I experienced love bombing and gaslighting - before being dumped in a text that called me manic depressive

How I was dumped is a new Yahoo UK column in which anonymous writers share the relatable, shocking and heart-wrenching ways their relationship ended.

When our writer first met an Irishman named Sean, she thought she’d met her match. But after a shock break up that left her doubting her mental health, she realised she had experienced love bombing and gaslighting throughout the duration of her toxic relationship. Here, she shares her story.

(Alex Cochran for Yahoo UK. Photos: Getty Images)
Gaslighting, love bombing and mental health accusations were all part of this writer's relationship with her Irish boyfriend. (Alex Cochran for Yahoo UK. Photos: Getty Images)

I remember the first time I saw Sean*. I was at a pub with some friends in Dublin watching a rugby match. We were visiting from London for the weekend, and Sean approached the table.

He was tall, with thick dark hair, and a smile that was swathed in typical Irish charm. We spent the rest of the evening chatting, so engrossed in conversation that I almost forgot my friends were there.

As the night turned into the wee hours of the morning, we exchanged numbers as I had to get back to the hotel to catch a plane home to London in the morning.

I now know that was the start of the love bombing.

We texted non-stop in the ensuing weeks, getting to know each other through the words on the screen, and eventually through nightly calls. He said he was ‘smitten’, that he ‘couldn’t get enough of me’.

Looking back, I now know that was the start of the love bombing.

Read more: Love bombing - the manipulative relationship tactic to know about (Yahoo Life UK, 8-min read)

I was desperate to see him. So much so that I jumped on an overnight bus and ferry to Ireland just to spend the weekend with him.

He showed me his hometown on the Irish coast, took me on a tour of the village's Christmas lights, and we holed up together in his apartment cooking our favourite meals. It all felt so natural.

New Year's Eve came and went, he visited me in London and we kissed as the clock struck midnight. I was tearful when he left as his band was on tour in the States for the next month or so.

The three red flags

It was all going swimmingly, until the first red flag came when we discussed ex-partners. He described his ex-girlfriends as ‘crazy’.

The second was when he didn’t want to introduce me to his parents, despite us being together for months and them living around the corner from him.

Read more: The six dating red flags you should never ignore (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)

The third, and arguably the biggest, red flag came in his insistence not to call me his girlfriend. ‘Let’s just have fun as we are, why do we need to put a label on things?’ he would say. I enjoyed his company, so I pretended it was fine with me.

He insisted there was no need to call me his girlfriend.

The last time I saw Sean, it was mid-summer. I went to Ireland and we attended a concert together, dancing away under the setting sun, seemingly carefree. I couldn’t tell anything was amiss. This trip was just like the others. We would go to the quay to grab fish and chips, we hung out with his friends, and we talked about the future.

Once back in London, I had a meal out with my friends. One of them had just started seeing someone and they’d made it official. ‘He called me his girlfriend today,’ she said.

The break up

I was upset. By this point I loved Sean, and I thought he loved me. I’d met his friends, so why didn’t he want to proudly show me off as his girlfriend? I called him and we talked about it, but he seemed dismissive.

The break-up text started with him calling me manic depressive.

It was the next morning that I woke up to a long message from him, sent at 5.37am. The message started with him calling me manic depressive. It ended with him saying we should go our separate ways.

Even all these years later, I still remember the feeling of shock I felt when reading that message. First shock, then sadness, then anger. Who was he to diagnose my mental health? That line in particular stayed with me for years afterwards, and even though it wasn’t true, it made me doubt myself in my lowest moments.

I tried contacting him, couldn’t we talk about this? But he’d turned off his phone. He eventually reemerged a few days later and said we could talk, but the conversation was short, and I didn’t have much to say.

His message made me doubt myself in my lowest moments.

Reflecting on our toxic relationship

The days since he’d sent the message made me realise how toxic the relationship had been, first with the love bombing which made me feel so attached and indebted to him, and then all the gaslighting, making me believe that there was something wrong with me, that I was unlovable.

It took me a while to get over that relationship. I had to delve deep into myself to see why and how I allowed someone to treat me like that, and for me to keep going back for more. It was as if he were a drug that I just couldn’t kick.

While it hurt at the time, I’m now thankful that he ended things before I could get sucked in any deeper. His cruel message allowed me to take stock of the relationship and realise that it simply wasn’t healthy, and it allowed me to have an out.

It was as if he were a drug that I just couldn’t kick.

When, months later, I met Patrick* I made sure to take the start of the relationship slowly. I had my guard up and I didn’t want to let him in too quickly. But I shouldn’t have been worried.

Three months in, Patrick asked me to be his girlfriend. Three years in, he asked me to be his wife. He’s never made me question my mental health or made me doubt whether I was good enough. He loves me unconditionally, the same way I love him. And now Sean’s just a footnote in my vast, vibrant life.

*Names have been changed.

Read more: All of Yahoo UK's How I was dumped stories.