If Only She Had Known Better, Maybe She Would Not Have Learned

I have a friend who was trapped in an alluring toxic relationship where the guy only demanded free sex without feelings while knowing the girl had developed genuine feelings for him. There were even a few times when he made her do things without her consent. Yet she did it anyway just because she was afraid and hoped that it might change him for the better.

After their FWB (friends with benefits) ended, there were a couple of times when he asked her to meet him on the basis of catching up. Out of kindness, my friend accepted it. However, things turned out unexpectedly nasty. The guy even forced himself on her when she had already said NO and pushed him away many times until she got furious and for the first time, she finally stood up against him. He was still quite sane, apparently, for not hurting my friend physically but that does not mean what he’s done is okay.

Their relationship was full of emotional manipulation with the girl being the victim. The most disgusting was he kept using feminist narrative for his own benefits. He twisted it to convince my friend that FWB is one of the ultimate ways to express body autonomy. His principles were very contradictory and only served his sexual desires. Furthermore, he kept justifying himself by saying that he provided happiness with the best that he could to all his female friends he was banging and that they should celebrate their body by doing so.

Unfortunately, my friend was too caught up in changing him and convincing herself that he had feelings for her. No matter how many times I told her that the relationship wasn’t healthy, she was too blinded by love and new exhilarating experiences she’d never had. Part of her also liked the challenge. She considered the relationship as a challenge, thinking that she had to be able to conquer him without realizing how she had been his conquest first. At that time, she did not realize the imbalanced and abusive power play she was in.

Please do not say that the girl was stupid, but I am also not saying that she was 100% right and he was 100% wrong. The boy was wrong for consciously exploiting her guilelessness. However, yes, it was also part of her fault for not listening to others who were more rational than her, but people do grow up in different paces, times and situations. In fact, some people need to be exposed to countless mistakes to finally realize their misleading tendencies and know better. She was just trying to be loved and understood things in her capacity and limitations. Fortunately, she finally realized how terrible it had been and how more disastrous it could’ve been, then managed to escape when it was not too late.

Still, since this cruel phenomenon still happens a lot everywhere, not only to girls but also boys or everyone in general, let me say this: Please, never depend your self-worth on someone’s approval. You are a wonderful person who deserves to be treated with respect and understanding.

Never wish to change someone’s behaviour towards you by staying with them when it’s clear that they could not care less about you. Between adults, no one can change a person. Change comes from within, from the person’s willingness and humility to admit how wrong they are, how they should correct themselves; from their courage and strength to get out of their comfort zone, to do things differently and far from what they usually like. We can trigger them, we can be the reason for them to change, but we do not have the power to be fully in control of changing them.

Never settle for less. You should be with someone who holds the same principles, who’s willing to make compromises and tolerates different insubstantial behaviours; who doesn’t aim to be superior to you or secretly feels inferior to you until one day they explode and blame you for many things unintended.

You should be with someone who treats you like the way you should be treasured, loved and adored; who doesn’t take advantage of your weaknesses; who understands your insecurities and consistently assures you to value yourself more, that you worth more than you think; who shows their love genuinely to you whenever they have the chance to; whom you can grow together with. By being with someone who doesn’t take you for granted and never stop learning from and about each other day by day, both of you can flourish together in ways you’ve never imagined, ways that last.

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Clarisa Irene Setiawan

Clarisa Irene Setiawan

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Someone with dreams, hopes & anxieties like everyone else in this fast-changing world that pushes us to read better, think deeper, breathe slower & live more.