Thursday, July 25, 2013

Looking Back: Past Relationships

This is a blog I promised I'd write for someone about my exes and you know, why they're exes and what I learned from it all. If you happen to be one of my exes don't invest a bunch of time trying to figure out which one is you. If you don't know, that was probably part of the problem to begin with! For the sake of anonymity (because I'm polite) I will be rattling off relationship details in random order, not chronologically. I'm going to rename them all colors.

My love life hasn't been a grand road map of adventure, to be sure. I've lead a rather cloistered life for the most part. I didn't even get interested in boys until well into high school, years behind my friends, and even then it was mostly out of admiration of their talents and interests, not their manly bits. I had to really know a guy and appreciate his personality before I'd even consider the possibility of a relationship.

I didn't lose access to Club V until well after my eighteenth birthday, by choice. Despite dating regularly, I can count the number of guys I've been intimate with on one hand -- and have fingers left over. There's probably a joke there. Likewise I was never the serial dater. All of my relationships tended to be of the long term variety. Possibly because I was learning from the mistakes of my friends long before I ever even got my proverbial hands dirty. Another joke.

We'll begin with one I'll rename Blue.

Blue was really appealing to me. He was deep, had a great family, loved music, and had a unique fashion sense. He could sing like a manly nightingale. We would spend a lot of time together singing and talking about music.

He was bipolar. Not like, kinda-sorta borderline bipolar or self-diagnosed bipolar but full blown manic highs and devastating lows bipolar. Starting out this was not a deal breaker. He had it managed and was somewhere in between most of the time. His lows were short lived and ultimately inconsequential and his highs were uplifting and fun.

Then he began cutting himself during his lows. His lows became more frequent with little to no explanation. His home life was great, his social life was great, his school life was great. The guy seriously had everything going for him, except himself. He refused to take his medication and progressively got worse and worse. Our relationship went from stable and fun to rocky on--and-off-again (my choice). Sometimes he'd vanish for months at a time and then just show up like no time had passed at all.

He dropped out of school, refused to get a job, wound up living off of his parents for years longer than any reasonable adult has a right to. I spent the better part of two years trying to help him in any way I could, but there is really nothing you can do for a person in this situation unless they help themselves. I inevitably had to walk away because seeing him that way ate away at my soul. I'm told that today the situation is exactly the same, despite the passage of time.

Next we'll talk about Green.

Green pursued me aggressively for almost an entire year before I agreed to date him. Kind of like he was competing for the last woman on Earth. He pulled out all the stops to impress me. He wasn't particularly my type: he took himself much too seriously and was kind of jock. Strangely the instant we actually began dating he wanted an open relationship. Total flip-flop, but I thought, hell... why not?

Because that sort of thing rarely ever works out, no matter how willing the original two parties might be, that's why the fuck not. Especially in scenarios involving more than one female. Chicks are raised in society to competitive with each other. Putting two of them at odds over the same man, no matter how cordial they pretend to be in public is a recipe for disaster. Like putting two male beta fish into the same bowl.

Even when the other woman and I shared a lot in common, it always ended sourly. Even though they all knew I was basically first wife (use the term wife proverbially here, we were no where near marriage), they would try to usurp my position. Why I subjected myself to this more than once, I will never know. Maybe because I thought the jealous retardation that overtook the first one was just a personality flaw and someone else would be different somehow, but no. I can say with tried and true certainty it always ended the same.

I'm not sure why he was so willing to keep trying. My best guess was that he didn't want an open relationship to have multiple girlfriends but because he got off on the drama. Obviously I wasn't cool with this situation and we parted ways. It wasn't a huge loss, he was also the sort to hold onto their childhood dream waaaaay too long. I should clarify that: having a dream is fine, even an unrealistic one -- so long as you get a "meanwhile" job to support yourself and that dream. Just having a dream, refusing to do anything else, and mooching in the meanwhile is super lame.

Then there was Pink.

Pink was a millionaire. He was also incredibly good looking. Like Brad Pitt had a love child with Johnny Depp good looking. I decided early on that he was impossibly handsome and therefor must be some alien insectoid in a people suit out to turn my innards into goo so he could digest them with a straw.

He was a trust-fund baby but also held a career of his own, which is admirable when you don't have to. I guess. He basically decided where all the new Walmarts in the country go. Which sort of makes him the Devil to small businesses. His past times included things like golf, and sailing, and expensive brunches. Only one of those things interests me at all and I get sea sick, so...

It didn't help that his incredibly foreign parents kept basically saying what good genes I had and how our offspring would be exemplary right in front of me. Like I was some choice mare for auction.

