Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Let's Talk About... BOYS!!!

A couple of weeks ago now I put up a little poll on my Instagram account (@thetanyatales_) asking if you guys wanted to hear me talk about my relationships with boys or with siblings next. Surprise, surprise, you all voted boys! In all honesty I'd been hoping for a different result. Once I'm finished with a boy, I honestly hate talking about them. But I promised that I would write this, so let's just get straight into it.

First and foremost, I've always known that I liked boys. The first boy I "liked" was when I was in nursery. The second and third boys were somewhere between years one and three. I can't remember now, but I've always been involved with boys and have never looked at a girl in any way more than a friend. I just wanted to clarify that, as I feel like gay people are constantly getting asked how and when they knew they were gay, but people never really ask straight people. I think it works both ways!

So, I suppose, in my life there have only ever been two boys worth talking about as they're the two people I've learnt most of my boy-related lessons from. It was only during secondary school that I started properly noticing boys. Well, one boy in particular...

My first real like. 

The first boy I ever properly liked was a boy I met in secondary school. He's the same boy that was the centre of my falling out with the girl in my friendships post, which I'll link to here. But in that post, I didn't really mention too much about us. I'd say that this is the first and only time in my life that I have seen someone and immediately felt something for them. Which I know sounds so dramatic, but it usually takes a lot more than looks for me to become seriously interested in someone. With this boy it was honestly just different. 

Picture this. School playground, walking arm in arm with your best friend. There are groups of friends all around you, sitting on the wall, sitting on the floor, playing in little groups scattered all around. To your right, there are a group of boys from your year playing football. You look over and notice one boy specifically. Your eyes follow him as he chases the ball and once you've seen him, you just can't un-see him. And you don't, for the rest of your secondary school years. 

Now I know that this sounds like something out of a stupid teenage diary, but that is the best way for it to sound, because that's exactly what it was. That's not to say that I didn't really, really like him because trust me I did. There was not a day that went by that I didn't think about this boy, genuinely. But having said that, I'm sure that most of you can relate. I feel like everybody has that one person that they were really into as a teenager. Being in an environment where you're surrounded by so many young people who are growing up and trying to identify with not only themselves but also the people around them, it's difficult not to get caught up in your emotions. And emotional is the one word that I think sums us up entirely. The situation between us was honestly so complicated, it would take me years and years to explain it all properly, so I will try my best to cut a long story short. 

When we first started talking to each other, it was just friendly. He was the kind of guy in secondary school that claims to like every Hannah, Jessica and Kelly he sees. Like literally, this boy liked every girl I can think of. Yet for some reason, I still only liked him. He was involved with a few girls in my year. You've got to remember though, this was during the early days of secondary school. So when I say involved with, I don't mean anything serious, I just mean the typical liking, flirting, maybe the odd kiss but nothing much beyond that. 

I'm not too sure how and when it all started between us, but the relationship consisted mainly of talking all the time on MSN messenger and later BBM. Do you guys remember those days?! I also remember that after school I would always walk down to his tutor room to say goodbye to him. We'd have a little cuddle for a few minutes and then we'd go home. There was nothing else we did apart from that which is why it's difficult to call him an ex or class this as a relationship. But at the time, to everyone, we were together.

I ended up kissing him on a week long trip to Belgium that I went to in Year 10 I think. We were pretty much inseparable the whole trip and our head of year, who had his eye on me (probably because my sneaky mum would have told him to) told us that if we didn't stop it, he was going to separate us for the whole trip. Obviously there were two girls' rooms and two boys' rooms where we were staying which meant that there was a clear rule not to go into the boys' rooms and vice versa. But was I going to listen to that? No, obviously not! My first proper kiss was with him, when he came into my room one afternoon. It was just the two of us, door closed and it was all very exciting. 

Now you might be wondering what the point of me telling you about all of this is. Well, the physical contact I'm describing is important. As you can see, it was very minimal and nothing beyond a bit of kissing ever happened between us. Some time after the Belgium trip, I discovered that he had been exchanging really inappropriate messages with one of the other girls in my year. Not the same girl in my friendships post (she came later when we weren't actually together), this was a different one. I had a feeling that they were doing something and when I found out that I was right, obviously I dumped him. This was the time of being Facebook official so I just removed him from my profile and assumed that he would know that I knew. It wasn't something I wanted to talk about.

