@ The “Self-Help” Writer Spreading Extremely Harmful Advice on Medium
Clearly the satire hasn’t worked so I guess I need to lay it out for you.
Your advice is harmful. I’m not even making a joke here. It’s harmful. Telling people they are weak, morally dubious or otherwise unfulfilled for wanting a partner who pays attention to them, talks to them and affirms them is harmful.
Let me tell you a story. When I was 19, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. He was mean in quiet, awful ways. He never said a kind word to me, never called or texted except when his balls tingled and shamed me for wanting to label what we’d been doing for a year and a half of my life. I was needy for wanting any of the normal markers of a relationship. I barely made it out alive. I almost didn’t. The effects followed me for years.
You could say his love language was touch. That’s all I was good for, at least.
If I had read any of your articles at 19, in my broken state, I would have taken it as a tacit endorsement of our relationship and confirmation of his insistence that the problem wasn’t our “arrangement” but me. Especially when it’s packaged in a pseudo cool-girl package, wrapped in a leather jacket and sent speeding on a Harley into Medium’s orbit. Clearly, I wasn’t “cool” enough to grasp our very adult relationship. Expecting anything more is needy, right?
It’s unfortunate that my circle of female friends includes many women who have seen emotional and psychological abuse in all its forms. If you haven’t, I’m happy for you. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone. But take a minute to consider what I’m saying when I tell you that presenting such opinions (yes, opinions) as gospel can do real harm.
I, and many survivors like me, feel it necessary to request certain things from our partners. I asked my current partner to publicly acknowledge our relationship as I had experienced heavy gaslighting and needed some record. I ask him to keep in mind that affectionate physical touch can, when accompanied by nothing else, be a triggering experience. He tempers it with kind words of affirmations and small acts of service.
This is normal. This is healthy. And it is honest.
I will not let another person go through what I went through out of fear of being “uncool” or feeling that they are somehow manipulative for expecting a partner to match them.
I don’t have any jokes for this. I don’t want to. I had hoped I could keep it light and maybe you might see them and laugh a bit at yourself and go “Hmm, maybe there’s a point there” and course correct. It’s worked on me before. But you doubled down and you have a massive readership and that’s just irresponsible.
If you ever want to discuss this person-to-person, you know where to find me. I heard you’re in my town.