Ask an Advocate

Do you have relationship questions but don’t know who to ask? The Ask an Advocate series is here to help! At loveisrespect, our advocates talk to young people every day about various situations related to dating, healthy relationships, unhealthy and abusive behaviors. We know how difficult it can be to talk about these issues sometimes, but know that we are here to listen!

Chances are, if you have questions others may have questions too—and our loveisrespect advocates are ready to help you with whatever questions you may have! Remember, answers are not advice! We know there’s no one-size-fits-all-answer when it comes to dating and relationships, so we want to continue with our mission to empower young people affected by dating abuse while providing you with a guide to help you make the healthiest choices for you and those you care about.

How do you submit your questions to Ask an Advocate?

Submitting your questions to Ask an Advocate is super simple!

  • Send us a private message via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram with your “ask.”
  • Our handle is @loveisrespect and @loveisrespectofficial on Instagram.
  • Our advocates will respond to your queries in the order they were received.
  • No real names, please! Use a code name to help keep you safe.

How do you read the responses to your questions in Ask an Advocate?

Please send a code name along with your “ask” so we can customize our response.

Are there any rules for posting your questions to Ask an Advocate?

Since it will be a one-time answer, we ask that the “asks” are scenarios that can be responded to in that manner. If our advocates feel that an “ask” would need further discussion and/or safety planning, we will recommend reaching out directly to loveisrespect via call, chat or text message for direct advocacy.

But wait, who’s actually answering these “asks?”

Finally! We were waiting for you to mention it! We have our panel of advocates below! They each have their own vibrant personalities and advocacy magic. We hope you enjoy and above all else, we hope this is a great resource for those with questions regarding relationships! Now give us your best shot!

 

NEW!

Question from Anonymous

Me and my girlfriend of 14 months broke up yesterday. She had never told me about what I used to do that upset her and after a year of being together she finally exploded and told me how angry and hurt she was. I had no idea, because it was all from stuff that happened more than eight months ago. We tried going on a break for a few weeks, but yesterday she told me that she couldn’t see herself getting over it in the foreseeable future and didn’t want to be together anymore. I’m hurting so bad and I just want to be with her.

Advocate Response

Wow! So much happened in such a short amount of time. It makes sense that this has felt extremely overwhelming. I appreciate you reaching out to loveisrespect! Being together for 14 months and then breaking up can definitely shake you up and feel confusing, so I can totally understand how you feel.

It would help to know what are some of the things that she says you did that upset and hurt her in order to better understand the situation. For example, if there were unhealthy behaviors like putting them down, controlling who they talked to, pressuring them to do things they did not want to do, or any of these then there was definitely a reason for this person to be hurt and feel the need to put distance between you and them. It can be helpful to ask yourself if you might have been responsible for any of these and if so, take accountability and seek help–which we can help you get information on where to go for that.

Even if there weren’t any of these behaviors we mentioned, it’s important to know that everyone has the right to end a relationship at any point and for whatever reason. The only thing you can do is respect that choice, take steps to take care of your own feelings and find ways to move forward. What are some ways to can shift the focus on accepting how you feel, be respectful of their decisions and feelings and focus on things that you enjoy? You deserve to take this opportunity to do what reminds you of the great things going on in your own life.

Overcoming this is probably not going to be easy, so you are welcome to reach out to us 24/7/365 for more support! We are here for you!


Question from Anonymous

Hi! I’m a 24-year-old -girl. I’ve never had a boyfriend and I’ve been dealing with a lot of self-doubt. I just keep thinking that the moment a guy ever starts paying attention to me, I’ll jump into a relationship without ever considering whether I should be with that person or not—just because I’ll be scared of the fact that maybe no one will ever find me attractive. I don’t know how to deal with this. Thanks for reading!

Advocate Response

Thanks for your submission! That is such a tough spot to find yourself in!

One thing to consider is asking yourself what it is that you are looking for in a partner: Nice eyes, great smile, a good sense of humor? After you get through that part, or maybe before you begin checking that off your list, consider the way they treat you. Someone that treats you with respect, is comfortable around your friends, supports you in pursuing what you love, and doesn’t pressure you to do things you don’t want to do might be a great person you can have a healthy relationship with.

Sometimes we may feel like we’ve jumped into a relationship, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t end it anytime that you feel like you have to, especially if you feel like it is not healthy. You also never need a reason to end a relationship you don’t want to be in any longer.

