Before I get into my personal experience, I urge you to reflect on your own relationships to ensure they're all healthy and uplifting. If you come to the conclusion someone is stalking you, or they're getting too close for comfort, please tell someone you trust and contact your local authorities.
During my sophomore year of high school, I began to notice someone I had never noticed before. He was tall, scrawny, struggled with acne, and had a dark sense of humor. We had quite a few mutual friends and at least two classes together, which led to us conversing frequently. He was definitely an "outsider," but we became friends quickly due to his charisma, humor, and his willingness to listen when I felt no one else could.
After a few months of being friends, things started to change.
At first, it was innocent. He told me he had feelings for me and asked me to go on a date with him. The conversation was awkward not only because I wasn't interested in him in that way, but also because I was already in a relationship. Soon, the innocence spiraled into an obsession.
The first time I became aware of how deeply attached he was to me was when he asked my boyfriend to break up with me so he could date me instead. When my boyfriend said no, he threatened him. I was horrified that he would try to disrupt my relationship when I had already expressed I wasn't interested, so I confronted him about it. The conversation was normal — he apologized and promised to keep away from my boyfriend.
I started taking steps to avoid him, yet he kept making himself known.
Not only did he show up at my church, but he would also text me and call me numerous times each day. To make it worse, my English teacher pulled me aside after class and notified me that he had asked the class (when I was absent) what he should get me for Christmas. He had his mind set on Louboutin shoes, which cost upward of $1,000, but the class thankfully talked him out of it. When we all returned from our break, he gave me three makeup palettes, fuzzy socks, a note, and a painting he had made himself.
Needless to say, I was mortified that he spent so much money on me when I had been distancing myself from him, not to mention it was in front of my entire class. This was my breaking point, and I told him we couldn't talk anymore because I didn't feel comfortable with our friendship.
In response, he asked me what the difference between a thought and an urge was and threw some papers in my lap. I opened them to find different songs and poems where he had expressed his undying love for me and how he had suicidal thoughts. While I can't quote any of the papers, there were several lines blaming me for his depression and suicidal thoughts due to my nonreciprocal feelings. Immediately, I went to the counselor's office and dropped them off.
I didn't stay to tell them what had been going on but instead provided them the material they needed to recognize his instability.
Eventually, the cops were sent to his house because of my letters and comments he had made in class, which resulted in a month-long suspension. Throughout the process, I didn't have time to stop and ask myself how I felt about everything happening around me. Thankfully, being completely separated from him allowed me to heal and collect my emotions. Looking back, I'm scared for what could've happened to him or to myself if I hadn't turned the papers in.
The biggest lesson I learned was to always be straightforward with everyone and set boundaries for my relationships. If someone isn't happy with the boundaries I set for a relationship, I explain to them why I have them in the first place, and ask for understanding. Most of the time, the only people who don't like my boundaries aren't the people I want to have meaningful relationships with in the first place.
Sadly, stalking and obsession is something that could happen to anyone, which is why it's so important for us to be aware of our surroundings, reflect on our relationships, and contact trusted adults or authority figures early on. While confrontation, or reporting an individual can be extremely hard, we have to ensure our personal safety, both mental and physical, is our top priority.
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