My boyfriend let me manipulate him and I broke up with him

Kim McKinney
Photo by Erik Lucatero in Unsplash

We met in college. We didn't go to the same universities, but his school was only about half an hour away from mine. It was certainly "like at first sight". There was a ton of chemistry. We shared a love of life, sarcasm, laughter, and great conversation.

He was the only son of very wealthy parents, while I was the 2nd child of five of middle-classed parents.

His life intrigued me. I suspect mine intrigued him, too.

I'd never had a boyfriend quite like him. He was very handsome. My kind of handsome. Dark twinkling eyes and slightly curly hair and a body that was muscular but not too hard. A body that held me next to him and felt warm and comfortable and like home.

He was a bit spoiled but did not typically expect me to be the one spoiling him. He treated me like a date. A bit on a pedestal. No one had ever done that before.

I worked a lot. I didn't make it through the dorm lottery that year, so my parents expected me to make up the difference in cost for my apartment. Even sharing with two roommates, it was more expensive. I waitressed and worked the Sunday early morning shift at a radio station, doing some other public affairs work for the station in my spare time. I did news for free for both our campus radio station and local cable TV news. As a broadcast journalism major, these helped build my resume.

Altogether not a lot of spare time for a boyfriend. Especially one not in the same city. But since he didn't work much, just a few photography jobs, he let my schedule set the date nights. His major was in line with his family's business, so he didn't have to work very hard at that either.

I believe that is where the manipulation started. it was quite heady that he worked around my schedule.

"I have to close at the restaurant Friday night, but Saturday night I should be off between 8 and 9. But I have to leave for work at 4:30 Sunday morning, so we could only spend a couple of hours together if you came."

He'd show up when I was working and sit at one of my tables. He's sip on a beer while waiting for me. He'd respect my need for sleep and an early shift at the radio station, even though we had so little time together. Maybe we'd grab a quick dinner, maybe take a walk to the playground near my apartment.

I appreciated his flexibility and admittedly felt quite special. This super-cool guy was going out of his way for me.

Then it started going a bit deeper. I started showing off a bit to my girlfriends as to what this guy would do for me. He'd make himself fit into my life.

Oh, it was nothing crazy. My middle-class mind didn't require a lot of stuff, for example. It was more often demands of his time and attention, whenever I could slot him in.

"I'd love to see you, but I only have thirty minutes. Can you come?"

He did.

Then I would change plans to suit me. For example, we had a date for dinner just for the two of us. He arrived and I informed him we were both going to see 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with my friends. He didn't like either my friends or Rocky Horror but he did it anyway. He seemed to use me as a shield throughout the evening.

It was a lot of little things, many simply opportunities for him to prove his feelings for me. A test.

"Show me how much you love me."

Oh, it wasn't really love I was after. I wasn't ready for that, and neither was he. Let's call it adoration instead. I wanted to be adored and was willing to manipulate to get it. And make no mistake - it was manipulation.

He didn't mind. He was happy to comply. He knew it made me happy. It seemed romantic. This is what we're taught, isn't it? We were both pleased with the game. I asked, he delivered.

Until I wasn't pleased with the game anymore. One day I saw myself and realized I was choosing to take advantage of him. I was making up all these little adoration tests for him and they were dominating the relationship. It was a habit. I didn't much like the kind of person I was becoming.

So I ran away. I abruptly broke things off. No conversation. I couldn't admit it to him.

I knew if I did confess, he would not only forgive me but would probably find it charming. He would be amused. He didn't do anything he didn't agree to do.

Why didn't I just accept that and try to do better?

Because I needed more. I needed a guy who wouldn't find manipulation to that degree charming. I needed a guy who brought out my best, not my worse. I needed someone who saw all of me, good and bad and wanted to encourage the good. At that time in my life, I didn't know how to get him to be that guy.

A little manipulation is not only normal but fun in a relationship. When it becomes a one-sided game, it's unhealthy. Some people I know are happy with this dynamic in their relationship for years on end. I wouldn't be. I need more. He deserved better.

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I love stories of people and places and enjoy telling these stories. I live in my hometown of Statesville, NC, in the Charlotte area, and love to show how lovely life is here. More is going on than may meet the eye. I also enjoy expanding throughout North Carolina to show the places and activities and people that make me believe life is fascinating and travel as much as I can, so write about that, too. I also have a passion for justice and a special interest in accessible healthcare, including treatment for drug and alcohol dependency. I am a woman of faith, joy, laughter, adventure, and live life to the full. Follow me on Twitter at or my blog or

Statesville, NC

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