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Early Wing Nut Warning Signs

Wouldn’t it be nice if every toxic person just came with a giant forehead tattoo? Then you could really sort the wheat from the chaff. But as we chumps sadly know, they don’t. And we have the therapy and legal bills to prove it.

I’m often asked — did you see any signs? What would you do differently? How did you discover you were dating a flaming personality disorder and not a mild-mannered  government employee? (No offense to our hard working civil servants, I mistakenly assumed a 20 year career in a federal bureaucracy meant my ex would be a solid, if dull choice.)

Did I see signs? Yes. But at the time, I had no way of reading them. No wing nut decoder ring. Part of this was my own chumpiness — what signs I saw, I spackled — and part of it was nothing like this had ever happened to me before. To my knowledge, I’d never been cheated on (of course you could argue, I was a chump, how would I know?) It was really beyond me to imagine that some people are predatory and are capable of living a double life. Like most people, I view the world through my own moral lens. I knew about mental illness, but I didn’t really understand personality disorders. And I certainly wouldn’t recognize a sociopath if he bought me dinner.

This blog is mostly a long recitation of Don’t Make the Idiotic Mistakes I Made Once. So, yes, I’d like to think I’m smarter and wiser now. So, for what it’s worth, here’s a list of the signs I would now take as red flags. Please add your own for the benefit of future chumps everywhere. Maybe if we could spot these people earlier on, and more importantly, identify our own chump weaknesses — we could avoid some serious heart break and wasted years.

Or we could resort to forehead tattoos. I’m not really against that…

Anywho, here’s my list. Keep in mind any couple of these could be perfectly normal, but added up? Yeah, I’d take a pass. Without further ado…

1. He moved fast. Infatuation feels great, but after a few weeks of dating him, it occurred to me that he liked me a bit too much for someone who didn’t know me that well. Of course, who doesn’t like to be adored? Kibbles are awesome. But, as I’ve said elsewhere, they’re also junk food without substance. The flattery, the attention, the sex. It’s all very heady. People who study personality disorders call this phase “love bombing.” It was a full sparkle onslaught. After our second date he told me he wanted to date me exclusively. In less than a month he told me he loved me. Within 4 months he talked about wanting to marry me and by 6 months, he was spending a lot more time at my place than his own.

I thought this was okay, because he “wanted a commitment.” But I remember saying at other times “What exactly did I do to impress you so much?” Even to a chumpy idiot like me, it seemed over the top.

But like every sucker, I wanted to believe. The sparkles hooked me. I thought Mr. Sparkles was the real guy. I should’ve slowed it all way down. I’m convinced they can’t disguise the crazy for over a year. He amped up the drama with “needing” to take a job out of state. He pushed for a commitment because of the move. Again, I should’ve not felt rushed. Crazy people usually want to seal the deal and fast. Once I was married, moved, and isolated — then the abuse really began openly.

2. He called too much. It almost seemed clingy. But I see now, as an experienced serial cheater, he was gaging my whereabouts. He wanted to know what I was doing that evening, and the next day. He checked in a lot. I didn’t see him every day, but that didn’t strike me as unusual. I had a full life. But he was anxious to keep me on the line and interested in him. As I later discovered, when the other life was revealed, he was constantly checking in with the OW and other women. How he managed to do work a job or perform life chores was beyond me.

3. He cancelled plans at the last minute. I should add to this, he was strangely unavailable for important dates, like his birthday. Or available to see me after I’d been gone a week out of town. The shady inability to manage his time was the hugest red flag I got. And his anger at ME when HE was the one to bail. I was understanding the first several times. Then I dumped him. He then began a new charm offensive to win me back, and was good as gold (so I thought) until I married him. He never canceled a date again — he just got better at taking his life underground.

4. When I was with him, I felt charmed. When he left, I felt uneasy. I couldn’t even tell you why. I had a gut feeling. Then he would appear again, and charm me and I’d think I was overreacting, or had him wrong. It was me, my issues. Nothing to be paranoid about!

Listen to your gut. ALWAYS listen to your gut. The gut knew.

5. I mistook intelligence for character. He was accomplished. Made a lot of himself from humble beginnings. Had advanced degrees. Earned a good living. I mistook this for character — I read things into that that were not there, like he was a good person, or he knew how to manage money, or he had any common sense. Yes, he was intelligent — and so what? He was a dreadful person. He was disdainful of anyone else’s intelligence. He Knew Best. The dentist, the doctor — they didn’t know their job, he knew more. He had to be the smartest person in the room. The arrogance should’ve been a huge red flag. I stereotyped him — thought he was just an alpha lawyer, a bit jerky. I projected warm fuzzies on to him that were not there. “Oh he’s a marshmallow, deep down.” No — scratch the surface and it was bedrock jerk.

6. He was okay with a lack of reciprocity. I was a single mother who earned a fraction of what he earned. After we were engaged, and he moved in with me for months, he never paid a single bill, never bought a bag of groceries. Reason given — he had his house to maintain, his ex-wife cleaned him out in the divorce, etc. I should’ve noticed how free he was to spend money on himself — and not on our shared life. Big chumpy mistake. I thought my generosity meant he would do the same for me. I assumed. Wrongly.

7. Either he didn’t introduce me to his friends, or he simply didn’t have friends. He was the picture of charm with my friends. To a person (with one exception) they adored him. And while we did group outings with them, he did not have a group of friends that ever invited him (or us) anywhere. He said his ex-wife got their friends in the divorce, and most friends his age were married and busy with family. Seemed reasonable. His close “friends” lived out of state (douchebags I met at my wedding). He had work acquaintances but no real friends. He wasn’t introverted. I should’ve puzzled at that.

8. He was vague about his past. I couldn’t get a real time line on when he was married to wife #1 and #2. When what happened. Over the years, the story always shifted, but I remembered snippets of it, enough, that I was able to track down #2 and get her story (a horror fest, he was a serial cheater — same OW). If you think that’s odd — consider that when it did come up he would go into this convincing sad, spiel about how he’d had therapy and realized He Wasn’t The Best Husband, and wasn’t bitter towards his exes, and he wished them well, etc., etc.

Now, as a chump? I’d see that as total BULLSHIT. He told me they cheated on him. I thought it was painful, that’s why he didn’t bring it up. His narrative was nothing like a chump narrative — all the easy forgiveness, the We All Made Mistakes Here — total crap. But I thought that was the enlightened therapy speaking. He was just very evolved.

9. I mistook sex for intimacy. I thought because he liked to have sex with me, he liked ME. All of me. Dorky me. Not just the sum of my parts, but you know, the parts of me that I like best about myself. I filled in the blanks for him. No, he was just a horny goat. I could’ve been anyone.

10. He was shit at gift giving. They say this is the hallmark of the narcissist — they suck at gifts. (Give you something? Why? What’s in it for me?) He did some grand gestures, but they always involved something for him too — a nice dinner out, a trip somewhere (that we went Dutch on). Actual GIFTS? Once he recycled something he gave his mother and she didn’t like it. (A black shawl. Seriously).

To give a gift well you need empathy. You have to think… what would Tracy really like? (My husband is awesome at this). Pinecone elves! PG Wodehouse! British movies! These things are distinctively my fetishes. To give me these things you’d have to put aside your disdain for 1940s Xmas kitch and buy the pinecone elf because you know it would please me (even though you think it is a dusty waste of $15). Because to please me pleases you.

Narcissists can’t do this. I got a pen for my 40th birthday. I got a tie-dyed license plate cover for Xmas after DDay. I should’ve dumped him for that alone. Forget the serial cheating — a man who gives a woman a license plate cover for Xmas is a man who should be divorced. On those grounds, solely.

Chumps, I should’ve known I deserved better. You deserved better too. Tell me — what signs did you miss? What will you look for in the future so you don’t get chumped again? Let’s make a list!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ex and I were in our early 20s when we met, and mid 20s when we married. I had never been in a relationship before, so really didn’t know the warning signs. Looking back, I now realize his lack of interest in sex was a huge red flag, but of course, that probably isn’t an issue in most relationships.

    Other signs to watch out for:

    The guy who must always be the life of the party
    Having no apparent boundaries
    Always willing to go beyond the socially accepted line of behavior
    No apparent sense of shame or self consciousness
    Fearlessness and lack of anxiety even in situations where they would be appropriate
    Thrill seeking behaviors

    • Except for the thrill-seeking, we’ve got an identical list, GIO (and CL). That lack of interest in sex in the beginning (and his level of sucktitude at said activity) evolved into a completely sexless marriage (his choice)…

      One thing I’d add is how IN LOVE with me he was when he was away. He traveled every week for work and when he’d call, I was “baby” and “he couldn’t wait to see me Friday.” Within two minutes of being home with the actual me, he couldn’t wait to leave again.

      He also never wanted to be alone. We always had other people around. Life’s a party!

      It’s funny – I don’t have full visibility into his new relationship, but he seems to be doing a dead-on impression of our early days (snazzy sportscar he can’t afford, a house someone else bought for him, having people over all of the time, moving waaaay too fast – she moved in at the four month mark, etc.)…Poor girl…

      • My ex traveled a lot in the early days, he was in sales. I used to BEG him to call me as soon as he landed in whatever city he was going to. I just wanted to know he had arrived safely. He would assure me that he would, but never once did. I would get a phone call much later that night, or not even til the next day.

        Now I realize that it was because I completely ceased to exist in his mind once he left. I meant absolutely nothing to him, so it didn’t even cross his mind to call and let me know he’d arrived safely. Plus, he was probably busy fucking other guys on those trips, so in between that and his actual work, he didn’t have time to call.

      • M_O,
        Mine was over the top loving when he was away too…I remember right before DDay him calling and saying he loved me and he could not wait to be home…”because I was his home”…. Awww…just melted my dumbass CHUMP heart. Bastard.

      • Movin On my ex is doing a complete do-over with the final OW. The details are slightly different but so much of their life, from what I hear, is very similar to what our early life was like. Even the way his family has come into things and behaved is so similar. YOu want to know how it makes me feel? Amused, because they’re all so unoriginal they only know one way of going about things. It’s people like me they drag into their crazy so we can add some new spice to life.

    • Glad, see my post, my ex had similar disinterest in sex (with me apparently), as well as rest of all of the above you list. Every one! How frighteningly similar our exes are!!

    • GIO, unlike your ex, my STBX isn’t buried in a closet, though from the frequency of his anti-gay pejoratives used to describe the people in his company I wonder if he might not have “issues.” At any rate, he’s always seemed straight. He does think he’s a tiger in bed, but only when he’s interested and only if I use a lot of spackle. He’s always too tired, otherwise. Of course, I’m supposed to be waiting and ready for whenever he’s ready.

      That said, I think that how one’s partner approaches sex is definitely a red flag. Partners need to be on the same wavelength with respect to sex. Some people like more, and some less. Either is okay, but whatever it is, the each partner needs to feel as if they can accommodate the other without sacrificing their own needs.

      The danger hallmark is when you’re the one doing all the accommodating. That raises the flag that you may be dealing with a narcissist. After all, for a narcissist, it’s all about meeting their needs/desires.

  • I was sooooo stupid, blind, ignorant, afraid of being alone, ridiculously “in love” that when, not one, but TWO different psychologists in TWO different states in TWO different years diagnosed Uncle daddy with NPD and Egomania, I was incensed! How could licensed professionals come to that conclusion? How could anyone say anything so heinous about my soul mate!! Uh, because it was true?
    Lesson learned. Listening to the professionals from now on! and my own gut…

    • When my ex was told he had narcissism years ago during a brief time in therapy, he and I actually laughed about it. I told him I could have diagnosed that for free. Back then, I had no idea what NPD really meant. I thought it just meant he was obsessed with being the constant center of attention and was self absorbed, which he was. I didn’t really understand about all the rest of it: the lack of empathy, the lying, the blame, the gaslighting and the pure evil.

      • Omg, Glad, my ex was never diagnosed, but during the marriage, our daughter would joke along with me and my ex about how self-absorbed he was. He would (we thought jokingly) say “it’s all about me,” and we would laugh with him. Little did we realize it was no laughing matter, it wasn’t a cute little personality quirk, he really meant it. He has not seen our children once in the year and a half since D-Day, and appears completely unperturbed by this turn of events. Because, you see, it is really all about him. What do the counselors say, when someone tells you who they are, believe them!

        • He told me within days that he loved me.

          I was warned by a psychotherapist not to marry him, that he would make me very unhappy.

          What a chump I was. I gave in to him over everything. I thought we were soul mates, that although his mother was wierd, my love would ‘fix’ him.

          This is my karma bus pulling in.

  • I’m about to go to bed but I do remember my first birthday with him. His parents took us to dinner and he didn’t get me a present. I was pissed off but chalked it up to him being broke and a struggling student. But still, I was PISSED and he knew it. The next day he gave me an unwrapped book from a discount bookshop. I actually saw it about a year later and it cost – get ready – one dollar.

    I’ll write more tomorrow about red flags. They’re myriad.

  • Top 3 Warning Signs I Missed:

    1. She expected constant acknowledgement of her intelligence despite meager accomplishments. Looking back I am flummoxed by a middle-aged woman making sure people she just met know she was a National Merit Scholar in 1983.

    2. She never cried at movies. I took it as her being well-adjusted and above my sloppy sentimentalism. No. The woman is a sociopath incapable of empathy.

    3. She never apologized. Ever. For anything. In 25 years.

      • Sorry ’bout that, GG. As CL said, it’s not that any one factor means much. But the piling up does. I listed only 3 things about my ex that are, in my experience, unusual. I could have listed another dozen very easily.

        Personally, I cringe every time someone notes that their cheating ex was a lawyer (every time I read that I hear under the writer’s breath, “Typical!”), since I am a lawyer as well.

        • But we have lots of wonderful lawyer chumps here, like BarristerBelle and Arnold, and Chumpattney and Kelly (and others I’m probably forgetting). Apparently a law degree is no protection from being chumped.

            • I am a chump lawyer too. We can get through the crap at work, but with a jerk H, we can really be taken! For 31 years!

              • Well, I was chumped by a lawyer. I put him through law school and was his “study buddy” through his first year of law school. I know enough lawyers to know they are not all narcissistic pricks.

          • Chump lawyer here, too.
            One of the best recommendations I got was to advise myself the way I’d advise my clients. It helped me create some distance from the emotional trauma and to apply my strong insight and advocacy to myself as I slowly extricated myself from the dysfunction.
            As a bonus, the experience has made me a far better counselor for my clients.

      • My ex cries all the time at movies, commercials, anything. He’s really proud of it too, would always turn to let me see the little tear leaking from the corner of his eye while he had this little sensitive smirk on his face. He used to tell people all the time about how easily he cried at movies and such. I guess it added to the Mr Sensitive Wonderful routine.

      • Mine would sort of apologize, but never ever ever said the words “I was wrong, Im sorry”. It was

        I overreacted
        I was out of line
        That wasn’t right of me….

        I think if he had ever had to physically say the words “Im sorry” his head would have exploded. Kinda sorry I missed that one.

  • OMG!!!!!! I really did think it was me. Even now, even 12 months on, I thought, believed, it was me. But this is him. It’s all him. And he’s someone elses wingnut now.

    • Might I add miss 22’s wingnut, who he has just moved 400 km away from her family….raises eyebrows!

  • Looking back there were several but I figured it was just because we were young (23 & 24) when we married. Right before we went to buy a house (ages 27 & 28 now) with the inheritance from my father’s death… the loan officer called saying there was a credit card in his name that had about a $2500 balance. Oh, no sir, he cancelled that – he cancelled it at least a year ago as that was what I was told. Well, I asked douchebag and yep he said it was cancelled. The loan officer called back and said that it is not cancelled and that I should probably speak to my husband about that. Well, he was right. The asshole never cancelled the account and racked up about $2500 in debt, had the statements sent to his work and was going to the atm to get cash to get money orders to pay the minimum balance. He did end up confessing but only because he was busted. Then he pleaded with me not to tell my parents. And since I just received that inheritance, chump me paid it off because it made no sense to pay the minimum payments with high interest rates.

    Fast forward a couple of years… my son was around 3 and I got home from work. Son picked up an empty condom wrapper. Um, is there something that you need to tell me? His response was that it was not what I thought and that he was alone all day and just masterbating. He was laughing about it out of embarassment I thought. Um, okay, never heard of that before but some people do freaky/strange things. Chumpy me accepted his response and never questioned him about it until dday. To this day, I have no idea if he was cheating then but he still denies it.

    I see that I trusted an untrustworthy person. He was military and became a cop/detective – he had to be honest, right? Dumbass me…..

    • Okay, buying the claim that the used condom was from masturbating instead of sex with another person is a good one. Because sex with a condom on feels so . . . good? That’s some industrial strength spackle. So sorry for you Casey. Only a true psychopath could spin such a yarn and keep a straight face.

      If Chumplady ever allows real estate ads on this site, we’re all going to own the Brooklyn Bridge, me included.

      • What made it more believable to me was the wrapper was by couch infront of the tv. By his response, I felt like he was embarrased that he was “caught” beating off. He was caught but I will never know the full truth. Yes, spakle on my part. I look back and have no idea who it would have been with at that time.

          • I totally would have fallen for it, and did fall for things a lot less believable. I am ashamed now at how gullible I was and how he had to have been laughing inside at my complete acceptance of his bullshit.

            • I’d have fallen for it, too. Not just because I’m trusting, but also because STBX is a neat freak.

