Why I Can’t Talk About The Older Man I Dated At 18
It’s OK if you’re not ready to talk about it too
“I know, I look older,” I said.
“You look 18 to me,” he said.
It was the first alarm bell I ignored. I quickly fell into the role of the doting lover, and became an expert in seeking excuses. I’d even find light-hearted reasons for the bruises on the private parts of my body and convince myself he didn’t mean it, that this was all still a version of the messy, complicated, painful love that always ended in two lovers finally coming together in a passionate kiss in the rain, just like in movies. I stroked my bruises and told myself that one day he would love me the way I wanted him to — I just had to try harder.
He was 43 years old. I was 18.
I feel a deep sadness when I see myself at 18, staring up at him with puppy dog eyes, not realizing that he was telling me he had a girlfriend, that I had fallen for an expertly re-worded version of the following: “My wife doesn’t understand me” and “I’m leaving her for you, I promise!”
I remember how much he loved himself, how he bragged about his big ego and believed that to have too much self-confidence was better than none at all: things I now know are the trademarks of a narcissist. As I write my story, I feel like I’m making a confession as my typing fingers cannot move fast enough, wanting to tell you everything before I change my mind. This is in the hope that helping someone reading this removes some of the shame I still feel 11 years later, a shame that stops me from saying all of these things out loud.
I was just a kid, and I had fallen in love. And I was so desperate to be loved that I didn’t see the most obvious signs of danger: I was falling into the arms of a sexual predator.
Sexual predators are often extremely difficult to spot because they will convincingly appear as loving and caring partners during the grooming process. This will then develop into manipulative and abusive behaviors such as gaslighting, love-bombing, or insults masqueraded as jokes, and all will be presented as if their behavior is completely normal. The reason I never spotted such blatant signs of narcissism and predatory behavior was that I desperately…