No one wants to be the bad guy. During an argument or quarrel, neither side ever wants to admit that they're the wrong ones, even if they are. Eventually, both sides end up resorting to making a bunch of excuses to defend themselves, and typically, that just worsens everything. The only way to rectify the situation is for one side to realize they were actually the wrong ones all along. It takes a lot to admit to one's own faults, however, the act of recognizing where one may have been wrong is something to be respected. Perhaps the stories shared by people below will make you better appreciate the notion that taking the high road is always the best way to go:
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#1 Merciless Gardener
As I was standing on my front lawn, spraying remover on dandelions, a little neighbor girl asked if I was watering my flowers. I replied, "No, I'm ending them." An expression of sadness washed over both of our faces. We shared a moment of silence. "That's mean," she said before pedaling off.
#2 Unintentional Thief
When I was a kid at summer camp, I used to always find digital watches lying around. I collected like three of them one summer and started showing them off to other kids. One was like, "Hey, that's my watch, I took it off when I went swimming." I thought about it and realized, wow, I do "find" a lot of these watches near the pool. It turned out I had just been stealing other kids' digital watches that they were taking off and leaving by the poolside before swimming. I gave him back his watch.
#3 A McDonald's Pair
One of the first jobs I took seriously was, in fact, McDonald's. You can hate it all you want, but it's incredible how detailed the instructions are. From a processing and logistics point of view, they can make you a fresh hamburger in under a minute. That's amazing if you've ever worked in a kitchen.
I was usually working as an "Initiator," which is like the leader of the kitchen. You decide what gets made first by toasting the buns and sending them down the line with the proper wrapper and condiments with a printed tag on it if it's special. Generally speaking, you also call out to the co-workers anything special, and if there are large orders of nuggets or something coming in. A hyper 20-year old can really put the strain on some elderly line workers. I kept them working hard during rush hours.
One particular dinner rush, I really gave our only cook Terry a hard time. He was in a motorcycle accident when he was younger. I wouldn't call him handicapped or mentally challenged, he was just a really slow mover and thinker. He kept coming up short on things like nuggets, chicken patties, burgers, etc. It was really slowing us down. At one point he's holding a dirty tray, walking across the kitchen and I yelled at him to get more burgers cooking.
He just stopped, gave me an evil stare, threw the dirty tray on the ground, and yelled, "Not everyone is perfect as you are! Some people have to try harder to do normal things!" My heart sank and I started feeling really bad. I still remember that almost 15 years later. If you've ever worked in a busy kitchen you know how those moments create strong bonds between co-workers. I ended up being good friends with the guy and helped him out a bit more when I could.
#4 In The Wrong
I was at an intersection and the lane shifted once you crossed it. I honked at a guy because he got into my lane. I asked him:
"Are you trying to have an accident?"
He told me: "Your lane shifts, you idiot!"
99% of the time, I am a good driver and the other person is an absolute moron. A few days later, I realized the guy was right and I was wrong. I wish I could travel back in time and say, "My mistake, you were right."
#5 Identifying With Scott
It's kind of a dumb story, but I think its really funny. I was watching Scott Pilgrim in class towards the end of my senior year of high school. My thought process went along the lines of:
"I'm a white nerdy guy, I identify with Scott."
"Wait maybe this goes deeper than that."
"Wait, I am Scott."
"Dang, I'm Scott."
"I need to work on this."
When I was 18, many many years ago, I worked a job where I was the jerk without realizing it. One day, a coworker was having a rough time with something and apparently I was being my usual self. He pretty much told me off by letting me know how people talk about me behind my back because of how much of a jerk I am. It caught me off guard, but it also got me to evaluate myself. Yup, I was a jerk.
Turns out, what I thought was playful banter was just me being rude and dismissive. I cursed constantly and as much at others as anything else. Again, this was all under the impression that it was all in good fun. I also learned that my sarcasm does not come across as such. It was an eye-opener for sure and it helped me change in many ways.
That coworker did later apologize for snapping at me but I wasn't at all upset about it, I also apologized to him.
#7 A Win-Win Situation?
When I texted a girl to hang out (platonically) and her response was, "What would we do? You've only ever wanted me for one thing." It was one of the only regrets I've had regarding how I've treated another person. I've given her a formal apology and explained how I saw things. Now, we're on not enemy terms—she's a mother and married to the best friend that consoled my jerk behavior! Win-win?
