The Single Girl Diaries is a series where we explore the many interesting, unfiltered stories and experiences of single girls everywhere. From the fun times to the hard times, we want to hear all about it! The stories range from experiences with sex and dating, money, self improvement, career and sexual health.
In this article, *Titi shares her experiences with love bombing, exploring her sexuality and navigating a cycle of toxic relationships.
“In all my dating experiences, I have encountered love bombing. They typically express unrealistic love in under a month, and the whole thing moves so fast and crumbles just as quickly. I thought things were bad with men but then I started exploring my sexuality as a bisexual girl this year. I’ll be sharing my experiences with two women, and how the cycle of toxic relationships transcended into another gender.”
My Dating Life
It’s important to note that I’ve only been in one relationship my entire life, so that stands to be the most significant contribution to my view on love. The rest have been talking stages, situationships that worsened an already bad outlook. I met my ex in school, I was in 100 level and he was in 200 level. He got my number from a mutual acquaintance.
In hindsight, my self esteem was very low at that point in time. I’d struggled with my mental health right from primary school, had just been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and had no sense of an identity. I was a walking vacuum seeking to be filled. So when he came into my life it seemed like the best thing since sliced bread. The second day after we started talking, we met up for the first time in the school library. I remember thinking to myself that the interaction was awkward, and he seemed depressed. He made comments like, ‘I don’t feel anything’ and alluded to having considered suicide. There was a lot of trauma dumping for someone I had just met. You would think that that would register in my brain as a red flag, but it didn’t. Instead, I felt like I had met someone just like me. Prior to that, I don’t think I had ever had a conversation with someone that openly expressed having had such dark thoughts similar to the ones I had had for most of my life. When I got back to the hostel, he proposed that we have a two weeks ‘practice relationship.’ Essentially, we were going to be acting like we were actually dating for two weeks and at the end of that period, we would decide whether we wanted to enter into an actual relationship which would start immediately. I remember telling a friend about his proposition and she said, ‘why the rush?’ I didn’t care. It was the first time I felt wanted, so I agreed. On the fourth day of this ‘practice relationship,’ he wrote some lyrics of a song (he was one of those audiomack music boys at the time) about hoping that we would last forever, and he told me he loved me. I was baffled, and I asked how he could possibly love me. He said he just felt it, but deleted the message immediately. The two weeks coincided with the beginning of the COVID lockdown, and since we lived in different states, the only communication we had was over the phone. We talked a lot and shared so many details of our lives. We trauma bonded and when he told me about attempting suicide after his ex broke up with him, I didn’t think to run for the hills. My BPD brain thought, ‘he feels things as intensely as I do.’
At the two week mark, he wrote this long, unrealistic epistle about his love for me, before asking me to be his girlfriend. Each paragraph started with a letter of my name, and I thought that that was the cutest thing. Here was someone who was calling me his soulmate in such a short period of time, wanting to know every sordid detail of my life, and spoke like I was the most beautiful person in the world, the smartest. Naturally, I felt like I had found my own soulmate. I didn’t feel like I had a choice in the matter, didn’t feel like I could find any better, so I agreed to be his girlfriend and told him I loved him too. Even though I had no idea what love was.
My very first love bombing experience resulted in a two year plus relationship. It felt heavenly at first. Remember, I had no self esteem, no idea of my own worth, so I was just grateful to have him in my life. I was eager to please. I attend a private university filled with rich, rich kids. I’m in no way rich, but I’m comfortably middle class. My ex on the other hand, came from a poor family of 7. He was smart enough to get a hundred percent scholarship that covered everything academic throughout his stay in the university, but feeding and everything else was a huge problem. He had to survive on so little money and if he called home to ask for additional funds, he would be met with, ‘What do you want us to do? There’s no money’. He would show up to school with clothes so visibly old that his male course mates would tease him. For most of our relationship, he barely had enough to eat. But my love was unconditional, and even though I was a student myself, I would send him money for food on the numerous days that he felt hungry enough to collapse. I ignored how untidy he looked because I came to understand that he lived in a perpetually unclean area. His ‘place’ was a tiny box with an untiled floor, a mattress, standing fan, kerosene stove and a number of Ghana Must Go bags filled with clothes. I would lie on the mattress that was always sandy because the floor was always sandy, and let him touch me, all the while counting down the minutes until it was over. We never had sex. There was just a lot of ‘aggressive cuddling’ and my excuse anytime he asked was that I was waiting till marriage. That was a blatant lie. The truth was my spirit sensed that it did not want a soul tie with him and now that I’ve had sexual relationships with people, I realise that I was never sexually attracted to him. I didn’t even know what that was supposed to look like.
