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Early Wingnut Warning Signs

crazywarningWouldn’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 wingnut 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.)

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!

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • The biggest red flag was him proposing 4 weeks in to the relationship. I was 24, he was 30. He kept telling me that he is older and smarter, that this is the real thing and once we married I would finally GET IT!!!!. His intensity was scary at first, but I finally gave in after 3 months, over 10 proposals, constant “love bombing”, and what felt like, real deep emotional connection, we got married. I told him “I hope to love him the way he loved me” on the day of our wedding. It took me 23 years of being lied to and emotional and physically abused to finally GET IT!!!!!! I had no idea that he was cheating on me right from the beginning. Every gut feeling I had I would dismiss and think I was I a bad person for thinking wrong of him. He would make sure to remind me that I was bad if I questioned him. The extent of abuse is very severe but I am working with a great therapist and with the help of family, friends, books and this sight I am emerging to a strong, competent and worthy person that I once remember.

    • I find people who target partners who are significantly younger than they are to be extremely sketchy. To me it says that they are so insecure about themselves that they don’t think they can attract someone of their own age. They have to choose people with less life experience so they are easy to impress. And they seem to want to lock down the relationship as quickly as possible because they don’t want the younger partner to outgrow them or experience enough of the world to realize how little the older partner has to offer. And of course, he has to remind you of how much younger/less knowledgable you are than he is, so you should just defer to his judgement, even if its about whether you’re unhappy.

      I am so sorry this happened to you.

      • I think it’s about power imbalance. The people who tell you that their greater age confers greater wisdom on them than your age confers on you are not only insecure, but are also devaluing your insights and experiences.

        I do think that when people are younger, there are greater differences across certain kinds of life experiences. An 18 year-old, for example, has a significantly greater experience of the world than does a 13 year-old, but if we fast forward later in life, the 38 year-old’s experience is not so much greater than the 33 year-old’s experience.

        A 24 year-old is a grown adult, and her experience should be respected. If you get someone waltzing into your life, telling you that you need someone older and wiser, that’s definitely a bad sign. They’re not looking at the relationship as a partnership.

      • My STBX’s latest AP is 15 years younger than him and I think he likes the fact that she is receptive to all his suggestions (changes he wants her to make). Plus it makes him feel like a stud to have a girlfriend in her 20’s! He has always been jealous though, never wanted me to go anywhere with my friends. Although it’s ok for him to only have female friends because he thinks most guys are ignorant, jerks! I can only imagine how jealous he is for her to go anywhere alone since he thinks she is such a perfect, wonderful catch!

        • Yeah OW is 10 years younger than stbx. I’m several years younger, but we’ve been together 10 years and prior to me he’d mostly dated women a bit older than him. OW is by no means blameless – she’s still old enough to know better and she’s “poof”ing on her husband too, but I also think she is just totally, naively swept up in everything.

          • X BRAGGED that she knew he was married. He said, ” she knew I was married and didn’t care”. It was if he just won the lottery. I don’t believe a married woman who is cheating with a married man cam possibly be naive.

            • Donna – Ugh that’s so disgusting! You are probably right that she’s not totally naive. She’s clearly got her own issues, so they’ve got their work cut out for them!

          • Wellll, there’s a huge red flag. I’m more familiar with women pulling this, not as much with men doing it–but there you go. When someone says that they get along better with the opposite sex than with their own? Because their own sex is [list of negative generalizations]? Huge red flag. They love the attention. Same sex folks smell the dysfunctional competition, and that’s the real reason they have no same-sex friends. Bet on it.

            • Not always. I can’t stand most females, but thats simply because I don’t subscribe to the status quo of women around my age being glued to their phones texting incessantly, Facebook-whoring, and reality TV. I find I have more in common interest-wise with men, to be honest.

              Almost all of my friendships are with men – HOWEVER, I have a very strong set of boundaries that are used between said friends and my partner. Also, probably half of those friends are mutual between my partner and I. One of the big boundaries is “Do not tell any major or minor life experiences, personal news or feelings-based stuff to anyone except for your partner first of all. And with the second two, ONLY your partner”.

              I think thats where the boundary lies, and probably the only time its not a red flag.

              • Lania, I’m a lot like you in this respect. Although now that I’m older, I find I’m friends with more gay men than straight men (I still have very few friends, which is how I like it). I like it to be very clear that there is no chance for a sexual relationship to happen, I guess! Okay I’m kind of kidding, but I do feel more relaxed with gay men, I suppose because there’s no worry that my friend will misread my actions and vice versa. I have some women friends, but a lot of women I’ve met seem to be very concerned about makeup, hair, what society thinks of them, having a boyfriend, etc. etc. While those things are nice, they are not my cup of tea. And for a lot of women, when they’re in a relationship, and you spend a night out with your friend, the talk inevitably turns to the man. I’m okay with chatting for a few minutes about your relationship, but the whole night? No. I do have a feeling that I would get along quite well with a lot of the chumps of CN though. I think we are similar sorts of people (hence why we were targeted by narcs), and I think I just don’t meet very many women like me. Thus, it’s not that I “hate women” at all. But I am INTJ, and a lot of people are not.

              • Hi OtherChump. (I’m responding this way because no reply button)

                I have very few friends too, and the few I tend to have are online for the most part. However, these friends I consider to be very close to – and share similar interests. (I’m excluding work colleagues from this list for clarity’s sake, but even at work I’m an intensely private individual and while they know the basics of my life, they do not know the details, nor will I ever share those to them).

                I can’t handle the vapid nonsense from most women these days – as a result a lot of them likely think I’m ‘weird’. Also, the ones who judge because I’ve cut all ties to people I once went to school with, for example. Thing is though – why would I want to talk to, or associate with, people who think its their lifelong dream to get married to someone who’s uneducated and unworldly, and pop out a few kids as fast as possible, while living in the shadow of abuse? Certainly not myself.
                To be frank, I don’t care – I’d rather be weird and sit quietly at home with my hobbies, than to be getting trashed at a nightclub and pick up strange men. I don’t hate women – but some of the drama queen nonsense, irrespective of gender, I’ve seen through the years just disgusts me.

                I’m ISTJ, haha. However, and this is very odd, with all 4 of those traits I’m almost 50/50, so could very easily fall into any of the 16 combinations. I always found that very bizarre. Hope this doesn’t mean I’m disordered or something (multiple personalities!) 🙁

      • Bingo! I believe I will win this. 40 yrs difference in age and a million miles in SES, demographics, upbringing and all that jazz. I asked him WHAT DOES SHE SEE IN YOU. His answer? I dunno. Can u say $$$$$$$$$?

        • Happily never after … I draw with you, not that it is a competition, sorry! My ex is 40 years old than his Cambodia girl and he is so in love, I think it is the very first time that an old man that age has been truly swept of his feet. She sees $$$$$$$$$$ signs and nothing else. He is supporting her and her 2 little boys of 5 and 7. What more could a girl ask for?
          PS – He is 63 and she is 23. Sickening to say the least.

          • Maree

            Let’s face it Maree they are both using each other. I can’t tell you how demeaned the OW must feel pretending she is attracted to him. He enjoys the power he has over her. We are so fortunate to have these asses out if our lives.

            • Maree – there is only one way a woman that young (or man, for that matter) would be attracted to a 63 yr old. That would feel like my Dad – ugh. Of course it’s the $$$ and I wouldn’t be too far off if I said she was probably a paid slave. That is a very poor country and he probably met her off the child/slave channels. Sick indeed.

            • She doesn’t care, except for the dollar signs, Donna.

              Maree, I was thinking of you the other day, when I had a patient at work relate to me a story about her travels in South East Asia. She mentioned that she travelled to Cambodia, and she saw first-hand that outside of the cities, pretty much everyone lives in slums and are beyond dirt-poor. I thought of your story and realised just how incredibly fucked up your ex is – to WILLINGLY walk into that and accept it as ‘pure gold’. He’s truly disordered and delusional. And so are your children to allow it – they’re ignorant as fuck.

              • Lania – I totally agree with how these kids whose mom loves them SO much could be accepting their fathers’ lifestyle. I’ll never understand children leaving their mothers. I lost my dear mother far too young and over time I wake up in the middle of the night screaming – I’m calling for Mom. (maybe she’s calling me,, I dunno). I HATE what Maree has gone through with her ungrateful children.
                Let’s just hope some of your character wore into the fabric of your kids at some point…and maybe they will be back. If the adults kids see Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, etc – they already know what the hell is going on there.

                Sex does not equal Love.

                Maree – I think your kids may be feeling guilty, if they have any sense, of grasping what their father has done with his easy and fast lifestyle. They may have adopted it and you are just Vanilla and Sad and Unadventurous to them.
                You tried your best raising them, but when you’ve got the tide of the devil and evil guiding their lives right now, I really don’t think you want them in your life until they understand and GROW the F UP!

                Blessings, respectfully submitted. She chump

              • Ladies, he has made a flying visit into Melbourne for a week to see ‘my’ children, go to the football and play golf. He couldn’t bring the ‘family’ because the boys paperwork was not lodged correctly, so therefore the poor little mite he calls the love of his life had to stay at home with the kids. Funny, he never took me and our 2 children anywhere and now it is open slather. My sister is worried that if I run into him the street I might end up in gaol. No way would that happen. I will be keeping well and truly away from the city until he is gone next week.

                PS – My kids are very aware of how angry I am with them and their weak behaviour.

              • Maree, (Responding here because no reply button!)

                More like, they wouldn’t let his 2-dolla whore into the country because she’d be an immigration risk and would try to stay illegally.
                He comes home to watch football and play golf? Why, don’t they have those activities back home? Bwahahaha.

        • Frankly, it’s pathetic. These guys think they have some trophy GF that makes the rest of the world view them as mega-studs for being able to attract young meat. But the rest of the world views them as sad little men caught up in near-pedophilia for the sake of their supposed image and their dicks.

          My X had numerous APs in their 20s when he was in his 50s, and my daughters think that is so creepy that the youngest won’t even talk to him. I was already 12 years younger than X, but apparently I was old goods. X also just bragged to my former SIL (with whom I am still friends) that his current GF is “younger than Tempest.” She wasn’t impressed, she simply thought he was disgusting for trying to be Peter Pan.

          • Tempest, it is the “near-pedophilia” that has eaten away at me for a very long time. I always thought there was something amiss and now I think I know what it is. When you consider that our daughter is 36 years old and our son is 33 years old and he has chosen a 23 year old. She has 2 sisters of 35 and 44 who may be more age appropriate!! But no, he has chosen the 23 year old. My kids accept this without batting an eyelid. It is wrong on so many levels.

    • I would add :
      1. Funky with calls, you can never reach them, they can always reach you.
      2. Missing trains, planes, always late, nit being able to comit even to public transport..
      3. Annoyed and overwhelmed with having to do anything standard/regular for normal people (like paying bills etc)
      4. The GUT ..omg yes.. Theres just always some level of anxiety..which they know how to control, when they push it too hard, next day its as if ‘they read your mind’
      5. Not being able to discuss anything that has to do with feelings, difficult stuff, taking minutes to respond to normal question, or not saying anything, changing the subject or making a joke
      6. If you look closer you can sence bullshit.. When they talk about feelings.. Its there..
      7. Its also there in their stories about their past.. As if theyre testing what os ok and what is not.. They like to reveal stuff..carefully
      8. Broken relaahionships (with family and friends)which doesnt seem to bother them
      9. Incredible with kids
      10. ‘Forgetting’ important dates
      11. When at an event, family gathering, staying away, bbquing or sth, never really there ‘together’
      12. Not being able to apologize quickly when they fuck up..
      Oh my.. I could do this all day..

      • I totally agree with being annoyed about having to do normal tasks and chores that are a part of adult life. I knew that my ex didn’t like to do things that weren’t “fun” and I accepted that when I chose to marry him. No one is perfect, I thought. I usually did all those unfun things in the relationship. I figured I was good at responsibility and he was good at making sure we had fun. Turns out I was responsible for US, and he was making sure HE was only doing fun things. I didn’t get that him feeling he shouldn’t have to do very normal things and being burdened with the boring parts of being an adult were major signs of entitlement….and I certainly didn’t understand that entitlement pervades every aspect of someone’s life and decision-making process…including how a person would treat me and the relationship…

        • Yes, anything considered “menial”, my cheater was much too important to do. Any type of housework, paying bills, mowing the lawn, etc. He would throw stuff in the trash and recycle bin until they overflowed, but could never be bothered to take them out. Grrrr. And I know there’s a meme for this, but he was incensed that I wouldn’t make him a sandwich for lunch on the weekend when I was up to my eyes with kids’ activities. It takes five minutes to make a damn sandwich!!

