You’re Not a Piece of Shit

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This is something you might want to read if you need the courage to leave someone that occasionally treats you like a piece of shit. This person is great. They are smart and sexy and funny and when they’re not being an asshole, they are the exact opposite of an asshole. They are kind and loving when they’re not being mean and withholding. They are everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner plus a bunch of stuff you don’t. They are the person you’ve heard other people talk about but didn’t believe they existed. You didn’t think a person like that could happen to you and then they did. And they were intoxicating. You drank them up even though they only gave you sips. You weren’t cocky enough to believe you were different than everyone else but you were silly enough to believe they were different with you.

They aren’t nuts. They haven’t cheated. They haven’t done anything Wrong with a capital ‘W.’ They might be a little emotionally abusive but it’s so subtle that you can’t quite put a finger on why it feels So Bad. It’s that thing where when you try to explain it to anyone, even yourself, you shake your head because you can never find the right words to explain why it fucking sucks. You just feel it in your stomach. They’ve burned you so much on the little things that are skipped over and ignored because they aren’t the Big Things that when they don’t, you feel lucky. That’s not why you should feel lucky.

You ask your friends to tell you you’re not stupid for thinking that something’s wrong then you turn around and ask them to tell you you’re not stupid for sticking around. You feel broken or like you’ve done something wrong but you haven’t. Wanting to not feel bad isn’t wrong. Wanting to not feel bad isn’t the goal. You should have someone that holds you up and since they don’t make you fall to the ground you think it’s ok that your shoulders sag. Everyone knows to run from huge, scary monsters. It’s harder to know you’re supposed to run from something so unassuming.

You’re not leaving this person because it can’t work out. You know it could work out. You know you could be great together. You know it deep in your soul, sure as your heart beats, sure as the infinity that passed in the time they could have done something. Could have said something. Could have apologized. That is how sure you are that you two could be fucking amazing. But you won’t be. Because they don’t deserve you. After the way they treated you, they don’t get to have you. You are a fucking prize. You are The Shit, dude. You will make whomever you are with the happiest human in the world and if you can’t you will surely try. And they don’t deserve that. They deserve exactly what they’re gonna get — a piece of shit of person. Because that’s what they treat people like. And the only people that will stick around and stand for being treated LIKE pieces of shit, are people that think they ARE pieces of shit. You’re not a piece of shit, you’re a person, silly.

So good luck to them. They’ll need it. But you, my friend. You’re gonna be just fine.

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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 328 articles for us.


  1. This is beautiful and so encouraging! Thank you <3
    I feel like this also applies to unhealthy friendships not just intimate partners, friends can break your heart and treat you like shit too. Caring for someone shouldn't make you feel lousy. You deserve and are worth loving and caring relationships.

  2. This would’ve been super helpful for me in my early-to-mid-20s. But I’m glad it exists now.


    • Exactly. It took me seven years of lousiness to work this out for myself in my late teens and early twenties,still the lessons learned have helped me help others over the years since.

  3. I’m *just* insecure enough to feel uneasy after reading this. Because what if “you” really is me?

    • Then you take some time and look at yourself honestly. And if you still aren’t sure, like way sure, it’s not you? Accept you are a person too and you also deserve better, a better you. Be present in the now and mindful of your actions a bit more, a touch more charitable and/or understanding. Eventually it becomes habit.

      Eventually you’ll be sure it’s not you. And the world (and you) are better for it.

      (I was… not a good person once. Sometimes such people can change. But it can be rough until you’re sure it’s not you anymore.)

      • Goddamnit, that second to last line in the first paragraph should have read “be a touch more charitable and/or understanding to your self about what you need.”

        Blergh. Without that it sounds like I’m saying you’re the bad person.

  4. This is so relevant and powerful, thank you for writing. But then what do you do once shit person is gone and now they’re with someone new and they’re seemingly no longer shit, but all cute and nice and kind, basically exactly what you wanted? Was it you all along after all….?

    • That shit person treated you like shit, and they don’t have the right to do that. So you leave and don’t look back. Besides, they probably seemed “all cute and nice and kind” from the outside looking in with you too.

    • If you’re me, you remember that even when Shit Person was with you, it was very hard for anyone on the outside to see how Shit things were, that you looked like a great couple, and that everyone else thought S-P was cute and nice and kind. You might give S-P a little credit for maybe possibly kind of growing, while at the same time you feel a little bad/fearful for New Person who doesn’t know what s/he’s getting into, and then relieved that you got out while you could and that your life is better off without S-P. Repeat this enough and you can skip over a lot of the middle stuff and straight to the “not my problem anymore” phase.

