The Myth of the Friend Zone

It’s the plotline of so many movies and tv shows, seemingly dreaded by all who date: the friend zone.

When someone says they’re in the friend zone, they usually mean that they want to have a more intimate, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with a person who considers them to be “just friends.”

But we’re here to tell you something that might blow your mind: the friend zone is a myth!

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Breaking Down the Jealousy Myths

By Nicole Seligman, a loveisrespect advocate

Jealousy in relationships is one of the most common issues we hear about at loveisrespect. Whether you’ve just started to date someone or have been going strong for a long time, jealousy is a feeling that comes up in most relationships.

What determines if your relationship behaviors are healthy, unhealthy, or abusive is how you deal with your jealous feelings. Since there are so many different ways to go about confronting your own jealousy, we want to break down some of the myths and help you learn to always handle jealousy in a healthy way.

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5 Stalking Myths Debunked

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. The National Center for Victims of Crime wants everyone to take the time this month to learn a little about stalking and to raise awareness about the dangerous issue.
Do you know the truth about stalking? We’re debunking the myths to make sure that when it comes to stalking, you can know it, name it and stop it.

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Five Misconceptions About Dating Abuse

You’ve seen it on Teen Mom, watched a few Lifetime movies, you’re an expert, right? Well, here at loveisrespect, as much as we are glad the subject of dating abuse is out there, sometimes these shows aren’t giving the full story. We want you to have the full story.

Here are five common misconceptions about dating abuse:

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Did You Know?

Hi, Rachel and Nicole here. During our training, we debunked a lot of myths about domestic violence. Most of the facts really scared us for the callers and chatters experiencing domestic violence firsthand, but some were more surprising than others. Here are a few things we didn’t know before training. Did you know these facts?

  • Age isn’t just a number. Studies suggest that between 3.5 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually. While it is obviously traumatic for any child to witness domestic violence, children exposed during the first few years of development are likely to demonstrate higher levels of emotional and psychological distress than older children. This surprised us because it seems like younger children would not yet understand what is going on, but they are at a more impressionable state in life and a violent environment is incredibly harmful for their development.
  • Teens are more at risk than adults. A 2006 Liz Claiborne Foundation study found that teenagers have a higher risk of domestic violence than adults, though there are less available resources. Teens have often never been educated about healthy relationships and are coerced into abusive situations without knowledge of red flags or how to get help. We agreed that teens should be made aware of dating abuse prevention and healthy relationship promotion to help them recognize an unhealthy relationship before it becomes abusive.
  • The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the abused partner tries to leave. This was not what we expected either, but it does make sense. Think about it- if you’re an abuser who has been controlling your partner for the past six months, and then your partner leaves. The abuser is willing to do anything to get that control back. We watched this video that really brought home this point. It takes, on average, seven attempts to leave before a partner leaves their abuser for good and this is part of the reason why.
  • Pregnant women are twice as likely to be abused by their partner. There was silence in our training room after this statistic was read. The reason may be that an abuser knows the pregnant woman can’t leave as easily or he or she might need an outlet for the stress of having a baby on the way.
  • Less than 25 percent of teens say that they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Dating abuse is way more prevalent than we had thought, and parents obviously don’t know this either. Many times, one of our advocates is the first person a teen has spoken to if they’re in an unhealthy relationship. We’re always here, but parents can help us by talking with their teens about healthy relationships.

Now that we have finished training, we are practically certified in domestic violence and dating abuse awareness. Is there anything you would like to know?

If you or a friend may be in an unhealthy relationship, there is an advocate waiting to answer your call or chat.


My First Day of Training at Loveisrespect

Hi, my name is Rachel and I am a new communications intern here at One part of my duties will be updating this blog and our twitter account (follow us: @loveisrespect!). The other part of my week will be spent taking chats and calls at the National Dating Abuse Helpline, the organization that provides direct service at loveisrespect. Before any volunteer starts the phones, everyone has to go through 40 hours of training, myself included.

My training officially started last Saturday morning. There were so many thoughts racing through my head while I was driving- what if I’m not mature enough? What if I cry or get emotional when I hear these stories? What if I can’t even handle the training? I’ve always been the type to console my friends after breakups, but I have never had to console someone I don’t know. It seems strange to be invited in to someone’s life who I don’t know and talk to them about their relationships.

Luckily, the volunteer coordinators provide a TON of information (read: 4-inch thick binder). The group is about ten people and of all ages: few college-age, few post-college and a few older. After introducing ourselves, the first task was to complete a pre-task. There were some questions that I just did not know (what are the two questions you should ask every teen who calls into the Helpline?) and some that I felt like I made an intelligent guess on (what are three signs of dating abuse? Thanks Lifetime Movies for that answer!).