What was worse is the fact that around this time, everybody in my year had started having sex. It wasn't really a big thing for anyone else it seemed, as everyone was doing it. And I suppose everyone expected us to be doing it too because we were "together", but I just didn't want to. I remember that he always used to ask me and I'd always say no. I did feel a little bit pressured but not enough to actually give in. I was happy with things as they were and I didn't want it to go any further yet. I didn't want to be talked about in that way around school, especially at 15. Anyway the reason why I've mentioned all of this, about all the ways that we were and all that ways that we weren't with each other, is because when I found out about these inappropriate exchanges between him and this other girl in my year, it had been justified by someone (I can't remember who) as the result of me having not had sex with him yet. A sort of, "well maybe if you'd slept with him, he wouldn't have had to do that" comment.

This is probably the biggest lesson I learnt from this whole 4 year on and off "relationship". You should never compromise your morals or beliefs just to fit in. I couldn't count the people in my year that were having sex on two hands, let alone one. But it wasn't something that I felt ready to do and so I didn't. I don't ever regret that. This doesn't just apply to teenagers. You might be 25 and waiting until marriage to have sex or maybe you just haven't found the right person yet. I think it's a lot more important to remain true to who you are in life than make a mistake just to fit in with the crowd.

Another lesson I learnt was that boys can be very distracting. After this whole ordeal, we still liked each other. We still always had some chemistry and something going on, but it was never quite the same. I'd heard that he had kissed other girls, had told other girls he liked them and this had been an ongoing thing throughout the whole 4 years we had been involved with each other. I realised that, even though I was young, I was just getting hurt constantly and probably at a time when it hurt me the most because I was so young, vulnerable and not really very strong at all. But none of that was important because I wasn't at school to find boyfriends or to have sex. So from that point onwards, I started focusing more on my education, got myself some amazing GCSEs and then got out of that school. 

The boy after. 

After my secondary school antics, I spent the first year of sixth form not really thinking about boys at all. In all honesty, I still liked the boy from secondary school, but I didn't have to see him anymore and that made it a little bit easier to forget everything that had happened. That and the fact that only 3 other people from my secondary school came to my sixth form.

By year 13, I was bored and started seeing another boy. We went on one date to the cinema and at the end of the film he kissed me. It was absolutely disgusting. The most revolting kiss I've ever experienced in my life. After a while of trying to get into it I pulled away and wiped my mouth because it was so wet from all the disgusting saliva he had been producing. Then I pretended that it had been a good kiss even though in my head I was freaking out about how icky I now felt.

Anyway, I did sort of like this guy but not really. And there was somebody else he liked in my year too. There was nothing special about this boy, the only reason I am mentioning him at all is because something happened with him that has stuck with me up until now. I remember that after this date, he messaged me saying that he had shown his parents a picture of me. It was a nice picture, I was very pleased and when I asked him what his parents had said about me, he said that they said I was really beautiful, but that they didn't want him to carry on dating me because I was black.

Ponder that.

Imagine liking someone and them telling you that their parents have told them to cut things off with you because of your race. I was really shocked. I genuinely couldn't understand how that could be a problem and so that comment did really hurt me. It wasn't heartbreak, it was sort of just shock at the fact that some people can be so incredibly horrible. His parents didn't know anything about me yet they'd ruled me out simply because of the colour of my skin. 

It was a very bitter pill to swallow I must say. Particularly as I'd never really thought about it before. But, another lesson I learned is that if someone has a family that encourages those kind of thoughts, they're probably not somebody you want to be involved with anyway. For him to even repeat that to me I thought was quite strange. We all say things within the confines of our own homes that we wouldn't repeat out in society, yet he did. He just kind of said it and then left it there for me to deal with. If you like someone, you like them, end of. Something like race should never be an issue - not in the sense that someone tells you or you tell yourself that you can't date someone just because they look different to you. The colour of someone's skin is, for me, completely irrelevant to the way I feel about them. 

The university boyfriend. 

After that horrible situation, it seemed to me that my endeavours with Portuguese boys just hadn't really worked out. I had also dated a Portuguese boy shortly after breaking up with my first boyfriend (who was also Portuguese lol) and that hadn't worked out either. Mainly because we had been genuine good friends beforehand and then getting into a relationship with him had sort of freaked me out and ruined everything for me. But on the whole, I had sort of just accepted that it wasn't working with Portuguese boys. Or any boys in general for that matter. 

