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This follows on from my previous post, Late Teens.

My first ‘proper’ boyfriend was when I was 15. It lasted for a couple of years. He was the one who told me about my father and her. He was also 20 years older than me.

Going out with my mother, the amateur dramatics, my weekends with her, all these meant that I was more comfortable with adults and never really considered going out with boys. Going to a girls’ school and not having made friends with them also meant that I didn’t actually know any boys so I didn’t really have the opportunity.

I should never have gone out with him really. He was another lost soul, who was very nice and who wanted to settle down but there was some back story that I never got; he had no contact with his family and he may have been married before I met him. I think he ran away from something. He did ask me to marry him and I managed to say no. I was flattered by his attention; I enjoyed the money spent on me, of being able to go to the pub for a drink without counting pennies out. But I also remember spending an awful lot of time crying in the pub with him. We talked a lot, but I cannot remember about what.

My mother decided he was safe and welcomed him into the family; we even all three went away on holiday once to my grandmother’s. I don’t remember my father saying anything on the subject. I think I’d had enough after a year and was ready to move on but he wouldn’t let me. In fact he threatened suicide twice when I split up with him and I didn’t have the strength to deal with that the first time so I gave in. It was emotional blackmail, at a time when I was dealing with so much other stuff and I found it very difficult to walk away.

Part of what gave me the strength was having met someone else, part of the same crowd which was awkward especially as there was an overlap between the two, what with splitting up and going back with him twice. It was all a bit messy and I didn’t really know how to deal with it. So I moved in with the new one and actually settled down for a while. He seemed a lot calmer and more rational; we celebrated a joint 18th and 30th together. He was a lot less needy and treated me more like an equal. I could have debates with him without them turning into the arguments I had with my father. I think I half seriously asked him to marry him and thankfully he said no, that I wasn’t ready to make that decision. I was allowed to meet his mother, who didn’t approve of me.His father had died quite a while back and I think he had hangups from that.

He made toy soldiers as a hobby and I learnt to cast them out of metal which I did a lot of as I found the rhythm of melting and casting quite entrancing. So what went wrong? He was very sarcastic and at times made me feel like my father did: small and wanting to curl up in a ball and bawl.

As I said, we moved to North London to be closer to college which was a huge commitment from him as he’d bought his flat. He’d also bought me a car before I’d passed my test but I think that got chucked when we moved. He wanted to start having kids and I think that made me realise that while I certainly wanted them, I didn’t want them yet and I didn’t want them with him So something like six months after we moved, I packed up my things and went back to my parents as I had no other choice which was very hard.

I had a brief relationship with another student at college. College was the first time when I spent time with male peers and I rather enjoyed it, especially as there was a variety of ages as not all had come straight from school I remember once being told that eight blokes fancied me and I spent weeks trying to figure out who. Anyway, I went out with someone who was only slightly older than me which was very different. He again though was needy. He told me that he’d come home from a trip to Australia to find that his parents had moved without telling him. I spent Christmas at his parents who went away for Christmas Eve/Day and I visited the pub on Christmas Day for the first time ever which was a great change from our normal stressy Christmases.

I moved out of my parents and we shared a room together. It didn’t last long. He was very immature and had no idea who he was and what he wanted and I wasn’t going to hold his hand. After the first term I had started to make friends but the course was not as advertised and I was struggling with making decisions about it. I had got to the point where I enjoyed being there and being with the people but wasn’t learning anything.

I started going out with one of my tutors. Again I overlapped with previous boyfriend and it got messy. He wasn’t happy about the college either and we moaned together. He did teach me to play bar billiards as we had one in our college local and I spent many an hour having fun.

He asked me to marry him. I said yes. I left college. He got fired.