One night, a man I once dated got drunk and called me a slut in front of all my friends – and a bouncer, who promptly removed him from the bar.
I had been celebrating a personal success but the entire night had revolved around my ex’s worsening mood and increasing inebriation instead of my accomplishment: he didn’t respond well when I had cause to feel good about myself.
In spite of this, I went back to his that night and attempted to patch things up. To this day, I see that moment as my opportunity to have left him, but I didn’t. And I’m still not sure why.
I’d also love to say that the final tipping point was when he told me that guns should be legal because he’d studied karate once and technically, his hands were ‘lethal weapons’, but no one was ‘outlawing those’.
Or perhaps it should have been when we had a raging argument because he tried to convince me that there hasn’t been homophobia in America since the 60s and dismissed me when I reminded him of historical events like the Stonewall riots in 1969 or Harvey Milk’s assassination in 1978.
I wish I could say it was when he cheated on me with an ex and proceeded to wake his mother up at 2am demanding she get him a bottle of wine after I’d confronted him about it. But it wasn’t any of these times.
Honestly, I hated him. He cheated on me, regularly dismissed my experiences with misogyny and gaslit me when I pulled him up on anything. He made stupid remarks about pretty much every topic going, made a point of fantasising about other women in front of me and more than once got so drunk he almost pissed himself. No matter, I rationalised everything and reasoned away stunningly appalling behaviour.
Like everyone else in modern society, I have recently finished watching Love is Blind – an aggressively archaic and hetronormative dating show where men and women, just desperate enough to marry, get engaged to someone they’ve never seen.
After feverishly consuming too many episodes back-to-back and finding myself dreaming that I’m suddenly in isolation – unrelated to coronavirus – talking to a plasma-blue wall, I’ve found myself compelled by the unrelenting perseverance of these couples, despite being very clearly miserable with each other.
There are no real stakes, besides perhaps a societal pressure to be settled down by 30 and a #sponcon deal at the the end of the aisle for motivation, yet everyone last one of them is dripping with sincerity when they say they want to make things work.
Jessica, slurring and containing multitudes, nails bottle after bottle of Merlot in an attempt to catch feelings. Mark, her fiancé, vows to ‘fight’ for her on multiple occasions – even after she drunkenly declares her feelings for another man – despite knowing her for roughly eight days.
Giannina repeatedly confuses furious arguments for passion while her fiancé, Damian, looks like he’s just trying to keep up while fighting off the effects of a sleeping pill.
How Lauren endured the constant pawing of her fiance with a smile, I will never know.
There are a few success stories, with at least three of the couples still dating or married, and any reality TV has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Did they really fight that much? Or does the edit shoulder some of the blame?
But from what I saw these relationships look truly horrible and they should leave immediately.
Yet, when you’re inside one, it’s harder to be so cut and dry. After you’ve invested so much time in a relationship, it’s hard to accept that it may have been a waste.
I recognise this behaviour, it kept me trapped in my own personal nightmare. Fewer plasma-blue walls but still an isolation of kinds, as I was too humiliated to tell anyone the truth about how my boyfriend treated me. Who lets someone call them a slut? I had invested too much time to risk looking like a fool. The truth was, I already looked like one.
Love is Blind has been touted as an experiment, to determine if love truly is blind. I say yes, it is. Love blinds us to behaviour we would never tolerate from a stranger, let alone someone tasked with loving us back.
When I eventually left my ex, there was no final explosion or tearful confession at an unforgivingly lit wedding altar. I just stopped being blind.
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