Reader’s note: Please be aware that the following story is based on true events. Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved and the story has been embellished for entertainment purposes.
Dating in 2020 was rough, to say the least. People were either breaking up or getting pregnant; literally no in between. I, myself had started lockdown in March 2020 fresh off of being ghosted. I had arranged to go for drinks with a guy who asked me out after weeks of semi dry chat; told me to pick the place, get all dolled up and he’d be waiting for me at the pub. The day came and he never told me what time to meet him. I decided to go ahead and get ready regardless, I’d rather not get caught out with him waiting for me at the pub early doors and I’m still kicking about with my hair in rollers. Eventually I got THE text.
“Sorry babe, had to work. I promise I’ll make it up to you.” He never did make it up to me. He barely messaged me for a month after our failed date so I struck this up to being ghosted by another guy with a J name. Every girl has been ghosted/cheated on/fucked about with by a guy with a J name, sorry lads but it is the absolute truth. So, I started the global pandemic quarantining with my family who are vulnerable. I couldn’t just go out and flout the rules willy nilly since if I brought COVID in from a sexual exploit and killed a family member, I couldn’t live with myself. It just was not worth the risk, (it still isn’t by the way I’m writing this piece during the third national lockdown and this one just…hits different? ALL I WANT IS DICK AND TO SEE MY PALS FOR FUCKS SAKE). Anyway, all the way throughout the first national lockdown I was quite content with browsing on Tinder, seeing what the options are but without actually arranging anything; after all what the fuck was there to do? On the 28th of August 2020, I made the fatal decision of replying back to a message. HIS message. Here is where the story really begins…
When I had matched with Stephen, I don’t think I even expected anything. After months of hardly any decent patter I was simply swiping left and right for something to do rather than someone to do. His profile was quite basic if I can recall correctly. He had his main photo of him and a dog (If he was female, folk would’ve called him a basic bitch), he had several group photos but nothing special. It was his bio that caught my eye. He said he was a scientist. I’m a sucker for an intelligent man, oh Lord have mercy! A man who has a degree…a man who can hold a conversation about the world’s current events…a man I can compete with on an intellectual level. OOFT! Honestly, my last few notches on my bed post have been guys who are like WIT YE WEARIN’ every 5 minutes but I only needed them for a shag, not a conversation. Pump, pump, squirt. Away ye go. Ejaculate and evacuate. Back to Stephen. So in a nutshell his mind attracted me to him because I was assuming if he was a scientist he was smart. Right? I didn’t particularly fancy him, it certainly wasn’t love at first sight or even lust at first sight. I barely even thought about it I literally spend an average of 0.0009 seconds looking at a man’s Tinder profile before I swipe left or right. Is that bad? It’s the truth though. We had been a match for a few days and he sent a message rapid but I patched it because it was a basic first message. Nothing special. On the evening of the 28th August 2020 I was particularly bored. I don’t know what made me reply back to him but I did. We got chatting and we chatted well into the night which was extremely unusual for me. I hit him with all my best patter, we spoke about how Harry Potter was probably a Tory cunt because JK Rowling donated to the No campaign during the Scottish Independence Referendum (I voted yes and I would once again vote yes for independence!) and Stephen said Ron Weasley was probably a labour voter because he was working class then I said Neville Longbottom was definitely a green party supporter and I pissed myself laughing at my own joke, at that point my patter was so good he didn’t even need to be a part of the conversation, I was entertaining myself. He was laughing at my jokes, asking me questions about myself that weren’t the usual first chat stuff and I was opening up. BIG MISTAKE. Lets play a game, starting now. When you see an obvious red flag, take a drink. Guaranteed you’ll be absolutely smashed by the end of this story.
We spoke for 3 days straight about everything and anything. Most random of topics to the most mundane of questions. That night he said something I believe everyone dreads when they speak to someone new. “There’s something I haven’t told you about, I don’t know how you’ll react”. Now, what could that be? Could be fucking anything I don’t know the man! “I have two children,” DRINK. He waited 3 whole days to tell me he created two human beings? Seriously? There was NOTHING in his Tinder profile that suggested he had children or else, I’d have swiped left. Personally, children don’t do it for me. I honestly cannot be arsed with baby mama drama, I’m not interested in being a step mum.
“How old are your children?” I ask with trepidation.
“Seven and five. Boy and a girl,” He replied, rather dryly.
“And their mum? Where is she?” I probe deeper.
“Oh, we were together for nine years. She got pregnant really young and we fell out of love. The break up was all very amicable and mutual,” He said with a smiley face emoji at the end.
“Okay…how long have you been single for then?” Again, I need to ask.
“Four months,” He replied as if it was nothing. FOUR FUCKING MONTHS! I have tins of soup in my cupboard I’ve had for longer. This to me, was a red flag. Four months is no time to get over a nine year relationship with the mother of your children.
“Ooft, okay,” I say to him, “Don’t you think you need some time on your own? To rediscover yourself and do all the shit folk do fresh out of a relationship?”
