When I was nineteen, I was in a “relationship” with a guy who I knew didn’t want to commit. Wherever we went together, there were at least two girls he had slept with before. He didn’t want our mutual friends knowing we were together, but was fine with me moving all of my stuff into his house. He would hit on my work friends right in front of me, because they didn’t know we were together. But he was older, he was mysterious, and he made me work for his affection.
In my teenage mind, all of these things were attractive, and the fact that I was living with him made me feel like this whole “non-commitment” thing wouldn’t last. Why did I care so much about a label when I was coming home to him every night?
But I did care, because my parents didn’t know I was seeing anyone, and guys would ask me if I had a boyfriend and I didn’t know the right response. When my friends would ask if he was coming along to any event, I knew the answer was no. When he went and studied abroad for a month, I didn’t know whom he was spending the night with.
He would get upset with me over trivial things and call me a child. He got mad at me for not making his bed the first time I stayed over. He told me we stopped having sex because I didn’t try hard enough to initiate it. He was emotionally abusive to me everyday but I lived through it because I cared too much about the guy I saw when he let his guard down.
Some days would be different. He would cuddle with me and play with my hair, kiss me goodbye before work when he thought I was sleeping, introduce me to his friends, tell me about his childhood. He brought me to his sister’s wedding, made me soup when I was sick.
It was all these little things – and I know they are very little – that made me stay. I thought he was fighting against his true self that could love and be with me, because of his pride and his reputation. But fragments of a person aren’t a person. Moments of kindness don’t make you kind. Hints of love don’t make it love. It just makes it unfair.
You deserve more than somebody who wants to keep you a secret just to keep his options open. You deserve more than a, “Whoa, she’s not my girlfriend” when somebody refers to you as such. You deserve more than an “okay” when you decide to leave him, and if you don’t get it, then you made the right choice.