Dating Red Flags: Obsession, Anger and Control

We left young TK last week scared and unsure of her next action. Out of misguided sympathy, she had decided to continue dating a man whom she didn’t like and who treated her poorly until two weeks after from. Having made this decision in late March, this meant at least another month and a half of dating.

TK no longer laughed with her friend, who was dating Zachery’s younger brother, about being in-laws. Her mind was more preoccupied with avoiding Zachery as much as possible, although she often gave in when his body shook and anger glared in his eyes. Prom could not come and go soon enough.

196000_1003689610578_7377_nOver the next month or so, I was able to keep every other weekend to myself. I was pretty sure Zachery knew something was wrong, but he never said anything. He kept telling me he loved me and I kept remaining silent. I refused to lie about something so important as love. That word wouldn’t be spoken unless I truly felt the feeling. I have my doubts Zachery loved me at all. He was just telling me what he thought he needed to in order to keep me.

I wonder what he would have done if he realized fear was far better at ‘keeping me’ than his alleged love.

Zachery picked up on additional methods of persuading my presence in the form of my dear friend. While he never said anything, I was pretty sure he knew I was more likely to hang around him if my friend and his brother were also there. This only provided me so much protection, though, as we would often just sit in his bedroom watching T.V. while my friend and his brother we in his bedroom doing the same.

The uncomfortable touching did not stop, nor did he listen to my desire to have him stop for more than five minutes. He continued to scare me. It’s odd how a person can strike fear with little more than body language and words.

Recently, I have uncovered proof of just how controlled I was. I found a diary entry where I mention key problems our relationship needs to overcome. I am not joking. I listed these things within the first month of our relationship, and I stayed.

1. Saying I love you without meaning it. Even teenage TK wasn’t dumb enough to buy that.

2. He doesn’t understand me, but tries to claim he does.

3. I can’t stand to be with him all the time as it makes me self-conscious. Another friend in high school had the same problem and said it was a sign of a failing relationship.

4. He’s obsessed with me to a disturbing degree.

5. I like my alone time, and he’s always begging to see me more (this is probably related to #3).

6. Our morals and ethics are extremely different.

7. Zachery acts like he’ll fall apart without me.

I wrote this all out, even going so far as to say I knew the relationship would never work out, and I STILL choose to keep dating him through prom. I know I thought I was being compassionate, but the reality was I was only making the pain of the inevitable break-up worse on both of us.

This photo, “2013 EVHS Prom 42” is copyright (c) 2014 upwiththemooses and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

These problems started to increase as the date of prom got closer. Soon, the day reared its ugly head. I looked fantastic in my dress and was thrilled with my hair and make-up. I was excited for the night to continue. Many of my friends had boyfriends who were from different high schools or who had graduated. I counted them among my friends and was excited to see them all.

Before the night had really started, I was already experiencing signs of what I would endure over the next 24 hours. I didn’t appreciate how he insisted on holding my hand or placing his on my upper thigh while we drove to my friend’s house for pictures. Even taking pictures was uncomfortable. He had to have a hand on me, if not grabbing me, at all times.

I don’t know if my friend’s parents, who were taking the photos, noticed anything like my Spanish teacher had. Could they see how uncomfortable I was? Something like that is so hard to see. I think I was expected to feel nervous about dressing up and going to prom.

My friend and Zachery’s younger brother were in the back seat as Zachery drove us to our dinner reservations. He still insisted on touching or grabbing me as we drove until I was visibly annoyed. After shoving him off my leg enough times, he settled from gripping my hand. I let him, figuring that was better than my upper thigh, and sat as far away from him in the passenger seat as I could.

The problems had already started, and the sun hadn’t even set yet.

What sort of ridiculous excuses did you ever make to keep dating someone who was wrong for you? Do you think drawing out a relationship could ever be considered compassionate? What are your memories of prom? Any predictions about what happens at mine?


38 thoughts on “Dating Red Flags: Obsession, Anger and Control”

  1. Yes. It’s pathetic to be in relationship with someone you’re not happy with. It’s like putting your hands in fire to save yourself from cold. You will only end up hurting yourself and other person too.