It can be really challenging when we struggle with letting go of feeling unattractive and embracing what does make us stunning, engaging, appealing and completely worthy of love and respect. Recognizing what makes us valuable human beings might be something to focus on first before giving someone else an opportunity to do that for us. Whether or not someone responds to or recognizes our beauty, sexiness, or intelligence, it is there and it exists.

I would encourage you to take some time to focus on yourself and find out who you are and you want out of life. We are made to believe that our youth is all about and only about finding your other half and that we have this timeline we are supposed to abide by which is so not true. Maybe this should be a time for loving ourselves as a whole person and not a half person. Doesn’t that sound a lot more kind and compassionate towards ourselves?

You’re always welcome to come in to call, chat or text with us as you continue to navigate this. We’re here for you!


Question from Anonymous

Recently, my girlfriend said I was gaslighting her, and her friends started telling me I’m an abuser… I need help. Because of all this, I feel isolated.

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds like being talked to about your behavior has opened up some introspection that can be a really good place to start. You deserve to have a space where you feel safe to talk about what has come up for you, so that if there is a change that needs to take place, that you have support in your life to make it a lasting one. Our hotlinechat and text services are open 24/7/365 and it could be useful to reach outso we can talk about specifics or help point you in the right direction for your own support system. I hope this helps!  


Question from Anonymous

My girlfriend keeps telling me that even though I went through a lot when I was younger, that there are people out there who have had it a lot worse and that I should just get over everything that happened. I feel hurt not just by the fact that she said that, but because she’s currently hanging out with another girl that she says is just a friend but she sees and talks to her more than she sees and talks to me. Her “friend” goes around telling people that my girlfriend is her girlfriend. What can I do?

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds like that was pretty minimizing. Anyone can look at their life and think that someone else may have it worse, but the reality is that this is your life, and what happened to you was real and deserves the space and empathy to help heal as well. It would be hard to say what’s going on with the other girl, but how you feel about it is valid. If something makes you feel uncomfortable and her explanation did not sooth your thoughts on it, that discomfort may not change. You deserve to have trust and understanding in any relationship you have. I hope this helps!


Question from Anonymous

I have feelings for a man and a womanI feel like I need to decide on one or the other before it gets too serious? I don’t want to hurt anyone and I care for them both dearly but I feel guilty and would appreciate any guidance. Thank you! 

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

Sounds like a tough spot! Having feelings for more than one person is perfectly normal, but it is important that there is open and honest communication happening between you and your partners. You don’t necessarily have to decide between them if everyone is on the same page about being in an open relationship, but that comes from the honest communication piece. If you are unsure about what you would like your next step to be, maybe stepping back for a bit and seeing where your heart is leading you would do the trick (cheesy right? But really it works!)


Question from Anonymous

My first boyfriend was kind of weird: He didn’t like me playing video games or watching movies that had nudity in them and would scold me if I did? (even if they were just female boobsI’m a hetero girl!). He’d say to me, “it’s disgusting.” Would that count as abuse?

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It is anyone’s prerogative to like or dislike any forms of entertainment like video games and X-rated movies. With that in mind, no person has the right to try and control what you watch just because they don’t like it! When you are in a relationship, it is healthy to make compromises for the betterment of the relationship, but it is not up to your partner to set up the rules. Just because he doesn’t like it, it doesn’t mean you have to refrain from it if you don’t want to. It is OK for him to express how he feels about video games and movies with nudity, however, it would be considered abusive if he scolded you or pestered you about it. Once you set your stance on how you feel, it is not his place to try and change you–that is a red flag for a controlling behavior! If you look at it like this: he is your partner, not a parent. Forcing you to abstain from nudity and trying to make you feel guilty or bad about is wrong. This type of behavior is usually a red flag for other controlling and abusive behaviors. We hope this helps! 


Question from Anonymous

My abuser and I volunteer at the same place. I really want to go back and help but I get triggered by them. I would love to talk to them about what happened, but they absolutely refuse.

Advocate Response

Dear Anonymous,

It is hard for a victim to see her abuser in a work or volunteer setting. Abusers are known to antagonize their victims and even try to get them in trouble or fired in retaliation for leaving the relationship. Victims may also be emotionally triggered by constant contact with their abusers which may affect their ability to do their job duties. In general, it is dangerous for a victim to have any contact with an abuser because exposes them to further manipulation and increases the risk of physical violence.

