Room To Breathe

When dating, here’s the one piece of solid advice I have: Don’t be like Brad!

Brad was nice enough–he was much older than I when we met (I was in my early twenties and he was in his mid-thirties).  We had fun talking and drinking and playing bar games. But truthfully, I never took Brad that seriously.  At no point did I picture myself as his girlfriend or becoming Mrs. Brad or anything resembling that.

I was less than a year out of college, barely 22, and 6 months out of my most serious relationship to date.  Brad had the odds stacked against him.

He was incredibly attentive, perhaps too attentive. While I adored that he helped my roommate set up our St. Patrick’s Day party and that he made the effort to get along with all of my friends, something wasn’t right.  The balance of power was way off.  Brad was always going to be a lot more into me than I ever was into him.

He called all the time.  We’d talk for hours and then, after hanging up (when I wanted to watch TV), he’d call again.

One night I had plans of staying in and relaxing. Brad knew this, as I had (attempted to) set boundaries.

“I’m exhausted,” I had said the night before.  “Tomorrow I just want to stay in by myself, make dinner, and go to bed early.”

He had agreed that it was just what I needed. He had said that my sales job was running me ragged and that I should add take a bath to that list. He had seemed on board with my desire to be alone. He had said he was going out with his friends. He had thought he could manage it. He was wrong.

First there were text messages about going out with everyone to see a band.  I ignored them. Which just made the phone ring. I ignored it. Finally, after two or three more phone calls I answered it.

“Come out tonight!” Brad pleaded. He wanted me to see this band, wanted me to hang out with his friends.  But I didn’t want to.  After three straight weeks of Brad every day I wanted a break.  I wanted to stay in. I wanted to be alone for just one night. Just. One. Night.

I held my ground. I told Brad that I was already in my pajamas. That by the time the band started I would be in bed. That I really just needed the night to myself.  That I wasn’t in the mood to see people and have to talk and be nice and all the stuff that comes with it.

Brad showed up on my porch 20 minutes later.

He refused to leave until I agreed to come out.  I didn’t know what to do. So I went. But I wore my pajamas in protest.

After that I started avoiding Brad. I couldn’t handle the pressure of being liked that much; I couldn’t be smothered.  Brad, I had discovered, was extremely pushy.

But it just made him call more.  I started avoiding my house so that he couldn’t just show up and trap me into a private audience.  I parked my car in the alley, or up the street at my cousin’s house.  Brad started getting more paranoid.  He told the mutual friend who had introduced us that I was cheating on him. He was convinced his roommate’s car was parked outside of my house.  He had lost his mind.

I hardly remember what Brad looks like but I’ll always remember how he made me feel.


I may not have been nice to him in those last few weeks but I felt trapped and didn’t know what else to do. Instinct had set in and, like a cornered animal, I did the only thing I knew to do–I fled.

So every time I think of calling or sending a text to someone I’m seeing I always take a deep breath and ask myself, “Am I being Brad?”

Because paranoia is the only way to live.

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2 Responses to “Room To Breathe”

  1. Aunt Becky Says:

    Dude. WAY creepy and a good lesson to us all. Don’t. Be. Brad.

  2. Red Says:

    I completely agree. Don’t be Brad. Ew.

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