Ever since I started dating at 18, I had never had a fulfilling relationship. Every guy I would date possessed one quality that I liked and one serious issue. Now before you think I’m a perfectionist, most of the flaws they possessed were annoying. Daniel was a romantic poet who never once took me on a date. Marcus and I had the same taste in almost everything but he was only with me because of sex. The list is endless so at some point, I started to feel like maybe I was the problem.
To be able to know for sure I decided to start therapy and be alone for a while. The journey went well, and I managed to stay off men. My friends were convinced that I just needed to meet a good man. Which I came to realize was true when I got to know Leon. Most of my friends were creatives and so during events like instameet, we would always go together. Leon was an upcoming model and photographer, not to mention he was very attractive. The only red flag was he was from Congo.
As much as I didn’t want to judge him, I couldn’t help but do so. Most of the stories I had heard about Congolese men were enough to make you want to remain single. I aimed to avoid him during the whole event but later I realized he knew one of my friends. This prompted him to join us, but I decided to stand firm and only talk when it was necessary.
A few weeks after the event I had forgotten about him and moved on with my life. One random day though I received a text from him. As much as I wanted to scold my friend, deep down I felt the urge to talk to him. Our conversations started light like every talking stage. I tried my best to avoid getting attached. Based on the bad experiences I had gone through with my ex’s; I knew he had to have a flaw.
After two weeks of talking on call and text, he planned a date, and I was surprised. On the day of the date, I was even more surprised. He had reserved a table at a 4-star hotel. Immediately after I arrived, I was greeted with a bouquet. I had always loved flowers but the guys I had dated never cared about my likes and dislikes.
During our dinner, we had a fulfilling conversation. He told me about his childhood, which is something we had never covered. Unlike my ex’s he also opened up about his past relationships. This was new to me but in a good way. He also gave me the chance to tell him about myself. By the end of the night, we felt a bit closer.
As we got to know each other better, Leon would send me small gifts. Every week he formed a habit of sending either flowers or chocolates twice. He would also surprise me during the weekends by taking me on fancy dates or cooking for me. These small acts would make my heart flutter but somehow, I still believed there had to be a catch.
During our fourth date, he went down on one knee, and I started to panic. There was no way I was ready to get married.
“Leon, I don’t think I can do this,” I said quickly before he had the chance to open the box.
Instead of responding, he opened the box and to my surprise, it wasn’t an engagement ring. It looked more like a promise ring.
“I wanted to ask you to be my girlfriend,” He said in a disappointed tone.
“ Ohh,” I said, trying not to feel embarrassed.
“Will you?” He asked.
“Yes,” I replied with a smile.
He handed me the box as he stood up and went back to his seat. I knew my reaction shocked him but I didn’t understand why.
“I’m sorry for making an assumption. I was just shocked,” I said.
“So, is that how you will react when I ask you to marry me?” He snapped.
“It’s too early to think about marriage,” I replied.
He didn’t respond. Instead, he played around with his food and waited for me to finish eating. During the ride home, he remained silent as well, which confused me.
“How could he be this mad and it wasn’t a proposal?” I asked myself.
The minute we got to my place Leon gave me a peck before I got out of the car and left immediately. The next couple of days I decided to give him some space. I thought once he cooled off, he would reach out so we could talk.
At the end of the week, I received a bouquet and a card that said, “Will you go on a dinner date with me?”
I was a bit stunned but thought maybe he wanted to talk about the issue during dinner, so I called him and agreed. During our date, however, he didn’t mention anything about the other night. Instead, he asked me about work and went ahead to tell me about his work projects. When we finished our dinner, I decided to speak up but was cut off by a cake that was brought for dessert.
The plate had the words “I love you June,” written in chocolate. This was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me, and I ended up forgetting about the issue.
“I love you too,” I blurted with tears in my eyes.
He looked at me with a smile as I grabbed my fork to eat the cake. The rest of the evening went smoothly, and everything was back to normal.
My relationship with Leon progressed faster than I had imagined but I didn’t mind. This was the first time I was being loved right to the extent that I stopped therapy. In my mind, there was nothing to complain about so there was no point.
After six months of being in a relationship, we finally moved in together. The first few days were great. We cooked together, watched movies, played a couple of games and still went on dates. Leon would text me every day when we were apart except during his shoot days. Everything was perfect and as I basked in the good moments; I stopped being cautious.
One month after moving in we started having arguments. Normally Leon would have about two model shoots in a month. The rest of the days he would spend time at his studio. Every time he left the house, he would always inform me of his whereabouts. We would also agree on what time we would both be home.
On weekdays I would get home at 5 pm. However, some days I would get home later due to meetings or projects. During these days I would sometimes forget to inform Leon which would prompt him to leave 10 missed calls. At first, it came off as caring but during our arguments, I realized it was him being insecure. I was never one to judge people’s personality traits but with time it became very annoying.
However, I decided to accept that it was his way of caring for me. This was easy to do until our arguments included physical violence. Leon had never laid a hand on me but the minute he could not reach me on call he would go mad. The first time it happened he didn’t even give me a chance to explain. He yelled at me and before I knew it, I felt a sharp slap on my face.
The minute I realized what had happened he was on his knees apologizing, which made me feel bad. The following morning, he made me breakfast and left my flowers on the kitchen counter.
As time went by that became our new normal after every argument, I always received a gift. Eventually, I managed to convince myself that he was only trying to help me correct my behaviour.
Things went from bad to worse when my makeup could no longer cover my bruises. The first person to notice was my friend who knew Leon. I knew if I told her she would tell me to leave him, but I loved Leon. On the other hand, the pain was becoming too much to bear so I opted to tell her.
As I explained everything, she could tell I was scared of Leon and decided to call him out herself. Surprisingly, Leon didn’t react in a hostile way towards her which shocked me. After the intervention, I realized his main aim was to give me the silent treatment. This went on for two weeks. The weekly flowers and chocolates also stopped being delivered. We had become roommates with nothing to talk about.
Eventually, I decided to move out to one of my friends’ houses. The day I did deep down I thought he would come to look for me but he never did. Later I found out he had started the same love bombing cycle with one of his models. He took her to the same dates and went through the same process. I felt disappointed and a little relieved. For the first time, I realized that as much as my ex’s had issues at least they never laid a hand on me.
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