Everything about my relationship with Ben, from the very first moment I met him, was a manipulation.
I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating.
I first met Ben about a year before I dated him.
You know how I mentioned in my last post that my housemates always had parties?
Well, Callum threw a party – fuck knows for what, there were so many goddamn parties, could’ve been any reason, including just drinking – and one night I came home from a date and I met Ben, along with all of Ben’s friends.
I stayed and talked to him and his friend, in particular, before calling it a night.
The next few times I’d come across Ben (despite initially being attracted to him), he was always so drunk he’d pass out somewhere, and that isn’t something I find to be an attractive or endearing trait.
Like, nothing against drinking and all, but I’ve never cared too much for drinking or parties. It’s just not my scene.
I mean, I’ve definitely gotten drunk more times than count – usually courtesy of my best friend B – but I don’t like the taste of most alcohol, and I have reactions to a lot of different types of alcohol, as well.
My favourite thing to drink used to be beer, but I’m a coeliac, so that ruined that a long time ago.
I prefer low-key things. Casual things.
And I hate not being in control.
And the few times I’d drunk too much – usually at the beginning of learning to drink, and realising how quickly and easily alcohol can take you over – I’d loathed it. Asking friends for memories I didn’t have after vomiting too many times in someone’s bathroom (sorry, Kate), wasn’t my idea of fun.
The first time I’d met Ben, he’d been drinking, but he wasn’t drunk-drunk.
For about a solid year after that, despite seeing him multiple times, I didn’t know anything about him except the fact that he was always at parties at my house, and he usually ended up passed out somewhere.
During one of Ben’s many drunken pass outs, Callum told me that part of the reason they were always having parties at our place was because of me.
Callum told me that Ben was so in love with me, and he was too afraid to ask me out.
I remember feeling like it might be a set up (in the sense that I wondered if Ben was really passed out), so I said that if he wanted to ask me out, he would have to do it himself.
Callum insisted, again, that Ben really liked me, and that he’d “even cook for me” and that meant a lot because he was Italian, and could cook extremely well.
I think I repeated something along the lines of, “It’s up to him”, before heading to bed.
A few months later, at the very most, my friend Anja messaged me to say that Ben was moving in, because I’d told her about the conversation and she wanted to know if I was comfortable about it. I said I was, because he was living upstairs, and plus, what could I do if I was uncomfortable?
It seemed pointless worrying about it; I went through so many fucking housemates, I literally can’t remember the names of all the people I lived with, and I have a pretty damn good memory – other than Ben being a constant drunk who may or may not have had a crush on me, there wasn’t an awful lot to think about.
I bumped into Ben almost immediately – I was going upstairs looking for Anja, and he told me she was out.
I went back downstairs, and later, Ben came knocking on my housemate, Jess’s, room. I knew Jess was out – downstairs was the better area, you only had to share with three housemates, not like five or six or whatever was upstairs (and I’m pretty sure one of those rooms had previously been a closet), so it was actually really easy being alone downstairs, and really easy to tell if no one else was home.
I came out of my room and told him that Jess was out, and he turned to me and said, ‘That’s a shame. I was going to ask her to go to the liquor store with me.’
I was like, ‘Oh, she has a boyfriend’ (because she did), and he seemed a bit sad, before he asked, ‘Did you want to come for the walk?’
And I did.
That night, we started hooking up, and he asked me out on a date. I was ecstatic.
I wrote before in my Gilda post that men see an illusion of me.
Lots of guys have thought I’m fuckable.
That isn’t an achievement, by the way, because some guys will fuck whatever.
Not a lot of guys have thought I’m dateable.
The idea that Ben maybe wasn’t an always pass-out drunk, that he actually wanted to date me, made me feel, for the first time in my entire life (I was nineteen) that I was worth loving.
I’d learn soon after – from Ben – that he knew that Jess was out. He told me, in a grand romantic story (or so I thought at the time), that he’d deliberately waited until he knew I was home alone, and he deliberately knocked on Jess’s door, because she was a new housemate, and he thought I’d get jealous and come out of my room and if he played it right, I’d even go on a walk with him.
While jealousy wasn’t the thing that had gotten me out of the bedroom – basic courtesy had – I remember thinking, Oh, how lucky am I? He really wanted to date me. No one has ever really wanted to date me.
The red flags were clear from the moment I accepted the date – which we’d go on the very next day, which if you keep following you can read all about it – but think about it.
Because when you start putting it all together, even the beginning of our relationship was a manipulation, just tied up with a big, romantic bow, that no one ever thought to question – including me – because isn’t that what the guy does in the movies?
I’m not saying every gesture is a manipulation.
I’m not saying if someone had to woo you to date you is a problem.
I’m saying that we need to start learning the difference between the two, because manipulating someone into a relationship isn’t romantic.
Keep reading to find out what happens next.
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