real life

'My ex was emotionally abusive. Years later, he messaged me to apologise.'

The end of a relationship is such a tricky period to navigate through. Thankfully I haven’t had to go through it too many times so far, but the few times I have, ugh, I wish it had been different. Heck, I wish I’d listened to my mum.

This relationship ended years ago. We were together twelve months, and it was by far the worst year of my entire life.

It began like most relationships do. Everything was great. He was kind and sweet, and he treated me like the centre of his universe. And vice versa.

But as soon as we surpassed the first half of our relationship, he became an entirely different person. He became emotionally abusive, controlling, and possessive. To the point where my relationship with my parents was almost severed.

I lost countless friends because he disapproved, and I had to ask his permission before I did most things.

"I wasn't falling for it again."

And for the last six months of our relationship, this became the norm. But finally, after reconnecting with a female friend he had previously disapproved of, I was brave enough to walk away from him.

So to cut a long an albeit painful story short, a little while ago I received a lengthy message from him on Facebook.

He began by apologising profusely for all the hurtful things he said and did to me all those years ago; the passive-aggressive text messages, the abusive phone calls, his controlling behaviour, all of it.

And then he told me he still loved me.


“I’m sorry, what?!” I said rather loudly as I stared blankly at my phone.

The fact that he was apologising years later was one thing, but for him to feel confident enough to tell me he still loved me just blew my mind. And no, it wasn’t because I felt the same way or had even the slightest bit of sympathy for him. Because believe me, I didn’t. I still don’t.

The message went on to say that while he understood that a lot of time had passed and I’d probably moved on with my life, he wanted me to know how deeply sorry he was, how immature he was at the time, and how much he regretted losing me. Because he still loved me.

But knowing him the way I did during our relationship, I knew that these beautifully articulated words were all part of his game. A game I’d well and truly retired from.

What baffles me the most about all of this is that throughout our entire relationship, no matter what he did, it always came back to the fact that he loved me. For every bit of bad behaviour, for every abusive text message or aggressive phone call, his excuse was always that he ‘loved’ me. That the reason he was acting the way he was, was because he loved me more than anything else in the world.

But if he really loved me then, he would never have treated me the way he did.

Aly Raisman on the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar.

I’ve read and re-read his apology numerous times over the last few days, contemplating forgiving him properly. But I just can’t. His apology brought back so many horrible, horrible memories that I never thought I would have to relive. Yet here I am, reliving them all over again.

And the more I’ve thought about it, the more aware I’ve become about the motive behind his sudden display of remorse.

Since his apology, he has continued to send me messages. He asked about my study, and whether I still dance competitively. Both questions I felt like he already knew the answers to.

I replied once or twice, quite bluntly, but when the questions suddenly became about where I lived, and my family, who he despised when we were together, I stopped replying. Something about the conversation we were having made my stomach turn.

He even referred to me by my nickname, and discussed details about my life and our ancient relationship as though he were still a part of my life today.

Is it normal for an ex to come running back years later? Because I feel like it isn’t. I feel like it's a game.

Relationships end, and it’s unfortunate. But when it does, let it go. Move on. Start a fresh. Don’t dwell on past mistakes like this guy has. Because I guarantee, in the years that have passed since my break-up, I haven’t given him or our relationship a second thought.