As someone that was very socially awkward at that point in my life, being with a partner who wanted to be with me all the time and felt threatened when it seemed like I was starting to make any friends made me very isolated. Here I was in this relationship with a person that I genuinely believed was my best friend, the only person who had an idea of who I actually was. There was no one I felt comfortable talking to about my relationship problems. ‘Relationship problems’, that’s funny. I couldn’t tell that it was abuse.
Struggling financially in a school filled with children of politicians, some of who didn’t realise how privileged they really were, and having to rely so much on his girlfriend financially emasculated my ex – technically, he was a boy and not a man, but the same applies. It made him despise himself with a passion, vastly insecure and capable of doing anything to hold onto whatever made him feel worthy of life. That just happened to be me. I became his reason for being alive, the reason he woke up in the morning. He would constantly tell me so. And because he was so scared of me seeing him as what he saw himself as, (worthless), he would ironically do whatever he could to push me away, all the while challenging me to leave him like he had always thought I would. He could go from being the loveliest person one minute to someone that I could hardly recognise the next. The tiniest things would set him off.
Once, he sent me a song he liked, to get my opinion on it. I told him I liked the beat but it wasn’t my type of song. That resulted in a three hour argument. And when he was angry, nothing could stop it. I would transition from being the ‘love of his life’ to being ‘a bitch’, ‘a mad woman’, and a lot of other names he would often call me. Once he cooled down, he would apologise, but it lacked any weight because he never seemed to understand what he was apologising for. And then of course, like he hadn’t just verbally abused me, he would ask me for money. I would give him. And then he would call me angelic for still caring about him even when I was angry. Angelic.
I questioned my sanity a lot during that relationship. I questioned my reality. Nothing I said had ever happened. It was always a figment of my imagination. Once, I told him that he didn’t respect me and he replied, ‘You need Jesus’. I’d complain about something he’d said a few minutes before and he’d say, ‘Stop accusing me of something I didn’t do. How many languages do I say it in?’ No matter how much I complained about the disrespect, the blatant disregard for my feelings, no matter how much he would apologise, it would always happen again and again. There was a day when I brought up the continuous name calling and I was told, ‘Did I not say I would do better? Do you have fucking memory loss or what?’ I would come back to the hostel after numerous arguments – hours upon hours of trying to convince somebody’s son that I loved him and would never leave him – and my roommates would call us ‘couple goals’ and tease me about inviting them to the ‘wedding’. Once everyone was asleep, I would go under my blanket and cry for hours. I protected him so much for the longest time. Valentine’s Day would come around and people that knew me to be in a relationship would come looking for my Valentine’s Day gift. Only I knew that a growling stomach kept my boyfriend up at night, that he couldn’t even afford data. And so I would tell people that we didn’t see the need to celebrate such a holiday. We were that ‘mature’ couple.
The Moment I Couldn’t Tolerate the Toxicity Any Longer
When my ex was in his 4th year, he had to undergo IT. Since he couldn’t find any organisation that would accept him in the state where our school was, he had to go to another state. That meant us being long distance for a few months. The period that preceded him actually leaving was hell. He was always in a bad mood because he felt that with him gone, I would find someone else and realise I was wasting my time with him. I was going to miss him, I really was. But I was beginning to feel suffocated. There was always something I was doing wrong. It was either I didn’t seem sad enough by the prospect of him leaving or I wasn’t passionate in my love for him. I was tired of the constant need for reassurance. I was tired of explaining why I couldn’t promise that we would get married and have children. I was tired of arguments every week and tension you could cut with a knife. Most of all, I was tired of the lack of space. I was beginning to crave a lot of it, for the sake of my sanity. But whenever I would ask for space – just a day to myself, to be alone with my thoughts – he would call me selfish and inconsiderate. How was he going to survive without talking to me for a whole day? He claimed he couldn’t handle it. I needed to breathe. And with him gone, I felt I was finally going to.
As it turns out, I did more than breathe. I became a person. Borderline personality disorder is considered the mental illness that produces the most intense emotional pain. Now imagine being in such pain, and realising that the person that was supposed to be a safe space had made reality a nightmare. In his physical absence, I gained so much clarity. It was like the scales fell from my eyes, and I begun to see our entire relationship through a third eye. I uncovered the patterns. I remembered crying after every argument and asking myself, ‘why are you in this relationship?’ The game changer was the moment I started making friends. Being isolated for most of one’s life can really limit a person’s perspective. Up until then, I had never really grasped the extent of the dysfunction. This was mostly because I didn’t know how the other half lived. I wasn’t privy to conversations about healthy relationships. I hadn’t realised there was a stark difference between that and what I had always felt grateful for. While I was blossoming and finally beginning to develop a semblance of self love, my ex was steadily deteriorating. He was trapped in this dystopian existence where everyone seemed to hate him and cause him such grave pain. He was no longer physically connected to the one person who made him feel that he mattered and it definitely took its toll. So he would instigate arguments that would prove to him that he was still loved by me. The difference was that I was no longer letting myself be manipulated into believing that I was somehow the problematic one. I became certain that I was not crazy, that I was not imagining the gaslighting. I began to see myself as someone worthy of being respected, and once that clicked, it no longer felt like love. I’m not sure how it ever did.
