This Pete Davidson Meme Implies People With Childhood Trauma Aren't Worth Dating
Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s mental health editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.
If you haven’t already heard, actress Kate Beckinsale and Saturday Night Live performer Pete Davidson locked lips at a hockey game last Sunday night. What’s more, they did so while sitting next to the visibly uncomfortable “Queer Eye” star, Antoni Porowski.
Needless to say, meme creators everywhere rejoiced after seeing the photos paparazzi snagged. And let me tell you, some choice memes were born from that awkward moment. Check out some of the greats here.
But one problematic meme has been making the rounds, prompting even Beckinsale to reply to it. The meme, created by the Instagram account @dietbroke (pictured below), says the words “Me” over Beckinsale’s picture and the words, “Guys with problems from childhood who I can ‘fix’” over Davidson’s. The words, “Wholesome guys with good paying jobs who text back and have no baggage” superimposed over the awkward-looking Porowski.
In response to the meme, Beckinsale commented on Instagram: “Antoni is gay, if that helps clarify at all.”
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But this meme is problematic on a few different levels, and it’s important to talk about why. Here are three things we’re missing when we share this meme:
1. People who have emotional wounds from childhood are worthy of love.
The idea that people with childhood baggage are “too much to handle” isn’t a new idea, nor is the idea that women are “lulled” into the belief that they can “save” men from their demons. And it’s certainly not the first time this theme has surfaced in a meme.
But before you jump to saying I’m taking a joke too seriously, let’s pause and dissect this. It’s not just any guy in this meme — it’s Pete Davidson, a man who has publicly shared about losing his father in 9/11 and how it has impacted his mental health, specifically his borderline personality disorder (BPD). This meme functions on the “joke” that Davidson is a prime example of being “too damaged to date.”
Davidson himself commented on this kind of criticism when he started dating Ariana Grande.
“i been hearing a lot of ‘people with bpd can’t be in relationships’ talk. i just wanna let you know that’s not true,” the comedian wrote in an Instagram story. “just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship. it also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.”
Having a mental illness or childhood baggage doesn’t mean you’re “undateable.” In fact, a common lie people who have emotional baggage from childhood believe is that they are unlovable. Memes like this can reinforce that harmful narrative.
Let’s give Davidson a break. The guy has been through the wringer in the public eye recently. And to all the folks out there with childhood baggage, hear this — you are worthy of love.
2. No, we shouldn’t date to “fix” someone, but…
Relationships can often be a place where people work through emotional baggage together. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to enter into a relationship in order to “fix” someone’s childhood issues, but it would be silly to believe that you have to reach a level of emotional perfection before getting into a relationship. No one would be in relationships if that were the case!
While relationships aren’t a replacement for working on yourself individually (in therapy for example), we can’t ignore the fact that oftentimes real, healing work can be done in the context of a relationship as well. Having a mental illness or childhood baggage doesn’t mean you’re “undateable.”
3. Everyone has baggage.
The meme implies that as women, our choices are “emotionally damaged person with childhood issues” or “well-paid, ‘good guy’ who has no baggage.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to meet someone with no emotional baggage at all. It’s just part of being human, y’all.
While it’s true that many women choose partners that ask more of them than they can give, it doesn’t matter who you date — everyone has baggage. It’s never a question of, “Who do I date, perfect Antoni or troubled Pete?” Let’s stop shaming Davidson for having childhood issues (or anyone else who does!). We all have issues. Let’s treat one another with respect.
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments below.