It’s Not Me, It’s You

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Last edited: 4th August 2019

Someone I had blocked on Instagram recently reached out via email to contact me.  The email began ‘I don’t know why you have deleted/blocked/ignored me….’ and I didn’t read the rest. I had indeed deleted, blocked and ignored this person, making clear – I thought – my desire to be left alone, but apparently not. Not wanting to be pulled into unnecessary drama, I had two choices: ignore them and hope they got the hint, or reply and then block their email, ending the relationship once and for all. I would rather someone told me directly the worst truth rather than lie or ghost me, so I chose to reply. I told them I had deleted the email unread, asked not to be contacted again and ended with a thank you. As cold as that sounds, it seemed kinder than ignoring and it did the job without an unsatisfying exchange of blaming/argumentative emails that would have been a waste of time given my decision to walk away from the relationship. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. What is the correct etiquette these days for ending a relationship? Does it depend on the length of the relationship or the kind of relationship you had? Should you end friendship relationships differently to romantic relationships? Pertinent questions as we will all have to end relationships at some time in our lives for various reasons: infidelity, disloyalty, financial hardship, conflicting values, boredom, you want different things out of life, you don’t enjoy spending time with the other person, they may remind you of a time in your life you would rather forget and you want a clean break, or perhaps you have just grown apart/ outgrown each other.  As we go through life, we are constantly evolving and our relationships change too.  

I’ve only been dumped a couple of times in my romantic life because I am the one who tends to exit first. Not because I have commitment issues but because I go with my gut and I’d rather be alone than in a relationship just for the sake of it. I have had some classic experiences of being let down not so gently.  Adam* was a guy I had known socially through mutual friends. One evening after we bumped into each other and had cocktails, I took him home with me and one thing led to another. I was not expecting this necessarily to lead to anything serious but my word, no sooner had he withdrawn from my vagina than he was dressed and racing for the door. Turning back to see my stunned expression, he looked suitably ashamed, muttered, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ and he was gone, setting a record for the quickest exit after intercourse I’ve encountered from all the people I’ve slept with. Another dumper Max didn’t even tell me it was over between us, he just gave the key that I had given him for my apartment to a friend of mine to pass back to me; actions spoke louder than words. Rex and I dated for four months and things had been going well until I found another girl’s knickers in his room on a night I was supposed to be staying over. He tried to claim they were mine but when I insisted they were not, he failed to apologise, told me I was bottom on his list of priorities and he didn’t want a girlfriend anymore. Needless to say, I went home and didn’t see him again. Hilariously, he moved to Dubai the year after I did and asked to see me several times ‘to make it up to me’, but I refused to see him. The best excuse I’ve ever heard for being cheated on was given to me by Robbie who slept with a friend of mine; he said he was so drunk when they had sex he thought she was me – she and I look nothing alike. Unbelievable. The most bittersweet break up was with Dominic after a couple of years of us being together. He was crying so much when he tried to tell me it was over he couldn’t get his words out. It went like this: he turned up at my place ashen faced. As his tears started I prepared myself for the worst. I asked him if someone had died. He said no. I asked him if he had cheated on me. He said no. I felt sick. I asked him if he was ending this. He said yes. We both cried. It was painful but at least he gave me the respect of ending our relationship face to face. Though texting and emailing can be the easy way out, they’re definitely not OK for long term romantic relationships. If you don’t want to be with someone anymore, have the heart and balls to tell them directly to their face.   

That said, I’m not averse to ghosting when necessary. Ghosting, as we all know, is when you suddenly cut someone off and disappear out of their life. For those casually dating multiple partners, ghosting is commonplace and you can’t take it too personally. It’s easy to ghost someone you hardly know and who doesn’t mean anything to you but I would only ghost someone who has been a friend or someone I have cared about in exceptional circumstances. When I chose to finally leave an abusive situation in my life, I had to protect myself so I only maintained contact with a small number of people from my old life who I trusted. I did what I had to do. Over the past year I have been ‘haunted’: emailed by fake email addresses, fake accounts have been set up to contact me via my blog and Instagram, and fake accounts have also monitored my Instagram stories. Consequently, I had to change my phone number, remove my email address from my blog and Instagram, disable comments on my blog and make my Instagram private, in an attempt to be allowed to live my life free from abuse, intimidation and manipulation. Enough was enough. Taking back control felt fantastic. Why people – who do not know me, who did not go through what I did, who do not know everything and therefore don’t know what they are talking about – feel it’s OK to contact me to share their ill-informed judgemental comments or to troll me about my appearance is baffling to me. I spoke out to expose the hypocrisy of a company who failed to investigate a complaint of professional misconduct, despite them knowing that evidence existed to support my complaint, and the hypocrisy of an individual who failed to take responsibility for his behaviour, allowing me to be scapegoated instead. What’s done is done and I don’t have to keep defending myself. Only people who have truth to tell that others want to hide are made to sign NDAs. That speaks for itself. I broke the NDA to ensure that what happened to me, does not happen to someone else, and I wholeheartedly stand by that decision. I refuse to be the punchbag for this situation any longer. If you have nothing nice to say to me, please keep your thoughts to yourself and get on with your life, just as I am getting on with mine. I am in touch with the people I care about and want to be in touch with. Some say that even those who teach us the hardest or most painful lessons in life are actually our soulmates. I don’t believe in ‘The One’, but rather feel that people come into our lives at certain times to teach us things of value, that everything happens for a reason, and good can come from bad experiences. With that in mind, I am sending love to anyone I have loved and wish them all the best.

