Forewarning to family members or any conservative-minded people who might come across this: If you don't approve of premarital sex or don't like hearing explicit descriptions of emotional and sexual abuse, I respect that, but this probably isn't an article for you to read. This is a very raw and personal piece perhaps the most honest one I've written yet. I won't hold back from discussing all aspects of my abusive relationship in detail, so proceed at your own risk.
Dear Ex-Boyfriend (or should I say He Who Must Not Be Named),
Oh man. Where do I even start with this? We haven't talked since last summer, yet I have so much I still want to say to you. That I'll probably never get to say directly to you.
Why? Well, I suppose I easily could, but it won't get through to you. After countless attempts to get in contact with you and explain how you'd made me feel once you'd gone ghost on me, you were looking at all my messages, phone calls and Snapchats but ignoring them, so after a certain point I figured it wasn't worth it to try anymore when all I was doing was hurting myself.
And I've learned to be happier without you in my life, even if that circumstance was brought about not by my own decisions, but by you literally ghosting me and making me miserable for a few weeks. Because I thought I was happier in the relationship than I would be without it, but honestly in the months I've been single I've realized just how shitty this relationship really was. I honestly feel so much freer and healthier on my own rather than when I was continuously putting myself through your bullshit just because I was stupidly blinded by love.
However, even in the eight months that have past since we last saw each other and talked, I still have my moments where I get down on myself about it. I've been doing better than I was, but then Christmas and Valentine's Day rolled around, and I remembered how happy I'd been celebrating those holidays with you when we were dating. And then this past Saturday, March 18th, rolled around. And you've been all I can think about lately because of this day, no matter how hard I've tried to put you out of my mind.
I guess this wouldn't still bother me as much if you hadn't been the only person I've ever had a relationship with. Fallen in love with. Dare I say, slept with. In case you couldn't tell from the many times I tried to make it clear to you, I am asexual, so physical intimacy is a huge step for me, far more so than emotional intimacy, and really goes hand in hand with trust. Trust that I can't easily find with most people, not even with other guys I've had crushes on. But you had to violate that trust. And you had to violate every other way I trusted you.
People who have heard me describe the ways you treated me (be it during or after our time together) wonder, why did I cling to the relationship for so long even when it was constantly taking a toll on me? It's simple: the connection we had. How much I felt I could trust you. How much I always felt happy and able to completely be myself around you. I felt like I needed that in my life. I don't romantically connect with people very easily (it could be an asexual thing)-- I've had crushes here and there but aside from you, they've never turned into deep, legitimate connections to people-- and I figured that if I got a connection like that with someone, I should do everything I can to hold on to it. I was terrified-- and still kinda am-- that I'll never again meet someone I'll be so comfortable around in that way. Every time I would feel angry or anxious about issues in our relationship, I'd just think back to that connection, and how exciting it had been for me when we first started dating.
I still remember that day: March 18th, 2015. Well, that was the day we officially got together-- the first day we talked about dating was March 15th. We'd been friends for about a year and a half, because for my freshman year here at Arcadia, we were both students here (before you dropped out and temporarily transferred after our first year). We'd met in an English class and become friends over shared nerdy interests like the Percy Jackson books and Frozen, and I'd lowkey had a crush on you for a year or so. I couldn't tell if you liked me back, even when we saw each other at a Christian retreat that February and spent practically the whole weekend together. (Thanks to that, you've ruined that Christian retreat for me, and I didn't go back since.) Then, on March 15th, we figured out we liked each other through anonymous questions you sent me on Tumblr, getting me to reveal details about who I had a crush on. I was so thrilled. I thought it was the funniest, most clever thing. We talked nonstop for the next few days, and on March 18th, we made ourselves official. As much as things changed even just 5 or 6 months later, I just kept reminding myself of the immense happiness I'd felt that week we started dating, and telling myself it was all meant to be, it was all gonna work out. My thought process was that if you didn't want to be with me, you wouldn't have tried so hard to be in the relationship in the first place. I also rationalized it by the fact that you were also a Christian like me and we'd attended church-related college events together, so as silly as this sounds, I felt like we were meant to be because we were bonded through our faith. I convinced myself we were together because God wanted us to be. But now, after all the emotional and even sexual abuse you put me through, I seriously can't even believe you call yourself a Christian. Honestly, dude, just going to church with your grandmother every Sunday does not make you a good and righteous person. Actually behaving morally does.
