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The Saga of a Toxic Relationship

Jo is a mom of two stereotypical loud chihuahuas and has no qualm calling out misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.

The Hunt

Dating apps scared me. They always had. I pictured young, hot, 20 something's, living the glamorous LA lifestyle, in search of the same. As a curvier girl (plus-size, fat, however you identify yourself as) I didn't fit the criteria. Every time I thought about downloading Tinder I'd have a mild panic attack.

What if someone actually wants to meet me? What if we meet and I'm fatter than what he thought I was going to be? What if I'm uglier? What if he is so disappointed he says something rude? What if I'm drugged? What if I'm raped? What if he invited me back to his place and I'm trapped there?

I could go on, but I'm sure the message is clear. Between my low self esteem and the True Crime scenarios going through my head, I never had the gall to create a profile...until it worked for someone I was close with. Betty had been talking to me about someone she met on the app for weeks and he had finally asked her to be his girlfriend. She seemed thrilled so I decided to give it a go.

I was genuinely looking for a relationship though, not just a "hook up", so I laid down some ground rules for myself. I had to post a full body pic, something I felt was flattering but represented me honestly. I didn't want to be misleading. No swiping right on men who were half naked or full naked. I wouldn't swipe right on men who showed off pictures of stacks of money, threw up the middle finger, or had no clear pictures of themselves (if I was going to be vulnerable so should they). I wouldn't message men back who only wanted to hook up, invited me to come over and chill within 5 minutes of talking, or asked for nudes. It goes without saying if anyone sent an explicit picture or message would automatically be disqualified.

So on I went. And I have to say. It was such an ego boost. People actually thought I was attractive. It was the first time I had received so much attention and I basked in it. I knew these men didn't care about me, but it was still nice to be wanted.

I spent about two months on the app before I came across Jean-Ralphio. And I literally mean, Jean-Ralphio, the annoying but hilarious best friend of Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec. He was my favorite character, from one of my favorite shows. Sure I didn't know what the man behind the profile looked like, but his bio was made up of Jean-Ralphio quotes, so I swiped right. We matched.

I learned his name, Mark. He was funny and cute and he had a dog. We spent about a month texting back and forth before invited me to come over. He lived with his father, but on this particular night he was going to be out and if I came over he'd cook dinner for us and we could watch a movie. A Disney movie at that, in the original VHS release. He had me at dinner. No one had ever cooked for me so I went.

I was a nervous wreck the drive there. North Hollywood to Silver lake. 20 plus minutes of anxiety. The same insecurities coming back full force. When I was finally outside of his home, I called him and met him at the drive way. He was as cute in person as he appeared in his pictures and his dog was equally as adorable. We hugged and he invited me. True to his word there was a meal almost fully cooked on his stove. He surprised me with a bottle of strawberry moonshine. We had shared crazy drunk stories, one of his involved moonshine, and I had told him if he ever came across it again I'd love to try it.

We ate, talked, drank moonshine, and drunkenly danced and sang along to our favorite songs. We eventually moved to his bedroom and I'm sure you can all connect the dots.

I left him early the next morning, rushed home, and then rushed to work. To my surprise he texted later that morning. A brief conversation later, we made plans to meet again the following day. My excitement was only contained because I was at work. I'm sure if I had been alone I would have squealed and danced around stupidly.


First Red Flag

I should have ended things when he proposed a threesome. I chalked it up to drunk ramblings, but that night stayed with me throughout our relationship.

My day had been incredibly difficult, I was tired and hungry, and wanted someone to comfort me. I called Mark, he invited me over and mentioned his friend Clara would be there. Having no problem with this, I made my way to his place and was greeted with a bottle of Johnnie Walker. Stacey and I chatted with Mark interjecting every once in a while. She told me how they met and became friends and how close their relationship was. I felt a pang of jealousy and wondered if they ever had a sexual relationship. Immediately feeling stupid and insecure, I took a shot of the whiskey they provided and enjoyed the conversation.

It wasn't long before I was feeling the effects of the alcohol and it was evident my two companions were in a similar position. Mark became extremely flirtatious and constantly had his hand on either one of us. I was suspicious of his actions but not sober enough to do anything about it. At one point he placed his hand in between Stacey's thighs, in what was supposed to be a joke, but she chastised him when he did it again.

"I"m so sorry. You let me know and I'll leave," she whispered to me. I told her to leave and as she was collecting her bag, Marks father walked in.

We tried to act sober, but I'm sure he noticed the bottle and my glazed eyes. He murmured something about watching TV and locked himself in his bedroom for the remainder of the night.

I followed suit and went to lie down on Marks bed. I wasn't used to whiskey and it proved to be too strong for me to handle. Stacey and Mark stayed in the living room but it wasn't long until I felt Mark's body next to mine.

"Stacey really likes you. She's down to mess around if you are too," I could have cried. I was so uncomfortable the only word I could get out was no. He kept pushing. "I saw you checking her out. It's okay. I'm down. It wouldn't be weird or anything," he continued.

Mark knew I was bisexual (this post is about my relationship with Mark so I won't go into details about my sexuality) and had made a joke about a threesome previously, but now it was all too real. I reiterated that I didn't want to. I'm sure my discomfort showed on my face. He held me for a minute and told me they were going to get food, making me promise that I wouldn't leave. As soon as he left I drifted off.

I'm not sure how long I slept, but I was woken up by Mark again. He and Stacey had gone out to buy tacos and brought me some. I declined, I just wanted to sleep.

I drifted again.

Mark came in again. Woke me up again. He handed me water and Advil. I thanked him and he made a remark about how much more fun it would have been if I was open to exploring. He laughed and climbed into bed.

© 2019 Johanna Sanchez

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