          • Right, but he wanted you to use your 5 minutes. 😉 I remember my STBX walking in one Sat morning from work (he was working nights at that point), sitting down to take his shoes off, and shooting me this evil look. I was on my way out the door to run the kids to practices. “You know I like a cooked breakfast” he hissed at me. According to a friend, he told her that was one of the last straws…I didn’t have breakfast cooked for him. That, and I had fallen asleep the night before while texting him. When he worked nights he wanted me to stay up all night to talk/text. I have three children to take care of and two jobs…I do need to sleep lol!

      • The same:

        1. Not available by phone or text, reading messages that are important and never replying.
        2. Not being dependable for others and not caring.
        3. Sex and love, not the same thing yep, lived that.
        4. Inability to give thoughtful gifts…I’m pretty sure I got the perfume she wears after telling him he smelled weird one night…
        5. I mistook his staring off in space and answering questions slowly as being thoughtful, instead he was just absent
        6. No longer being asked to be in photos with kids, he quit taking any photos of me
        7. He did nothing around the house, dishes, yard work, repairs, etc…
        8. He didn’t show up for kids events
        9. Asked “why the fuck would you go back to grad school?” instead of supporting me
        10. Was incredibly angry when I received money from my family that was not put in the joint bank account and he couldn’t control it.
        11. Insisted on putting everything in his name: house, cars, bills, credit cards….and controlling it all
        12. showing up to go on vacation 2-6 hours late and belligerent when I dared question him

        Good grief, so many signs….so much disrespect. His parents were the same. I won’t raise my kids this way!

        • Yes.. Photos.. Over 9 years he maybe took 3 photos of me (and hes a cameraman..)he didnt like being on photoa either. We had exactly 3 nice photos of us as well. One from the day we met, one from the day we got evgaged and one from friends wedding. On other photos hed always mage a funny or ugly face, always mimic sth, just to make a photo a joke. Youre right. So many red flags, but they serve it after youre all in, and serve it one by one intercutted with nice days..theyre master manipulators.

  • I wish I’d paid more attention to my husband’s jealousy. I used to brush it off and secretly think it was quite sweet. But now I’m convinced that he cheated to ‘teach me a lesson’, after years of secret resentment at constantly being told (by others, NEVER by me) that I was ‘out of his league’ and that I was ‘the catch’. He denies this, but I think it’s true.

    • Interesting KJ. I never thought of this as a particular red flag for me before, but my ex was insanely jealous. I never have been. I never really figured out if she WANTED me to act jealous or what that was about. Completely done trying to unwrap the skein of you-know-what.

      • thats funny because my ex was only jealous of my best friend who was a male. other than that he didn’t think highly enough of me to be jealous that way. He was, however, EXTREMELY jealous of my relationship with friends, our kids, my family,

        • Mine never had even the average, healthy, typical twinges of jealousy about anything to do with me, except where money was concerned. Then if I spent anything, he’d want to spend too.

          But otherwise, he’d watch other men hit on me from afar with a detached amusement. He had no real attachment or feelings for me so of course there was no expected feeling of an infringement either. He just didn’t care. That was a bit of a red flag, told me I didn’t have value to him.

          There were many other flags: a general feeling of detachment when we’d have sex. He wasn’t attracted to who I was but what I could do for him. There was never any depth or emotional connection in the bedroom – the rare times we did sleep together (another red flag unto itself).

          There was also his inability to keep promises, how I was barred from knowing his colleagues and friends, my growing sense of uneasiness in my gut about our relationship through the years, missing pieces in his family history, his inability to manage money, how I always fell to the bottom of his priority list, his detachment from his mother, his dozens of phone calls to me daily in our first years together, his secret transsexual porn collection, and so on.

          He’d never commit when it counted either. He had no follow through when times were tough. He loved fun and parties and attention and success but wherever real life got in the way – bills, sickness, death, job loss – he couldn’t be counted on.

          • Mine was the same, Sad, never jealous of other men. I was simply of so little value to him. He only ever expressed jealousy or maybe better termed resentment of my affection for our pets and our youngest son. So sick.

          • Mine couldn’t keep a job, he got fired all the time, but it was never his fault. I was the responsible one. He had no male friends, his excuse was they might hit on me. He was always friends with really young girls or older ones. The OW is 12 years younger and he saved her from an abusive relationship!

          • Mine actually took a picture of me in lingerie, then put it on Adult Friend Finders (without my permission) so that other men would f*** me. I thought it was some weird phase he was going through, and spackled over it. Slap, slap, slap to my younger self. Should have left then.

    • Of course, “teach me a lesson after years of secret resentment that I was out of his league”, that’s it !!! Why haven’t I thought of this before ?
      Thanks KJ for putting this into words ! It sounds like the naked truth suddenly exposed !

      • I relate to this too. M-F’n HUGE red flag was whenever something good happened for me he could not be happy for me at all.

    • Yeah, I think my ex cheated to ‘get one over on me’ too. It was like some sort of weird power play. Only he didn’t think he’d get caught so…how does that make sense for a power play? Beats me. I think it was all in his mind. Like he felt so beaten down and pathetic in his own life that he needed to do this to know inside that he had. Stupid fucker never thought I’d find him out.

    • Yes! The weird jealousy and one-up manship. So unhealthy. I felt it from the cheater and he would sabotage my efforts in supporting me to complete my personal goals. He would tell people how much he ‘supports’ my efforts and then never make good on the so called support.

      He just recently revealed that he was jealous of my ability to acquire foreign languages and than my fluency made him feel inadequate. This was news to me this year.

      • Oooh, a polyglot? Thats awesome!
        Kinda hits home with me, I’m trying to learn the basics of a new language, its hard work and moments of frustration where I want to throw in the towel, but I’m determined!

    • I, the chumped, was a bit jealous early in my marriage, but in one sense, that jealousy, while perhaps a form of insecurity, turned out to be somewhat based in truth: she was still seeing someone else during our intense courting period, she did flirt with older, more powerful men, she had had sex with most of her orbiter boyfriends who became our friends. (OK, on that last one, I suppose sexual history shouldn’t matter, but now looking back, she may have slept with one of her friends before she had left her previous husband.)

      See, I’m being petty and jealous right now 🙂

      But yeah, some of those things were red flags. I did find about about the other guy she was seeing before I proposed, but tacked it up to “well, she’s an attractive single woman, so just like Scarlett O’Hara in GWTW, a single young girl can have many suitors”. Found out later, the dude still called her even after we got married, but I shut that down. And that other guy was married and about to leave his wife, but guess what, he is still married to that same wife.

        • That is probably where i got it. In my “amazon chump” research phase of learning all I could about infidelity, I did run across the “manosphere” blogs where they talked about “beta orbiter” – guys who were in the friend zone.

          In that sense, the word probably wasn’t a good choice.

          But if/when I date again, and the girl I’m dating has slept with all her current buddies at one point or another, I’ll probably take that as a red flag.

  • Disdain. I have seen a couple of marriages crack open because of it. Using perfectly norlmal words but in a tone of voice that shows disdain. When you get your feelings hurt,or you become angry, the response is to belittle you. They tell you to pay attention to thier words, not their tone. You then feel petty. It is so subtle that you never can get a handle on it. One of those people in a bad marriage takes pride in being sarcastic. She is now separated.

    • YES. Or contempt, I guess largely they’re manifested in the same ways. There’s a study out there that my therapist refers to about some researcher who could pretty accurately predict whether a couple would divorce by whether a partner (or both) displays contempt in their interactions. That can be an issue separate from infidelity, of course, but my stbx is really good at being dismissive when you try and confront him with something.

      • A lot of these red flags weren’t in my relationship, but distain/contempt is basically the hallmark of his interaction with me and … really anyone in his path. “I said I was sorry” with laserbeams of malice coming out of your eyes is not remorse, or respect.

        (He even admitted in therapy that one of the reasons most of his cheating was done online was because no one could hear the tone of his voice, so they would more easily think he was sincere. Now from everything I’ve read, that’s a pretty impressive amount self-awareness from someone with NPD!…Also, please gag me.)

        • Yes! I remember always answering “it’s not what you say, is how you say it”. This really pissed her off. I think she knew I was getting a clue.

        • Interesting. I feel like my stbxh talks to everyone with disdain- his coworkers, his “friends”, even his kids. He wasn’t always like this but he has been like this for a couple years now. I can’t help but think it is disdain or contempt for themselves that they project onto others.

      • I think you might be referring to John Gottman’s research that looked how couples communicated with each other and predicted divorce with surprising accuracy. They covered this on an episode of NPR’s This American Life called “The Sancity of Marriage.”

      • oh, disdain, that look with a curled lip, little microagressions about my hair, my clothes, how I pronounce words, everything I did. I forgot about that. I’d catch him looking at me with a look of utter contempt.

      • Ah, yes, the contempt. I ate 3 course meals of his contempt.

        On one occasion, I drove the MFer to the airport for a conference. My 4 year old daughter had made me 3 paper peonies for Mother’s Day, which I had hung over my rear view mirror. X contemptuously remarked that it made my car look like a “rag and bone man’s cart.” I was so furious, I told him not to bother coming home after the conference. And then he talked his way out of my fury again.

  • All of these match my wingnut experience perfectly! Love bombing? Check! Going Dutch? Check! What did I get for my 30th birthday? A set of serving plastic utensils that came in a cheap stainless steel container. Like spatulas and slotted spoons. Seriously.

    I’d have to add excessive excuses to the list. Always an excuse! Didn’t matter the situation. From splitting up chores or splitting up bills or splitting up parenting duties, always an excuse.

    Come to think of it, ACTUALLY splitting up, I heard some humdinger excuses.

    For example:

    Why can’t we take your car? Uh… I think my AC is going out.

    Hey, can you pick up the kids from daycare, I have a meeting at 4:30? Uh… Well, I told [random coworker] I’d help them with [random task].

    Can you stop and pick up milk on your way home? Uh… I am running low on gas, and can’t stop. (WTF dude, the gas station sells milk!) Uh… Yeah, but it’s like a dollar mor than it is at the grocery store.

    Idiotic little twat… So. Glad. We’re. Divorced.

    • I hear you, Kelli. The lack of thought or caring is revealed in their choice of gifts. Or in my case, the lack of gifts. In almost 30 years of marriage, I received maybe 3 gifts for my birthday, and maybe a total of 4 Christmas gifts. All cheap, insignificant stuff–like a new hot pad for the kitchen (seriously). The rest of the time, he panicked and stressed and made it all about him because he was “trying so hard” to decide what to get me. Which of course, he never actually got around to. One Christmas, he told me he had ordered a new set of stainless steel cookware for me, but he was afraid it might not make it to our house in time for the actual gift giving. He wanted me to know, though, that the gift was on the way. Nope, didn’t come for Christmas. January, February, March–no gift yet. He kept saying, they must be backed up with orders. In April, he sheepishly admits that “maybe” he forgot to actually order the gift after all. Classic, just classic. And any disappointment I showed just proved what an angry person I was. I should have seen the red flag when I had to purchase my own wedding ring. (We didn’t do an engagement ring). They do suck at gift giving. Making decisions is so “overwhelming” for them. Can’t we see and understand how difficult it is for them, how stressful? They are TRYING you know. Chump that I am, I tried to “help” him with this problem by making up throughout the year a list of things I would like to receive. That way, he could just choose something off the list and still be able to surprise me. He thought it was a great idea. So I gave him the list, and off to the mall he went. Twenty minutes later, he calls, and says he lost the list. Can’t remember anything on it. Doesn’t know what to do. This is the same man who “lost” his divorce papers within 20 minutes of me having him served. Never did find them, I guess. Never did respond. Never got himself a lawyer. Too bad, so sad. My kick-ass lawyer knew what to do with that.

      This story ends well, because I left the cheater and am currently traveling the world on his dime. Can you say, “Early Retirement?” Loving it! Thank you CL and CN!

      • I should add, he also sucked at planning anything, vacations, dates, outings, anything that required a decision. He would much rather that I make the plans, and then he could criticize freely if he didn’t like them or they didn’t work out.

        • OMG!!! Exactly my situation. I would make the decision after asking for help making the decision to later be told”I never agreed to that”
          Nope, can’t wait forever!

      • Good for you! I found out from my step father that my engagement ring was fake after we separated. Like I thought it was a real, 3 stone, princess cut diamond ring. Nope! It was precisely $167 from the Home Shopping Network.

        Also, I feel ya on the “losing things.” Idiotic Twat fought me hard on custody of our two toddlers because he *really* didn’t want to pay child support. He “lost” his new patient papers for the psychologist when we did our custody study. In the 21 page report, the doctor actually says (for the court) that in all his years of performing custody studies for the courts, he has never had someone who repeatedly lied and said “paperwork is in the mail” only to never sent it.