I’ve come to understand that there is an emptiness that exists in people that attach to others rather quickly. I had felt empty when I met him, so it had felt like I was being made whole by him. But once I began to discover who I was independent of him, I began to feel less empty, less capable of being filled up by anyone – especially by someone that was plagued with so many demons of his own.
The journey towards ending it for good was long and hard. I’ve been through a lot of emotional pain in my twenty-one years of life but the pain I experienced during that breakup had a special quality to it. Even after getting the courage to break up with him and block him everywhere, I wrestled a lot with my mind. I would wake up one day grateful to God for the strength to remove myself from a terrible situation, but the next day I would entertain the idea of giving him another chance. I would rationalise his abuse. ‘Maybe every man is like that’, I would say to my friends. To their credit, they made sure to shut down that line of thinking so fast. It didn’t help that I was still in touch with his best friend. Somehow, he and I had formed a friendship that I felt was independent of my relationship with my ex. My ex used that to his advantage and my ‘friend’ kept that gate wide open. I would come online to messages my ex had sent through him, sometimes without his knowledge. These messages usually varied from love to threats to hatred. ‘Baby, without you I am nothing’; ‘If you don’t come back to me in three days time, I’m going to kill myself’; ‘I hate you for taking this away from me and I hope you die’. There were also the many calls my ex placed from unknown numbers. I became scared and paranoid every time I would get a phone call. Therapy helped me unpack the acquired trauma from that relationship, as well as the role I played in ending up in such a situation. But the damage left very deep rooted scars that took a long time to fade away. I’m healed now thankfully, but it did leave me vulnerable to people who continued the cycle of toxicity and love bombing.
My Attraction to Women
I went to a Catholic boarding school for my secondary school education. That was where I met the girl that made me realise I could be emotionally attracted to a girl. The whole thing seems a bit ridiculous now. I was in SS 1 when she was in JS 2. Creepy? Yes, I know. We were in the same house, so that meant that we sat in the same dining area and lived in the same section of the female hostel. I remember till this day, the first time I set my eyes on her. I was in the dining hall with some classmates, waiting for the grace to be said before we could eat. She was walking with a friend, headed towards her table. I thought she was the most beautiful human being I had ever seen. Her skin was very dark. It seemed to shine in my eyes. And her smile was nothing short of a miracle. The next year, we were in the same dorm, and my feelings intensified. I’m not quite sure exactly what that was. At the time, I thought I was in love. But now, that seems very unlikely. I didn’t know her to any great depth. I was an unmedicated, undiagnosed borderline. Occasionally, a borderline can meet someone who becomes their ‘favourite person’. That individual can seem like the most important human in the world. My mood depended on her to an extent. If she acknowledged my existence, I was on top of the world. If she walked past me without so much as a hello, I would go to a hidden corner and cry my heart out. I was out there properly simping for my very straight junior. I cringe when I remember the things I did to get her attention. God, I can be so dramatic, but that’s because I feel everything so deeply. Years later, now that I’m an emotional intelligence specialist (LOL), I recognize that she was my favourite person.
That was my same sex emotional attraction, but I wasn’t sure I had a sexual one. I grew up in a serious Christian household. My father used to organise house fellowships and deliverance sessions in our house. I lived with a pastor for a neighbour growing up and was really close with his children. They used to pick me up every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday for church services. Essentially, the Nigerian Christian ideals and views were heavily ingrained in me from a young age. Homosexuality was a sin. I thought that to be true, so I fought heavily against even entertaining the idea of a sexual relationship with a female. Did I have female celebrity crushes? Most definitely. But I made sure to catch myself before I thought of them in a sexual manner. It was bad enough that I thought I was in love with a girl. It would transcend into a definite sin if I allowed myself to see her in a sexual light. That’s what I thought.
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Ironically, I became comfortable exploring my sexuality with girls when I developed a close, personal relationship with God. Homophobic people would disagree with this, but God made me realise that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. I was not a sin. I was not a mistake. My desires were not wrong. He created me to be someone with a very deep capacity for love – one that is not limited by gender. Once that understanding fell into place for me, I began to own my bisexuality.
Openly existing as a bisexual girly has been EYE OPENING. There’s so much a straight person that only has straight friends is blind to. The queer world is a very dramatic one, that’s for sure.
How My Relationships With Men Have Been Different From My Relationships With Women
There’s this common misconception that bi-curious people have. And that’s that dating women is somehow easier than dating men. That is certified bullshit. Both genders can be scum. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t dated any man or woman that’s been even remotely healthy.