“Nah,” He replied rapid. “I mourned the relationship while still being in it if I’m honest. I’m completely over it and we’re in a good place. We’re friends,”
Hmmm….He also told me that I was the first girl he’s properly spoken to since the breakup. This feels risky. I decide to pump the breaks and cool down on the messaging. At this point I employ one of my closest friends, Sienna, for her opinion on the matter. Sienna is such a lovely girl, she’s a good few years younger than me but we have so much in common that age doesn’t matter. She doesn’t put up with anyone’s shite (Including my shite), she calls you out on it if she sees it. Sienna also was a single mum, her little boy was three years old and she had done so well for herself. I spoke to her about it over lunch one day and I explained my situation. She knows that I’m not interested in dating a man with children but she made an excellent point when I said I’d start ghosting him.
“That is pure discrimination Claire,” She started, “Imagine you found out a nice guy ghosted me just because I have a kid? It’s a piss poor excuse doll, give the poor boy a chance,” That is true. At my age, (26 at the time) and living in the West of Scotland it would be hard to find a guy my age who didn’t have a kid. I’m considered a spinster because I don’t have a man and weans yet! I think I do need to accept the fact that I probably will end up being a step mum at some point in my life as much as I don’t like the idea. The thing that didn’t sit right with me was the fact that: he kept his children a secret for three full days, he’s fresh from a long term relationship, he told me his ex had only been with him so neither of us had any idea what she’d react like when she found out he’s seeing someone or potentially seeing someone. She could be completely sound or completely psycho, who knows. I did enjoy the rapport Stephen and I had going, fuck it let’s just go for it…
Between 1st September until the 10th of September we facetimed every single night for on average, 6 hours a night. We always found shit to talk about and the fact he enjoyed my patter and laughed at my jokes was intoxicating. I hadn’t had any proper conversation since I’d been ghosted with the guy with the J name back in March. I won’t lie, I enjoyed the attention. I woke up to a good morning text every single morning, it was nice. He kept pressuring me to meet in person though. Every single night it was the same conversation,
“When am I getting a cuddle then?” Ugh, even repeating that phrase now gives me the literal ick.
“Probably in a few months, when COVID is over,” I was hopeful that COVID would have an end date but right now I’m not so sure.
“Let’s just do it, I’ll drive to yours tomorrow,”
It was just this CONSTANT pressure to meet up. I felt uncomfortable. It was almost like he could not take no for an answer. I told him several times I needed some space to breathe but he wouldn’t let it go. DRINK. A person who disrespects clear boundaries is a mile out. I had, of course, told him about my vulnerable family members who were living at home in my house and his attitude was…well it’s your house? AND STEPHEN? COVID CAN STILL KILL MY MOTHER IF MY NAME IS ON THE TITLE DEED OR NOT! It was starting to seriously piss me off. The topic was rolling around to my 27th birthday which was on 14th September. He started asking what I would like, what kind of flowers I liked, what my size was. I was flattered thinking he’d actually get me a birthday gift. He asked for my address because he wanted to send something special. I GAVE HIM MY HOME ADDRESS. DRINK. I was too much in a love bombed phase that I was so excited at the prospect of receiving a bunch of flowers on my birthday that I let my personal security and safety out of the window. At the time I simply did not think it was a problem to give a man I did not know, had never met in person only facetimed, my full address.
We agreed on the 13th September to meet as he had a present to give me. “Is my present…him?” I thought to myself. I’d rather have the flowers. He barely gave me enough time to get ready. He simply messaged me saying BE READY IN 20 MINS X…aye very good I’m a woman I need at least 2 hours to get ready on a good day. When he messaged to say he was outside my stomach dropped. This wasn’t first date nerves. I felt weird, slightly uncomfortable. We agreed to stay six feet apart since he worked in a medical setting for his job. It was absolutely pishing down rain, my plan had been to sit in my garden so we could see each other but stay 6 feet apart. That’ll be impossible with the heavens opening up above us. As he drove up to my gate and I saw him in person for the first time, I felt…a slight buzz. Obviously I had seen Stephen for hours on facetime so I had studied his face a little but this was the first time I’d seen his body. He had a dad bod which is all the rage at the moment. He had a slight beard and beautiful eyes. When he showed me photo of his children, his kids definitely have his beautiful eyes.
“Hey,” He said, I could almost feel his nerves along with mine. “Can I come in?” He gestured towards my house.
“No,” I replied swiftly. My family already had an issue with me meeting up with a guy never mind bringing him in during the height of a pandemic.
“C’mon, let’s sit in the car,” He was already walking back towards his car, assuming I’d follow. I’d spent two weeks adamant we weren’t going to break any lockdown rules and here I am, following a strange man into his car in which we’ll be 6cm apart rather than 6 feet.
“Fuck it, “ A little voice inside me said. I was taken with the fact a man wanted to spend time with me. I’m really just an attention seeking loser at the end of the day. I followed him to his car. He had the two car seats in the back and I felt somehow responsible? This guy is a father and I still act like I’m sixteen on the regular! Most folk my age are on their second or third kid and I’m still on Mambo No.5 (absolute tune by the way). My point is, seeing their car seats made the kids seem real to me. I tried to remember what Sienna said and push past this feeling of uneasiness. He presented me with a gift bag full of presents. I mean, FULL of presents. He had bought me a Game of Thrones t-shirt in the correct size, a mug, a card from Moonpig, loads of chocolates and stationary. I was in shock. This must’ve been like, at least thirty odd quid? For someone he met literally two, three weeks ago?
