I was talking with some folks a *bit* younger than me about the blog, and one of them said, “You should write about how it’s not okay for guys to push females around or be forceful with them.”
I listened to the stories, and I know that she knows it is not okay. I know she can take care of herself. And for that I am thankful.
But I’m sad that this is something she thinks needs to be written about. Very sad.
I’m no expert on the subject of dating violence. However, I think we might be doing the whole world a disservice by calling it dating violence, because I highly suspect it doesn’t start off as violence. I think it can start off as disrespect.
And that’s not okay either.
Let me say that again.
Disrespecting another person, whether you are dating or not, is not okay.
But disrespect is where it begins. An unkind word, a put down, a demand on your time or resources that is just that–a demand. Getting frustrated when you want to spend time with other people. Getting frustrated when your world revolves around anything but them.
But no, the violence hasn’t started, so it’s hard to feel like it’s not right. Because the demands and frustration and disrespect are usually followed by a reminder of why you started dating the person to begin with.
They’re funny, charming, kind, handsome, gorgeous, silly, goofy, smart, dark and brooding–whatever. You second guess yourself. You start thinking that maybe they’re right–you should want to spend more time with them. You shouldn’t be so serious about your education or your career or YOUR dreams and goals. After all, it’s sweet they want more of your time–that means they love you, right?
Anyone who loves you LOVES you. Supports you.
Not only is disrespect not intended, it doesn’t happen.
Unfortunately, because the violence often does not happen at the beginning of the relationship, it is easy for young people (and older ones too) to rationalize about the disrespect and continue with the relationship.
Because “at least he/she doesn’t hit me.”
NO. Just no.
We have to raise our daughters and sons to know what disrespect looks like and that this is not acceptable or okay in any kind of healthy relationship, friendships included. And we have to empower them to have healthy relationships. We need to hear whatever story they bring to us, and let them know it’s okay–we love them no matter what. And then we have to help them define disrespect and set boundaries. And to let go of the bad stuff and the bad relationships, no matter how long they’ve been with someone or how long they’ve been friends, no matter how nice it was in the beginning, no matter how many promises the other person has made.
No means no.
Disrespect is the gateway to violence.
I really believe that.
I’m not sure what my young friend wanted me to say. Sweet girl, I hope this does what you asked me to do. I see you there, being so strong, and letting the guy know what is not okay. And I am thankful you are able to do that. But know this, any guy–any person–who isn’t in awe of you and all about celebrating all that is you–just keep on walking. Because you are better than that. You deserve someone you can respect to the end of your days and who will spend every breath supporting you and your dreams.
It’s a bumpy ride, and there will be disagreements. Misunderstandings. Hurt feelings. Many times.
But there should never, ever be disrespect.
Be particular, as my Granny used to say. And be cautious. If they can’t respect you, they don’t get to be with you. Dating, friendship, whatever.
And that’s pretty much it.
May you find the one you are meant to be with, but in the meantime, may you grow to be your own biggest advocate and dream big. The one who will appreciate walking that path with you will come.
Love and respect to all.