Let’s examine my dating experiences. I’ve met men that only want me for my body, and don’t try to hide it. You would think that my own gender would be different but surprisingly, I’ve also met women that are only concerned with what they can get from me sexually. Earlier this year, I went on a ‘date’ with a woman. Let’s call her Alice. I met her on a queer group chat. At the time, I had just come out of my first actual wlw situationship. My heart was in pieces and I realised that even though I had healed from the experience with my ex, I had to do some serious work on myself before I was ready to date anybody’s child. So I made sure to tell Alice when we spoke on WhatsApp that I was only interested in making platonic friends. I really thought she understood that. But when we met in person the next day, this human being tried to gaslight me because I said I wasn’t interested in having sex with her. She kept asking me if I didn’t find her attractive. To be fair, I didn’t but even if I had, I would still have refused her sexual advances. She said the most ridiculous thing and I quote: ‘So you mean if one day, I invite you to my house or a hotel, you wouldn’t touch me? You would refuse me as though I were a man?’ Imagine a 26-year-old talking like an imbecile. She called me once I got home to tell me that she was still upset because ‘I didn’t want her to have me.’ I blocked her and I didn’t even feel bad.
Since leaving the relationship with my ex, I decided to only date older people because of maturity. I’m an old soul in a young body. Most people that interact with me tell me that I am wise beyond my years. And although I stand by that decision, I’ve come to realise that maturity has nothing to do with age. The creatures that I’ve dated have taught me that lesson.
I think the most painful part about my dating experience with men and women is that the people who gravitate towards me always share one or more personality traits with my ex. It’s like meeting versions of the same person in different bodies. I’m stuck in a continuous loop.
My Love Bombing Experiences With Women
Coming to terms with my sexuality is a very recent development. At first, I didn’t know how to meet fruity women in a very homophobic country such as this. So I joined an Instagram community that caters to queer people in Nigeria. That’s where I met her. Let’s call her Fanta. There was a party that was being organised in my city last December. I had already made payment, but I struggle with social anxiety, and had never been in a queer space, so I was having second thoughts. Fanta left a comment under one of the posts advertising the party, and I decided to check out her page. I thought she was attractive, so I did a silly, silly thing. I replied to her comment and asked if she wanted to go to the party with me. Turns out she did. That’s how we started talking. To be honest, it felt like forced vibes. I chickened out and didn’t end up going to the party. Our conversation fizzled out. Then in February of this year, another house party took place – one I made sure to attend. I met Fanta in person for the first time there. At some point during the party, we played a game that involved shot shooting. When it was your turn, you were supposed to walk up to whoever had caught your eye and shoot your shot. I was extremely surprised when Fanta came up to me. I never got the impression over text that she was even remotely interested in the conversation. She held my hand and made some public declaration about how sorry she was for ghosting me. She said she had a lot going on at the time and that she had always admired me right from Instagram. She had apparently seen me in the party group chat but was too ashamed to hit me up. She wanted a second chance. Honestly, her apology was cute, but I had never thought things were that deep. Plus, although there was an intense sexual attraction between us, I had my eyes on someone else at the party. Coincidentally, I had met the other babe on Tik Tok, the conversation gave off forced vibes as well, but at the party sparks flew. People even thought she was my girlfriend. Regardless, I was touched and curious. So I agreed to the ‘second chance’. Fanta kissed my hand and returned to her seat. Later, she approached me and asked me out on a date that we never ended up going on.
The party was on a Saturday and continued into Sunday morning. Two days later, Fanta called me in the early hours of the morning. This was our first meaningful conversation. I casually mentioned that I hadn’t been staying at my house for a couple of months so the place was extremely dusty. This babe volunteered to come help me clean, and I was amazed. I was definitely naive then. For some reason, I thought that her coming to clean meant just that – coming to clean. I was very wrong. As it turned out, she did clean. But she also wanted to watch a movie afterwards. Apparently she couldn’t watch any movie that didn’t have a sex scene, so we watched 365 Days. Or rather, we watched the sex scenes in 365 Days because the movie was too ‘boring’ for her. Halfway through it, she decided she wanted us to play truth or dare. Needless to say, I had my first sexual experience with a girl and I wasn’t mad about it.
