HI, KELLY: How do I persuade my boyfriend that it’s OK to be in a relationship and to like each other the way we do? He’s so afraid of his friends calling him out that he won’t hold my hand around them. He also won’t take my calls when he’s with his friends and doesn’t like me posting cute pictures of us like other couples do. He says he’s just not that kind of guy.
When we’re alone, he’s good with all of that, but around his friends he’s so different. He says they will tease him all the time.
Please help me because I really like him a lot, and I know he likes me, but I just can’t seem to get him to be OK with showing me any affection around his friends or acknowledge that we’re as close as we are around them. Sometimes he’s mean to me around them or makes fun of me with total sarcasm, like putting me down so they don’t know how he really feels about me. When we’re alone, he apologizes and says that he doesn’t know why he does it and that he’s really sorry my feelings get hurt. It seems pretty honest in the moment, but he does it again. Please help me.
DEAR OLIVIA: Everyone is different and I respect that your boyfriend isn’t a public-display-of-affection person. Fair enough.
Where the problem lies is that you are trying to persuade him that it’s OK for him to be with you and that his friends’ opinion of him matters more than your feelings. The fact that the behavior toward you is sarcastic and mean is not fair. You should say, “Enough.”
Why is treating your girlfriend well considered embarrassing? In today’s society, young men can rarely do anything for their girlfriends without being called names. It’s sad that instead of treating you special or with value, he would rather be rude and hide his feelings for you. Why is it a bad thing to treat someone you care about nicely? What’s wrong with being a good boyfriend? Why is it embarrassing to admit you care about someone? If this is his standard of romance, walk away and don’t look back.
While your age was never mentioned, it’s obvious that he is young enough to need some maturing when it comes to relationships. That’s not meant as a knock on you – more as a way to approach the subject of what you deserve in a relationship. Being able to voice your feelings, such as, “I’m looking for a more mature relationship with someone who is comfortable with himself and ready to treat me the way I deserve to be treated,” would be a good way to express your concerns to him. It’s obvious he has some emotional growing to do before he can truly treat someone as she should be treated. Right now, his friends’ opinions trump his own feelings as well as the feelings of someone he is supposed to care about. That shows a lack of maturity and tells me he has some growing up to do. He just wants to be one of the guys and make the buddies happy. He’s not wrong for that; he’s just not ready to be someone’s boyfriend.
For some reason, many young people tend to see guys being “whipped,” meaning they are weak or less of a man for liking a girl and wanting to treat her well. Until they become comfortable with themselves and can say, “I no longer care what others think of me, I know the kind of young man I am and how I want to treat others,” they aren’t ready to be in a committed relationship. They are better off just being your friend with no expectations and no attachments. And most important, no hookups.
Your self-respect should speak louder than anything. Staying with someone who thinks it’s OK to be mean to you or sarcastically put you down is not OK. Speak up. Show self-confidence and don’t settle or allow anyone to think you’re OK with it. The moment you start trying to persuade someone to be in a relationship with you is the moment you need to step back and re-evaluate why you are in the relationship in the first place.