I still remember the first night we hung out. You introduced a fun, exciting, caring version of yourself that was impossible to resist. You swooped in at just the right time and began mending my recently broken heart. Suddenly, everything changed. You weren’t the guy I thought you were, but it was still so hard to walk away.
You hid your bad behavior well at first.
The first few months were fun as hell. We introduced each other to new music, we partied a little too hard, we started merging our groups of friends together. Slowly, though, things began to change. You’d quietly accuse me of drinking a little too much at parties and tell me you were worried I wasn’t serious enough about our relationship to settle down. Subtle digs like this planted themselves in the back of my brain and grew into paranoid thoughts over time. Your overbearing nature was oddly comforting in the beginning. I mistook your jealousy for legitimate concern.
You got comfortable way too quickly.
You would barge in during moments that I preferred privacy. You inserted yourself into situations you had no business being in. You gave unwarranted opinions of people that had a presence in my life long before you came around. At first, I was under the impression that this was your way of showing you cared. Now I know it was just another way of digging your claws into every aspect of my life and taking control.
Your behavior was never normal.
Looking back now, it’s easy for me to recognize the point that things started to take a turn for the worst. At the time, however, the decline was so slow and subtle. There’s a dark anecdote that I’ve heard a few times in my life that reminds me of your behavior. It’s been said if you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will jump out right away. If you set it in a pot of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, however, it won’t recognize it’s boiling to death until it’s too late. I was the frog and you were the chef in charge of turning up the flames. Luckily for me, I jumped out in time.
You displayed classic signs early on that I should’ve recognized.
We didn’t talk about your former flames much, but when we did, you had nothing nice to say. You accused them all of being crazy, but you never actually explained what they did to warrant such a nasty title. I found it so odd that you didn’t keep in touch with a single woman from your romantic past, but I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I’ve since happily joined that long list of women you’ve identified as crazy and now I understand why you don’t keep in touch.
You held me back by ignoring my goals.
I didn’t know it at the time, but you were intimidated by my work ethic. You’d always try to pull me away from my studies in playful ways and change the subject when I talked about life post-graduation. You never liked the thought of me pursuing my goals without you at the forefront of my mind, so you tried your best to keep me complacent.
You made me think you were “The One.”
You and I made a lot of plans and breaking up with you meant that I had to totally overhaul what I thought my future would look like. Every time I thought about letting you go, it knocked the wind out of me. I knew rebuilding the life you slowly tore down would be exhausting, but it was what I needed to do.
Your charm made it harder to leave.
You were charming, I’ll give you that much. Not only did you have me fooled, but my family and friends loved you too. You were great at putting off the good guy vibe in public, but in reality, you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I always craved that fun-loving side of you when we were alone, but that part of you was only for show.
You were unrecognizable towards the end.
You were so high energy and spontaneous in the beginning. You told me I deserved so much more than the crap I had put up with in the past. Slowly, over time, you morphed into an over-protective nightmare. I couldn’t leave a room without telling you where I was going, I couldn’t make any plans without your input. Your temper was so out of control, I spent my days walking on eggshells. The man I once knew was gone.
You showed me exactly what I don’t need in a relationship.
After I left you, I was the picture of self-destruction. I slept around, I ruined good friendships, and I drank. I drank a lot. If I’m being honest with myself, I think I did all those things in the hope that you would hear I still needed you. After a particularly rough night, I looked long and hard at myself in the mirror and realized there were so many aspects of my life that were still being controlled by you. It took so much time for me to see I was good enough all along. I didn’t need a man like you to love me, I needed to learn to love myself.
You may not have learned your lesson but I have.
After we broke up, you wrote me off as another crazy ex-girlfriend. I imagine you moved on and made a handful of other women just as miserable as you made me. I was so unhappy towards the end of our relationship, but it was still so hard to walk away. I always thought maybe you could go back to the way you were when we first met, but I know now that that version of you never really existed. You taught me to always be up front with other people about who I am and what I’m about. At the very least, I can thank you for that.
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