First, I mistook gratitude for love. Then, to make things worse, I mistook obsession for love. You would think that I’m at the age when I can recognize and understand love and healthy relationships; but alas, being in a monogamous, romantic relationship for a quarter of a century may have stunted my ability to make smart dating decisions.
My obsessor and I had a past, one that included my rejection of him. But that was so long ago. I was a child. Surely now that I was not rejecting him, there was going to be a happy ending, right? Wrong.
I was warned by the people who always have my back. Folks, listen to your friends and family, even when they say the things you don’t want to hear. They know you. They care about you. They can see things that your love-glazed eyes refuse to see.
“You’re a trophy.”
“He probably views you as a possession.”
“Be careful. He may be looking for revenge.”
Those were the warnings that I regretfully ignored. And, without being able to travel into his mind and really know what he intended, I do believe my friends and family were right, for the most part. It was definitely an obsession disguised as love.
My biggest mistake, what got me into this whole mess, was that I went outside of my comfort zone. Physically and socially, he wasn’t my type. Our common past made me feel comfortable with and connected to him, even though I didn’t feel the slightest bit of attraction.
Afraid of becoming a superficial, shallow bitch who only dates handsome men, I purposely forced myself outside of my comfort zone by giving this guy a chance. What a bad decision that was. It turns out that even unattractive men can crush your heart just as well as the attractive ones. I mean, if I’m going to risk heartache, better to risk it on a man who is excruciatingly gorgeous than a man who is, well, not. Now, I see that.
But he said all the right things… at first. We connected intellectually. That combined with his sweet-nothings, I fooled myself into thinking I could grow to love him and that his love was authentic.
Eventually, he started saying other things—things that raised red flags. He’d bring up my past rejection and my past sexual encounters, demanding to know why those encounters had not included him. If we were in the midst of an argument and I wanted to take a break, especially if we weren’t resolving anything, he’d assume my request meant I was off to have sex with another man. And when I would set healthy boundaries, he wouldn’t respect them, stating to me that I couldn’t tell him what to do.
Yet, he wanted us to be together. It made no sense. It wasn’t love. It was obsession. When things turned abusive and disturbing, I stopped giving him and the relationship a chance, blocking him from all communications. Luckily, we live in different states. While I would like to believe, in spite of his emotionally abusive tendencies, that he isn’t capable of stalking me, I find comfort in the fact that I live in a country club with strict, diligent security. I mean, not even a Lyft driver or a pizza delivery person can get past our gates without being hassled.
Obsession requires fixation, which means constant attention and communication. It’s easy to see why a romance-ignorant person like I can mistake it for love. It wasn’t until the relationship stopped feeling good that I knew it wasn’t really love and definitely not for me. I fled. I learned. I grew.
Love is supposed to feel good. Obsession feels oppressive and violating. I know the difference now, and I won’t ever mistake it for love again.
Dating abuse, including stalking and verbal attacks, are serious matters. If you’re experiencing abusive behavior, or maybe just want to learn more about it, please visit the website for Loveisrespect.org. There, I know you will find help.