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Sex + Relationships

Stop Romanticizing Problematic Behavior

It’s nearing the end of April, which means it’s also approaching the end of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The past year has seen a huge increase in discussions of sexual violence, especially as a result of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, both of which helped demonstrate the widespread effects and pervasiveness of sexual harassment and violence. While those movements have faded from the spotlight recently as a result of other movements, especially the March for Our Lives, I sincerely hope that this doesn’t mean a return to avoiding discussion of sexual violence.

It wasn’t until fairly recently in my life that I realized just how much I was taught to accept certain behaviors from others or was led to believe that those behaviors were harmless. As a young kid, I was exposed to movies, TV shows, and books that showed really problematic behaviors but failed to acknowledge them as being problematic. What we learn is okay when we’re children can have a huge impact on what we accept from others when we’re older, so I want to shed some light on behaviors that I was led to believe were harmless that I’ve come to realize are definitely problematic.

Relentless (romantic) pursuing of another person. This is such an overused and sneakily problematic trope in stories. You usually see it when a boy/man asks out a girl/woman who rejects him, but instead of accepting that, he continues to pursue her until she agrees to date him or go out with him on a date. While it may be painted as cute and determined, this type of refusal to respect someone’s decision is highly problematic. If someone says “no,” that means no. End of story. It doesn’t mean that they want to be chased or harassed, it means no. If they wanted to go on a date, they’d say yes, but they didn’t, so they don’t. Don’t keep asking. Continuing this…

Threatening harm to yourself or others if someone doesn’t accept a date offer. I think this is more universally acknowledged as being problematic, but it can go hand-in-hand with the previous point. Threatening to hurt someone or yourself after being rejected is never an acceptable thing to do.

Constantly checking in with a significant other/partner. People in relationships aren’t always physically with each other all of the time, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is when one person needs to know where their partner is at every minute of every day and requires the partner to get permission to do something without them.

Excessive jealousy. Going along with the fact that romantic partners don’t spend 100% of their time with each other, they also won’t only be talking to each other. It’s unreasonable to think that a significant other will stop having conversations with other people simply because they’re in a relationship. If someone gets mad because their significant other is talking with someone else, that’s indicative of a lack of trust, and if someone doesn’t trust their partner, that’s a bad sign. Regardless of the context, a romantic partner should never be dictating to whom their partner can talk. If seeing their partner spending time with someone else in a platonic manner makes them incredibly angry and jealous, that person has problems trusting their partner, and it may be an unhealthy relationship.

Rachel Minkovitz is a senior at Bates College double majoring in Psychology and French and Francophone Studies. She spends a lot of time listening to music, hanging out with friends, reading and writing, advocating for social justice, and looking for furry animals. 
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