        Considering that I had to file contempt because he literally *refuses* to pay child support, and at the contempt hearing he says he “lost” his job, I’m pretty sure Idiotic Twat just didn’t want to turn in paperwork for the court with his employment information. I suspect he had quit is job to get out of paying such high child support, and took a job making about 1/4 of what he made when we were married.

        Luckily, the judge suspected the same thing, and now I have sole custody, and he is in big trouble with the judge. Hate it for him.

      • I agree about the bad gifts. One year, after he’d started cheating but before I knew it, he gave me this set of wall plaques featuring schmaltzy scenes of children doing country things like fishing, all in glorious early eighties decoupage. (Sp.?) It looked like he’d stopped at a Kmart on the way over and picked out the first “gifty” thing he saw. We had gone through a lot that year, had our daughter and were struggling to stay focused on our schooling in the midst of life struggles and emotional changes.

        That shitty gift should have told me all I ever needed to understand about our relationship.

        My BFF and I had free fun one night a few months after, getting wine drunk and throwing things at the stupid plaques, still in their box, whilst shrieking with laughter.

        • I once got paper towels for my bday. He said its cause I have a ‘phobia’ of keeping everything dry.. Try and beat that ??

          • A box of copy paper stolen from the office and wrapped for Christmas. He was pissed when I didn’t seem over-the-moon thrilled.

              • I got no gifts but recycled birthday cards he took out of the drawer where I was sentimentally saving them. Finally, the kids noticed and thought it was hysterically funny so he stopped giving me anything at all. What I really wanted was some flowers but he thought flowers were a waste of money, as they just died. No flowers in 27 years of marriage. Divorced 2 weeks ago – bought my own damn flowers!

              • yeap.. he thought it was funny, so was the flag he bought me for my next bday :);), last year, he apparently ran out of funny ideas cause he chose to forget the date 🙂

            • Oh Valentines! I completely forgot this even exist. For 9 years he’d say “people who are truly in love celebrate every day” UBT : I don’t want/need to buy you anything so I just give you this shit sandwich and wrap it in a nice paper. I can’t believe I was being so stupid.

              • Exactly what I got Annastine. We don’t need anything. If you do, you know you can just go buy it yourself. So, that made Valentines’ easy all right. He didn’t believe in that day because he felt ‘forced’ to buy roses. So, since he doesn’t like be forced..no flowers – EVER, not even on my b’day. Feel petty saying that but some guys just don’t realize how really important flowers (especially roses) mean to people like me. When he was dating me, he started with a dozen white roses, then went to yellow, and then finally to red when he proposed. My mom figured out what all the colors meant (I had no idea there was a meaning-ha)
                White – Purity
                Yellow – Friendship
                Red – Love.

                Oh, such a love-bomber back in those days. Rarely seeing another Rose since, after 35 yrs..

  • Mine was terrible at gifts, too. Was always histrionic over the need for me to put things in my Amazon wish list for him. Ironically, before the final DDay, he took some recommendations from a friend and got some more personal things (books I’d never heard of and loved). I still wonder, why then? Was it to impress the friend (reading by proxy)? It seemed a sign of hope at the time. I should also have noticed the very first major gift he gave me was a style I never wear – but apparently it was “what a person gets” from the family jeweler. This was after a year of being together. Should have given that more weight. Live and learn.

    • My ex was often out of town on my birthday. Even though I threw him parties for his milestone birthdays he never reciprocated for me. If I got upset about him being gone on my birthday he acted like I was being a baby. His family didn’t make a big deal out of birthdays.

      Once, for Valentine’s Day, he drove to the dime store and told me to wait in the car. When he got, back he pitched a sack with a card in my lap and said “Happy Valentine’s Day.” One Christmas he did give me a beautiful ring and I was so happy, I thought “he finally understands me.” Later I heard him bragging about it to some friends and acting like a big spender. That kind of tarnished it for me.

    • My X never gave me any gifts over the 24 years of marriage, except 1. After 14 years of marriage he got me a sewing machine for my birthday – so I could repair his cloths properly like his mother would have done I suppose, rather than by hand. So glad to be free

  • Asking if I wanted him to get up when I went into labor with my first baby. Mind you, it was 7:00 p.m., not the middle of the night. He was napping. Fast forward 7 years–Asking if I wanted him to come home when I called him at work to tell him my mother died. Selfish much?

    • YES! At 26 weeks, I was admitted to ICU because of complications from preeclampsia and placenta abruption. I call him from my doctor’s office, hysterical, saying I was being admitted.

      He asks, “Do you think I should leave work?”

      Well, jackass, my placenta is ripping itself from my uterus, my blood pressure is 180/110, and my kidneys are shutting down… Nah, go ahead and finish returning those emails.

      • Mine left me in ICU to go home and get some rest…it was okay the nurses said I was stable i.e. it was their fault that I continued to haemorrhage, had to have nearly 26 units of blood, and nearly pegged it en route to emergency surgery (hysterectomy) I will never forget the head surgeon shouting at the hospital staff ” where the f@ck is her husband?” before they whisked me into theatre, I should have said ” the f@ckwit is at home resting”

        Oh, and apparently he suffered more trauma than me ‘cos I was whacked outta my head on morphine…………….and he saw blood on the surgeon’s boots……….HE could never get over it….. asshole 🙂

        • Our nearly 13 year old German Shephard was seriously ill one morning when we woke up. Did the crap weasel offer any help? No – he has to get to work becasue he is SOOOOOO important. Could he take our kid to school that morning? NO, even though it is on the way. Life cant interfer with his morning routine of coffee drinking. So, I take my daughter to school and take dog to vet. Vet tells me the dog has bloat and at his age nothing can be done and dog is in extreme pain. They give the dog pain killers but say that it is cruel to keep him alive for more than an hour. Bastard X knows dog was very sick and I try calling, leaving text messages, email etc telling him if he wants to say good bye he needs to come to the vets office within the hour. No response. I’m alone in a room with my dying dog in my arms and I finally get a message 45 minutes later saying that it was inconvenient for him to come over now ( 9:30 am and only 5 minutes away) couldnt they postpone putting the dog down until 2:30 this afternoon when he had a break in his schedule? He is a bloody professor – what could possible be that important? I was so dumbstruck. I was pissed at him, flabergasted, grief stricken about hte dog. But for me, that was the first time my gut told me something was really wrong. Unfortnately I didn’t act on it and leave the basterd, instead he left me 4 months later.

          • Our 18 year old cat was in kidney failure and I nurtured him for months. Finally, the day came where he had to be euthanized and yes, the fucktard wanted it done based on his schedule. That did not happen. The kids & I said our goodbyes. I kept strong for the children – comforted them. That evening we retired to bed & I started to speak to the asshat about it, crying a bit. He responded by saying “I hope you’re not going to get hysterical” and promptly turned over and went to sleep. At that point I wish the vet had euthanized him instead.

          • MommyChump – your story is horrible and I feel terrible for you going through such a serious condition with your dog with Bloat – it is an extreme emergency and I cannot imagine not being right there, waiting, to see if the surgery works or not…and holding my beloved’s hand. It’s a terrible moment. I lost mine to bloat because I was too far from a vet and we had a 1-1/2 drive down a mountain to get to one. (I called 911 and got this vet to come in from his Memorial Day vaca) Pulled into parking lot and he died in my arms. An extremely painful 1-1.2 hrs for the poor guy.

            That dog meant everything to us – and us dog ppl could go on all day, but THE X totally abandoned ALL of our dogs the day he abandoned me…the emotions we shared with that dog’s bloat was the closest we ever were. A mere 5 years later, he couldn’t bring himself to come and say one last good-bye to another dog that was ALL his. Didn’t seem care at all when I told him he passed away.

            And, for the reason the he never looked back at this ‘family’ of ours once after he left…I will forever never forgive him. The dogs suffered his loss too.

            I cannot imagine what it would be like to see this happen to your children, which so many of you write about. I would be so raging angry. Dogs are different – kids are human.

        • Oh my, hahaha! He saw blood on the surgeon’s boots, and was never the same! I am not meaning to laugh at your expense, but that’s just priceless. Mine was/is a doctor, so no squeamishness over blood and such, but other things affected his delicate sensibilities, such as the freewheeling way my family and I would joke around. He didn’t think much of our relationships. His family was from a foreign, more formal culture, yet when I met them, they turned out to be way kinder and down to earth than he was.

        • Digbert, he left me in ICU too. Said he couldn’t sleep in the tiny room with all of the machines and nurses coming in all night long.

          Let’s see… I was admitted at 4:30pm on a Monday, he slept at home on Monday night, worked Tuesday–even after my doctor told me that my kidneys had completely shut down by 6am Tuesday morning.

          He came by Tuesday evening for a little while, but “couldn’t handle” seeing me so sick and hooked up to the machines, so he left again Tuesday night.

          He worked Wednesday, even after my liver failed, and I had to start blood transfusions. My doctor said, and I quote, “We will keep you pregnant as long as possible, and let this go just to the point where we can’t bring you back.”

          At 3pm on Wednesday, the doctors decided it was time to do the emergency C-section. They waited on him after getting me prepped and giving me the epidural. He got in, they did the C-section. He’s in the medical field, so he watched the C-section, and never spoke to me. After my daughter was out, he went with the nurses who were taking her to the NICU. He left me alone in the operating room while I was getting closed up.

          He said that the nurse who was intubating my 14-week premature child (who weighed 1lb, 6oz at birth) for her respirator was “doing it wrong,” so he stepped in–just in case she failed again on the third try, he was going to take over.

          He stayed only Wednesday night with me in the hospital, but went to work on Thursday. Our baby wasn’t expected to live 72 hours (she did, and is just fine). He worked every day I was in the hospital. When I was discharged, my first full day home from the hospital, I started running a fever of 103 degrees. He was at work, of course. I had to drive myself, with an emergency C-section incision that was a week old, to the emergency room. I had an infection in my incision, which had to be opened and cleaned, and re-closed.

          I had to drive myself home from the hospital afterward. Why? Well, my car was already there, anyway, and it would be such a hassle to have to go back to the hospital to get it later. I needed to just be a trooper, and drive myself home.

          • Kelli, that is horrible! Asshat tried the, “I’m on staff at this hospital” thing to try to go into the OR when it became apparent things were going south and I was getting an emergency C-section. Because I was under general, no dice. He did sleep through most of night and half the day while I laid there being lectured and harassed by rude nurses (there were also wonderful ones too). Then he asked to run home to set out some donated football tickets for his best friend to stop by and pick up. Because they couldn’t come by, get the keys and find them in our house? Later that evening, he asked if he could turn on the Super Bowl. Luckily, the drugs were not all out of my system so I could ignore it. Hmmm, his best friend and his wife did ask if it was okay to stop by the next day (and it was). They were quiet, used the hand sanitizer on the way in and stayed only for a few minutes. I just remembered, having blocked it out, that Mother Asshat and Sideshow Clod stopped by. Resplendent in feces covered farm clothes/boots, without ‘washing up’ and grabbed the baby. Had I not been hooked up to tubes, I’d have throttled them with the IV pole. And Asshat just let it go.

            Oh, another warning sign I think is having different rules for different people. You can complain and demand that some people be clean but then let your mother spread any manner of zoonotic disease to a newborn. It’s so sad that his nurses’ husbands go out of town and leave them with older kids. But he turns around and does the same to me and it’s okay bc i should suck it up and deal bc he busts his ass for my ungrateful one.

            I cannot believe he made you drive yourself home! :facepalm:

          • That disgusting prick….how on earth did you not completely lost your shit at him? Thats fucking heinous!
            Fuck these bastards. Seriously.

          • Delayed response Kelli here…….. big time difference ‘down under’, what a selfish shit making you drive yourself home, you are well rid of him!

            You know what mine did when I eventually got discharged ….bought himself a new car ‘cos of the stress of the whole situation….yup I am left infertile, dazed and struggling to shower and bend down to pick up my pants for weeks ‘cos of my invasive surgery (no keyhole option for me then) and he is worrying about treating himself.

            Asswipe……….he made a big thing of going into work the morning the day after the drama and crying to his colleagues about how he nearly lost me…..had to take 2 weeks off work to care for me..errrrrr in reality he came to visit late afternoon bought me a coffee and left before 6.30pm..but everyone thought he was a fucking martyr……

            Oh and he brought me a portable dvd and comedy dvd to watch in hospital – yeah, major stomach surgery you know you much laughing hurts…….