I had to explain myself about ending this one after a single date to everyone I know at least a thousand times. The only one who got it at all was my aunt who sagely said, "If the choice is money or love, always choose love." In this case the choice was money or nothing and I chose nothing all the same. I knew love would come eventually, elsewhere.

Orange is who we'll revisit next.

Orange's friends all boasted about the size of his penis. Which is kind of weird. I know guys do that kind of thing, but still. Weird! So when I was sent a photo of it for some reason (idk why guys do this), and it lived up to its reputation, it scared the hell out of me. I literally broke up with the dude because his junk was the Godzilla of penises. Not okay, man. There is totally such a thing as too big. Seriously.

Let's see, now we'll move on to White.

White had a good job, was going to school, was attractive in a Jim Halpert sort of way, and was down to Earth. I liked him. Unfortunately we shared basically one thing in common. One thing that wasn't even something I was that into. This made conversation bland and ultimately a pretty face will only get you so far. Sharing things in common is the most important thing for a relationship requires to survive, imo.

We had a lot of misadventures though. Were it not for those, we probably wouldn't have gotten together at all in the first place. Or stayed together as long as we had. It was sort of like an action movie where adrenaline and circumstance makes the guy get the girl regardless of whether or not it makes any sense to the plot. He was exceptionally sweet though.

Which I guess is why when he cheated on me while I was on vacation it came as such a shock. This nice well mannered guy acting all broski on me? What the shit? Kicked him to the curb faster than you can say, "No."

Who else was there... Purple.

Purple and I were young. He was crazy, I was not crazy. Oh, let us count the ways this could possibly end badly. Attempted assault? Check. Breaking and entering? Check. Murdering my pets? Check. These things happened after I had politely expained, after only two dates, that we were incompatible.

I don't think I even need to explain this one further. He was arrested.

The guy we'll call Gray was the best friend of a friend of mine.

He was also kind of shy when it came to girls. He had a crush on me for years before having the courage to ask me out, which was kind of endearing. I was completely shocked and appalled then when after dating for like a week he told all his buddies that he scored when he hadn't even gotten up the nerve to kiss me yet! Yuck. Not cool dude. That's why you got dumped.

Finally I'll get around to Tan.

Tan was a friend of a friend, which was the only reason I had agreed to date someone on the internet to begin with. They were vouched for. Tan was a six foot tall attractive white guy attending art school who loved video games, literature, classical art, music, basically every single thing I did. He was fit, dressed well, and nice on the eyes. He was in his late twenties.

We talked for about five months, online, before we began dating. A month later he flew to my state to visit me. When I got to the airport I did not find a six foot tall, fit, well dressed, attractive white man. I found a short, soft, Asian man dressed kind of... thuggish. Saggy pants, baggy shirt, beanie. To say I was confused would be an understatement. He explained that his online persona just got out of hand and he wasn't sure how to tell me what he really looked like. Afraid that I wouldn't want to date a short guy, an Asian guy, or someone less fit than I was. I did something remarkable(y stupid).

I accepted this lie. I accepted this wealth of insecurity standing before me because I'm not a shallow person. I decided, outward appearance? Really doesn't fucking matter. When I'm 80 and he's 80 we're both going to be ugly as sin, so what's the big deal? I was expecting A and I got B, whatever. Everything else was the same. Except it wasn't.

We continued dating, though he was becoming kind of possessive, I was assured it was due to the long distance thing and that solving that problem would make it go away. So when he asked me to move in with him, I agreed. We got a place together and everything was alright. Except when it wasn't.

Slowly but surely things changed. It happened so gradually really that I didn't even notice until it felt like too late. So much time had already been invested. It wasn't 'so bad.' etc., etc. His insecurities only got worse, which made the possessiveness worse, which made everything else a hundred times worse.

He had to control every aspect of my life. Little things at first, like how I styled my hair. Its length, color, and so forth. Then he wanted me to apply my make-up in a specific way, heavy eyeliner, lip gloss, blush. Then he wanted me to apply my make-up even if we weren't leaving the house. He wanted me to wear it to bed. I had to go tanning. Despite how out of shape he was, I had to work out daily.

I was expected to do all of the house work, all of the work work, and all of the cooking. Regardless of the fact I am physically disabled. Even when I became deathly ill one year and doctors prescribed bed rest after a week in the hospital, I had to make my own food and clean the house or it just wouldn't get done.

I paid for all of our furniture, for our apartment, and for all of our groceries single-handedly. He didn't even make car payments, his dad paid those for him. He spent all day playing video games and all night flirting on the internet with people who "meant nothing" to him.