The volunteer coordinators promised that we would know all of the answers by the time we finished. After this, the coordinators led a series of lectures and discussions about what dating abuse and healthy relationships really look like. We watched the Lifetime movie Reviving Ophelia before lunch, then talked about how the relationship of Elizabeth and Mark had the warning signs of an abusive relationship. After lunch, we discussed the ‘big picture:’ how society’s demands on relationships cultivate abusive behavior.

This part was really intense for me- I just had never thought about the unspoken assumptions that are placed on relationships. It was so much more than the guy pays and opens doors for a woman; this was about how men are only allowed one emotion (anger) and women are conditioned to be gentle and nurturing and what this all means for the dynamics of relationships.

We watched this clip of a toddler having the time of his life to talk about what being free from these gendered pressures could really do for us. Then, we cut out pictures from magazines and talked about how popular TV shows reinforces these assumptions.

It gave me a lot to think about on the ride home. Our homework assignment was to make an advertisement with a message we would want young adults to receive. I have a younger sister, Molly, who is starting high school next year and will probably have her first teenage relationship soon. She is a very mature young woman, but I worry that MTV, Teen Vogue and the E! channel send her the message that she needs to have perfect hair, wear size zero jeans, and shop exclusively at Abercrombie and Fitch. It just seems like there is this constant message to teens that they are not good enough just being who they are.

My advertisement, not exactly an artistic masterpiece, sent the message everyone is perfect just the way they are. Hopefully, my fellow volunteers like it and maybe one day, teen magazines and advertisers will catch on too.

If you’d like to be a peer advocate like me, check out this page. And if you think you would like to talk to a trained peer advocate about your relationship, chat or call us at 1-866-331-9474.


It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

What did you think about when you were 10 years old? Your bike? A video game? A cute guy or girl in your English class? A recent study by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) made a disturbing discovery. As much as 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.*

Our nation is a nation obsessed with body image, and it’s having a negative impact on teens and young adults. Over one half of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. These sorts of ideas and behaviors can lead to long-term problems with devastating consequences.

Eating disorders can share some of the same characteristics that we discuss on this website in terms of dating abuse. We wanted to highlight some of the similarities.

Hidden Victims: When someone is suffering from an eating disorder, a lot of effort is made to deny what is going on. Often, unhealthy actions (like binging and purging) take place in secrecy. This can be from feeling ashamed of their actions or the need to feel in control of how they are seen to others.

In unhealthy relationships, the victim will downplay the abusive parts of the relationship to friends and family, sometimes out of guilt and embarrassment. Typically, the most violent abuse will happen when no one else is around.

In both cases, since family and friends are often not cued into the situation, those suffering can easily feel alone and helpless.

Female-Only Myth: Most people mistakenly think that only females are affected by eating disorders and dating abuse. However, recent statistics show that men make up 10% of all those with eating disorders**, and the number of male victims who speak up continues to grow.

This myth about dating abuse and eating disorders continues because of stereotypes. The idea that the “ideal” guy should be strong and muscular without having to worry about dieting places unrealistic pressures on guys to achieve this image, forcing them into eating disorders. If you asked most people what dating abuse looks like, they would describe a guy hitting or punching a girl. Combined with the false idea that dating abuse can only be physical, this image makes it seem like guys never experience abuse in relationships.

Since this myth continues because of stereotypes, guys typically don’t seek out resources because they don’t think that help exists or out of fear that it’s unmanly .

Power and Control: A person becomes abusive in a relationship to have power and control over their partner. Power and control impacts those who are abused in a relationship by taking away their rights and freedoms. As the relationship continues, power and control tends to get worse and can get to the point where one person has control over all aspects of their partner’s life. Besides experiencing a lack of control, a person being abused can feel depressed, angry, lonely, and have low self-esteem.

These effects of power and control can lead the person being abused to develop an eating disorder. An eating disorder is developed by the victim to try to regain some of the control they are losing because of their relationship. These feelings of helplessness are not the only cause of eating disorders. Other factors such as the societal pressure to be thin or being bullied about weight can cause people to form eating disorders, mainly in an effort to gain back control they are losing.

The damaging effects of power and control in relationships can directly contribute to a victim developing an eating disorder.

Dating abuse and eating disorders directly affect each other and share many common barriers that block these issues from being properly addressed. For these reasons and more, now is a great time to speak out and take action against eating disorders. February 20-26 is National Eating Disorders Association Awareness Week and the folks at NEDA have put together a lot of great resources and activities to engage people in your school and community. Be sure to read our Q&A with Susie Roman, Program Manager at the National Eating Disorders Association. Also, follow the links below to find out more information. Many thanks to NEDA for all that they do to keep teens healthy and happy.




Stalking: What it looks like & how to get help

We’ve all heard of stalking. We’ve heard people jokingly say it in reference to Facebook, we’ve seen movies with it and we know that it’s often talked about as an issue for celebrities. But it’s also a real and serious problem that affects regular teens often, especially because of technology. So what is it? And what can you do to get help? Well, let’s take a look.

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