        • Mine left

          1. Anytime we had to move
          2. When I had our first child he dropped me off at home and went to work…it was our wedding anniversary
          3. When I had our second child
          4. When I had sugary
          5. When I had a life threatening injury

          When….I guess the point is, he was never there. I often wondered how I would feel if he had a heart attack. NOTHING, RELIEF.

        • So sorry Kelli, I know the sense of abandonment this leaves you. I recently posted in the forums about driving myself to hospital and my partner failing to show ….. It was our 2nd child so had a toddler to also deal with … Lucky for a best friends and family to pick up the slack…. Once again I feel both pain and relief I am not alone In my experiences

          • Thank you all! I appreciate your kind words. All of that was 4 years ago, and I truly am at peace with it now. He sucks. Epically.

            He’s the guy who left town on his daughter’s second birthday to go to a concert. When she had chicken pox. And ended up getting his girlfriend at the time pregnant. That child is almost a year old now, and he’s only seen it a handful of times. He does not pay child support for my children nor that one. He’s been held in contempt of court, he’s lost custody, the judge yelled at him, and his lawyer withdrew from his case. He doesn’t care. You can’t make people like this care.

            Luckily, I got two amazing little girls out of the deal, and (almost as good) the only contact I have with him is a text every-other Saturday asking what time he can pick up the girls for his supervised visitation for 6 hours. He never comes to dance class or doctor visits. He doesn’t call the girls during the week to talk to them. He is a seriously disordered narcissist. I’m glad to be rid of him.

            And, my girls are too. I am very careful about talking about their father to the girls–even in age appropriate ways. I’ve been accused of poisoning the girls against their father many times. But, when they ask where daddy is, I simply say “I don’t know, baby, but I am here, and I always will be.” When they tell me that he has done something to them–like lock them in a closet for time out–I tell them that we will tell Mimi (my stepmom/lawyer), and she will take care of it. Now, all they say is that they are so glad that they do not have to sleep at daddy’s anymore. They are only 3 and 4, but they know that their father is not right.

  • Just the typical stuff. Longer and longer work hours. Then working out of state on business and week ends. Upgrading to a BlackBerry phone as his flip phone didn’t do everything he needed. Texting ALL the time. Eventually showing little affection and becoming distant. Coming home late from work and then not eating his dinner (often complaining it had too much pepper or the steak I grilled had too much fat on it and etc.) The in laws became obviously distant as well as he started paving the road of his “unhappiness” to them but not me. When he was home he’d just sit in his recliner and not engage with any of us. I could go on and on……

  • I met my STBX at work and I couldn’t stand him. I thought he was incredibly arrogant. Eventually he became part of the younger team and he was fun and he took an interest in me. Within three months of his joining the firm we were dating and 3 weeks later engaged. He had broken off a previous engagement before the invitations went out. Her name was Susan and I was Susan. She lived on Mason St and I lived on Mason Dr. I thought it was kismet. We married about a year later (only because my sister was marrying before us). He was a love-bomber and did everything you described above. I was with him for 30 years and thought our marriage was just fine. But now that he’s hooked up with his old college gf and she’s moving in with him I see the same scenario being repeated. Since he found her again, he’s love-bombed her and called her his fiancé. Interesting….

    • mom9193, I didn’t like my ex when I first met him either! I was out with friends and he came up to talk to me. I blew him off and asked them to take me home. They did but they went back out and ran into him again. They told him where I worked and he showed up there. I blew him off again. They invited him to their house and then invited me without telling me he would be there. I was pissed but they insisted that I give him a chance. Wish I hadn’t listened to them!

      • My first impression of my ex when I met him was that he was arrogant too. I didn’t really like him at first. Interesting that others had that same experience. Anyway, he once told me that he was intrigued with me because I didn’t fall all over him like the other girls did.

        • LYN

          me too. He was arrogant and unapproachable. I was unafraid and naive. Little did I know I was walking into the wolf den.

      • Me neither. I didn’t even really take notice of him at all. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like him, but he never registered on my radar.

      • Same here, with my ex a long time ago. They insisted I give him a chance: “hes a nice guy” – and because I was relatively new to the area, I didn’t have any reference point to base it off.

        Turns out the two women who said that – had slept with him, and were STILL sleeping with him. And, of course, he was pushy for sex (and virginal me said HELL NO) – when I said no, he of course cheated on me – for an obese hag.

    • What is it with them and jumping for an old high school flame they reconnected with on Facebook? It’s been 32 years! It’s just so pathetic. I guess my XW was looking for her Glory Days again. Sad.

  • I will give this serious thought today as this list is just as important for our future. What screams at me the loudest at this moment is he was a HUGE FLIRT when we were together in college eons ago. He chose me, but really didn’t want to be with me, if that makes sense. When he did focus on me, the LOVE BOMBING was just incredible. I look back over the long term marriage and remember thinking even when young and oh so naive, that I was never enough for him. How right I was!!

    • I see that in a marriage in my family and I worry about it. The husband was a major player in college and at first, my relative didn’t fall for his “flirting.” He really didn’t seem to like her. He just seemed to hate the idea that she didn’t fall all over him. He didn’t want her, he wanted to prove he could conquer her. Which he did, with major love-bombing. And now they’re married with a baby on the way. And he is completely checked out.

  • Huge red flag…..they are ALWAYS the victim and it’s always somebody else’s fault.

    Two days after we got engaged X-hole went to court to let the bank foreclose on his house (not ONE word was mentioned prior to that morning) and….of course it was his “ex-wife’s fault”. His explanation…. “she wouldn’t sign a paper saying he was caught up on child support (which he wasn’t) and he had even PROMISED to pay her and get caught up with the equity he received.” Truth… she did refuse to sign, he was behind on child support on top of never paying her what he owed her from the divorce or the shared debts he was supposed to pay off. She KNEW she couldn’t TRUST him AND he was still living in THEIR home WITH the AP he had cheated on her with (who moved in 2 weeks after she and 3 kids left). This is the woman he was living with when I met him and we started dating the minute she moved out, I had told him I would not get involved romantically with any man who lived with someone. She was gone a week later…. I remember it bothered me that it didn’t bother him…. but she was truly a wretched person, I had met her many times, so I chalked it up to that and spackled…..

    Same thing with “why” their marriage ended…she “threw him away” “stopped wanting him”. She says “in a way I suppose he’s right, I did….but only after finding out he had been cheating on me for 3 months when our youngest was 6 months old. It was the final straw.”

    Took me 7 years to stop lying to myself and actually ASK her if he had cheated on her??

    • My ex and I met when we were 18 and married at 22 years old. Every ex-girlfriend of his had done him wrong in some way – he was the victim; he was betrayed by them. He even had coined a stupid acronym about girls being bitches – his friends all knew it and they all called me by that name…(It was so immature!) Basically anything that went wrong in his life was due to the fault of someone else. He rarely ever apologized for any wrong-doing on his part because he was never at fault.

      • Yep…never ever wrong and always turns it back to something I did or someone else did. He and his ex wife were together for at least 12 years and she says the exact same thing. You just could NOT talk to him, he was never wrong and never ever sorry. Dick.

  • This is a great post. Warning signs I missed:
    — The ex-wives / ex-fiancees thousands of miles away. With (conveniently) only him here to fill in the narratives.
    — The fact that only one or two of his friends from years spent in those other places thousands of miles away every called or kept in touch.
    — Still being married while pursuing me, and me letting him explain it away with all kinds of Sad Sausage talk (cringe. I KNOW.).
    — Professed to share my same faith, but hated actually practicing that faith and would avoid study, service work, or any kind of faith-related discussion at all costs (unless it was a good opportunity to have all eyes and ears on him in the room. THEN he was all about it).
    — The piles of unpaid bills on his desk. Yikes.
    — Uncomfortably lavish gifts and meals that made me feel weird while we were dating (of course, all financial contributions whatsoever stopped the instant we were married).
    — Me being flattered, but my closest friends being VERY suspicious, about the intensity with which he was coming on in the beginning (and all the love bombing, etc.).
    — Talking about buying huge luxurious things though he made zero money and we were in debt, and brushing my “uh, what are you thinking?!” aside with “Oh I’m just dreaming.” Then going ahead and buying the thing.
    — Pressuring me to solely take on more debt and more lines of credit for his growing expensive habits, because I had “better credit.”

    And countless more things. But. You know, that was just the beginning.

    • Yes! Unpaid bills, mounds of debt while spending on luxuries, having me “co-sign” for his car because (here comes the grooming) I had such good credit, I should be proud of myself…, which somehow morphed into me getting the loan with his name just added to the title… OMG… Shame on you, former self. Wake up.

      • Yes!! ^^^^THIS^^^^ How, how, how do they push this out of their minds??? Pretend that everything is just absolutely terrific???

        X-hole is, for all appearances, “living the life”. Competing in bodybuilding shows, traveling, hotels, supplements, gym membership, fun expensive activities and dinner every weekend that he has the kids….. all while not paying the rent, utilities, child support, insurance, income taxes……. it is disturbing.

  • He blamed all of his life’s failures and misfortunes on other people. Nothing was ever his fault.

    If there was one flag out of the million that I wish I’d taken seriously, it would be that one.

    • This. Anything mine accomplished was due to his greatness, but any job he didn’t get or anything else he didn’t achieve was because “it’s all politics” or “you gotta know somebody.” They’re delusional.

    • Amen, Lulu. Always everybody else’s fault. Right now, it’s mine. Maybe after the divorce is final he’ll blame somebody else … hopefully his lawyer.

  • These personality disordered wingnuts all have uncannily similar MO s in the beginning of a relationship.They lovebomb…constant contact,attention,flattery.They like to cement a relationship quickly,telling you they love you,they never felt like this before,you are amazing,unique,blah blah.If you google the words idealise,devalue,discard a lot of very enlightening stuff comes up.Chilling stuff but helpful on the road to meh.Once I realised I was dealing with a sicko something shifted inside me.Check out Kim Saaed ‘Let Me Reach’,Melanie Tonia Evans blog and Psychopathy Awareness.They,along with this site,helped me move on emotionally and psychologically.

    • Yes Deedee exactly how ex got me. Promised everything, couldn’t live without me, I’m the one, never felt like this before, blah, blah, blah, wife no. 1 told the same thing. Me no. 2 told the same thing. Whore. No. 3 same thing. We are all disposable and of no significant qualities. We were all the one he was meant to be with. Well asswipe no. 3 will find out. Fucker!

      • My STBX love bombed me like crazy in the beginning too. And he moved super fast telling me he loved me and wanted to marry me. Once he had me all that slowly ground to a halt. No more flowers, poetry, no more “I love you and can’t live without you.” He saved that for his AP’s, he would love bomb them, fall “in love”, tell me he was leaving, then they would break up and I would stupidly take him back. I found the love letter between him and his latest OW and it is all the same stuff he did to win me, I’m sure he used the same lines on the other ones too. This time I finally decided I deserve better than being his plan b, got a lawyer, moved out and filed for divorce!

        • Yes, the love bombing is a HUGE red flag! After years of therapy and spending time here on CN and some of the sites mentioned above, I realized that my marriage to STBX isn’t my first time at the narc rodeo. The one thing each of them had in common was crazy love bombing at the beginning, followed by subtle and then obvious attempts to devalue, and then finally the discard.

          Looking back, each of them let the mask slip just a little bit once they thought they had me reeled in, but not enough that a little spackling couldn’t overcome. The example that sticks out most in my mind with STBX was that after weeks of engaging in intense conversation about our mutual intellectual interests, one day I looked across the table from him and realized he was both distracted by and impatient with what I’d been saying during a discussion about a subject I felt most passionate about. It felt like a slap in the face because it was so uncharacteristic, but of course I assured myself he was just tired or stressed and that it was a one-off.

          And it was . . . for a while. That’s what’s so insidious about love bombing. It creates such heady feelings that you will endure just about anything to get those feelings back, including waiting out long periods of them being totally checked out, all with the hope that things will eventually get back to where they were, until one day you realize they never will. Unfortunately that day took me nearly thirty years to get to 🙁

      • I got the same, told me I was “a keeper” “you ain’t seen nothin yet” (referring to our future together), told me he has never loved anyone like me including his own family (now that I did find weird at the time). Flashed money around, big bills to impress me, turned out he did’nt have much of anything else. He like others here was never around when I needed him, if I was sick or hospitalized, he’d actually send his Mother at times. Another weird thing he did is he always had to find someone to go on errands with him, a guy, he hated to ever be alone, makes me wonder how he’s making out now alone at our house. He’s always been irresponsible with money, never discussed big purchases with me, showed me after the fact and bought on credit the majority of the time. He was always a BIG flirt and checked out women in front of me, top to bottom. Told him many times it hurt me, he did’nt care and kept on doing it all throughout our marriage.