“There’s another surprise coming tomorrow for you,” He winked at me. This was too much. Have you ever had someone be so nice to you that you feel unworthy and slightly uncomfortable? That was me in that moment. Now, I should tell you. I had 100% let this boy get the better of me. I was saying things I had never said before in my life. We talked about marriage, children, houses, the future. The whole lot of it. I fully believe now that I was swept up in it all but my God. I probably led that poor boy on. Here’s another mistake I made. Ladies, please take note and take a big GULP because this is a major mistake.
“Let’s drive, you can show me about,” He said, starting the engine of the car. He wasn’t from my town so he didn’t know where anything was. He had my address but that was it. I showed him all around my small town. I showed him everywhere; the shops, my old high school, my sister’s house, my old house before I bought my current one, WHERE I WORKED. I showed him exactly where my office was. DRINK! We sat in his car for about two hours which was parked outside my house. We talked so much the windows steamed up and my neighbours probably thought we were shagging right outside my gate. Definitely not. We did kiss. It was nice. I felt something. No, not his dick get your head out the gutter. I felt like maybe, just maybe this could go somewhere. Have you ever had a kiss that made you forget where you were? Who you were? If someone asked you your own date of birth right at that moment you wouldn’t know? It was THAT kind of kiss. I hadn’t been kissed since January 2019. I’ve been single for a very long time…
When I got back from my gate date, I felt like I was on cloud nine. I had met a guy who was nice! Who liked me! He had even spoken about asking me to be his girlfriend. I was notorious for hardly ever making it passed the talking stage and if it went by talking and onto sex it normally never resulted in anything else. Nudes, sex and dry conversation. Maybe this could be it? I know exactly what you’re thinking. Fair changed yer tune Claire hen? Well, reader…aye I did change my tune big style. I bounced into work the following day, my actual birthday, wearing the t-shirt he bought me and having the lunch he’d made me (Let’s all AWWW together at the fact he made me homemade soup for my birthday lunch). I had a really good birthday and he did make it special. I didn’t receive my special surprise on my actual birthday though which Stephen was fuming by. I remember him being extremely pissed off that he paid extra for delivery for the 14th and it never appeared. To be fair, I’d be the same. The day after my birthday, he hit me with something that stopped me in my tracks. “I told her about us,” He said in a message while I was at work. I could be fly and use my phone at my desk as my desk was hidden in a corner. My stomach dropped. He told his ex about us? We’ve kissed once!
“What the actual fuck Stephen? Why?”
“Aw, I thought she deserves to know. I’ve told all my pals and my family as well. Want to see her reaction?” Obviously I wanted to see her reaction. He had told me so much about his ex I felt like I knew the lassie. She seems like a lovely girl he never said a bad word about her and I do respect that. Sienna went onto Stephen’s Facebook pretty early on and scrolled through his photos.
“Have you actual seen his ex, Claire?” She snapchatted me during one of our many conversations about him.
“Aye, she’s dead pretty isn’t she?” I replied.
“Mate…she is your actual double,” I was taken aback by this comment. Sure, we were both petite brunettes with blue/green eyes. That’s not really anything to go by is it? She then proceeded to send me a snapchat of his ex and I’s photos side by side. Jesus Christ. The boy has a fucking type eh? We are so alike it’s unreal! I thought she was much pretty than me though, massive beautiful eyes. She’s much younger than me too. I look like I’ve seen too much. Stephen sent me a screenshot of his conversation with his ex, telling her about us. She was taken back by it which is understandable. She said to make sure I knew that the dog in his Tinder profile photo was her dog and not his and I would have zero contact with the dog. This made me laugh. Imagine going out with a guy because of his dug! I’m sure it happens right enough. She also made it very clear she did not want me to meet the children. Sound, I don’t want to meet them anyways. He also gave her my full name during the conversation. Why? I think it’s because he wanted to stir the pot. You know what’s going to happen now right? Her and all her pals are going to go on all my socials, including this blog (I know because I can see where in the country my visits are coming from and they were an unusual amount of views from the town where Stephen and his ex lived?), all her pals would be roasting me and picking apart every one of my photos and tweets. I could not handle that at all. I had a full scale panic attack right there at my desk. To the point that my two colleagues sitting next to me asked if I needed any help. I completely understand that girls roast each other in their group chats but I knew it would be happening right then and there, I just could not handle THAT type of attention. I rushed to make every social media I had private. No photos, no comments, absolutely nothing available for them to use against me. Stephen had no idea why my anxiety was through the roof. “Who gives a fuck what her and her pals think? They all hate me anyways,” He’d say. Why do they hate you Stephen?