    • everything looks shiny and okay from the outside but it never is. IT NEVER IS. i think sometimes people do change — i’ve had people who were shits to me in their early 20s who are now married with kids in their 30s and seem to be pretty good humans in good relationships. but if we’re talking a small period of time between when they were with you and they are with this person — it’s really unlikely that they’re as happy as you think they are.

      sometimes people bring out the toxic parts of each other, that’s true. and sometimes somebody who is a shit to you isn’t a shit to the next person because they learned — from you! — what they did wrong.

      but it’s more likely that things just look better from the outside than they are now, or will be.

  5. I wish I was able to read this years ago. But it’s a good reminder to never go back to that place. You get it perfect, though. I was going to quote the best parts, but then I was quoting all the parts. Thank you.

  6. Brittani, you are perfect and this is perfect. Thank you!

    “They might be a little emotionally abusive but it’s so subtle that you can’t quite put a finger on why it feels So Bad. It’s that thing where when you try to explain it to anyone, even yourself, you shake your head because you can never find the right words to explain why it fucking sucks. You just feel it in your stomach.”

    Ughh. YES. And you are afraid that if you say it out loud, you’ll just sound like you are complaining about nothing and being too sensitive, even to yourself.

  7. Um. Are you me? Because this is everything I’ve been feeling for the last year: I just didn’t know how to say it. Thank you <3

  8. Whoa. Unexpected punch in the feels. In a good, if bittersweet, way, because it describes Past-Me and a relationship I did *eventually* get out of. But wow. <3

  9. So. Many. Feelings.

    Lemme just bookmark this, because I need to figure out if my partner is S-P.

  10. “You’re not a piece of shit, you’re a person, silly.”

    Brittani, thank you, I love you, and this is wonderful, and you are wonderful.

  11. Well, ho lee shit. Something happened today and I go online to forget my sad and lonely heart and this is the exact thing I need to read. Thank you Brittani. Thank you Autostraddle. Thank all y’all wonderful humans. <3

  12. “Because they don’t deserve you. After the way they treated you, they don’t get to have you. You are a fucking prize. You are The Shit, dude. – My mantra as of late.

    Thank you.

  13. Fuck dude, this about sums up my last 3 relationships. Compassion in the beginning, wiser in the ending, and over quickly, thankfully. You can now find me in the scratch and dent aisle.

  14. You can do it you can break away, survive and someday live. Who ever you are out there you need to know someday you will live again and life won’t just be survival gladiator mode forever.
    It won’t happen in flash, but it will happen.
    You will live.

  15. Yup. Also, all shit people are not-shit some of the time. That’s how they keep people around. They rely on you gaslighting yourself that the lovely times are worth the times you feel like shit. Especially just after they’ve done something that makes you think “Wait, what?” It’s a cycle and they’re very good at it. Otherwise they wouldn’t have anyone.

    • THIS! This is what I always say when people get all “Why do women date Shit People” – it’s because no one is a Shit Person 100% of the time. In fact, many of them are quite charismatic, which feeds into the victim’s cycle – “Everybody else likes Shit Person, why don’t I? I must be wrong about them.”

      It took a long time for me to recognize the Shit going on in my worst relationship because it all fell under the guise of my ex’s sense of humor. It was a bully-ish sense of humor, lots of over-the-top teasing and juvenile pranks, but if I got upset, did that just mean I’d lost *my* sense of humor? That I was being a stick in the mud, and should instead wave it all off as “just a joke”?

      Thing is, charisma is a necessary trait for becoming a master manipulator. I’ve since become rather suspicious of charismatic people, and examine them closely to see whether they have an empathy gene or if they’re just narcissists who crave attention.

    • Yes. They expect the one kind and generous act to make up for the 20 times they treated you like shit…always pointing out that one thing, playing the victim, and referencing your lack of gratitude as evidence of their righteousness.

  16. I’m so glad to have someone who cares for me so much in my life. She is my treasure, my best friend. We may have decided not be a couple anymore but our feelings for each other still remain the same. :)

  17. Thanks for this, it was amazing and I will share it with friends in need. I wish I’d read this a year and a half ago, when I was involved with a woman who fit the description in this article to a T! She was bad news, and I’m so glad I cut her out, cold turkey, for good.