Until the end of my first year at university, when I met my most recent boyfriend. Again, just like with all these other boys, I was dating on the DL. Even though I was 19 at this point, my mum was still very against me having a boyfriend. It was genuinely not something she ever entertained. She told me that at university, I was to study and that was it. She didn't like me going out (although she accepted that as I wasn't going out and coming back to her house, I could essentially do what I wanted while at uni) and she certainly did not want me going on dates with anyone. 

Well, unfortunately for her, I ended up dating this boy for almost two years. When we first started talking, everything just felt easy. I found that with a lot of boys up until this point, I hadn't really had anything to say to them. But with this boy, he was really easy to talk to and I actually wanted to talk to him. I would stay up late messaging him about my life, he'd tell me about his and the conversation was just naturally going back and forth. 

We went on a couple of dates, had some food, spent hours talking in Wetherspoons one night and then that night, he kissed me. I had kind of been expecting and mentally preparing myself for it considering the fact that the last time I'd kissed someone, it had been utterly horrendous. This kiss was slightly awkward in terms of angle as we were sat in his car, but it was good enough to make me want to do it again, which I felt was quite a good sign! On our third date, I invited him back to my university flat.

I then saw him the next day, again at my flat and more things happened. It was kind of obvious that the chemistry and tension between us was mounting up. However, I'm just not the kind of girl that can do these sorts of things without being in a relationship with someone or at least seeing them (as in, we are going on dates). It really depends on the guy and what sort of feelings I have for them but I can't just be casually sleeping with someone. I really can't. Boys these days will take ten years to get anywhere with you, only to tell you that they don't actually want a relationship with you. And then what, you've given them all of you and got nothing in return? I think it's degrading. A guy should be interested in all of you not just having sex with you when he feels like it. So, I told him that if we were going to carry on like this, he had to be my boyfriend. He then asked me to be his girlfriend. Yes, I made him ask me but sometimes you've just go to do it and it was pretty much happy days from then on. 

Apart from the fact that for 6 months, I was in a secret relationship. I came home during the summer and then I would go back to my second year house, which was empty, just to spend time with him. I told my mum that I wanted to stay there because I still had friends in Canterbury for the summer (which was sort of true) and that I also wanted to stay there because I was paying full rent for the summer months and needed to make the most of it, which was very true. However, if I didn't have a boyfriend, I wouldn't have cared enough to actually stay in the house all summer. 

Next lesson I've learnt, is not to give all of your time to someone who doesn't give it back to you. You see, I only went back during the summer months for him, which he never fully appreciated. He already lived in Kent, so for him, summer was about seeing all of his friends and not just me. I spent a lot of time on my own in the house basically just waiting until the weekend when he would show up. Yes, I really wanted to see him, but that shouldn't have been the only thing I was devoting my time to. Particularly as he was still managing to divide his time fairly well between work, seeing his family, his friends and me. 

Over the months we settled into a routine of seeing each other every weekend, we also talked to each other every single day without fail. I'd met his mum from like the week after he had asked me to be his girlfriend, so I spent a fair amount of time at his house too. It was a very strange situation for me. His mum was very lenient. She would let us stay in his room with the door closed, sleep downstairs on the sofa bed together. These weren't things that I would ever have been allowed to do in my house, hence I was keeping the whole thing a secret from my mum. It's very easy to lead a double life when you're living away from home for university, trust me.

But, I'm sure you can imagine that 6 months later when my mum put two and two together and realised that he was my boyfriend, it wasn't pretty. She was very angry, we had a bit of a falling out, it was all very dramatic. In all honesty, I didn't care what else she thought about the situation as long as she didn't tell me that I had to end it with him. Which thankfully, she did not. She just sort of reluctantly accepted it and only met him after 1 year of us being together. My mum is a very tough woman which is part of the reason why having another serious relationship with a boy is just really quite unappealing to me at this current time. 

