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| by The Fustany Team

Online Dating Stories: A Game of Push and Pull

Hello everyone, I hesitated a lot about sending my story to the Fustany Team to share with you. You'll find out why after reading it... if you actually do read it, that is. Before I start, I want to put a trigger warning that this story has sensitive material if you are easily triggered.

I'm someone who experienced relationships from a very young age because of how eager and curious I am. Because of my immaturity and lack of any guidance it never ended well. You see, I grew up in a very strict family who frown upon their daughter having male friends even as a child. They were protective to a controlling extent, which made me always lie to them and pretend to be their perfect daughter but do everything I wanted behind their backs. I think looking for relationships and love might have also been an act of rebellion too, not just curiosity.

At first, it was a bit harmless but then around my late teens and early twenties I got myself into one toxic relation after the other. They would mistreat me, emotionally manipulate me, sometimes call me names when we're fighting and one of them even went as far as to hit me. I'd always excuse their behavior saying things like "He's not emotionally manipulating me; I just care too much to make him sad or disappointed" or "I angered him too much to insult me" or "I curse at my parents too so why won't he?" even when that guy hit me I told myself "He didn't mean it and said he won't do it again."

Why am I telling you all of this? Because after so much abuse, I became someone who doesn't take relationships seriously. I started using the online dating apps and treating every date as just a fun time. That doesn't mean I didn't go on second or third dates, I was just never serious for me. I wouldn't allow guys to get too close to me anymore, so I'd just be my loud, hilarious and friendly self around them, but they never see my vulnerable side or my insecurities.

I knew I was emotionally and mentally messed up, so I started on and off therapy maybe 2 years ago. I would commit for a few months, then feel like I got better so I stop going, only to find myself deteriorating again. In the meantime I never stopped my casual online dating cycle. It was sort of an addiction at this point. Get the excitement of someone being intrigued by you and feel wanted but disappear before that initial thrill fades away.

Fast forward to last year, when I was doing my daily dating app browsing, I matched with a guy, I'll call him Youssef, and we start talking. As always I'm flirty, funny and playful. He likes it and I get my dose of excitement, then I start pulling away like I usually do. Around then the Corona Virus was hitting hard and I wasn't able to do much other than stay at home with my elderly father. So, when Youssef messages me again after I've ignored him for the past month, I find myself replying because I have nothing better to do. May be it was the way he didn't give up on contacting me or the way his words just sound so... kind,

I found myself enjoying our little chats. He even told me he wants to go out on a date but with the lockdown he suggested we do an online date. We prepared the same food, set up a table in our rooms and started a zoom call as if we're sitting together having dinner. After that dinner date, I honestly freaked out. I felt I was getting attached and I can NOT allow this to happen again no matter what.

I started ghosting him again, and after 3 weeks he sent me: "Hey, I know you don't want to talk to me, but I just wanted to make sure you're healthy and just ignoring me, not sick or caught the rona or something."

Then another message: "It's just that I've been hearing of so many people who got it and got worried that you might have too."

And finally: "I felt like you enjoyed our zoom date as much as I did, that the only logical reason is that you might be sick, and that's why you never replied to any of my messages. Anyway I won't bother you again."

To be honest, I really missed him. He seemed genuinely concerned. Next thing I know, I find myself sending him a message saying I'm perfectly fine, he didn't do anything and that I really did enjoy the date but I'm not interested in a relationship. That I wanted to pull back so he doesn't get the wrong idea or think that we're on the same page. I wanted him to know that I really am the problem here not him. But I didn't want to use those cliché words since we all know they don't mean anything.

He replied almost instantly like he was waiting for my message saying that he's relieved that I'm healthy and that he'll respect my decision.

I thought that would be the end of our conversations, but every once in a while I miss him so much, so I contact him again. Tell him I miss him, we talk for a bit, video call or have other zoom dates, then disappear on him again. I couldn't help it. He was such a huge contrast from the guys I've been with before but I still couldn't get past the hurt and pain and anxiety I felt whenever we get a step closer. So, I panic and leave again.

I talked about this with my therapist, he told me that this is normal to feel like this because I was never properly treated from my past traumas since I always stopped medication and sessions mid way through. So I started medication again and tried to be as consistent as I can when it came to the sessions.

As always, when I felt like I was getting better and improving I reached out to Youssef again. After a few hours, he hadn't replied... That's a first... He usually gets back to me within 10 minutes, 15 minutes max! I wait the whole day and still no word from him. The next day I send him again, asking if he was okay and that I miss him a lot... still nothing. That's when I start panicking. I knew I never treated him right, and that he won't tolerate my push and pull for too long. I actually deserved it this time. Not like all the past times when I made excuses for the guys I were with, this time he has every right to block me out completely.

I continued my therapy sessions and meds and went right back to my casual online dating addiction. Only this time it wasn't as fun s it used to be. It didn't give me the satisfaction or excitement I craved.

I decided to give myself one last chance with Youssef, so I opened our chat window, my hands are shaking, my heart is pumping loudly in my ears and I send him a small "Hi... I'm sorry". He reads it but doesn't reply. Then I send a very long voice note, it is better that he hears my voice, maybe I can show him a fraction of the sincerity he showed me all those times before. I explain that I know I've hurt him a lot. That I don't deserve to be forgiven, at least until I can show that I've changed. I told him that I come with a lot of baggage and trauma but that I'm taking meds and therapy and am getting better. I won't give up on myself because his kindness showed me that not all guys are the same. That I wish he could give me a second (more like 5th) chance but completely understand if he doesn't want anything to do with me again. Then end it with "I really, truly am so sorry".

He hears it, my anxiety is spiking so high, I wait for any reply... but nothing. He goes offline.

That's it... I did my best and there is nothing else I can do.

Two hours later, my phone rings, and I'm so sad I don't even want to look who it is, but I also want it to stop ringing so loud. So reach out to silence it, and I see the words "Youssef ;)"

Instantly I answer, and the first words he says are "Do you really mean it?" "YES, all of it" and he chuckles. He tells me that this will be that last time he ever gives me a chance and I tell him I'll never disappear on him again like that again.

We have very long talks about my issues and insecurities. He's very supportive of me seeking treatment and sometimes drives me to the therapist when there's no lockdown.

We're still dating till now, taking it slow, building our trust in each other and really getting to know ourselves and who we are as individuals together. Do you think we'll last?

Main Image Credits: Instagram @thechanelsimone

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Tags: Couples  Arab relationships  Relationships  Relationships 101  Online dating  Dating