unhealthy relationships

Unhealthy Relationships: 5 Signs That the Nice Guy Isn’t So Nice

This article was originally published as a guest post on HUGStronger in September 2012, a college advice blog that has since been discontinued, and was later reposted on College Relationships here.

We’ve all been warned.  Before leaving for college, we receive a surplus of information from older friends, advising us both academically and socially.  These friends also share their dating wisdom, cautioning us against falling for the “wrong” kind of guy.

Pop culture portrays the “wrong guy” as the unmotivated slacker who skates by on an academic probation, or as the misogynist who only wants you for your looks.  However, during my freshman year, I learned that the wrong guy can be difficult to spot, because he often disguises himself as the nice guy you can’t help but trust.

That fall, I met a boy with whom I instantly connected.  We fell into an easy friendship that eventually developed into more.  With little dating experience behind me, I took his seemingly charming personality at face value.

In time, I learned that his “nice guy” routine was exactly that – a routine.  He simultaneously pursued multiple girls who had no knowledge of each other, while feeding them the same lines and spreading hurtful rumors. Ultimately, I realized our relationship was unhealthy and would only drag me down.

Nice guys do exist, and I’ve dated a few since then. However, when dealing with new guys, watch out for red flags:

ran-into-my-ex21. He says mostly negative things about his ex-girlfriends.
If he tells you extremely personal (or insulting) details about previous girlfriends, chances are he’ll say the same things about you when you break up.  Of course, you don’t want to date someone who still loves his ex-girlfriend, but if he seems particularly vindictive toward the girls he’s dated, you might want to break things off.

2. He likes to tell you about all of his admirers.
Even when he claimed to be interested in only me, my not-so-nice guy would constantly rant about the many girls who were “in love” with him.  I’m not a jealous person, but I often wondered why he needed to share this knowledge.  It’s one thing if other girls find him attractive; it’s another thing if he’s using that information to try and upset you.

3. He mixes up his stories.
First he tells you that he was spending time with his boys last night.  Then he casually slips in that another girl was there.  Then he gets annoyed when you ask him for details about his evening, and accuses you of not trusting him.  What starts out as simple curiosity can quickly morph into suspicion.

aint-nobody-got-time-for-that4. He plays hot and cold with your emotions.
If a guy is sending you mixed signals for any prolonged period of time, he’s not that into you.  If he’s truly worth your time, he will make it known that he’s interested, and he won’t keep you guessing whether or not he wants a relationship.

5. He disguises condescending remarks as compliments.
In trying to win me back, my not-so-nice guy once explained that I had grown since we last parted ways, and that he now felt more attracted to me because of how “assertive” I had become. (Translation: “Now that you’re unattainable, I consider you a challenge worth pursuing.”) The truth was, I hadn’t changed much in that time, and I didn’t need his affirmation that I had “grown” enough to be worth his attention. Remember, you deserve to be treated well no matter how much you still have left to learn or accomplish.

Not-so-nice guys come in all forms. Be aware of the warning signs, so that you won’t fall into the same traps as many others.  Don’t settle for anyone who treats you as anything less than you deserve.

The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

As busy as I may be throughout the semester, I happen to be an avid TV viewer. I’m not ashamed of my silly television habits, and many readers will note that I love to discuss some of the fictional (and non-fictional!) characters in relation to my beliefs about dating, ambition and more. Today’s blog focuses on the less healthy relationships that have been recently portrayed on television, some of which are fan favorites, and my thoughts on each pairing. :) Enjoy!

The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

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1. Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl.
Don’t get me wrong… I used to love this couple (when I was seventeen). When the show first planted the idea of Blair, the scheming Queen B of the Upper East Side, and Chuck, the wealthy and womanizing bad boy, a part of me thought that the pairing was just crazy enough to work out. I enjoyed watching as their relationship developed, with both characters struggling to admit their true feelings for one another, but after the second season or so, things took a turn for the crazy. Chuck traded Blair for a hotel, hooked up with a character’s younger sister on the night he planned to propose, and even became physically abusive to Blair, who ultimately married and divorced a Monaguesque prince. A relationship this rocky is not worth the time or heartache; in fact, both characters thrive when they aren’t together. Personally, I believe that Chuck needs to go through a ton of rehab, and that Blair is much better off with Dan Humphrey, her best friend and intellectual equal. (As a couple, Dan Humphrey and Serena van der Woodsen are a close second for unhealthy couples!)

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2. Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor from The Office.This couple was hilarious to watch throughout the show’s run, but definitely not a “healthy” relationship. Kelly herself was one of my favorite characters while she was still on the show, probably because of her knack for the dramatic (ie: faking pregnancy or swallowing a tapeworm to lose weight), and Ryan’s pretentious behavior was enough to make you love to hate him. While Kelly constantly latched on to Ryan, Ryan only showed enough interest to keep her around. In fact, when Kelly moves to Miami, Ohio, with her new pediatrician boyfriend, Ryan moves there as well (seemingly to get her back). In real life, this kind of relationship would be troublesome, but on the small screen, Kelly and Ryan are one of the most entertaining unhealthy couples to watch.

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3. Belle and Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time.
Okay, let me start out by saying that I really am pulling for these two to end up together. I think Belle is exactly what Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin needs to stay grounded and not let his powers overcome him. However, in its current state, the relationship could arguably use some improving. While Belle remains supportive of Rumplestiltskin and committed to making him a better man, Rumplestiltskin struggles to put his love for her in front of everything else. Once he finally changes for the better and isn’t so obsessed with making deals with every single fairy tale character who ever existed, I believe that he and Belle will make a great couple.

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4. President Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope from Scandal.
Olivia Pope, the former communications director for the White House, has an affair with Fitzgerald Grant during his presidential campaign and long afterward. Although the President is married to someone else and expecting his third or fourth child, he just can’t quit Olivia. The two are so drawn to each other (although, to this day, I’m unclear on why) that every scene between them is extremely emotional and intense. Every time Olivia tries to break things off, Fitz does something crazy to win her back – for example, having his Secret Service men kidnap Liv in the woods so the two of them can have some alone time. His need to be with Olivia borders on controlling, and the fact that their relationship must be kept secret is enough to make it unhealthy. (Don’t forget – his wife is pregnant!)

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5. Victoria Henley and her mother from Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model.
As a huge fan of Top Model, I couldn’t let this one slip by! Victoria is a homeschooled girl who now attends online college, and she has never really been apart from her mother. Immediately in the season, she talks about her devotion to her mother, as well as the idea that she never wants to pursue a romantic relationship with a guy in the foreseeable future because her relationship with her mother is fulfilling enough. Now, I love my Mom and talk to her about nearly everything, but Victoria takes it to a whole new level, crying out “Momma!” and bursting into tears every time she rings up her mother on the phone. This attachment is a little scary, considering this girl is getting into her twenties and hasn’t formed a relationship of any kind with anyone else.

What TV relationships do you think are the most unhealthy?

Unhealthy Relationships: 5 Signs That The Nice Guy Isn’t So Nice

Good evening, readers!

I am pleased to kick off the September series at HUGstronger with a guest post entitled Unhealthy Relationships: 5 Signs That The Nice Guy Isn’t So Nice. We’ve all heard about the bad boy we’re supposed to avoid, but what happens when he’s harder to spot than we expect? Check out my post and be sure to take a look at the rest of the site — HUGstronger is an amazing blog for anyone in college who is facing a challenge and needs encouragement.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think! :)

xoxo Val