Anyway between the 6 month and 1 year mark, we started arguing quite a lot. Just over tiny little things like who was going to sleep on which side of the bed or who was going to cook dinner or wash up that night. One of the big things we would argue about was money. I never felt like he ever took care of me. I was a student with barely any money, he was in full-time work with barely any of the expenses I had. Yet, he would always make me pay for things. He would charge me petrol to drive me to places, he would charge me for dinners even when I had no money. He was so incredibly cheap it was a joke. I would hear about my friends boyfriends taking them on surprise holidays and dinners and buying them flowers and I would see that that wasn't me and think of a million ways to justify it in my head. The reality was just that he didn't think I was worth going the extra mile for, obviously, otherwise he would have. This was all confirmed later on when he broke up with me and told me to find a guy who buys me flowers - he had never wanted to be that guy and he was never going to be that guy, not for me anyway. Something I kind of knew all along. 

Over the months, the arguing became so repetitive and so incredibly draining that I was actually gobsmacked when a year later, we were still together. Every time we would argue, he would say to me "we're just not right for each other" and "we just don't work". I'd deny this every single time, tell him he was just saying that because he was annoyed with me and that he didn't mean it, but in reality I knew full well that he did mean it. And I also knew that I felt the same way too. 

Do you ever tell yourself that if you don't say something out loud then it doesn't have to be true? Well that's the best way to sum up how I felt in that relationship. I always knew that there was something about us that just wasn't quite right. We didn't really have much in common, we never really talked about anything, we never really did anything because there was nothing to do that we both liked. When we spent time together, it was always one person compromising to do something the other person liked and you can't have a relationship that consists solely on compromise, you just can't. There has to be things that you both enjoy doing, that you both have in common, things that allow you to still be you in your relationship and don't force you to be somebody else. We didn't have anything like that really. 

I found it difficult to get along with his friends. I felt like they didn't really accept me because his ex-girlfriend had been a part of their friendship group and I never had. I always felt like they would all feel happier if he were back with her and had never met me and I felt like a part of him felt that too. We'd argued about this before, another thing that should never happen. Exes shouldn't be a part of any relationship in my opinion. I hate those people that are like "I'm friends with my ex". I just don't get it, I can never be friends with one of my exes. There will always be something there that isn't friendly and that makes it inappropriate, particularly if I'm with someone else. End of. 

And he never got along with my friends either. He made no effort to meet them, apart from one of them because she went to the same university as me. But in our whole relationship, I think he only came to see me in London twice. The rest of the time was me making the effort to go to Kent and see him. He also decided that he didn't like the friend and he met or any of my other friends really and constantly found horrible things to say about them. In fact, he found horrible things to say about my friends, about my family, about everyone really. Another lesson I learnt. If somebody doesn't get along with the people that you get along with, they can't be anything like you. And if somebody ever disrespects your family, you should cut them off completely then and there. There is nothing stronger than family, not even romantic love. 

Approaching the two year mark, we had to start thinking about what would happen when I left university. I was in my final term now, graduating in a few months and it was kind of the elephant in the room that neither of us wanted to talk about. Long story short, we did talk about it one night. He told me that he would like me to consider moving to Kent after uni, to get a house and a job and live there instead of in London. But not with him, by myself. Yet another lesson I had to learn. There wasn't really anything he was really willing to sacrifice for me. He said that he wasn't ready to move to London and that if this was going to work, somebody would have to sacrifice something for the other person. But that's not entirely true. It doesn't have to be one person sacrificing everything, it has to be a balance and there was nothing balanced about that arrangement. Yet again, it was me putting in everything. 

So later on, when one day he drove over to my house to break up with me, I felt crushed but I also felt relieved. This meant that I didn't have to go along with the plan to move to Kent, it meant that I could go and live my life and see my friends and just do the things that I wanted to do. I spent the whole of my second year of university with him and half of my first and third years with him. During that time, I barely saw any of my friends (apart from the ones that were in Kent), I never went out, I didn't do much of anything if it wasn't with him. So, when we broke up it felt like a weight had been lifted. And it truly had because I started living my best life. I went on work experience with The Guardian, I graduated, I found myself a new job and I met so many new people. Sometimes you get caught up in the routine of things, you get comfortable, you start finding it impossible to see a life for yourself other than the one you're currently living. Life doesn't have to be that serious, not at 21.

So, I'm sorry if this post has been long, but you asked for it! I hope that these are lessons you can relate to (it can't just be me who has had these experiences!) and I hope that you enjoyed hearing all of my stories. None of the people I talk about here will read this post, so I feel fine releasing it for all of you. 

I'm thinking of making this a recurring thing on my blog. Siblings are next, but if you have any other ideas for a 'Let's talk about....' story time, then please do let me know! 
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