              Mind you, he’d never have left a used condom anywhere because he is nearly pathologically neat. Rather, it’d be in the bathroom wastepaper basket encased in an entire roll of toilet paper to keep the little spermie germies from crawling out and onto the floor!

              • My H would hide his condoms inside a coke can before putting it in the bin. After fucking OW in my house, in my bed.

      • Not that it makes it any better, it doesn’t but it was the torn wrapper not an actual used condom that my son found. At the time I just trusted and never even looked for the evidence. It makes me so angry but I cannot beat myself up over it now.

    • My was used to say… having sex with a condom is like eating a piece of candy with the wrapper still on it.

      So, let me get this straight. Your three-year-old son was home. Your douchebag was having sex with someone in the house while the three-yr-old son was there and then the three-yr-old son picks up the condom wrapper and hands it over to you?

      wow. just wow.

      • it was right before or right after we were trying to have our second child so it made sense that those were in the house as we were using them in the interim

        • At least he used a condom. As far as I know, mine never used protection with his OW and sundry others. Good times…

          • My ex told me he didn’t use condoms with the two married women he was fucking. I have no idea if he used condoms with all the men, but I assume at least with some of them he did not. It’s a frickin’ miracle he doesn’t have AIDS, or at least, he didn’t when he was with me. I thank God that monster never infected me with anything during all those years together.

            • Forgive me GIO, but for a man to fuck another person, male or female, he has to have some sort of a penis, right? Because, based on what some of us saw the other day, the dude has an endowment the size that one might expect to find on a small rodent.

              Are you sure those “married women” were WOMEN? I doubt it very much. (unless you have proof positive.) He’s clearly gay. Not Bi, even. Gay. He is not attracted to women, sexually. I’m quite positive. Look, I’m a ballet dancer and an interior designer and I live in NY. I’ve been around a lot of gay men, most of my life. Your XH is gay; a gay man who cannot admit that this is who he is.

              I don’t see you as gullible at all! He was your husband and you trusted him. That is the way its SUPPOSED to be! But, honey the mistake I see you making that we all tend to make is that you are supposing that the playing field is even. The dude isn’t playing with a full deck. Not even close! We gloss over the missing cards as quirks and part of his “charm”. And he’s so damned “nice.” (except when he isn’t) He’s not laughing at you, anymore than a three-year-old would be laughing at you because he has convinced himself that he’s not really gay and that he loves his wife deeply and she doesn’t have to know about his propensity to have sex with men. That’s “private.” He’s so fucked up. He’s a homosexual and a sociopath. You didn’t do anything wrong, so please stop beating yourself up for this man’s sick and twisted ability to not only con the rest of the world, but himself too! big (((hugs)))

              • LOL, his weiner isn’t that small. He was wearing one of those dance belts that hold the guy’s junk in between the legs and compressed up against the body.

                I do know he was having affairs with women, absolutely. I KNEW the women and saw multiple texts, cards, emails between ex and them. He is apparently back with one of the women now, and she KNOWS he had sex with men. He did have a couple of girlfriends before he knew me as well. I think he’s dated a few women since our divorce, I assume had sex with them, but probably he’s had a lot more sex with guys. He’s done orgies, threesomes, he likes pain during sex….. I doubt there is ANYTHING he wouldn’t do.

                I agree he is a sociopath. He’s done a lot of really bad things that I know about, including blackmail and staged “brushes with death,” so I can’t even imagine the things I DON’T know about. He is a masterful con artist and manipulator.

                Thanks for your kind words, Laurel. It’s hard to believe how fucked up my marriage has left me. He is the only man I’ve ever been with and I’m 49 years old. I feel so cheated and so messed up. My therapist tells me I have PTSD and will never 100% be over it, but that I will greatly improve, and in fact, am already better than I was. I hope that is true.

          • at the time he was in the military and condoms were free for all personnel. well he didn’t with mugshot…. the final straw. Eewww just eeww.

            • I have to add that he got fixed after our second child so at that time he wasn’t fixed what a douchebag

            • Mine is so proud about not using any protection ever (seat belt, helmet, and yes this would include condoms too…). He was telling this to the doctor while being stitched up after falling off the bike. The doctor told him he was crazy

          • Mine never used condoms either, but he “very seriously asked them to be honest about std’s beforehand.” While he was lying to them about his own. Ugghh.

            • hmmm… honesty from a pathological liar. hmmm… and they ALL put in their online fuckfiles, “D/D free” meaning if you don’t know… drug and disease free. what a fucking not-very-funny joke that is. Oh, they’ll say” i was tested last month.”(right. where’s that bridge, again?) and how many women have you fucked since you were “tested?”

          • I knew my x absolutely hated condoms, so I pretty much told him I knew he and her never used them (during the 4 yr affair). He said ‘oh, she’s clean, she’s hardly been with anyone!’ That’s not what her former best friend told me, he said there was a guy who used to drive from 60 miles away to come over for sex, and plenty of others. This made my X mad to hear, and of course he didn’t believe it. Turns out she told him she had only a couple of boyfriends ever. She’s 46! And a wild pot-smokin drunk. This just blew my mind, her acting like Miss Innocent, and he bought it. So I have been tested twice now, all clear, no thanks to him!

            • So, clearly, what must be added to the specific list for warning signs is men who refuse to and/or brag about never ever having a condom grace their penis. For my ex, he was exceptionally proud of this fact. He would also brag that he “Fucked his way around the sorority circuit” in collage. Told me that it was an actual goal. That he accomplished.

              Wow, what an chump I was. Other red flags that I spackled:

              * Kicked the 1 yr. old Great Dane in the face
              * Hit one of his yound daughters over the head with a box to get her attention.
              * Flat out told me he was broken

              Theses were the biggies. Boy did I spackle.

            • STBX was a fan of condoms, but while we used them regularly during our first couple years of marriage, we didn’t for several. Then he decided we should. In retrospect, that change of behavior–which was way before OW–might have signaled that he’d been unfaithful. However, nothing else changed save that he was a bit more enthusiastic in the bedroom side of things, which was a welcome change. See how good I can spackle?

          • Yes, GIO, at least he used a condom. Mine told me (proudly?!) that he didn’t with the OW. And he’s not fixed, so he was playing Russian roulette on two counts – disease and pregnancy.

            Like many chumps here, I was the one to sit in the Dr’s office and get tested for every STD….knowing that if I did have something, it would likely have already been passed to my baby (since I was pregnant when he started the affair). Fun times.

            He also proudly doesn’t wear a seat belt in the car, or think speed rules or stop signs apply to him.

            • And,we have to keep getting tested, for maybe 1 or 2 yrs because some diseases have latent periods- like AIDS :0

      • if I can remember correctly my son was at daycare and he was off work for the day so he must’ve picked up my son from daycare and brought him home and that’s when my son picked up the wrapper on the floor by the couch then my son proceeded to hand the wrapper to me.
        Fucking jerk…. that was almost 8 years ago.

    • Oh, we chumps could totally buy all of the Brooklyn bridges. When I found a Victoria’s Secret bag in my husband’s briefcase, he said a professional woman he knew had brought him banana bread in the bag to work, as a joke. Haha. I didn’t really believe it, but part of me was like, what if it is true? So I said that was very inappropriate, blah, blah, blah. Years later I found pictures of the “banana bread” (blue lingere) all over his affair partner.

      • SummerGirl, that’s pretty freaking hilarious! Is that banana bread in your brief case or you just happy to see me? LOL!

        And hey, email me at [email protected] so I can send you your mug!

  • Number One Red Flag for me?

    The relationship with his mother. Anybody who calls their mother as soon as they wake up, during their first cup of coffee (and subsequent cups), before/during/after any type of activity outside the house, hangs up on you to talk to take a call from her (after having talked to her for at least 3-4 hours on/off during the day), calls her yet again before dinner and again after dinner (while taking yet another call from her during dinner, but asking her nicely to “hang in there” while he shovels sustenance rapidly into his pie hole)—and of course, the obligatory 3 hour conversation before nighty night…..this could be a problem.

    Mine called or was called by his mother—at least 15 times every single day, 7 days a week. Each conversation lasted at minimum an hour. Sometimes much, much longer–rarely shorter.

    I saw that as being over the top, but it was explained that she was alone and needy and he was “the good son”.

    All of this, of course to the backdrop of the “Love Bombing”. Anyone who wants to get married within months? Run.

      • Hmmm. Great question.

        Remember that old cellphone bill commercial where the bill comes and it’s like, a ream of paper, and the guy slams it down on the kitchen table and the table breaks?

        That’s our account in detail—reams of paper, with his mother’s number coming up 10-15 times a day. He would talk to her–in front of me, during dinner, out shopping, wherever. It didn’t matter. When she visited? They were inseparable. Like glue.

        Creepy. Yes. Sick. Yes. I think it was HearthBuilder who said, “Norman Bates”? Yep. I tolerated it because many of the calls were from her–he said she’s lonely. She’s scared. She’s on her own. She needs her dependable, reliable, “good” son. Whatever.

        • OMG. This sounds like my x!!! Not only with his mother but his older sister (who I nicknamed enabling sibling)! Consistent long daily conversations. More like gabfest gossip sessions that I thought were inappropriate about other family members.

          The sibling enabler gave him so call advice on finance and legal matters on how to handle me during the marriage and divorce. (No, she is not a lawyer. She is a bank teller who had a traumatic divorce over 25 years ago. This fact qualified her as an expert.) She was the one to arrive at my house to collect his personal items and golf clubs out of the house when he refuse to face me. She also requested the keys to my home because he asked her to retrieve it. I calmly directed her out and firmly closed the door.

          His extreme avoidance of me prompted him to give her power of attorney to sign for him at the closing settlement of our home. His cowardice was beyond the beyond! Let us just say that I never saw her again. My lawyer had me draft a letter stating that I was the owner of the home and that enabling sibling could not be part of closing or have a say on my financial shares of the home. It was a totally weird situation.

          Lesson learned! Never have a relationship with another middle age man who defers to his mama and sister for how to handle his life.

    • Just the opposite experience here. He would yell at his mother, not talk to her at all (he considers talking to her to be invasion to his privacy), call her names, etc. Earlier in our relationship he said he is afraid he would start doing the same to me down the road. I totally did not believe it. I thought we loved each other (yes, the love bombing). His mom loves him dearly too, by the way, since he has no living sibling. Guess what, it is happening now. And take this – I overheard conversations with his AP where he would yell at her too (he had his earphones on and did not hear me coming to the house)…. So, when they tell you they suck, believe them. Mine is proud of being a bad ass

  • May those that love us, love us.
    And those that don’t love us,
    May God turn their hearts.
    And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
    May He turn their ankles
    So we will know them by their limping.
    ~Irish Blessing

  • Oh…CL, some of these are exactly what I experienced.
    3. Cancelled plans at last minute. Early in the courtship, I recall one time he stood me up for a dinner date that he’d arranged. After 30 minutes I called him to find out why he was running late (because surely he’s just running late, right?), he answered while driving in his car, as he was already halfway to Florida to attend a regatta. He just totally “forgot” about the plans he’d made with me, didn’t bother to call me, and yet – chumpy me allowed for a rain check.

    5. Mistook intelligence for character. Yup, totally guilty of this one. He had a law degree, just like me; Read the Economist, just like me; Spoke a foreign language, just like me; followed in-depth political discussions & loved to read books on culture, politics, history, etc. Figured he must have been “just like me” in other aspects as well. I was horribly wrong.

    7. Didn’t introduce me to his friends or didn’t have friends. Looking back, I realize that the friends he did have (the ones I really liked) were actually friends that he grew up with as a child (the ones that you’re friends with because your respective parents were friends with each other). But XH went to college several states away from these friends, and spent several years away from home for his first job, grad school, etc. and did not spend any real time with these friends as a college-aged kid or young adult — and they did not personally experience some of the same ol’ bullshit he was pulling back then as he did during our marriage. If they had, I doubt they would have remained friends with him at all. Once they all learned about how he’d cheated on me, lied to them, etc. – he has cut off ALL contact with each and every one of his “life-long friends” and completely avoided all of them. Meanwhile, they have all been supportive of me, and continue to be MY friends now.
    Of the few friendships he’d made later in his adult life, the guys I eventually met were all sketchy, rude and/or boorish, or just random, drunk sailing dorks. I’ll never forget one group of “friends” he had — I asked how he knew these guys — he answered, “At the sketchy midnight poker game.” I thought it had to have been a joke.

    10. He was shit at gift-giving. OH GOD, THIS. Would forget Valentine’s Day altogether; bought this horrendous vibrating chair-cushion massaging thing for my birthday (“What, you were complaining yesterday that your back hurt. That’s useful, right?”); would run out to Target on Christmas Eve to buy his family’s gifts – he bought his mother an electric knife sharpener. He was F-ing clueless about how to pick a decent gift for anyone. Should’ve known something was up when he bought me an expensive necklace for our 3rd anniversary…48 hours later, I had DDay #1.

    Some other submissions:

    11. Was constantly in a crisis of some sort. Always running around like a headless chicken over some (self-imposed!) drama – forgot to pay a bill, family bickering over money that had nothing to do with him but he’d insert himself into the discussion, ALWAYS ran late to everything – except sailing. Because HE liked sailing.

    12. When things went wrong, his response was “It’s not like I MEANT for that to happen.” Right, but as a fellow lawyer, he of all people should be familiar with the concept of negligence: you either knew or you SHOULD HAVE KNOWN what to do, and you didn’t. He also didn’t *mean* for me to find out about the affair, or get hurt, by the way.

    13. Wanted to control the narrative of his past. Whenever his dad wanted to tell a story about XH as a kid, XH would practically scream at him across the table to cut him off. Didn’t want his parents or friends to describe his past relationships to me. I’d come to find out later it was always some story about him being dishonest, or mischievous/ deviant as a child, or when he’d cheated on an old girlfriend.

    • OOh, mine did 12 too. “I didn’t INTEND for you to get hurt.” (So if you got hurt, it’s not my fault, because I didn’t intend it.)

      • My personal favorite, because obviously his intent was for me to be HAPPY he’s screwing someone else! Really, what a totally asinine thing to say.

      • I heard ‘I didn’t mean for this to happen’, which puzzled me for a long time. then I realised he meant for final OW to be just another side piece but she had other plans, which was to snare her man, so she prick teased him. Even my crappy FIL pointed that out.

        • My favorite is “I’m sorry you had to get that letter,” after I received the anonymous note about his affair. Great apology, fucking asshole dickhead.

    • My XWH made us late to everything. It drove me completely nuts. And I’m sure that it was a passive-aggressive move on his part, especially when we’d get together with my family for a holiday or birthday. He’d do something like start mowing the lawn about 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave, and chumpy me would just wring her hands… I mean, he’s doing something helpful, so I can’t exactly castigate him for it, right?

      Yeah, wrong. I should have let him have it. He knew it angered me, and I told him how rude it was, yet we still continued to be late. I love that we’re now on time for things now that I don’t have to drag his reluctant ass along.

      • It’s not only a big power game for him, but it puts you right in your ‘place’. One of my favorite lessons from CL, the ‘one-down position’!
        My X used to do this thing, he wouldn’t tell me where we were going, I mean like all the time! Sometimes I would beg, then I just gave up. Once he took me and our three young sons “to go visit his friends”. Turns out they were camping by a river that weekend, we’d been invited and he didn’t tell me, and there were about eight families. There I stood in my skirt, sort of dressed up, and I was so mortified, everyone looking at us like a science experiment. Painful. I grew up camping, he never wanted to do that with us, turkey.

        • “…he wouldn’t tell me where we were going, I mean like all the time!”

          My dad is famous for this. He did this to our family all through our childhood, and still does it to this day. My dad is *not* a narc, but he sure has this trait. The surprise destinations were typically good choices and appreciated, so we usually let it slide. However, now that I’ve been with an actual narc, this habit really gets under my skin. I can’t stand it anymore.

  • OMG! My STBX had the same batshit crazy codependent relationship with his mom too!

    Not only did he have to see her everyday, in addition to the 15 phone calls, whenever we went somewhere (me, him, and his mom) he always sat next to his mom. Always! If I ever got to sit next to him, it was because his mom was on the other side. I got the same explanation too: she’s old, alone, and needy and he needed to be the good son. Bullshit! They were just constant sources of ego kibbles for each other. Blech!

    There were a million other signs too, but for me the 2nd biggest was the lack of real friendships. His only “friends” were either related to him (his teen-aged nephews who didn’t know any better) or people he employed (of course these friendships only lasted until he no longer had any use for them). He even asked me once why did I have friends when they clearly didn’t do anything for me.

    I should have started running right then and there!

      • 🙂 No worries. I get where you’re coming from. MOMMA’s BOY–on steroids. Right?

        STBXH also has no real friends. He says he “wants it that way”, because too many people “knowing things” about you is trouble. Really? I think it’s too many people who connect dots and then run far, far away from you—becoming obvious to those you really want to fool!

        I agree with the lack of gift giving or the suckitude of gifts–he had no clue as to what really interested me and never asked (I realized that recently. Yes. Guilty. Spectacular Spackle.)

        • Mine had no close friends, and when he did have close friends, they were a bit on the odd side. One was a misogynist, control freak who got chumped by his first wife. That didn’t help his sanity, and he eventually became too weird for STBX. All the other “friends” were people who were his subordinates at work. He liked to “do things” for them. I think we financed prenatal nutrition for one young woman. I do remember speaking to him about his problems with boundaries, and about the legal and ethical risks of showering too many financial gifts on his subordinates–especially female subordinates. OW was one of his subordinates. I still do not think he understands the degree of risk he’s undertaken as a result of sleeping with her, even though she’s no longer employed by the company. Their EA started long before she left, and I’ve no doubt but that several of the other employees picked up on it.

