Right before I met my husband, I was in a relationship with a man who was older than me.
I was 37, and he was 52.
Older, but not that much.
Let’s call him Jack.

Jack and I met on a field trip to upstate for a glider ride.
We hit it off and we sat together on the bus back to Manhattan.
I learned that he had a license to fly planes.
Wow, he is a pilot!

The next Sunday, he called me and asked me for a drink that night.
He was calling from wherever he was while he was taking a bike ride with his friend.
Wow, he is an athlete!

He ran in Central Park on Saturday mornings because it was close to his high-rise apartment.
Wow, he lives close to Central Park!

He had many friends to introduce me to. He took me out to new restaurants and bars in Manhattan and paid for everything.
He could be described as a dream boyfriend.

He was 52 years old, and he often mentioned about having his own family.
I met his family for Christmas.

So, why isn’t he my husband?

Red flag No. 1: He smelled alcohol.
On the field trip and our first Sunday date, he smelled alcohol. How much did he drink the night before to smell it the entire following day?

Red Flag No. 2: He talked about his ex from two years prior.
When we were out, he squeezed my hand so tight that I was in pain. When I complained, he said, “Cathy liked it squeezed like that.”
Comparing me to his ex? What am I? A replacement?

Red Flag No. 3: He talked about my weight.
One evening at a bar, he lifted me up. I thought that was a romantic gesture in a way. Then, he said, “You lost weight.”
Judging how much I weigh?

Red Flag No. 4: He left me alone with his friends.
When we met his friends at a bar or restaurant, he left me along with his friends. I was being ignored while he was being the center of their attention.
There is a difference between being ignored and his respecting my independence.

Red Flag No. 5: He made an inappropriate joke about his ex.
His ex came to his apartment to pick up the stuff she left for two years. I purposely went out while she was there. He and I went out afterward and he said, “It took that long because we were having sex.”. I cried in public and he apologized saying that it was a joke.
I can’t tell you how disgusted I feel when I recall this memory.  What a nasty thing to say to a woman who he was seeing!

I have not shared this story with many because it was shameful and embarrassing that I was being treated that way.

I didn’t have a clear boundary.
In other words, I took the entire responsibility for what happened in that relationship, including his ill behavior and personality. I thought that the state of the relationship would change for the better if I was more understanding and caring.
I was so focused on him, I forgot the most important person in that relationship; ME.

I needed to distinguish between my responsibility and his.

My Responsibility No.1:
I just assumed that he wanted to date me thinking about our future together because he was in the 50s and was talking about starting his own family. However, neither of us clarified the status of the relationship.

My Responsibility No. 2: 
I didn’t face the red flags. “If I look the other way, they’d go away.”

My Responsibility No. 3: 
I was the one who was treating me like sh*t by staying with him for 4 months. If I valued myself, I would’ve left him at the moment I saw his true color.

Only thing I can take the responsibility for is my own happiness.

Do you have that relationship so bad, difficult and unhealthy and you want to forget?
I understand that it’s hard to recall what happened, but there are so many lessons behind it.

I am now happily married to a wonderful man, who is NOT Jack!
Let me tell you, ladies, I promise you that the day will come when you say;

“THANK God I didn’t end up with that guy!”

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