Thursday, August 27, 2015

To Peter K, Who I Loved Before

This post is dedicated to Peter (who I loved before). It is filled with spoilers.

So don't read if you don't want to know about the spoilers.

Because this post.

Filled with spoilers.

SPOILERS!

You've been warned.

When I first met Peter Kavinsky, I fell for him, easy. And I loved him so, so much. Lara Jean was me in high school, and Peter was the type of person I dreamed about… Someone who would take off his shoes when he came over to my house without thinking anything of it. Who would respect my family and treat them like his own. Who would want me to hang out with him and his friends even though I was nothing like them and most certainly did not spend my spare time at parties or lacrosse games.

Oh, Peter. How I loved you.

So much of that changed when I read the much-anticipated sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

A photo posted by Jenny Han (@missjennyhan) on

UGH. NO. HE DOESN'T DESERVE THE LAST SLICE, JENNY.

Most notably, I hated, hated, HATED the way Peter managed the situation with Genevieve. Yes, it was explained away, and yes, Gen needed someone to be there for her, and yes, Lara Jean was "mature" and forgave him in the end, but you know what? Lara Jean needed her boyfriend to be there for her too, and he wasn't. I'm sick of girls letting themselves be secondary in their relationships, catering to their boyfriends' egos, brushing off their discomfort because they're just "overreacting" or "being unreasonable."

Word of advice that's been posted a billion times on Facebook and Pinterest by now: Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option. Who said this? Was it Maya Angelou? Mark Twain? Probably neither, but it's a truth bomb all the same.

And, okay, maybe it's a little harsh, because I do think that Peter loved Lara Jean. But the fact of the matter is that Genevieve had deliberately hurt Lara Jean. Peter knew how she felt about Gen – he knew that Lara Jean was uncomfortable with that relationship, and he still continued to side with Genevieve and completely disregard Lara Jean's insecurities. And while there may have been a logical reason for that, one that had nothing to do with Lara Jean after all, Peter didn't – or wouldn't – step up and give her the support she needed.

Example A
"I deserve better than that, you know? I deserve... I deserve to be someone's number one girl."
"You are."
"No, I'm not. She is. You're still protecting her, her secret, whatever that is. From what, though? From me? What have I ever done to her?"

Example B
"You know how I know she's your most important person? You pick her every time."

Example C
"You couldn't just leave her?"
"No," he says. "She's going through some shit right now. I'm just trying to be there for her. As a friend. That's it!"
"Gosh, she really knows how to work you, Peter!"
"It's not like that."
"It's always like that. She pulls the strings and you just..." I dangle my arms and head like a marionette doll.
Peter frowns. "That was mean."
"Well, I feel mean right now. So watch out."
"You're not mean, though. Not usually."
"Why can't you just tell me? You know I won't tell anyone. I really want to understand it, Peter."
"Because it's not for me to say. Don't try to make me tell you, because I can't."
"She's just doing this to manipulate you. It's what she does." I hear the jealousy in my voice, and I hate it, I hate it. This isn't me.

Example D
Peter is loyal to her first, me second. It's first Genevieve, then me. That is the deal. That's always been the deal. And I'm sick of it.

It doesn't matter if Lara Jean is being unnecessarily jealous or insecure. Her feelings are still valid. And I get that there are some things that are just not your story to tell, but there are ways to acknowledge and respond to the self-doubts and anxieties of the girl you claim to love.

I was proud of Lara Jean when she broke up with Peter. Even if he was trying to be a good friend to Gen, even if there is always going to be a soft spot in his heart for her, I just feel like girls deserve better from their boyfriends. And good on Lara Jean for knowing what she wanted early on, and realizing it wasn't what she was getting:

"I know now that I don’t want to love or be loved in half measures. I want it all, and to have it all, you have to risk it all."

This is why I wasn't totally on board with Lara Jean rationalizing Peter's actions in the end, or putting the responsibility on herself to get over her issues. I mean, yes, it's fantastic that she recognizes that it takes two to tango, and that she is important, and that Peter does love her – but Peter was certainly at fault too, and it feels like he got off way too easy.

Maybe I'm just being cynical. Maybe I have an overly idealistic view of relationships. Maybe I'm just overprotective of girls in love. But I hate the idea of someone like Peter forever getting off scot-free and having him continue to be celebrated for being ~the perfect boyfriend~ when his actions are actually kind of damaging.

I guess that's why Jenny Han included the quote from The Velveteen Rabbit in the end. Because love isn't always easy, and relationships take work, and sometimes life gets messy. But I still think girls need to expect and demand more from the people they give their hearts to.

"Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

2 comments:

  1. I appreciate this post so much! I want to like Peter and I want to believe he and Lara Jean can be together and be happy. But its just so complicated. And he doesn't treat Lara Jean as well as she deserves. But we all still want them to be together, right? Ah, so complicated!

    Thanks for your post :)

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    1. SO complicated. In my head, I sort of think that Peter and Lara Jean's relationship will eventually run its course and she'll end up with John Ambrose McClaren in the future. :P

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