Healthy emotions are vital for well-being and harmonious relationships. Emotional damage can occur as a result of mental illness, trauma or a combination of both factors, and may impair a person’s ability to form healthy relationships and handle everyday stressors.
I am going to share a true story about my personal experience dating an emotionally damaged man.
I met James (name changed) back in high school and there was an instant attraction between us. The timing was not right for us to date in high school because we both were involved with other people but I always felt that if the opportunity came, he and I would make a fabulous couple. After we graduated high school, we stayed in touch for a couple of years, and then lost touch as I had heard that he became a father a few years after we graduated from high school.
James and I saw each other at our ten year high school reunion and we agreed that we would connect and try to build a relationship since we were both single. At the time, James had a five year old son with his high school sweetheart, a woman that I always thought was a drama queen. I asked James if he was still in a relationship with this woman and he said no, but his body language told me something different: I sensed that he still had feelings for his son’s mother and I decided not to contact him after our ten year reunion, I moved on with my life.
Well, time went by and it was time for the twenty year high school reunion. I knew that there was a possibility that I would see James and I wondered what ended up happening with him. James came to the twenty year reunion and when he saw me he told me that he was hoping to see me. As it turned out, he was single as well and we exchanged numbers. Soon after the reunion, we met up and started dating, this time the timing was right!
I am glad I listened to my gut and instinct about James because when we talked about what happened in our lives between the ten and twenty year reunion, he shared the fact that he had gotten back with his high school sweetheart not long after our ten year reunion and ended up having another child with her. All I could think was, “What if I decided to pursue a relationship with him ten years ago? I would have been in the middle of a situation!”
They broke up for good soon after his second son was born. James also had a short marriage to another woman he had met and only knew for a few months before he married her. In my true fashion, I always see the good in people and felt that I would not judge him at all as most people have a past.
Our relationship started off very nice, we spent a lot of time together and enjoyed each other’s company. James had done well for himself, he was gainfully employed, owned a home, and his sons were two nice young men I loved having around us. James also had nice male friends who were a lot of fun to be around: most of them were married and I became friends with their wives. James and I were in sync and ready to move toward a serious commitment but…I noticed some things that were unsettling for me:
- James had a temper that would get out of control and he was verbally abusive; when I would call him out on his behavior he would never apologize, he would simply say, “This is how I am”
- James had a vitriolic relationship with his sons’ mother: his sons’ mother as I mentioned was a drama queen in high school. James fell madly in love with her and took a lot of her emotional abuse. I had to think about why this was the case and it finally hit me:
- James’ father left his mother when he was six years old and he told me that as a six year old he was very traumatized by his father’s absence and wished that he would come back home. He vowed that if he had kids one day he would never willingly leave his child or children under any circumstances.
- James’ sons’ mother was also emotionally damaged and manipulative: she knew that she could treat James any way she wanted and he would never leave until she kicked him out of her life. Indeed, when they had the final break up she kicked James out of her life when their second child was only six weeks old. James still had a lot of anger and resentment toward her.
- James’ friends started sharing stories with me about him and his temper which were frightening: in one example he once pulled a knife on a mutual friend after an exchange about a football game. His friends told me point blank that I was too nice of a woman to be involved with him, he had anger management issues. For the record, his friends were not trying to get with me on the sly, I appreciate them for recognizing the fact that I was a nice woman and they did not want me abused unnecessarily.
After about six months of dating James wanted to start controlling my paycheck: I was not even married to James let alone engaged and he was diminishing my voice in the relationship. My definition of a relationship is a mutual partnership, not a relationship in which I am being abused either physically or emotionally.
I broke up with James and he tried several times to get back with me declaring his love and I told him what my issues were with him: He was too emotionally damaged and there is no way I could have a healthy, balanced relationship with him.
So what is the moral of the story? I say always listen to your gut instinct, give a relationship time to grow as people tend to be on their best behavior in the beginning and see how they act in various situations whether you are alone or surrounded by people. I was also fortunate that James friends were forthcoming with me and respected me enough to protect me.
I have wondered if James and I could have had a healthy relationship if I was involved with him first instead of his sons’ mother. As mentioned, I knew his sons’ mother was a drama queen: her beauty certainly attracted men but she was abusive to men. It’s just too hard to say and I decided not to keep second guessing the situation.
Emotional damage exists in a lot of people due to various types of trauma, the healing is not always so smooth for everyone and unfortunately, someone who has been traumatized can easily create major trauma for someone else.
I know that there are others who have been through much worse than me, I actually consider myself fortunate to be able to leave the situation before more damage could be done to me that could have left permanent scars.
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