This is where things took a turn. We were cuddling and she asked me if anything happened with the other babe I had been attracted to at the party. We had shared a room at the apartment where the party was held. Nothing happened but we kissed the morning after. Plus, the previous day had been Valentine’s Day and I had taken her out on a date. Fanta put two and two together and realised that while she had been texting me, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, baby’ and asking me to call her when I was free, I had been ‘busy’ on a date with another girl. Shit hit the fan. She was pissed that I had kissed another girl the previous day. But she was more upset about the identity of the girl I had kissed. You see, after her declaration at the party, while everyone was mingling and I was sitting directly across from her, she had sent me a WhatsApp message saying that she hoped nothing was going to happen with party bae. I found that excessive at the time. I mean, because you woke up one morning and decided to like me, I cannot do what I want with the person that I like? I gave her a noncommittal reply that soothed her mind. I had one chance that I didn’t expect to enter. I thought she just came to help me clean, but she was acting like we were already in a relationship and apparently spending the night. There was nothing I didn’t hear. She asked me if I wanted an open relationship, whether I wanted to date her and party bae at the same time. I was baffled. This was day 4 of actually meeting her, and the first day we were having any sort of meaningful conversation. I hadn’t expected things to escalate so fast. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her. But I was just starting to. In the past, I’ve entered into entanglements with the speed of light and they always crashed just as fast. I was trying to do things differently and actually get to know the two babes. I didn’t know whether I was actually compatible with either of them yet. And Fanta wasn’t having any of that. This 27-year-old, grown ass woman had apparently never been in a talking stage. Her relationships just magically began.
The situationship lasted three weeks. By day 7 of knowing her, Fanta was already professing her love for me. She didn’t want me talking to anyone else, and wanted us to start dating immediately. But given my past traumas, I wasn’t about to do that. I had to continuously explain why I wanted to take things slow, yet she never seemed to understand. She would accuse me of using my past as an excuse to hurt her. By week 2, she started calling me morning, afternoon and night, wanting to know what I was doing. Although she wouldn’t come right out and ask, I could tell she was fishing for information that would tell her whether I was with some other girl. To be honest, I wasn’t having any relationship with a female that wasn’t strictly platonic. Things with party bae had fallen through due to another set of toxicity. I was only talking to her, but she didn’t need to know that. There were a number of things that happened which really made me aware of how unhealthy our situation was; how incompatible we were.
First of all, Fanta was a masculine presenting lesbian – a stud. She was very dominant and controlling. That also translated into the bedroom. The first time we got intimate, I came to understand that I couldn’t touch her until whenever she felt like it. I was restricted to being a pillow princess, and that isn’t something that’s in my nature. Secondly, emotional intelligence is such a green flag for me. I’ve seen it in play and I’ve seen the lack of it. My mental health cannot handle the latter. I told Fanta about my history with depression and she said I had nothing to be depressed about. After all, I had this and that. She compared my life to hers, stating some of the things I had which she didn’t have. I found that to be very insensitive, and rightfully so.
During the second week, she suggested that we stop doing anything remotely sexual, including kissing. Her reason was that she didn’t want to go there with me again until I decided I wanted to be with her exclusively. She didn’t want me to get comfortable in the fact that I was receiving the ‘benefits’ of a relationship while I wanted a talking stage. Honestly, I understood. We had only had sex once and I regretted it. It was too much, too soon. Although, I’m not sure whether that’s what inspired her to ‘fall in love’ in a matter of days, it certainly couldn’t have helped. It was her idea, right? Tell me why this woman came to my house the next day, decided to drink two cans of Black Bullet and suddenly wanted to have sex. I told her so many times that we shouldn’t, that we had agreed not to. I said that if she woke up and told me she regretted it, I would be very upset with her. She assured me she would not regret it. After the deed was done, this babe had the nerve to ask me why I allowed her to touch me when I knew she hadn’t wanted to. She slept like a baby and woke up hours later with no memory of us having sex; no idea why I was upset. When I narrated everything that had happened – including her asking me why I was punishing her and whether I thought it was easy to find someone that loved me – all she said was, ‘Babe I was drunk. Is that all?’ I started speaking and was interrupted by an ‘I’m sorry. It’s okay.’ It was my ex all over again. I wish I could say it ended that night. But it didn’t. My boundaries were still porous then. I loved myself, but I was also an empath who cared more about other people’s emotions. Eventually, I told her we weren’t compatible. When she gaslit me, I stopped answering her phone calls. We still have each other on socials and watch each other’s content but we don’t talk anymore.
That experience with Fanta and something else that transpired with a friend of mine was the catalyst for some much needed self reflection and growth. God really came through for me. I owe who I am right now to Him and therapy. I had to come to terms with the fact that what others considered to be the bare minimum had been my idea of heaven on earth. I needed to raise my standards, and I realised I could only do that if I saw myself clearly. So I built my self confidence and self esteem. I stopped craving validation from others. I learnt to establish firm boundaries and run away from the red flags immediately I noticed them. I’ve always been beautiful. I have a nice figure. I’m very creative and intellectual, but also a vibe. I’m a full spec. I just didn’t know that before. Having taken time away from dating to focus on myself, I really wasn’t expecting what happened next.