    • My ex is definitely close to his mother, but has a weirdly close relationship with his sisters. One of the sisters has always seemed to be almost in love with him. They actually did incest together as early teens, so who knows. Back in our early married days, ex and this sister actually told me they wanted to go on weekly “dates” together to go out dancing. I said no. Seriously, how did I stay married to this man for 20 years?

      • Oh dear. I read your comments up above too. Who knows is right and believe me, you don’t want to know. because this dude is a veritable iceberg (just as much below the water that you can’t see) of sado-masochistic fuck-anything-that-moves-dysfunction. He’s staged “brushes with death?”

        What kind of deranged fuckwit does that? Honey, he probably fucks horses too. Sorry to be so graphic, but anything goes. the crazier, the weirder, the better. This kind of compulsive behavior is an escalating disease. Last week he fucked a dog… Next week, he’ll find a corpse or two laying around. Hmmm… I’m surprised he’s not in prison. Truly. I’m sure he’s done some heinous crimes. GIO, I am so glad that you’re out of that hell hole. I can’t even imagine!

        I’m so sorry about your PTSD. I know a lot of women who have it. I’ve had it too. Most of mine is linked to childhood trauma though. I truly believed that I was marrying a man who was not capable of hurting me like that, but I don’t like that your shrink said that you’ll have it forever. I’m not sure, but don’t give up! And no more beating yourself up for staying with him for 20 years. It could’ve been 40 or 50 years. 49 is still young. I’m 57. sooooooo? I don’t fucking care!

    • Mom issues like you wouldn’t believe with ex as well. And the friend thing. Big red flag. He has two friends that are ‘his’, both middle aged boys whom have little ambition and haven’t really grown up. he makes fun of them behind their backs but since they’re much less successful than him he likes to keep them around to show off to.

      His parents and sister all enable him and his mother…well, she’s a manipulative woman who has caused enormous issues with lots of people in the family, to the point where relationships have fractured completely. She has no friends either. Seriously. The woman has one ‘real’ friend that she sees once or twice a year.

      Ex will not hear a word against his parents. Like all families, I figured his family had its nutty bits but it’s something you laugh about, right? I laugh at my family’s weirdness but love them anyway. Not ex. His parents are PERFECT and everything they do or say is the right thing. If they say you shouldn’t go on holiday to some particular destination that they read something bad about in the paper then ex will say he doesn’t want to go there.

      These are HUGE red flags that I just didn’t see. I thought it was nice he was so close to his family. I didn’t realise he was so close that he never really broke away from them to form his own identity.

    • I should add that another red flag was when he was around people our age or older: he couldn’t connect with them or deal with them on an adult level. So if we were at a big family event he would gravitate towards the younger generation, the nieces/nephews that were in their early to mid twenties (he’s early 40s). Once, when we were staying with some friends when we left he said that it was like hanging out with an aunt and uncle. These people were around our age. Guess how old most of the OW were? You guessed it, early to mid-twenties. Final one is younger than a couple of our nieces and nephews.

      • The not connecting with his own age group was a red flag in my case as well. At any family function, he’d be off hanging out with the 20 & 30 age group. He couldn’t hold a conversation with folks closer to his own age. It got worse over time, as his affair progressed. I think he has really started to think of himself as a 30 year old…even though he is 60+.

        His 30 year old AP thinks the earring he got at 60 is sexy. I just thought it was stupid. A guy getting his ear pierced at 60 might be another red flag…

  • Decades ago, when we were first dating, we were having dinner with his sister and her children, at his parents home. During the evening, she got upset at something his mother said. He responded with a loud, “Your Stupid!” aimed at her.

    I was so struck aghast at the remark, all I could think of, was getting out of there. I quickly grabbed my purse and headed out the door. He quickly realized how shocked I was. From that point forward, for over 35 years, I never heard anything like that again.

    It was totally out of character for the person I had gotten to know. I gathered this was not uncommon in this family, prior to my becoming involved. The rest of the family did not react to the remark…at ALL. Nothing. Nada. Huge flag.

    • XH and I had been married for 4 years (known each other for 9) when we visited from out of town for a friend’s wedding and stayed at his mother’s house. He and his mother got into a HUGE fight and said the nastiest things I have ever heard two human beings say to one another. It literally made me sick to my stomach. I grabbed my purse and left the house in tears. I drove all over town for like 3 hours, bawling and trying to comprehend how the vile creature I saw hollering at his mother could also the man I’d married.

      Finally, at close to midnight, I went back to his mother’s house. The door was locked and chained. I rang the doorbell and XH answered it – and wanted to know what I was doing outside. I’d been gone for 3 hours, and he didn’t even realize it. When I told him I couldn’t handle him hollering at his mother that way, he said, “It was nothing.” His mother said the same thing the next morning – “It’s just how we get sometimes. No big deal.” I was flabbergasted.

      I didn’t see that behavior again until about a week before he moved out. I said something he didn’t like, and he turned on me, claws unsheathed. I never saw it coming. At about the 6 second point, I realized I was out of my league, shut my mouth and left the room.

      “Hung by the tongue,” as the saying goes. Once the words are said, you can’t take them back…

      • this is interesting… and the opposite of what I experienced with my ex. my ex’s family doesn’t communicate anything real with each other. They hide the things they don’t want to talk about and bury any negative emotions instead of communicating them.

        I’m sure this is how my cheating ex ended up being insanely passive aggressive.

        • Another Erica, that’s my ex’s family to a T. Completely unable to address anything with anyone. But if the person isn’t there that they have a problem with? They all spend their time talking it over for hours and to come up with the agreed upon story, so to speak, of how things will be viewed. So passive aggressive.

        • Yep, that’s STBX’s family. They never communicated among themselves. I remember going over there, hearing the television going nonstop, and watching them all sit around it. No one really said much, and in retrospect, they pretty much grunted at each other in response to comments. In contrast, my parents’ house always included conversation. Television was off–never used as a white noise backdrop–and we were expected to say more than yes or no.

          If I end up thinking of dating again, watching the family communication dynamics will be a huge part of deciding whether or not to get seriously involved with someone.

        • Another Erica – my future ex is horribly passive agreesive (self admitted too) and comes from a family that the culture of silence is insane. Like, how do you not know that your own mother is your dad’s 3rd wife and not his 2nd. Shit, in my family we all knew the graphic details of my brother in law’s vasectomy gone awry!!! I know more about my brother in laws balls then anyone ever should…ahahahhahaa!!!! It defintely contributes to them pulling off that double life. He hid everything he didn’t want to talk about and instead escaped into an affair.

  • Oh man, I had nothing but red flags from the get go, but was too young and stupid (and he was too good looking) for me to wise up.

    1. He was never available. When he moved to the town where I was going to college, to be with me, I foolishly assumed that we would spend tons of time together. I was informed that I should NOT assume that weekends would be spent together. We would need to play it by ear. When we finally lived together, and planned a very rare weekend getaway, he informed me as I was getting ready to load my bags into the car that he would prefer to go alone, without me. God, how was it that I did not leave then??

    2. There were always other women/friends in the picture that he would not get rid of. Throughout our 21 year relationship, his first-ever high school girlfriend would routinely send him love letters, always asking if she had a chance. Although for years I tried to tell him how this relationship hurt me and degraded us both, he acted as if I was too possessive and needy. My favorite letter from her, presumably after they had had some kind of argument, went like this “The last time I saw you it felt really good, but now THIS does not feel good.” He could never quite explain to me what she might have meant by that.

    3. Gifts? Are you kidding me? One year for Christmas, he gave me a navy blue turtle neck shirt, much like the ones my grandfather liked to wear. The following spring, for my birthday, he gave me a paper bag full of onions (okay, they were shallots, but still). One my birthday, which was just a couple of weeks before d-day, he got me a bag of Lara bars (some kind of fancy granola bar). I had told him previously, on a few occasions, that I actually really don’t like them (they were his favorite). He ended up eating all of them within the week.

    • Ooh — giving you the gift that’s really for them. Classic narcissist stunt. For mine it was stereo equipment. I got an iPod dock like three times — all for him.

        • A box of copy paper stolen from work.
          A lamp from the Dollar Tree that would look good in his office.
          NOTHING, because I needed a new monitor for my home office three weeks before Christmas.
          A birthday card printed off his computer.

  • Gifts????? I usually didn’t get one (we “agreed” to not buy each other gifts, but if SHE didn’t get one……watch out!).

    One Fathers day, I got a nose hair clipper from “my two young sons”……. It said “Dad, here’s a gift you really need” in the card that came with it…….

  • He never ever cared or was sympathetic when I cried, which I noticed even when we were young. Most men are quite the opposite. This was a big red flag I spackled over.

    He never had a limit to how mean he could be, how badly he would lose his temper, what he would say if he did. I REALLY wish I had paid attention to that, HUGE red flag.

    He was very charming and quite intelligent, but I realize now he had very little depth, had very little to talk about in terms of our relationship or his feelings for me or anything else. It is hard to verbalized and was even harder to identify then, but he was and is incredibly shallow. I never realized that till I started dating my current fiancé and saw the difference. How had I missed that during a 25 year marriage?

    We were engaged in less than 5 weeks. Yet he did NOT call every night afterwards (though we were living about 2 hours apart). He just didn’t seem that interested despite us having “fallen in love” and gotten engaged so quickly. I believe a real connection was never there.

    Oddly, he never seemed as interested in sex as I would’ve expected, especially when we were young, attractive and healthy. He was pretty much that way throughout our life, and he was not that good at performing sexually either. I now have a theory he was getting it elsewhere, was looking at way too much porn, and possibly was a closet homosexual or at least into deviant sex (revelations after D-Day sorta confirmed that).

    When we were young he was out every weekend, even when we had young children, supposedly golfing and drinking with the guys. Yeah, right…..

    I knew him in high school and he was an arrogant asshole especially to other women. We met again when I was in law school and everyone thought he changed because he was so adoring. I should’ve realized once an asshole, always an asshole.

    He was very flirtatious with other women during our marriage. I should have seen that for what it was worth but just assumed it was innocent.

    He claimed he had to have extensive contact with female co-workers due to his job, and in order to be successful. He insisted that we visit and we become family friends. Turns out they were his fuckbuddies. I will never believe that it is healthy for a grown adult to be “close friends”with someone of the opposite sex again.

    I too learned of excessive credit card debt (that he had lied to me about, claiming he did not have it) during a credit check for house closing. In fact I could never figure out where his money went (now I know, porn and expensive gifts for girlfriends)

    He did buy me unusually nice gifts even when having multiple affairs (and apparently buying gifts for his AP’s as well). But in the last few years before D-Day, the gifts were usually (but not always) more utilitarian– i.e. blanket, set of plates, pen.

    He had a lot of friends and he did introduce me to a lot of them when we first were dating and married. Still he was never really was close to anyone or shared much, they were golfing buddies, drinking pals, and people who thought my ex walked on water…..Till one by one they fell away through never-explained disputes or for no reason I ever determined (till after D-Day).

    Our children, particularly the boys, particularly when they got to be teens, annoyed him and he had very little to do with them on a daily basis

    After our first child and first son was born 25 years ago, and he came home tipsy on the weekend after being out with his “friends” I suggested he had a child now and should be home with us more. He shrieked and screamed at me that he hated me and wanted a divorce, over and over, even after I became extremely distraught. Wish I had walked out right then and there with my baby and never looked back. I ascribed it to new parent jitters, but it was devastating. Big warning sign.

    He was very remote and removed himself from the daily interactions of family life. Always in his home-office, supposedly “working” (now I know looking at porn and talking to his fuck buddies).

    Always on cell phone or I-pad, everthing password protected.

    While quite intelligent and talented, tall and good looking, etc. he was always an underachiever. He never achieved what one would expect, and even if he did have successful earnings years he could never sustain it. His m.o. was to work in a new position, appear to be doing well, have some years of good earnings, but then be unable to sustain the level,or work and commitment to make it last. Income and job performance would go down, and he’d bail and move to another company. Where the same thing would happen again.

    When I was pregnant with my youngest son 14 years ago, I became convinced that my ex was having an affair with one or the other of two co-workers. He insisted it was not true, and went to my friends and family to help convince me I was crazy for believing that, and they did. I had no proof and he was so adoring and insistent, that I finally trusted him and forgot about it. As noted above, we even became family friends with these women. Then last year, D-Day, I find out that he was having affairs with BOTH women for 17 years, including at times unprotected group sex. Biggest red flag–my gut instinct told me something was going on. I should’ve followed my gut, something I will never fail to do again.

    • Kelly, it floors me how similar our exes are. So many of the things you describe are the same as what I suffered through.

    • Kelly, you reminded me of another – he never wanted to talk about past relationships, and certainly not ours. He would simply say they dumped him, but he failed to say it was because he cheated.

    • I could never understand the underachiever thing myself, and now I refuse to untangle his skein anymore! He always rose to a position of manager, or head whatever, and then I would watch as he became edgy and discontented and finally came home to inform me that he’d stepped down or quit. This freaked me out so badly, we had little kids and he was so detatched about how this would affect us all. It was like self-sabotage.

      • Yes Patty, that is exactly my ex. I’d BEG him not to step down or quit, that we needed the money, needed the health benefits, needed the stability. But he’d claim the stress was too much, the company had unfairly restructured in such a way that he couldn’t make enough money, etc. And then I’d have to take catch him when he bailed. I look back and realize that he just did not have the guts to work hard and consistently every day. Also, I know that many of his affairs were with co-workers (some with younger women he hired and supervised) and I think he may have been forced to step down or leave those companies. Ultimately he insisted on starting his own consulting/business coach/public speaking business with these same AP’s. What a recipe for ongoing lackluster performance!

        • Yeh, and one of the things that initially attracts us is their success, mine was called the genius when he was only three. I never wanted big status or anything, and I worked too, but he would just PUSH good things out of our lives, everything he did ended up making me insecure.

        • I found out much later for a fact that one of his job losses was directly tied to getting caught having a fling in an office by top management. At the time I figured they just didn’t see his genius. And so I busted my ass to help him figure things out, write his CV, find another job. And he kept tellingme what a wonderful wife I was for being so supportive. Talk about feeling like a mug.

      • Patty, I went through this with ex a number of times. Why? Because he looked good on paper, talked a good game but when it came down to the crunch he buckled. He simply could not operate on that level. He even had one CEO tell him that he simply was not suited to a high powered executive career because of his attitude and way of working. This pissed ex off enormously and I naturally said ‘what an asshole that CEO is, he just doesn’t see how fabulously genius you are’.

        I think the jobs he lost saw something I didn’t. Might be why, as the years passed, he kept me far, far away from his working world. Oh, and because it’s one of the places he scouted for side pieces.

        • Now Im wondering if mine was doing the same! But I kind of don’t want to know, but I can see him cornering some poor girl. Sigh. I do know he has no patience, and flying off the handle is bad for business! It’s funny, because I am extremely patient, I now believe that old saw- opposites attract, but they don’t stay together!

  • Hoo boy, if I had only KNOWN. Lesse…things to look out for to add to this list:

    1) If you’re mad at him about something, and it’s something serious like he’s HOURS late to an appointment or chose to go out with friends instead of upholding a commitment, don’t let him “puppy face” you out of talking to him about it seriously. I can recall several times where I had angrily texted him, saying that he had blown off something important or was late again and needed to get home NOW. I can remember telling myself that it’s serious and we need to talk. Even practicing what I was going to say, only to have it fall apart when he pulled the “I’m hurt and sorry and I looooove yoooooouuu” act. If it’s something important, steel your spine and don’t let them butter you up.

    2) If he has lots and lots of friends, but has a problem with you talking to them. My ex would talk about his friends all the time, this girl was cool because she did xyz, or look at this cool drawing THAT girl did for him, or “I’m going out with these friends and we’re going to do this, that and the other and it will be so awesome….well, I didn’t think you’d WANT to come sooo….” Having friends is one thing, but having a constant revolving door of a social life that you never seem to be included in is a red flag.

    3) Alternately, if he has tons of friends that he is always spending time around, but he never wants to be around YOUR friends. Usually this means he either wants you to disconnect from them so you won’t have a support network, or he thinks he’s too good for them. I’m going to assume my ex was both.

    4) Having dumb, selfish justifications for wanting excess female attention, and then guilts you if another guy dare give you a compliment. Or if you get sexually harassed and he gets mad at YOU for it. My ex did this often. I would tell him some disgusting thing someone had yelled at me from his car, or how some guy was hitting on me and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and he’d guilt me for it. He would tell me it made him feel bad. Not because other guys were disrespecting his girlfriend, oh no, but because I WAS GETTING MORE ATTENTION THAN HIM. He would tell me it made him feel bad that I would get hit on and not him and how he wished women would “compliment” (notice how he referred to sexual harassment as complimentary) him more often. And then when I tried to tell him I didn’t like it, or I wasn’t doing it to make him feel bad, he would come up with some bullshit about how compliments from other women mean more than compliments from me because he just expects that from me anyway and he hears it often.

    ….seriously. How narcissistic is that? Very. And no one should ever swallow THAT shit sandwich. So for those of you heading back into the dating world, don’t take it.

    4) *this is a little specific, but could apply to others* If he likes to watch you masturbate, any time, whenever he feels like it, but refuses to even allow you to be in the same room when he masturbates.
    He loved to just watch me. If he wasn’t home and walked in on me using a vibe, he would sit there and watch. But when I asked if I could watch him, he would get REALLY defensive and tell me that he’d prefer if I didn’t because that was “his” time and that I would be “invading” his privacy.