  18. I’m going to read this daily. Maybe more than once.

    I read this aloud to my best friend and she nodded, “mmm!”-ed, and exclaimed “Preach!” more than once.

    It’s tricky as time goes by after cutting someone like that out of your life. It’s easy to look back on past events and think: “Well, THAT was really good, and she let me borrow her jacket, and we had so much fun!” Problem is: Usually those memories are bookend-ed with negative and unhealthy ones – the ones we aren’t focusing on.

    Thank you so much for this, and reminding me that I’m a person.

  19. Thanks. This is so great, truly wonderful and so needed.

    Now how do I stop missing her?

    • Keep your distance, strengthen your resolve, remind yourself of her shit-person qualities as often as needed (especially when you start looking back with nostalgia on the “good times”), put that energy into loving yourself, and the missing gets less and less. Looking back with a healthy mindset, the shit-people don’t stay with you, no matter how powerful the hold feels in the short term.

    • I’m sadly in the same boat. But fortunately I have kept a journal, and in it I recorded my roller coaster of a relationship with her. Going back through that has prevented me from looking back with rose-colored glasses.

      My recent realization was that I was chiefly in love with the idea of her. And I made so many excuses and justifications before I realized that she was showing me her reality. It’s hard to let go of that beautiful idea, but I’m slowly starting to see if for what it is/was.

  20. Guys I promise you can do it. I’ve gotten rid of Shit Person, and I’ve walked two of my best friends through getting rid of their Shit People, with a lot of the same words as B’s brilliant ones here. Just keep rereading this, and loving yourselves, and be patient with yourselves, and you’re going to find the “better” that you deserve.

  21. And UGH YES: “You should have someone that holds you up and since they don’t make you fall to the ground you think it’s ok that your shoulders sag.”

  22. I just read this for the third time, and let me tell you. It will not be the last. Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you. (First comment ever! Also: deciding on a username to be forever engraved on Autostraddle is seriously stressing me out. So far, The Internet Searching has furnished me: Beastmaster, Motherboard, and Stubblechest. I think I’m doing it wrong…)

    • Oh, okay then. I see you can comment without an account. Well, this is my Actual Account, which I just created.

  23. It is as if fate guided me to type Autostraddle into the search box and pushed my mouse to click on this article. I can unfortunately admit that I indeed feel like shit (and hey, at least that rhymed).

    I am in the exact position with an abusive ex who despite my recently having ended the relationship after a year of enduring abuse and convincing myself it was MY fault I’d end every evening in tears, comes forward saying she will do absolutely anything to earn me back, yet has no problem divulging how well her dates with other women are going despite how excited she is to come visit me in a few weeks. She apparently believes she will get girlfriend perks when with me and then single perks when away from me. I am made to feel guilty of ending our union when I left for my own safety. And according to ex, I am the one who has growing up to do because it is my fault I have been made to feel insecure and afraid of how she will react at any given moment.

    The pain is unbearable. But it has to stop. Reading the comments of those of you above gives me more courage to walk away once again with my held high knowing I did not let my abuser have her way because my self-esteem is in the pits. Let us hope I can do it this time. Thank you, ladies, gents, and non-binary adhering angels.

    And to the lovely author, THANK YOU. Your words save lives of people you have never met. No more fantasies. Just a reality that I actually have a say in this time around.

  24. Wow. I was looking for something saucy to read on Autostraddle and thank god I found this instead. Perfect timing. Really needed it as I was getting all misty-eyed thinking about the “good times”.

    Thank you Brittani and the commenters! <3

  25. A brilliantly written piece, I think I’ve needed this for far longer than I want to admit. It’s just nice to know everyone feels this way, that I didn’t just f it up with “the one.” Thank you so much.

  26. I stumbled across this months ago and have it bookmarked so I can read it every so often, whenever I get too mired in past relationships that left me feeling less-than. Never have I come across something that so perfectly described a situation I couldn’t name. I’m not sure whether I’m sad or grateful that someone else has experienced these feelings and can share and that there are so many others for whom this rings true as well, but it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. It’s a great luxury to have someone voice all of those enigmatic feelings I couldn’t pin down.

    So thank you.

  27. I needed this so hard today. Going to go get a giant hot chocolate instead of engaging with a certain person. Thanks.

  28. What if you’re both people? I can’t get over how much I hate myself. I don’t want to get better, I just want to die but it’s not an option.

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