As kind as the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ cliche is, everyone knows what it really means. It’s a cop out. A way of telling someone you don’t want to be with them anymore or you don’t want them in your life anymore without telling them the real reasons you feel that way. Next time you feel tempted to use this cliche, you could try being honest. When Dominic dumped me, he told me I had been an amazing girlfriend, that he knew he had been spoiled by me and that I had done nothing wrong, but in his heart he felt something was missing for him. As hard as it was to hear at the time, I respected his honesty and I took the rejection on the chin. I am an honest and direct person so I appreciate it when other people are that way with me. There are, of course, kind ways and brutal ways of telling the truth and I can be brutally honest when I feel it’s time to cut the crap. Always when possible though, choose kindness. When you don’t want to be with someone or have someone in your life anymore, set them free so they can give their heart, mind and energy to people who will/do want them. Life is short, don’t waste yours, or anyone else’s time by not being completely honest. Don’t put more bullshit out into the world than there already is. The only exception to the honesty rule is when you want to tell someone you have feelings for them but you are not in a position to act on those feelings because you are married or otherwise unavailable – by sharing your feelings with someone you shouldn’t, you are putting the other person in an impossible position. What are they supposed to do with that information? Honesty in this case just opens a Pandora’s Box of pain. In those situations, it’s best to keep your feelings to yourself. Even worse is when someone can’t be with you but they don’t want you to be with anyone else either. I’ve experienced that and it was a total headfuck. Don’t accept being treated that way and get rid. I should have sooner. We worked together; this guy messed with my head and career. I got doubly screwed over and didn’t even get laid. I fell in love with a married man but refused to sleep with him. He would not leave me alone when I asked him to and always talked me round, preventing me from moving on. I experienced retaliation in the workplace when he was upset with me. I was so broken by dealing with him and his behaviour, I became incapable of doing my job properly and my life fell apart after I wrote a blog post to get him to stop, as trying to resolve things with him privately never worked. A lesson learned the hard way. Shit happens. With millions of people looking for love, it is inevitable that we will encounter arseholes during the quest to find ‘The One’. Bad experiences/relationships though help you to work out what you are looking for, what your dealbreakers are, and the kind of person you would like to be with. Dating dickheads or friendships with fakers, make you appreciate the real diamonds more when you find them so no relationship, whether good or bad, is ever a waste of time.   

We all deserve to have people in our lives – friends, romantic partners, family – who genuinely love and respect us exactly as we are, who can be emotionally and physically involved with us, loyal and faithful to us, so never ever settle for less. I have made some changes in my life. If you haven’t heard from me recently, then you were one of them. It’s not me, it’s you 😉

Take care, Lisa.    

*All names mentioned have been changed. My Instagram is now public again – I have nothing to hide.

 

How To Date An Arsehole

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Last edited: 11th July 2019.

*Trigger warning: this post discusses narcissists and narcissistic abuse. You can read about How to Spot Narcissistic Abuse’ here  http://bit.ly/2WfnxhC

Note: I originally wrote this post to set myself free from an emotionally abusive relationship and to hopefully help others recognise that they may be involved in an unhealthy situation with a narcissist, male or female. The main problem with narcissists is that despite how charming and considerate they can appear (when they want to), they only ever really think of themselves and they always think they can do whatever they want and get away with it (they are so persuasive that is often the case). Once involved with them, it can be difficult to extract yourself but narcissists are incapable of loving you more than themselves regardless of the sweet-nothings they say. A relationship with a narcissist can be very damaging so watch out for the warning signs and protect yourself. Trust me, life without having to deal with a narcissist is much happier. Take care.

