My ex-boyfriend of two and a half years was an expert slanderer in the most subtle ways. We were in school when we got together. Back then when he told me that he wanted me to be his girlfriend, I had blushed and thought of it as the best love story anyone could’ve asked for.
I wondered what he liked about me. Was it my personality or my humor or my habits or anything else. He responded with “I liked your face”. Now when I think about it, that was the first red flag.
Slowly communication with him became all about himself - his life, his dreams, his aspirations,
his schedule, his plans, his friends. I had no place in his life and I always came second. His sharp yet subtle comments contributed to my deep-rooted insecurities - some of them that I
still possess. Second red flag.
He never appreciated anything I did for him. Even if I went the extra mile to make him happy, he always looked down upon it and thought of it as a girlfriend’s duty. Third.
“Only if you were a little thinner”; “Only if you had longer, more lustrous hair”; “Maybe you should
try to be like this girl or that girl”. I became immune to every hurtful, problematic, objectifying
opinion he had of me. Another red flag.
Whenever I spoke about my goals and where I see my life going he would say things like “I can
only imagine you as a mother at 23, nothing more”.
Gradually verbal abuse shifted to sexual abuse. We would go days and months without meeting
each other and the days when he could make time for me would be for his pleasure and to fulfill
his sexual appetite. Fifth red flag.
In 2 and a half years we never went out on a proper date. I was toyed on every meeting of ours, meetings that were always in his bedroom, or in dinghy lanes and abandoned buildings. He almost never acknowledged my needs. And he always made sure that I felt grateful and thankful for the little time he spared for me. Sixth red flag.
I always longed for a phone call he never made or a sweet, heartwarming text that he
never sent. I always canceled plans with friends so that I could get an extra half hour to spend
with him. I cut the world off for him. One more red flag.
And when my time was up in his life and when there was no more energy he could have
extracted from me, he dropped me like a hot cake.
Now when I look at it, I feel that I let him do this to me because of my own insecurities and because of how much his validation meant to me. Also, I was too young and naive to think on my own. On second thought, I also feel that these are the kind of relationships one witnesses growing up - in society, in movies, and in the family. Relationships wherein women take care of their husbands, cater to their needs, do things only in ways their husbands like and seek the man’s permission for mostly everything. It took me 2 years after the relationship ended to stand on my two feet and have the courage to
look back and think of him as good riddance but the silver lining is that it also taught me a life-long lesson which was to respect myself and my life choices without an external validation of a partner because respect trumps everything else in a relationship.