Loving a broken girl is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. As a broken girl, I feel I can justifiably say that. It will take time, and energy, and more patience than you realize. Loving a broken girl isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve been hurt before, possibly multiple times, and being with anyone after such an ordeal is difficult. So, if you’re reading this, hoping to miraculously ‘fix’ your SO with one simple cheat code, I’m sorry to tell you that you can’t. You can, however, help her mend herself, by doing the following:
Be patient with us. It’s a lot to ask, I know. Whether they find it hard to trust, love, or even be intimate in any way, just be patient with a broken girl. If she’s been hurt before, she’s going to be more cautious with who she cares about. She’s going to overthink every little similarity you have with the person who hurt her, and wonder if you’ll just end up doing the same. She’s going to have trouble opening up completely to most everyone, including you, because putting that amount of trust in someone else is ten times harder after you’ve been hurt. She’s going to be afraid to tell you how she truly feels, because expressing emotion has only caused her pain in the past. But, after some amount of time, she’ll care about you, and trust you, and open up to you, and tell you how she feels. You have to take your time with us, but it’ll be worthwhile in the end. Just be patient.
Listen to the stories of our past. I know that they’re hard to hear. If someone you care about is telling you about the absolute worst time period of their life, it’s natural for your reaction to be that of fear, anger, or uncertainty. It’s natural for you to want to fix everything, or break every bone in the body of the person who hurt her this way, or run as fast as you can in the other direction. But, I implore of you, don’t. Because no matter how uncomfortable or hard it is for you to hear all these stories, I guarantee it’s harder for her to tell them to you. The fact that she is even sharing these painful stories from her past means that she trusts you. That kind of trust may not seem like a big deal to you, but, for a broken girl, it means the world — she’s giving you the power to hurt her, like she’s been hurt so many times before, and trusting that you won’t. So, no matter how horrible or heart-wrenching her story is to hear, listen to every bit of it. Gently wipe the tears off her cheek if she starts crying. Hug her, for hours on end, if she needs someone to hold on to. Look into her eyes, past the pain and heartbreak and guardedness, and see what a strong and beautiful person she is. Don’t offer advice, don’t freak out, and especially don’t run away. Be there for her, like no one else has been in the past. Show her that not everyone leaves. Just listen.
Understand when we need space. It might seem like we’re ignoring you, and we’ll likely go ‘dark’ at exactly the wrong times, but this is another thing you’ll probably have to deal with whilst loving a broken girl. She’ll probably become distant or push you away randomly, and you’ll have to accept it even though you don’t understand it. There will be days when she needs a breather from everything, your relationship included. She’ll retreat back inside of herself, become a shell of the girl you’re used to being around, and succumb to the emotions she’s likely been hiding from you. When this happens, give her time and space, but always remind her that you’re there if she needs to talk, or cry, or just cuddle for hours on end. Even if she never takes you up on those offers, your care will give her hope and happiness when she’s at her absolute worst. Just understand.
Be very mindful around us. This one is extremely important. Put yourself in her shoes, create scenarios in your head that seem too far-fetched to be true (because, chances are, they actually happened). Be aware of what triggers her, whether it be actions, words, etc. Know to give her space if she needs it, but also make sure she knows how much you care. Show her that you aren’t going to hurt her like others have done in the past. And finally, know that being with a damaged girl is not going to be easy- it’ll take a lot of time and energy- but your care will mean the world to her. Just be mindful.
Understand if she doesn’t take compliments well. In a normal relationship, saying things like, “You look so beautiful,” or “You’re absolutely amazing,” are typical compliments, designed to show affection for your significant other. But when your S.O. has gone through trauma, and heartbreak, when they’ve been belittled by someone they loved, when all they’ve ever been told is that they’re not good enough, those messages become a permanent fixture in how they view themselves. So your S.O. probably won’t believe it when you tell her how lucky you are to have found her, because she’s never been told that before. They might, as I did to my girlfriend the night we met, respond to a compliment with, “Oh, just shut the f**k up.” Eventually, she’ll see that you mean every positive thing you tell her, and believe compliments like, “You look so beautiful,” or “You’re absolutely amazing,” or “I’m so lucky to have found you.” Never stop telling her what you want to tell her, but give her time to believe you. Just understand.
And finally, know that if we have made a place for you, despite all our past pain and trauma, we want you in our lives. It won’t be easy, but, I promise you, it will be worth it.
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