Have you ever dated someone and when it ended, you were worried you would run into them? Maybe you live in a small town like I do, so you know there’s a good chance you’ll end up seeing them at that one cafe you always go to? Or the supermarket? Maybe passing them on the street? If so, to avoid them you’d probably plan where you go. It might be for as little as avoiding awkwardness, or as much as avoiding confrontation. With everything going on in the world right now, feeling like you have to steer clear of the dick you dated is just one problem too many!
My intention of this blog has always been to be a bit entertaining, funny, and light-hearted. Granted, since beginning it more than two years ago, I’ve also written a couple of heartfelt, vulnerable pieces. This story is a little different though. It’s a noteworthy part of my dating journey to find Mr. Right, nonetheless I’ve been reluctant to share it. I’ve struggled with how to tell it. I’ve never wanted a post to be on the more serious side, but for anyone who has dated, you’ll know that it’s not always good- that some people are not good. He was one of them.
We met on Halloween last year, in a bar in Siem Reap. Towards the end of the night he suggested I add him to Facebook. The next day, and the weeks following, he messaged me, a lot. I was interested to get to know him more, but as most of the single guys I’ve known here aren’t looking for a relationship, I was also cautious. I relaxed a bit when I found out we had 25 mutual friends on Facebook. He was your friend. He was your neighbor. He frequented your cafe or restaurant. He drank in your bar. He seemed like any other guy.
We dated for a couple of weeks, then he suddenly stopped replying to me. I was confused, especially as he had initiated a majority of the contact. I apologized, unsure of what I had done wrong. He finally replied saying he wasn’t actually looking for a relationship, and claimed to be “Siem Reap’s Biggest Fuck Boy”! I was pretty shocked, as his level of interest didn’t indicate either of these. He said he wanted to be friends – but with benefits. I wasn’t interested. We hadn’t had sex, why would I want to now? We agreed to be just friends.
Over the next six weeks, his actions would involve calling me names, belittling me, yelling and acting aggressive, and trying to make me feel guilty. A message I sent has “ruined his day off”. He blamed me for various things- it was my fault they’d happened. He never accepted responsibility for his actions.
In this time, he’s also already moved on to the next girl or two in town. He probably dated your friend. He may have dated you. When I confided in a friend, I found out about a girl a few months before me he treated the same. I’ve since heard of another one- she apparently had a panic attack when he walked into the bar she was alone in. Someone even created a fake Tinder profile to warn women against him. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one he did this to. In the end, each girls’ story about how he treated them is almost identical. He had a pattern.
Within these six weeks he had successfully managed to erode my confidence. The clincher was on New Year’s Eve. Dressed in a disguise, he walked into the bar I was in and talked to various people for at least thirty minutes. I had no idea it was him, until I looked over and saw he had removed the disguise and was now sitting across from me. Despite the fact we had only messaged yesterday, he didn’t speak to me. He acted like I wasn’t there. Then a girl walks in, who unbeknownst to him I happen to be friends with, and he chats her up. Upset by his behavior, I left the bar. I ended up on the side of a road, crumpled on the ground sobbing. I was so hurt that this person, who was supposed to be a friend, could treat me this way. I cared about him, but began to realize his relationship with me was destructive.
I find out the next day that when I left the bar, he had called me a bitch to my friend- the one he was seemingly trying to go home with. It was the final straw. That’s when I knew I had to remove him from my life. I blocked him on Facebook. Then I rarely left my house. I was afraid to run into him- afraid of possible confrontation. I knew his schedule, I knew where he ate. I knew where to avoid. I was also afraid of how I would react. I didn’t want him to see me cry. I didn’t want him to know the power he had gained over me.
For the next few months this was how I lived my life. I felt so broken by his words and actions, it took me months and months to begin to recover. I talked to friends. I wrote. I tried to write this post on at least five different occasions. Instead I wrote a poem. I read the poem at a public event. I cried often. I didn’t want to date.
I also reflected back on and questioned how I could get involved and then continue with a man who was so hurtful. I was angry with myself for letting this happen. I kept giving myself to him- I was vulnerable with him. I wanted to help him be a better man. I continued to interact with him regardless that what he said or did was hurtful. The few friends I talked to about him told me not to give him anymore of my time. However, I didn’t I listen to them and instead excused how he behaved.
Part of the problem was that in between his horrible actions and messages he was nice. A nice message, then one that blamed me. And repeat. The pattern. Another part was the brief role he played in my life. He was the only man who I kissed last year. I even refer to it in my post And then He kissed Me, it was that significant. I was also hopeful that I might have found Mr. Right. As a fellow digital nomad, he was a man that I had hoped we could travel the world together. I was guilty of romanticizing our relationship.
Although I feel like I have mostly recovered from my experience with him, I realize a small part of me still has not. The other week I was watching a TV show on Netflix and was triggered. This was when I truly realized what he did to me was abuse. Mental and emotional abuse. When I think of him words such as toxic, gaslighting, manipulation, control, and power come to mind. Certainly there are others, but I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
During these last ten months, probably the most distressing thing I’ve grappled with though is the knowledge that he will continue to act the same, if not worse, to more women. I know of at least one woman whom he had been violent with- but that is her story to tell. Sadly, I can see how his need for power and control combined with his aggressiveness could lead to this. He will treat the next girl as badly as he treated me- as badly as he treated you. For this I can only hope karma catches up with him.
Fortunately, my story does have a happy ending. In July he left the country after three years of living in Siem Reap. For the first time in six months I didn’t have to worry about running into him when I left the house. The relief I felt was palpable. I felt like I was finally free again.
All the more apt, is that it’s been a year this weekend since I first met him. The painful memories have begun to fade. My confidence and mental strength have returned. I can now look back at this experience and am grateful for lessons learned. Writing this has been the hardest piece I’ve ever written, but I’m thankful to have gained the courage to share it here. Most importantly, I finally feel ready to date again. After almost one year, I’m keen to continue my journey of looking for Mr. Right.
Of course it probably also goes without saying, I can smile again knowing I got 99 problems but a dick ain’t one!Continue reading “I got 99 problems but a dick ain’t one!”