Then my clothing was too revealing (tank top and jeans). He got upset if other guys would look in my general direction in public, so I had to cover up. A polo shirt buttoned all the way up, khaki pants, and white tennis shoes. My tennis shoes had to be meticulously maintained: no scuffs or dirt. Eventually this became my all-time uniform and I had to wear it even at home. Even in Florida where it was a billion degrees and there was no AC. In the winter months I even had to wear a long sleeve blouse beneath the polo to cover my arms and more of my neck.

He would get miffed about how much time I spent out of the home. I wasn't allowed to go out with my friends by myself even though we only hung out a couple of times a month due to work schedules. Eventually I wasn't allowed to go out with them at all. He'd even get uppity about time I spent with my mother, at her house. When I finally reconnected with my long lost sisters, he would not allow me to go see them.

Towards the end I wasn't even allowed to talk to our mutual friends online if he wasn't present, and then I was only allowed to talk to them if I was backing him up in some regard. I could not play multiplayer games at all because he would get upset at the mere prospect that someone else could play with me. Even if I was playing single player campaigns. He would check my text messages, read my emails, and programs like AIM or Gtalk were absolutely off limits.

He effectively isolated me so dramatically over time that I was completely alone. My only friend was my cat.

Meanwhile he was meeting girls online and masturbating with them. Can't look a girl in the eye in real life, but put her behind a computer screen and he's all over that shit. It's a little funny because when it came to actual girls and their bodies he was all, "where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" Totally god damned clueless. But he'd type out all sorts of shit to random e-chicks like a porn star. Dudes jerk off, I know that. That's whatever. Pornography is something I'm totally okay with. Doing it with other people though? NOPE. Not even a little bit. Doesn't matter if it's in person or online, it's not okay with me to get off with another active participant.

Looking back I can see that this was for a myriad of reasons. Primarily his deep seeded insecurities about his appearance. During our entire relationship, which spanned multiple years, he never once took off his shirt in front of me. Also his guilty conscience, he was cheating constantly, so surely if it was that easy for him it must be just so for me (it wasn't, because I'm not a shitty human being). But largely the fear that his other fabrications would be revealed.

Let me make it clear that the following lies were all discovered for what they were around the same time. So it's not as though I realized one and let it slide, then realized another and let it slide too. It was more like I discovered one, looked deeper and then the slippery slope effect took place. Before I knew it I was on the bottom of Lie Mountain, population: Mr. Tan.

  • He was not an artist, first of all. The guy couldn't even draw a straight line if his life depended on it. He held a pencil like a baby holds a fork.
  • Second, he wasn't going to art school (duh), or any school for that matter. He had in fact never set foot on a college campus.
  • Third, he had not owned his own house. Turns out not only had he not owned his own house, he had never even left his parent's house prior to moving in with me.
  • Fourth, he was not in his late twenties. He was younger than I was!
  • Fifth, he did not have a brother. This one was particularly terrible because he had claimed his brother died a war hero in Iraq. So to not even have a brother in the first place... just wow.
  • Sixth, he was not adopted. Aside from the blatant family resemblance, when I asked his mother about it she was just confused as to why I'd think such a thing.
  • Seventh, he was not an entrepreneur. He had never even had a job before.
  • Eighth, he was not a ladies man. When I talked to his life long friend he told me the guy had rarely ever even had the courage to approach girls offline. Ha!
  • Ninth, he convinced me to move out of state with him by saying we had a house to move into already. Arrived only to discover we were living with his mom, dad, two sisters, three nephews, brother-in-law, and neice... To make matters worse the house was only like three bedrooms, two bathrooms.
  • Tenth, he had told me that his family was wealthy and in the gold business. Yet his family was borderline poverty, which wouldn't have mattered except it was yet another lie. Parents worked as nursing assistants at local clinics. Sister worked at Panda Express. Other sister and brother-in-law unemployed.

I'm sure there's more I'm simply forgetting but basically the dude was a pathological liar. Everything I knew about him was false. Given how our relationship began, I have no idea why any of this surprised me. One night after he basically tried to force himself upon me, then shoved me when I confronted him about how NOT OKAY that is whether we're in a relationship or not, enough was finally enough and I left him for a real life. After which point he proceeded to take control of my primary email account, steal thousands of dollars from my bank account, and hacked into all of my game accounts.