Starting on the 16th of September, I had a few days of annual leave. I wanted to deep clean my house and paint. I wanted to write some new material and read books that had been sitting on the shelf neglected. I wanted to take the time for me. Stephen did not like this. He was asking to come over every single night. He’d go in a huff when I said no. He acted like a spoilt brat at the best of times. I need time by myself to recharge the batteries as I’m not a very social person. Founding member of the Anti-Social Social Club. I was having a gaff at a friend’s house for my birthday that weekend and it was a girls only event. Dragon Soops and vintage Rihanna was on the cards. Again, he didn’t like that. Why can’t I come? He’d ask. Surely you’ll let ME come over? Well Stephen it’s not my house son. Again, he’d go in a huff. If you really liked me you’d let me come to your birthday night out. Ugh. On the Friday night I said to him I’ll go out for a drive with him to please him basically, nothing really for my benefit. He would constantly ask to come over for sex I think. Between you and I, I didn’t want to have sex with him. It was the weirdest thing, he was lovely to me majority of time. Called me fifteen times a day and made sure I was fine but he didn’t get me wet. We had never even sent any nudes or had facetime sex. To put that into perspective, I exchange nudes on the reg with a guy who doesn’t really know anything about me and we’ve done that for years. Nudes guy could barely tell you one fact about me but he knows my bra size. I think I was in love with the idea that a guy could potentially be falling in love with me, rather than me being in love with the guy himself. Stephen I mean, not nudes guy. That Friday night, I honestly could not be fucked going for a drive. I tried to cancel and say I wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t buy it. I got a phone call of him SCREAMING at me.
“YOU WILL BE READY IN HALF AN HOUR AND YOU WILL COME OUT WITH ME, CLAIRE” Ooft… “I’VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS ALL WEEK AND YOU WILL NOT DISAPPOINT ME,” My god…why does this guy sound a bit, gaslighty? It worked though because I did go on the drive. I went on the drive out of the sheer guilt he made me feel, classic gaslight tactic. I spoke to Sienna before I went and explained what his reaction was. She was starting to see the red flags too but I felt like I was in too deep to dig myself out. We kissed again during our drive. Things were starting to get steamy but I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t touch him and when he put his hand on my thigh I gently moved it away. For someone who wanted their hole and is close to getting it, why am I acting so weird? I should also mention here that I never bothered to wear makeup for him. We’d facetime for hours after work and I’d be in my pjs and messy bun, not giving a fuck. I’d met him twice in person with not a stitch of makeup on my face. I’d never done that before either. You know what it’s like when you first meet a guy, you put your makeup on perfectly every single time only when it gets to a certain point you tend to feel comfortable enough to wipe the foundation away. Why is this relationship breaking every social norm I’ve ever known? He’s asking me to be his girlfriend after three weeks. We’ve not had sex. Fuck, I haven’t seen the guy’s dick yet and he’s planned our wedding. Vegas for both our 30ths if you were wondering. During our kiss in his car, he gets a phone call. He answers. It’s his ex. She does not sound happy one bit. “Hiya, um, where are you?” She said in quite a small voice.
“Out,” He snapped at her, rather aggressively I thought.
“I can’t do this,” She began, I heard a crack in her voice and my heart sank. “Anytime you’re not with me or the kids I think you’re with HER,” She burst into tears at this point. I could taste the venom when she spat out the word HER. Her? Me, she means. I feel like the other woman, but I’m not the other woman, am I?
“By the way, fucking stop telling people our split was amicable!” She was screaming through her tears now. “You know I kicked you out of the house and you know what for!” She was hiccupping and crying whilst screaming this. He promptly hung up the phone. “Sorry about that, where were we?” He said, going in for another kiss. I turned my face so his lips caught my cheek. “Are you going to explain that?” I asked.
“What?” He was breathing warm air into my ear and it made me feel sick.
“What the fuck is she talking about? You’ve told me one story but she seems to have a very different story, explain that Stephen,”
“Aw fuck off, I can’t be arsed with this,” He threw his hands up in the air and turned the engine back on. I told him he needed to go and see her. At least make sure she’s okay, after all she had the kids. I remember being little and watching my own mother cry over things my father did to her. It fucked me up later in life, I almost thought crying and screaming was part of a normal relationship. It is not. We drove home in silence. As he pulled up to my gate, I took my seatbelt off and tried to leave the car. He grabbed my wrist and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, right babe?” He kissed my hand and let me go. Will he fuck see me tomorrow.
The following day was my big night in for my birthday with a few of the girls. This was the part of lockdown when a few households could meet up indoors before you start jumping the gun! Now, I’m not much of a drinker but I was fully prepared to get absolutely ratarsed and dance around my friend’s living room to Celtic Symphony. I spent more time getting ready for a gaff than I did for two dates with Stephen. I made my way to my friend’s house and Sienna was already there. We had several Dragon Soops each which makes me a one can dan at the best of times. If you don’t know what Dragon Soop is, it’s basically rocket fuel. Gets you drunk rapid, well at least it does for us! As the three of us were getting drinks, smoking and generally talking pish; my phone would not blowing up. It was him of course. “Where are you?”
“Who are you with?”
“Are you drunk yet?”
