It’s a long guest post – so long that I will cut it in two parts and thus publish it in two posts – but it’s so beautiful and original that I just can’t find myself to cut anything from it! Just take a seat and some of your favourite drink and relax while you are carried away in the story as you scroll down…
I Was in a Mentally Abusive Relationship
Towards the end of my junior year of high school I had my first ‘real’ boyfriend. The relationship was awkward at best and terrifying at worst. If not for the intervention of a few glorious friends, things could have gotten much worse. The actions of my friends helped me realize the horrid situation I was in and gave me the courage to escape. It is important to me that all teenagers, regardless of age, sex or confidence level be aware of the signs that lead to abusive relationships. Even if you don’t get involved in one, your friends may and you need to be prepared.
Before I go further into my story, I’d like to remind you that my words are only part of the story. I cannot say what would have happened if the relationship continued and I cannot comment on the boy’s reasoning for his actions. Things may have appeared different from his point of view. This is the story of how I felt during the three month relationship.
This particular boy was a year older than I. As I am out of college now, that hardly seems important, but in high school, I thought it was a big deal. He asked me out over MSN Messenger (red flag #1 – inability to express feelings or communicate in person). He always hung around our group of friends but never said much. One of my best friends was dating his younger brother. If I could go back, I would have told him if he really wanted to date me, he should have the confidence to ask me in person. At that point in my life, I didn’t have much in the way of self-esteem. I was just flattered that he liked me at all. I did have the sense to tell him things needed to go slow. I hardly knew him at all and I saw far too many people jumping in the sack within weeks of dating. To me, there are too many emotions attached to sex for it to be such a wanton action. Sex was something that two people did when they were deeply in love and committed to each other forever.
The boy became very clingy right away (red flag #2 – clingy). He said he loved me within a week. I did not return the emotion. I told him maybe someday, but we barely knew each other. I couldn’t say that word unless I meant it. We walk through the hallways together. Most couples held hands or something. This boy insisted on putting his arm around my waist all the time. It was like a three legged race and I was not comfortable. I was embarrassed as a matter of fact. I felt like people were staring.
Why, if I were so uncomfortable did I remain with him? There are many reasons, all which seem like very bad reasons in hindsight. His younger brother was dating one of my best friends. I didn’t want to lose my friend. Prom was approaching and he didn’t go to the last one because he had no date. I thought he deserved to go to prom at least once. I thought no one would ever love me. This boy may be the best I can do. I didn’t want to be alone.
So the relationship continued. We were rarely alone. He noticed that if my friend was going to be near, I was more likely to come by. We had a lot of double dates. Even if he and I were in his room and my friend and his brother were in another room, I felt safer than if we were completely alone. His clinginess got worse when we were more isolated. He always wanted to lie down beside me. He always wanted his arm around me. I couldn’t sit in my own chair without being clung to. I remember going to the drive in movie once and purposely sitting my chair a few inches away from his. He pulled his over and tried to hug me through the lawn chairs. I didn’t like it. It felt possessive.
This boy didn’t speak much and had a monotone voice when he did. It was hard to tell if he was serious or not. There was no emotion in his voice. He would joke about bringing guns to school or dances; at least I assume he was joking (red flag #3 – possible violent tendencies). It wasn’t long before the only thing I felt with him was fear. I feared he would try to have sex with me without my consent. I fear my friend would hate me if I ended it with him. I feared he would kill himself if I broke up with him. He claimed to be that into me.
By the time prom came around, I had already decided to end things. I decided a week after prom would suffice. At this point in the relationship, I actively avoided him as much as possible. We sat next to each other at dinner and he kept putting his hand on my thigh (red flag #4 – frequent inappropriate and unwanted physical contact). His hand drifted too far up for my taste. I kept slapping it away and telling him to stop. His hand would return within five minutes. He always said he forgot what I had said not more than a few minutes before. By the end of dinner, I had found my way to another seat to chat with some other friends. I was relived to not have to fear being touched.
At our high school, we do this walk down the red carpet so everyone can see us all dressed up. When the boy and I got in line, he kept putting his hand on my butt. It wasn’t near my butt; he was on it. I continuously moved his hand back up. Same as dinner, he would ‘forget’ my words within a few minutes.
The dance would have been far more fun if not for him. Many of my friends had boyfriends from other schools that I hadn’t seen in a while. We would hug and share friendly words. Some even asked if I wanted a dance, but I refused. I refused because the boy was gripping my arm and shaking. I could tell he was angry, jealous or both. I would have loved to dance with them. I stood with my group of friends talking while he stood outside the group gripping my arm (red flag #5 - jealousy).
By the grace of God, one of my friends asked if I could accompany her to the bathroom. I followed her. It was one of the few places the boy couldn’t follow me. While in the bathroom my friend expressed concern. She saw the grip he had on my arm, she saw him shaking and she saw my discomfort. We decided to slip out of the bathroom and quickly run to the other end of the dance floor to have some fun. When he found us, we claimed we couldn’t find him when we left.
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Tonya Vrba is a passionate writer. Her work has been published in newspapers and blogs. She writes frequently about health, career and dating issues. Tonya currently writes with The Online Dating Site Blog
. Learn more about her work at her personal website