Don’t fall for a man who says he’ll empower you.
You’ll think it a bit off that he’ll talk about this topic so frequently in the early stages of your relationship. He’ll be excited about it and it doesn’t seem like being empowered is going to be a bad thing for you, so you’ll let him roll with it.
Even when he meets your parents and gives your stepfather, who has been happily married to your mother for twenty years, a long lecture on how important it is that he empowers her and the importance of empowerment, and you see a weird look cross your stepfather’s face as he struggles to be respectful and keep his thoughts to himself out of love for you and desire to not make the evening awkward, you’ll keep your thoughts to yourself.
You don’t want to be rude, and talking about empowering you makes him so happy. His face lights up and his body is animated and he’s charismatic and beautiful and he says he loves you and so what if he says some things sometimes that seem a little weird?
In retrospect, you’ll kick yourself for this, because further experience with him will teach you what his words actually meant.
He bragged to you and others that he believed strongly in empowering a woman in a relationship.
It feels so stupid now, not having understood his meaning back then. Now, after years have gone by and the relationship is over, you look back on the early stages and feel so much shame about having missed such obvious cues.
His desire to empower someone means he thinks the power is his to give or not give as he chooses.
He doesn’t recognize or honor the power you already have. You exist as a sentient passionate wise powerful being only to the extent that he deems it acceptable.
You will spend the entirety of your relationship fighting this. Struggling to be seen and heard and respected. Struggling against his desire that you simply obey his whims and not have needs or thoughts or a personality of your own.
You will exist only within his house of mirrors. When you behave like the sentient passionate wise powerful being you are he will get angry with you. When you try to assert that this is unacceptable, that you are not sorry for being a sentient passionate wise powerful being and you will not grovel or make amends for it, there will be fights.
You will find yourself in arguments that make no sense and are so illogical and insulting and frustrating that you will find yourself screaming in his face doing everything you can think of to just make him see you and hear you and respect you. It won’t work and you’ll be embarrassed to have become a person who yells and screams and behaves so irrationally.
And ultimately you’ll wind up groveling and having to make amends regardless. Somehow that’s how it always turns out when you make the mistake of thinking for yourself and acting as a sentient passionate wise powerful being.
After you finally escape the relationship you won’t be able to stop thinking about all this. All the signs that were there all along that you ignored. All the things you did that you know weren’t authentic to your personality and you were doing either out of frustration (yelling) or trying to appease him (groveling).
You’ll realize not only how damaged he is, but how damaged you were to have fallen for him. He was a master manipulator and you were his puppet because you wanted a man in your life and a relationship and marriage and kids and a white picket fence That. Fucking. Badly.
You blame yourself. You let it happen.
The thing is, though, you’ll analyze all of this to death as you remember all the things that might have tipped you off if you’d known more at the time.
Sometimes, on your brighter days, you’ll forgive yourself a little. You didn’t know then what you know now. Your younger more naive Self didn’t know people like him existed. You didn’t know someone could be so toxic, so completely lacking in empathy. You looked for the good in him and convinced yourself you saw it when nobody else could. You believed in him and loved him. These are not things to be ashamed of. You are not to blame for what happened.
However, it did happen, and now you know better. Now, you’ve learned from experience what being in a relationship with someone like him is like. You know the misery and the feeling of being emptied of your very soul that it causes.
You won’t make those mistakes again. You know better now.
So in the future, if there’s ever a next time you meet a man and start dating him, and he loudly and happily proclaims that he’s going to empower you in your relationship, you will reply with this:
“I’m already empowered. My power is here and it is real. Don’t think for a fucking second you have any control over my power. It is not yours to give or take as you choose. And by the way… Fuck you for insinuating it might be.”