        Here’s another weird story, he was vehicle shopping one time and testing out vehicles, he finally finds one and comes home to show me it, his comment was “Now this one gives me a hard on” I just shook my head and rolled my eyes. BTW, I always got the shitty old vehicles to drive, he got the newer ones, yet we both worked full time and my job is a traveling salesman. He had the reliable one and I got stuck with the crappy one, his reasoning, “you put too many miles on a vehicle”, no concern for my safety.

        Another flag was we lived in a modest suite above our business for a few years, he would always call it the penthouse when telling people where we lived. His grandiose behavior was an embarrassment to me at times and I’d make excuses for it or downplay it.

        On my 50 birthday in 2014, we went to NYC, I was so excited to see it for the first time in my life, When we got there the first day, just an hour or so after the flight, he spotted people wearing New York Ranger Jersey’s all over around our hotel, he asked some strangers when the game was and found out it was that night in a couple of hours; he looked at me right then and said, “we have to go”. I agreed it would be fun except we had one problem, we had no tickets, he said “no worries, a scalper will have some, we just have to go over to the stadium and hang around outside and ask”. So I followed along with his plan and we did that, now when we got there he ended up talking to the shadiest looking people ever asking were he could get some tickets. Some guy tells us to follow him, I was really reluctant by now, gut was screaming I don’t like this person we’re to follow. Well I kept going stupidly and he led us down to the subway below the stadium, then told STBXH to follow him into the men’s bathroom, by then I’m freaking and saying to X I don’t like this, what if he wants to rob you, stab you? He laughed at me and said everything will be alright, quit, panicking.

        So I wait and he finally comes back with two tickets that cost 400.00 cash. Again, I can’t believe this, but okay, it’s the start of our trip, I’ll continue to go along with this. We go into the stadium and stand in line and finally get to the entrance to the forum, well lo and behold, those tickets, they’re COUNTERFEIT!!! No good, 400 gone. So now STBXH decides to make a little bit of a scene over this, embarrassed again I am. Well a couple of nice guys come up to us and tell us it’s happened to many, then they ask why we bought from a scalper anyways? Because guess what? There are still tickets available to the game at the gate, yup! There was. So asshat still wants to go, I just went along again, wtf can I do at this point, ruin my trip before it starts? So we go to the gate and tickets are, another 400, so we buy them (on VISA this time) and go watch our 800 game.

        There’s a reason I shared all that above story, a couple days later I asked him if we can go out to a nice higher end restaurant for my birthday celebration. He said okay, then we go walking looking for a place, some of the higher end places have menus posted outside the restaurants showing prices, the few we looked at he kept saying that’s too expensive, so we’d move on and on looking and finally I snapped at the last one, I said “I want to eat here!” My feet were sore, I was tired and I was hungry. I won the argument, we went in for dinner, but I really did’nt win it, he sulked the entire time, ordered next to nothing because of the cost he kept saying. He basically ruined dinner, I have never felt so alone sitting with him in my life and for my 50th birthday. You know what the bill was for dinner? A little over 200. He was well into his affair on this trip, we did’nt have sex in NYC, my birthday trip I was so excited about. I want a re-do one day with someone else!!!!

  • Tracy’s list captures many of the hints I would have included. Also:

    1. If they ever admit to having cheated on anyone in the past.
    2. If they insist on keeping ex girlfriends as “friends” whom they need to meet without you present.
    3. If they admit to having had a regular fuck buddy arrangement in the past. Those people are never far away and secretly wish they were his partner. He goes back to them for a rendevous whenever he feels hard done by, ignored by you or jealous of you.
    4. Love bombing. I had a guy tell me he was “in love with me” on the second date. Then said I was cruel to decline any more dates.
    5. Any tendency to petty crime…I dumped a kleptpmaniac who claimed he couldn’t help it vecause he had aspergers.
    6. Anyone who blameshifts and your reaction is WTF?
    7. They tell you long after the fact that something you said hurt their feelings, instead of addressing it.
    8. They are not your intellectual or educational equal. It just rarely works because at some point you will make them feel inferior.
    9. They tell you their way of dealing with ex-partner problems was to sulk.
    10. They say you are “out of their league”. This is a big one. Their buddies are placing bets on how long you will stick around.
    11. You met them online and they are still in the habit “just to make friends”
    12. Their friends are douche bags.
    13. They have no close friends.
    14. They treat other family members badly.
    15. They tell petty lies.
    16. They do something knowing it will upset you, but think doing then apologising later is OK.
    17. They mention a female work colleague more than twice, particularly if their comments are derogatory.

    Ugh can you tell I dated for five years post divorce. I counted ’em…14 different guys, longest one 1.5 years, he cheated too!

  • The red flag not on this list that I should have paid attention to: a few other people tried to warn me early on that he was not what he seemed. I should have looked into that. I should have been open to the idea that I didn’t know him very well and they might be telling the truth. I had a new friend who came to me and told me about a few bizarre things he’d done when I wasn’t around. He dismantled her with such skill! He mocked her, made her look stupid, said she was coming on to him and was insanely jealous. He claimed she’d made it all up. So he ended up sounding reasonable, and she looked crazy. Gaslighting-I didn’t know what it was then.

    • He accused me of cheating. Looking back, I’m certain he was getting some on the side every time. And, the histrionics! Called me at work to say he had lost his hearing in one ear and Dr. Said he might never get it back. He was out of town and it kept him from flying hmmm…..His job depends on good hearing, so like the good wife I was, I worried terribly. Later was ” just an ear infection.” A different call at work to say he” might have to have his nipple cut off.” Makes me laugh now. When I broke my wrist in three places, He couldn’t leave his bowling team. It was a big night, after all! My boss came to the urgent care to make sure I was cleared to drive home. How embarrassing!

      • Sherri,
        Haha, this made me remember another one. Mine suddenly developed serious bowel/ digestion “issues” that could only be solved by a quick stop at the public toilet when we were out shopping. He used to take at least three pit stops each time we went out. I felt sorry for him, but didn’t ask for the gory details. Once when he emerged from a half hour pit stop I asked how his stomach felt. “Fine!” He said before remembering the story. It was then that I knew these stops were so he could call/ text OW.

      • X-hole claimed to be getting a biopsy on a growth on his back, turned out that he had a subaceous cyst on his back, which he had had one before and they do NOT need biopsies. Asshole just made that shit up I’m guessing because I had just had my final breast reconstruction surgery. Dick.

    • YES, DoneNow!! Take heed if your friends and/or family try to warn you. Really listen to what they have to say. They are blinded by love and can see things you might be missing.

  • The Heartless Bitches (yes, thats an actual website) have a red flag list, which actually gave me the impetus to leave my abusive ex. Realising that he had probably dozens of things from that list that he did on a regular basis, was scary as hell.
    I don’t have the link but if you google “red flag list” I think it pops up as one of the first hits.

  • Prior to affair, husband was always self-centered, and not very thoughtful/great communicator/creative – but very smart and loving – quite willing to please if you pointed out what you wanted…However……he became different person in past 5 years as he achieved financial success and started company with some people who all have rather wild, indulgent lives (escorts/trophy wives/kids out of wedlock etc.) Fun people to have an occasional night out with, but not folks like me…..

    Signs during past 2.5 years of affair:
    Password protecting and guarding his phone with his life
    Never being available by phone (which per above was always with him!)
    Coming home late due to “work” – he ran the company and somehow couldn’t delegate
    Three hour “bike rides” on weekend – didn’t always look sweaty
    Need to go into work every weekend – when he wasn’t “bike riding”
    Being defensive and obnoxious when I asked him to be courteous and let me know he’d be late so I could make other plans
    Telling me he was done with kids – that you only needed to parent til 14 – after that if you gave them nice house, good school district, paid for college – they could make their own choices and if they wanted to screw things up, they would learn
    Drinking more
    Smoking pot ?
    Telling me he was on a business trip the weekend we broght oldest son back to college and going to a Los Vegas bachelor party with his low life business colleagues – I found out at the wedding when all the male guests already “knew” him
    Not going on our vacations and criticizing me for planning things that weren’t “fun”
    Falling asleep downstairs in chair vs. in our bed, etc, etc

    But the most outrageous:
    Avoiding sex and telling me he was freaked out because he though he had “performance issues” being over 50 but was too embarrassed to talk to DR., ( i felt sorry for him)
    and.
    Telling me that I always complained and frequently saying when I made completely logical and fair requests: “Stop Whining.” (Or course I started to whine and get clingy – I was being mentally screwed over and super crazy/confused/paranoid as my gut was flashing danger and I couldn’t spackle fast enough to stay sane)

    Looking back – I have never accepted such terrible treatment from anyone in my life. But it happened gradually and as I became afraid to rock boat (he’s got a temper) I accepted worse and worse. GRRRRR

    • Exact. Can’t believe I felt sorry for him over the inability to perform. Intercepted (accidentally) his mail order Viagra, waited and waited for signs he was giving it a try. Turns out he does use it, just not at home. I don’t hear that I’m whiny…just hear “relax, why are you so insecure.” Firmly denies that cheating is abuse…

    • OMG…I got the inability to perform and mid life depression excuse. I found some condoms in his drawer (and we never use condoms) but I stupidly didn´t ask him about it. There is one funny anecdote: he had prepared Viagra pills for a trip to Europe when he was supposed to meet me for a vacation and on the plane he confused the sleeping pill with the Viagra! I don´t know if this actually happened or not (I was already in Europe) but I thought it was hilarious that he made that mistake…of course, the excuse later was that he didn´t have anymore Viagra pills and couldn´t function with me…asshole!

        • Let’s all give a solemn prayer for priapism, shall we?

          On the flip side—

          The XBF was hyper sexual—fuelled by natural testosterone at the age of 56. My solemn prayer is that he starts to NEED viagra cos he constantly bragged that he didn’t need it. When he is no longer able to get a hard on at a second’s notice, it will crush his empty soul. hehehehehe

  • Here are my red flags:

    Family are f@ckwits- particularly MILs devoid of empathy and FILs who speak and treat women like shit

    OCD behaviours e.g. rearranging cutlery (I have mentioned this here before)
    organising tins, bottles, f@cking everything in cupboards!

    Inability to deal with day to day emergency situations like e.g.

    Cat gets sick
    Noise in the middle of the night (I investigated every time!)
    Car breaks down
    Heating breaks down
    Man beating dog (I stepped in to stop it..XH kept walking…..cowardly shit)

    Never standing up for you in an argument when you are actually correct- but agreeing that you were indeed ‘correct’ later on when no one was around……

    Not introducing you to his workmates when you accidentally meet at lunchtime

    Can’t deal with spiders, daddy longlegs or flying moths (cat loved catching them)

    Procrastination about every DIY chore

    Shit Presents – under the guise of ‘trying to pick a really good present ‘ but spent so long dithering that they end up with a shit present

    Collector of toy cars

    X Box player – like for hours on end………………….

    Not well read – porn mags do not count

    Splits bills 50:50 or else very happy for you to pay, like ………..all the time!

    Very critical, judgmental, actually a renowned food critic ………unless they are cooking!

    Materialistic

    Vanity, ‘man’ scaping, a ‘man’ bag, ‘man’ mags

    Talks about what ‘they’ want all the time

    Last minute cancellation of plans for no rhyme nor reason

    All Sparkly ‘life and soul of the party people’

    Someone who hates people who have affairs and is very vocal about cheaters- I mean they would never do that…….geez

    I had better stop now………………..

    • Omg you were in a relationship with my XH,

      I really need to know what is the obsession with the fucking toy cars. Our long term plan was to extend our home and then display our stuff. DIY hell no, extensions planned three times in ten yrs never happened, XH now lives (officially) with XMIL and in her tiny lounge/dining/ kitchen is a glass display cupboard with all his toy cars. Aargh

    • Something that sticks in my head about the XBF—whenever we were watching a movie and a character’s heart would be broken by ill treatment (ie: cheating), he would get all “awww, baby, that’s terrible. How could they do that?”

      I would sit there silently seething ‘MOFO–you did that to ME and you had no regard for me but you have great empathy for a character in a movie???!?!?!?!?!!?’

      Can’t make this shit up.

    • The “noise in the middle of the night” made me laugh! Mine was too scared, I had to go downstairs with a baseball bat. He was also too “uncomfortable” to tell his mother that his dad had ordered $100 worth of PPV porn while at our house. Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of it…

    • Wow! I can relate to many of the traits on your list, Digbert!! My ex was the Cowardly Lion about so many things… He was too afraid to go to the door one night when our doorbell was rung at 3 a.m. (Sausalito, I had to grab the baseball bat and see who it was!! He definitely would hide behind me or throw me to wolves if it was between saving my life or his!)

