Kyle and Sandra had been childhood crushes. They got separated when Kyle went abroad to join his family. Having no way to communicate, they lost touch until years later, when they were in their late twenties. Facebook’s power to connect people had a hand in it. Kyle came across Sandra’s profile and decided to message her.
“Hey Sandra, I don’t know if you remember me but I was your childhood bestie,” Kyle’s message read.
“You mean crush?” Sandra joked.
“Oh, I was doing soft test in case you already forgot me,” replied Kyle.
“Forget the first boy who ever broke my heart? Such things tend to stick in the mind,” said Sandra.
“Does it help that I was also bummed when I moved away from you?” Kyle responded.
“Totally. So, no American wife yet?” Sandra asked.
“No, I was saving the spot for you,” Kyle responded.
Sandra thought he was joking, but it started sounding like he was serious over time. The conversation moved from messaging on Facebook to video calls. Kyle wanted to know everything about Sandra. Part of it was also about reconnecting with his roots because he hadn’t returned to the country since childhood.
He would ask to be on video calls even when she went grocery shopping or the salon. “I want to see how you go about daily activities,” Kyle insisted. The same applied to him. He would ‘carry her along’ when he went for a shave or to the gym. They would talk on the phone for hours and watch each other sleeping on video calls.
Kyle repeatedly expressed interest in officially dating Sandra, but she was hesitant. Initially, Kyle kept asking her if she had ever thought of relocating. Moving abroad permanently had never been appealing to Sandra. Although people talked about a higher earning capacity, she loved being around her family. She wanted to raise a kid within a safe community of people she knew. The extra money couldn’t hurt, but many factors were at play.
Further, she couldn’t imagine moving to a different country because of love and then having the relationship fail. She imagined people phrasing it as “She went chasing after a man and is now stuck in that country.” Not that she had planned for it not to work out, but Sandra was pragmatic.
She expressed her concerns to Kyle, who insisted that he would eventually convince her to take a leap of faith and give them a chance. Technically, they might as well have been an item because, with the time they spent talking to each other, it was hard to date other people. Once, Sandra tried dating a colleague, but she found it difficult to explain to him who she was always video calling.
Kyle occupied so much of her life despite the distance. She would express concerns over something like the stuff she wanted to buy or dreams she wanted to accomplish, and Kyle would find a way to be part of the solution. Once, Sandra complained about the constant power outages and water shortages in the place where she lived and their impact on her work. She hated her job and wanted to leave, so she had gotten a side gig and hoped to make it her main income source.
“What can you do about it?”Kyle asked her.
“Moving to a place with a back up generator would be the best option,” Sandra replied.
“So why not do that?” Kyle asked.
“Because I can’t afford it,” said Sandra.
“Let me do that for you,” Kyle offered.
“Do what exactly? I don’t know when I will be earning enough to afford rent and other bills if I moved to such an apartment,” said Sandra.
“I don’t mind doing that for you for as long as you need it,” Kyle responded.
Sandra changed the topic because she felt uncomfortable with the offer. However, Kyle was offended that she had rejected the offer, so every time she declined a video call because there were no lights, he reminded her that she refused to move. Their relationship got strained because Kyle was getting frustrated with Sandra for not committing to him.
Sandra expressed her concerns, but Kyle didn’t think they were weighty reasons. They also started having frequent fights. After a fight, Kyle would disappear for several days or weeks at a time and then come back as though nothing had happened. He would continue to profess his love for Sandra. When Sandra tried to hold him accountable, he would gaslight her.
Kyle would also give Sandra job opportunities for remote tasks once in a while. On this occasion, Kyle needed some graphic work done, so he asked Sandra if she could handle it. Graphic work wasn’t Sandra’s forte, but she had a cousin, Ruth, who did it. She linked them.
Sandra immediately noticed something weird. Kyle was asking her cousin very personal questions. She didn’t want to look like she was trying to micromanage the interaction between Ruth and Kyle. When Sandra connected them, she had thought it would be a great opportunity for her younger cousin Ruth, who was just starting out. When Ruth mentioned some of the things Kyle had asked her about, she found it odd.
After mulling over the matter for a while, she decided to talk to Kyle about it.
“Hi, I’m not comfortable with some of the things that you are asking my younger cousin. I thought this was a professional engagement and I would highly appreciate it if it stayed that way,” Sandra told him.
“Is someone’s jealousy showing? I ask everyone I work with such questions. I want to know everything about them,” Kyle defended himself.
“You ask the men you work with for short contract jobs whether they are married and send them you pictures?” Sandra asked him.
“I’ll let Ruth know you don’t want us talking,” Kyle responded.
“I already spoke to her. I just didn’t expect this from you,” Sandra replied.
Kyle went on to deny that he wasn’t hitting on Sandra’s cousin. However, Sandra and Ruth were close, so she showed her the messages Kyle was sending. Even with the evidence, Kyle tried to gaslight Sandra, and she eventually stopped talking to him.
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