“Can I come over? Claire answer me right now!” I should say this was a 9:30pm. Very early doors for this kind of patter. Sienna was getting a bit pissed off with the constant messages as well. We sent him several snapchats of us telling him to fuck off which as you can imagine, went down like a lead balloon. He called me and I answered. He was demanding, begging to come over. I put him on loud speaker so the girls could hear. “ Please Claire babe, let me come over pleaseeeee!” Honestly, the desperation was rife. My friend, the one who’s house it was, simply said sure he can come over if he wants. I looked at her with daggers in my eyes. I don’t want him here! Sadly, she said it loud enough for him to hear. He lived half an hour away so at least I’d have 30 minutes to get as drunk as possible to deal with this. I cracked open my third Dragon Soop and barely put it to my lips when the doorbell rang. Surely that’s not him. I opened the door to see him standing there. A full 36 seconds after I hung up the phone. Now, I was 100% intoxicated at this point and it was only the following day when I sobered up I realised how weird and creepy that was. He lived 30 minutes away but yet, he appeared so quickly after he got the green light to come over? Why was that do you think? Clearly he was sitting outside in his car this entire time and I hadn’t noticed. Looking back, during our first drive I did point out my friend’s house. He remembered. He bounced into the gaff with a spring in his step. He took the can of Dragon Soop out of my hand and downed it in one. Sienna handed him a cider and he cracked that open too. “How did you get here?” Sienna asked. She had twigged that he was here super-fast, before I had realised how creepy it was. “Aw, I drove” He replied, downing the cider in one. He drove here and he’s drinking our carry out as if it was free…how the fuck was he getting home? He was all over me. Touching me. I liked it for approximately three minutes before I moved away. After months of hardly any contact then having someone hanging off your tits is a shock to the system. The four of us sat around and drank and talked. The three of them talked for hours about everything. Comparing exes, comparing stretch marks, telling random stories. I sat there in silence. He had drank all my drink within an hour of him appearing out of nowhere and by this point the shops were closed. Dial a drink was a thing of the past since they got busted for not having a license among other things. As I slowly started to sober up, my uncomfortableness started to rise. How the fuck was he getting home? A taxi would cost a small fortune. He obviously can’t drive, he’s consumed more than me at this point. I live around the corner so I was walking home. Oh God, he thinks he’s staying over with me. My heartrate quickened. I don’t want him in my house. I’d have to have sex with him and I’d really rather not do that, with him. Suddenly Sienna’s eyes grow wide and I snap out of my train of thought. “Who’s been in my bag?” She asked with a puzzled look on her face. “Not me,” We all chorus in.
“Someone has, there’s money missing,” She says beginning to rip apart her bag and purse. My friend also looked on her kitchen bunker to see her money was taken too. Two scores worth, 40 quid just vanished into thin air. We all start to tear apart my friend’s living room and kitchen. Everyone gets the torch on their phone and starts pulling out drawers, pulling out the couch, on our hunkers looking under tables. Everyone, apart from him. He sat there, on his arse doing sweet fuck all. Again, I didn’t find this weird until the next day. We spent about an hour raiding the place to no avail. The money was nowhere to be seen. At this point it was 6 o’clock in the morning and it was time to bounce. Sienna jumped in a taxi and away she went, she only lived a mile or so down the road. Stephen looked at me longingly. He walked me home but I stopped at my gate. “Claire, please let me come in,” He was begging me, he was drunker than me.
“For the last fucking time Stephen, naw” I said I was absolutely exhausted and just wanted to get to bed. This begging routine he had went on for a full hour. A full hour we stood outside my gate in the crisp cold September air while we had the same conversation again and again. I don’t want him in the house. Lads, see if a girl says no the first time please just accept it because I’d told Stephen no about a thousand times that night and he couldn’t get it through his thick skull. “Claire, I love you so much more than I ever loved my ex,” He said. He kept saying he loved me over and over again and usually you’d love to hear that you’re loved but I felt uneasy. He was looking at me with tears in his eyes, I think he wanted me to say it back.
“I…um…love you too?” I said. I ended my sentence in more of a question than a statement because it was question. Am I only saying that because he said I love you first? Probably. At 7am he finally decided to give it a bye and leave me to go in the house. He walked back to his car and slept off the alcohol until it was safe enough to drive. I had the absolute worst fear of my life when I woke up from my restless slumber. I’m in deep shit now.
At 2pm, I got a phone call. It was him of course. “I’m outside your house,” I froze. Why the fuck was he here? “I wanted to see you before I went to work,” He said, he was working the late shift in the lab that day. This was the first time in our three week relationship/whatever the fuck this was that I actually felt scared. My blood ran cold. If you are still doing the drinking game, go ahead and take a big swig because this is a big red flag. Appearing out of nowhere and expecting someone to come out and see you is fucking weird. I can almost hear some people play the romance card here, claim he’s being romantic by surprising me with a visit. It’s only romantic if you want to actually see the person I’m afraid. I refused to go outside. Instead I opened the window in my bed wide and hung my head out of it. This is like a really shite Romeo and Juliet. If Juliet couldn’t be arsed with Romeo’s pish. He was begging me again to come see him or let him come in the house. He had an obsessed with getting into my house and it was creeping me out big time. I spoke (Well, screamed out the window) to him for a full hour before he got the hint and fucked off. Even when I closed the window I kept one eye on his car to make sure he left my street and didn’t do a U turn to sit at my gate again. Why am I getting stalker vibes? After the ordeal of him turning up out of the blue uninvited (Adele made it sound lovely but honestly? It’s shite, don’t do it to anyone) I got another call from Sienna.
“Claire hen, I don’t like Stephen. I got a really bad vibe from him last night and clearly it was him who stole that money from me and your pal,” This was obvious. Us three girls physically searched each other. I put my hands in Sienna’s pockets and she put hers in mine. Just to proof to each other it wasn’t us. Only person we didn’t search, was him.
