Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Date that douchebag who treats you like shit.

It’s a matter of time before you find yourself in a really nasty relationship – chances are, you already have. Either way, once upon a time you will experience a less-than-fairytale relationship, realise it too late and gain yourself some cuts and bruises.

Too many of us have dated the wrong person – guys are in no way excluded from this. That person who makes you feel small and worthless. Leaves you feeling insignificant. Yells at you, humiliates you and leaves you feeling empty and alone and confused. That person who never picks up when you call. Who is vain and high maintenance. Never wants to do the things you like. Never wants to listen to your music. Never asks how your day was. Never lets you finish talking. Never asks about your sister’s baby. Never holds you after a fight, even though you ask. Always seem to have other plans. Always wants to hang out with his friends and not you. Always enjoys getting a rise out of you. Always forgets your plans. Always tells you you’re being silly, or emotional, or being wrong. Always has a problem with your opinions or choices or words or car or dinner or habits.  Always being selfish and tells you how awful you treat them. Never talks to you in a constructive way. Tells you outright that you are irritating them. Humiliates you in front of your colleagues, friends or family. Diminishes your achievements. Asks you to be quiet at 03:00 when you need to talk about the universe. Never laughs at your jokes. Hide you from their loved ones. Only texts to get something out of the deal. Doesn’t care if you have a bad day or a headache because they already made plans to go out. Fights with you when they get drunk. Blames you for their problems. Needs you to take care of the grown-up stuff. Can’t make a decision without you, and if they do you can’t trust them to have considered your best interest as well. Can’t pay for dinner. Can’t take care of dinner. Can’t phone the internet service provider when there’s a problem. Can’t stand up for themselves. Won’t watch that series or movie you love. Won’t give you space when you ask. Won’t be there when you need them.

DATE THAT PERSON. Fall in love with them and give them everything. Show them your most tender parts and your hopes and dreams and let them metaphorically trample you with their selfishness and give them the power to break you and have you begging and pleading and sobbing. Make excuses for them in front of your friends and family. Let them take you to places you hate. Be completely blind to their faults. Constantly search for that little bit of goodness inside them (you can see it, you swear). Spend nights alone wondering what you did wrong. Fight with all your heart and soul and mind for them. Let them make you feel small and impotent and worthless and treats you like shit. Blame yourself for their insecurities and convince yourself time and again that you can save them, that they deserve to be loved with everything you have. Love them to the point where your family and friends question your sanity. Let them fuck you up.

“When he’s standing there, yelling – you never see an angry man. You only see a scared boy.”

BUT THEN GET THE FUCK OUT. As you sit there staring blankly, realise how much better you deserve and pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get mad as shit because HOW DARE THEY TREAT YOU LESS THAN THE QUEEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE. Once you are out of there, you’ll know every inch of your own darkness and fears and you will know just how far you can push yourself until you break. You will be marred and bruised (after all, these bruises make for better conversation). And you will never let yourself go unloved and disrespected and dismissed ever again.

As we’ve written before, knowing yourself is the most important favour you can do yourself early in life. As we wrote before (though I cannot recall when or where) one of the great things about getting to know someone else is that you get to know yourself better because you are forced to think about your own actions, motivations, and perspectives – explain them and back them up and revisit old notions you hold dearly out of habit. In this case, you are forced to face your own darkness and unhappiness and plot a new way to happiness.

YOU WILL WALK OUT A BETTER, STRONGER AND KINDER PERSON. Kinder because you have experienced someone else’s shame and hurt with an open heart, feeling it as if it were your own. Stronger because you have stood in the face of danger and anger and hurt and found it in you to fight back. Better because you have learned and adapted and grown and gained courage and tolerance and strength.

Next time, you’ll be smarter. You’ll see the signs much quicker. You’ll fight anyone who dares threaten your humanity or your safety. You will be more self-aware, know what you want and you won’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

If you’re lucky, you’ll then soon find someone who is worth your every inch of the love you can give.