Ron and Sam talking after yet ANOTHER fight
Dear Erika is on hiatus until Secret Life starts its new season. Anyone who wants advice in the interim can email me and I’ll post the answer on this site.
In the meantime, I thought I’d take the time to talk about a few of my favorite things–dating advice and the Jersey Shore. The show is *such* junk food TV, but who can resist the charms of Snooki? (Besides, Vinny is kinda cute.) But one thing that that totally creeps me out is how the abuse in Sammi & Ronnie’s relationship is swept under the rug on the show. Every the ill-suited twosome are shown fighting, but no one in the house addresses that they *do* in fact, abuse each other, both verbally and physically. Not cool. But more importantly, NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Even when I account for the fact that “reality” TV is quite scripted, Sammi and Ronnie’s storyline–real or fake–is all sorts of wrong.
On the show, Sammi shows no self respect and doesn’t stand up for herself. She allows Ronnie to name-call to his hearts content and rewards him by staying by his side. And Ronnie allows the same treatment from Sammi. Worse, Ronnie’s been shown hitting Sam–it makes me wonder, what happens when the camera is off? These two should not be treating each other the way they do, much less mislabeling this abuse as love. And the people around them shouldn’t be ignoring the problem either.
Sadly, Sammi and Ronnie’s relationship on the show isn’t unique. Most teen girls know a friend who is going through Sammi-like stuff. A 2005 Liz Claiborne study found 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. The study also found that nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser.
A solid romantic relationship should make you feel good. If you’re involved with someone who makes you feel bad or assaults you verbally or physically, get help. Talk with an adult you trust or call a a helpline, like Love is Respect’s National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474
Not sure whether you’re girl or guy gives you enough respect? Take the quiz below, written by Courtney Macavinta, founder of founder of The Respect Institute and the author of Respect: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed, to help measure the health of your relationship.
Quiz: Does Respect Rule Your Relationship?
Find out if your relationship is booming with respect or if the “diss” has taken over
By Courtney Macavinta
Some girls think healthy relationships come down to hearing three magic words, “I love you!” But real relationships are based on more than lip service: it comes down to showing each other respect. So, do you and your boyfriend respect each other? Or is disrespectful drama the dish of the day?
1. You’ve had what could go down in history as the worst day of your life. When you call your BF for a shoulder to cry on, he:
- Offers tons of advice about what you should do
- Cuts your vent session short so he can hook up with friends to play video games
- Sympathizes with what’s going on and asks how he can help
2. When you and your BF start to disagree:
- You often repeat yourself because you feel like he just doesn’t understand
- You both get loud, profanity gets flung, and doors get slammed—hey, you’re passionate!
- You try to hear each other or take a time out if the convo gets heated
3. When it comes to your social lives, you and your BF:
- Tend to do what he wants to do, but you don’t care because you love being with him
- Get jealous when either of you spends time with other people
- Do your own thing and have your own friends, but take the time to hang alone because you’re also BFFs
4. Your BF has a tendency to put you down. You:
- Feel hurt but also make changes here and there—some of what he says is true
- Diss him right back—especially in front of all your friends
- Let him know how his comments make you feel. Then, stick to your limits
5. Your BF has a good friend who’s a girl and he tells her everything about you two. You:
- Let it go—you don’t want him to get mad if you mention it
- Already put an end to all that—if he wants to be with you, you’re going to be the only girl in his life
- Let him know about your need for privacy
6. Your BF wants to have sex or hook up in some other way, but you don’t want to. You:
- Give in or promise him you’ll be ready “soon”
- Don’t do anything you don’t want to do but also keep him hanging—he’s putty in your hands
- Tell him your boundaries and that you need him to respect them
7. When you think about your BF, you feel:
- Lucky he picked you—it’s like you can’t live without him and wouldn’t want to
- A love-hate thing going on—when it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad, it’s nuclear
- Happy—you both like each other for who you are and have a blast together
Mostly As: Speak Up, Girl!
Your communication style could use a self-respect makeover. For starters, your opinions and needs matter. But it seems like they could be taking a back seat when you’re trying to make your boyfriend happy. To have a strong relationship, focus on getting to know yourself, learning about your boundaries, and being honest about them. Get in touch with who you are and don’t be afraid to speak up about what need—that’s a big sign that your self-respect is growing.
Mostly Bs: Dial-Down the Drama!
You and your BF seem to be drowning in disrespect—it’s time for some reflection. How does your relationship make you feel? Are you and your BF equals who listen to each other or are you constantly having high-drama power struggles? Real relationships are built on trust, admiration andrespect. Couples who constantly fight or put each other down other are not passionate—they’re verbally and emotionally abusing each other. If you can’t be in this relationship without you two trying to control each other, it’s a good idea to take a break. You deserve to get and give respect.
Mostly Cs: Keep the Respect Flowing!
You and your BF have a good sense of what mutual respect is all about! Remember to keep being honest about what you feel and need—and hear him out when he’s doing the same.