I met Charlie during a time in my life when I thought I had no one. He brought me happiness. I thought he was my Prince Charming, that we’d get married. He would say and do unforgettable things that put my head in a fantasy. However, as our relationship progressed, I lost more and more of myself to him.
I believe in self-expression. When Charlie and I first met, my hair was green and I had two lip piercings. Every day I dressed how I felt, so a lot of the time my hair was in a messy bun and I wore pajamas. After we’d been together for about four months, he started to criticize my appearance; I should redye my hair, he told me, and get rid of the piercings. At first I said no; they were part of who I was. But after a while, I dyed my hair a normal color and took out my piercings. I lost part of myself when I did that. Charlie told me I looked better that way.
A few months later, he started commenting on how I dressed. We would spend most of our time together at his house watching television, so I saw no reason to get all dressed up – but Charlie told me I looked horrible and needed to take better care of myself. He threw away some of my favorite shirts. I decided then just to dress how he wanted me to, even though I was less comfortable hanging out in tight jeans.
One day, when we were in the car, I connected my phone to the radio to play one of my favorite songs. He told me it was “crap,” then put on his own music. He told me I should start listening to what he liked, the music that “people our age actually listen to.” I agreed just to make him happy. The whole car ride, he went on and on about how his music was better than mine and how I needed to develop better taste. Later that day, I let him take my phone and replace all the music I loved with his music. I didn’t listen to anything on my phone for months, and didn’t dare touch the radio any time we were in the car together.
I believe in striving toward success and making sure that your future career is in reach. Charlie had just graduated high school when we started dating, and I was very proud of him. However, he had no plans for his life; he didn’t even try to apply for college. I would tell him how well I was doing in school and that he should get started on his next step in life. He would just nod and tell me he would get to it.
I got a job and started spending less time with Charlie. I told him he should get one too, but after being fired three times, he didn’t try anymore. Instead, he started smoking a lot, and I hated it. I kept begging him to stop, but he said that this was who he was and he wasn’t about to change for me.
Reality hit me when he said those words. Here I was, changing my appearance and my opinions, settling for less just for him, but he wouldn’t even try to change for me. It wasn’t worth it anymore.
When you choose to love someone, you should love them for who they are, not who you want them to be. Because of Charlie, I lost myself for a long time. Every day I spent in that relationship, I was becoming more depressed, but I never knew why. When I broke up with him, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had to fear his disapproval.
Never let a boyfriend or girlfriend make you feel that you’re not good enough, because for someone who truly loves you, you will always be worthy just the way you are.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.