Girl Talk: I Have Terrible Girlfriend Syndrome

I’ve had Terrible Girlfriend Syndrome (TGFS) for years. It all started with Matt Noonan in 6th grade. He was the new boy and all the girls wanted him. But I got him. Clearly, we were going to fall in love. We were going to hang out on the playground and go with a bunch of other snot-nosed 6th graders to PG-13 movies and the whole thing was going to be glorious.

Or so I thought. Instead, I showed up at school on the Monday after our epic decision to “go out”— his friend called my friend to ask if I liked Matt, mine wrangled the same info from the friend, etc.—and one of those bitchy 8th grade girls who was similarly smitten with Matt asked me if we were “together.” Images of the two of us skipping around hand-in-hand flashed through my head, and I quickly blurted out, “God no!”

Confused? Me too.But it’s been eight years since then and despite “writing all of those filthy things on the blogs,” (thanks Mom!) I still have difficulty even acknowledging the existence of guys I’ve been going out with for weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to life with TGFS. This deficiency manifests itself in countless ways, the most common signs being an unwillingness to acknowledge relationships, random cruelty to men, quite a lot of cheating, frantic searching for a “way out” and, eventually, the death of the relationship.

And the worst part is, though I occasionally consciously try to fix my behavioral patterns, it seems I’m borderline incapable of doing so. I find myself being needlessly mean to the guys I go out with, regardless of how sweet they are to me. I end fairly legit relationships via text message with phrases like “can’t we just be done with this?” or “this was supposed to just be a hookup.” I bitch to my friends about guys being “too nice” as though I’m looking for a relationship filled with bickering, when I know I’d run at the first sign of disharmony too.

Writing this now—and even as I’m engaging in it, sometimes—I realize that it’s the c**tiest sort of behavior. If I’m being totally honest, at least 40 percent of my dumpees didn’t deserve to be dumped at all, let alone so unceremoniously. And yet there I sit, fingers flying over my phone as I type out bitchy rejection after bitchy rejection, never really understanding why I’m doing it. All I know is that, very abruptly, the “thing” (um, relationship?) becomes incomprehensibly difficult to me. Sometimes overnight, I suddenly can’t imagine seeing him anymore.

I’ve often heard that our first relationships are like mini-mirrors of relationships to come. If I’d known in 6th grade how true that would be, maybe I would’ve joined a nunnery right then and there. It looked pretty fun in “Sister Act.”

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