  2. This is sad, but you know what I see on a more personal level with the popularity of the Internet, that is sadder, if you could imagine, it is the women in the Middle East that are forced into marriages they detest and live in the barbaric and archaic ideology society they are forced to live under. It’s heart wrenching, like this story.

  3. We tend to fall into toxic relationships such as these once in a while,.guess it’s the test of fire before we finally meet the best person for us…as they say mistakes happen but to never ever fall back into the vicious cycle is key…thanks for sharing.

    1. This relationship was one giant lesson teaching me I didn’t need to have a man to be happy. There are more lessons to come as prom night continues, but I’ll save those for later ^_^

      1. Maybe that’s true TK, but Zachary is definitely not an example of a MAN!
        I think young TK needed to know how to throw a hard right and say no 🙂

        1. I said no plenty of times. That was the problem. He never accepted no for an answer. He acted in such a way that I became afraid to say no. I’m not saying he did it deliberately, but I fear what would have happened to me if the relationship lasted far past prom night.

          1. Well I’m sorry you had to go through that. Didn’t you have any brothers, guyfriends, or your dad to stand up for you?

            1. I should have stood up for myself. But, as bad as it seems, I did have some girlfriends who pulled me aside and helped me escape.

  4. My father was very jealous and controlling of my mother. For that reason, any man who seemed remotely the same way really frightened me and I immediately backed away. I’m glad this is a past and not a current life situation for you. I hope your prom night turned out to be safe one, with nothing happening that harmed you. I’m predicting that good old Zachary is now in lock up, doing time for domestic violence, and happily, you’re safely writing blog posts! 🙂

    1. I didn’t have enough confidence to back away, but I would once this night was over. Let’s just say there were many close calls throughout the night and that I had fantastic friends to help me see just how much trouble I was in.

      Also, Zachery is not locked up. I don’t think he intended to be so mean. He did, however, get what he wanted… and I’m not sure it is as great as he expected.

  5. My mom drove my car and blew one of my tires out a week before prom. She absolutely refused to pay me the money for the replacement tire which cost $50. Luckily, the cost of prom tickets were $50 so I worked up some tears and convinced her I needed the money for prom or I wouldn’t be able to go. I didn’t really care for the friends I had in High School, so I bought the new tire. On prom night J and I dressed up, had his parents take pictures and proceeded to the movie theater where we watched Meet the Robinsons in 3D. BEST PROM NIGHT EVER!

  6. Don’t you just wish you could go back and give your teenage self a good talking to? It interests me that you were clearly astute enough at that time to analyse and interrogate the relationship and recognise it as toxic and, indeed, know you needed to get out pronto yet you chose to draw out the inevitable and make yourself suffer that bit longer. It’s funny how we can have a tendency to do that to ourselves – have the tools to empower ourselves but opt not to use them.

    I embarked on my relationship with my husband when I was 18 so my wider relationship experience is somewhat limited. I was, however, in two very complex, on-off relationships between the ages of 15 and 17 and a smattering of other more casual relationships. The two on-off relationships, constantly pinging between those two blokes like a ping pong ball, even at the time felt stupid. I knew even at the time that I was investing myself in something pointless but I think I perhaps did not care enough about myself to require something better and more meaningful. In retrospect, I can also see that I chose to be in those relationships precisely because they were going nowhere and I did not want to be held back in my dead-end town and have my future hobbled because I had yoked myself to someone I actually properly cared about. I cannot really say that I regret the situation I was in, as fatiguing as it was at times, because we always gain from experiences and grow as a result of even relationships with less merit but the one regret I do have was that being mired in those complicated situations meant I missed out on some “normal” rites of teenage passage such as basic things like dating. Still the “ugly frog” episodes meant I definitely knew my “prince” when I met him.

    I sense things are building to a crescendo in this saga. I do hope it is not as horrible as the sense of foreboding implies.

    1. I have a theory that girls in high school, or maybe in general, date men who date them the way they think they deserve to be treated. A girl like me, who still suffered from issues of low self-esteem, could have been as smart as can be. But that girl, just like me, will date someone who treats her how she thinks she should be, even if she thinks she should be treated poorly.