My Encounter With Sheila
I met Sheila in yet another queer group chat. This happened as recently as a week ago. I’ve been interacting in a lot of online queer spaces in order to network and meet new people. I plan to start a podcast sometime in the future which would also explore the queer Nigerian culture, so it made sense to socialise more with the members of the community. When a mutual on Instagram who I don’t actually know in real life posted on her story that she was starting a group chat, I was interested. Immediately I introduced myself, Sheila slid into my dm. We didn’t talk much on day 1. I only knew the basic information – her name, age, location, course of study and school. On the second day, we exchanged pictures and had more of a conversation. She wanted to know my relationship status. I said I was single but not searching and explained that I’m focusing on myself. She was already calling me pet names like babe, baby, hun. I didn’t think much of it. I mean, girls are naturally affectionate. I thought it was nice that she seemed to be able to hold a conversation. I would send a message and she would reply almost immediately. She was steady hyping me up in the dms. She said I was a ‘full spec’, a ‘natural beauty’, ‘so fine with nice lips and eyes’. What can I say? I appreciate a good compliment. She made me sound like a goddess that had appeared from nowhere, and happened to be exactly what she wanted. We had a nice conversation. The next day was the first day of May. By past 4 in the morning, she sent me a ‘Happy new month, love’ message on WhatsApp. I would see that hours later. Between the hours of 7am and 11 am, Sheila called me 4 times. I was very annoyed. One thing about me is, I’m a night owl. I sleep late but when I do, I don’t play with my sleep. I’ve known you for two days – one day if we get technical. What’s so urgent? She sent me a longer version of that message on iMessage. This time it ended with, ‘Happy new month to you, my princess.’ I saw the excessive calling to be a red flag. I’m not someone that typically likes to be called by people I haven’t known for long. I need to be comfortable and secure in the knowledge that the call is not going to be punctuated by awkward silence. Even my friends can’t just pick up the phone and make a social call to me without first determining whether I’m available to pick the call. I calmed down enough to leave a voice note thanking her for the messages but politely expressing my displeasure at the excessive calling. She apologised, saying she had taken the correction. I had a few things to do but said I would return her call when I was free.
I did and we spoke for probably two hours. We asked each other a number of questions. On my end, I was trying to figure out her thought process. Since actually healing and coming into myself, I have a clear view of what I want in a partner. I want someone who is like me at his or her core. Dating would be so much easier if I could find my soul twin. I’m not particularly excited at the prospect of entering into a relationship. It fills me with dread. But if I were to find my ‘mirror soul’, I wouldn’t let them go. At the end of the conversation, I knew that Sheila was harbouring romantic notions where I was concerned. She was already talking about making an hour drive to see me in July. May had just begun, so that alarmed me. On the other hand, she had answered my questions pretty well – the type of answers I would have given myself. Whenever we shared the same opinion on something, she would exclaim that we were meant to be together. The perceived similarities between us made me see her as someone that could potentially be green flag material. I wasn’t planning any weddings in my head though. I was very much focused on the here and now. Evening rolled around and we flirted a little over text. Nothing serious at all. I was just catching cruise, truth be told. So when she sent me a message before I went to bed, saying that as I dreamt, I should know her love would follow me every second of the day and no matter what she was doing, her heart would always belong to me. I was terrified. Where was the love coming from? I thanked her but my mind rioted that night. I prayed to God, asking Him to show me a sign if Sheila was not supposed to be in my life. I would rather have whatever was going on come to a halt as soon as possible.
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I woke up the next morning to a cute message wishing me luck on a test I had later in the day. From morning till afternoon, I examined our interactions and came to the conclusion that they weren’t special. They lacked any true depth. She wasn’t actually what I was looking for in a partner – she just appeared to be. One thing about Sheila was that she had developed the habit of picking up her phone to call me anytime she felt like it. You would really think we were dating. She called me in the afternoon just as I was about to sleep off my all nighter. A minute into the call, she wanted to switch to video call. I obliged her. This was the 4th day of having any sort of interaction with her. This babe took one look at me and said I had to have been sending her old pictures because I was looking fat in real time. Now, I’m a very sensitive person. That aside, I’m firmly against the idea of people commenting on other people’s bodies. Whether intended as negative or positive, body comments feed into insecurities and reinforce the idea that people are looking at your body. I don’t like it.
