Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
I used to describe him to my friends as, “he’s such a sweetheart.” And he really was.
From the time we had started dating, Martin had proven to be the most romantic man I had ever met. He would plan out dates, pick me up, bring me flowers each time; he would make sure all our relationship milestones (the day we said ‘I love you,’ our one-month anniversary, etc.) were a huge deal, to show me just how special I was to him.
He would spend hours drawing me, since he had a creative side. He’d constantly make sure I knew how he felt about me; he was always upfront about how he felt, something not common with most men, in my experience.
We’d been dating for almost two to three months by then, but we weren’t official just yet. Martin wanted it to be special, when he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. That’s how romantic he was.
He gave me butterflies. I liked him, even though we both knew this would never be a permanent relationship, since he was Hindu and I, Muslim. We weren’t compatible in most ways so I had always been fine with not officially dating – he was the one who initiated every single step in our relationship.
The day after Martin asked me to be his girlfriend, he changed
We weren’t meeting up as often anymore, he wasn’t texting me as much, he kept getting frustrated when I texted him.
Two weeks later, he asked for space, and I gave it to him, confused as I was. Two days after that, he told me he cheated on me with an ‘old friend’ who was visiting from the UK during that summer. Her name was Sabina.
I decided to forgive him, after him begging me to – after all, everyone makes mistakes…right?
However, for the next month, I stayed more alert, but kept quiet. His stories varied often.
He had also made the mistake of telling me Sabina’s full name, so obviously, upon Googling her and finding her socials, I would check on her public Twitter profile every other day.
She would post pictures of them sometimes, with cute captions – captions which sounded like a lot more than just ‘friends.’
Even when I would be spending time with him, her texts would come in often, and he would just ignore them. He would do the same with my texts if he was spending time with her.
I kept trusting him, until the day of my birthday when I decided that I’d had enough. As much as I liked him, it was too stressful for me to constantly be worrying about the other girl and feeling jealous of her.
On the eve of my birthday, I was out with him playing Pokémon Go, driving around in his car.
She called him that night and he shush-ed me while he spoke to her and reassured her that he wasn’t with me, that he was playing Pokémon Go alone. I could hear that she was mad at him.
Fifteen minutes later, the clock struck 12 and my ex-boyfriend called to wish me a happy birthday.
Martin had forgotten my birthday, apparently. He wished me then, and asked me to keep lunchtime free – he wanted to take me out.
That was when I decided that for my birthday, I would give myself a present
I’d finally break things off with him completely. I deserved better than this.
Towards the end of my birthday, I was in his room, and I told him I won’t ever be seeing him again. He got angry; he asked me why, and I told him he knows why.
It surprised me that he still refused to admit anything, that he didn’t even bother to sit me down and talk it out with me. Instead, he told me to leave his place, slamming the door behind me as I flinched.
I was upset – a large part of my life had revolved around him for the last few months, and, obviously, as with any breakup, this hurt. But I was proud of myself as well for choosing to respect myself and end things with him.
I reached home and messaged Sabina on Twitter
That message turned into an hour long phone call, which turned into meeting up within the next hour to watch the sunrise together.
Unexpectedly, meeting her didn’t feel awkward at all. It felt surprisingly empowering, talking to another woman about how badly the same man had treated the both of you. We talked everything out, exchanged phones and read each of our messages with him.
The truth, however, did horrify me.
They had both been dating for the past two months.
It started from the day after he asked me to be his girlfriend.
Martin had told her that I was an old client of his (since he was a freelance personal trainer) who was bored, crazy and obsessed with him. She was shocked to find out that I was actually his girlfriend.
I was shocked to find out they had, in fact, met on Tinder – while he had been dating me. He had initially made deleting Tinder off his phone a big deal, sat me down next to him and watched him as he deleted it off his phone.
Swapping stories with each other made us both sick to our stomachs.
He had taken us both out on the exact same dates and taken similar steps with both of us. Shown us both the apartment he had stayed in as a child; given us both the exact same bracelets; alternated both of us every other night.
What hurt the most was finding out that he had kept me – his girlfriend – on the down low. It had been Raya season at the time, and he had attended open houses at her and her friends’ places. He also had taken her to his friends’ open houses.
It infuriated me that he had started dating her right after he asked me to be his girlfriend – why waste my time, energy and effort, then?
This was a lot to take in within a span of five hours. So we both decided to head home and get some rest – but the adrenaline pumping in both of us didn’t let us. Three hours later, she texted to see if I was still awake and called me over to hang at her friend’s place.
I went over, we talked and plotted
We were angry instead of just shocked, now. We had both blocked him off everywhere by then. However, he had sent me a very long, heartfelt email. I’d expected it – I knew and had experienced his anger issues.