    This was a huge double-standard and despite him telling me otherwise, yes, he WAS in fact, HIDING SOMETHING.

    After all this shit, I decided I was never going to but up with it again. And I haven’t, which has done me well.

  • Mine was very different when it came to gift giving. He was masterful. And he always asked me “did you tell (fill in the blank) what I gave you? What did they say?” He wanted a long conversation about how wonderful everyone thought his gifts were. It was just all about him.

  • I got the gifts, but not the intimacy. It was easier to buy me something ( usually nice things ) than to summon up an appearance of empathy and emotion.

    Never apologized as well.

  • Oh, before I forget to add:

    If he has a sense of humor that always seems to be at the expense of someone else. Especially if he loves having a good laugh at YOU. He loved to joke about how stupid I was. “Oh, poor stupid you.” “You can’t drive like me because you’re a woman!” And jokes about hospital staff gang-raping me at gyno appointments.

    If a guy makes mean-spirited jokes about you, and no one is laughing but him, that’s a red flag.

  • I’d say there were signs, like this:

    1) His mother would call every night when we were first married and had to see us every Sunday night for dinner. Christmas was a must. She was always making excuses to see him. He never set any boundaries with her. Eventually she sort of gave up.

    2) No friends. He only had high school friends. He had no connections with work despite staying at the same job for over a decade. When he found some new friends they were sketchy and drinkers. When I raised an objection over him out drinking often with these friends he’d call me controlling. Against, a real lack of boundaries.

    3) Gift giving – THIS. I would purchase most of the gifts for the family throughout our married life. Once he gave me a piece of art he wanted. Usually I’d pick out the gift and he’d go get it. He gave me flower arrangements that he liked.

    4) Work was always first. It didn’t matter if I was sick, sad, lonely, confused or whatever, work was first. Always. He was very invested in his career and being seen as competent. He was annoyed if he had to be home for a family issue when he wanted to be at work.

    5) He spent a lot of money on his interests. He made a lot of money but he also spent most of it on himself and his interests. Yet he always complained about how much money we were spending and the need to cut back. Then he’d go out a buy a fancy car.

    I guess my big red flag would be ongoing selfish behavior. If he’s not around when he should be and you’d like him to be – run.

    • Ah yes his interests/hobbies. Money here money there. Hobbies changed so frequently and in my eyes they were costly but chumpy me….he is such a hard worker. I even would thank him for working so hard pulling overtime as it helped with vacation funds. And yes work came first. It’s an image that he tries to portray. ..and that is where he met mugshot…

      • OMG, the hobbies. I was sorting through his fly fishing craze the other day – how many reels does a person need? Why are they Hardy’s and Shilton?

        Then, he was invited for a day’s shooting. He rushed out and bought himself a whole rack of guns. Then wondered how he was going to get a firearms licence (we don’t live in the US). He never got the licence, and the guns have never left their specially installed new safe.

        He has an Audi RS, a Porsche and a Maserati. Still wants more.

        It didn’t matter how much I protested, his family motto I used to joke (some joke) is ‘I Want, Therefore I Shall Have’.

        • Yep, boy can I relate to that, and after many years of this, I do think it’s a red flag. It means they ‘re impulsive, self-centered, greedy and think juvenile thoughts. NOT a good type to try to make a life with! You’ll always be way down on the totem pole below all their precious possessions. BTDT

    • thensome — on the gifts for his family, I can totally relate. I bought (with my own money, never his) all the gifts for his mother, sister, and niece and nephew. Thoughtful, generous gifts from “us” — they even joked they knew it was from me, (because they were wrapped). He actually got ANGRY with me once for buying his niece an American Girl doll that she badly wanted, and loved. I had to buy the presents, but don’t give anything that would upstage him or make him look bad. No understanding crazy. It was crazy.

      • Yep, did all the shopping and gift buying for all family members on both sides for all holidays, birthdays, whatever. ONCE did he do that for a family member of mine. After I kicked him out he made a big deal of doing all his christmas shopping, buying way over the top gifts for the kids and everyone else from him and final OW. Gross.

      • CL, you are really not helping me think that we really were with the same ex! Ditto, ditto, ditto. Everything. BUT the whore bought his nieces their American Girl gifts, she worked there seasonally. HE brought the gifts home and said there had been a SALE. Chump!

  • Meeting my stbxw online meant that we did nothing but talk for the first few months of our relationship. We were together for 8 months before we got married, most of it long distance. Most of CL’s checklist is something looking back at everything I can check off for her. I was young 21 when we got married and dumb. I could have used this list a long time ago.

    3. Cancelled plans at last minute…She wouldn’t make plans “Lets play it by ear” was what she always said. Then was disappointed that we couldn’t do shit because we had no money…..because she was busy spending it on herself.

    She was a huge story teller also, always had a story for some situation but never backed it up. Constantly told me how good she was a singing and how she was in the school plays, I never got to see the tapes because she didn’t have them, her best friends dad did. I would ask her to sing for me all the time, but she never would because of something or another.

    Absolute shit gift giver… the point that she ruined the one and only surprise birthday party that I ever had. I was always told “your too hard to shop for”…..I’ve said it before but I’m an artist and I could have be given a sketch book and pencils and it would have made me happy. Me dropping 200 dollars on a coat or new boots, or a whole new wardrobe from (free advertisement, sorry) but that shit was expensive all on her was no problem. I listened to her and what she loved, and broke my back to get it for her. It fucking hurts.

    She’s moved so fast into her next relationship that its like the 12 years we were together didn’t mean shit. “he does things, for me” ??? Yeah what the fuck did I do. Oh yeah I convinced my family not to press charges on you when you broke into their house and stole prescription pills from them. The fact that I protected her image so much to just get shit on baffles me.

    There is a lot I could type out but it’s the same as most on here. The repetition of the same story makes me sad, but so glad we are all here to learn from each other.

  • We have been together since high school, so I’ll have to go by way early warning signs.
    Signs even back then, as teens:
    – huge ego and superiority complex, better than everyone
    – he was sure that he a very special life destiny that only a select few could see (his adoring fans)
    – he loved role playing, games, acting, and winning. On his own terms.
    – lots of word salad in writing and in person (double meaning words, and he was a good writer, so never an accident)
    – our relationship was so intense and physical, so fast, that teachers and other parents who knew us expressed concern and suggested we take a break from each other
    – weird relationship with his mom, treated her like a subordinate
    – dropped me like a hot potato whenever he wanted something that I didn’t or felt vaguely threatened
    – abusive in fights, verbally and physically, even early on
    – whenever I ended the relationship, he relentlessly hoovered me back in. Even after I dropped him and moved away for college. Yes, I was such a chump sucker that I even once got on a bus and rode all night to our hometown, walked halfway across town to his mom’s house, to “go to him” — all because he sucked me back in with a wordsalad letter.
    – we eloped when we were 19, pregnant at 21, and it just went right on downhill from there.

    If time travel is ever invented (since our relationship lasted almost 29 years), I’d pay every dime that I ever have to go back and tell my younger self to run, don’t walk, and leave that f*ker the hell behind. He never changed and he just got worse with time.

    If I sound bitter today, it is because I have been sorting out 30 years of memories in storage including our high school yearbooks, so it is all a bit raw right now. :p Stbx is uber busy mega sparkling and hoovering in soon to be wife #2, his fave affair partner/sucker who has been in an extensive pickme dance for over 4 years. Same stuff, different day, new person. We really are just cardboard cutouts to them.

    • SummerGirl, take a break from the sorting and go do something you will enjoy.

      My therapist taught me a thing that I don’t know how to teach you because my PTSD was so bad I couldn’t function and I couldn’t work through all the shit quickly. I will say what it is but you have to do it regularly for it to work. You choose a container that locks but it can be opened by you. I couldn’t deal with a trunk so I created a vortex with pearls (I lock the thoughts in the pearls within the vortex).

      Anyhow, when unwanted thoughts intrude on you and you do not have the energy to deal with it, or work through it, you literally throw the thought(s) in your lockbox. At first the thoughts will only disappear for a few minutes, then hours, eventually when your mind learns the trick of it you can throw the thought in and it will leave your mind for days and sometimes until you are ready to “take them out of the box”. Hope this helps someone as much as it helped me

      • Bless you for this advice, I need it so much right now. It gets so overwhelming. I’ll pick up some random item after being fine for several hours, and suddenly recall some moment so clearly for our family and how it felt, and just stand there and cry. Then throw it away. It is the total loss of dreams of what I wanted to be, that just wasn’t, that is the hardest.

        I think that I’ll go spend the afternoon building that beautiful mental box to put those pearls where they belong. :). Thank you!

        • It will get better, I’m glad if I helped. I had to draw my “box” on paper before it worked for me, so you may too. (((hugs)))

          • That is a great visual! I got to the point where I would make an appointment with my thoughts and anger — 15 minutes per day, at the same time each morning, and that was all I could think about or focus on. If a thought or feeling crept in outside of the appointment time, when I didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it, I’d tell myself/the thought “I’ll revisit you at 9am tomorrow”. It helped me so much. I reclaimed my days, minute by minute.

  • Big red flags I should have seen, but we were young and had met in college.

    She had a revolving door of friends but no real long time friends.
    She had been in drug and alcohol rehab by the time she was seventeen but claimed her parents were nuts and she never had a problem.
    She alternated from being hot and cold. ( that’s the best I can describe it)
    She’d say things and then months later deny she ever said that.
    She broke off with me few times and when I’d begin to move on she’d pursue me and say she couldn’t live without me.
    She was envious of others but you’d never know by the way she acted around them.
    She went through multiple fads, hipster chick, classical music, slam poetry, politics, weaving….etc..but never stuck with anything.

  • I’ve got a couple to add:

    1) lack of good manners, not a gentleman/lady – I just think they don’t pay much attention to societal niceties because they are too busy thinking about themselves. Especially once you’re with them a while.

    My ex used to basically abandon me at parties where he knew everyone and I knew almost no one. His roommate used to check in on me more than he did. He did not think of getting me a drink. He would never leave someplace earlier than he wanted to for me. Guys that did stuff like that were “whipped”.

    2) assuming you will do things for them – kinda goes with lack of reciprocity. But they literally don’t think of inconveniencing you at all… because they don’t have the ability to put themselves in your shoes.

    My ex pulled this on me today actually and I can see how a chump just gives in. I picked the kids up early from day care today just to hang out with them (his day to have them) and brought them to a place super close to their dad’s to play. So, I saved him at least 20 minutes between going to pick up and get them home. I told him to meet me at the bookstore where we were. He then texted me to say he was almost to his place and just swing by with the kids when we’re done. Um, my kids are 2 and 4… loading and unloading into a car for a 2 minute drive is annoying and I’ve already essentially saved him time. I told him again to meet us at the bookstore. When he got there, I called him on it and he did say he wasn’t trying to be annoying. And I realized it might actually be true. He just DOES NOT HAVE CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS. It literally doesn’t enter his mind that I’d already saved him time and effort and now he’s asking me to give more. I can see where chumpy married-to-him-me would have been irritated by this request but bit my tongue and just done it because it’s not THAT big a deal. Until it happens over and over and over again. And you just become grumpy in general because you go out of your way so often in these, admittedly small, ways but you get no thanks. And you don’t ever ask him to do the same in return. Because those requests are ridiculous and annoying – you would never ask those things of someone else! Though chumps probably err on the side of NOT inconveniencing others too much as well.

    • That was a huge one for me as well. Mine was frequently inconsiderate. There were times where I was so tired, and instead of whisking the kids off to bed, he’d sit at his computer (probably chatting with the AP) until I’d start getting them ready for bed, and then he’d say, “Oh, I’ll do it.” He was like that with everything– I didn’t want to nag, so I’d just do whatever chore it would have been nice to have him do (especially since he telecommuted, made his own schedule, and goofed around more than he actually worked), and then he’d half-heartedly say, “Oh, I can do that.”

      When? Next February? Never mind, I’ll do it myself.

      I lived in a constant state of grumpiness after we had kids. He wanted life to continue on as it always had, and he didn’t want to help pick up the slack. I’m so much happier being on my own because I know that it’s up to me to get things done, so I don’t have anyone to be grumpy with!

    • another Erica,

      I can so relate to the being abandoned at parties – or anywhere he might have any type of audience. I never complained (because me complaining about ANYTHING was always somehow an affront to him and the relationship and meant I was nothing but a shrew dontcha know) about sometimes being in a location where I didn’t know any of the people and having to sit, sometimes for hours, while he was courted and fawned over (mostly by the women) while I sat in a corner or in some remote location making small talk with anyone who might happen by and feel that someone should say something to me. After awhile, I always took reading material with me so I would have something to do. He then used that against me in marriage counseling, without ever once acknowledging WHY I was in the habit of pulling out reading material when we were out together and he would abandon me. I was told that I should have either participated or stood adoringly by his side. Keep in mind most of the time he was talking to some woman or another, and for my part, I had extracted whatever honest information or edification I was going to get from the interaction, and I was ready to move on to the next conversation. However, if whomever he was talking to was filling him full of kibbles, he had motivation to continue the interaction, and most often would, long after there was any reason to continue the exchange.

      Also, the issue with him never seeing any of his requests as being an inconvenience, no matter how many requests he heaped upon me, no matter how many things I already had to do and no matter how many things he had already asked me to do and how involved they were. There was always the assumption that I should just do it and not complain about it. On the other hand, any time I asked him to do anything, it was always as if I was asking him to slice off his right testicle for me to wear as an earring. EVERYTHING, up to and including the two of us grocery shopping together, was an inconvenience for him. He would do it but I needed to be eternally grateful to him forever for having done it. Why am I grateful to you for any reciprocity in the relationship while you’re lecturing the children about us being a family and everyone having a role to play and a job or jobs to do? It was mind boggling. I had gotten to the point where I was afraid to ask him to do anything. Until I read about narcissism, I didn’t realize that for our entire relationship he had been managing down my expectations until I simply didn’t have any. I’m getting angry right now just typing this.

      I have got to be the Chumpiest of the Chumpiest Chumps!

      • One of the most hurtful things from X’s affair- all the things he gleefully did for her that I either never got, or he would sulkily do it.
        Washing her dishes
        Visiting her daily in the hospital
        Fixing things on her car
        Grocery shopping with her (& he told me they held hands)
        Now obviously I wasn’t there to see some of these, he told me about them! I know he wanted to make me jealous, but also hurt me to the core. Now that were divorced and almost split up (we have to sell our house), he asks me to go shopping, etc.
        Too little, too late, this Chump store is out of business!

        • PattyToo – well, if he told you about it, it must be true! 😉

          p.s. major dick move bragging to your current wife about how good you act with your girlfriend. Seriously!?!?!

          • Oh, yes, he is a dick, and loves making me jealous (very pathological, not that he’ll ever see that). He used to smooch on his big dog, and then look over at me and say ‘jealous?’ Aaaaargh, what an asshole!

      • Chump Princess,

        I know, my ex expected me to do everything during the week so that there were literally zero chores leftover on the weekend. I understand that TO A POINT, since I was staying home with the kids. But when you have a baby and a 2 year old there is still a limit to the errands you can accomplish on your own. But he pretty much expected to have nothing to do on the weekends. Plus, I don’t even think all errands are horrible things… if he’d had a better attitude, doing some of that stuff could actually be fun. Yes, there’s things I’d rather do, but if you’ve got to do it, at least try to have a good time. For him, unless it’s sitting on his butt or playing guitar it’s the worst thing in the world. He even complains about his soccer league like it’s a chore… uh, no one is making you do it! it’s supposed to be fun!

        Also any kind of “man chore” like a small repair, etc., pretty much didn’t get done or took forever and was done completely grudgingly and only after I was forced to nag. I now kinda like the idea of a guy who’s handy because my ex pretty much refused to do any of those types of things.

  • Some great observations.

    CS has a few, too.

    Sometimes narcs will learn to bend/break boundaries very early with a Chump. A rage-aholic will, for example, pop off incredibly and then see if he/she can get away with it. You might get a teary apology (you being the Chump) or you might not. But if you go back after one of these weird, transgressive episodes, then the narc knows that s/he has you. They have the upper hand. They’ve marked their excessive territory and they will return to claim it.

    Often these folks are good looking, and they are convinced they have/or should have/or should have had some special life, some special destiny.

    Narcs are often attentive parents to little kids. Chumps often fall for this. “Harold is so good with little Donnie…. It’s wonderful!” Yes, Harold is good, but he’s also looking at what he thinks is his clone. So when he teaches little Donnie golf all day, Harold is also doing his own favorite sport. Donnie may get a lot of attention, but his younger sister, Ellie, does not get much. Narcs also cherry pick among the kids. Finally, they are totally flummoxed by adolescence. When the kid is no longer a clone, they have no idea what to do. This is when, I think, the narcs often look for ego kibbles from another source.

    Finally, we Chumps “spackle,” as CL puts it so well. We supply their emotions. We project onto them feelings that they don’t really have. We get invested in this projection. It protects us from realizing how bad our mistake was and just how little we mean to the narc. Sometimes projective spackling can go on for a whole lifetime.

    There’s a few.

    • “Often these folks are good looking, and they are convinced they have/or should have/or should have had some special life, some special destiny.”

      In his book about himself and how inspirational he considers himself to be, my ex actually wrote he always knew he was destined to be famous.