      Things are totally crescendoing here. I’m not going to lie, a part of me just wants to keep people intrigued, but I also think all these small signs are important. Each action of Zachery’s by itself isn’t so bad. Everything up til now is just about two people who have no business dating. But I mention all these details because it gets much worse. I’m sure there are worse stories out there, but this prom night will go down as one of the most terrifying nights of my life.

  7. Hiya TK… Thanks for the blogging. I have only recently begun to stop in now and again and have enjoyed it.

    The Zachary Saga is something. So much so that I thought I would actually respond today…keeping your questions in mind… “What sort of ridiculous excuses did you ever make to keep dating someone who was wrong for you? Do you think drawing out a relationship could ever be considered compassionate? What are your memories of prom? Any predictions about what happens at mine?”

    So, yeah, lemme start by saying I found myself seeing the other side of the coin today to some degree. I mean, I don’t condone any poor treatment or the like, not saying that. But I found myself wondering what all this would have been like from Zachery’s pov? Especially considering all the examples of mental instability that are becoming more and more prevalent, how messed up was he really? Is he excluded from a proper relationship or some nonsense like this latest joker?

    What was he getting from this? And what would he say now? What would his preferences have been? Would he have preferred a more direct end to things? Like you said, it’s probably not compassionate to draw it out to either of you.

    I also remember that you’ve said before that you know you were both at fault. A relationship is TWO. But how unpleasant was this actually for him too? He’s got to sense things are not kosher.

    I doubt any of us would care for their significant other being put out by our wanting to be around them more (oh, woe is me, my bf or gf wants to be with me more!) and/or touching and the like. I get too much is too much, but he was looking for something and clearly he was confused how to get it and his tools didn’t allow him (again, takes TWO) to say, “Man, this sucks. I don’t want to be with this chick if it’s like this.”

    I would bet all of us have actually been on *both* sides of an, uh, association like this. Meaning, at one point or another we’ve all liked someone that didn’t like us back and on the other side we’ve all been liked by someone that we didn’t like back at least not as much.

    Anyway, wouldn’t it be interesting if we came across Zach’s blog somewhere and he had an entirely different perspective!

    I definitely remember times where I put up with things, making ridiculous excuses that… she’s just stressed, it’s just a temporary thing, or whatever. But I was always still on board to some degree. Meaning, I thought there was something special. There was for me at least. I remember a time where I definitely wasn’t done and the other person probably was, but she wasn’t committed to that fact and it totally extended the pain for both of us. I think if one person is done – like you can see retrospectively here, it’s done. No amount of therapy or “change” is really going to alter the fact it.

    Anyway, let’s see… my memories of prom are awesome. …and I really have no idea where your story is going! Like other commentors said, I hope it works out okay and I hope your look back at it here is helpful for your growth and current well-being and creativity.

    I also hope I said everything here in a way so I didn’t ruffle feathers too. Maybe a slightly different perspective on your topic. That is all. Take ‘er easy, peasy.

    1. Everything you ask is totally legitimate and I want to take some time with each of your questions. I don’t think Zachery meant to do anything wrong. I don’t think he honestly loved me, but he might have lusted after me and thought that was love. I don’t mean that as an insult. I just mean he was a teenager. Neither one of us knew what we were doing. I’m sure he knew that I wasn’t happy and was on the verge of breaking up with him. I wish he would have said something as much as I wish I would have said something. Who knows what would have happened if one or both of us would have let down our walls and actually voiced our worries?

      I don’t mean to imply he was mentally unstable so much as I mean to point out how afraid I was of him. It wierd because, up to this point, I didn’t have anything physical to instigate fear, aside from the fact he didn’t listen when I said no or stop. There was no yelling. I want to show that those things aren’t necessary to fear someone and, regardless of a person’s intentions, being with someone for fear of them is never a good idea.
      not sure what he would say now. Things went pretty south for him after he graduated high school. I probably won’t say much about that, though. This is my story about a terrifying relationship that could have been so much worse. I share it partially because I hope someone will be able to avoid a similar or worse situation. I feel like it’s my story and I try not to say to much about why or how Zachery did anything. I don’t know what his intentions were. I don’t know if he was working off of bad dating advice or if…. I don’t know. I can’t know. I just know my story.
      …but what happened to him after high school, that’s his story. I don’t think it would do any good to share.