  • The biggest red flags for me (only in hindsight, somehow it all seemed ok at the time or at least just the normal kind of stuff you put up with to keep the peace)
    1. He had to know where I was at all times. Even in the days before cell phones, I had to call him whenever I got somewhere or he would just flip out. When cell phones came along, it was worse. Once a friend of mine pointed out that it was not normal at all for me to be so anxious about texting him every time I arrived or left somewhere….I broke out the fancy Spackle for that one…
    2. He ran up debt over and over. Obviously I had a part to play in this too, but generally I was being talked into something I didn’t really want to do, and then it was always my herculean efforts that got us out of debt, only to be sucked right into the next scheme. This is the one that makes me feel the dumbest.
    3. He couldn’t finish anything. Nothing! In a pathological way. He never finished a book. Would open a new carton of milk when there was still some left in the previous one. Would stop mowing the grass with one strip left to go. You might think I’m exaggerating about this, but I can’t tell you how ridiculous it was. Never. finished. any.thing. It was a big joke for years – but really one of the most hurtful things when I look back.
    4. He was hypersexual but extremely sensitive about how I initiated, and then withholding and punitive when I got it wrong. If I started too early, too late, too fast, too slow, too much touching, not enough touching, it was always changing, and no matter what it was something I did wrong. The blameshifting on this was epic, and the area of our relationship where I was the chumpiest.
    5. He was an alcoholic. I knew that was a problem, but I kept industrial strength Spackle on hand for that.

    Oh man, if only I had been able to see and learn from a list like this when I was twentysomething years old and building my life around him, but I don’t know that I could have accepted it then. I was so sure of myself…

    • OMG SarBear! My first order of business when Narkles the Clown moves out is to finally get 2 of our 3 bathrooms working again, one half functional and one ripped apart for ten years! Can’t wait!

    • Mine was always unhappy about sex after the kids came. He thought I turned him down too much. As soon as we’d finish having sex he’d start complaining again. I stopped listening to him because he never was satisfied, sometimes I felt like he was just using my body as a stress relief doll. I think he was frustrated that sex wasn’t like it was before we had kids, but our kids were so sick. I was getting up all hours of the night with them and for 5 years I never got more than a few of hours of sleep at night. I got sick from the stress and ended up with some serious, life-threatening illnesses. That’s when I first found love notes in his pocket, etc.

      • Ditto…same here…I was so exhausted and sick those first years of childhood and working full time. I don´t know how I survived. Meantime he is blaming me for being a prude and not partying with him…I now look ten years younger and have never been healthier!

      • I can relate. The second we were finished, he would begin whining about when how he wasn’t getting enough sex and pushing for more. It was kind of like the folks who light their next cigarette with the one they are smoking. Nothing was ever enough and I was always portrayed as this withholding woman who bregudgingly “gave” him sex. In fact, the exact opposite was true; there is nothing wrong with my sex drive, but his narrative had to be that I did not enjoy sex. It was maddening!

        To me, though, the biggest red flag was his need to always be the center of attention. It always had to be about him. Whenever we would be in a crowd of people, it woud literally take him seconds to turn the conversation in his direction-his work, his accomplihments, his upbringing, his world view. He was and is a very articulate guy and a good conversationalist, so people really ate it up. But for me, having to hear the same stories over and over again became torture. He never once felt the need to include anyone else in his monologue. Why should he? Obviously, no one else had more interesting stories to tell. His AP was exactly the same way…the sparkliest narc in the room. Now, whenever I meet someone who always has to be the center of attention, I immediately run for the exit.

  • He came from a good family.

    He came from a family where the parents were still married, Catholic raised, Catholic school, sisters were both married with children, raised with morals. That doesn’t mean he has any of those values. In fact, he didn’t have any of them. He resented his parents for many things. He was entitled to have a better life although they provided him with a great childhood; it was not enough. He obviously didn’t value marriage because he cheated, cheated, cheated. He had a laundry list of standards that I needed to abide by but they didn’t apply to him. An entitled jerk can be a byproduct of a great family.

    • And another…

      He was a funny guy, but usually at my expense. Subtle jokes or statements. If I got upset he would say, I was only joking. You need to lighten up. However, if a joke or statement was ever said back (one to his twenty). He would get very upset. He certainly could dish it out.

      • TP, yes with the jokes at my expense too. And very sarcastic toward me but played it off as humor. When I said it wasn’t funny, he say I couldn’t take a joke and blame me.

        • Same here. Also, he would whack me on the hip with his hand and it made me feel like a horse. No matter how much I’d tell him I didn’t like that and ask him to stop he’d just laugh and do it again. He’d say “you need to lighten up.”

          • RED FLAG ! My boobs were too small for him. (They are just fine and luckily I never felt conscientious about them ever), but he would constantly make a joke about my boobs and pinch them or touch them in a degrading way. Redder than red flag !I Too much porn watching, there was no way I could measure up with his porn stars.
            One day I finally had enough and got down to his immature level and in return pinched his nuts really hard and told him that I think his Dick is way too small. (I really could have cared less about the size of his penis but I had enough) After that he shut up about my boobs. Touche’ Pussycat !

      • I now believe that there are two sentences that, if you hear them from someone, you should KNOW you’re dealing with an abuser;

        ‘you’re too sensitive’, and ‘it’s just a joke’

        People who are caring don’t dismiss hurt feelings or upset like that, they just don’t. Especially because they recognize that if we actually SAID something, it’s a big deal or has been going on too long.

    • I think this is the risk. Anecdote suggests that people from families where FOO issues predominate are people who probably have loads of their own FOO issues, and that families with disordered parents are likely to have disordered children. Not always–which is why we need to look at individuals–but it’s a red flag worth noticing.

      But perfectly healthy, wonderful families can have offspring who have loads of problems, who have poor moral character, etc. Again, we need to look at the individuals. The family may not have raised any red flags, but we have to be alert for when the individuals themselves raise red flags.

      In my case, the family had loads of FOO issues that I, as a person from a fairly healthy family, didn’t pick up on. What I should have picked up was that STBX’s family always said that STBX was “emotional.” It was only much later, after I got married, that I realized that “emotional” meant that he’d fly off the handle without warning or cause. And then he’d be fine and wonder what the big deal was.

      • One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since my D-Day six months ago was that while FOO issues are no guarantee, it’s not enough to simply not want to be like them. There’s a level of self-awareness and capacity for critical self-reflection (not to mention a willingness) that is required to say, “Oh, my family is kind of messed up in xyz ways, and I don’t have these skills to be in healthy relationships or to securely attach and achieve emotional intimacy with my partner.” My stbx has nowhere near that.

        • X-hole, as with pretty much ALL of these Cluster B’s have ZERO capacity for “self-reflection”. Blame-shifting is their “go to” response for anything and everything that isn’t right with them, every failure, hurt, mistake, personality trait, etc.

          At least I can look at myself and know where I need to iimprove. Normal people can admit to problems.

      • Oh jesus. This just kinda triggered something for me.

        Just thinking back – one of my ex’s (not abusive ex, this particular person is an ex I think may have cheated, but never had any concrete proof on. A ‘visiting cousin’ had me ringing alarm bells – I suspect she may actually have been an OW, with the death glares she was giving me when she saw me with ex) actually used FOO issues and other related things as one reason to break up with me. Claiming “Your parents don’t do ‘x’ and I don’t want that for our relationship”. But, this is the same guy who, on the other reason for breaking up with me, was “I failed all my studies whilst studying here, its all your fault” despite my warning that the course he was pursuing at that particular university was rather high stakes and didn’t pull its punches.

        6 months later, after the breakup was done and dusted, he failed everything again. Surely can’t be the relationship’s fault, can it then? 😀

  • I left a response to this column when it originally ran. I didnt go back and review what I put down because at that time I saw things differently. My perceptions still blurred by a lot of anger and maybe even still a little hopium on board. Now that I weaned my self off the Hopium , a la Chump Nation Recovery Program … I see a few things differently.
    What stands out as a Red Flag for me now is how he slowly isolated me. I was already 2000 miles away from my family and friends and in a po dunk town. He said’ we dont need anyone. We have eachother. This is where I feel comfortable and my best.’ I recall joining a running group and he mock and ridiculed so much that I eventually dropped out. Then I had to listen to ‘ you never stick to anything’ If I had a dime for everytime I head that. Anytime spent on any activity other than him he would sabotage in some way and i would just walk away from it to later here I was a quiter. He would stand with our daugter and say ‘ look Mom would rather sit and do that instead of spending time with us’ He fucked with my head so much that it could be considered a sperm bank.
    I think revisiting these posts is very therapeutic and demonstrates to yourself how far you have come out of the fog. Very much like the school activities where thery ask u ‘ what did want to be when you grow up’ and u look back at your first grade response and then yr fith grade one… Finally the HS. There will be some similarities which shows that yr personality is set fairly early on but you also see the growth.

  • At just over 4 months out from D-Day I still don’t have the ability to sit back and analyze properly, as every day he is in my house my mental energy is spent just making it through the day. (Court order means he has to be gone this weekend-YAY)
    But I will say, yes, so much of this list, yes, especially Number 10!!!!!! WTF? Narkles the Clown bought me the same gift two years in a row. I never used the first one so I guess he thought I needed another one?

    • Mine used to buy me the same gifts for Christmas every year–it got to be so bad that our children would joke, “And here come’s Mom’s annual teapot.” They weren’t even teapots that could be considered collectible, just the same basic teapot for years in a row.

      He would also buy me the same books more than once. Or printed socks and scarves each year, even though I don’t wear either and always took them back. Kicker was he’d buy them from a local boutique I never shopped at and that would only accept exchanges–to this day I probably have credit there that I’ll never use.

    • A-OK, be careful when the actual ‘leaving’ date looms. I suggest having family members or people you trust, there with you, if possible. Also, make sure the sentimentals and valuables are out of his theft-reach – because these fuckers will steal that stuff or just try to destroy it, on the way out. The mentality of “If I can’t have it, no-body will!” and “You’re not the boss of me!”

  • How do I spackle thee? Let me count the ways…

    – Lots of intense eye contact on our first few dates, but they were dead shark eyes. A beautiful shade of blue, dead, shark eyes.

    – Told me all about him (the good, fun stuff), but didn’t ask much (anything? I don’t recall) about me.

    – Brought me a single red rose on our second date (the next day). Also on the second date, when I commented on how serious he seemed, his sparkly response: “You have NO idea.” I got butterflies about that for months. Now it makes my skin crawl.

    – Disclosing a “small” lie he had told me a day or two before, all the while disclaiming he didn’t even know why he had lied in the first place because we were so evolved, lies weren’t necessary. He was checking to see if I would spackle. I did. The lie, by the way, was about going to a motorcycle rally just for fun (but really, just happened to take pictures of women’s tits. Lots of womens’ tits.)

    – Telling me after two dates that he was falling in love with me, and coaxing me to say it back.

    All of this while I was working out of town for two months… a long distance fling with a couple of dates in the middle. When I came home, he was waiting in my driveway, and stayed four days.

    So many red flags. And the part I work so hard on is forgiving myself for interpreting those as red hearts and roses rather than warning signs.

    • Ugh, nuclear….him “admitting” a small lie to gauge your trust levels and ability to be manipulated!!! Makes me skin crawl knowing that they calculate their actions like this….

      • I recall reading somewhere that they test our limits very early on (like first meeting). I know it happened on my first date with the XBF. He was so damn charming, handsome and all around sparkly, I was blinded.

        • I believe this 100%. Back when he was love bombing me and feeling me out for chumpdom I missed a LOT of red flags, I was hooked immediately. Had he said some of the shit he and OWhore have said to each other (via text policing) I would have dropped him pronto, super weird childish crap. She actually asked him once “how many tests will there be?” Wtf?

          Thanks to CL and Let Me Reach and other various sites I can decipher the codes of disorderly conduct now.

    • Yes to the intense eyes and staring. Before my now-ex and i had started talking he had been staring at me. I had been checking him out too (with less intense glances!), so I just figured we were both intererested. But there was this one moment, before we knew each other personally, that I remember distinctly thinking that if he didn’t seem so nice/normal, the intensity of his staring would make me think he was a stalker. The other “eyes” vivid memory that stands out was on dday, when he had cold, dead shark eyes with no emotion towards me. Maybe that “stalker-ish” feeling I had from his look before we even had gone on a date was a glimpse into who he really was/is, and I just didn’t understand?

  • This can go for either gender, I’m just using male pronouns.

    -Is very vague about his finances. They’re always waiting on a settlement check or a big business deal to go through and then they’ll be rolling in dough! And then they’ll take care of you in style, like you deserve. They just need you to be patient and cover dinner, the bills, his credit card payment, for now. If they manage to get some money, it shows up unexpectedly (as in a sudden windfall, not an expected paycheck) and it disappears just as quickly.

