Column by Danielle Haberly
I have a friend who’s dating a loser. She tells me stories of all of the awful things he says and does to her. Although her boyfriend isn’t physically violent, he’s verbally abusive. And sometimes words hurt just as bad as a black eye.
I’ve always asked myself: “What can I do to help?”
But giving your opinion can be dangerous. You don’t want to lose her or abuse her in the same way he does.
I’ve had the urge to yell at her, call her things like “pathetic” and “weak” because she can’t leave him. These words, in my mind, describe the behavior portrayed by all of the girls out there who voluntarily lay themselves down as doormats for their men.
But, as a friend, you have to realize that verbal abuse comes in many forms, from many different people. Telling your friend to wake up and realize how tragic her life has become is also a form of abuse.
The only way you can help your friend is with uplifting encouragement. Tell her how strong and wonderful she is. Provide her with the support she isn’t getting from her romantic relationship. She needs to hear from someone that she is smart, funny and beautiful, because chances are her boyfriend is saying just the opposite. The goal here is to encourage her into understanding that she is worthy of love and affection. At some point, hopefully your kind, loving words will allow her to find the strength to leave her boyfriend in search of a man that treats her as good, if not better, than you do.
So, why does your sweet friend fall for a manipulating maniac? I reason that maybe it has to do with nature versus nurture. How do her parents treat each other? If they are violent toward one another, that may have subconsciously been a factor in your friend choosing a volatile partner. Or maybe she has been with her boyfriend for so long that she just doesn’t know what it’s like to be with anyone else. Did they fall in love young, and now that things are bad, she doesn’t know how to walk away? These are questions I’ll leave up to Freud.
In Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts,” she sings about a man who steals the hearts of women and traps them in a jar, “tearing love apart.” She wishes she had never met him. How do we avoid falling in love with the wrong person? The key is to meet your partner with an invisible catalog of criteria on hand. Have a check list of all the qualities you look for in a man, and if the guy you meet at a bar downtown doesn’t meet those requirements, DON’T give him your phone number! Most guys on 6th street aren’t looking for girlfriends, anyway. Be cognitive of your feelings while guarding your heart.
Next week, is there such a thing as Facebook cheating? I’ll discuss how to prevent it and what to do after you’ve caught your partner “cheating” on you through social media.