Maybe you have had this experience. Some guy you went to high school with contacts you on Facebook. You see now how handsome he is, his pretty wife and awesome dog. You remember liking talking to him a lot in school, but he never asked you out, and you never paid him much attention in that department.
Now, he says, "You know I had a crush on you in school."
You think, no, I did not know that.
"But you were going out with/into/crushing on Person X," he continues, "so I never really wanted to say anything."
You reflect on your time with Person X. The archetypal bad boy/jerk/insert-your-expletive here.
Wow, you say to yourself, I really missed out.
My daughter is just facing those years herself, and I have tried to tell her to pay attention to that guy that is always your friend, pay attention to the one that talks to you and laughs at your jokes and actually calls when he says he will. Ignore the flash in the pan, I say, as if a 12-year-old knows anything about flashes or pans yet. I tell her these things, but I know in my heart that this is hopeless. That she will find her own Person X despite our conversations, and her stepfather and I will lose sleep waiting for her to come home from dates.
But today, she forwarded me something from the Internet (God, I love the Internet) called the "Douchebag Theory." (I apologize for the language, not mine, though I do love the toxicity and efficacy of the word.) Wittyprofiles.com posits is as such:
When a girl is young and is playing with male kids, sometimes the male kid would hit her, or call her names, etc. The girl would then run home crying to her mom, who would say "if he hits/calls you names that just means he likes you!" This idea gets drilled into the young child's head and eventually becomes a normal way of thinking. So this in time becomes the douchebag theory; all the girls will go for the guys that treat them like crap because it is what they are taught to do.
The post finishes with: "Hopefully this blew your mind as much as mine." And yes, by God, it did. I myself have said exactly that with a knowing nod and a chuckle. Ah, a first crush.
Now, I read this, consider the logic, and think: Oh. No. This will end right now.
Maya Angelou rightly says: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Why is this not true when people are 12, 21 or 101?
From now on, I am not going to tell any child that someone tormenting them really just "likes" them and doesn't know how to show it. When someone treats you nicely, then maybe they like you or they just have good manners. When someone is tormenting you, they are tormenting you. Plain and simple.
Acknowledging this and teaching children what it really means to be nice to someone, what it really means to like someone could go a long way towards breaking the cycle of negative relationships.