I asked why she would say something like that and she said she hadn’t meant any harm and was only trying to say that she noticed I was chubby and she likes chubby girls. I don’t identify as a chubby girl. I’m petite. I only happen to have boobs and ass. Even if I did think I was chubby, it wasn’t in her right to say that. It didn’t stop there. She said she was yet to see any full body pictures of me and was wondering if I could stand up and turn around for her. That came across to me as though I was auditioning to be found attractive by her. I was really offended and refused. I ended the call shortly after, saying that I was going to bed and would reach out when I woke up. I didn’t sleep until two hours after the fact. I ranted to a friend of mine and decided to tell her that we should maintain a friendship that was strictly platonic. None of that idle flirting or hopes of it turning into a relationship. I slept from 6pm to 8pm. And Sheila called me 3 times in the span of those two hours. I woke up convinced I had made the right decision. So I left her a voice note explaining my decision. I went straight to the point, was very polite and left no room for confusion or arguments. She begged non-stop, saying that it shouldn’t make me change my mind about her. She hadn’t meant it that way and had only used the wrong words. Apparently, she had been very shy and could barely look me in the eye on the call, so when she wanted to say that she liked how chubby I was, that was what came out of her mouth. I mean, what an excuse. She said she had already told her best friend about me and that the past two days of talking to me had given her something to look forward to. The question is ‘why would you tell your best friend about someone you met three days ago?’ She wanted me to forgive her and give her another chance.
I stood my ground. I’m an excellent communicator so I value good communication because I know I can offer it on a platter. Her excuse made no sense to me but say it did; If I were to eventually date her, no matter how much she would reassure me that she said something while meaning to say something else, the damage would already have been done. There was no point of seeing the visibly red flag and colouring it yellow. Now, Sheila alternated between calling and texting me to express her apologies. Even though I had told her I was making something to eat and reading at the same time, so I wouldn’t be available to chat, she sent me multiple messages asking if I had eaten, wanting me to tell her that everything was fine on my end so she could breathe well, urging me to do my best and leave the rest to God. It’s thoughtful when sent one time. It becomes absurd when sent multiple times, in different forms on both iMessage and WhatsApp. I felt suffocated. To make matters worse, she said something so ridiculous that it terrified me. She said and I quote: ‘Just the thought of hurting you makes me feel sick. I can’t believe I made you feel this way. I’m incredibly sorry for this, and I will do anything to fix things. I love you.’ I mean, Chelsea come on now. On day 4??? I had expected a clean break. It was early enough that transitioning into a no flirting friendship shouldn’t have been so difficult or devastating for either party. Nothing serious had even happened. I told her to respect my decision and not push the subject but Sheila went ahead to post me on her status with a red heart.
Saying I was baffled is an understatement.
On Wednesday, I had a test and barely had any sleep the night before. Sheila sent me morning messages on iMessage and WhatsApp with some more terms of endearment. I remembered she had mentioned she was going to be travelling that day and wished her luck on her journey. That made her really happy. Surviving on less than 2 hours of sleep had me thoroughly exhausted. But I had a class presentation after the test so I couldn’t afford to give in to the temptation to sleep. Sheila called me during the presentation and at that point I was irritated. I don’t talk to my friends all day, everyday. I couldn’t understand why she seemed to want to talk every second of the day. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t take a nap without her telling me she would miss me with crying emojis. Most of all, I couldn’t fathom how she could possibly see her behaviour as normal. It turned out that something had come up that would require her to travel the coming Friday instead. However, she had gotten into an accident involving an Okada and broken her ankle. She was in a lot of pain. As an empath, I felt all that. I felt terrible on her behalf. I did a lot of consolation and she was very grateful for my care. It didn’t escape my attention that she was still talking to me as though I were her girlfriend. On getting back to my accommodation, I told her I was going to get some much needed sleep and it wasn’t likely that she would hear from me till night or at all for the rest of the day as I was tired enough to sleep into the next day. This babe really said she was going to miss me with a crying emoji. I ignored her. Some minutes later, she asked if I had seen her status. My read receipts are off so she would never know. I felt like she was encroaching on my personal space. Was I supposed to thank her for posting me on her status against my will? I didn’t say anything. She deleted the message after some minutes but re-sent it an hour later. I slept for 4 hours. Even with my phone on DND, she called me three times. I came online to see messages from Sheila telling me how much pain she was in. She felt like she was dying. Don’t get me wrong, I cared. But compassion turns sour when someone’s actions borders on harassment. I wasn’t her only friend. She had known me for 4 days. Why did she feel comfortable relying on me so heavily for emotional support? Some minutes later, she asked: ‘Babe, are you busy?’ I didn’t respond. I didn’t sleep well that night. It all felt so familiar, and resurrected my trauma. I was being smothered with affection from someone I barely knew. I was scared. This was day 5.
