Local classes teach students 'how to avoid a jerk'

Weber State University students and community members who want to up their game in the dating field have the opportunity to take a free dating class, “How to Avoid a Jerk or Jerkette.” Melanie Williamson, life educator at the Utah State University extension, taught the three-part series.

Students interested in gaining the knowledge to step into a healthy relationship can take the class at several different locations. Classes are offered in Cache, Davis, Weber, Salt Lake and Utah counties. Each year, 90-100 of these classes are taught throughout the state.

“This is just good information to get out to the community,” Williamson said. “It’s been a really good course, and we have had a lot of good feedback on it. It’s a lot easier to teach people before they get into a relationship than them trying to fix things after.”

Classes consists of about 15-20 people on average, so students don’t need to worry about large class sizes. The sessions include a lot of hands-on learning and demonstrations as well as student participation.

“People gain knowledge of how to get into a relationship and enter with a game plan,” said Pam Morrill, project manager at USU. “After this class, they will actually know what to look for.”

No WSU credit is offered with this class, but it is designed to offer tips many can use throughout their lives: choosing a partner, and creating a happy and lasting marriage.

“I think anyone that really wants to go into a relationship should take this class, just to help themselves know that it’s important to know what they want first, that they need to be healthy in themselves before they enter a relationship,” said an attendee of the class taught in September at the Davis campus, who wished to remain anonymous. “A lot of people are not healthy and don’t know what they want for themselves, and they use the other person as a crutch for what they want. A lot of girls think they need a man.”

The class caters to visual learners. Williamson showed a video at the third and last class in September, displaying an unhealthy relationship. In the clip, the man was extremely impolite and portrayed alarming behavior, showing what a jerk is like.

“I have realized what it takes to get to know somebody and the importance of trust,” said an anonymous attendee from the September class. “When going on a date or beginning a relationship with someone, I see the flags now of an unhealthy person where I hadn’t before.”

Tyson Balling, a freshman and engineering major, said dating classes can be beneficial in general, and they work the “same way a communication class would be beneficial before entering a group.”

This class not only discussed how to avoid a jerk or jerkette, but also explained to students why they keep choosing inconsiderate or rude dates in the first place.

The next series of classes will be offered Oct. 22, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 at the Davis Applied Technology College, instead of the Davis campus, at 6-8 p.m.

“The main thing we try to teach is how to follow your heart without losing your mind,” Williamson said. “We talk about the five key areas you need to get to know about somebody that’s the head part about it. These are things that are predictive that are going to tell you what this person is going to be like in a marriage.”