Despite a surprisingly good amount of incidences where I’ve found myself being the “pursuee,” I always seem to find myself myself slightly insecure once actually “caught” by someone. Sure, people shake their heads at supposedly over-insecure girlfriends or guys that get jealous too easily. But hey, it actually does hurt a lot once you’re in that position. No matter how many times you see it in movies or TV shows and know you’re supposed to act that way, it doesn’t mean you won’t. My dating history isn’t that extensive but I’ve had a couple of relationships that have taught me about the ever-present and ever-stupid power struggle of maintaining the “upper hand.” Here’s a preview before we get started: if you think an upper hand exists and/or should exist in your relationship, you’re doing it wrong.
To quote Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” If you’ve ever complained about having a controlling and jealous girlfriend, well, guess what? You picked her. You’re just as insecure. Why are you complaining now?
I’ve seen people complain about their significant other’s insecurities all the time — “She hates when I look at other women,” “I’m not allowed to drink with my guy friends.” And they even tell their significant other what the issue is, but their sweetheart doesn’t seem to change. Then they complain to their friends about the problem and start treating their significant other like they’re a hassle. A hassle they accepted.
I once dated somebody who seemed so down to earth and fun to be around but had this habit of trying to make me jealous. Look, I didn’t care if he looked at another girl who’s hot, I know it doesn’t matter unless he’s actually trying something. But some people feel like its okay to need validation by making their significant other jealous. I don’t think it is.
But this guy would constantly talk about the girls that complimented him, and said he had great hair, was really funny, and that they wanted to ask him out. Naturally, he said no. But he told me every time with this smug little smile on his face. At first I thought it was funny, but then it got to me. It made me feel I was losing him. Every time he was with a girl in front of me after that, he tried to make me more jealous. He’d openly flirt with them in front of me and wait to see if he got a rise out of me. After a while, I didn’t think it was harmless. I got worried. He wasn’t a cheater and he truthfully never tried anything. But he was insecure. And every time I looked the slightest bit insecure about him and other women, he was satisfied.
I know some people do this lightly and will eventually stop and in the end really love you. But this wasn’t the case. And I didn’t realize it. So it really hurt me. And what was worse was he liked it. Even when I told him it made me feel horrible. But it gave him an ego boost. So he kept trying to make me jealous.
Back then, I didn’t understand what I do now. I didn’t want to admit it, but I didn’t like him that much. You see, I had this false belief that I needed a boyfriend. I made the mistake of letting his level of attraction for me define my self-worth. I know now that a person who really cares about you would stop shit that makes you feel insecure because well, what is the point of declaring someone your lover if they make you hate yourself, right? Why would you ever want to hurt someone who you claim to truly care about?
So now it annoys me whenever I hear about these stupid power struggles between couples where they do these things to keep the “upper hand.” In an attempt to make sure they like you more than you like them, you make them feel like you’re the best they’re ever going to get. For some really weird reason, some couples thrive on this. But if someone is truly hurt by it, then you know there’s something wrong. Here’s a reality check: if someone’s hurt, you’re not validating anything other than the fact that you are an asshole. No offense, but if they got hurt, it’s not always about you. Its about how much (or little) they like themselves.
I wish I had told my ex straight up, “Dude, I actually didn’t like you that much; I just kinda hated myself and thought you were a good distraction.” You can’t get validation by someone who is insecure. You shouldn’t complain about your overly jealous boyfriend or girlfriend because either you don’t love them enough to give them the caring they need, or they don’t love themselves enough to give you yours.
I just wish people would stop with the power struggles. If you really cared about each other, there wouldn’t be a need for one.
Here’s hoping we all find that person who doesn’t leave us second-guessing ourselves at every turn.