Many of you have expressed interest in contributing to the book project that I launched recently. In fact, some of you have already sent in stories! And they’re great!
It’s the first time I’m doing a project like this, so nobody knows how it’s going to turn out. However, I am finding the idea of women offering love advice to women quite compelling. There are thousands of lifetimes of experience amongst you ladies, and it is well worth mining. I have a secret plan to turn all of you into professional writers, so I’m paying $40 for every story that gets published and $20 for every published story that you refer to me from someone else. Send ’em! Check out the submission guidelines here and then give it your best shot.
Part of the usefulness of these stories is to consider how you would have done things differently had you known better. This contribution from our good friend Rosie (of the epic email exchange) covers a lot of ground. Very curious to hear your thoughts in the comments section:
“My first boyfriend and I had only been dating for the summer when the day after I moved into my dorm for my sophomore year, he dumped me out of the blue. Apparently I said “I love you” too early for him even though he said he was fine with it.
I was heartbroken for about a week, during which he made things worse by vacillating between wanting to stay broken up and wanting to get back together. My sadness eventually turned to anger when he couldn’t make up his mind and then stood me up to go get drunk after promising to talk with me about our future.
I got over him pretty fast at this point, which of course then made him want me back. He then stalked me for weeks, showing up at my dorm at and literally crying at me for hours, dumping feelings bombs about how he screwed up, how I was the best thing to ever happen to him, etc.
Since I was nice and he was clearly distraught (and I was quite frankly scared of what he would do if I refused to listen), I tolerated his marathon sessions at first. Once I refused to listen to him whine and cry anymore, then he started following me when I was at events with my sorority sisters, even pulling me out of a sister’s birthday party at 12 AM to confess he was in love with me and wanted me back.
I rebuked him, which then led him to the pastime of getting wasted and watching my window to see if my light was on in the early morning hours. If it was on, he would literally shout things up at me, ranging from “I love you, you’re my soulmate.” to “How can you hurt me so much? You’re a (insert horrible adjective or noun here).” He harassed my friends, enlisting them to listen to his sob story or to pass messages to me even though they repeatedly told him I wanted no contact with him. One time he made one of my friends comfort him outside my room while I was inside and she literally told me not to come out until he calmed down (which took 4 hours) because she was afraid what he might do to me. One time he even started banging the hall door next to my room loudly to frighten me and my roommates.
Luckily after a few weeks of this hell, he got a new girlfriend – which to this day astounds me – and left me alone. He just got engaged and I just hope his fiancee never has to deal with this crap if things go south.
I think the main thing I could have done differently was go to the campus safety police – my friends were begging me to go, but I was convinced it would blow over and I guess I didn’t want to get him in trouble. I found what he was doing more annoying than dangerous at the time; it took me a while to accept that I was legitimately stalked and that I was in serious danger because he was volatile and unpredictable. I guess any takeaways from my story to dating would be:
Your boundaries must be respected by any man (and any person in general, really) you are seeing. If he repeatedly pushes and breaks them, you need to really sit down and think about why you want to continue seeing this man because what he is telling you is this very clear message: his desires trump your rights. My ex’s desire to talk to me trumped my right to be left alone. My ex’s desire to get back together with me trumped my right to feel safe. You do not want to involve yourself with this kind of man because the situation can turn sour and dangerous very quickly.
Also, trust your gut. I ignored it when dealing with him, which was a bad move. Thankfully I escaped relatively unscathed, but I put myself in some bad situations with him (e.g. dark places with just him) because I ignored my gut. If you feel something is off about a guy, follow up on that feeling and take action.”
Editor’s comment: Wow! Helluva story — thanks for sharing, Rosie. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having clear boundaries and trusting your gut. Not much to add here to this instructive account except to remember that the brains of 19-year old boys (or girls) are not yet mature. It takes another 6-7 years for the control centers of the prefrontal cortex to get fully on board (for the scientifically inclined, it’s the myelin sheathing that needs to complete). Add to that a liberal dose of testosterone, readily available alcohol, plus all the stresses of college, and you’ve got a formula for interesting behavior indeed.