Rewinding to Rochelle: Part 3 – The GPS

This is part of my “Rewinding to Rochelle” series that sheds light on what an abusive relationship can look like.

Trigger Warning: This contains content that may be upsetting to some readers. While the incidents are real, all names are fictitious.

It was a dark and cloudy evening in Rochelle’s hometown. We had just spent the afternoon with her family and I was beginning the hour drive back to the city.

Rochelle: Why are you using the GPS? You’ve been here before.
The Dating Introvert: Yeah, but I’ve only been here twice before and I’m not sure about the route.
Rochelle: You should be able to get to places without relying on the GPS.
The Dating Introvert: It’s dark and I’m not familiar enough with this area.

At that point, she pulled the power cable out of the GPS unit.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a great driver. It’s hard for me to drive on a poorly-lit road at 40mph and need to suddenly choose between two closely-positioned freeway entrances – one going north, one going south. Given how dark it was, it was unclear whether the entrance to the north was before or after the “North” sign. As luck would have it, I picked the wrong one.

“God!” she cursed.

I took the next exit but there was no easy turnaround to get me onto the north freeway, so I had to take side streets. Sometime later I saw a different “North” sign but I was too late and blew past it.

“God! Now we’re going to be wasting 10 minutes because you can’t read street signs,” she complained.

Rochelle displayed a pattern of complaining about my allegedly incompetent automobile skills. For instance, she had previously implied that I was not a “Real Man” for not knowing how to change the oil in a car. For the record, I actually know how to change the oil in a single engine prop airplane. I just never got around to learning how to do it for a car.

Why was she so obsessed with ensuring that I drive in a particular way? She didn’t work at the DMV.

And what was the point of turning off the GPS? What does it prove?

With the benefit of hindsight, I now realize that she was obsessed with finding men who embodied the stereotype of (toxic) masculinity. And part of that is being able to drive recklessly and fearlessly. I’m not that man and I don’t want to become him.

 

Rewinding to Rochelle: Part 2 – The Restaurant Menu

This is part of my “Rewinding to Rochelle” series that sheds light on what an abusive relationship can look like.

Trigger Warning: This contains content that may be upsetting to some readers. While the incidents are real, all names are fictitious.

Rochelle and I sat down at restaurant. I don’t even remember which one.

Rochelle: What should I eat?
The Dating Introvert: I’m not sure. I haven’t been here before.
Rochelle: I want to date a guy who knows what’s good on the menu and can tell me what to pick.

There are only two possibilities here. Either:

  • Rochelle wanted me to have visited all restaurants beforehand, to prepare for a date with her: This was obviously unreasonable.
  • Or, she wanted a guy who could “take charge” – the kind of guy who would order the steak for himself and then tell the waiter that “she’ll be having the salad”, without even giving her a chance to speak.

In hindsight, the conversation was disrespectful as she was putting me down, by basically saying that I wasn’t good enough. This was just another example of the abuse I dealt with throughout the relationship.

As for wanting the kind of guy who could “take charge”, she was seeking a toxically masculine figure. She wanted a sexist man who would dominate her and put himself first, because she confused misogyny with confidence and power.

In the years since, I’ve realized that she always sought out uneven relationships, where either she abused her partner, or her partner would abuse her. I wish I were making this up – in a future post, I will write about the violent man she dated next. I hope she gets help and breaks out of this cycle.

Rewinding to Rochelle: Part 1 – The Mug Incident

Trigger Warning: This contains content that may be upsetting to some readers. While the incidents are real, all names are fictitious.

Rochelle was the sweetest girl I had ever met until this point. Just a few days before, Rochelle and I had become official girlfriend and boyfriend.

We were drinking tea with her mother, who was visiting from out of town. I stepped away to the bathroom for a minute and when I came back, she whispered in my ear:

Why the f*** didn’t you put your mug into the sink?

This blog entry is the beginning of my “Rewinding to Rochelle” series on what an abusive relationship can look like, based on real dating experiences from my past. My goal is to help you identify, avoid, and leave abusive relationships, by writing about red flags that I had dismissed at the time.

Back to Rochelle, you might be wondering why I had stayed with her – for two painful years. Well, I was young and had never had a girlfriend before. I had no good role models and desperately want to feel loved. Here was the main problem:

I was so insecure about my own self-worth that I couldn’t tell whether the problem was with me or with her.

In hindsight, the problem was clearly with her. While there are arguments in all relationships – and sometimes we regret things that we say – the question is whether there is a pattern of disproportionate and disrespectful language like the above. If there is, it’s an abusive relationship.