“Look if you want to continue seeing Stephen, go ahead. Just so you know, I won’t be around when he’s there. Never again,” Sienna said with absolution. This was it for me. This was the sign to get out. If your friends don’t get along with your boyfriend, what’s the point? I value my friendships far too much to lose them for a man who’s probably not going to be loyal. I done that once when I was nineteen and I will never make that mistake again. Sienna made it very clear to not dump him over what she had said and I didn’t. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If we review his behaviour up until now: he lovebombed me in the beginning, gaslit me in order to get what he wanted from me, kept his children a secret from me, stole money from my two of my friends on the first night meeting them and clearly he lied to me about the way him and his ex broke up. It’s time to end this. Once and for all.
On Sunday 20th September, I ended things with Stephen. I pussied out and dumped him via phone call. I thought about asking him to take me on a drive but the thought floated into my head that he could simply lock the car doors and run away with me. I have NEVER had that thought before. I’ve been on a good few Tinder dates in the past and I have never genuinely feared for my safety. Until now. My thought was if I ended this in person, he would not let me go. After he ended his shift at the lab and went home, I called him for our nightly chat. I told him that this was it and I’m no longer interested in a relationship. Was I even interested to begin with? Maybe for a minute or two. He cried and screamed then cried a bit more. I put him on loud speaker and let him wail away while I barely listened. Until he said this: “YOU WILL NEVER EVER FIND SOMEONE WHO LOVES YOU AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOU, CLAIRE. MARK MY WORDS, I’M THE BEST YOU’LL EVER HAVE,” Jesus Christ man. Really? Now this is a direct quote. I did not make this shite up, he genuinely said those exact words because it put the fear of God into me. How abusive was Stephen to his ex over nine years if he’s doing this to me after three weeks? My heart went out to her, she must’ve put up with hell with that man.
Over the next few days, we barely spoke. I was glad because I was using my annual leave for things I had to do around the house and get my shit in order. I got the peace I was searching for. On Wednesday 23rd September he called me upset that his ex had a new boyfriend. He was a good looking guy he said, a bodybuilder. Clearly he was feeling insecure. Did I care? In all honesty? No. I listened to him whinge and moan about how she’s this and she’s that. He did a full 180 degree turn from being all nice about his ex to slating her and I did not like it one bit. What was he saying about me? He told me that he told his ex we split up and she didn’t care anymore. Of course she didn’t, she moved on rapid as well. The whole situation is very high school. Sorry kids, I’m kicking the arse off 30. I cannot be arsed with this pathetic shite. After we hung up the phone, I thought that was the last of it. Of course it wasn’t, wait until you fucking hear this…
On the morning of Thursday 24th September, I had put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB throughout the night because one of my colleagues had a habit of messaging the group chat at 6am when my alarm didn’t go off until 7am. When my alarm did go off, I checked my phone like I do the morning newspaper. There was several missed calls from Stephen and a few messages. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and sat up to read them.
“I’m sorry about everything,” One said, sent at 2:30am
“Please forget about me,” Another said, sent at 3am
“Sorry. Goodbye,” The last message was sent at 4:36am.
Once again my blood ran cold. Has he done what I think he’s done? I call him, no answer. He hasn’t been active on messenger since he sent that last message. My heartrate quickens and I jump into action. I call and call and call. No answer. Fuck me, he’s actually killed himself. Is this because I dumped him? Tears fill my eyes as I keep calling. Finally he responses to one of my messages.
“It all got too much for me but I shitebagged it and phoned an ambulance,” He said. He sent a photo of himself lying in a hospital bed with a mask on and a gown. Fuck, he is serious. I need to get myself ready for work but my mind is blown, my hands are shaking I can barely do the button on my jeans. I didn’t want Stephen as boyfriend but I didn’t want him fucking dead. The thoughts were racing in my mind. How did he do it? Why did he do it? Will I be blamed for this? Are his ex and children okay? Will they come for me because of this? He had stopped replying but as he was messaging and sending photos I knew he was okay, at least. Before I left for work I told my mum about these recent developments. My mother is old school. Unless your leg is falling off, don’t be missing work. “Hen, if you need to come home from work, do it.” She said. She must’ve seen the shock and hurt in my eyes as I left. Suicide is rife in my family. We’ve lost five family members to suicide over the years and it’s a taboo subject in my household. No one talks about it. It’s too painful for us. Even when I attempted suicide in 2017 and was very nearly successful if I hadn’t been saved at the buzzer, we never speak about it. That was just a blip that happened. As I got into my car to go to work, I broke down. How the fuck can I do an eight hour shift when he’s going through that? I pulled into the car park and all the usual suspects were in the smoking shelter. Majority of us smoke quite a lot before our shift begins, it’s a long time until lunch. When I see my colleagues who I’ve been telling this saga to as it’s progressed, can see how broken I am. My colleague who absolutely hates anyone touching him even for a handshake, lets me cry onto his shoulder. His shirt became soaked with my tears, he told me to forget about it and cry as much as I need. Everyone is in agreement that I need to tell management about this, I can barely function. As I make my way up to my office I pull two of the managers into a meeting room and tell them everything. It’s embarrassing to say the least, to have to spill your so called love life on the board room table. All the managers were in agreement that I should