Whenever I am in a space, whether real or virtual, and the talk of terrible exes come up, I invariably remember that time I dated this really pretty babe who constantly put me down, having more bad things to say about me than good.

If only I could have broken away from her with the same speed which memories of that terrible relationship comes to my mind in these situations, maybe there wouldn’t be this much sour memories to discard.

Sadly, as with almost all bad relationships, I stayed too long, hoping for change, hoping I could hang on and cope with her till that desired change happened. But again, as everyone who has held on to bad partners for too long knows, that change hardly ever happens. In my case, the only things I took from that period were lessons. Tough lessons that showed me all the things a good partner would never say to someone they claim to love, no matter how angry they were.

Unhappy man cowering in the face of his partner's angry look [Credit: Martha Stewart Weddings] Unhappy man cowering in the face of his partner's angry look [Credit: Martha Stewart Weddings]

It became more obvious to me how important it is to have a partner who knows what to say and refrain from saying when their significant other was doing great at something. Most importantly than every other thing, that was my session of learning how awful it always feels to have a partner who reacted unintelligently to their partners insecurities, secrets and worst fears shared in trust.

Admittedly we were both younger at the time, and maybe she did not know better. Maybe if she did, she would have done better. Really, I think a lot of that period and I try to make all of these excuses for her but then again, when I think about all the forms of hurt her words created, the excuse of young age fades away.

We were both 22 after all, nearing our final year in Uni, both old and wise enough to know what instant connection looked and felt like [we actually bonded from our very first conversation]. If someone was old enough to know that, then it’s probably not so wrong to expect them to have a little emotional intelligence to know, at least, that when people are happy they should be left alone to enjoy their happiness instead of trying to dampen it.

One would expect that every reasonable person would know that if you can’t join someone in celebrating something they consider a success, the next best thing would be to leave them be, instead of downplaying the importance of their personal achievements. If my girlfriend knew any of these, there weren’t traces of that knowledge in all the time we dated for.

Imagine dating someone who has no qualms saying things intentionallly designed to hurt you [Credit Black Excellence] Imagine dating someone who has no qualms saying things intentionallly designed to hurt you [Credit Black Excellence]

How does one explain raving to one’s girlfriend about something they love doing and enjoy so much, only to be told how stupid the thing was, and how it was only “boring people” who found pleasure in such thing?

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I remember retaking a course that bothered me so much as I had a lot of difficulties with it. After stretching myself and giving it my all, I aced it, getting an ‘A’ on my second attempt. I was so elated to give her the news and because she wasn’t picking my calls, I called her repeatedly before giving up with an intention to retry at a later time.

When she returned my call few hours later and I excitedly told her what had happened, her response was cold, her words were colder. She basically just reminded me that I had no reason to be 'that' excited because I took the course more than twice before passing it.

She didn't care how hurtful her words were, or how much pain it possibly caused me. [Credit: All This]
All This
She didn't care how hurtful her words were, or how much pain it possibly caused me. [Credit: All This]

Not only was that comment insensitive to the embarrassment and disappointment I already was already personally struggling with for failing the course the first time, it was, worse, discrediting the effort and work I applied so as not to just pass the course that second time, but actually ace it with a score of over 80.

And these weren’t isolated cases; there was the constant [un]intentional rubbishing of things I enjoyed and found pleasure in doing; she had shitty things to say about my friends, even though they all treated her with nothing but respect even behind her back.

I also remember telling me that like my taste in music, my choice of friends was trash [I still love folk music and orchestra sounds a lot]. Hell, this babe could not even compliment me without adding some extra comment to take away the

I used to speak to this babe of a desire to travel and see the world at some point in the future and she always looked for a way to make that sound like an idea only losers contemplated. I could go on and on but what’s more important than all the trash I put up with, is the fact that at some point, I realized that that negative energy was too toxic to bear, and that I deserved better.

It is important to have a partner who builds your worth with their words . [Credit: Theminecraftserver] It is important to have a partner who builds your worth with their words . [Credit: Theminecraftserver]

It’s been over five years since I broke up with her [I got called a pu**y for my effort] and though my next relationship did not work, it was not for a lack of positivity on my next girlfriend’s part.

She was as emotionally supportive as a partner should be, we supported each other’s dreams and respected each other’s choices. There was, of course, ribbing and good humour and moments of differences, as all couples would go through, but none of those was done in a way that constantly made any of us feel less than a person, neither was any ego regularly mashed into the mud. It was a healthy exchange of words that built more than tore any of us down.

They always say that you do not know what the light meant if you haven’t been in the dark and it’s true. Every time I remember that I once dated a babe who was relentless in putting me down, I’m reminded of the importance of having a partner who builds your worth with their words and make you feel treasured, important, loved, respected and valued.

Knowing what I know now, would I spend as little as one month in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know what words of affirmation means or how to even use them?

Not in this life, not in the one to come.