#8 The Realization
Once, when I was in a relationship (before having spent time at a mental hospital to get me right again), I thought my girlfriend was bad and manipulative. After thinking about it for a while, I realized I manipulated her so much that I started to believe she was manipulating me... It was bad...
#9 Jim Or Roy
When she was happier without me. And a lot happier with him than she was with me. Guys, you either end your life as a Jim or live long enough to become a Roy. The twist is you can become that awesome version of Roy in Season 9 where he got his life together and was happy too.
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#10 A Piece Of Work
I was on a highway off-ramp taking an exit. A van to my left cut in front of me then stopped. "What the heck is this jerk doing," I thought. I slammed on the horn, swerved around them, gave them the finger, and sped off... My wife then told me he was pulling over for the ambulance that I just cut off... whoops. I felt like a real piece of work.
#11 Brotherly Competition
As a kid, my parents would always take my brother’s side on everything. Not in a bad abusive way, but like, say he forgot to run an errand... They'd just be like, “Oh, he didn’t mean to forget.” Meanwhile, if I forgot to do a chore, it would be: “Why are you being so lazy?”
When I was away at college, I realized, and I don’t mean this in a vindictive way or anything, that my brother really has the most absolute pure intentions of anyone on the planet. I have good intentions like 90% of the time. I’m not perfect, but my brother seriously just wants everyone to be happy and help everyone. So I realized that for most of our childhood I was the “bad guy.”
Seriously though, like, I do keto when I’m cutting and he wants to drop a few pounds, (he’s not doing keto) so he meal prepped himself some food, wrote the carb content on all of it, put it in the fridge and said I could eat whatever. He literally meal-prepped for me without me asking just because he can.
#12 Anxiety-Fueled Anger
My husband and I weren't getting along. He was always doing something that angered me and I didn't keep it inside. He, in turn, was getting fed up with me and eventually, it started pushing us apart. About two, months ago I went to the doctor and, after a conversation we had, she told me I had anxiety. Apparently, it was causing me to be irritable and on edge.
I immediately felt like a huge jerk and started reflecting back on everything. She wrote me a prescription and I've been feeling so much better. I really didn't realize how hard I was being on him about the silliest stuff. He's such a great guy and does so much for our family. I was truly the bad guy.
#13 A Totally Wrong Assumption
This was before everyone had a cellphone, back in the '90s. It was the weekend after high school graduation and my friend was driving around the neighborhood. We passed by our friend's house and we noticed an abnormal amount of cars out front. We immediately thought that he had a graduation party and didn't invite us. Internally, we were super angry. We knocked and his mom let us in.
She gave no mention of anything—the house wasn't decorated, so we assumed maybe they didn't care to go that length. We found my friend in his room and asked, "What's with all the people? Are you having a party without us?" Then, he told us his dad had passed away the night before of a heart attack. It was before Father's Day.
#14 The Lost Wallet Analogy
The karma of "Oh look, someone dropped their wallet, I will be a good person and get it back to them," versus, "Oh look, a wallet full of money, this must be my reward for being such a good person." The second one makes you a bad guy.
#15 Blaming The World
Looking back at high school, I get why I wasn't popular. It wasn't because of all the athletic Chads and Staceys, it was because I talked about the most immature things from and had no social skills. I blamed the world, but really it was my own doing.
#16 Reciprocity Is Key
When he told me my negative attitude was having a serious effect on our relationship and I realized I was on the verge of losing him over silly arguments I didn’t even know why I was starting. You don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s almost gone. Ladies, treat your men the way you want to be treated.
#17 Entitled Brat
I realized that I had really fantastic parents, but I was an ungrateful kid. They really tried their best and are probably in the top five percentile for people in their situation, yet I was a spoiled, entitled piece of work. It was a relatively recent discovery. I'm working on it.
#18 Driven By Paranoia
My current boyfriend and I are on break, and it's entirely my fault. I've been abused in the past, so a lot of paranoia surfaced, and I was accusing him of all sorts of things while being overly possessive. I actually became abusive myself, out of fear of him abusing me, and one time when he was tipsy, he finally broke down and said a lot of things he'd been sitting on.
It broke my heart. I literally had nothing to defend myself with. It was entirely true, every word of it, and it was soul-wrenching that I'd hurt him this much. So we're on break whist I get therapy. If I'm being honest with myself, I don't think he's going to take me back, or if I deserve him back, but I owe it to him to improve myself so at least this won't happen again with someone else. I love you Mike, and I'm so sorry.