Yeah, I'm saying it. I've dropped references to you and your abusive behaviors in several of my other articles before, because I'm that petty and journalistic writing is the best way to throw shade, but I've never written an article blatantly about you before, so in this one I'm saying it outright: you were a manipulative and abusive boyfriend. And it took me way too long to realize that.
And no, I'm not just talking about you going ghost on me as a way to break up, although that made me more miserable than any other part of the relationship. I'm talking about you only showing your care for me when we were in person, despite your constant assurances to me that you really did love me and were just bad at communicating. (Bad at communicating, my ass. If you actually cared about the relationship you'd have put half as much effort into keeping in contact as I did.) I'm talking about your constant empty promises to work on the behaviors that I repeatedly told you upset me when you actually made no efforts to change anything, even though you told me time and time again that you were. Your refusal to make time for me like I did for you; always falling asleep or blowing me off when we were supposed to have plans to video chat or hang out. See, things were okay on both of our ends for the first few months we were dating. And then later that summer, leading up to when I left for study abroad, is when the lack of effort and excuses started. Tired excuses of you being at work or sleepy or whatever else you wanted to pull out of your ass to justify why you simply could not put the same amount of effort into the relationship that I did.
Yeah, fuck out of here with those excuses. If you really want someone in your life you will make time for them. Like I did for you. There were times I drove an hour to see you after a full day of work despite the fact that I may have been tired. Sacrificed sleep for you when I'd have early morning work or classes just to stay up video chatting or texting (even when I was in another country and 6 hours ahead of you). But no matter what, you just could never do the same for me. When you were the one who had to be up early the next day, our plans would just have to be cancelled, or worse, left hanging because sometimes you'd just fall asleep without even telling me anything. When our one year anniversary rolled around, I went out of my way to get you a gift and write you a long, heartfelt letter, but all you wanted to give me was a massage.
During my semester abroad I bought you a little gift from every country I visited as a combination Christmas/birthday gift for you, but then my birthday came and I got nothing except "oh I bought you food all weekend because I didn't really have anything else in mind" and a gift you ordered from Amazon to my house only after my friend and I had to school you on why buying me Chipotle and Dunkin coffee was not a proper birthday gift. You'd often blame your bad communication skills with me on your depression, say you were "just in another funk" (which was apparently your whole reason for ghosting me), however, I can't see how that should impair your willingness to be around me, because I have depression too but it never once impacted my drive to communicate with you. You saw me at my worst-- at the end of summer 2015, right before I studied abroad, things happened that caused me to feel suicidal. I was at the lowest point I've been in quite awhile. And that still did not in any way change how much I wanted you around, even if I felt like pushing everyone else away. Sorry, but I thought the whole point of a romantic partner is you see them on a different level than anyone else, they're supposed to be the one person you still want to talk to even in your worst times.
Which, speaking of that, I didn't appreciate you using mental illnesses as a way to manipulate and guilt me. Both yours and mine. You know we both have depression and anxiety, but they affect me differently than you, and in ways that really fucked with my emotions about the relationship. You'd use your depression as a scapegoat for your shitty behavior, knowing it would keep reeling me in because I'm a pushover and you wanted to cling to me in order to validate yourself. You'd make guilt-tripping excuses for your actions and cause me to feel bad for getting upset with you, convince myself I was overreacting, when the truth is, my anger all those times was completely justified because I was not overreacting and you were actually just a manipulative dick. I'd convince myself all the time that you were a great boyfriend and my anxiety was just making me insecure, but it was actually just you.