The next morning, I woke up to missed calls from her. I put my phone on DND but would get numerous phone calls from her throughout the day. She had followed me on Tik Tok the previous day, liked numerous of my posts and left comments with love emojis. I removed her as a follower. That day, I saw she had followed me again, and liked some more videos. I blocked her. Her calls became too much so I decided to block her phone number as well. The only avenue that was open was WhatsApp. I had archived her chat and set it to remain in the archive even if I received new messages from her. She sent so many messages. She wanted to know whether I was busy. She felt like speaking to me because she was in so much pain. She was worried and didn’t know if I was alright. She started wondering if I was upset with her, if she had offended me in any way. She begged me to speak to her but I remained silent. It wasn’t easy for me to do that. But I’ve had enough run-ins with people like this to know that engaging is usually a waste of time. You can’t make them truly understand what they’re doing wrong. I started getting calls from unknown numbers. I was having panic attacks but trying to create content to distract myself. I got a text on WhatsApp from an unknown number. I was scared that somehow, it was Sheila reaching out. She turned out to be a friend sent by her (Sheila) to speak to me. Apparently Sheila had told her a lot about me. What is there to say about someone you met 5 days ago? Sheila wanted her to apologise to me on her behalf. Here I was, absolutely terrified and wondering how things went so wrong, so quickly. Her friend was telling me how much Sheila loved me. And how it was the first time she was seeing her cry over a lady. She told me Sheila was seriously down and passing through a lot of pain, especially with her broken ankle. She urged me to forgive her for whatever she had done and try to iron things out. I blocked the messenger and cried for three hours. It is incredibly exhausting to continuously meet people who fall head over heels for the idea of you, and not the living, breathing person that you are. The situation with Sheila felt particularly devastating because it was so unexpected. I could understand in the past that I had an aura that attracted this brand of obsession and toxicity. I could understand that I gave such people too much of an audience. I could understand when I didn’t love myself. But I had done the work. I had built myself up, developed high standards and become someone my younger self would be extremely proud of. I did everything right in this situation. I identified the red flags on time and cut it off immediately. I didn’t romanticise our interaction or give her false hope. I interacted with her in a manner that was appropriate for someone I’d just met. I didn’t overshare. I did all I was supposed to do but I was stuck in a nightmare.
I am in the process of writing exams and have four tests coming up – all 4 credit courses – but suddenly, my mind has become a very dark place and I’m struggling to pick up any book to read. The following morning being day 7 and a Friday, I woke up to calls from unknown numbers. And a text message. The person claimed to be Sheila’s neighbour. They told me that she had been rushed to the hospital and was still unconscious. Apparently, she had attempted suicide by drinking some dangerous substances. As the story goes, the neighbour heard noises coming from her room. Upon entering, she found her calling my name, went through her phone and sent me the text. She didn’t know what transpired between us but was pleading with me to try to contact Sheila who was still unconscious. I can say in all honesty, that getting such a message broke me. I grew up living in my head with my depressive thoughts, wondering why I seemed to be much sadder than everyone else. I romanticised toxicity a lot then. I don’t anymore. Being the subject of obsession is nothing to crave. It is alarming and dangerous. Tiring. I had a therapy session that day and narrated the entire ordeal. Here’s the feedback that I received: I did the best that I could. None of it was my fault. I have made immense progress over the years. I’ve gotten good at controlling my reactions to toxic people, but I can never control their actions. I just can’t. I was told that I am someone with a lot of good qualities. I’m the dream girl. So these people see me, want to own me and are ready to do anything to make that happen. My therapist says it is likely that this cycle will continue for a long time. For some reason, these people are going to keep coming. I can’t control that. All I can do is continue turning them away, and eventually, I will experience a breakthrough. The cycle will be broken. That doesn’t sound reassuring to me. I’ve never had a good romantic experience. I’m not sure how much more of this I can handle before it becomes impossible to pick myself up and put the pieces back together. I am relying heavily on God at this point.
Yesterday was day 8. I woke up to more calls from an unknown number. Sheila had told me she wasn’t on Snapchat because it was for ladies and she considered herself to be a gentleman (LOL). I opened Snapchat and saw a friend request from her. Last night, I got a WhatsApp message from another unknown number. It was her. She said she thought we had agreed to be friends, and was asking me to unblock her. She wasn’t going to disturb me anymore. I sent my friend a screenshot of the conversation, and she sent me one of her own. Sheila had sent her a friend request on Tik Tok. This was a friend I had gotten the admin to add to the group chat where I met Sheila. I had never told her we were friends. I’m still having panic attacks. While writing this, I got yet another call from an unknown number. I remembered that Sheila had told me about two friends of hers that were also on the group chat, so I and my friend reached out to them yesterday, explaining the situation and begging them to talk some sense into her. I hope that does the trick.
This entire ordeal has peaked my anxiety. I get calls now and I’m scared it’s going to be her. I get texts from people who think I’m beautiful and want to get to know me better and all I can think of is whether they’re going to appear innocent but turn out to be psychotic. Whether they’re going to continue the cycle. I’m scared of both men and women. Because you can never tell by looking at someone, how sick they actually are mentally. When I go out in public, I block my ears with music to get through it. I don’t want anyone to admire me. Don’t approach me. Don’t think I’m beautiful. You may be tempted to want to own me. I just want to be left alone. I’m very fragile right now. But I’m hoping that writing this will be freeing. Once the story is out there, I can put it behind me. I can try to move on.