#19 Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
My ex was horribly abusive. We broke up and he threw me on the street. I was so angry at him for everything he did that I harassed him endlessly for months to the point where he told me he wanted to end himself. At that point, I realized how messed up I was being. He was a sick man and I was being a bad person by ruining his peace every day for revenge. I still regret it. Two wrongs don't make a right.
#20 A Narcissist's Inner Struggle
It was a slow process. I am arguably more narcissistic than the average person, though I do not qualify for the actual disorder. I remember one day sitting in therapy and realizing that I had been emotionally manipulating my boss who had gone out of his way to be exceptionally kind and available to me. In return, I barely worked, so much to the point where he had to start picking up my slack. I talked badly about him to all of my coworkers, though most of them already disliked him. Often, I would engage him on topics that were meaningful to him just because I could sit for two hours in his office, and get paid not to work. What he perceived to be a meaningful connection was mostly entertainment for me.
I started crying, like bawling. I couldn't believe it. On a grander scale, I started to understand how I was doing that to pretty much everyone. It's strange because I always perceived others as manipulating and using me, which justified my behavior. I never understood (and honestly, still struggle to understand) that other people care about me or are affected by my actions. I thought everyone was playing the same game I was. Turns out, that wasn't ENTIRELY the case.
#21 A Better Man
My last major girlfriend was my soul mate. We lived together and worked a few jobs together. I was too scared to drive, so I didn't have my driver's license and relied on her 100%. I never wanted to do anything she wanted to do. I was possessive and jealous. I flew off the handle when we broke up. I realized after all was said and done why she wanted out so bad, and that I turned into exactly the kind of guy I hate. I'm still not perfect. But nowadays, I'm far better than that pathetic jerk I used to be.
#22 "Special" Cookies
This happened a few weeks ago. I was at a concert with my friends. I had eaten a "special" cookie an hour or so before and it was hitting me in waves. The crowd hadn't gotten thick yet—we were near the front, but there was plenty of room and people were still filling in. A girl and her boyfriend, a really nice looking couple, came up to us and asked if they could stand by us. Of course, this was the moment I got a wave of paranoia.
I got instantly rude and territorial. I made a big deal about how it was OUR spot. She looked upset and my friends were looking at me sideways. I reflected right then and there, realized I was the jerk in that situation, and immediately apologized to the girl and her boyfriend, explaining what had happened. She was super chill and we all danced together for the rest of the concert. I learned not to eat "special" cookies before shows.
#23 You're A Jerk, That's Why
I spent years trying to figure out why I couldn't get a date with anyone. One day, I realized that the people I'd learned the rules of social behavior from, specifically romance, were idiots who got away with a lot because they were attractive and charismatic. As I am neither attractive nor charismatic, people did not find my jerk behavior charming. They just found it... jerk-ish. And rightly so.
#24 Volleyball Drama
When I was in college playing volleyball, I kept shouting what I thought were encouraging things to everyone. On the last point, I was sending a set to the spiker and instead of spiking the ball over the net, he spiked it right at me! I gave him a "What the hell" look and he shouted, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST SHUT UP!" Everyone was looking on in agreement. I did the walk of shame back to the locker room alone.
#25 Blame It On The Ref
I was perceived as the bad guy by some crazy fans of a local volleyball team. Way back in high school, I was once asked to be a second assistant referee to a volleyball game. It was a super easy job: all I had to do was to keep score, keep track of substitutions, cards, and other stuff like that. A joke really. A trained monkey could do it.
In my first game, the home team performed horrendously, and for whatever reason, the home fans decided to blame me for it. I have no idea why. They started yelling, cursing, throwing empty water bottles at the fence (in my direction), and even threatening to beat me up after the game. It got out of hand. Eventually, the main referee couldn't take it anymore and asked me to step out of the field.
The moment I stepped out of the field, the crowds started to calm down. Everything quieted down and the game proceeded normally. I was shocked. The home team still did badly and lost the game. I never found out what the problem was. Maybe they thought I was intentionally messing up the score, although that doesn't make much sense. The home team was truly awful and had no chance of winning. To blame it on the guy who keeps the score seems absurd. Oh well...
