My girlfriend is always ragging on me and it makes me feel like crap. I would love to get her to stop but I don’t want to sound like a wimp. She can be really mean and I’m afraid if I tell her how I feel it will only get worse. I really don’t want to make trouble. I don’t need my friends knowing I can’t take a joke.

~Bummed Boy in Burton

Dear Bummed,

If your feelings are as strong as you indicate, then your desperate attempts to be tough are in vain. Hurt feelings don’t make anyone a wimp, and your wish to express this to your misguided girl is well-placed.

There is a prevailing attitude that boys play with blue and never cry or admit injury. To be vulnerable is the antithesis of being masculine. Unfortunately, this is both inaccurate and damaging. While the reported abuse by men is smaller than women, numbers still hold that around 835,000 men are abused every year. It is often forgotten how deeply troubling and dangerous verbal abuse can be to the individual.

I am not suggesting that your girlfriend’s diatribes constitute verbal abuse, but even if they do not, constant joking that makes you feel uncomfortable or injured is not acceptable. It is detrimental to your psyche and you should not do yourself a disservice by just “taking it.”

Although telling your girlfriend to cut the jokes may be a scary place to go, it is absolutely necessary to maintain your own health as well as that of your relationship. If the situation were reversed and you made hurtful jokes toward your girlfriend, you would want to know. Hopefully, she is just unaware and oblivious to your discomfort. If it is intentional, then making her aware that you are hurt may verbalize something she has not yet wanted to acknowledge.

To put it plainly, hurting your partner is not cool and asking for relief is more than macho.

Even though you do not want to make trouble, it exists. Ignoring the white elephant only serves to displace reality. That elephant will still leave a huge pile of dung whether you acknowledge it or not.

Telling her is the tough part, but it’s sure better than sitting admist a pile of dung. I suggest neutral territory, perhaps even a restaurant. It stops her from making it worse, as most individuals will save face in public.

As far as your friends, you have to take care of yourself and hopefully they will respect your decision. Too often masculinity means shutting up and putting up. A real man respects himself enough to draw a line. If your friends tease you, just remind them that being beat by words is just as bad as fists. Real men will agree.

Got a love and relationship question that’s literally, ummm … burning? Ask the Love Goddess Robyn Tanner, at

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