Halloween came and went, and what better way to kick off November than to talk about the ghosts of boyfriends past – and what I’ve learned from them. Sure, the relationships (almost always) didn’t end amicably and if I saw them, I’d either a) ignore them or b) attempt to paint a wall with their blood, but it’ll be Thanksgiving and I should give thanks for what I’ve learned. If not give thanks, then at least thank god that I haven’t turned into a serial killer (yet).

  1. Nice Guys Finish Last (With Good Reason)

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Oh, he was nice. So nice. After the string of relationships with abusive assholes I was in, nice seemed like a nice reprieve.

The thing about the word ‘nice’ is (to paraphrase Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen) that it’s a placeholder. It’s an absence of adjectives to describe what should be a personality. It’s applicable when you have nothing else to say about a person. “Oh, he’s nice,” – it’s the kind of compliment your mother gives to the creepy neighbour boy you want nothing to do with. Nice is bland, like plain porridge without any condiments.

What I learned: he was more into not hurting everyone else’s feelings than putting me first. If a person’s priority in a relationship isn’t you, get the **** out of there.

  1. Emotional Abuse: The Bad and The Ugly

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Abuse already gets a bad rep because people don’t take that shit seriously here. If it doesn’t leave physical scars, people are even less likely to believe you. So, hey – quiet killer, am I right?

There’s a hashtag on Twitter, #HeDoesntHitYouBut and it shows some of the awful non-physical ways a person can be abusive. Do you know what it’s like to question your own memory? To be afraid of abandonment? To have your self-esteem and identity stripped away? Lucky you if you don’t.

What I learned: you’re supposed to feel safe and secure in a relationship, not constantly fear them leaving. Get that shit sorted, or leave his sorry ass.

  1. Controlling? More Like Ctrl+Alt+Del

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I’ve had controlling boyfriends: how I should do my hair, how to dress and who I could or couldn’t hang out with. Getting out of the house felt like trying to apply for an Israeli visa. Trying to go out without them? Not worth the fight: go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

You are a person: a complete integer. You are not half of an equation, and people do not “complete” you – they complement you. A relationship shouldn’t feel like indentured servitude, because it’s not (unless you’re into BDSM and signed a carefully negotiated, thoroughly understood contract of your own free will – then all bets are off the table). Also, you’re not subject to another person’s whims like a dog, and most dogs are given free reign these days.

What I learned: if your partner keeps shoving their opinion down your throat without any respect for yours, bye boy.

  1. I’m Gonna Show You Crazy

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I’ve been the crazy girlfriend. I’ve also been the crazy ex-girlfriend. As a professionally diagnosed mentally ill person, I can also say that crazy behaviour is a no go.

I never did anything like chuck a MacBook Air out a fifth storey apartment window, or sit outside their house for three hours; but if your partner threatens violence, suicide or goes into irrational fits of anger – they need help, stat. You also need to get out of there ASAP if they’re not willing to talk or get help.

That being said, if you’re the one going off the rails – know that your behaviour can and will drive people away. You’re in a relationship, and we’re all consenting adults here. They don’t need to be your parent, your handler or your therapist. There are professional people you can pay for that (or see, there are a number of free counsellors in the Klang Valley).

What I learned: own up to the crazy, own the crazy and don’t sleep with crazy (unless you’re into that/can handle that). Also, people are not projects so don’t try to fix crazy either.

Those are all the spooky dating lessons that I can pull out at this point in time. Remember, learn from your mistakes because once you repeat them, they become a choice or habit. I don’t want to be a Scrooge but hey, do as I say – not as I do. Send in your relationship woes or questions, and you might just see your entry featured here.