      • Oh, here’s another one–

        Once said to me in an accusatory voice as I was hugging our then-12 year old son: “HE’S your boyfriend!” I replied to him: “He’s your son and is the one most like you, how can you be jealous that I love him??” Unbeknownst to me, he had been cheating on me for over 1 1/2 decades before then, was having multiple affairs and group sex, and was jealous of his own son.

      • yeah… very famous. He’s the kind of dude that they have to dig the dead hamsters outta his ass.

    • “We get invested in this projection. It protects us from realizing how bad our mistake was and just how little we mean to the narc.”

      That sums up the “why” of spackle. So, so true.

    • “Finally, we Chumps “spackle,” as CL puts it so well. We supply their emotions. We project onto them feelings that they don’t really have. We get invested in this projection. It protects us from realizing how bad our mistake was and just how little we mean to the narc. Sometimes projective spackling can go on for a whole lifetime.”

      Well said David. If he hadn’t fucked OW, I would still be doing it. As my IC said, ‘don’t you see that his affair was the finally unacceptably hurtful part of a pattern?’

      That IC clocked him straight off. IC eventually got fed up of me not getting it, told me he was a narcissist and that he would never change for me or the kids. And so it has proved.

  • I read somewhere recently that narcs have had their imaginations drilled out of them or otherwise compromised in early childhood. They are scorned or made fun of for engaging in imaginative play. So the gift giving? No imagination. It was always the last minute and then something utilitarian, unless he’d been listening to radio commercials and had ideas planted in his head. I had one year I got pajamagrams for Valentines, Birthday and Christmas. During the discovery process of the divorce I discovered Mr. Lack of Imagination pajamagramed the AP too. You’d think a new relationship calls for something special and different.

  • #’s 1, 2, 3 9 & 10 describe my H perfectly when we first started going out. and I can add on more sign. Your friends doesn’t seem to want to be around them or have you be around them I can remember 1 date; we were sitting at a small informal resturant and I saw an old girlfriend sitting at another table so I went over and started talking to her. When I looked back at my “date” he was fuming! Like I’d been gone for an hour and not 10 minutes.

  • We got together when I was just 18 (and already living together as roommates) so I try and give myself a break!

    – Hugely arrogant, even though he had not actually achieved anything, thought he was/is better than everyone and is always right about everything
    – If something went wrong, it was ALWAYS somehow my fault, even when it black and white wasn’t or couldn’t be!
    – Had no real male friends to speak of, but plenty of female co-workers over the years that he’d hang out with (no affairs, but only because they weren’t interested in him I think, until OW came onto the scene and took the bait!!). Chumpy me didn’t have a jealous bone in her body, so didn’t care….me with a male friend but? Uh-uh, NOT A CHANCE!
    – Was insanely jealous of me talking to other males, and even jealous of the guys that I was with before him! And made sure I knew it too.
    – Hugely into porn. Obsessed with anal and face fucking. Always pressed for anal even though he knew I hated it and found it really uncomfortable.
    – Gift giving? Yeah right. His idea of a thoughful gift was spending as much money as possible on something. Even though I made it clear in no uncertain terms across our 7 year relationship that I’d much prefer he put some thought into a present and spend $5, even specifically saying “organise a picnic”. Never happened. And of course, forgot my birthday altogether during the affair, before D-day.
    – Always insisted on keeping a password on his phone & computer, citing “I need my own space”. I never had any passwords! People that have nothing to hide, hide nothing right?!
    – Made his ex feel like a piece of dirt when she was with another guy when they were on a break (and then got back together), but neglected to tell her he did the same thing! Justified it as “she was calling me and wanted me back during that time, I wasn’t, it’s not the same and she didn’t need to know”. Double standards – HUGE RED FLAG!!!!

    But again, I was only 18, I knew nothing!

  • I’d add one (and probably more later!)- The two-sided personality.
    I could never reconcile how he was soooo kind and sweet, and then a switch flipped (ie: Patty did something wrong), and he was fuming, berating me, and even THROWING things. This just got worse as we got older, less nice guy and more critical Prick. I know I thought at the time that love would calm him down and fix all that. I wish I could go back and give my young, dumb self a good talking to! It usually gets worse, not better!

    • That two-sided personality thing is really key. My stbx could flip on a dime on a perceived slight. One minute being affectionate and holding me and chatting. Three sentences later – insane. As in red in the face, frothing rages, swearing and insults, throwing and breaking things, punching holes in walls, the whole nine yards.

      I am so sorry you had to deal with this. It is truly terrifying. And heartbreaking.

      • Same back to you 🙂
        He was holding me in his arms on the couch a couple of years ago, then, he got quiet and still, and he tossed me on the floor! I really thought I broke my right elbow, and I never did find out WTF he was even mad about! I wish I’d called the police, but I didn’t.

  • 1. They lie without reason. Lying is a habit.

    2. They cannot handle constructive criticism or correction. Either they blow up or whine about it later.

    3. They either blow up at or are passive-aggressive toward those in the service industry. They seem to get power from yelling at the waitress or threatening to sue the person at check-up because they’re trying to use an expired coupon.

    • Mine lied about his younger sisters pregnancy. .. I found out she was pregnant through her husbands public fb account and she was 7months pregnant. I asked if he was aware and he said no. So I immediately thought what have we done wrong to be excluded from the news. Granted his sister and I didny see eye to eye but it was me that buys the gifts. I played along for two weeks and told him that if his family asked me I was going to play dumb. He finallly pulled me aside and said that he did know but couldn’t tell me because of the tension between his sister and myself. And no it couldn’t be his kid. She lived 1500 miles away and they never saw each other. Why lie about so much. I even sent his parents a letter to try and help because in that confession he said that he felt distant to his folks so okay I typed up a letter had him approve it and off it went. That was a year before his affair started. Fucking jerk. Ilies all lies….

      • he also ripped out my newly planted flowers and couldn’t even say he was sorry finally after two weeks I told him the least you could do is say sorry I know it was an accident but he didn’t even have the gumption to apologize. he never could handle criticism well either even at counseling he made the comment that if he was painting and I noticed a spot he would get pissed about it the counselor asked what would he do if the counselor found a spot and he said he would take it as constructive criticism but if I did it would be wrong. f****** douchebag

  • I think I can echo pretty much everything here…but instead of a tattoo would request a bright BATMAN spotlight that comes out of the top of their head…..I’d prefer to stay clearer of these types of wingnuts than the forehead tattoo would allow

      • Thanks Summergirl…..ChumpLady….can you draw up a cartoon that demo’s your WINGNUT TATTOOing idea as well as a SCREAMING WINGNUT BEACON Light out of the top of the head?

        • I think cake eating wing nuts should have sparkles shooting out of their asses, how is that for a sign to turn and run??

          • I used to actually joke with my ex when he would get too over-the-top. I’d say he had rainbows and leprechauns shooting out of his ass. I was teasing, but that’s actually a really good description of him.

  • Mine was decent at gift-giving, a thoughtful lover, and almost always a gentleman – for more than 25 years. Then, once I insisted he get rid of OW, all that Southern charm disappeared. I haven’t seen much of it since.

    Meanwhile, he was:

    Always smarter than anyone else, including physicians and lawyers (he’s a PhD)
    Never given his due
    Always right
    Had little patience for incompetence
    Required constant adoration
    Disliked that I spent so much time with the kids
    Had no patience for the kids
    Criticizes rather compliments…unless he wants something

    When we met, I was dancing, modeling, and doing beauty pageants. For years he kept my magazine covers framed and in his office. I was flattered, thinking he was proud of me. Now I realize it was just because he wanted his colleagues to know he’d married a model. After two decades, those pictures disappeared off his office wall about 6 months before D-day; one of his colleagues later told me it was at OW’s request (she was one of his grad students).

    He discovered this week that D 13 scored in the top 98% on her last Terra Nova test and was recommended as a John Hopkins scholar this summer (as was our oldest daughter 2 years ago). He demanded to know why I hadn’t told him. I said it was because the program was expensive and required them to spend a week away, which is true. But the real reason is because I knew he would instantly assume that their success was a reflection of HIM – which, of course, he did. He hasn’t had a meaningful relationship with either of his daughters in 5 years, has not helped them with homework or anything else, yet he’s apparently crowing like a rooster at work that his girls are *almost* as smart as him (he was never a Hopkins scholar).

    Meanwhile one of my friends snorted when I told her that story and said, “No, Red, it’s a reflection of YOU – how well you’ve managed to parent them IN SPITE of him tearing their world apart.” Naturally, I prefer her take on it… 😉

  • Oh, Lord yes. No real friends. Still true.

    And gifts? Like my sister, also now split from an NPD, we each got to the point where we would actually just send a catalog image, size, color, price, etc…. or pick something off Etsy. Otherwise? I would get stuff like Alice in Wonderland woodblock prints–very nice ones (as such), but last time I checked I wasn’t a toddler, nor were we decorating a toddler’s room….WTF?

    And here’s another tip: after 25 years the arsehole could never remember what I liked to eat. I could guarantee that when he went to the grocery store, for example, if he got ice cream he would come home with a flavor I detested. When I said, “but you know that I hate (say) Peanut Butter Swirl,” he would get all flustered and say that he got confused, and thought I liked it… After 25 years. Could. Not. Remember. What. Food. I. Liked.

    Now, laid up with bad back problems (aggravated by the impending final divorce, having to move and unpack my new house all alone, because–ta da! — somehow all my old friends think that I must have something catching and not one has come out to help.) Hence, now –former friends. (gotta admit, I’m very jealous of all of you who have good friends. I think my ability to pick a good partner is equally impaired as my ability to pick good friends, and I got a bunch of NPDS, alas.)

    Anyway, laid up with my spine and discs acting like little bastids, I made the mistake of checking the creature’s social media. Well guess who is the life of the party? FB, foursquare, Twatter, going here, going there, doing all kinds of things. Gross and disgusting dalliances on his twatter (matching curtains and drapes? crooks and valleys? with some woman he doesn’t even know–yeah, right….).

    I REALLY gotta steel myself to not look. It’s so disgusting. He emailed me today — “what am I supposed to do, live my life in a hole?”. I said, “sure, why not, I do, because of all the medical and emotional damage you’ve caused.” Pointless exchange (d’oh) and the first one I’ve had with it/him in ages.

    But really, the cherry on the (Peanut Butter Swirl) ice-cream sunday? He’s hanging out with his old buddy who he told about his affair while it was going on–the same guy who I fed countless casseroles to when he had open heart surgery, the same guy whose wife got the creature so hot in that damned Amadeus production– the one where I made the costumes? Yeah, so they’re all hanging out. Must be fun.

    And that couple? when I wrote to them (about a year ago) to tell them I was hurt by their rejection, that I thought we had been mutual friends, and they done me wrong by maintaining the creature’s lies…never responded. Just cut me right out of their lives. Of course, the creature had been lying about what a godawful bitch I was and how I was to blame for everything wrong in his life, like why he had to fuck other other people. (certainly, I am, I am! )

    Oh, all these people are just existentially awful. I think if I were religious, it would put a quick halt to that. How is it possible that there are such monsters living among us? (purely rhetorical question, not skein-untangling) . I often feel that it’s like one of those science fiction things, where they peel back the human skin, and there’s an alien reptile or something underneath (no offense to reptiles intended.)

  • CL nails it again.

    one more thing to add:

    i will never forget the first time i caught him cheating during a game we were playing with the kids.

    kids were LITTLE. i would throw game after game of “Fish” or “crazy eights” so the kids could win. but he would stoop to cheating to beat them.

    i wish i was making this up.

    • OMG Moxie. That is totally mind blowing. Who the hell needs to cheat in a game of Fish with their own kids??? So. Messed. Up.

    • Hey, if he lost to a CHILD he wouldn’t be the smartest person in the room, now would he? That shit must be stopped.

    • XH didn’t cheat, but he never let the kids win, either. He said they would have to upgrade their skills, and if they ever DID beat him, THEN they could say they were better than him. Of course, they never wanted to play again after that…

    • Wow…both ex and his father cheat at cards. They laugh about it. Hell, I used to laugh about it. YOu simply knew that his father in particular would do anything to win. His father was also a big cheater.

  • My boyfriend (thank God it went no further! I see now) only loved women in his past. All his best relationships were past and future, never present. See me dancing all over the place.

    This was done with the ‘pity me’ personality. Woe is me….. what a chump I was.

    This is why I visit this site often, I learn so much. Maybe one day my ‘picker’ will be in better shape than it has been.

  • Out of all your posts, this one could have been totally written by me…it was like i was reading my own story when I was with the ex. Wow.

    Amazing. Truly amazing. They ARE all the same, aren’t they?

  • He was colossally cheap to waiters and bartenders, despite having supposedly (I’ll never know if it is true or not) been a bartender at one time.

    When someone does the 12% (seriously… he called my tipping of 20+% or more “Donald Trump tipping”) math on the check and doesn’t round up so the server has to bring home pennies, you know you’re dating a cheap asshole. Oh, and a dollar for buffets. If I never eat at a buffet again, it will be too soon.

  • Oh and he was a show off. Mine actually tipped big and befriended all the waitstaff looking for special favors and to look important. He constantly had to be the center of attention and if he was not he was withdrawn.

    He was also very insincere when he spoke, at the time I didn’t know why it unnerved me by he did. He was just so inauthentic at times, whether looking deeply into my eyes to express his love and adoration for me, or when he was giving a speech as a public speaker. There was always something a little….off…

  • Oh, boy…. My new fella scores 8 out of 10. Having been chumped once already by my ex, I have my red-flag alert set to “high”, and I’ve been keeping the self-help book industry going singlehandedly– but I don’t see any actual signs of new fella cheating. I have noticed an odd lack of empathy, and that’s a long-term deal killer right there. The “I didn’t get you anything for your birthday” was another one, especially since I had gotten him something for his own birthday two weeks before. Recently he took me to a grocery store to buy “flowers for our 6-month anniversary”, but later it was awkwardly apparent that the flowers were for *his* house, not for me to take home to my house! Jeez, maybe I should have taken back the bottle of wine I bought for him…

    I’m having a very hard time trying to tell the inevitable misunderstandings (of two very different people trying to build a relationship) apart from the screaming red flags that I will wish I had paid attention to. How can you tell the difference? Or do you only know in hindsight?

    • Run don’t walk, Cerise, seriously, the lack of empathy alone is scary enough. You deserve much more. You don’t want to look back like I am now after a 25 year marriage and have to consider that you squandered the best years of your life on a loser who never really loved you and cheated on you. And god forbid if you have children with him (my ex hasn’t seen our 3 children in the 1 1/2 years since D-Day when I kicked him out).

      Here’s how I figure it– I look back and realize my ex is a sociopath, very devious but very charming and sparkly, but still there were signs– you have some now. I wish that even if I couldn’t prove my was cheating (I suspected it 14 years ago while pregnant with our 3rd child), that I had left because he sucked as a husband. He was never home (I used to think working but now I know better), not a good provider, raging temper especially with the children, nuts about the house being clean, detached, self absorbed, etc. I wish I had kicked him to the curb for sucking as a husband and father and not meeting MY needs.

      So you see, it doesn’t in the end come down to whether he is cheating or you can prove that he is cheating. You have all the information you need. He sucks in ways you already know, no dispute. Who cares if he’s cheating too or will cheat in the future, Get rid of him and get someone worthy of your love.

    • Cerise, he’s a loser. End it! As the others said, lack of empathy is not fixable. He seems to have no interest and zero ability to please another person, which means he’s just not relationship material. (I read this to my husband and he said “no birthday gift? Dump him!)

      Can you tell the difference? Yes. A thoughtful person would stand out in very sharp contrast to your current boyfriend. Hold out for one — you’re worth it!

      And not only are you worth it, YOU are a thoughtful person. You need to date your own kind.

    • Agree he’s bad news. There are better fish out there. Throw him back into the pond.

      Don’t judge a partner’s worthiness by whether or not he cheats. There are a lot of other types of douchiness besides cheating. Infidelity may be the most common reason for divorce, but when you factor in other reasons (money, inequality, abuse, etc.) those reasons outnumber infidelity.

      His lack of empathy will make you miserable. There are better people out there. Go find one.

  • 1. Kept me away from his friends. I later found out that he told them when they invited us to various social functions that I was unavailable. They thought I was some super bitch that was too good to be with them. All apologized for being misinformed about me after they found out the truth. I would always wonder why we never sat with any of his co-workers at holiday functions. We would sit at a table by ourselves or with people he barely talked or had any interactions.

    2. Credit card debt up the butt!! He would try to give me guilt trips when I would save for a rainy day. Told me I was money obsessed. The one redeeming factor that I kept my finances separate from his except for a joint house checking and savings accounts. He did respect that agreement.

    3. He had to buy a new luxury car every three years, new electronic gadgets or golf trips with the guys.

    4. Extremely close relationship with his sister and mother. Sister demanded that I had to contribute to his mother’s expenses (factoring in my salary) at the beginning of our marriage. I am sure some will disagree but I didn’t play that! He ended up contributing on his own. I didn’t care for her demands concerning how I spent my money. The marriage was doomed from the start!

    5. The most damning point in our relationship. He could not fight his own fights. It was like he was afraid to face anyone he had a conflict at work. Boy! Did he have a lot of conflicts at work!!!! I would have to give him a long pep talk and different resolutions to help him resolve a problem. I thought I was helping him but I know he hid behind me to do his dirty work.

    Gee!! I am a chump!

    • Number five was me. He’s have problems at work, we’d talk it over, I’d give him all sorts of ways of resolving things and he would never do it, he would play the sneaky passive aggressive thing or backchat the ‘offending’ person to others. Like a high school kid and he was a highly placed executive. One job he lost it was ME who went to the lawyer to figure out severance.