Which also should not have surprised me because he had stolen from mutual friends of ours time and time again. Promising to build them computers, taking their money, and then pretending their deliveries were lost in the mail so he could keep the cash for himself. The only reason any of our friends ever got what they paid for was because I found out what happened months later and did all the work, out of my own pocket, for them. Again, because as much as I'd love a free eight hundred dollars -- I'm a decent human being.

I'm glad I never let him convince me to take nudes of myself, because the nudes he had of our British friend (who I later learned he had lead on for months before meeting me) he put up on a porn site for pocket change. I'm not even sure if she knows that her body has been viewed thousands of times by internet pervs.

This is probably the only life decision I actually regret. Not because it happened at all but because I let it go on for so long. I'm better than that, what the hell was I thinking? Looking back on it is like the real me was in some sort of coma the whole time and it was all a bad dream I couldn't wake up from.

There was also Black.

Black was an aspiring musician who had actually published a comic book to limited success and had a degree in fine arts. We shared everything in common, except gaming which, as silly as it sounds, is kind of a deal breaker nongamers just can't fathom. However our relationship was short lived for other reasons. Primarily due to drug use and alcoholism, something I couldn't stand by and watch after having seen it first hand with my step father and how quickly bad goes to worse there.

He went on to have a wildly famous musical career though and got sober eventually. Fancy that.

Lastly we'll talk about Yellow.

Yellow was much older than I was, British, with a stable career. Judging by those three things you'd think we shared nothing in common but that's not the case. Yellow was a big sodding nerd and we loved all the same things. He looked a little like a really pasty, ginger Michael Cera.  We met through a mutual friend and looking back our relationship was pretty okay. Rife with unnecessary drama, but on its own with everyone else removed, okay.

The first issue was the age difference. No one we spoke to about us got it. It's not like he was seventy and I was twenty. It was only a difference of about eight years, but still. My friends tried obsessively to get me into a relationship with someone younger and his friends did the same trying to get him into a relationship with someone older. Any time either of us had a guest over rumors flew about affairs and scandal. It was ridiculous how much the outside world tried to interfere with our relationship, for no real reason I can ascertain other than loltheinternet.

It didn't help that our relationship relied heavily upon the internet because shortly after we started dating his job forced him to move to another state.

I always felt like he was hiding something, I just never had any reason to go digging. Our relationship bit the dust when I discovered that despite anything else he had a son he'd never told me about. All weekend trips away were to see this little human being I had no clue even existed. It wasn't so much the existence of this person that spoiled the relationship but the withholding of the fact that he existed that did us in. I could have dealt with a child in the relationship, even at such a young age. I could not deal with him leading a double life and pretending something as important as a child did not exist. That's not cool, man.

What have I learned from all of this and the relationships of those closest to me?

Forgive anything once, but only once. Sometimes people make mistakes. Be understanding of that. You make them too. If it happens again, they obviously learned nothing from the first time, so chances are they're not going to learn anything the second time either. You can only say you are sorry for something so many times before apologies become meaningless.

If you are in a long distance or internet relationship, meeting during the first year is integral to your relationship's survival. Moving closer comes next. If you haven't met during the first year it's usually a telling sign that someone is hiding something they know they can't hide in person. They may even just be hanging on to you to avoid being alone while they wait for something better. Don't be that person, you deserve better.

Trust your instincts. If you feel that someone is up to something, they probably are. If you feel like they are hiding something, they probably are. Just make sure your instinct is based on their behavior, not your own.

If you have a guilty conscience, it'll seem like everything anyone else does is negative in some way. Closing an email when you walk into a room suddenly seems like signs of an illicit affair. It's not. It's someone tabbing out of an email because they were finished reading it. If you're depressed, the same thing happens. Someone could have the best intentions but you're going to vilify them because your mind is convincing you that they're being malicious. Someone telling you to do chores suddenly seems like an accusation of laziness. It's not, it's a request to do housework. Benefit of the doubt is paramount to a long lasting relationship. You should not default to "they're trying to hurt me."

If you think someone is up to something, don't freak out. Talk to them about it. If you've never spoken about it before, they might not even know it's a deal breaker. If they deny it, don't continue to accuse them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. You owe them that. You chose to date them for a reason after all. If they deny it and get defensive, you're probably right... but give them the benefit of the doubt anyway. Innocent people rarely get defensive about something. If, later, it turns out you were right -- end the relationship.

There doesn't need to be shouting or shoving or drama. Just words and resolutions.

Furthermore if you've been lied to, cheated on, yelled at, hit, or abused in any way, it's not your fault and you aren't alone. When enough is enough, and trust me you will know, you are strong enough to walk away. Every aspect of your life will benefit from it.

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