[Editor’s note: Every Wednesday New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or — no surprise here — a party.]
I’m a 15 year old girl in my first serious relationship and I don’t really know if I’m doing it right. I try to make my boyfriend happy, but I think I just can’t do the girlfriend role right for him. Of course I love him, and he says he loves me too, but a lot of the times I feel bad about myself and uncomfortable because of things he says to me. Sometimes he’s really mean and calls me stupid and insults the way I look. He almost always apologizes later and will try and make it up to me by buying me clothes or just being really sweet. But I just have this feeling of not being good enough and it makes me feel self conscious, like I’m not pretty enough. He asked me to dress more like the models in magazines even though I don’t look anything like them and never could. I’m not a diva or high maintenance like some other girls at my school, but I sometimes just feel stupid around him. My parents got divorced two years ago and it’s been really good to have a boyfriend to help me through these times. He will pick me up and take me to movies and I can just forget about my problems for a while. But a lot of times I wonder if I’m good enough for him. I don’t want to say anything to him because I really don’t want to be a bitch or make him mad. I don’t want to lose him. I need him right now really badly, and I love him so much. How can I make this relationship work?
Dear Lovesick Girl,
You’re a wonderful, special, and beautiful person who deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, and love. No matter how much you may care about your boyfriend, and no matter how much he says he loves you, you should never be made to feel ugly, or pressured into acting or dressing a certain way or doing anything that makes you feel bad. You should be able to be yourself. There is nothing wrong with you that you need to fix in order to be good enough for him. That’s the best thing about a true love relationship — you get to be yourself exactly as you are, in fact, you get to be yourself more than ever, and you get to be loved exactly because that’s who you are.
If your boyfriend is acting this way, it doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a bad person, especially if this is his first serious relationship too. He might not really understand how to treat anyone properly, let alone a girlfriend. You both are learning as you go, and if you really do love him and want to stay with him, then you can help each other get better at being together.
For starters, you must talk to him. Even if you’re afraid he might get mad, you should tell him how you feel and that it makes you sad when he acts a certain way or says certain things. Even though it can feel very awkward and uncomfortable, a true relationship requires you to be open and able to talk about anything and everything. It especially requires you to be able to tell him when he’s hurting you. And if he really does love you, then hurting you would be the last thing he’d ever want to do.
He might just not realize how much of a jerk he’s being. He might need to be shown. Sometimes people have to be snapped out of it, woken up to their own bad behavior. He might not have any idea how he’s acting. He will probably want to change his behavior right away once he sees how much it’s hurting you. Hopefully he will change his ways. But if he doesn’t, I want you to realize that you’re strong enough to leave him. Even if it hurts. Even if he gets mad. You don’t have to stay in a relationship just for the sake of it. You can want more. Every human deserves love and unconditional companionship — not sadness and self-doubt.
If no one else has ever told you this before, I will tell it to you one more time and hope you believe it and never forget it for the rest of your life: You deserve to be treated well.
Having high standards for love and affection and kindness is not being “a diva” or “high-maintenance,” it’s being a human with enough strength and self-respect to stand up for herself and her feelings. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. And just because you’re not being hit and beaten doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. No amount of love is worth any amount of abuse. You’re happiness is worth too much to tolerate someone who only tries to bring you down. It’s not your job to stay with someone just to try and make them happy with you.
You tell your boyfriend how you feel and if he doesn’t stop, you leave. It really is that simple. You don’t need to “work through it,” or “stay friends.” It doesn’t mean it will be easy to break up, but you must be strong enough and tough enough to go through these sorts of challenges in life. You have to not only protect your emotions, you have to protect your heart and soul — your very being. Subjecting yourself to too much cruelty can kill you inside, and you were born to live and be loved.
You don’t need a boyfriend to be happy. The most important companion in your life is already inside of you. And you will never be alone when you believe in yourself and your own strength. Someday, probably when you’re least expecting it or searching for it, you will find your soul mate. And everything we’ve talked about here will make sense more clearly than ever. You’ll be glad you didn’t settle for someone who wasn’t nice to you.
So be strong, don’t take any shit, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it. You will be OK. There is nothing wrong with you that needs to be fixed. When you accept and love the beautiful person you really truly are, the acceptance and true love of another person will find you effortlessly.
True love does exist and it starts with the love you have for yourself. Love you, and never ever stop.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 30, 2014
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