      And his favourite thing? If he didn’t like the way I was acting he’d say ‘my sister’ or ‘my mother’ or whomever thought I was ‘being ridiculous’. He tried that early on, when I still had a backbone, and I told him flat out I didn’t give a shit what his sister or mother or anyone else thought. He tries to pull that shit now, when I am demanding certain things in the settlement and I don’t even bother responding. He apparently doesn’t realise that I do not give a crap what his family thinks.

  • CL,
    Looking back, it was love bombing and lack of reciprocity for me. My ex is doing the love bombing bit with the final OW. Moved her in his brand new place after knowing her for 4 months. Who does that?

    Mine was way too preoccupied with his looks. He’s a good looking cheater, but gee, do you have to check yourself out every single time you see your reflection? He was very obsessed with his abs. If there was a millimeter of fat, he would point it out to me and say he was fat. Our son is more good looking than he is yet just spends all of 2 seconds in front of a mirror. Thank goodness our son is not disordered.

    • Eww yeah Uniquely, my ex loved to look at himself in the mirror, could not rip himself away. It’s like a cliche but so true with these guys. It took him waaay longer to get ready in the morning than it took me. He would even change outfits over and over. In the last few years he was also working out a lot and losing weight, since D-Day even more. He was and is completely self-obsessed.

      • Ugh, mine too! He LOVED looking at himself in front of the mirror with his shirt off. Poking at his stomach, flexing muscles, looking at himself from every angle. Loved looking at photos of himself, too.

        • I actually kept a photo of my ex from a trip to Jamaica. It says it all. He is coming out of the water, and posturing in the most absurd manner– flexing his arms, pushing out his chest, his expensive sunglasses on, looking up the beach to see who is looking at him. While he is tall and pretty good looking, he does not have the best abdomen or upper body. But you can tell he thinks he looks just marvelous, and it makes me laugh. What a silly pathetic excuse for a man.

    • Good looking serial cheater ex as well. And yep, he’s love bombed the fuck out of final OW, who is (honestly) not good looking at all (Plain is the word most often used to describe her) and she’s thinking she must be something special because this very handsome, funny, charming successful guy is all over her. What she doesn’t realise is that he queered his career awhile back and if he’s not cheating yet he will be doing so in the future.

      • Oh, and he needed to be with her as soon as I found out – this was a few months after meeting her and having some sneaky times together.

    • Daughter’s soon to be ex takes the cake on this one.

      After discovering he’d been having an affair for most of their 3 year marriage, and was planning to divorce her and rob her of the business they just opened (which she funded and supported him while working full time) – she filed within 3 weeks. She reported that after a brief argument, he asked plaintively “Are you still going to divorce me?” To which she replied “hell yes”. Then – wait for it – he responded with

      “But don’t you think I’m good looking?”

      Like so many NPD’s here, he is a handsome guy who keeps himself in shape. She wounded him by replying that yes, he was good looking on the outside but the ugliest person on the inside that she had ever encountered and couldn’t get divorced from him fast enough. She said he actually teared up a little at that one….

  • I met mine when I was in college at the age of 19; he was 20. He did or was a lot of the things listed here– love bombing, rushing our relationship along, hardly ever bought me a gift that I didn’t have to orchestrate myself (or that he didn’t have his mother suggest), acted clingy, very smart (obviously not reflective of his true character), and was mostly physically affectionate with me in the hopes that it would lead to sex since I think that was all he wanted from me on a physical level. It got to where I didn’t want to hug or kiss him anymore because it likely meant that he’d start groping me in the most unromantic ways imaginable.

    He was also:

    1. inconsiderate (as I mentioned in a previous post)
    2. not big on talking about his past unless it was uplifting or funny… there was some situation that occurred between him and a male camp counselor that he claimed was no big deal, but I will always wonder if he was sexually molested (the story goes that someone else showed up in the nick of time… I’m not so sure)
    3. the life of the party with his family and friends but an introverted wanker around my family and friends (except for the married couple I was friends with that he actually deemed worthy of his company… ironically enough, they were BOTH former chumps in their first marriages and hate him with a passion after what he did)
    4. relatively friendless: what few friends he has are from his past– maybe two or three from high school, a handful from college… he has NO adulthood/work friends except for one former boss who is equally misanthropic and pathetic (and was the one who stood up for XWH at his wedding to Owife because XWH has no one else)
    5. fine with spending tons on what he wanted but would then question my purchase of something like nail polish for eight dollars (seriously)
    6. relatively detached from our kids, annoyed at having to do family things, would call and ask when I’d be home on the rare occasion that I went out with a friend or relative and he had to watch the kids (God forbid!)

    My XWH was more subtle in many ways. Of course, I spackled up the wazoo, I’m sure, but I think it’s worth noting that not every cheater will be super extreme in his/her behaviors, AND some are better at hiding their crappiness than others. I had no idea that XWH was having an A; he didn’t pull away from me, refuse sex, have a sudden change in personality, etc. He was just a little too good at making me think that he “wasn’t THAT bad.” Except that he was, and I’m glad that I didn’t wait around for him to change because he wouldn’t.

  • Signs…Let’s see…
    Failing to recognize other people’s feelings or emotions

    Expecting constant praise and admiration without earning it

    Value themselves more than they value others

  • No Friends. After reading all the other posts, this is the one that stands out the most. He had no friends. None. Not even his 3 brothers. He used work relationships as stand ins for friends. Definitely did not want me to meet his ‘drinking buddies’.

    He didn’t offer anything, and made me less of a person in the long run.

    Next up. someone who makes me better than I am, brings out my best, not my worst. no settling.

  • When we were dating in college he didn’t come home one night. He had an explanation the next day that sounded strange, but I wanted to believe him. This was the beginning of a pattern that happened throughout our marriage. One of the biggest warnings I had were my gut feelings, which I ignored. He always had ready explanations that sounded plausible. He was good at smoothing things over when I got upset, but he was always in control. He was a very confident person.

    1. He didn’t show empathy.
    2. He was raised to believe men don’t show feelings.
    3. He had “You’re not the boss of me” mentality.

    • My Wife was raised to show no feelings. Life is hard, and you have to be just as hard to make it.

      I would always say life is hard if you make it hard.

      Also had the your not the boss of me mentality. I couldn’t ask/tell her to do anything.

      Doesn’t have empathy at all, it is feigned. Will show this great concern for others but if it came down to it she wouldn’t actually help them.Was also good at giving advice to her sisters but she couldn’t follow it if she was in the same situation. It drove me nuts.

  • Oh, and a couple more…

    4. He didn’t have good friends. His best friend in high school was a guy he made fun of all the time, but he liked riding around in the guy’s fancy sports car.
    5. Material possessions were very important to him as signs of success.

  • Mine liked to ask me to dress ‘slutty’ when we would go out. He would dress pretty normal, jeans or khakis and a button up shirt, and he’d want me to dress in ‘biker mini-skirt skank’ or ‘slutty schoolgirl’ or other crap like that. Really it was the kind of shit best saved for the bedroom. But I think he liked to keep me on display and off balance, because he knew I was uncomfortable dressed like that while out and about. I’m nerdy and bookish and not at all an exhibitionist and I never liked being ogled.
    I think he liked the power he felt making me feel cheap in public, and I guess having me dressed like that on his arm was one of the ways he liked to ‘peacock’. I went along with it even though it didn’t feel right.
    Huge, giant red flag, that I ignored because I thought I had to keep things adventurous and interesting for him.

    • Yes, me too! He was always on me to wear things that went completely against my modest grain. He also wanted to do sexual things in places where there was the thrill of possibly getting caught (which some people may think is awesome, but it’s not the least bit appealing to me). One of the last times we went out on a date, I wore a short skirt (nothing super slutty), and on a walk after dinner, we went down an alley where he started to grope me. He made me feel objectified and unimportant– like his thrill took precedence over my comfort level. I was his wife, not a call girl! He was not thrilled when I protested and pushed him away. I think it was shortly after that when he joined Ashley Madison… you know, because I wasn’t “meeting his needs.”

      Ugh, I had totally forgotten about that, Roxie. Your way of putting it was perfect: “having me dressed like that on his arm was one of the ways he liked to ‘peacock.'” That’s exactly what it was.

      • Yes, that thing they did to make you know what they wanted took precedence over your personal comfort.
        I’m still trying to figure out what it was that made me think all that was ok.

  • Pretty much the same things, where to start?

    * When we met he fancied me but he went to the next available female as I didn’t stay out late that night.
    * (this might give me the chump award) He told me he had cheated on his ex-girlfriend
    * He doesn’t have friends (just drinking buddies)
    * He had a reluctance to make plans
    * If he made plans he would stand me up or change them last minute (something better came along)
    * He was always late but if I was late he would leave without me
    * Again with the gifts, my first ever present was a $5 vibrator (this is no joke), he also brought me a t-shirt when he went to Boston (where he shagged someone else)
    * He would not like me to ask where he was or anything but I had to tell him of my whereabouts
    * He was paranoid I would cheat on him
    * He demanded attention when sick but ignored me if I was
    * Expected people to treat him a lot better than he ever treated anyone
    * He hated liars
    * Did not want me to go out with him when he went to parties
    * Did not make an effort with my friends
    * He was ALWAYS asking for help but never helped me, or if he did, he did begrudgingly

    I could go on and on and on…

    Not it is sooo obvious!!

    • A tshirt and a $5 vibrator. Wow. What a guy. I’m sorry AC — he ticked every box! But don’t feel like the biggest chump, you’ve got a lot of competition here, and I wear the chump crown. 🙂

      • Thanks!

        We are, sadly, all in this together!

        He did *slightly* better with gifts after a while, but only after I told him what I wanted when he went: “just tell me what you want!”

        * I forgot to say he is obsessed with what people think or say about him. Never thought much of it but it makes a lot of sense now.

        • My cheating wife was also very concerned about what others thought of her. Even more so now with her affair.

          • That’s what I loved about busting my ex! His cover is blown and everyone knows he’s a cheater, not the upstanding, hardworking good guy. And he HATES THAT!

            Also, my ex was very good-looking (also couldn’t take his eyes off himself), and after a few friends said as much after the cheating was revealed, I was like, so he gets to have no integrity because he’s good-looking? (So am I, BTW). WTF. Also, he’s ugly as hell on the inside.

  • They are SSoooooooooooooo competitive, mine would try and outdo my Halloween pumpkin carving effort every year, and I am the artist!!!! He would always ask the kids (that came to knock on the door for candy) whose pumpkin was the best? seriously!!! not joking, and would get huffy if they picked mine, which they inevitably did.

    I once had to help my nephew write a witty poem for his homework, my Ex read mine and wrote his own, insisting it was funnier and emailed it to my nephew!!

    Bathroom habits !!!!!! He would always need to go to the loo, or somewhere 5 mins before a flight was called, I was once left wandering around a department store for 25 mins whilst he had to go to the loo! Imagine being in the middle of a romantic (not really, now I look back) dinner and he disappears for 45 mins, I paid the bill and waited in reception at the hotel, people must have thought he had left me or stood me up.

    He had a bigger toiletry bag than me whenever we went anywhere, even for a night, and he would not like to share it, it had every known cream, tablet, even haemorrhoid treatment – seriously for one fucking night !!!!!!!

    He was jealous of the attention I gave the cat.

    He would cancel things that were arranged for months at the last minute, literally
    He hated infidelity and cheaters and men who treated women like shit, seriously …………

    He would insist on unpacking the shopping and putting things away, (think sleeping with the enemy) the tins had to line up a certain way, my way was far too messy.

    He would turn down the heat when I was cooking and criticise my methods, eventually taking over, I thought it was nice of him to cook all the time, now I know he was just a control freak!!!!!!

    He seriously considered taking up a job as a gigolo, taking women on dates as a career, (no sex though, he promised) because he was a charmer, I thought he was joking, now I realise he was deadly serious.

    My best friend works in TV/Film, after a holiday in her country he came home and announced he was going to write a film script, he never got past the first page…and there was already a film made about it, his plot was not as ‘unique’ as he thought.

    After an operation left me infertile he still liked to use condoms, not all the time, but quite a lot, I should have seen that as a big red frickin FLAG!!!! I was so stuuuuuupid!! 🙁

    I paid 50% of the car loan for years, and 50% of the monthly fuel bill!!!! because I didn’t drive he did, and I paid for the bus. Don’t worry I drive now and own my own car, no longer a schmuck :-)..can’t believe he let me get the bus to work!!!!!!!

    • Digbert mentioned that I seems consistent with cheaters I know. Not being messy. Always liking things to be very orderly. No offense to those who like things clean and organized. But the cheaters I know got upset if there was any sort of a mess.

      • Yes Bud, my ex over the years became more and more OCD, and more and more hysterical about the house being cleaned and straightened. He would scream about the house, the kids, the dogs etc. Sometimes it was clear it had nothing to do with the real state of the house because sometimes it just was not that bad! I finally said to him once, “It seems you are just offended at any sign that we reside with you….” Without realizing it I hit it on the head. But even so, he was a complete neat freak by the end. Guess that’s to counterbalance his dirty perverted sex life.

        • Yeah, weird, my ex is also rather OCD, and was huge on tiny details around the house like how well I had squeezed out the sponges at the kitchen sink or how well crushed the recycling was. Bludgeoned me frequently with this kind of stuff, even when he was working tons of overtime and I was holding down the fort w/two kids under two, despite how unhappy it made me and the kids.

          Eventually I learned that the correct response to this kind of thing was ‘if it bothers you, do it better yourself’ and complete refusal to discuss further. But, as a chump, that didn’t come naturally to me!

          Now he’s fixated on getting the kids to wash their hands (and feet if out in thongs or sandals) the minute they step in his house. Weirdo.

          • Karen, I truly believe it is their passive-aggressive way of abusing us and the kids. If they screamed directly at us about how much they hate us, how they’d rather be with their AP’s, how we annoy them, the jig would be up. So they freak out and abuse us and their kids about the house– if you call them on it, they say they just want the house neat and the kids clean….what’s wrong with that?? You know that analogy about the frog in a pot of water with the heat turned on, and it does not jump out even when it gets to boiling because it happens gradually? That’s what this is. And they know it, they even count on it.

  • Dearest CL,

    The big warning sign I missed…. Socks, yes the kind that come wrapped in pairs of three for my Birthday…Walgreen socks, white socks…He didn’t even bother wrapping them up for me, came in the Walgreens bag!

    All the while he spent the night prior with OW and bought her drinks, dinner, (she was a friend in need… going through a divorce.. barf) and took the money from our joint checking account!!!

  • Add to #5: I mistook intelligence AND good manners for character. He always opened the door for me, always pulled out the chair for me to sit down. A perfect gentleman for 30 years. I mistook this for consideration and traditional morals. In reality, it was the only way he knew to behave. It was really just good training by his parents. Their dogs were well behaved too.

    • “Their dogs were well behaved too.”

      LOL! Of course, nice manners DO make a difference – they hide a lot of sins…

      • You’re right, good manners are better than bad. Just don’t make them into more than they are. They are not implicitly expressing their love for you when they thank you for passing the catsup.

        • Awesome that you mention this. Mine always put the toilet seat and lid down, even at his own apartment. I took this as a sign that he was considerate and well mannered. I should have known it was just because his mom was awesome, not him.

          • my Ex had impeccable manners, always opened doors, carried bags, etc and you all are 100% correct, it was good training by his Mother.

  • One more: He dislikes his mother. I don’t know if this relates to narcissism per se, and it is the opposite of some of the characteristics described in comments above. But it definitely affects his feelings toward and ability to empathize with women in general. Eventually he will probably focus his mother-anger on you. Run.

    • I think ex secretly resents the fuck out of his mother but that he compensates by saying she’s the greatest mother on earth, mainly because he was never allowed to question anything his mother or father did, said or believed.

    • My ex despised his mother, spoke to her terribly, astonished me with how mean he was. But he was SUCH a gentleman, opening car doors for me, etc. Still would be if I let him. I now realize the incongruity of this, and that it was just used to confuse and mislead me and all the OW. He hates women.

    • My ex appears to love his mother and she enables the crap out of him. But a couple of times during our marriage, he told me he sometimes fantasized about stabbing her to death. And he added he also fantasized about stabbing ME to death. He said this in a completely calm way, it wasn’t in the middle of some sort of fight or anything like that. He also said sometimes when he was driving us somewhere, he thought about suddenly heading the car straight into oncoming traffic and killing us both. He always wanted to drive, believe me I would wonder what he was thinking.

  • all of the above was standard for me except the gift giving. the more he raised the level of infidelity the better the gifts. I now realize it was payment for looking the other way and not notice the red flags. it became, the more intriguing the stories, the more it cost in gifts. example: he was posted to Italy for four months and told me an outlandish story about how he was in Rome and meet some American servicemen. they went out and partied. everyone was taking turns buying drinks and when the bill came it was around $700 for his share. he said the waiter tricked him by saying drinks were 5000 lira and when the bill came they were 50000. a fight broke out and the Italian police came and told the guys pay or go to jail. so he paid. came home with 2 Italian hand blown figurines from Venice, cost around 1500. I was so thankful and took it as a lovely gesture. it was because he fucked someone. we even had joint finances so really I paid for my own fuck gift. they’re now buried somewhere in the dump along with all the jewelry, pictures, photos and other crap he gave. I laugh at this story when I tell people, we need to laugh at ourselves to move on, this is how we learn not to make the same mistake. but I always add at the end “do you want to hear the one about the gay bar in florida when he was deployed there. it’s just as hilarious”.