And perhaps the worst part of your abuse, something I don't like to talk about as much but needs to be said, is the sexual aspect of it. As if you hadn't already manipulated me in every other way. At first I felt great about the fact that we'd gotten to the point where we lost our virginity to each other. I thought becoming more intimate meant our relationship was growing stronger, especially since like I said, sexual intimacy is about trust for me. But it was actually quite the opposite. Things went even more downhill after that started. You'd use that just to get what you wanted out of me and manipulate me further, all while convincing me it was okay because it was done out of love.
Yeah... starting to kiss me or grab my boobs or ass to distract me when I'm trying to have a serious conversation with you is okay? Repeatedly grabbing my crotch proclaiming, "I can make you feel good right now!" while I'm telling you your hurtful behaviors make me feel bad, despite me continuously pushing your hand away and telling you to stop, is okay? Flashing me on video chat and threatening to hang up on me if I don't flash you back, despite me making it clear I'm not comfortable with camera nudity, is okay? Touching me in ways I repeatedly expressed I don't like just because you think "my body likes it" is okay? Always assuming I'm game for whatever sexual activities you want whenever you want them, despite knowing I'm ace and don't have the sex drive that you have, is okay? Being so ready to always give me sexual attention but failing to give me any other kind of loving attention (that I actually need) is okay? Telling me I should watch more porn to be better in bed is okay? Taking unconsensual nudes of me, refusing to delete them, and telling me "if you send me texts like this it might actually be exciting for me to hear from you" is okay? Attempting to force sexual activities on me that you know I don't want, once specifically on a night I was trying to sleep, is okay? Not stopping what you're doing and just wanting to keep going when I'm clearly in pain (because you were just bad at it) is okay? Whining about how horny you are to pressure me into sex when I didn't want to do it that one night is okay?
Yeah no...it's not. None of that is okay. Neither are any of the other ways in which you acted abusive to me.
But in spite of all this, I don't regret our relationship. I don't think it was a waste of time, as much as I sometimes regret trusting you so much. I got experience. I know what I don't want in a partner, should I ever get a new boyfriend. I know what behaviors not to accept from anyone, now that I've learned what constitutes abuse, even if I learned that too late with you. It's actually come in handy with a couple of guys I've almost dated, because I've been able to get myself out of those situations early on by identifying some abusive behaviors in that were some of the same things I experienced with you (like gaslighting). But you also showed me what it feels like to be in love. And I'm glad I know what that feels like now, even if it wasn't with the right person.
I'll still always appreciate the good times we had, too. As much as it took a toll on me, our relationship wasn't entirely bad all the time. We had some genuinely positive experiences together. There are songs or movies that I felt like were ruined for me because of you, because they were "our" songs or movies. I can't see superhero or Star Wars movies, or hear songs from Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, or Melanie Martinez without thinking of you. They were songs we'd blast in the car or lay around in bed listening to; they were movies we'd always promise to watch together in theaters because superhero movies were our "thing". I can't even go to Chipotle or this bubble tea place in Philly without thinking of you. But I don't feel like these things are ruined for me now. I've reclaimed them and stopped feeling down about them. I've come to realize that remembering positive memories with people no longer in your life is not a bad thing, because they were not always bad people.
I don't even know if you'll end up reading this, but if so, I want to show you something. This is the first picture we took as a couple, and it was almost 2 years ago (April 2015).
Why am I putting it here? Because I hope you can one day find it in yourself to again be the person you were when this photo was taken.
Or better yet, be the person I thought you were during our entire relationship.
That's my way of wishing you well.
I'm not yet over what we went through, nor am I going to force myself to be, but I like to think I am a good enough person to hope that this hasn't hurt you as much as it hurt me. (Although from your careless, ignorant attitude, it doesn't seem like it did.) I doubt you'll ever even read this article, but if so, I hope it finds you well. I hope you eventually reach a place where you're healthy enough to be open with yourself and keep those who care about you in your life.
Happy 2-year anniversary...or not.