Paper Perfect

A few months ago I met the first person who I would describe as ‘perfect on paper’. I’ve heard this term thrown around many times but have never quite understood how a specific person can be referred to as this. He caught my attention early on and I was taken with him from the beginning. He stood out from everyone else, not only by his background and experiences but also his manner. He seemed like the perfect gentleman and came across as articulate, highly educated and well-spoken. He was a recent graduate of Harvard law school (Masters), with plenty of experience working as a lawyer at multiple law firms in Auckland for roughly the last five years. Impressive, given he’s only 24.

He was intellectual, smart and charming. You could say I fell for his charm almost instantly. The reason why I put him on the back burner was because he seemed so perfect. He seemed to good to be true, and on a subconscious level, I wanted to keep it this way. I didn’t want to truly get to know him and find out that he was something else, or somewhat different to my perception of him. I continued talking to him but not consistently and not as frequently. Even so, he kept popping up and I would end up just as intrigued as I was when he first introduced himself to me.

He said all the right things. He seemed too smart, too clever, to be simply using the old lines that (I would imagine) would normally work on girls. I wanted to believe every word. I wanted to believe that he was different. He was equally as charming in person, too. I’m not someone who is easy to get to know or to get to open up. I can be extremely closed off as well as private, but he made me feel so comfortable and safe that I found myself starting to open up to him naturally. Every time I thought he would judge me for something I said, he didn’t. He listened to every word intently and seemed to understand and to be able to relate to it. He was just one of those warm, friendly and chatty people who make you feel like you can be yourself around them.

Most likely due to all my bad past experiences, I was going to believe the best of him if it’s the last thing I did. I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt time and time again, even when it wasn’t worthy or deserved. Over time red flags began popping up, threatening to tarnish the idealized image of him in my head, so I ignored them and made excuses for them. I wanted to see (and believe) only the good things I saw in him and forget the bad, or at least make sure that the positive ultimately outweighed the negative.

Then he told him that he was going to New York. He didn’t say for how long or what he was going there for, only that he was going and he was leaving on the 21st July. I asked him multiple times but he would always avoid my questions or change the subject. This was instantly another red flag to me, but once again I made excuses for it and told myself I was being too intense and needed to stop prying. We continued talking and before I knew it days had turned to weeks.

We had a few fights over this time, and I would find myself trying to stay on his good side to avoid his extreme negative reactions. I wanted to avoid another fight or disagreement at all costs, so I tried to do be there at his beck and call. I tried to keep him happy even if he wasn’t physically there. When we did have a fight, though, I felt powerless. He would shut me out, shut me down (including my attempts to communicate and resolve it), and give me the silent treatment until he decided to forgive me. He would make sure that I saw and felt the consequences of not complying with his wishes and demands. Often he wouldn’t talk to me until it suited him or until he wanted/needed something from me.

When he consistently ignored me it would affect the way I felt. I would be in a bad mood and start to feel bad about myself, I would start crying and try even harder to try to make things better with him. I would find ways to please him. In short, the more he ignored me the more desperate I became to make things better. Sometimes this would trigger my insecurities and I’m sure it showed; when you’re feeling insecure it’s incredibly hard to hide. I’m very much one of those let-me-fix-it-and-make-everything-better kind of people, and I can’t stand conflict or anyone being angry or upset with me. And yes, I can be a bit of a pushover sometimes (this was most definitely one of those times).

Everything was on his terms and I felt obligated to comply because I was so scared of him leaving and being alone. I was vulnerable and the only thing I could think of was how I could make him happy so that he would stay. The problem was, even if I succeeded it would only last a short while before he would start ignoring me again. It turned into a battle to win (and keep) his attention and I was constantly being kept on my toes, trying to prove that I was worth his time. I felt taken advantage of, but I didn’t know if I was strong enough to do anything about it and I was still scared of losing him. Weirdly, a part of me still sought his approval and if I didn’t get it I felt bad about myself or like I hadn’t done enough. Every time I gave into him, he gained more power and I continued to lose a little more, making me feel weaker against his strength and authority. The longer it went on the more it felt abusive and wrong, and it became apparent that I was probably being used (despite what he would tell me).

He would make demands, or tell me what to do (and when to do it) without understanding when it was completely unreasonable. However, he wouldn’t listen if you tried telling him anything he didn’t want to hear. In fact he would retaliate with nasty things or attempt to guilt-trip you (and he was good at it, too). It was like there was no valid reason for not doing what he tells you to do. As far as he was concerned, if you were not willing to drop everything for him and give him what he wants when he wants it, then you’re not worth his time or attention. He would make this abundantly clear through the silent treatment, I’m guessing as a way to manipulate you into caving and giving in. It was like he couldn’t stand the thought of not feeling powerful or in control for one second, and made it his mission to obtain these wherever possible and at whoever’s expense (although often mine).

All the while, I naively continued to believe that he was in New York on holiday and would be coming back after roughly a month. But when that date had been and gone I grew suspicious and with a little bit of research I found out that he had moved to New York and was working at a law firm as an associate. By this point I had come to the conclusion that if I wanted to know something I had to go behind his back and find out for myself, because I knew I couldn’t rely on him to tell me the truth. I knew I couldn’t trust him to be honest. He was always keeping me in the dark and seemed to want to be the only one who knew what was really going on.

My suspicions were confirmed the second I saw this and I immediately knew that he wasn’t coming back, or at least not for a good while. This was in direct contrast to his constant lines about what would we do ‘when he got back’. I started to process the fact that he had started a new life over there and I wasn’t going to be a part of it – I couldn’t be a part of it. He was putting his career first – something which he said himself he had always done – without giving me a second thought and didn’t think that I deserved to know the truth (or just didn’t care enough to tell me).

For a full month past his leaving date he continued to string me along from 14,000 miles away. He gave me false hope and empty promises and I continued to believe it until I couldn’t deny the truth any longer. I couldn’t continue letting him lie to me but I also couldn’t keep lying to myself. I couldn’t keep believing he was someone he wasn’t. I ended things with him the day after I found out the truth, but still the feeling of betrayal that it left me with is hard to shake. He didn’t say anything when I did this but I knew he was reading my messages and understood what I was saying, even if he wasn’t willing to admit it. If there’s one thing he isn’t, it’s stupid. He left without a word, and that was the last time I spoke to him.


Lucy Rebecca x

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