    -Is very vague about family. He is estranged from his family or has a few close family members that maintain contact with him, but he has very little contact with extended family. (Most likely because he has burned them with unpaid loans, ruined holidays/special events with his antics, and generally treated them horribly.)

    -Is very vague about past relationships. Uses sweeping generalizations or cliches to describe break-ups or the condition of the relationship. “We just grew apart” or “She walked away.” Please note that it will never be his fault, it’s either the ex’s fault or formless circumstances that tore them away from each other.

    – Is very quick to want to “pool resources.” He wants to buy a house together, open a business, get a joint checking account, co-sign loans, NOW NOW NOW. And somehow, his part of the pool never gets filled up.

    – Grandiose claims about college, job training/qualifications, military service, past or current profession. He holds a law degree from Harvard, but lives in his mom’s garage. He hints that he was a Navy SEAL, but had to retire because he was so good at his job, his family was in danger. (His belts are also in danger, from his beer belly.) He was being considered for the Space Program, but his inner ear problems prevented him from launch. He is a fully qualified ninja, working for the CIA. His past is very dramatic and exciting, but he has no medals, diplomas, income or other trappings that would back up these claims.

    Here’s the thing, people who work for secret government organizations, DON’T TALK about working for secret organizations. Also, you can’t date a ninja, because they’re so fast and quiet, you never see them.

    – All of the trappings of wealth and status, but mysteriously, none of the resources. A flashy suit? An expensive watch? A luxury car? Sure. But somehow, his credit card gets declined at dinner. He’s between estates at the moment and living in a studio apartment while he’s looking. And he seems pretty familiar with repo laws.

    – Makes grand promises about the future in a short amount of time. Most people wait until they’ve known you a week before they promise to sail around the world with you on a yacht made out of lollipops and happy thoughts.

    – You find out important details – things that most people would share on the first date – in passing conversation. And they act like it’s no big deal that you’ve been dating for six months and they never mentioned that they have three kids. Or that they served time in prison for “sheep bothering.” And they want to know why you’re making such a big deal about it.

    – There’s a conspiracy against him. His boss, the court system, the world at large, are so intimidated by his intelligence and charisma that they do all that they can to keep him down. His family never really loved him or appreciated him. His former girlfriends took him for granted and only wanted him for his money. You don’t want to be like THEM, do you? He deserves so much more consideration and patience and speshul privileges because of what he’s been through. And you need to make up for that loss by showering him with attention, money and gifts.

    – Idealizing or demonizing others. People are either greatest human beings who have ever graced the planet, or they are the devil incarnate. Very few people are just “ok.” And the people who are idealized/demonized switch positions, going back and forth between being declared awesome or awful.

    – By contrast, his friendships are very intense or non-existent. Either they have a group of committed devotees, who all think he’s the greatest person who ever lived. Or he talks about his good friends (usually name-dropping people of great wealth and status) but they never seem to materialize.

    – Seems to define himself by some high-status, nebulous detail that has very little to do with character, i.e. he played football in college or he was in a garage band in high school.

    – Defines himself as a “dreamer’ or “innovator” or “artist” – some undefined, but very special quality that makes him more sensitive and delicate than everybody else, less suited to working hard to provide stability and security for you, and somehow makes you responsible for supporting him while he chases his vision.

    • Hahaha, “sheep bothering”, love it! And mine did the conspiracy thing too. That’s why he could never get promoted at work: they were too intimidated by him…

      • “He hints that he was a Navy SEAL, but had to retire because he was so good at his job, his family was in danger. (His belts are also in danger, from his beer belly.)” OMG, freaking hilarious, the entire post, PucksMuse, but that especially. And all very insightful, too.

    • “Here’s the thing, people who work for secret government organizations, DON’T TALK about working for secret organizations. Also, you can’t date a ninja, because they’re so fast and quiet, you never see them.” LOL!!

    • My ex was a drummer in a band when I met him in college… He lived for the attention from the ladies and the admiration of fellow musicians. But, he picked me, pursued me… I was sooo lucky to be the chosen one. (Gawd, his lovebombing blinded me!) He also bragged about all the sports he had played in high school and how popular he was…

  • Never appreciated anything in his life – constant complaining (about normal, everyday things)
    Any kind of put-down AT ALL….especially those said in a “joking” manner [Newsflash: put-downs are NOT jokes!]
    Never included me in anything with his friends or family
    To second someone else’s comment: his friends were douches. Friends reflect a lot about a person.
    Any lie at all, ever. One lie should be the only one. If you catch someone lying to you, no matter how seemingly inconsequential…leave right now. There is never cause to lie.
    Lying to others – see note above. Shows little regard for truth, honesty, trust, integrity. You will at some point be on the receiving end of those lies.
    Saying something nasty to you. I stayed way to long and endured so many nasty attacks…for what? I should have left after the first one. But he would apologize, say he didn’t mean it, he was angry, etc. Looking back…I just shake my head I what I put up with.
    I think I will stop now. There are plenty more but that’s enough for today. Good riddance you bastard.

    • Oh, okay, one more:

      Telling me how great he is. Having to brag about yourself on social media. You shouldn’t need that much external validation. I am great, I already know this. I don’t need to inform others of it. They either see it and believe it or not. But that’s on them.

  • Oh my, do you have all day? I’ll give just the most important ones to save time:

    -crippling insecurity in the first year or so (which I also struggled with)
    -jealousy in conjunction with the insecurity to the tune of literal delusion, he would claim that he “saw me gazing” at my best guy friend and he could tell I really wanted him
    -volatile, explosive type fits of rage when drinking in the first year and a half, this was a glimpse into his actual personality that he was unable to conceal while drunk
    -ability to consume massive amounts of alcohol but appear and claim to be sober, I will NEVER scientifically comprehend this one
    -impersonal gifts or “I owe you” gifts, like the song he wrote me that I never got to hear & the portrait he had painted of our daughter and I that I’ve never seen
    -that instinctive uneasy feeling that I got about him that I blamed on my anxiety, which could’ve easily been to blame
    -lack of affection from day 1
    -horrible planning & time management skills
    -horrible finances
    -his impeccable ability to remain calm & unresponsive in circumstances that would make most people react
    -his lifeless, cold stare when confronted with any issue in any way with any tone, my approach made no difference…his fury rised then he would check-out to go numb
    -him having no problem with moving into my parents house with me, rent free and never once offering to help in any way for their hospitality
    -him wanting to go dutch all the time
    -his underemployment
    -me always having this weird feeling that he was lying to me…like, always…which he was, about everything
    -his fiercely critical nature towards others when they weren’t around (which sadly, I also did when I was younger and unhappy with myself)
    -he put down many of the things that were personally important to me & found flaws in each of them; many friends, my family, the area I grew up in, the state my family is from, my hobbies, much of my musical taste…he always knew better and had better
    -the strange silence that came over many times while with his family in that first year & a half; I told them excitedly that I was taking him out of town to a resort for his birthday, dead silence. Their biggest issue is someone swooping in and taking one of their own away from the family. So I learned that you’re either all in with them, or you’re against them

    I could go on forever but I have to add in that my chumpiness, insecurities, immaturity, inability to view the world through a realistic lens, ability to ignore the obvious and cover it in hope had much to do with this creep staying in my life, marrying me and me having a child with him. It took 4 years for his full blown negativity to begin and 2 additional years for me to pull the plug. Right when I got pregnant and was at my most vulnerable, he began his relentless neglect, then the daily abuse kicked in when I refused to ignore the neglect and then the rapid decline of any level of humanity in those last 8 months…all while I was caring for a baby, managing everything we shared and supporting him going back to school. In the end, he was likely having multiple affairs of some sort, I was likely the OW to a girl he had been dating before meeting me, I gave him the ideal image he wanted to display to the world and he the likely met his Shmoopie while in school while I was at home taking care of all the thing she refused to do. I’m wiser now, I think. I pray I am.

    • *doing all the things he refused to do

      I’ll also add that his inability to apologize or even appear to feel sorry for anything was a missed red flag and his lack of emotional response to others pain was scary. He faked caring well to others but when it was just the two of us and I would cry, his response was always anger. Emotions infuriate him and are weaknesses to him.
      He’s a tyrant….
      I needed this today, thanks for reposting, CL.
      We all have our flaws and quirks and I’m really struggling not to make mine bigger that they are.

    • “-horrible planning & time management skills
      -horrible finances”

      I have always maintained Asshat can’t tell time, much less manage it. He is unrealistic, always running late and just an idiot about estimating the time it takes HIM to do anything. I randomly told him he ruined years’ worth of memories by being angry, rude and nasty to us. He asked for an example, bc of course none of it is true, so I brought up an instance when we went for a fantastic hike with Little Elf last Labour Day weekend. He was evil and I almost told him to go blow off steam but I persisted. Then he mumbled an insincere thanks for a fun plan when it was over. He claims it was bc I never planned or packed the car. The car is packed to go to the lake in the summer. Always. Is it my fault the fatfuck feels the need to pack a ton of cold soda? He also blamed Little Elf for getting dressed too slowly. He was 6. How about you stop fucking texting Florence and get your fat ass moving and help us?

      Asshat didn’t have horrible finances but they were inexcusable for any responsible adult. He could paper the whole house with all the disconnect notices and back tax letters he has received over the years. But it’s not really his fault bc he is busy. And not a deadbeat.

  • Most helpful? The red flags that are apparent in the dating stage. Those early glimpses behind the mask, while there’s still time for the chump to get out/move on.

    Another one for me (that hasn’t been mentioned above) is signs of mania. Not everyone with mania issues is a wingnut, but in my ex’s case it was a sign of an untreated personality issue.

  • “they tell petty lies” I think this one is huge and an often ignored red flag. I only just realized in the last few years how much my stbx does this. We all tell little white lies sometimes like turning down an invitation to something you don’t want to attend by saying you have plans, but this is a different sort of lying. He lies about shit that doesn’t matter. Lies that don’t benefit him in any way. Like lying about how much he paid for something to make people think he got some great deal, master negotiator that he is. But of course he would lie to me about how much he sold something for so he could hide money, while telling friends he made more than he did. His friend wanted him to go out and he was tired because he got called into work at 4:00 a.m. and worked 13 hours on about 4 hours sleep. He tells the friend we have a thing at our daughter’s school. Why not just say I went into work early and I’m tired? He’ll never admit he has a cold unless it’s to get attention from me or his mommy. He conceals the fact that he takes medication for gout. He exaggerates things that don’t matter. When we got married, he didn’t know how to do laundry or pay bills or grocery shop. To this day he doesn’t have a check book. Mommy did everything. I had to teach him the basics. But then when talking to his mom, he would slip into the conversation how he had done laundry, or what he got on sale at the grocery store, and make it sound like he did these things all the time, even though I can count on one hand how many times he did anything like that.

    I’m kind of rambling, but I guess my point is if lying is second nature to them and comes so easily, watch out.

    • I totally agree. Pathological liars tell lies and withhold information because of its power–they have information other people may want and aren’t going to relinquish it. Mine would lie even when the truth would have served him better (but damn, he was good at the convincing lies).

  • 1) not picking up the phone / responding to texts / returning phone calls in a timely manner
    2) always pulling a disappearing act
    3) constantly attached to his phone – even in the bathroom. did i mention he could take hour long shits? probably texting the ow in the bathroom though he claimed he was checking yahoo sports.
    4) vague about past
    5) lying even in the beginning of the relationship.

  • Did we get testing your physical boundaries? I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have been physically abused if he thought it would work. He did the dumbest stuff like pinning me down and wrestling, and trying to blow air up my nose and basically being a jerk. I wasn’t OK with it. I didn’t think it was fun and I stood up for myself to the point that he stopped. He also slapped me onetime when I was angry. I wasn’t over the top angry, just pretty normal, I wasn’t verbally attacking him or anything. He said he did it because that’s what men in the movies do to calm women down. I bought that and wrote it off as immaturity. That was after I flew at him for slapping me. He smirked and said I was interesting because I would “break before I would bend.” I think it was just an experiment to see how far he could push me. He was never physical after that. I think he knew that this little redneck girl would hurt him and walk out if he tried it again. He moved on to other tools.

    • Mine also tested my physical boundaries by doing this one thing I repeatedly told him I did not like. He did it in a “joking” way and somehow it was my fault that I was upset about it and didn’t like it. Actually there were two physical things he did like this. And one time, after doing one of them, he tod me he was trying to tame me. I thought he must be joking because he certainly couldn’t mean something like that…

  • Red flags……..