I encourage you to try and find a similar place to volunteer or work. Unfortunately, abusers aren’t likely to compromise in these situations so it will probably be up to you to give up the position or find another place to volunteer. But consider this: even though you may feel you are taking a loss by giving up your volunteer position what you gain is so much more valuable. You gain back your power and the freedom to live a happy, abuse-free life.

It is also difficult to leave an abusive relationship without closure or some type of resolution. Often times victims are left with a sense of injustice and confusion. The odds of an abuser granting you closure is unlikely, however. Abusers are all about having power and control. One way abusers maintain power is by denying their victims the closure they need or validating their feelings and experiences.

In fact, instead of acknowledging their fault or take responsibility for their actions, abusers will use the opportunity to manipulate their victim into coming back. Because of this, it’s best not to even have the conversation with an abuser. There are other ways for victims to gain closure like domestic violence counseling and support groups, talking to friends and family, journaling, creating art as well as a number of other ideas and outlets that can be found on our websites, Loveisrespect.org and Thehotline.org.


Question from donotbeembarrased

Hi! I work as a waitress at a dinner and I have a huge crush on one of the waiters. The problem is he’s 25 and I’m 18. He almost asked me out twice (I think). Should I just go ahead and do it myself? What do 25 year olds even like to do? People also tell me if a girl asks out a guy, then the guy would take advantage of her and I don’t know.

Advocate Response

Hello!

Romance can be a lot of fun! If you both get along well, go for it! Be sure that you are asking him out respectfully, though. Invite him to do something that you both like to do, or maybe try something new together!

It is true that with a bigger age gap between partners, there is a higher risk of abusive behaviors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Regardless of age, if partners treat each other equally and respectfully, you can have a great, healthy relationship! Be sure to keep your eye out for red flags that could pop up in relationships with large age differences. Age is not an excuse for abusive behavior!

Be respectful, be yourself, and be sure to have fun! If you need someone to talk to, we are available 24/7 via phone, call, chat, and text and our services are anonymous and confidential.


Question from Anonymous

Hi. I’m in a relationship with an individual with physical/learning disabilities, and he can be really rude, controlling, selfish and manipulating. I’ve been with him for 7 years and I don’t know how should go about leaving this unhealthy relationship. I haven’t been happy for a while, but he can’t grasp it. I even told him to go on your website to learn about relationships and abuse. He still doesn’t get it. What should I do?

Advocate Response

It sounds like you have made a great effort to help him understand his abusive behaviors, and he still isn’t getting it. You don’t owe it to him to stick around until he understands what he is doing. Abusers can change, but only if they are willing, and it doesn’t sound like he is willing. You deserve a relationship that is healthy and respectful! If you are ready to leave the relationship, be sure to consider your safety as you plan. Give us a call or chat with us and we can help you figure out your options as you go through this difficult time!


Question from Anonymous

I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 6 months now but I still get anxious when he adds other girls on Facebook because even though he says he isn’t going anywhere, I’m still afraid he will find someone better than me and it makes me really anxious. I just want to be normal and not think these things.

Advocate Response

I completely understand how you’re feeling. Jealousy is a normal feeling that people can get about certain situations. It sounds like your boyfriend has been reassuring you when you do start to feel anxious and that’s great. Healthy partners are able respect their partner’s friendships outside of the relationship. I think maintaining open communication when you start to feel this way is important, so you’re able to talk to your partner about what exactly is making you anxious. When you do start to feel anxious, another tip could be to go and do something for yourself that you enjoy outside of the relationship. Self-care is super important because it’s how we take care of our emotional well-being.


Question from Anonymous

My two friends have been in a relationship for years. I have witness several instances of psychological and verbal and emotional abuse. The abused reached out to me for help when she had a chance, because we pretty much only see each other when the abuser is there. What should I do about it? 

Advocate Response

Woah! I am glad your friend built the courage to reach out to you for support! And seeing that you too are reaching out to better support her validates how great of a friend you are.

I can imagine witnessing your friend enduring abuse from her partner (who is also your friend) must have felt very disturbing, and disheartening. It’s so difficult to watch someone you care about being hurt by their own partner. It’s always tough when you are friends with both of them. It’s important to remember that what her partner is doing is not okay, since no one deserves abuse, especially from someone they’d expect to care and support them.

