My ex-boyfriend and I met in Madrid. We both had big trips planned, him to Thailand, me to Honduras. We didn’t know if we would stay together, or if we would end up in the same city.

We discussed options of where to live in the future. My mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (a very aggressive form of cancer) 6 months before. I knew I had to stick around Europe for the next few years. I knew that her cancer could come back at any time, that statistically this would probably happen sooner rather than later, and so going to Asia was out of the question for me.

“What do you think about moving to the UK for a year?” I said.

“How about Australia?” my boyfriend replied.

My boyfriend hated the UK, even though he had barely even been there. He was full of notions and beliefs, and quite closed minded in many ways. He had presented himself to me as someone who loved travel, hiking, good food, but in reality, what he loved was sleeping all day at weekends, drinking all night, and drowning all food in cream and cheese.

I suggested Bilbao as an intermediary point. The more we talked it over, the more it made sense. We had both visited there many times, we both had friends there, we both liked the city.

He moved there first. His best friend, someone he had lived with in Barcelona, was from there, and gave him an “in” into his tight group of friends. “Don’t worry about making friends here” he told me. “We have it made. Everyone said it’s really hard to make friends here but I’ve found us a great group of people.”

I was curious and excited to meet these people. For some reason, I believe that as someone’s partner, it’s important to make an effort to be friends with their friends. I don’t know why I believe this, but I do.

The first time we bumped into them, we were walking up a busy street. I expected them to talk to me or make eye contact, but I was soon to learn that in that Basque Country, men aren’t allowed to talk to women who are the property of other men, and it’s quite normal to be completely ignored by a group of men. In fact, if there is a group of men, you should leave them to their “manly conversations”, because, as a woman, you shouldn’t intrude, seeing as you have too much power anyway. Oh yeah, and no one fucks because women are mean.

This is the twisted Basque patriarchal logic that men used against women, both with other men and to divide and conquer women. Read more here.

I was nervous to meet these people. I wanted to make a good impression. I literally needn’t have bothered.

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