      And yes, we both did things wrong. I would argue that there is more wrong with touching someone, having them shove you away, and then just grab them again. No means no. However, that does not excuse the fact that I was done with the relationship long before I actually broke it up. Honestly, I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was so very wrong. Good intentions don’t save me. I was wrong to draw it out, no matter how I dressed up my excuses. I had a lot more to learn about relationships.

      Lastly, on your point of the touching. Some is okay and some isn’t. I wasn’t upset that he was holding my hand. I was upset that he would grab my breast in public and keep his hand only an inch or so from my vagina. I would have been fine with a hand on the shoulder or knee, but that’s not what’s important. When you touch someone and they say “please stop, I don’t want to be touched there” and you decided not to care and keep touching, that is – at best – extremely rude. I was just stupid enough to stay in the relationship. Zachery needed to find a girl who didn’t mind being touched near intimate places by boys she only knew for a month or two. That girl just was not me.

      1. Definitely after someone shoves a hand away, it’s done-Zo time. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. That, without a doubt is a red flag to stop the entire relationship. I’m glad you’re in a healthier thing now.

  8. I think this is a really important post. You are clearly a strong and intelligent woman yet still you were persuaded against your better judgement to carry on with the relationship.

    It just shows that this kind of thing can happen to anyone. It wasn’t your fault. None of us are perfect and we all make what we think are the best choices at the time, for our own reasons.

    With an obsessive, it can be easier to get in than out again.

    1. I replied to someone else that I have a theory, women – or maybe even people in general – find partners who treat them the way they think they deserve to be treated. As such, you can be the smartest person in the world, but if you have low self-esteem and think you deserve to be treated like trash, you’ll end up dating someone who treats you like trash. And you’ll think they’re great, because they treat you just as you (think you) deserve to be.

      1. I think that is very true. I think the way we see ourselves develops so much from the sub-conscious that we have to be very aware of ourselves, if we do have damaged or low self-esteem, how to get back from that. Maybe too we think of low self-esteem as a weakness of vulnerability. I know I have. And therefore I have been unwilling for too long to see the truth behind a situation and the truth about the way people are treating us.

        1. We just have to learn to be proud of ourselves. When someone says, ‘wow you’re [fill in compliment here]” we shouldn’t bashfully say that we’re not really that great. We should just say thank you. I don’t know how many girls grow up like that, but I know I’m one of them. It’s super hard for me to take a compliment.

  9. How disturbing.

    That we allow a lot of things to go past because we’re scared to talk up about it in the hopes that they will stop.

    Hopefully you were never in a place where it got too much!

    1. Thank God it never got too bad. I fear what would have happened if I didn’t get out when I did. I was going down a scary path as it was. Thank God I had awesome friends.

  10. One relationship I had in high school comes to mind here. I stayed with him because I thought I could change him. I think that I really believed that at the time and when he cheated on me it really brought me to my senses. It wasn’t right, for me and I was just being used. I really do wish I had realized what was happening sooner rather than later. My prom was awesome! I went with a group of girls… then we egged our ex’s trucks after covering them with plastic wrap! 🙂
    I think your blog is great and you always have an important issue to discuss and that’s why I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    1. Our youth is filled with fairy tale stories about how love changes people. It’s an easy rut to fall in. Thanks for the nomination ^_^

  11. Someone not taking no for an answer happened to me a few weeks ago (blogged it). I hope it’s finally done. Luckily it didn’t last very long but it was still creepy.

    And I spent a few months too long In a relationship recently too. He fell off the wagon with Xanax and turned into a different person. I kept hoping his lies were true even though I saw the pills and the behavior, he told me he took them then denied it all the next day. I loved him so much but he chose the path of complete denial and hostility.

    IMHO drawing out a known doomed relationship is never compassionate.

    1. I know how you feel on both accounts. The story involving your second relationship example isn’t really mine to tell (by that I mean, the events didn’t happen to me so I don’t feel like it’s my place to say anything). What I CAN say is that the ultimatum of our friendship was that they take it seriously and get better, or I was gone. Luckily for me, my friend chose the first option, which included honestly when they slipped up.

      I’ll have to check out your blog post.

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