I'm a college freshman and am fortunate enough to be going to the same college as my best friend; we'll call her Elle. We briefly dated in high school, but we mutually decided to break up at the end of senior year so we wouldn't be juggling a relationship on top of everything else with freshman year. However, she has lately been dating this jerk-guy named Vic. I hate him, and what's worse is that she's head over heels for him.
He basically takes every opportunity to insult me, even if I'm trying to be nice to him. I've tried inviting him to hang out with some of my other friends that I've made, helping him with homework, etc. but the insults just keep coming. His favorite insults include: the size of my manhood, I'm his "personal nerd," my apparent lack of masculinity, my virginity, my size, the fact that I don't drink, and he likes to just flick me off or call me gay just to be a douche. I've tried stoicism, retaliation, pacifism, the proverbial "high road," but everything just makes him more and more relentless. He's even yelled at me just for hanging out with Elle in a totally platonic way. Elle knows about all of it but insists that it's "just how he is."
How do I deal with him without compromising my friendship with Elle? I figure he's just a jerk with an inferiority complex and is projecting his insecurities on me, but it's seriously getting under my skin. He's an ass, but he's also the one with a girlfriend. Do any girls like nerdy, smart, non-a-hole guys like me, or am I doomed to be a bachelor forever?
Dude. DUDE. What is it with the ongoing myth about girls only wanting to date a-holes? It's insulting to everyone, it's complete bollocks, and yet, for whatever reason, it just won't die. UGH.
So please, once and for all: Yes, there are girls out there who like smart, nerdy, non-a-hole guys. Yes, there are. And while there's no one type of guy every girl wants (because we're individuals, and we like different things!) you'd be hard-pressed to find any girl who actually lists "a-hole" among her most-wanted traits in a boyfriend. But while being an a-hole is decidedly unattractive, there's one other trait that's even less attractive—and, when it comes to getting a girlfriend, even more of a liability. And that, my friend, is being a doormat.
Which is exactly what you are as long as you keep pussyfooting around Vic's unrepentant asshattery in an attempt to preserve your friendship with Elle. I mean, geez, dude—how much of this are you going to put up with? He's a jerk! He insults and belittles you! He's not going to change! And yet, despite all of this, you're inviting him to spend time with your friends and helping him with his homework!
Hey, do you hear that sound? Sort of a desperate, frantic squeaking? That's the last dying gasp of your self-respect.
And while you're hoping to navigate this mess without compromising your friendship with Elle, let's be real: your friendship is already compromised. Elle knows what's going on, and not only does she not care, but she's shrugged it off in defense of her boyfriend. This girl has already decided which relationship matters more to her, and it's not the one she has with you.
So, what do you do now?
1. SACK UP. The only thing you can control is how you react to this situation. Nobody else is going to look out for your best interests; it's up to you to draw the line on how much abuse you'll accept (i.e. as close to "none" as possible.) So please, put an end to this nonsense. No more inviting Vic to hang out; no more being nicey-nice to Vic; and please, for the love of God, no more doing Vic's homework.
2. SET GROUND RULES.
Rule #1: From now on, you will endeavor to have the least possible amount of contact with Vic—thus minimizing his opportunities to insult you.
Rule #2: Future Vic insults will be met with cool disregard. Appropriate comebacks include The Blank Stare (look impassively at Vic for a moment, then shrug and go back to what you were doing), The Zinger ("Vic, I know you're in pain, but insulting me won't make those warts on your genitals go away"), and The Appeal To A Higher Power (gather your things, turn to Elle, and say, "I'm not dealing with this today"—and then leave.)
Rule #3: You will stand up to Elle. As long as you keep putting up with this, Elle will never experience the natural consequences of dating a d-bag who treats her friends badly—namely, the alienation of said friends. So tell her that while you respect her choice to date Vic, she should understand that when he's around, you won't be. And then make good on it.
3. GET CONFIDENT. Now that you're not playing doormat for several hours a day, you'll have a lot more time on your hands—time that should be used to deal with the insecurity that made you willing to put up with this garbage in the first place. You're better than that! Start acting like it! Get involved in clubs and scenes that let your abilities shine, connect with people who share your interests, and expand your social circle. And while "smart and nerdy" are wonderful, they should describe who you are, not what you look like. So get a decent haircut; dress stylishly; go to the gym and get yourself the hottest, healthiest body you can. Self-confidence and self-care go hand in hand, and they're both sexy.
Whether your friendship with Elle will survive, I can't say. But if being her friend comes at the cost of your self-respect, then you're better off without her. And if you're looking out for yourself—and developing the self-confidence that girls find irresistible—then you'll have no shortage of new friends with which to fill the void.
Need advice on dorms, dating, or college stress? Ask Kat! Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Ask Kat: My Virgin Ears