" that he's cool and aloof. For example, he showers you with attention when the two of you are alone, but makes fun of you when you try to hold his hand around his friends. In this situation, he may just be embarrassed or his clique may disapprove of his dating you or think that you don't fit the mold of what a girlfriend should be. This doesn't mean that you aren't worthy, just that he's choosing to follow ridiculous rules that his friends have made up.

3 Point of View

Consider the possibility that he's not being a jerk at all. While there are certainly times when he is truly acting like a jerk, your perception of his behavior may color the situation. For example, if he's acting more aggressively or loud with his friends than you're used to seeing, you may view his actions as jerk-like. Just because he's boisterously boasting or rough housing and wrestling with his buds doesn't necessarily mean that he's a jerk. This "boys will be boys" behavior may be just that. If this is the case, don't take it personally. Keep in mind that you also act differently around your gal pals too. After all, you wouldn't gab on and on with your guy about Ryan Gosling's amazing abs.

4 Transform Him

Instead of assuming that he's just a jerk because his friends are making him so, look at his behaviors as a whole. Is he a jerk that you're trying to transform into a nice, caring guy? While he might put on a sweet front to initially attract you, his actions around his friends might be the real him. Even though you see his jerky side, you may still think that your love and attention will change him or make him more like the prince who you first met, according to behavioral analyst John R. Schafer in his article "He's a Frog, Stupid!" on the Psychology Today website. If you're noticing his bad behaviors more and more when he's with his friends, don't fool yourself into thinking you can magically transform him. This may never happen, meaning that you're better off on your own or with someone else.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.