All the Red Flags I Proudly Saluted

I once was in a relationship with a boy. I was young, it was my first relationship. Well, it was a decent friendship, and then maybe it was a cute relationship, but with a bad person. This was ages ago and I kept blinding myself to the fact that this person was not a good person. I do not look at men with much kindness now, because, well read on…

We met in a certain college when we were put together for a certain project. We had never seen each other, coordinated for the work only though a WhatsApp group. At first, I engaged comfortably on the WhatsApp group thinking he was a girl, because he has a girl name. Then I met him and I was like, wow, I’m going to have a gay friend. Let’s call him Y (because that’s what I ask myself now).

Anyway, our friendship started with my listening to him go on and on about his crush on his friend who was in a relationship with some other guy. But yes, we did become close friends gradually. And then he asked me to be in a relationship, to which I obviously said NO. We had a good friendship, and I really like good friendships.

He was persistent, so we were eventually in a relationship. And here’s when the list of red flags starts:

1. Forgetting Things Important to You, like Your Birthday: Yes

In January we kind of got together, March my birthday, he went all out and got a big teddy. Next year, he completely forgot my birthday. The year after that, my good friend called my sister about coming to our place at midnight with something to celebrate. My sister told Y. We will never know whether he had forgotten or not. But ya, he showed up that evening after work with some flowers.

2. Cheating, Lying: Yes

We got together in Jan, in April/May, he cheated on me. We were in different states for our internship and his crush was finally single. Maybe he forgot to mention to her that he wasn’t. And he initiated the cheating, which he lied to me about then, saying that she did, but much later confessed when in my hunch, I asked again. I forgave him.

3. Jealousy: Yes

Oh and then he was always jealous of my guy friend who would actually remember my birthday. And he would discourage me from answering his calls. He never stopped talking to that girl by the way, even after the whole cheating thing. She finally ended her friendship with Y, with some well-deserved crass words for him.

4. Bullying: Yes

He was a bully and used to tell me about his previous bullying days proudly. But would also say he is now more mature. He wasn’t. Because one of my friends came and told me he bullied him. Mind you, this Y is a guy who’s so feminine in his body-language that I assumed he was gay (sorry, heuristics, don’t judge me), and was bald too. And he would bully people. But then these are the kind of people who bully others, insecure bastards. But me being the stupid me, experiencing love for the first time, forgave him, as long as he didn’t do it anymore. I’m extremely sorry to my friend now for this.

5. Arrogance: Yes

He was good at math-adjacent subjects and sports. So he would demean me for not being good at either. Well, dude, I’m playing badminton and basketball so that we can spend time together doing what you like. I haven’t been training for these since childhood like you, ever think that? So you can solve 2 equations more than me, do you have a thought in your head about anything in this world that is not you (or your boss)?

6. Oppression: Yes

You know how good people donate parts of their salary? Some take a receipt and use it for tax rebate, they are still good. Some don’t even do that, completely silent donation, very good people. Y would give parts of his salary to his brother to loan it out to the destitute individuals (whom the US would call subprime borrowers), people who have no collateral or security to take loans from the formal organisations. And they would give this loan on crazy high interest rates ensuring that those people’s indebtedness never ends.

7. Selfishness & Insensitivity: Yes

While I engaged in activities he liked, like sports, I actually liked to read and paint in my weekends. Did he ever come to me with maybe an art workshop we could go together to? Obviously not. He did come along to a bookstore with me. He bought one book, we were supposed to sit and read together one weekend. He never finished his book. But obviously, I didn’t demean him for that.

We were once supposed to go on a long-drive weekend trip, him, me & my sis. He liked her company, she was fun, she got stuff done. But she fell sick and we couldn’t make the trip. And he threw a tantrum like a spoilt brat. He didn’t go to the other room to ask how my sis was doing, if he could help in any way. He kept on ranting about his disappointment at not being able to go, and that I should sit and listen to him instead of nursing my sick sister.

8. All the Gen-Z terms for emotionally immature & manipulative: Yes

Once his brother got married, I asked him to tell his family that we are in a relationship and not just friends, since now he was next, and the asshole was actually sending his pictures to his family and making account right in front of me. And that is when I got to learn so much about myself. He said he talked to his mom. And following are the things wrong with me — I’m not skinny, am short, bespectacled, and of a wrong caste. And that I should just lose some weight, then I could probably wear heels, and hey, he likes bespectacled girls (adult-cinema fantasy), rest he will handle. I did not tell him, hey, you’re bald, unconventionally feminine, dumb and a terrible person, why don’t you grow some hair on your head, and the rest I’ll handle. I just broke up with him.

9. Cheating, Lying Part 2:

I left the city, took up a job elsewhere. We met later after some months, when I visited the city. He texted me back saying he wasn’t over me. We did not take it any further. I learnt much later that he was already seeing another girl when he texted this, which he conveniently forgot to mention that whole day, or in the text.

And still, many months later also, blinded by young love and a general gullibility, I would tell myself and everyone, that he was a good person, that he was deserving of my love. I was never able to see this person objectively. So many years and a random illumination later, I start and finish this rant of the reality of my first love. And of why I have never felt ready to date another guy ever afterwards.

Fortunately, I’m in a much better place now, having known a relationship that lifts me up instead of pushing me down.

We are often taught to not wash our dirty laundry in public. But if we don’t, sometimes the dirt stays and sometimes it makes others dirty too. So, if this article/rant ever reaches Y, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt you. All I wish is that both of us have grown and are in a much better place, as persons and in our relationships.

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