She knows the relationship should end but holds on to romantic hope that somehow, he’ll make a turn around and treat her like he used to. She’s seated across from me, a caramel toned lady with chocolate eyes, smooth skin and long black hair flowing over her shoulders. She spots expensive sunglasses, deep red lipstick and perfectly manicured nails. She seems to have it all: a successful career, a remarkable apartment in an upmarket neighborhood and drives a decent car. But behind the sunglasses is a jaded soul, a woman unlucky in love. She swirls a straw in the strawberry milkshake and takes a pensive look at the traffic below, her mind fragmented into a million thoughts. “James, I’m taking a HIV test tomorrow”.
They met 3 years back at a cocktail party graced by a horde of Companies in a swanky Hotel tucked in a quiet serene spot away from the chaotic City. The evening was magical; from the tasteful décor, to the smooth relaxing jazz music that did a splendid job in ushering the weekend mood after a hectic week. The speeches we kept short and thereafter, it was down to exchange of pleasantries, plenty of smiles, handshakes and hugs. He was the ultimate image of machismo, charm, power, intelligence and sex appeal. She was a lady yearning for love and affection; a lady hopeful for a serious commitment that would later lead to marriage and a happily ever after ending. They hit it off immediately and the months that followed were a whirlwind romance. He showered her with gifts, wined and dined her and made her feel like woman again.
But cracks began emerging in sweet paradise. Prince charming started getting edgy over the time she spent at the office and with family and friends. He bashed her for ‘absconding’ her responsibilities and not giving the relationship the attention it deserved. She got a promotion to a managerial level and further fueled the envy that was consuming him. His jealousy for her blossoming career soon gave way to heated verbal exchanges marked by unsavory hurling of words, much to the amusement of the neighbors. The yelling and cursing soon escalated to objects flying and shattering on the walls and floors. The once peaceful home became a war zone, man and woman the combatants. He apologized. She forgave. But old habits die hard. And vicious cycle continued. His roving eye and appetite for anything in a skirt further took the relationship down a dark alley.
She has overwhelming evidence of his sexual escapades with other women and fears for her health. Her friends have tried talking her out of the relationship, but it seems too difficult to disentangle herself from the toxic union. She’s determined to make the relationship work. She prays that he’ll turn over a new leaf. She has invested heavily in the relationship and fails to see her boyfriend as a manipulator and a serial cheater.
She is like a frog in a pot of water, happily wading around and having a superb moment. The burner is then turned to a low setting and the frog continues having a glorious time, oblivious to the rise in the water temperature. Perhaps the warm water isn’t bad after all. The temperature setting is raised so gradually that the frog does not notice until it’s too late. It has spent all its energy splashing around that it cannot leap from the boiling water and ends up as frog soup!
She never paid much attention to the glaring red flags . They are just the normal ups and downs of a relationship, she thought. Unbeknownst to her the temperature was gradually rising and finally boiled over to violence leaving her not only physically wounded but emotionally and psychologically drained.
Are you spending less time with your family and friends since you started seeing him? Does he make you feel like you are always on the wrong and must apologize thereafter? Does he make you feel inadequate and downplay your achievements? Is physical confrontation his preferred method of conflict resolution? Are his words a constant blow to your self-esteem? Are you unable to leave despite all the above? You have become frog soup!