#26 Tapping The Brakes
One day I was driving, listening to the music, and bopping along to the beat. No big deal, just enjoying my drive. The road was just a two-lane highway for most of the way, but it finally opened up at some point. As the car that had been behind me for so long started to pass me, he gave me the finger and honked.
I gave him the finger right back but honestly, I was confused as to why he was angry at me in the first place. I just went back to bopping to the beat and it hit me suddenly. For at least 10 minutes, I was tapping my brakes to the beat of the music and the guy behind me kept slamming his brakes, thinking I was coming to a stop. I deserved that finger.
#27 Don't Be A "Nice Guy"
I was a repeat offender "nice guy." Always trying to be there for women, trying to talk to them, thinking I was better than any other guy because I was chivalrous, etc. Basically, I wanted to be the savior of women's stories when they didn't need saving. Eventually, I lost them, either because they found out I was really creepy, or just because I left high school. Then, I just looked back on the things I said (I saved my texts) and realized how much of a loser I was. I'm still trying to better myself to this day.
#28 Mental Illness Is Real
Anxiety has a way of putting a shade over your entire perception of everything. Every person you talk to seems like they're attacking your character, and every situation is life or death. It sneaks up on you without you realizing anything has changed. Then suddenly, you start medication and poof. Overnight, you're back to your old self and you just want to apologize to everyone you've ever talked to in the past ten years.
#29 Bad Habits
When my boyfriend and I argue, I have this tendency to "shut down, shut up, avoid, cold shoulder." I didn't realize how harmful it was until I saw this Kristen Bell interview where she talked about doing the same tactic with her now-husband-then-boyfriend, and how her husband had called her out on it.
Stepping away to cool off is one thing, but if the intention to shut down completely is to avoid having a mature, honest discussion, it can make your partner feel guilty for speaking up in the first place. I always touted myself as being the more experienced half, but I realized then that I have some habits to break.
#30 Advice From Jordan Peterson
I had a realization after listening to a Jordan Peterson lecture about "winning" arguments with your intimate partner. He said it's important to first understand what winning an argument entails. Then he said, sure, it's easy to win because maybe you're more verbally fluent and more treacherous so you can win, but winning when you're wrong is a bad idea because you might think that you're right. I started crying and realized that I was a bad guy to the person I loved the most.
#31 Honest Mistake?
I work in a government office and I help with income-based programs. One guy called in asking for a form for a program that is particularly difficult to apply for but works well for those in a financial sinking ship. He was newly married with young kids on his account, so he pleaded for me to mail him this form, legitimately on the verge of tears. I promised I would personally stuff the envelope and mail it out.
As it turns out, that day I left my work pass at home and was unable to print out his form and template letter. The template letter has his name, address, etc... so after the phone call, I no longer had his personal information and didn't know who or where to send that form. I still feel terrible and that was a couple of years ago. Hopefully, that young family is doing better now...
#32 Karma Is Served
I once slapped a little kid for throwing snowballs at me and my friends. He was crying afterward. To be fair, I was 13 at the time, we told him to stop, and we tried walking away. The snowballs hurt because they had ice in it. He also stole from a bag I had with me, so he was a little brat. I wouldn't do it today though.
#33 Regrets, Regrets, Regrets
When I read through old messages and realized I was a “nice guy” a year ago. Thank God I’ve matured since then. It’s embarrassing to know how I used to be... I caught up with a few people I did the "nice guy" tricks on and it’s good to know I’m actually friends with them now. It’s awesome that things turned around like that, but if I wasn’t such a weirdo, I would have been friends with them years ago.
#34 Standing Up To A Bully
There was this obnoxious kid in my neighborhood who was a nightmare. Let’s call him Tyler because that’s his name. He was a bully to my younger friends. An entitled garbage monkey who was always causing trouble. Needless to say, no one liked him. I had a friend four years younger. I was between the ages of 10 and 13. It was a snow day and Tyler was doing what the kid in your story was doing but bullying my younger friend (Jordan). Tyler was in between our age, maybe two years younger than me.
So I told him to stop throwing snowballs at my friend, he was making very heavy ones by packing them and throwing them super hard at Jordan. He took this as an invitation to throw snowballs at me. It hit me in the face. Me being older and larger, in a pre-teen rage, grabbed him by the back of the neck and grabbed a very large compacted concoction of snow and ice, and slammed it into his face.