This would usually include him getting annoyed over something very minor he couldn’t control, taking his frustration out on me with abusive language. Then, like clockwork, I’d receive dozens of apologies and I love yous a few hours later, once he’d calmed down.
In this email, he had asked me to meet up one final time at a certain location.
Our plan? That yes, I meet him, hear him out. If he still isn’t honest with me – Sabina will be waiting in my car, hidden in the backseat under a huge pillow, to confront him.
While our plan may have been a tad melodramatic, we both knew that he would never consent to sitting down with and talking to the two of us together. To hold himself accountable and own up to his vile treatment and apologise – like any mature adult would.
We just wanted the truth – the whole truth – straight from his mouth.
That night, he did exactly what we’d expected
I met her at a carpark before we confronted him – she got in and hid in the backseat of my car under a large pillow
He still refused to be completely truthful to me, so I asked him to get in my car and we’d go to McDonalds to pick up ice-cream.
During the drive, he continued complaining to me about how I had been stressing him out; how he couldn’t concentrate on work earlier that day and it almost led to him being fired. All lies, to gain sympathy. Guilt tripping, manipulation – whatever you want to call it.
His audacity at attempting to blame me for him dating a whole other person behind my back made me say, “Come out, Sabina!”
And she did.
“Hey Martin, how’s it going,” she said, pushing the pillows off her.
He turned to look at her, then at me and started laughing
“This is amazing! The two of you, who’d have thought.”
Sabina and I just glared at him as he continued to laugh it off. It was clear that he was unable to process what was really going on, that I – the docile girlfriend – could plan an ambush like this.
Once his laughter died down, we began speaking, Sabina saying,
“How dare you call her crazy and obsessed with you when she was actually your girlfriend all along? She’s really cool, how dare you do her and me like this? Where do you get off?”
The next thing I knew, he had grabbed the steering wheel from me and jerked it towards the left side, almost hitting the railing. Thankfully, I managed to brake and stopped my car on the side of the highway, multiple cars honking at me as I was now blocking the left exit.
“You both need to grow up, I’m calling the police on you,” he said, slamming the door behind him and getting out in the middle of the highway.
Angry as I was, I knew his phone was on 2%, so I told him to get in the car and I’ll drop him back to his car.
“F*ck off,” he yelled back.
Sabina told me to just drive, so I did.
Flustered and amused at his reaction, we spoke about it on the drive back. We hugged and I dropped her off at her car.
I knew I shouldn’t have, but I drove back to where he’d gotten off on the highway and sent him a text, that I was here waiting in case he needed a ride back to his car.
Five minutes later, I saw a car speeding towards me in the rearview mirror and braced for impact, thinking he would ram into my car – that’s how bad his anger issues were. Instead, he stopped the car an inch behind mine, got out, and came to my window.
He was silent as he cleaned his glasses, then said, “If you were a man, I’d punch you so hard right now I’d break your nose.”
He walked back to his car, then, got in, reared the engine and kept his hand on the horn as he drove past me, middle finger in the air.
Gathering myself, since I was still parked on the side of the highway, I began driving back home slowly.
He called me, then, screaming at the top of his lungs, “I’m going to end your life in this city. You’ll regret ever knowing me. Be scared!.”
I hung up and blocked him, wiping the tears off my face, now scared of the man who claimed to love and care for me not a day ago. His messages kept pouring in on Facebook, the one platform I’d forgotten to block him on.
Clearly, Martin’s ego knew no bounds.
The next few days were some of the most frightening of my life.
He was constantly emailing me with threats. He had spoken to his lawyer, he said. He was going to proceed with police action. He was going to make the private videos he had of both me and Sabina public, for all the world to see. He was going to ruin us, humiliate us, make us regret ever having the courage to confront him.
Thankfully, they were all empty threats. He was angry, angrier than he’d ever been in his life.
But he couldn’t do anything about it but lay in the bed he had made for himself.
Meanwhile, Sabina and I ended things on good terms; we’re friends now, and we keep in touch from time to time as well.
That was the end of the debacle.
The tale of Martin is one of those stories I tell people when asked about something ‘interesting’ that happened in my lifetime – looking back, it really does seem like something straight out of a CW drama.
Horrible as it was, my experience with him was a wakeup call for me. Before him, I had never realised just how deceptive human beings can be – how they can have a ‘dark side,’ as he called it.
Three years later, I still receive emails from him from time to time. The last I heard of him, he was pulling something similar with his current girlfriend – lying to her, disrespecting her, manipulating her into thinking he was innocent, perfect, that he would never hurt her. But I knew different. I attempted to intervene and reach out to her, for the sake of girls supporting other girls. Instead, she accused me of trying to manipulate the two of them in an attempt to win him back.
That’s where I left it, in the end, pitiful as I was for her.
*names have been changed for anonymity
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