Savage Love

I'm a 19-year-old girl, attractive, outgoing, and ambitious. My boyfriend is 21 and shares the same qualities. We've been dating since January. At times he gets really moody and won't tell me why, but I've noticed a pattern:

1. Me hanging out with my guy friends (guy friends that I've known since we were about 13, no attraction).

2. Me hanging out with a guy I once had a one-night stand with, whom we both know.

3. Me talking to a guy at a club.

Perhaps the second incident is understandable, but the last one troubles me. We were out with friends, dancing in a group. A guy tried to dance with just me and I said "no" and moved away from him. Then some guy grabbed my ass and I turned around and told him I was going to backhand him if he touched me again, and told him the guy standing next to me was my boyfriend.

My boyfriend glared at me and walked away. I found him outside and asked him what was going on, and he ignored me. I ended up walking down the street in the rain, the most emo I could possibly be, crying. When I saw him later, my boyfriend said that telling the other guy "I'm here with my boyfriend" meant that if I wasn't there with my boyfriend I would have done something with him. I ended up bawling, and then he held me and told me it was "okay."

How should I approach this issue? He doesn't really want to talk about it. Should I ask him if he's a jealous person and see how it goes from there?

Goodguy Really Emotionally Exhausts Nicegirl

Fire. Rumsfeld. Now.

No, wait. I've been spending too much time reading Andrew Sullivan's blog. I meant: Break. Up. With. Him. Now. This is classic controlling behavior, GREEN, and if you let him get away with it—by which I mean, if you don't dump his ass over this bullshit—it's only going to get worse.

Here's the download: A man that emotionally abuses a woman over casual contact with other men early in a relationship is likely to physically abuse her later in the relationship. Even if he never physically abuses you—a big, fat, fucking "if"—can't you see what you're setting yourself up for if you stay with this guy? Men make up roughly 50 percent of the population, so just about every time you leave the house you're going to run into men. Guys are going to speak to you in clubs and in classes, on buses and airplanes, and unless you work in a convent, GREEN, you're gonna have male co-workers. So your boyfriend, if you stay with him, will be able to get all sulky and silent on your ass whenever the fuck he feels like it. Are you prepared to live with that? Forever?

I hope not. Because you may be outgoing and ambitious now, GREEN, but after a few years with this toxic shithead you're going to be a timid, self-censoring wreck, second-guessing your every move lest it set your boyfriend off. You'll find yourself flinching every time a man—a friend, a waiter, a retail clerk—speaks to you in his presence. Since you'll never know which innocent conversation is going to set him off, every interaction you have with another man is going to feel like a risk that's not worth running. Do you want to live like that?

Yes, yes, he has good qualities—he's outgoing and attractive. So fucking what? Most abusers have something to recommend them, GREEN, otherwise no one would ever date one long enough to be abused. Hell, when they're sweet, abusers can be downright endearing. ("Oh, he makes me cry but then he holds me and tells me it's 'okay.' He's so wonderful and sensitive!") But you need to open your eyes and see the sweet routine for what it is: an integral part of an emerging cycle of abuse. He acts like an asshole, you cry, and then he pours on the syrup. Why? So you don't leave him, GREEN, so you'll still be there for him to abuse tomorrow.

Perhaps I'm painting too dark a picture. Your boyfriend is young, perhaps he can get a handle on this and drop the clichéd jealous/emotionally-abusive-boyfriend routine. But that's not gonna happen until he realizes that he's going to pay a steep price for treating women like shit. Namely, it will cause smart, attractive, secure women—women like you—to dump him.

So no more emo, GREEN, no more tears. Dump the fucker and tell him why you're dumping him. ("You are an insecure bag of slop and I'm simply not willing to be punished for your insecurities.") Then tell yourself, over and over again, that you didn't really love this guy, dearly or otherwise. You were in love with the person he could be but isn't. Or, to be charitable, you were in love with the person he isn't yet, the person he never will be if he doesn't suffer the consequences of his behavior, i.e., if it doesn't cost him someone like you. So...

Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help