My sit down conversation with a young girl whose careful words and chilling memories paint the picture of what it’s really like to date a drug dealer in Surrey (note: names have been excluded for privacy protection).
How would you describe [him] as a boyfriend?
(Smiles) He was everything you could ever want in a boyfriend. He was smart, he was funny, he’s sweet, caring, open, honest, loyal—you name it. You know what he was the most? He was always very attentive. He was always so aware. Like, I would tell him a small detail, something so dumb that even I would forget I said it, you know? And then the next week or month he would surprise me with something going off of the littlest things I mentioned. He was a really good boyfriend.
And I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for. Yes, he was also a drug dealer.
(Laughs) He was a really good boyfriend and a really good drug dealer.
Did you ever feel your life could have been in danger while with him?
(Pauses) Yes? Yeah. It’s not an easy thing to admit but yeah, there were many times where I probably could have been killed—easily actually.
Like I’m sitting here and talking to you right now and there were times where I could have been shot. Like, what? What is that? It’s so weird to think back now, but it’s just the life I lived with him.
Where did you two meet?
Um, well I can’t get into too many details without revealing his identity but we met at a party.
Did you guys get along right away?
It was that cliché thing where he asked for my number and I said no. He asked again and I said no. He asked me again and again and I said no, no, no.
It wasn’t until near the end night that I saw him again. He saw me like glued to my phone and I remember he just came up to me, grabbed my phone, and took it away from me. And then he took his own phone out of his pocket and gave both of our phones to his friend and he asked me to go on a walk with him. Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t gone on that walk. Within 5 minutes, he won me over. I mean I didn’t make it obvious to him at all that he won me over (laughs), he had no idea, but I swear he won me over.
What were your first impressions of him?
He got into a fight that night actually. It’s weird to think back to it now—how I didn’t turn away at the first sign of trouble. Some guy at the party said something dumb to his friend, and they got into a fight and I think he hit him with a bat. I mean I knew that this other guy ended up leaving the party bloodied because of what my ex-boyfriend did to him. But I didn’t turn away.
How long into your relationship did he begin dealing drugs?
Oh, really early on. Before, actually. Before he was with me. He always dealt like petty drugs all throughout high school. But it would be like selling weed or “E” or something like that. And it was selling to other like—you know what it was?—it was just like dumb brown kids selling to other dumb brown kids. And that was fine. It was all fine.
Until one day, it wasn’t just to other dumb brown kids, and it definitely wasn’t just weed.
What do you think led him to selling more than just weed?
Money? Power, I guess? I really don’t know.
Can you remember anything anyone did to you personally that put you in danger?
I guess just being mixed up in that crowd, not even just dating a drug dealer, but just being around that lifestyle, things happen. You know, my tires have been slashed, my parents’ windows have been broken, stuff like that. I’m sure I’ve heard more gunshots than most people do in a lifetime.
I remember this one moment where I had to kind of take a step back and was just like “woah, what is happening?”
We were at a party and one thing led to another and a guy there got stabbed. I saw a knife pierced into his body—just sticking out of him. And that wasn’t even the weirdest part. The weird part was, after I found out my boyfriend was okay, I ordered McDonalds. I just went and ordered a cheeseburger. Like what?! What was I doing?
When I sat back down I realized how desensitized I had gotten to all this craziness. I started thinking and it really freaked me out.
How long was all of this going on for?
We dated for a little over two years so for most of that time, I guess.
What would you say it’s like dating a drug dealer?
It’s just—it’s chaos. It’s chaos, it’s panic, it’s a constant party and train wreck all in the same night. Not to say it was like that all the time. It wasn’t, I guess. But just thinking back to my past year, there’s stuff that’s happened that I swear could be in a movie.
You have no idea, like the way these guys think, and plan, and scheme, and retaliate, I could honestly write a movie. This is going to sound really weird but these guys were sharp like they knew exactly what they were doing. They knew what they were doing to do, what the next guy is about to do, and what move they’ll make a month from now.
So you had some sort of respect for these guys?
I mean yeah, I guess. I don’t know. It’s hard to separate their world from the real world. And even with my boyfriend, it was hard to separate the person he was with me and with them, you know? I mean this is the guy who would hold my hand at a movie theater! And then to think about some of the things he’s done (pauses). It’s weird.
I mean it’s hard to admit to yourself that as a person that you love, that like as a whole, he’s not this “sweet” guy. But like, he was sweet with me, and to me for so long, so consistently, I began to make excuses and defending his actions and telling myself it was okay when it wasn’t. Yeah, he was a sweet boyfriend but he a terrible person—which should make him a terrible boyfriend too. I mean I don’t want a person like that as a boyfriend—so I’m slowly understanding that.
