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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Validation Seeking

When I was fifteen I had a Twitter account and I was messaging this guy who was eighteen. He was a bodybuilder and looked about thirty. He made me feel good about myself; he told me I was pretty,
and that I mattered, and I felt I could confide in him how I felt. I remember him once saying to me ‘talk. Breathe. You’re part of everything.’ He asked me to send nudes; I didn’t, but I sent him a picture of my stomach which sounds strange out of context. He was a bodybuilder and fitness instructor, and liked girls with well-toned bodies. I took the picture in the morning, sucked in my stomach slightly, lifted up my top just so you could see my stomach and sent it to him. He asked to see ‘the rest of the body’ but I said no.

We messaged for about a month – he was never horrible or anything, but then he stopped replying to me. He sort of...disappeared. Lost interest. He kept saying I was only fifteen and he was eighteen, and that I was too young, which annoyed me because I always had this complex about my age (I’ve always looked young for my age, but that’s a topic for another day). As he lost interest, my messages to him became more desperate, more frequent. I even considered sending him a picture of me in my underwear.

This kind of behaviour (known as co-dependency) is not unusual for me. I’ve done it with girls and guys in different contexts; with girls in friendship contexts and guys in terms of being obsessed with them. Chasing after them, contacting them, trying to make them notice me. Somebody makes you feel good and you chase after that attention, that feeling, of someone noticing you. It’s a high, and it’s a rush; as addictive as alcohol. There have been two major cases for me when I’ve been super crazy about guys who haven’t felt the same; one was a guy I barely knew in secondary school, and one was a friend of mine in sixth form. My ex, whom I broke up with a year ago, whom there were so many things I couldn’t stand about, kept receiving pestering and needy messages from me. I’ve never been in love, but I love plenty of people, and I know that loving a person is quite different from being obsessed with them.

It is not uncommon for girls to try to use guys to make us feel better about ourselves. To make us feel sexy, or special; like we matter in some way. I snogged a bunch of guys when I was at York uni, and shagged a guy in Guildford. And afterwards I felt empty. Like I was trying to fill myself with something, to validate my existence. There is nothing wrong, I believe, with being promiscuous or making out with guys/girls in clubs, and lots of people do it. However, doing it for fun is very different from doing it to fill something up inside of you; to feel wanted, or for attention, because then it won’t help. Whether it’s shagging a bunch of guys you met on Tinder, trying to please an emotionally unresponsive boyfriend, or flashing your tits to a guy you fancy on webcam, none of these things will make you feel better. I’m saying this because I know girls who have done these things, and practically every girl I know has had a case where she has tried to please a guy in some way to feel better about herself.

And you’re better than that. We’re all better than that. Trying to please a guy for the sake of attention, or trying to please your female friends to get them to like you (boy have I done this), is not going to help. The only person who can make you feel good about yourself is you. No one else can validate you apart from you. A friendship or relationship should be based on mutual affection and respect, not on trying to suck up to the other person. When a person truly loves you it will be unconditional, not ‘do this and then I’ll be your friend’ or 'if we don't have sex soon I'll move on.' So let’s tell ourselves, each day (male and female although this is more aimed at girls), that we all deserve better, because we are worth it.

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