  • If I had any information on narcissistic personality disorder when I met my STBX, he would have been lit up red like a neon sign and a siren would have been ringing all around him.

    1. He moved fast. I felt enveloped in about 2 weeks. He attempted to take me to meet part of his family two weeks after meeting me. I told him I didn’t think we knew each other well enough for me to attend a family function with him.

    2. Began his initial control by expressing displeasure (by not speaking to me, sometimes for days, addressing me in clipped angry tones, etc.) if he felt I was dressing “too provactively.” That could have meant anything from having a button undone that he felt should have been buttoned to wearing something form fitting or something he felt revealed too much of what he didn’t want seen. Keep in mind, he was always looking past me at anyone who was dressed the way he insisted I should never dress. He felt a burkha might be a good look for me.

    3. Could be sweet and loving one minute and turn on a dime and be cold and distant, as if he wished I were dead, the next.

    4. Would decide to break up with me (while we were dating) over some imagined slight, and would come on to or parade some new woman in front of me. That has never changed (texting, talking to the OWs in front of me), only escalated.

    5. Would indicate how he felt entitled to – fill in the blank – which amounted to anything he wanted.

    6. Was in financial trouble when I met him, he said due to his divorce, but really because he didn’t and doesn’t deny himself anything to which he feels he is entitled (thus, his late life habit of taking up with any woman who has a large enough bank account – we’re talking LARGE sums of money, either through inheritance, settlement or divorce). I was the one who helped him clear up his debt and restore his credit, even though I earn SIGNIFICANTLY less money than he does.

    7. His mother is a narcissist so he has a love/hate relationship with her.

    8. I was always to blame for anything and everything that was wrong in the relationship, including any of his bad feelings (depression, anger, you name it), lack of sex (even when I was begging for it and he was passively-aggressively avoiding it), his porn obssession, his visits to prostitutes, etc.

    That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Up until I recently began therapy and found this website and others, I was shouldering all of the responsibility for the failure of the marriage and relationship because I believed I was such a flawed and unworthy excuse for a human being. Now? That guy’s a lying, cheating, craven, personality-disordered flying monkey from the deepest pit of hell who can eat possum shit and die. Oh, and he can go fuck himself, too.

    • OH CP, I wish I had your email. So much of what you say I recognise. I know I’ve said it before but our situations are just so bloody similar that it’s frightening.

    • “That guy’s a lying, cheating, craven, personality-disordered flying monkey from the deepest pit of hell who can eat possum shit and die. Oh, and he can go fuck himself, too.”

      This surpasses your previous baboon quote CL ….love it! 🙂

    • “Now? That guy’s a lying, cheating, craven, personality-disordered flying monkey from the deepest pit of hell who can eat possum shit and die. Oh, and he can go fuck himself, too.”

      I just sooooooo love this! 🙂

  • List like this are hard to recognize because you’ll spackle and won’t realize it until after you get chumped. Your best bet is your gut. If your gut tells you they are a wing nut you should pay attention. Problem for me is I never got any of those gut feelings. NONE until the past year or so. Looking back I do recognize signs pointed out here but at the time was not alarmed at all. I loved her so I just chalked it up as normal marriage stuff.

    Speaking of lists, I did find a list online after all this BS started that gave a list of 16 characteristics of women who cheat. My cheating wife matched 8 of them. I was shocked. Something I will share with my boys when they get old enough. Another site pointed out teachers as being one of the top professions most likely to cheat (match). Another site pointed out that the peak age of when women cheat as being 45 (match). Again shocked. When I brought these up to her she just blew it off as “you can’t believe everything you read”. This coming from a woman who has a shelf of self help books i.e. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz etc.

    In her mind I’m still the bad guy. She claims that I’m arrogant and judgmental. So she can justify her behavior? She does have self esteem issues but because of what she says I still ask myself, am I arrogant or am I just confident? Am I judgmental or am I just strong in my beliefs/morals/ethics? I’m not showy at all. I don’t consider myself as god’s gift to anything. I usually take a logical approach to a lot of decisions I make as I tend to listen to my head instead of my heart. I still consider myself open minded and will listen to others. Doesn’t mean I’m going to always agree with what they say or believe.

    I am 50 yrs old and you could say I’ve become a bit set in my ways. Most importantly the one thing I know for sure is that I do know the difference between right and wrong and cheating is wrong. Lying/Deceiving is wrong and so is trying to justify it. I would consider that as being somewhat evil. (there I go being judgmental again) I know I’m not perfect but I’m really struggling with the mental head stuff today. Maybe there’s a list of my characteristics women should stay away from…..

    I guess we chumps can use the list as a guideline but will need to pay attention to our gut to help ourselves and those around us.

    • Bud, I think we were typing our comments at the same time, see below. If you live in the DC area I would like to meet you :). If your ex is like my ex everything they accuse you of is simple projection. My ex accused me of being controlling and having “anger management issues”. I’m not, he is, I don’t, he does. Even when he first started saying that crap I didn’t believe it, I know myself pretty well. But I also have this on the authority of several therapists, two of which saw both of us in MC – what he said about me was projection of his own issues to make me the bad person.

      • I was also am accused of controlling. It’s odd that they would say this as I thought in a marriage we fill each others empty places, I thought we fit. Not perfectly but what fun would that be?? We had very similar tastes in music, food, etc. enjoyed many of the same things including hanging out with each other. I know this sounds rather stereotypical but it happens. To sum it up she did Mom stuff and I did Dad stuff. But we also did husband wife stuff and it was always hot just like it should be (at least to me and she sure seemed to enjoy it). Totally understand how after 20yrs together things are not quite as exciting but we were able to entertain ourselves with keeping busy with the kids and their activities. Something we both wanted. We had so many things ahead of us to look forward too.

        I’m not the kind of guy who would go out with the guys for golf weekly, I wasn’t in a dart league or any other sort of league that took me out of the house at night. Now she wonders why I don’t go out with any friends?? Because I loved being home with my family. The only league I was ever in was a cribbage league and we did that together. Which she now tells me she hated.WTF?…. BS she loved it. We went to Disney three times in the last 8 years with our family and friends, Once by ourselves. Now she tells me she never wants to go there again. I guess she hated that too. Again BS. Not that it was Disney but where did she go this spring? Florida. just to hang out on the beach with my daughter and her boyfriend.

        So yeah the idea of their projection is all true here and probably happens in many of our cases. I was speaking to my youngest son the other night as he was getting ready for bed. I told him I’m sorry that he has to deal with divorce. It’s not fair to him but I wanted him to know that I tried. I really tried but we just can’t work it out. She of course saw that as me putting the blame on her. My thought was “Well um you were the one to end the marriage by taking a HUGE 30yr step back in time by drinking with and screwing your old divorced HS boyfriend who by the way cheated on you back then. I do feel she suffers from BPD and I told her about that asking her to look into it. But of course she sees that as me calling her crazy and again being arrogant controlling and judgmental and maybe I should see a therapist about that…. Again her projection.

        Bottom line is she blew it and the kids and I along with our family and friends are stuck dealing with it.

        That was very kind to ask. Sorry I’m not in the DC area. Wisconsin is where me and the kids call home.

        • Aw Bud, I wasn’t being kind, I just like you. And I’m really sorry you have to deal with more shit because you have the kids, I didn’t have any so I am spared that. I got the same thing from my ex about hating all the things after Dday too. Hell, mine said he never loved me but I pursued him “relentlessly”. Trust me I didn’t at all, it’s like his whole life is some fantasy where he is a victim of circumstance or blames all his shit on every person who was stupid enough to care about him.

      • I’m thinking that maybe CL should have a big Chump Party and we should all fly in and have a “Fuck Those Guys/Gals” celebration and meet each other. It could be a pot luck. It is so amazing how this all makes sense to us in a way it just doesn’t to anyone who hasn’t lived it.

      • My ex called me controlling and sees me as the bad guy too for outing him. He said he was “liberated” once I told him I couldn’t live with him anymore. Well, his dick was not chained up, so I’m not sure what needed to be liberated.

        If I had listened to my instincts, I would’ve left him 4 years ago and would be in a much better spot right now. I hate that I spent so much of my life with a guy who didn’t find our relationship important enough to be faithful to me.

        They do project it all on us. And I also struggle with the future being blown up. We had so many plans, and now I’m floating, not sure how things will turn out. And I hate that.

  • So maybe my ex really is a psychopath. The only possible red flags I saw in the beginning and for the first 7 years: was his having no friends except for an ex girlfriend when we met, he explained this was a result of his recovery from alcoholism. He didn’t like his family but he explained this too, controlling mom and emotionally abusive dad. Upon meeting his parents it appeared to be the truth.

    I didn’t want a relationship when I met him and I told him so, I just took him to bed because he was hot, the sex was amazing but I never expected to see him again. He love bombed me though. Called a week later to take me to a wonderful dinner where he got the chef to make something for me I’d told him I liked, with a dozen roses on the table. I treated him like a booty call, he seemed to know that if he just stayed laid back that would get me. He was right. I once called him at 2am after dancing all night with friends and he rode his bike to my house in nothing flat. He was always available to talk and he listened to me. He remembered everything I ever said to him, and in the beginning he used this to do nice things for me. He was everything I’d want, considerate, kind, hot as hell, quiet, loved my dog and cat, picked wild flowers for me and said he loved to read.

    A flag I could not see was that 2 weeks after moving in with me he was laid off from his job, I found out 10 years later he had quit. However, after a month I told him he either got a job, any job by the end of the week or he had to leave. He got a job. Later I trained him in IT and got him a job at my company, he stayed with them until 9 months after DDay when he lost the job due to drinking (didn’t have me to keep him straight). He has not worked since Jan of 2011.

    The big burning real red flag happened 2 years into the relationship (CL, sometimes they can act for longer than a year). I had asked him point blank before we committed to each other, before I was even really in love with him, if he suffered from depression, and he said he did not (I didn’t want to deal with anyone with clinical depression ever again). A year after he moved in he started withdrawing from me, then he admits he was diagnosed with clinical depression. Of course, now I’m in love with the guy, so I find ways to deal with what was my relationship biggest deal breaker. I also noticed that he had not read a single book since he moved in, he said he was just taking a break from reading. No, he literally read only 1 book in 17 years, another lie. If only I could go back and tell myself to kick his ass out.

    Later a whole other story. He changed after I put him on my home mortgage, first cheating knowledge was right after that, he changed dramatically again after he finally convinced me to marry him. But only in hindsight can I see the biggest changes occurred after I put him on the mortgage and after I married him. It’s like he calculated everything, someone said it well, his abuse was a creeping normalization of bad behavior and out right abuse done over many years.

    I said all that to say one simple thing. If the person you are seeing tells you a lie, any damn lie – even if it’s to spare your feelings – even if it’s about something completely innocuous and you are scratching your head wondering “why lie about that”. If the person has some childhood psych reason they do that, don’t buy it. That.right.there. = red flag.

    I hate lies, when my ex would tell a lie and be busted, he would say he only did it because he didn’t want to upset me. If the person you are seeing feels like they have to lie about little things so you won’t be upset, they will lie about way bigger things.

    I also trust my intuition, if I feel uncomfortable with a person there is likely to be a good reason that my conscious mind isn’t yet aware of.

    • Met a guy through Match who ‘on paper’ looked GREAT! Met in person soon, just for coffee, he was smart, funny, had an interesting and ‘improve the world’ type of job, had kids close the age of mine ….

      But he lied about his age -repeatedly. On Match he had one profile that said he was 54 (same as me), another that said he was 57. The first one disappeared after a bit, but they were both up at the same time. At our second meeting (first date), he admitted he was 61 (outside the range I had put on Match as being interested in). Says he ‘fibbed’ on Match bc most people do, and he found that if he put his real age, a lot of interesting women wouldn’t look past that 6-. I’m not crazy about this, but let it pass, it sounds plausible.

      Several dates later, he mentions how old he was when he his first child was born, and I add that to how old she is now – unless I misunderstood something, the man is at least 65.

      ENOUGH! I politely dropped him by e-mail that evening. I have had enough of lies and evasions to last me the rest of my life! And I do worry what it means about someone’s character when they lie even about something that small.

  • (1) love bombing – check
    (2) clingy – check – I recall in our first months dating I would ask him to take some time off from me and go out with friends. He never did. I mistook it as him really wanting to spend time with me. Wrong. He did not have any real friends
    (3) ignoring/changing plans last minute – check
    (4) charmed in his presence and thinking WTF when out of sight – check
    (5) mistook intelligence for character – check – he reads a lot (I wish I could dedicate so much time on it, but I have a full time job, kids and house to take care of, him to take care of, etc…) , has an opinion and is an “expert” on all subjects. Everyone else is an idiot (include here our kids’ college professors, my colleagues, his friends and their circle of colleagues and friends, his extended family, our kids and I (of note I have always brought home more money than he did, and our kids graduated from school and college with high marks, but according to him this is an indication of a faulty system and not our personal skills and knowledge).
    (6) no friends – check – well, he has a couple of buddies to go out for drinks with, but that’s about it. No true friendship relationship here
    (7) I mistook sex for intimacy – and the worst part is, I still do. I know, my fault
    (8) He was shit at gift giving – check – his theory is that we shouldn’t wait for special events to buy things we want/like. He never bought anything for me or others. The gifts that went to kids and extended family or friends were all selected and purchased by me
    (9) believe him when he tells you he sucks – yes, he warned me several times during our 4yrs dating period, I did not believe him. He has warned his AP the same (she was chumped, he didn’t tell her he was married), she didn’t/does not listen.
    (10) he treated his family bad (mother, cousin, etc…) – I thought our “love” would change him. So wrong
    (11) aggressive driver – he considers this to be a high professional skill. Yes, he is the master, and this is why he is the only one in the family with car accidents. But, see, this is because the rest of us are poor drivers and drive like our grandparents (I think we need to buy a horse and a cart)
    (12) he is the center of attention at parties – wonder why once the party is over, friends never call him back, could be because when he starts talking, none dare to interrupt or have an opinion
    (13) Having no apparent boundaries – check
    (14) Thrill seeking behaviors – check
    (15) Having no respect for anyone – check – never held a job where he had to report to someone. In fact, all his jobs have been solo (not able to even work with others), as he proudly describes it, he is the CEO, accountant, secretary, worker, etc….

    I think this is enough for now, but the list can go on and on and on

  • CL, all I can say is how right you are about this stuff!!

    Reading down your list everything keeps resonating!!

    One thing I can think to watch out for is the eagerness to get bored of something so fast and need the “better” version.

    My ex has yet to keep a car for more than two years because when he buys them he thinks they are the most amazing thing and after time goes on, they suck and he wants something else. He got himself into a lot of debt for this. I even bought a house thinking it was the best thing ever… two years later he doesnt want it anymore, stops making payments and is selling it.

    They cannot commit to something for a long period of time. He even did this with school.

    • Is you ex named Carlos???? Mine is the same way and until I read your post I never realized that. In fact, he just declared bankruptcy and with his new found credit he purchased a new from the dealer car, 2 months ago and is already talking about trading up to after the first of the year!!!

      He has done the same with computers, cameras, all sorts of gadgets for his work, two way radios, listening devices, recorders, phones etc.

  • Wow, ChumpLady, you really hit a vein here….. Please, I hope you are working on that book and shopping it to agents!

    Folk need to hear this stuff…besides those of us who experience the delights of living it, of course. :/

  • A few of the items in your list hit home: poor gifts (I got a shovel for Valentine’s Day one year), no friends (only a handful from his past he hardly ever talked to), vague timelines (a former fiancée he left and never spoke to again and an inappropriate relationship that I now think may have overlapped), Ivy League arrogance mistaken for character.

    Some others for me (a few others have been mentioned): he didn’t like any friend I had that was open and friendly. He only liked sarcastic and cold. And he never made time for people. He never put in the effort. He’d never even call his family unless it was a birthday or holiday.

    If you expressed anything other than well thought out and rational ideas (say, an emotion) or if you reacted to him being mean on some level (say he spoke to me with a bit of a “tone”) he’d laugh and tell you that you were being irrational or that you misunderstood him and therefore you were wrong. It doesn’t matter if his actions caused you pain. If he didn’t mean it the way you took it, it didn’t count and he wouldn’t discuss it.

    He had disgusting habits and I would ask him to be considerate but it was like talking to the wall. He used to poop, naked, with the bathroom door open. I’d explain to him that he is not an ape and I would prefer not to smell his poop and I wasn’t sure why he thought I did. But he never changed.

    He never met a deadline at work without drama. He’s procrastinate and lie to his bosses and then face an impossible crunch and all life would have to stop so he could meet it. He’d go in his “cave” and listen to a white noise track on a loop and you weren’t allowed to bother him.

    He was like Zelig. When he’d go home for the holidays, he would never call me. If I did, he’d act annoyed. I used to think it was because he didn’t want to look “whipped” in front of his brothers and put on a “big man” attitude. Turns out that was just the original him.

    There are so many other things. He was a little OCD, too. Always folded tissue or napkins in quarters before he would use them, use them, then refold. He was manorexic and would binge and then go to the gym for HOURS regardless of what else needed to be done because he needed “me” time. He had to have green tea a thousand times a day, prepared at certain times in particular ways and all of our meals had to revolve around the absorption of his tisanes.