Abuse is cruel, confusing and a choice her partner is deliberately making to diminish her sense of identity, self-worth and dignity. It can be a safe idea to only support her when her partner isn’t around since abusive partners tend to isolate their partners from support. When it’s safe, it would be helpful to remind and reassure her that every human being is always worthy of being treated with basic respect and dignity, including her!–and that you’re concerned for her emotional safety. Most importantly, honoring that she knows her situation best and respect every decision she makes. You can also offer what you’d like to, whether that’s a listening ear, a place to stay, self-care plans or safety plan with her. Or anything you can to help humanize her–and shift power back to her. Also, it can be safe to keep in mind that ending an abusive relationships tends to be the most dangerous times in the relationship, so you can encourage her not to tell her partner any contemplations or steps she might take to end the relationship.

Last but not least, you can talk with us, and you can motivate your friend to do so too. We are here to support 24/7/365 via call, chat or text! I am so grateful that she has a support person like you in her circle.  


Question from Anonymous

I emotionally abused my former girlfriend and I want to get help. Its rare to find help for those who have abused. It’s a mistake for us to try and get back together again, but want to prove her and everyone else that an abuser can change. 

Advocate Response

Hi! Thanks for reaching out. It is super important to take ownership of what you need to do in order to ensure your future relationships are healthy and I appreciate your honesty in understanding how it is not a good idea for you to try to get back together with your ex.  

A healthy relationship is based on trust, honesty, respect and equality. We actually have daily conversations with people who have identified abusive behaviors within themselves. If you would like help in trying to change, we would be more than happy to have a more in-depth chat about your needs and what steps you might be able to take to make that happen.

Wanting to get help is a great start! It is essential to provide yourself with enough space to really focus on the work you will be doing to change as well as an opportunity for your former girlfriend to receive the support and help she may need to heal.

Another thing I will add is that it might be a better to not approach this with the goal of proving to your ex or everyone else that you can change, but instead make the commitment to change for yourself. Remind yourself that you deserve to have a safe and healthy relationship and so does the person you are with.

You are always welcome to reach out to us 24/7/365.


Question from Anonymous

Is it normal to get jealous when my boyfriend messages his friends when he’s with me or when he tells me he will go or went out with them? I don’t make a scene and try to control my feelings, but when I’m not having a good mood in general (like when I’m on my period) I start crying and get angry. I don’t know why I feel this way, maybe because I don’t have friends I can hang out with. I don’t know. Any advice? 

Advocate Response

It sounds like you are being incredibly selfreflective in an effort to get to the bottom of why you’re feeling this waywhich is not an easy task!

Jealousy is a normal emotion to have; it is how we display jealousy that determines whether our behavior is healthy or unhealthy. Feeling comfortable in your relationship to express how something makes you feel is important, and it looks like you may be making such an effort to bottle it all up that it bubbles over sometimes in an unhealthy way! Maybe taking some time, when nothing has happened and emotions are mellow to talk to your partner about how you feelwill help you feel more grounded and comfortable. 

In a healthy relationshipit is important for each partner to maintain their individual lives outside of the relationship, like work, hobbies or friendships. It helps build a strong foundation when each partner is feeling “whole. You mentioned that you feel pretty isolatedThis may be a time to look into things that you enjoy and building relationships with others that can help build you up and help you grow too! I hope this helps! 


Question from Anonymous

My current boyfriend has been acting quite distant lately, like he just can’t look me in the eyesI can tell he doesn’t want to talk about whatever is bothering him. What should I do? 

Advocate Response

Communication is an important element in a healthy relationship, so I commend you for wanting to talk over whatever is bothering your partner. 

When your partner is being distant and doesn’t want to share why, it could be for a number of reasons. It’s best not to assume even if something has occurred and you feel his treatment is directly related to that. What you can do is find a good time and place to sit with your partner and have a conversation. For example, you can plan to talk with your partner when you know he has the time like on an off day. Also, you can plan to talk to your boyfriend in a safe and neutral place. Maybe a place that is public but you can still have a private conversation (like a park). You can start the conversation by saying how you’ve been feeling in regard to your boyfriend’s distance and encourage him to open up about what’s going on. If he resists initially, you can explain how feel about the relationship and how you want to make sure you both feel comfortable expressing your feelings. The latter maybe a roundabout way to spark conversation but it just might be the in you need to get your partner to talk.  

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