Toxic Romance

I was lying awake last night, listening to the silence in the aftermath of a loud neighbourhood domestic incident; pondering the madness of being in a relationship with someone you can’t stand to the point of violence.

Obviously as a premise this is a gross over simplification of what leads to domestic hostility, both parties bringing along their unique personality traits to the party and – for better or worse – forming a partnership with this blended chemistry that turns out to be bad medicine.

I’m guessing most people have the experience in dating of a good thing gone bad; I’m thankful that I could probably hold a reasonably friendly conversation with any ex I bumped into in the street these days now that everyone is middle aged; all but one ex anyway.

My own toxic romance started at university when I was 19. I became painfully aware that one of the cool guys had taken a fancy to me. I had never spoken to him and I regarded him and his two friends as dick heads, quite frankly. They were the kind of guys that mocked others on the course and you didn’t want sitting behind you in lectures incase they cut your hair for laughs or whatever.

Anyway, we ended up getting together after I was endlessly badgered/hassled/flattered/egged on to for a drink with him despite already having a boyfriend. Objectively he was quite good looking but I never actually fancied him, weird I know.

The first flush of romance was fun albeit very drunken. I sensed I was probably his first steady broad and he was something of a guys guy, tending to hang out with his hairy assed army reserve buddies at weekends. In those days, I was quite wild when drunk. All his pals loved me for it, spoke to me how ever they wanted as I matched them drink for drink. This felt very empowering in the era of 90s girlpower and suddenly I was the cool girl of my dreams.

I knew fairly on that this guy had a dark side. From a notionally well off background, his father was a physically abusive alcoholic conman who was subject to a restraining order by his mother and sister who remained in the family home 500 miles south. His mother was a character but also had an air of Walter Mitty about her. His sister was lovely; but they all had been affected one way or another by the father’s behaviour. With this I sympathise.

As time went on; it turned out that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. He was the worst drunk; nasty, aggressive, philandering. I can remember times he would unknowingly buy me double or triple measures of drinks when everyone was on singles just to make me look the drunken idiot so he could tease me. I remember times he and his friends would just leave nightclubs to go elsewhere without telling me and I would be sat wondering where they’d gone.

When we were sober he would berate me for making a fool of him in front of his friends. He would say I was being rude to people. He made me cry a lot but then as far as I was concerned all he said was true and I needed to start behaving better.

Eventually after about a year in 4th year at university I managed to finish with him; and of course he and his friends made my life hell and so I moved home to my parents house and focused on study. He had somehow gotten my university logon password and so was playing havoc with my email etc unbeknownst to me. In the end, I saved up 6 months rent from my holiday job and ran away to Newcastle in search of something new. He and his friends also used to phone my parents landline in the middle of the night regularly to wake the while house up, and shout abuse down the phone at me the night before my final exams just to add additional stress and worry. I was genuinely terrified that they were going to heckle me on stage at our graduation ceremony. I would see him riding past my suburban family home on his motorbike a lot, which was no where near his flat. I was being badly bullied really.

For the first time as an adult, I was able to enjoy being a single girl with an income and my own tiny flat in Newcastle and I thrived with a close knit group of like minded young women who are still best friends to this day. Those two years were just the best times. But then he tracked me down again, turning up in Newcastle claiming he had a job interview and stupidly like an addictive pill, we ended up back together again unable to part.

I went back north to start my post grad uni course and obviously he jacked in his graduate job in London and followed with genuinely zero enthusiasm or suggestion from me. Before long the same toxic patterns began again. Whenever I told him I had had enough or wanted out he would say he was planning to propose, or was seeking therapy for his father issues or feeling depressed and eventually he got me a rescue cat which was mine but it lived at his as a way to tie me in if I wasn’t sure about him.

In the end I just had to cut him (and my wee cat) off. I couldn’t stand it any more. I changed my mobile number and stayed away from my usual socialising as much as possible. I knew he would be trying to track my movements because that was his MO. Again seems crazy that I had to make so many changes to my way of life to escape. Thankfully my new uni friends kept me sane and supported, so I had no need to waiver or relent. He hated them all because they were clever so the bonus was he didn’t know them at all.

Wow, that was cathartic. A longer post from me today but well worth the expose from an offloading perspective. Seeing this written down it really hits home how awful life was with this guy. He was damaged and I was a party girl with pretty low self esteem – a bad combo. Until recently I could bring myself to believe all of the negative things he said and did to me as being totally deserved. I’m not perfect by any means but one thing I do try to be is kind.

Now I just look back in pity and genuine hope that his wife and three kids have got a better more mature version of who he was back then. I guess everyone has the capacity to change.


6 thoughts on “Toxic Romance”

  1. It does feel better written in ink doesn’t it? I can’t imagine his new wife is having much fun either. Personally, men like him who have a shit upbringing still have the choice. Act like their father or learn from it as a lesson. Like you have taken this as a lesson and learned the realities of it. I hope in this new world that more woman who are mentally if not physically abused by partners can get help. Also alcohol has such an undercurrent of insidiousness in these scenarios. People may not be alcohols, but that doesn’t mean they are not abusing it or self medicating with it etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes it does feel good. I don’t think about it much but was something I knew I wanted to exorcise openly at some point. All part of growing up on the one hand; on the other good to reflect on tougher times and admire my own resilience and better situation now. People can be strange, deep down I think he was a scared little damaged boy but he went way too far in his cruelty for me to ever really be able to understand it.


  3. I am so sorry that you had that terrible experience. My father was one of those guys and my mum divorced him on the grounds of mental cruelty. He wasn’t in my life and for that I am grateful. Like my father, I suspect your boyfriend was injured by his father’s behavior. It is no excuse but sometimes people cannot move past their fractured backgrounds. My father came from an alcoholic, neglectful background.
    We can only hope that he learned from his loss (of you) and tried his hardest to be better for his new family. Thank goodness you moved on to a happier life!

    Liked by 1 person

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