    I guess the last thing I’ll mention is a story about a gingerbread house. We came to visit family for the holidays after a trip to NYC. We had stopped in a famous bakery and bought a huge, ornate gingerbread house as a house warming gift. Everyone loved it and it was proudly displayed on the table in the kitchen usually used for putting out buffet items for big family meals. That night he got up in the middle of the night and ATE THE HOUSE! Everything except the very front of it, which he propped up kitty cornered towards to wall to hide that the rest was freaking missing. I saw it the next morning and flipped. Per usual, it was left to me to explain to this alien how things work on earth. That includes not eating other people’s gifts…. And especially when that shit is decorative!

    • He lives on Planet Narcissist. There’s no one else there that matters at all, just him.

  • Wow this makes me feel better, like you said CL, you had never seen this behavior before, didn’t know what it was. It was all new to me.
    Yes, he fell for me quickly and I was so impressed that ‘someone like him’ was interested in me. Geez.
    He called me all the time…even my sons made fun of us.
    Engaged quickly and soon he moved from Ohio to Florida to live with me.
    He traveled a lot and for weeks and even months straight (I do know the travel dates were correct because at one time I worked in the same industry and it was possible to be gone for weeks and months straight, working 7 days a week.
    BUT, he used to tell me he had no time for anything else. On one detail he called me every evening about 7pm for 5 minutes and then that was it….supposedly he was going to sleep. Later I realized those were ‘check-in’ phone calls to make sure I didn’t call him later.
    The first chumpy lie I believed.
    It was shortly after that that I started not to believe, but still spackled….that’s insanity.
    He told me he never used dating sites….at the time I was so damn smug about that and totally believed him, but then when I started to suspect I uncovered a dozen dating profiles. They were before he ever knew me I told myself and it has taken me YEARS….YEARS I say, until recently to have this chump chump chump realization……
    Those profiles were from 6 months to 2 years before he met be BUT….here it comes…..during that time he was married and his wife thought they were still married though he traveled, he always went home to her, but had those dating profiles AND I found solid evidence on them that during that same time he did meet up with people he met on those sites. That must be the single most chumpy, bring in the dump truck full of spackle job I did on myself. Seriously, it’s taken me 9 years to put that equation together.
    Need I go on? I still married him, though I had that whole feeling of felling great around him and uneasy when he left. Now I feel crappy and worthless all the time.
    Chump Chump thy name is Jane.

  • I’m sorry to double and triple post but I think you started a bleeder here CL.
    I’ve always known this but never faced it, but my husband never reacts when I get hurt.
    I’m not a lightweight either, I can take a lot of pain. I fell and broke two toes and a bone in my foot. Did he ever ask if I went to the doctor or anything? No.
    One night we came home and the deck was slick….I went flying and landed on my back…..I don’t think his vitals changed at all. He didn’t even ask if I was okay or make a move to help me up.
    Even in the beginning…..and this is the red flag, he never responded to me getting hurt or being upset.

  • So many familiar scenarios here! W/my narc ex, it was;

    Moved way too fast. He was complaining about my not taking the relationship seriously within a month. We moved in together w/in 3 months, moved to another city together within 8 months, and were trying to get pregnant by then as well (I was 39 and thought I’d found such a great guy!).

    BIG case of mistaking intelligence for character. Even now it’s hard to believe how somebody that smart (post-doc in plasma physics – I don’t even know what that is!) can be as stupid as he has shown himself. And more so because he talked about how messed up his FOO was, w/adulterous, violent father and uber-chump mom (who eventually turfed the father and married a guy who was very psychologically abusive). It sounded like he had learned something from growing up w/that, and really really wanted his family life to be different. Hah. I guess he would have liked it to be different, if that required zero effort for him and meant an un-ending and ever-increasing supply of kibbles …

    Bad temper from the beginning. Left in a sulk from our 3rd date, over something very small, expecting me to run after him. I didn’t, which I later realized cut way down on his sulking, but not his temper. Within less than a year, we were fighting often, including one time I remember he was FURIOUS that I had a different opinion than his about the space program. And within 18 months he had reached out during a political discussion w/a friend at a restaurant and given my arm this huge pinch, because I was disagreeing w/him.

    The ‘no friends’ one certainly applies, I see that now, but when I met him he was recently arrived in the country, and mentioned friends ‘back home’ (although I should have realized that they never called or e-mailed him – they were actually friends of his ex’s, who he’d hung around with). But I should have picked up on his treating the only friend he made later quite badly; thought of him as a loser, so could keep him around. And his not liking any of my friends, constantly criticized them.

    He was a terrible gift-giver, too, and I didn’t recognize that as a sign of lack of empathy and of caring. Blergh. I remember my 40th birthday, we had moved to a new city together, I was about 4 months pregnant. No present of course (‘I don’t give gifts when I’m SUPPOSED to, I give gifts and flowers when the moment strikes me’ , meaning never). I said I wanted to go out for sushi. I came home from work, we left on foot for the restaurant, and after a block I realized I was way too tired and preggers to do the 10 block walk. I said we should go home (pre-cell phone days, remember those?) and call a cab. He made this huge fuss about paying $5 for a cab, when we were surely going to spend $100 on sushi, had me crying before we even walked that block home. What a jerk.

    I’m tuning up my radar, and mostly taking anything w/ a new guy SLOW!

  • For the beginning years of our relationship right up until the OW came along, I could ALWAYS tell when my EXH was lying…he was terrible at it and it would be written all over his face!

    Looking back now, this was a deliberate farce to get me to think I could tell when he was lying and would always trust him (it was a little TOO obvious in hindsight, even chumps can lie better than that!!)….Yuck. The lengths they go to to manipulate you.

  • Some warning signs from an old site that is broken half the time now, I added a title to each:

    The Charlie Manson Look: If you ever once, just for one second, see a frightening, mad, staring-eyed look on his face that isn’t the result of something at least as horrifying as him having just been bitten by a venomous snake (i.e if you’ve just said you didn’t like the show he’s watching) then no matter how fleeting it was or how deeply you think you care for him, either run for the hills or change the locks (depending on whose house it is). Ignore this one and it could cost you your life.

    The Co-Opting Your Friends Jam: He immediately starts sucking up to your friends and trying to become buddies with them. I am not saying being nice to them, I mean trying to establish his OWN close relationship with them. (In the beginning easily taken for ‘nice’: he wants to be a part of my life, but in fact a means to have better control -e.g. make you start doubting them later if he wants to alienate you from them, to make you more dependent on him, and to prevent you from having someone to talk to about problems with him (friends don’t want to get “caught in the middle”). Manipulators try to get close to YOUR friends in order to feed misinformation behind the scenes, so that they come off looking like martyrs when they pull the rug out.

    Every Woman Before YOU Was Crazy. He blames all his previous relationship failures on the women he was with. He complains how they were unstable, insensitive or just didn’t understand him. If he DOES admit that he fucked things up, he is quick to point out that if SHE had been the *right* person for him, she wouldn’t have allowed him to fuck it up.

  • I just wanted to say that GladItsOver posted a link to Heartless Bitches International in the September 16 blog comments. I read over there and found The Red Flag List (hope the hyperlink works). It covers some that I’d not thought about, but after yesterday’s fiascoes and childish behavior, they do stand out as red flags.

    1. Inappropriate financial generosity — This is when he spends more money on you than you are comfortable with, and it makes you feel financially obligated. It’s a form of love-bombing. STBX always offered to pay for things that weren’t appropriate for him to pay for. Dinner? Yes. Movie? Yes. Car repair? No.

    Inappropriate financial generosity is what the disordered does to hide the fact that s/he doesn’t like to spend money. They’re spending this money only because it makes them feel “special.”

    2. Constant fatigue/sleeping all the time. — There’s a difference between taking naps and sleeping all the time. Naps are for 30-60 minutes. Lots of normal people take naps. The excuse that s/he is tired or sleeping can be a sign of a serious physical illness or depression. In those cases, compassion is warranted, BUT if you find this in the early stages of your relationship, you need to find out if there is an underlying physical cause. If your partner refuses to get checked out, then you need to ask yourself if you want to become involved with someone who will never be able to partner with you in child-rearing responsibilities, pet ownership, or even just get out on the weekends to have fun.

    The red flag runs higher if the individual couples his/her fatigue with a normal chore. STBX, for example, will do yardwork. This is normal household stuff. He mows the lawn. Then he’ll say how he killed himself in the heat. He’ll be wiped out. He’ll not want to move because he is entitled to rest.

    3. No hobbies or constantly changing hobbies–HBI has this under “television as only hobby. In fact, if both of you really like watching television, that’s fine. I know

  • My list with my narcissist ex (never married him, but did stay in a horribly abusive ‘relationship’ with him for 1 year):

    1. NEVER.APOLOGIZED. EVER. No way, no how. Not even a semblance thereof. The most I got, after I found out he’d cheated on me (and put me at risk of STDs), was that I shouldn’t have looked through his phone if I wasn’t ready to see what I had seen. And when HE broke up with me a few months after that, and then completely cut me off a few weeks after that, he sent me an email, a month after that, “explaining” why he did what he did, never apologizing. This went unanswered by me, and then he texted me saying, how are you doing? I didn’t mean to hurt you (so if you hurt yourself with me, it was not my fault) but my job stops me having a normal life. This was his standard line after every bad behavior on his part: the implication that *I* had hurt myself with him, that it was MY fault somehow, that I was hurt by his behavior. WTF!

    2. Another standard line given by mine (keep in mind this was in the context of a year-long relationship, not marriage) : the love thing is hard for me. Hard for you? Wait, didn’t you tell me you loved me like, yesterday? And what is that supposed to mean, the love thing is hard for me? I always wanted him to elaborate, but he never did. He said he couldn’t elaborate… Maybe he meant to say, he just can’t feel love.For anyone. His way of saying he was a narc?

    3. My job stops me from having a normal life. By that he meant, it stops him from committing to one woman, at any one time. Somehow, his job as an engineer predisposes him to a life full of cheating (including with his escort/prostitute-gf), apparently. My mind is blown away.

    4. Constantly bitching about his exes and calling them bitches, and telling me his narrative of how they cheated on him, always went through his phone, etc. I believed his side of the story, but now I have to wonder, if he was the cheater in those relationships as well.. there must’ve been a reason for all those women to have snooped on his phone, eh? I did too.

    5. Entitlement. He felt entitled to anything and everything. He believed his exes and any and every girl (even random women he might have approached in bars) owed him sex just because he had the balls to approach them.Apparently, I owed him anal sex as well as a threesome (with 2 women). And his exes apparently all promised him a threesome but never “gave it to him.” He actually emailed me a month after the break-up and told me he was going to Thailand to do what he should’ve done a long time ago (his words) (by that he meant, a threesome), and that, rest assured, he wasn’t going there to see the woman (the prostitute) whose naked pictures and videos (performing sex acts with him in his hotel room) I had found on the phone. How reassuring. And as his ex, I am supposed to want to know all that, apparently. He told me he had texted his co-worker and told him that he’d had a threesome and that now his co-worker would want pictures to corroborate the story, and so he now needed threesome pics, with me and him in it.

    6. Did I say porn addict and highly promiscuous? Wanted to try everything — pressured me into realizing his porn fantasies. Made me go out to a bar on my own, to pick up a woman for us. I went out, pretended to have gone, went home, had dinner, and returned to his place — told him I had had no luck. Stupid me. Why did I even play along? To think that highly confident, independent me, stooped so low and did that sorta stuff, is just mind-blowing, now that I think about it. After a few months with him, I had become a shadow of who I was. And every time I was about to set myself free from him after a break-up, he’d yo-yo back into my life and want to get back together (without an apology). And I took him back. Also wanted to make porn videos and pictures of us together. And kept all the ones he had made with his exes. It’s more like, he uses his flings with all women, to create his own amateur porn (he is never fully in the videos, his face is never visible in it). He shared his exes’ explicit pics with me. I am sure he is doing the exact same with my pics, with another woman.

    7. I always felt like he was a closet homosexual who tried to overcompensate for his closet homosexuality by being a womanizer. But maybe I’m wrong. He did like going to Thailand for the sex tourism thing. Chumpy me thought he really just went there for the nice beaches (more like, for the nice bitches) and temples and food , and just having a relaxing time for vacation… relaxing more like, after a happy ending “massage.”

    8. Multiple break-ups and many more threats of break-up/blackmail. He even had an email template in his drafts folder or something, to send out as soon as he felt criticized or ignored/slighted in any way. I dreaded to check my email at some point, because I never knew what mood he’d wake up in and send me one of those dreaded “looks like we’re finished” emails.

    9. Bitter/jaded comments about women, how they were golddiggers, etc. and never paying as much for dates, etc. on balance (I ended up paying for both of us most of the time).

    10. Wanted an uneducated, poor, submissive woman, who wouldn’t question his whereabouts and would put up with his cheating even.

    11. Compulsive liar. Lied about anything and everything, even little things he didn’t need to lie about. He lied to his boss once, and his boss found out. I even played the good gf because he was so worried about what his boss would think/do, and I told him that since the lie didn’t even make sense / wasn’t even necessary, his boss wouldn’t think much of it, and would probably think you did it because you were confused.

    12. Fear of being alone — need to have a harem of women at all times (exes or random women he had picked up in a bar). After breaking up with me, he apparently texted a few of his exes and f*ck buddies, in particular order, waiting for one to respond and give him ego kibbles , and if she didn’t, moving on to the next.

    I can probably come up with A LOT more , but the list is too long and these are the ones that came to mind at this point.

    • Oh, and here’s another big one:

      Always taking pictures of himself. He told me he is doing this “project” — taking a picture of himself every day, over one year, to trace changes in his looks. He was extremely obsessed with his looks, always groomed himself, more than I ever did (and I am a woman!! sheesh!), even plucked his brows (and he didn’t even have thick brows). etc., spent too much time in front of a mirror, and was scared sh*tless of the fact that he was looking older by the day lol.. he was 40. He also wanted to feel like he was 20, and once told me he couldn’t help but look at high school girls wearing their short skirts. Pedophilia much?? Probably also why he went to Thailand — that’s the only way he could feel like he was wanted / was a ladies’ man — they would throw themselves at men in Thailand (the prostitutes anyway), because they are so poor. Or just because they are prostitutes… he thought they did it because of his awesome looks. In fact, he even told me that he went to those areas, just to see them as a tourist, and that so many women had thrown themselves at him. He claimed that he had “of course” not done anything. I fell for that lie hook line and sinker…

      And a related one: always mentioning how this or that woman had looked at him (even did it when we went out together to a bar), as if deliberately, to make me jealous or make himself look somehow more desirable.

    • And another one:

      The gift thing. A few days before V-Day, he told me that he didn’t like Vday. OK. Fair enough. I am not big on it either. I didn’t expect anything, or even to see him on Vday. Then, on V-day, he told me his co-workers had set him up with a woman, a co-worker, and that he had to go, because he couldn’t say no to his co-workers and to hanging out with them. I was stupid enough not to oppose that or to walk away and to wish him all the v-day fun in the whole world. Then, a month later, on my birthday, he didn’t get me anything, but he was out of the country so that’s fine. He only remembered my birthday because he checked facebook. He texted me and wished me a happy birthday, then called me for a few minutes. Then, when he got back, he hadn’t brought anything with him or a present , so he gave me a few used geeky tshirts that he no longer wore. And then told me to wear them during sex, because he liked that look of a long tshirt and no underwear. LOL. Even his sh*tty gift had his own pleasure in mind….. And this is after I had spent $150 on a present for his birthday the previous August, not to mention the dinner I treated him to at a fancy restaurant. I have never in my life spent that much money on any one person’s birthday present, not even my own (very amazing) parents. I feel so guilty. A month after that, he had actually broken up with me (way to say thank you!) and gone off to Thailand and f*cked that prostitute-gf of his (and made sex pics and vids with her, which I only found on his phone 6 months later).

      • So familiar, but not the not wanting sex part, just the opposite, sex 10 times a day, always thought he wouldn’t cheat because we did it so often, ha!

  • I would add these early red flags:

    Had to win!
    Told me about how he figured out to shut down a game of solitaire on his computer so it a loss was never recorded. Bragged that he was at over a 1,000 wins.

  • 1. Everyone was always “talking down” to him….I didn’t even know what that was until I met him.
    2. He never seemed to ever be happy with his work but sure spent a lot of time there.
    3. He would go and sit on the toilet for hours at a time doing who knows what.
    4. Nobody really understood the things he thought he did or how smart he was. Hmmmm.

  • This post is a couple of years old. But here goes:

    No gifts for the last 5 years of our marriage. Birthday, anniversary, holidays. nothing.
    He refers to women as “Females”. Never have I heard anyone else ( man or woman ) do this.
    No sex,,,if it hadn’t cheated so much I would have sworn he didn’t like it.
    He masturbates..a lot. Which in itself is fine. Healthy adults can do this. But he would hide it..I found several used bottles of hand lotion in the CEILING ( drop) of his office here at the house.
    After being married 32 years. His mother decided she forgot my name. When she would send Christmas gifts. Mine were always the ones with no name tag.
    He has no friends.
    Lots of anxiety and OCD issues.
    Once on vacation, he refused to tell me where we were going. We ended up driving through the desert to some petroglyphs. But after about an hr in the middle of nowhere. I suddenly started to get nervous. He asked me what was wrong, and I said “Nothing” Then quiet for a few minutes. All of a sudden he says” Did you think I brought you out here to kill you?”. That stopped me short. I just looked at him and said “That is going to be a little harder than it looks”. His reply?
    ” I’ll have to remember that!! “. That has always stuck with me. I am glad to be rid of him. I really think he is a sociopath.

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