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I had been in a relationship for over 7 years with an abusive, violent tempered man, when I finally found the courage to leave and start over at 31. There were times I thought, what the hell am I doing?
I don’t even remember what dating looks like, and I definitely had forgotten how to be single. I thought for sure I knew what abuse looked like. But it comes in all forms. After being abused, I had to pick myself back up. This took four months of hanging out with my girl friends, working out at the gym, throwing myself into my work, and of course spending quality time by myself and my rescue pit bull.
I decided it was time to stop waiting around and get back on the dating horse. After saying I never would (and partially being grateful I never had to), I agreed to join a dating app as a “social experiment” along with my best friend. I immediately got several matches and began talking to a few, but instantly clicked with one. This was in the middle of a terrible snow storm we had here in New York. Our first date almost didn’t happen, but he agreed to pick me up in the middle of the snow storm. We went to a coffee shop, where we genuinely clicked, so much so that I agreed to let him come over to help me shovel my snow covered driveway (I swear it’s not a euphemism just a really sweet way to keep our date going late into the evening).
After that first date we just couldn’t stop talking. He joined a chat client so we could talk while I was at work, and we saw each other every day. It seemed too perfect, but after what I had just been through I was thinking “don’t I deserve a little perfect?”. This man was sweet, kind, and loved my overprotective, stinky dog. He refused to let me pay for anything (any time I tried, I would find money hidden in my pockets and a text would pop up saying “Check your pockets cutie xoxo”).
Within a short time he was admitting that something was drawing him to me, he was falling for me, and as scared as I was, I was falling for him too. I deleted my dating app, he deleted his and we asked the question only a few weeks in “are we a couple?” and both feeling giddy, we agreed. On our way to dinner, he looked at me and said with a huge grin “I have a girlfriend!!”, after years of feeling like someone’s property, I felt like I had someone who cherished me and was happy in my company.
Three months in, things changed. I stopped hearing from him as frequently, and got excuses that work was getting busy, well OK, this is a man who runs his own business, it was possible, and who doesn’t appreciate a hard working partner? Suddenly I started questioning his feelings, and mine, already wary of getting used and hurt, now I was on edge.
Then after buying him a plane ticket and hotel to visit my family out of state, I didn’t hear from him for nearly 3 weeks. It was radio silence, so much that my best friend even texted him, to sarcastically ask him if he was dead. What was going on? I cried in text messages, “where are u?! ” and asked him to confirm if we were still going on this trip, or even still a couple, which, briefly he assured me he was and we most certainly were.
He agreed to pick me up one night but never showed up. I was about to give up, but the day before the trip, miraculously there he was, and he owed me a serious explanation. Which to this day, I only sort of got. He gave me apologies, about how selfish he was, for thinking he could disappear and how he knew how close to losing me he came and he never wants that to happen. I listened and said, “do this again and we’re done”. He promised. He said let’s move in together. When we got home things were better, for a short time, and then we had to decide on an apartment. I spent time looking, time he had promised to spend with me, and yet came up with reasons why he couldn’t. When I found a place for us, he couldn’t be there to see it, he disappeared…again. He stopped answering his phone.
Abuse comes in all forms. I thought I knew what it looked like and could spot it a million miles away. I found myself on the receiving end of a roller coaster of emotions again, not knowing when or where I would hear from this man who claimed to care about me. Are there good, kind men out there? I’m still hoping.