Somebody’s Husband

Somebody’s Husband

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Please read this disclaimer before reading this story. 

DISCLAIMER: In this series, we will be covering stories on Toxic and abusive relationships. This may be a triggering topic for some. This particular story mentions instances of emotional abuse and infidelity.  Kindly remember to be mindful of your mental well-being and that of others when reading and sharing this story.

The beginning of our relationship was like a fairy tale or a storybook. My partner was checking all the right boxes – he was present in whatever way we spent time together, we’d go out on dates, and he’d gift me a lot. It was nice, sweet and what I’d expect a “Disney Love” to be like. This was basically the first six weeks of our relationship. But that quickly changed.

When we would argue, my partner would disappear. Eventually, it became more frequent. It would be a case of I have not done anything, and he has done nothing either, but he would disappear. That made me develop an anxious attachment style. In my consequent relationships, I’d feel like I had to hold onto my partner and call or text them every day. I’d need constant reassurance that things were okay. I didn’t realise at the time, while I was in that relationship, that it wasn’t healthy for someone you care about not to be in communication. Even just saying, “I’m taking the weekend off my phone”, or alerting someone that something is happening – or not happening – and you’d just need a break from your phone and let them know there’s no need to worry and that you’d get back in touch as soon as you’re back online is important.

I had this feeling during the relationship that I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t want to be the “problematic” one, so I’d see and experience things I wasn’t okay with and just let things slide. Definitely, now, I could not let myself go through those things.

For example, there was a time we went to his local and met one of his friends. It was the first time I was meeting his friends. Every time my partner would go to the washroom, his friend would hit on me. Every single time. I was really uncomfortable with that, obviously because I was with his friend, but also because this guy was with another person. I didn’t realize that he had a date. There was another woman seated with us, and I thought she was just a friend because, in my opinion, no one in their right mind would hit on another woman as their date was watching. At some point, she even left. It wasn’t until I brought it up with my partner that I learned the woman on the table with us was his friend’s date. 

When I told my partner about this story, he didn’t make a big deal out of it. He minimized the whole ordeal. At the very least, I needed him to talk to his friend and tell him that his behaviour wasn’t okay. But he just never did, and I let that slide. He minimized the situation so much that I also followed suit despite the fact that I was so uncomfortable with it. Some of the things his friend was asking me blew my mind. I was meeting him for the first time that night, and within the hour, he was already asking me my bra size.

Thinking about it now, that was also a red flag for me in terms of the people my partner was hanging around. I don’t know if I would have a friend who acts like that. It was one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.

My partner was never actively aggressive, at least not towards me. I can say he was more passive than anything. He would just disappear completely. We’d be having a disagreement, and he’d check out. It used to drive me crazy. I understand wanting to step back to sort out your emotions and then approaching later and having the conversation, but things with us were always swept under the rug.

Our relationship lasted about a year and eight months, and throughout that time, there were so many red flags, some that I’ve not even mentioned. Thinking about it, it was essentially a year and eight months of me being very unsure of my position in this person’s life. But he seemed to know the right things to say; even when I was upset that I wasn’t getting what I wanted in the relationship, he knew what to say.

A whole other layer to the story is that it turns out my partner was married. Everything he’d do started making sense to me – the disappearing acts, for one. He’d also never want me to go to his place. It all started making sense.

I found out about his marriage a year into the relationship. Initially, his argument was that because he’s Muslim, he’s allowed to be polygamous. He then switched up the argument by telling me his wife doesn’t even stay in Kenya. He said that she was based in Dubai with her family and that their marriage was only one that was on paper, and they weren’t technically together. So we broke up a year into the relationship, but then this second argument fooled me, and I convinced myself everything was fine. If I’m being honest, though, I think there was a part of me after finding out about his marriage that was never really in that relationship. The second time we broke up, I was just completely done. The entire relationship was a mess and a half. Thank God I’m out of that situation.

From now on, I need open communication and honesty in my relationships. I’m more ready to speak about things I am uncomfortable with, not just the good stuff. Trust is another big thing I am keen on. I don’t think there is any sort of relationship without trust, and indeed it is so hard to build. These things are very important to me, especially because I noticed this person I was dating was kind of the ceiling for me. 

I noticed that I fell into a pattern of wanting to be with emotionally unavailable men, so I had to do the work personally to figure out what it was about me or what I could do to make better decisions. I am not blaming myself, but it is one of those things I had to think about. I ended up forming much firmer boundaries and being more confrontational. Not in an “I’m going to fight you!” way, just letting people know that this happened and I am not cool with it. I think I can say that my dating life took a turn for the better after that period of time.

If I had a friend going through a similar situation, I’d tell them to get out. There were so many gigantic red flags in this situation. It would be different if it was something like he chews with his mouth open, but these were non-negotiable for me. I mean, he was a married man. I was even paying rent for him and his family at some point, and I didn’t know! But I guess it would also depend on what my friend is looking for. If she was looking for a good time, then okay. But if they were looking for a serious relationship with someone who was like my ex, I’d advise against it. No one has to go through that; absolutely no one. I’d sit my friend down and say to them, “Honestly, I love you, and I see you, and I understand where you are coming from, but I have been there and done that. Please don’t do this to yourself. There are men who are so much better than this one.” 

Every time I think about the situation now, I cringe. I keep thinking to myself how I wish I knew better. I am open to sharing these stories because I wouldn’t like anyone to make my stupid mistakes. 

I experienced a lot of shame in that relationship, so even as everything was going down and even once I ended everything, I didn’t give people the full truth. It was only later, when I told my friends the full truth, that they’d say things like, “You didn’t tell us he was married!” But I was so ashamed. There’s this shame associated with your decisions because, again, hindsight. You look back, and you’re like, “I shouldn’t have done that!” But now I’m open to just sharing it. It was a moment in my life that wasn’t so great, but at least it’s over now.