What are you slowing understanding?
That he’s not a “sweet” person. He’s not.
Was that realization what led to you two breaking up?
It was a combination of a few things but it started out with my younger brother. My boyfriend used to always be very protective of my younger brother. He always would like ask him about like what schools he wanted to go to, and what he wanted to be, and made jokes about how he was too smart to ever go down the wrong path.
So my brother was like 16 when my boyfriend and I started dating, and toward the end of our relationship he was 18 wanted in on the drug/gang life. And my boyfriend didn’t stop him. He didn’t even try. He like encouraged it, and I was so taken aback and so angry.
We got into a lot of fights over that. Like, how could he do that?! How could he do that? The same kid he said was like his younger brother, who wanted a better life for himself, how could he let him get into the drug life? I’m still not over it and I never will be. That’s my little brother.
What were the other things that led to the breakup?
I just like smartened up, I guess? I don’t know. Like, I remember this one time, when we first started dating and we were all at a party and this “big time drug guy” was there and kind of bothering one of my friends. And I remember her boyfriend was like to the guy “hey, bro like that’s not cool” and the other guy just didn’t care and was like “well, what are you gonna do?” and my friend’s boyfriend didn’t do anything!
And it sounds so dumb to think back now but like I remember my boyfriend came up to me and was like “babe, if that were you, I would have booted him in the face. No one talks to my girl or me like that.” And I just remember being so happy that I was dating him. And honestly—at the time—I thought my friend’s boyfriend was such a loser for doing that. And just I so distinctly remember just feeling so happy and proud to be with him—and I felt so bad for her.
And then like two years later, so like in the last few months of me dating my boyfriend, something stupid happened and my boyfriend ended up in the hospital. And I remember I was on my way home from seeing him and I got a call from that same friend and we hadn’t talked in a while but she invited me to the surprise party she was throwing for her boyfriend for graduating university and getting some internship or something.
And then—and I’ll never forget—she asked me like “oh, what has your boyfriend been up to?”
And that that very second I knew she was like “oh, what a loser.” And I just knew she felt so happy and proud to be with her boyfriend and now like she felt bad for me. And I hated that. That was a big turning point for me.
So is that when you two broke up?
(Laughs) I wish. What really pushed me over the edge was (pauses) he just he crossed a line. I won’t ever say what he did and I won’t talk about it now, but he just, he did. He changed. He got really deep into that world and there was no bringing him back.
How was it like after you broke up with him?
I mean I was a mess. I loved him and we broke up. We were together for two years and he was my everything and we talked every day for two years and then all of a sudden, one day, we didn’t. And it was really, really hard. And I almost got back together with him a few times.
But I remember, like a month or so after we broke up, my first cousin had a baby. And I just remember seeing her and her husband in the hospital and so happy starting their family—and I wanted that. And I just realized how I would never want my boyfriend to be the father of my children. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t. I couldn’t let that happen with the things he was doing.
And I just kept telling myself “one day you might lose the father of your children, so you can cry over him. But you can’t waste your time crying over this guy.” And that helped a lot.
So you don’t ever see yourself going back to him?
(Pauses) I really want to say yes. I really do, but I don’t know.
Like, if I were to get a call right here, right now that was he was like in the hospital, I’d leave this interview right now and go see him. I would. No questions asked.
I will always care for him and want to protect him and I know he would do the same. But I hope I’m smarter than that—to get back together with him. That kind of stuff scares me though, you know? He’s the love of my life. He is and I know I’m not stupid enough to get back together with him but will I ever stop loving him? I mean, I don’t know.
I’m so afraid one day I’ll meet that “father-of-my-kids” kind of a guy and be happy and fine, but then one day, I’ll see him and I’ll just look at him and it’ll all come back. He is the love of my life, I know it. And I just wish I never met him and never got caught in all of this. I wish (laughs) I wish I never went on that walk. But I did. And now he’s walking his own way and I have to walk mine.
What advice do you have to anyone dating a drug dealer?
Don’t? (laughs) Just don’t do it. It’s not a life you want for yourself, it’s not a happy life to live. You want cute little memories with your boyfriend and do couple-y things together and have a happy life.
You don’t want police showing up at your house at 2am, you don’t want to watch guys get bottled in the head, you don’t want to be afraid your boyfriend might get shot. What kind of a life is that? Where is the happy ending?
There will never be a happy ending.