call the police. I agreed. I was scared out of my mind. What if his ex, his mum, his siblings came to my door and knocked fuck out of me? Am I the cause of this? He made an attempt on his life literally four days after I dumped him, what else am I supposed to think? I am also advised to block him. Blocking him I wasn’t sure about in that moment. I felt like I was abandoning him in his time of need. At that moment he sent me a message telling me he’d taken 50 odd paracetamol to kill himself. This is when yet another red flag pops up. He is a literal scientist and he used paracetamol? Everyone KNOWS that using paracetamol to kill yourself is one of the worst ways to go. It takes hours for a start, about eight hours all depending on how many tablets you took but regardless, it’s a slow death. It’s also extremely painful as it rips your stomach lining apart. If you survive, chances are you’ll have a major ulcer on your stomach lining and probably life long gastric problems. Now, when I tried to kill myself I used proper drugs. I won’t indulge which drugs I used here but it was a hell of a lot stronger than fucking paracetamol. The difference was, I wanted to die. I wanted to go, I felt like that was my time. His attempt screamed attention grab to me. Obviously it was a cry for help but clearly he never actually meant to kill himself. This was clearly for attention. Everyone else in the room agreed. I bit the bullet and blocked him on all socials, I also blocked his family and ex. I called the police from the board room and they advised that I done the right thing by calling and they had placed a black marker on my address so if I dialled 999 and stated my address they’d come quickly. A domestic abuse marker it’s called. Domestic abuse. He never hit me. His abuse was manipulation and gaslighting. My manager gave me an extra two days annual leave for the stress of it all, approved by the operations manager. I was grateful for the time off, I needed time to process this.
When I went home, I called several of my friends to help me get through this. Sienna played a big role in getting me through everything. She kept reminding me that I cannot blame myself for this, clearly he’s unhinged. Everyone said the same thing. He’s unhinged. I kept wondering in the back of my mind, is he okay? He’s in the hospital by himself since due to COVID they don’t allow visitors. What if he tries again and I’m not there? That’s when I remind myself I technically wasn’t there for the first attempt as I was sound asleep. I tried to block him out of my mind like I did on my phone. I kept myself busy. He tried to kill himself on the Thursday. By the Sunday, he had found a way to message me. I was in so much of a rush to block him and his family on all socials that I had forgotten one. Whatsapp. We never used Whataspp so it never even entered my mind to block him on it. “Can we talk?” His message said. No Stephen, no we cannot. Now, I bet you think that this story is coming to close? Buckle up buttercup because it’s about to get a whole lot worse…
On the 1st of October, I got a letter through the post. Now, usually I barely pay attention to my letters. It usually bills or Very telling me about a promo code. This letter was handwritten. It was his handwriting. I opened it up and went to my bedroom to read. This letter was absolutely horrific. He began by saying that he was tasked with writing letters to everyone who meant something to him as his last letter was obviously not positive. A reference to his suicide note. He then went on to say that this was not my fault. He’d been depressed for a long time and his attempt was a long time coming. I hadn’t to blame myself for this, I was the last thing on his mind. This I didn’t believe because he was messaging me at 3 and 4 in the morning if I was the last thing on his mind, why bother to send a message at all? He said he was very disappointed to see I’d blocked him. He was disappointed that I wasn’t their for him. Now, this their isn’t a spelling error on my part. Throughout the entirety of his letter he used the wrong their. His spelling was horrific, I could barely read the letter, his handwriting was so bad. You’d think if you were writing a letter to a fucking writer you’d use proper grammar and spelling but that’s neither here nor there. During the letter he made suicide jokes. Haha very funny. I broke my heart crying thinking I’d be the cause of someone feeling so low and he sits there and makes jokes about it? Naw mate. He then made sexual references and how he was gutted that we probably aren’t going to fuck now. We weren’t going to fuck, ever. After reading this letter I was incensed with rage. Honestly. How fucking dare he send me that letter. During my recovery and many years of trauma therapy I was asked to write letters to people who meant a lot to me. I did. I never had the fucking brass neck to put a fucking stamp on it and send it to them! How many other letters did he send? Does everyone else feel as angry as me? I’d imagine they would.
Weeks go by and I get the odd “Hey, how are you?” texts from random numbers which get blocked immediately. I got maybe three or four of these mystery texts from unknown numbers, different numbers each time. I have zero proof that it was him but who else could it be? Weeks turn into months. My memory of him slowly fades. He becomes almost an inside joke to my friends and I, he’s known to us as the thief. Anytime we have a conversation about getting a drink together someone says, “AT LEAST NO ONE WILL STEAL ANY CASH!” Again, we still don’t have full proof that it was Stephen who stole the money but honestly, get real. Clearly it was him. My friend turned her house upside down for days after that incident and still didn’t find the money. Hey, at least he got the money back for the birthday presents he got me. My flowers eventually arrived and they were horrible. Not worth whatever he paid for them. It was a lovely thought at the time and don’t get me wrong I appreciated the gesture to make my birthday special but in the cold light of day, after his attempt. I couldn’t look at the flowers any longer. I put the flowers on my grave of my uncle, whom I lost to suicide in 2006. After a while, I decided to start posting on Instagram again and make my profile public once more. Surely his ex and her pals have forgotten about me by now?
