My ex-boyfriend started a podcast giving relationship advice—and I listened to it.
As much as that sounds like the title of a BuzzFeed video, I hope you guys can hear me out. When I first found out about the podcast from our mutual friends, I had extremely mixed emotions about it: in what way does an emotional abuser think he is qualified to give relationship advice to his thousands of fans on the internet? That said, given that I’ve been writing articles about the lessons I learned from being in a toxic relationship, I am not against the idea of his being able to express his own feelings.
So I listened to an episode, and these were the main points he addressed:
By the end of episode, I couldn’t get myself to close my jaw shut. I was beyond disappointed. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I couldn’t figure out the appropriate response.
1. “Maybe she’s just that kind of person; you can’t force people to change.”
He’s right: you can’t force people to change. In every relationship, we must eventually come to realize we can love the person whole-heartedly for who they are, or we will pull apart from them.
Falling in love comes with the fear of falling out of love. As you grow closer to them, you discover more and more traits about them which you might not have known before: maybe they’re a compulsive liar, they dismiss your feelings, or they like to pour their milk before their cereal. There will be moments when you wish they were different, but those moments call for the need to reexamine ourselves: maybe we don’t want our partner to change as much as we want to change our partner. As your feelings develop and grow stronger, you’re left to decide whether you should stay because you love them—or leave because they’re not the person you thought they were.
2. “Whenever you’re afraid to make a move, just remember: all the other guys your age are out there, having sex with a bunch of chicks.”
I felt a chill down my spine when I heard that. It was difficult to hear that and imagine this was the same person that I dated. Setting aside the issue vulgarity, the comparison mindset is toxic. I spent most of my life growing up alongside my mother’s need to compare me to relatives and family friends. It led me to suffer from a constant sense of anxiety, stress and need for validation from authority figures. For the longest part of my life, I felt like I wasn’t achieving anything, because in my mother’s eyes it wasn’t enough.
When it come to relationships, everyone moves at their own pace, and in a big world like this, there are almost definitely people out there with the same mindset as you. Forcing your bicycle to move at the same speed as a sports car is simply impossible; mockery and peer pressure won’t change that.
3. The prison-esque love
The troubled teenager in love who wrote in had a common dilemma: he liked this girl, and the girl liked him back, but they didn’t know how to start dating each other.
In China, and many East Asian cultures, chastity is highly valued, as indicated by a 1994 psychological study which suggested that Asian countries viewed chastity to be more important compared to Scandinavian countries. As this is a common dilemma in our culture, it makes the majority of adolescents shy and afraid to display affection.
Even though you can follow my ex’s second piece of advice (“whenever you’re afraid to make a move, just remember: all the other guys your age are out there, having sex with a bunch of chicks”), my opinion is that there’s nothing to lose. I know a handful of people who grew up in the public school system in East Asia and spent their high school years fawning over the object of their objection. With high academic pressure being put on the majority of us, most of us choose school over love. So you become trapped in the mindset of “the one who got away”: you build them up in your head, wrapped up in your idea of what it could’ve been, but are too afraid to become ever even close to them in real life.
It is a prison-esque kind of love, but both parties hold the key to leave.
Overall, I couldn’t agree with much of the advice presented on my ex-boyfriend’s podcast in the span of 20 minutes. But it is how it is—people's views of the world are resistant to change. It’s like he said: maybe he’s just that kind of a person; you can’t force people to change.