Nothing takes a hit at your self-esteem like dating a person who doesn't accept and embrace you for who you are.
I know this from personal experience. I've dated people who've told me my style is "too much" and I need to start "dressing like an adult." I've dated people who've misinterpreted my eccentricities, the quirky qualities my friends and family love me for, as "flaws" that need to be "fixed."
I've dated people who think my love for red lipstick is a sign of deep insecurity. I've dated people who've tried to make me a social butterfly when I'm actually a shy recluse who prefers to socialize on her own terms.
I've dated people who have fallen in love with the idea of me, and have fiercely tried to mold me into the exact shape they want. I've dated people who have tried to convince me that my family is toxic, my friends are reckless and disloyal, I need to get a more stable career, or my fate is doomed.
I wish I could say that every single time this happened, I clicked my mega platforms and walked away, my gaze direct, strutting into the glorious West Village of my glittering city and never looked back.
But alas, ladies, it doesn't always work like that, does it now?
Herein lies the trouble with these kinds of relationships: The kinds of people who are into CHANGING the core essence of a human being can often be extremely charming entities who are also masters at manipulating you into thinking YOU NEED TO BE CHANGED.
In fact, I've found that incessant charm is often a confusing guise for controlling, manipulative behavior. Not always, but often. And when you get into a relationship with this tricky breed of human, it can be a total mindfuck.
You start to question yourself and doubt all of the qualities that once gave you confidence until you're nothing but raw nerve--a shell of the girl you once were. You start to believe: "Shit, I'm THE PROBLEM."
And, well, yes, you are part of the problem. You're part of the problem because you're blindly letting someone chip away at your character, which is definitely a result of some deep-rooted insecurity you're going to need to address sooner or later. But that's for another article, kitten.
This article is going to address this problem: The douchebag you're dating is trying to make you someone you're not, and is robbing you of your sacred self-esteem in the process.
I'm all for growing and evolving with my partner, but that's never to be confused with being changed by my partner. One is something you do together as a team; the other is a one-sided attack against your personality.
I know I sound melodramatic with the immediate "attack" accusations, but I really mean it. If you're trying to take a unique, wonderful, awesome individual and mold them into a shape that better suits your vision of an ideal partner, that's an attack against the individual.
I have an idea for those people: Why don't you find someone else, someone who you can connect with naturally, rather than trying to break a girl down to the point where she is dulling down her personalities to be compatible with you? If you behave that way you're an energy vampire, and do you really want that to be your legacy? I didn't think so.
So kittens, here are some cautionary, tell-tale RED FLAGS that the person you're with is trying to change you:
1. They question the validity of your career.
I once dated someone who said to me, "Why do you keep writing about sex? Why don't you write about stuff that actually matters?"
Well, actually, writing about sex is one of my deepest passions and it totally matters to a lot of people, myself included.
I don't care what you do for living as long as you're wildly passionate about it, and you feel it's your calling in the core of your SOUL. Don't ever, ever, EVER let anyone make you question your career path.
I don't care if you're an actress, a plumber, or an effing banker. If someone tells you they think your Wall Street job is "boring," your retail job is "pointless," or your acting career is "delusional," get out.
If your partner doesn't respect your passions, they don't respect you, and life is too short and too fabulous to waste a precious second with someone who doesn't respect you, or makes you question the very thing that strikes up the fire in your heart!
I have two words for those people: SCREW. YOU. ASSHOLE. (OK fine, I have three words. Sue me.)
2. They compare you to other people.
Any time the person you're dating pits you up against another girl, it's a giant, shiny, unwavering red flag, mama.
"Oh, well, you know, Sarah is really happy living in the suburbs, so I don't see why you are SO opposed to it."
"Oh, well, you know, Suzie doesn't feel the need to stay out until 2 am with her friends, so why do you?"
Because you're not Suzie and you're not Sarah. You, my sweet darling, are you, and you're ~perfect~ just the way you goddamn are.
3. They give you ultimatums.
Look, if you're a wild, verbally abusive alcoholic and your partner says, "You need to get help because you're abusing me and are wasted day and night," that's one thing.
However, if they're giving you ultimatums that involve you giving up something that you love, they are using their own love as a tool to manipulate. They're using their affection that they know you've grown attached to as a way to stop you from being yourself. And that's messed up.
For example, I dated someone who told me she would break up with me if I carried on a friendship with a life-long best friend that she didn't care for.
She knew I was in love with her, but she also knew I loved my friend with every fiber of my being. It was like she was asking me to choose between my present and my past.
But my past is a huge part of me, and even if some of the people from my past are imperfect, that's OK. I'm imperfect. You can't just pick the parts of me you like and disregard the parts you're uncomfortable with.
4. They tell you to change your personal style.
The beautiful thing about fashion, beauty, and style is that it's all open to interpretation. It's an art form, and there are no rules in art. You like what you like, and my idea of what looks good might be vastly different than your idea of what looks good.
If your partner is telling you to change your personal style, that's a sign they're trying to change you, because I believe fashion is an outer expression of who we are on the inside.
Special note to my red lipstick girls: If someone tells you you look prettier without your signature red lippy, they're threatened by the red lippy. And red lipstick girls are too fierce to be with someone who is threatened by a fucking lipstick.
I mean, get a life. Come on. It's just a lipstick.
5. They're super kind to you when you're doing exactly what they tell you do.
I used to date someone who hated to go out. In turn, she incessantly shamed me for loving to go out. She wanted me to stay in on a Friday night and trade in my strapless dresses for sweatpants.
When I would acquiesce and be totally miserable and bored whilst wasting my youth rotting on the couch with her, she would constantly say, "Isn't THIS FUN?! This is who you are. You don't need all that nightlife!" When... no, bitch.
It wasn't fun for me AT ALL. And I do need all that nightlife. I work hard, and I love to dress up and see friends and be OUT. And that's just who I am. Take it or leave it, baby.
But she would shower me with flowery affirmations when I did what she wanted. And when I didn't, she was cold and resentful. She used compliments as a way to lure me into staying in with her, sort of like training a dog to pee outside with treats.
Only we aren't freaking dogs. We are powerful girls, and wild, fabulous, fierce, beautifully individual girls CANNOT be changed for another person.
We are too amazing to dull out our light for a relationship. Being inauthentic to who you are blows your inherent light right out.
Your light is beautiful and it's intoxicating. We all love your light. So don't do the world a disservice by changing for one person who doesn't get you--especially when so many of us do.