Yesterday, a friend of mine checked her 13 year old daughter’s text messages and was shocked to find some sexually explicit texts from a boy. Apparently, he had broken up with her and it started with him basically saying that he just “didn’t want a relationship”, etc, and her not really understanding why. But then he told her he would still be “friends with benefits,” but it had to be a secret – she couldn’t tell anyone. Now here is where the rest of us (not being a teenage girl in this horrible-to-girls society) start hearing the DING DING DING of warning bells going off. Because if a guy wants you to keep your relationship a secret for ANY REASON – he is not the guy for you. But she is a teenage girl, and sadly didn’t tell him to fuck off.
He went on to say that if she didn’t keep it a secret, he would “spread some dirty secret around school that will make everyone hate [her] guts.”
Next, the conversation turned to pretty sexually graphic (especially for 13-14 year olds), and included him trying to pressure her into doing things she clearly is not ready for and that her mom was shocked to read.
Delightful kid, huh?
But the big issue her (for me, at least) is not how much of an asshole this kid is (for the record – big, HUGE asshole), but why on earth would a smart, cute, nice girl like her not see how much of an asshole this kid is? And I think the answer says a lot about teenage girls (and boys).
Teen boys are desperate for sex. Teen girls are desperate for love. This is a dangerous combination. All peppered throughout this conversation was “I love you.” He said it in nearly every text. I love you babe. You can’t tell anyone about us. I love you. I’ll make everyone hate your guts. Baby, I love you. I want you to [insert city sexual act here]. I love you. And sadly, a teenage girl will rarely ever see the threats and pressure and cruelty because they are so blinded by the “I love you.”
And when she put herself down, calling herself fat and ugly, he didn’t tell her she was thin or pretty. He said “I love you.” Which translates to teenage girl speak as “You ARE fat and ugly, but I love you.” Which translates into teenage girl thoughts as “I can’t do better than this guy, so I’ll put up with anything (or DO anything) to keep him. And this makes me so sad.
This kid isn’t bright enough to even realize what he’s doing. Sure – he must know that he is being cruel to her, but I don’t think he could even begin to hatch a plan that involved answering her self-deprecating comments with I love you instead of reassurances, and yet he somehow knows to do it.
Where do boys learn it?? I might be in the dark here, but I am pretty sure there’s no Academy of Manipulation and Cruelty for Teen Boys. And actually, that idea is less offensive to me than the reality – that it comes naturally.
My own Asshole Teenage Boy Story ended OK – but only because I had luck (mine), drunkenness (his), and anger (mine) on my side. But I know that there are many, many girls who have similar stories that didn’t end so well.
Everyone’s first reaction on hearing this kind of stuff is “I’m locking up my daughter!” and understandably so. But what about our sons? Maybe because I have a son this age it hit me, but my first thought was, “I need to talk to my son about this.” We have talked to him about sex, but we need to do more. We need to teach him to be respectful and kind. No matter how uncomfortable it may be to do, we need to teach him whatever it takes so that he is never EVER that kid.