I’m sure we all have nightmare stories of dates gone awry and relationship disasters we could share but I feel fully qualified to offer my perspective on how to date an arsehole as it seems to come so easily to me. Some would call it a gift. For someone so smart and perceptive – I like to think so anyway – I have shockingly rubbish taste in men. I’m not ‘anti-men’ but I am a little over the fact that I seem to be a sucker for a certain type of highly intelligent narcissistic controlling manipulative man-child having encountered more than one in my dating lifetime. You would think with my track record, I would be able to spot them a mile away or have developed some sort of immunity (ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the ‘anti-arse’!) but sadly it appears that this is not the case. It can actually take me a couple of years to realise oops I’ve done it again. Once I’ve fallen for someone, I develop blinkers – or rose-tinted glasses if you will – and steadfastly refuse to acknowledge their flaws, continuing to make excuses for the poor way they treat me until I have some irrefutable evidence to the contrary: a Facebook message from another girl telling me she spent the previous weekend with my boyfriend who had told me he was having a lads weekend away, or making a concerned friend take a pregnancy test only to be told when the result was positive that the guy I’d been seeing for a few months was the daddy, or the flatmate who told me he had overheard me and my boyfriend having noisy sex the night before when it hadn’t been me who had stayed over… And each one of these guys I let talk me round and took them back – until there were further misdemeanours and they had to go. What can I say, I always try to see the best in people and no one really wants to acknowledge that they have wasted time on a douchebag. Speaking of douchebags, one ex tried to sleep with me a few weeks before he got married (to the girl he two-timed me with btw), he got knocked back, and then after he was married, he thought it was acceptable to send me a video of him pleasuring himself. It was not acceptable and when will guys learn that most women do not appreciate being sent dirty videos and dick pics? He is the sort of idiot the block button was invented for.  Someone I definitely should have blocked and walked away from sooner was my married boss, who had the audacity to slide into my FB DMs to initiate an affair and arrange a rendezvous – whilst rocking a loved up profile picture of him and his wife. That should have told me all I needed to know about the kind of man he was but unfortunately not. I blindly fell head over heels into the ‘Dicksand’ (a definition for those of you who don’t know what this is: “It’s like every time the guy looks at you, you forget who you are and are like ‘ahhh’ and you get sucked into their world” – Rebel Wilson, ‘How To Be Single’… We’ve all been there). Biggest mistake of my life though thankfully, I was smart enough not to sleep with him. Narcissists will cleverly try to talk you into getting what they want from you and before you know it, you find yourself doing all you can to please them to retain their attention and affection. They, in turn, demand more and more. It’s not a healthy or satisfying dynamic and you can end up feeling drained trying to fulfil their wants and needs, without your own being taken care of in return. Narcissists will dominate and absolutely suck the life out of you if you let them. You have been warned.

Mr Control was not a cheater that I know of (I have my suspicions…) but he was certainly a narcissistic man-child. He swept me off my feet, repeatedly told me he was in it for the long haul and then when the honeymoon period was over and we were in a rut after 18 months, he buggered off ‘to find himself’ – with another girl I should add! He had a way of reasoning with me that meant he just always got his own way and for a quiet life I let him. I always had to stand on the right side of him when we walked around holding hands for example. A small thing but illustrates the way everything always had to be on his terms. If he didn’t get what he wanted, if I didn’t do as I was told, he would sulk, be coldly dismissive or highly critical of me. I remember being told one night, out of the blue, during a romantic dinner that my breath had stunk that morning. His deadpan expression and tone of voice revealed he wasn’t joking. I felt like I’d been slapped around the face. It was the ultimate mood-killer but more than that, it was the disdain that wounded. This led to a row and he made me cry. I’ll never forget the image of him standing over me in a busy London street (he was tall, around 6ft 2 and I’m not, a petite 5ft 2) with a sneer on his face saying contemptuously: “Look at you, playing the victim”. 

