Has this ever happened to you?

You meet a guy. He showers you with attention, calls when he says he will, introduces you to his friends, and makes you feel special. You're not sure he's right for you, but he's nice enough, so you give him a chance.

After a while, you find yourself liking him. He's the most decent guy you've dated in a while, and he's really into you. You could do a lot worse. Besides, you've spent a lot of time with him, and it's kind of comforting to always have plans for Saturday night and a ready date to bring to a wedding.

Then--just as you get hooked on him--the sand starts to shift beneath your feet. He picks you up on Saturday night, but he says nothing in in the car.

"Hey," you say, "Are you okay?"

He mumbles something.

"Um," you say. "Are you mad at me?"

"Just leave me alone, okay?"

He drives on in silence, until you get to your destination, a party perhaps. Around his friends, he's his old self again, throwing his arm around you, getting you drinks, and so on.You decide to put the incident in the car behind you. Maybe he just had a bad day at work.

You know how to make it up to him. On the way home, you offer to make him dinner during the week. He seems touched, grateful. He kisses you passionately. You go home feeling the night has been a success.

The evening you've arranged to make dinner arrives. Because he likes sashimi, you went to the best market in town and bought sushi-grade tuna. You have a reputation for being an inventive cook, so you're happy for the challenge. You're pleased with the result.

You're just setting out the meal in a decorative manner when the phone rings.

"I'm going to be late," he says.

There's a thud in your stomach. "Oh? Will you be long?"

"I don't think so. Something came up at work. I'll be there as soon as I can. I can't wait to see what you've made for dinner."

And relief washes over you. All your work has not been in vain. He'll get there soon enough, and then you'll have a beer, and he'll be utterly impressed by your sashimi-making skills. He'll be telling his friends about this dinner for weeks.

He arrives two-and-a-half hours later. You give him a hug, which he shirks off. You offer him a beer.

"Yeah, whatever," he says.

You break the sashimi out of the refrigerator cheerfully. "What do you think?"

He arches a brow. "What is it?"

"It's, uh," you say. "Sashimi."

He makes this little scoffing sound from the back of his throat. "Sashimi? What you do that for? I thought maybe we'd have burgers or something."

And, you, utterly crestfallen, say, "Um, by any chance are you mad at me?"

The rest of the night goes painfully. He grunts through dinner. He doesn't stick around to snuggle on the couch.

"Listen," he says, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "I gotta go."

He gives you a quick kiss. "I'll call you," he says noncommitally.

Two days later, he does call, sounding like the guy you're crazy about again.

"Listen, Honey," he says. "That sashimi was outrageous. What are you doing tonight? Want to hit happy hour after work?"

And you're on the moon again. You meet him at the bar, and he's on his best behavior. His friends greet you with, "Hey, I hear you make a mean sashimi!" Your guy has his arm around you. He leans in to give you a kiss on the neck.

It ends happily and passionately. What a great night!

But the next time you see him, he's late. He's sullen. And so it goes:

He sucks you in. He spits you out.

Men like this must be avoided. Unfortunately, all too many smart, attractive, ambitious women fall prey to them. The lucky ones realize they're being taken for a bad ride and disembark quickly, but the less fortunate submit to the cycle over and over until the jerk 'rewards' them with an engagement ring.

Then they suffer the wicked fate of being stuck with him, his moods, and a mortgage for life--or until they can afford a divorce.

If you find yourself being treated this way, stop asking yourself how you can please the guy. Stop asking yourself how you've fallen short. Stop trying to make things better.

It's not you. It's him. Get out while you can.

This is your life we're talking about.

Author's Bio: 

Terry Hernon MacDonald is the happily married author of "How to Attract and Marry the Man of Your Dreams." Sign up for free dating tips at http://www.marrysmart.com . For Dating Advice (Almost) Daily, go to http://www.happygirlmusing.com.