In mid- December, I decided to take a look at my old Facebook account. I keep it deactivated for embarrassment purposes, I hadn’t posted anything on that page since 2013 and I was keeping it that way. I didn’t permanently delete the account for a few reasons. It had many photos on there from high school and my teenage years, sometimes it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane. Another reason was for stalking purposes. Doesn’t everyone have a fake account or a finnista they use for this purpose? Naw? Just me? Cool. When I block folk from my main account I keep them active on my old account, just so I can check up on folk if the mood ever takes me. The mood rarely takes me these days because I’ve learned the life long female lesson of “Don’t go looking for things that’ll piss you off,” But ladies, we still do it though right? So, I decided to activate my old Facebook and look up Stephen. I was in for a big ol’ surprise. He was in a new relationship with a random blonde…since September. Let me give you a very quick run down of the dates just in case you hadn’t been keeping track:
28/8/2020 – First conversation via Tinder.
13/9/2020 – First meeting.
14/9/2020 – My birthday.
18/9/2020 – Second meeting.
19/9/2020 – Girls night in that he ultimately ruined.
20/9/2020 – I dumped him
24/9/2020 – He made an attempt on his life.
29/9/2020 – IN A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH A GIRL I’VE NEVER SEEN/HEARD ABOUT BEFORE?!
1/10/2020 – Received handwritten letter from him.
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
To say I was shocked was an understatement. Okay, so there’s two options here. Either he was speaking to his current girlfriend this entire time and I’ve been strung along like a spare prick OR did he realise I’d blocked him and he immediately hopped back on Tinder and found some poor, unsuspecting girl? My mind was racing. Why was I angry? Obviously, I don’t want him. It’s not that I don’t want anyone else to have him, I’m afraid for her. I looked on her Facebook. She has children. What if he does the same thing to her as he did to me? Should I tell her? Warn her? His ex could’ve warned me but she didn’t. No. I’m staying out of it. I block her on my socials too, can never be too careful. This is actually pathetic, don’t you think?
A few days after I found out Stephen had a new girlfriend, I got yet another message from a random number. This time it was on Whataspp and I could see from the icon that it was his photo. He sent me a meme we used to laugh about all those months ago. Now I have two choices. Block him or confront him? I chose to confront him. I sent him a very lengthy message about how angry I was about this entire saga. Angry about the manipulation, the gaslighting, the lovebombing, his attempt, the letter, the new girlfriend. He sent a grovelling message back about how he was so sorry about everything and he wanted to start fresh with me as friends. He had broken up with his new girlfriend because he had done the exact same thing to her. Instead this time, he went missing for five hours. Police had to get involved. He drove up to the top of Scotland to kill himself on the beach. What a fucking drama queen. It seems to me, anytime he doesn’t get his way he makes an attempt on his life as a way for sympathy from the girl who trying to get away from him. I’m not buying it. He told me he was feeling low again and wanted someone to talk to, so he tried messaging me. I do feel bad for the guy I have struggled with mental health all my days and sometimes you do need someone to talk to. I gave him Breathing Space’s number. I’m not that person he can count on, I’ve been through enough.
Throughout the festive period, I wished him a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I wished the kids well. I cannot even fathom how those wee kids felt throughout all this, if they even knew what their father was up to. I kept him at arm’s length. I was going through my own struggles, a story for another day perhaps. In January 2021, I received a message that once again made my blood run cold. I work for a food delivery company and our vans are everywhere. The name and logo are a part of the landscape. He sent me a photo of one of my work’s vans. What the fuck? Is this some form of threat? Why send that? It creeped me out. It’s almost an invasion of privacy or something, at least that’s what it felt like. I decided I was done. I blocked him yet again on this number. It’s been over a month now without any contact. No random messages, nothing. Has he finally got the hint? Has this saga finally came to an end? I fucking hope so. There has been two separate occasions when I have been afraid of a man. The man who sexually assaulted me in 2014 and Stephen. I have learned many lessons from this. I will probably never open up to a new guy ever again. The next time I’ll open up will be at my fucking autopsy. I won’t trust so freely again. I will never give my address out to anyone I don’t know again. I will NEVER use a dating app again. Please take this tale as a cautionary one. Always listen to your gut, your gut is never wrong. I had a gut feeling that this guy was bad news but I let myself get lost in it anyways. Keep your wits about you. Stay safe.
Every story has two sides. His side and mine. He could have a completely different version and I’m sure he does, they all do. This is my version. I understand I may not have portrayed myself as the best but I wasn’t. I’m not. I made big mistakes during this experience, mistakes I won’t ever make again. I also want to say that I understand people may be upset at the fact I have suggested his attempt was not genuine. This is my personal opinion and I’m sticking to it regardless. Please, if you do have serious thoughts about harming yourself, get help. If you feel like you are in a domestic abuse situation, again try and get help. Suicide is never the answer. It only shifts the pain from you onto your loved ones, help is always readily available.
Please use the below resources if required:
Breathing Space Scotland – a safe space to talk – 0800 83 85 87
Domestic Abuse Hepline – 0808 802 333
Samartians – 116 123
Your local GP will know of a local suicide crisis centre if you require urgent help.
Police are also trained in mental health welfare, call 999 for emergencies in the UK.