When we met he had made me feel on top of the world with his admiration and adoration. Friends were envious of the way he looked at me. He couldn’t do enough for me – buying in soya milk for me to have for breakfast, giving me lifts to work and so on. As the relationship progressed, all of that changed. It was so gradual and subtle I didn’t even realise what had happened until it was over and I’d had time to reflect. I had been love-bombed by a narcissist until he no longer required my attention. As he painfully knocked me off my pedestal, he started to make comments on my weight, asked why I didn’t wear low-cut tops or false eyelashes, made little critical asides that slowly dented my self-esteem. He isolated me from my friends, making no effort to get to know them whatsoever as ‘he had enough friends’, preferring us to spend time alone or with his friends. Looking forward to spending our first anniversary together, I had pictured being wined and dined and then presented with a thoughtful gift. Instead I was informed that he was going on a lads holiday that weekend – though he did put a surprise bouquet of flowers in my apartment to soften the blow. He just always did what he wanted and I was expected to accept that. When we were at the mall on my birthday, the last one we spent together, the only treat I had wanted that day was to get my nails done. After being told at the salon that I wouldn’t be able to get an appointment for an hour, he behaved like a sulky teenager, refused to let me wait for the treatment I wanted, insisting instead that I go with him back to his apartment as he “loved me and wanted me all to himself” – how manipulative and selfish. And it was him that ended the relationship. Hilarious! Throughout our relationship, I was not allowed to put a picture of the two of us as my profile picture on Facebook because ‘when it’s on the internet it is out there forever’ he said, though I found it very easy to delete all pictures of him from my page when we broke up…     

You don’t need a guide on how to date an arsehole. Arseholes are everywhere. Just be a kind genuine person and they will hunt you out. I hope if and when that happens though, you are smarter than me and run for your life. After some of my experiences, I might have gotten quite cynical about the quality of men out there but I am an eternal optimistic, certain that there is a good man out there for me (or good woman – I’m open-minded) who will come along when the time is right. In the meantime, I shall stay happily single and play ‘dodge the dickhead’ along with all the other lovely single ladies out there deserving of being treated right.

So back to the title: How To Date An Arsehole. My advice: Don’t!

Take care, Lisa.

The Cat’s Whiskers

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Last edited: 11th July 2019

Can there be such a thing as too much honesty in a relationship? Are there some things you should just keep to yourself? There was a moment in my relationship with Mr Control when I realised I had said something that had drastically altered his perception of me, thereby changing the course of our relationship, and there would be no going back. Had I shared with him intimate details of past relationships? Hell no! Had I admitted to him that I’d reached the point when I only really fancied him when we were out and about and I would see some girl looking at him with lustful eyes? Of course not. Or revealed that he was an average kisser and locking lips with him made me nostalgically long for the kiss-me-dizzy embraces of my first love? Err no.

This is how it was. It was a picture of romantic loveliness. The scene was set for some ‘boom-chica-wow-wow’ action; the lights were off, candles were burning, and the ex-beloved and I were cuddled up on his couch watching a film. He had one long-limbed arm around me and with his free hand, he was shovelling sour cream and onion ridged crisps into his mouth like he’d never been fed. He had his t-shirt off, revealing gym-toned pecs and tuffs of hair on his chest in all their glory, but the pungent aroma of the crisps intermingled with eau de body odour was not really doing it for me. Whilst I pretended to ignore my revulsion at the animalistic feeding frenzy of the alpha male beside me, I absent-mindedly stroked my chin. And then it happened. There was a whisker. Underneath my chin, unbeknownst to me, a surreptitious whisker had been burrowing its way out of my skin into the light. A chill ran through my entire body upon the discovery. Panicked questions ran through my mind: how long has that been there? Are there more of them? Am I turning into a bearded lady? Internally, I was freaking out. I patted my chin on the hunt for more imposters. I was overwhelmed with relief when I realised this whisker was a solo squatter and felt my body relax. Without thinking, the words just came out of my mouth and once they were out there, there was no taking them back: “Baby, I just found a whisker.” There was a sharp intake of breath and he physically recoiled away from me. I looked at him and saw the horror in his eyes. The goddess he had been professing undying love for was tainted. We tried to laugh it off but it was an awkward evening and we went to sleep that night un-spooned, both of us claiming to be too tired for shenanigans. Something in the relationship had shifted.    

Finding the whisker made me feel old and was a shock to the system. It was a reality check that as we age, our bodies metamorphose in unexpected ways. I had anticipated becoming rounder and saggier but no one warned me that I would become hairier too. For ages after, I was paranoid more whiskers would sprout. So far so good but I still conduct a weekly inspection of my under-chin. Apparently legends Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor used to shave their faces to exfoliate and enjoy a fuzz-free complexion. Well, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me ha ha. I will admit that when seated next to a beautiful young woman at the theatre a few months ago, I was surprised by the fact that her head was shaved but her legs were not (unless yeti tights are now a trend?) but good for her – every woman should decide for herself the amount of body hair she is happy with.       

Between you, me and the cat’s whiskers, Walter the whisker and I have come to an understanding. He means no harm. Each time he makes an appearance he is instantly tweezed away and I have accepted that ageing is inevitable. We all have things about our bodies that we don’t like and there are more important things to worry about than the fear that a rebellious whisker is potentially waving to everyone as I make my way in the world… Love yourself, flaws and and all.

Take care, Lisa.