Toxic Relationships

By Irina Pino

Photo: Jaime Prendes

HAVANA TIMES – She confesses that her panties get wet when she talks to him on the phone. Lena is a young woman from the US who is strongly attracted to a Cuban man.

She decided to live in Havana because she couldn’t stand living in the US. She works as a teacher in a private school.

She has made a couple of friends in her neighborhood. She met Pablo by chance, at the gym one day. She was attracted to him from the very beginning, but she has realized that he only seeks her out when he wants to cool off. He hasn’t even invited her to watch a movie, a cheap activity that anyone could afford.

He’s a fisherman and he has never given her a fish to eat. He tells her that he is seeing other women and that he doesn’t like to be controlled.

Whenever they’ve gone out to eat at a restaurant, she always foots the bill. He squeezed her hand so strongly the other day, she felt vulnerable.  It’s even crossed her mind that he might go as far as beating her. He disregards her whenever he likes, he hangs up the phone sometimes and doesn’t call back.

She changed her hairstyle and he made fun: “You look like a lesbian.” Even though it’s another sexual orientation, he used the term in an offensive way.

She has had the same problem for 17 months now. Accepting something that hurts her is pretty much absurd. It’s clear that my friend is in a toxic relationship.

She doesn’t understand why he doesn’t love her because she’s intelligent, attractive, fit, interesting. The guy doesn’t seem to be won over by these qualities; plus he can’t talk about anything because he doesn’t like to read and has never been interested in becoming a little cultured.

Our victim calls the young man’s mother to ask her for advice. His mother suggests she uses him. What can we expect from a mother who talks about her son in this way?

Women are able to put up with insults, physical abuse from men, when there are concrete interests in the mix, such as a family, a shared household, children, etc. However, professionals, independent women even trip up and fall into these situations.

Lena tells me that she needs to see a psychiatrist to get some help. I think it’s a good idea, but she also has to accept that whatever is happening is also her own fault, and that if she doesn’t end this relationship, she will become even more dependent.

We sometimes have long chats. I told her I was also in a toxic relationship once, I put up with being in the same position she is today. Whenever I managed to convince him to go to the movies or theater, he did so unwillingly. We only connected when we were having sex.

We broke up in the end. I fell into a deep depression, I clinged to a love that was only the reflection of what I felt, because it wasn’t reciprocal anymore.

I had other partners, I slept with other guys. Then, after I while, I wanted to try having sex with him for the last time. It was a failure, I even felt disgusted by him. I was cured.

I told her about my experience, even though I call it “foolishness” because you can analyze mistakes in the past with distance and a cool head.

Individual therapy is comforting, but without falling back on barbiturates, a way of getting hooked on drugs.

I think the solution lies is shooing away negative energy, meditating, doing physical exercise, drawing out a plan. Changing your everyday so you can meet different people.

The popular saying “one nail drives out another” is very wise. “Nothing lasts forever, and nobody can withstand it.”

It’s easy: love yourself and let others do the same.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Toxic Relationships

  • A long way home to be mistreated, I had a girlfriend it was good in the beginning but later turned into a disaster I got way in time and I have no regrets. My happiness is greater than emotional and physical pain.

  • macho, Macho, MACHO – a vicious inheritance from the Spanish culture. Some 63% of Cuban professionals are women. But is that reflected for example in the Council of Ministers? Why not?
    As a young woman from the US, Lena was obviously unaware of Cuban culture and the macho syndrome, coming from a country where although present in some sectors, macho is not the norm. Now she has to summon up all her strength and abandon Pablo, there are other better pebbles on the beach.

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