Dear Teenage Girl in an Unhealthy Relationship

Kenna McLeod, Guest Writer

Dear teenage girl in a toxic relationship, 

Yes, you, the one who just went back to him for the fourth time this month. 

The one who can’t seem to stop blaming herself for every mistake and every disagreement despite the fact that you feel safe and comfortable in the little world you two have created together, you still feel shivers down your spine when he touches you the wrong way or when he gives you side-eye for daring to think that you can pull off that crop top, let alone wear it public. 

Sure, your parents warned you. Sure, your best friend warned you after you let her down by telling her you couldn’t hang out…again. Why is it so hard to connect with their words? 

You know that there is a lot of support for teenage girls, in particular, today – whether it be through school, work or other public resources – but still you feel unable to admit to yourself that the abusive boyfriend in the pamphlet or in the book has the same characteristics as the guy who wrote you a list of 100 reasons why he needs you in his life when you two first started dating. You love him. I know that. The push and pull aspect of this relationship, how it has become a battle within your mind and yourself, is tearing you apart. 

If you need a sign or a message from somebody else to help you decide how to handle this if you’re on the fence, please keep reading this. 

I’m worried about you. I’m worried about your grades, your social life and how it’ll look when this is all over. Please come back, we miss you. You’ve faded away. I can’t remember the last time I saw you at a football game, or outside of school at all. Please understand what you are missing. 

This is high school, it may suck beyond words sometimes, but take a step back and look at it. We are so lucky to be able to have these four years as they provide us with a balance of independence, freedom, and security. 

You have your license, you can drive anywhere you’d like…but mom still buys your clothes. You still get to walk down the stairs with your little sister on Christmas morning and grandma still sends you a crisp twenty every year on your birthday. Whether or not we want to believe it, these are a very important four years of our lives, ones we can either use to our advantage or throw out the window, all for something we believe is more important in the moment than our personal happiness or success. You simply cannot continue with the excuse, “I have to make sacrifices in order for this to work, we love each other.”

 No. 

You are only sacrificing the pieces of yourself that are precious and appreciated by those around you. 

These four years are about you and your growth. Make sacrifices for some relationship later. Or better yet, don’t make them at all. 

The silly yet intelligent parts of your personality, the parts that make your friends roll on the ground laughing and make your parents smile in pride, those are the parts of you we want back. Your interests, hobbies and even music taste have warped to resemble his. Remember how it felt to care about something other than this boy? 

The double standards that he creates have started to make you shake with anger, they’ve built up inside of you to the point where you can no longer discern whether or not you actually did something wrong…because didn’t he do the same thing last week? Why are you still apologizing to him, willingly calling yourself a terrible girlfriend and a worse person? This double standard? Destroy it. 

Tell him he is wrong, set him straight. If he can’t handle that you were right, feel free to add that to the list of reasons why you must get out. This manipulation has gone on too far. He has you wrapped around his finger, knowing you will cave the second he looks as if he is about to cry. You let him sink back into your arms as if he is a drug you’ve been clean from for 30 days. 

His emotions are not yours. You are not responsible for his happiness. When he starts to project his problems onto you, when you know it is unnecessary, this is when you can pick up his drama and his concerningly dark threats and give them to someone else: His parents, a counselor, a teacher. Somebody with the capacity to help, not you. Not the sixteen-year-old girl with so much else to live for, the girl who deserves to thrive. 

You feel a mental block, don’t you? You can’t possibly imagine life without him, to the point where ending the relationship doesn’t make any logical sense. Please understand the opportunity that comes with ridding yourself of this negativity, of the dark cloud that looms over your life, ensuring that you will never get out and experience the things you once did. It hurts now, but the longer you cling onto a relationship as unsustainable as this, the worse off you’ll be mentally and emotionally when you do get out. Moving on from this boy will be one of the most empowering sensations you’ve ever felt, I promise you. Think of the opportunity. The opportunity to explore yourself in ways you haven’t before. Detach yourself and become yourself. Now is the time to grow without him. You two are not one person. Developing within yourself is the only way to truly mature and become self-confident. 

Don’t do it for your parents, your friends, or the people who watch you anxiously text during lunch…(you were fighting again.) Do it for you, because at the end of all this, when you’ve finally had enough, it’ll be too late. You will be the one most damaged, most torn apart and most distrustful. Building yourself back up again will be the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced. 

Save yourself.  Please.

*Disclaimer: Obviously, this situation can apply to any relationship of any age and not just one that is heteronormative. This is only based off of things I have personally experienced or witnessed.