If this weren’t a bullying situation, this would have been a bad guy story for me. He ran crying home with a bloody nose, his parents came out and yelled at me and called my parents. I didn’t really care, I knew what I did wasn’t necessarily right, but that kid had it coming.
I used to be one of those people with a subscription to Greenlawn, obsessed with a perfect neighbor-shaming lush square of useless sod. 100% consumption, 0% production, drain on the planet. I didn't compost because it was gross and smelly (I didn't know how to do it properly), would never consider gardening and growing food because that's something grandmas do, etc.
I've basically changed in every way imaginable from that cretin I was 10 years ago, to the complete other extreme, where I now stop by and collect coffee grinds, juice rinds, leaf bags, grow as much of my food as possible (yields slowly increasing, I'd like to be near 100% someday), etc.
#36 What A Horrible Brother
When I was kicking my little brother on the ground, and I was screaming at him that “I did not want to do it, but he was making me.” After I sat down and thought for a minute, I realized that I was an abusive jerk. I realized that it was not a one-time thing. This was about six years ago. We have gotten a lot closer since then, but I still feel awful about it. The way I treated him will always be one of my biggest regrets.
#37 The Compliance Department
When work assigned me to the compliance department. There’s no such thing as a good guy in here. Seriously, it sometimes makes me self-conscious to tell people I've been assigned there.
#38 A Regrettable Overreaction
I was super tipsy and something my friend did really ticked me off, so I stood up and tried to storm out of the party. A group of people held me back and I got really mad trying to push through them. I looked around and everyone was looking at me with this mixture of disgust and horror. I realized I was just being a huge, sensitive, overreacting jerk.
#39 The First Step
My husband lied to me about something in the first months of our relationship that was also serious and involved his best friend. He told me about it 10 years later and it took us years to recover. It has made our relationship and marriage the best its ever been. Thanks for being honest with your girl. You took a first step in being a good guy and that's incredibly important.
#40 A Foolish Moment
I was volunteering at a hostel once and my coworker told me everyone in Room 3 was supposed to check out that day... Check out was at 10, so when I went into the room and there was a guy still in bed, I naturally kicked him out. I tried to be all funny like, “You don’t have to leave, but you can’t stay here.” He gave me a confused look and left the room. I changed all the sheets and cleaned the room. Later in the day, I was walking past the room and he was laying on the bed again...
I said, “Come on man, I just cleaned that bed and you’re sleeping in it again?” He responded, “Well... I’m barely sleeping.” I rolled my eyes and said, “But someone else’s head had to go on that pillow.” As I walked away in irritation. I hear him respond, “I guess that’s true...” Now, at 10 p.m., my co-worker and I were confused as to why he hadn’t left, so she checked the books again, and we realized he booked that room until the next day... It turned out I was the jerk the whole time and made a complete fool of myself.
#41 Insensitive Laughter
I was on a date during winter a long time ago (1999). An elderly couple was walking across an icy street. The wife slipped on some ice and fell hard. The husband was struggling to help her get to her feet. I thought this was the funniest thing I'd ever seen and started laughing. Looking over at my girlfriend, she gave me such a disgusted look.
I immediately understood why too. The sadistic cruelty that I must have in watching people, 100 feet away, struggling and getting hurt. And I brazenly showed this by laughing out loud, expecting others to join me. I'm still ashamed of it to this day. She wisely dumped me shortly afterward.
#42 Poor Impulse Control
I have trouble controlling impulses and detach very easily. I also have a vicious tongue and a manipulative streak. When I'm boxed into a corner I lash out. You can imagine. Yeah, regret always comes after.
#43 The Biggest Wake-Up Call
Last year, I got caught up with the wrong crowd. We would skip school to party and it ended up becoming the same deal every night—stay up late, sleep in the next day. It came to a point where I didn't even know how to distinguish a new day from a past one. My body really took a toll and so did my grades. I even dropped out to keep this lifestyle going. Thankfully, once I met my girlfriend, I clued into what I had been doing. I was throwing my life away and she made me see that. I now have better friends who motivate me to continue working towards improving my life. I even enrolled in school again and am on track to get my undergraduate degree.
#44 The Hurt In Their Eyes
When you see the hurt in their eyes and also when they started to talk about your mistakes or your behavior. But seriously, it's the way they act after you did something.
#45 Dennis Reynolds?
When I realized how similar I am to Dennis Reynolds. My temperament regarding people is very similar to him. I'm not going to hurt anyone though, I have to be clear about that.