    -Within weeks of meeting me told me that he was positive God had told him I was the one and that he was willing to wait as long as it took for me to work on my issues that were keeping me from wanting to make that level of commitment.
    -He also played on my sympathy knowing of my broken relationship with my mum, claiming to have a similar issue with his father.
    -Clingy, if he was working the room I could have spontaneous combusted and he would not have noticed, but if he felt challenged I could not move for him, and excessive PDA at the most inappropriate times.
    -Love bombing me.
    -Often and repeatedly dropping snarky negative comments about my life leaving me to think that there was something wrong that I couldn’t see.
    -He would imply that my friends and lifestyle was lacking in comparison to his own but if I followed his leading I would be able to fix it or remove myself from the inadequate situation.
    -Because I had no family of my own he played on my insecurities which lead to me moving into his parents home within six months of us dating and we were not even sleeping together, in fact we did not sleep together till or wedding night 18 months later.
    -Boasted about himself, his upbringing, his job, church, music skill, taste in clothes, music, cars.
    -He even boasted about the size of the diamond in his engagement ring ( yes you read that right) in comparison to those of women in his work place.
    -When we first got together he would get me to give him a manicure because if his nails got to long you could hear them on the piano keys as he played, oh did he get pissed if I took them too short, oh how he would inform me of his determination to play through the pain due to my error. PALM TO FOREHEAD!
    -Loved to make fun of other people behind their back, and on occasion to their face if he had the right audience.
    -Did this to me with the support of our house mate following the birth of our first child. I was a constant source of their amusement.
    -Encouraged my dreams and goals but when it came to me acting on them he would become tetchie if my involvement with my stuff detract from my involvement with him, so time and time again my gaols took a back seat. on the rear occasion he would be blunt about not wanting to be put out by what I wanted to do but mostly he would just make life difficult. This taught me that if I wanted to do stuff I had to make sure it did not impact on him.
    -I could not go and do anything on my own he had to came too, one time when our kids were little I just wanted to go away with some girl friends for the weekend for my birthday. He was disgusted with me that I would not want to spend my birthday with him and our young children, there was no option to go another weekend so I never went. Fast forward a few years and he announces he is going camping by himself! When I questioned the reason I was told he just wants time out, can’t I get that? And yep he went. Now I realise he was probably not alone.

    For my wedding gift from him I was given a mirror made of reclaimed wood from an old rail station, because he likes old rail stuff. For one of our first wedding anniversaries he made me walk for ages to a dodgy book shop as a surprise, to then announce for my anniversary gift he had ordered me a book on old criteron cars which we were there to collect but due to its cost we could not afford to go out for dinner. For birthday presents I have received a spirit level, socket set, pen, ponds face cream and cleanser, perfume that I said I liked to prevent an argument only to find that by saying I liked it I got it also for Mother’s Day two months later.

  • 1) Remaining chummy with guys that expressed interest in dating her or “pseudo” dated her.
    2) Dragging her feet about setting a date in getting married during the engagement period.
    3) Hot and cold fighting and making up throughout the stormy dating period
    4) Difficulty in being alone or not in an emotional relationship with another man at all times.
    5) Being more focused on the engagement ring than on the relationship–i.e. not valuing the relationship over things.

    Plenty of red flags in hindsight…but when you REALLY want to get married and have a fairly low self-esteem, you are all too willing to spackle.

    • I agree about the hot and cold relationship while dating… My ex and I had a quite a few break up and make ups. He convinced me to move to his hometown after our engagement, then he got serious cold feet after I started planning the wedding. We broke it off. I moved back to my hometown, hundreds of miles away. A couple of months later he begged me to take him back and love-bombed me all over again…

  • Sorry, thought of more:

    – Claims that your relationship is so special and different, no one else understands it, so that’s why all of your friends think he’s sketchy and weird.

    – Blames his inability to get through an occasion your friends and family without some sort of scene on social awkwardness. Or blames social awkwardness for his refusing to see them at all. I’m not saying social anxiety isn’t real. It totally is, but there’s a big difference between someone having social anxiety and someone sulking through dinner with your parents, getting drunk and peeing in grandma’s favorite potted ficus.

    This may be something that comes up later in the relationship:

    – Is completely incapable of celebrating anything for you. You got a promotion? Well he had such a bad day at work, he’s not in the mood to go out. How could you even ask him to be happy for you when HE is having such a bad time at work? You’re so selfish.

    Makes big promises about doing something special for your birthday, but doesn’t follow through. Or what little he does do is such a half-assed effort that it hurts worse than doing nothing at all. He cooks dinner, but its his favorite dish, to which you are allergic. He gets you a gift, but it’s something that he wanted. Or he gets you nothing at all because he couldn’t find something HE wanted to give you.

    – When you need him, he checks out completely. Your mother died? Oh, that’s too bad, but he’s just so busy at work he can’t go to the funeral to support you.

    You’re having his baby? Well, he’s just so tired, you can’t expect him to sit next to you, holding your hand through the labor. There’s no reason for both of you to be up all night. And when he does wake up, he’s bored and wants to play on his phone. Why should he sit there and watch you breathe hard? He just reached level 154 on Candy Crush. Consider his needs.

    (Again, I’m just using male pronouns. Women are just as capable of being shitty partners.)

  • Lots of Red Flags that in my naïveté, I didn’t see we’re the hallmarks of fuckupness. And it wasn’t as if I had never had a serious longterm relationship before him either. I just trust and believe that people display what they say they are. WRONG!

    – No real, true deep friendships with same gender people. He had on going friendships with women he had fucked, but zero male friends. EVER.

    – Weird ass relationship with biological dad. His parents divorced when he was 5. Bio dad is a raging diagnosed Narc who ironically is a psychiatrist. The WTF moment was observing their behavior with each other. Like reversed father-son roles.

    – Super fun sparkly family whereby younger bro’s extreme Narc behavior was and is laughed off because, ya know, that’s just how he is. This dude is in his 40’s and the poster child of all.about.ME!

    – Words NEVER match actions. He makes these great public statements which the public and family find endearing…MrNiceGuy. However, no action EVER happens to support what he said he is going to DO. People think he’s awesome, but he’s a straw man. Loves to Talk the Talk for validation and attention but NEVER Walks the Walk.

    – Covertly passive aggressive. Family members who are also the same way to each other and me and my kids as well. Weird weird weird to observe family members stab each other in the back, ‘just saying…’.

    – The love Bombing. The sex is amazing but these people think sex IS intimacy. Once you wake up and realize you are with a person who cannot be emotionally intimate with you, you get depressed. You may even think something is wrong with you. So you strive and focus on making the relationship better through a variety of things. Guess what? Your relationship still lacks intimacy and you are exhausted mentally and physically. The other person feels great. They have consumed your tasty soul. Which leads to….

    – Zero reprocity. A healthy relationship is based on give and take. If you are giving and really trying to create intimacy with your partner, you know what makes them tick and you go out of your way to provide those things. In return your partner does the same. Not with these people. You give, they take, they groom you to minimize your needs, they groom you via stonewalling to be exuberant when they acknowledge your presence in order to receive continued kibbles from you, they groom you into believing that you alone are causing the strife in the relationship, they groom you STFU because their tantrums are hideous. So much shit is dumped on us and then in order to fix the one-sided relationship, they demand us to do more.

    – Their children are extensions of themselves. They have zero regard to actually getting to know these unique little people. Instead they demand their children to be and do as they did at the same age. Again, they dismiss the needs, desires and dreams of their own kids and insist on simply parading them in public to validate themselves.

      • Yes, ANC and PucksMuse, so many insights here and laid out so succinctly and articulately, thank you. I’ve personally experienced both “your mother/father is dying, so sorry but I can’t leave work” and the child-as-extension to either be paraded around if they happen to reflect well on the narc parent or, woe unto them (and unto us), devalued and discarded when they do anything to tarnish their narc parent’s image or, even worse, call them out on their behavior.

  • I related to many of the red flags exhibited by my former wife and listed by CL. I even recognised that she had problems related to poor self esteem coupled with identity issues and fear of abandonment. I even knew that her problems were probably due to a traumatic issue when as a child, she was sexually molested. However in the early part of our relationship, her anger was generally directed towards others, not me. We were in love and I believed that given our mutual love, any problems between us could be overcome. I treated her problems as individual issues when I should have regarded them together and indicative of a serious mental illness related to emotional development, Borderline Personality Disorder.
    I now know that through most of our relationship, through our engagement and marriage, she was engaged in a series of affairs. Because she had trouble making friends herself, most of the other men were friends of mine I introduced her to. She was an incredibly good actress. I had no idea about her duplicity and that of my supposed friends. To me she appeared to be emotionally and physically committed to our relationship. As CL observed, I had no experience or conception of people behaving like that.
    Years after our divorce (she took pity on me and left but with no explanation why) I received a letter from her “enlightening” me for her reasons for leaving, telling me about how she had “discovered that other men existed”. But what was also gobsmacking was her assertion that it was all my fault because I was cheating on her, asserting that this had started even before our engagement and continued through our marriage. This was completely false and had never been an issue she had raised with me before. Before this letter I actually believed that I was at fault for the failure of our marriage. My job required me to be away from home from time to time, and I realised that that she didn’t cope with my absences very well. Very moody, I never knew whether on my return it would be the happy to see you girl or the unhappy girl, giving me the cold shoulder and not talking to me for a day or two.
    If you experience similar behaviour, read up about BPD and see whether that could be the problem. It is not uncommon and affects both females and males but is very difficult to diagnose, even by experts. If BPD is the problem and you do want to try to continue the relationship (my advise is don’t), then there are therapeutic treatments available.

  • Keeping eyes and attention on other females hoping for attention
    Having sex with your friends but reminding you he “chooses you.”
    Eventually getting pissed at all you friends leaving you with no social life.
    Your friends were his only friends. He came into your circle.
    Never being able to make plans because, “something better may come along at that time.”
    Threatening suicide
    Being negative toward parenthood with newly expecting friends while you are standing there with your child.
    Giving you the vibe you have to explain and be accountable for all of your time.
    Eventually dropping all interest in you and the kids.
    Living his life as a single person with single friends. Even contributing to their utilities and rent so he can be entitles to stay there.
    Your home becoming a pit stop and you an option.
    Never giving thoughtful gifts or appreciating what was given to him.
    Has very expensive hobbies that do not include anyone else.
    Entitled to his own money. “I earned it and can do as I please.” All your income goes toward bills and kids.
    Never changes address (28 yrs) stays tied to mom for address, bills, appointment reminders.
    Continues to make accusations about you even when you ask him to stop because they are crazy lies.
    Tells you you are being followed.
    Not respecting laws. *watch for this one. When getting out of the relationship, it makes it dangerous.
    No respect for you, kids, extended family.
    Entitlement with rages that leave you asking WTF?
    Blaming you for THEIR actions or someone else.
    Constantly complains. Nothing is enjoyable unless its something he wants to do which leaves you walking on eggshells and micromanaging kids and activity to keep peace. Fun sucker!
    Your kids note that he hates you.
    Finding condoms, porn addict, sleeping with others, prostitutes, STDs
    I could keep going. Just save yourself years of grief, counseling, kid’s emotional health, and get the hell out as quickly as possible. No contact and look forward not back.

  • I’m still trying to process my red flags. My STBXH definitely has a PD (he is not quite a sociopath). I really related with the point about being smart and competent and confusing that with having a good characters. I relate a lot to the love bombing, then again I was 16 so maybe that’s most teenage love. He isolated me from my friends and my family. He still insists that my mom caused a lot of damage to my relationship because she called him out in his crazy. He used to have an obsession with food and soda, he can still drink 4L of diet pepsi in one day and then leave cans/bottles all over the car and the house. He is also one resentful asshole, he was always bringing up fights we had 2-3 years ago to make his points about our current fights.

    He didn’t have a secret/long affair. He cheated when we were separated with his newly found best friend and then told me about it. However he felt entitled to that, he deserves cake. Although he had an emotional affair with her for a few months while we were married (although we were long distance), and part why he wanted to separate was to be able to sleep with her and not feel guilty (although he failed at that because he has some morals).

    I hope I can be like some of the really strong people here in a few months/years. Right now, I keep missing the relationship I thought we had, before I was able to tell all the emotional abuse. I made myself so small, just so his ego and my personality could fit in the same room.

  • * Early signs of his self-serving attitude and complete lack of empathy:

    He was quick to spend all evenings in my appartment, never brought anything like flowers or wine, and did not think much before deciding to move 500km away when I relocated to the South.
    I thought he was shy and very much into me ! In reality, he was bored with his life and was eager to find someone to take care of him.The first good looking woman with a solid job would have earned him. It was nothing personal, really… 🙁

    He rarely called his family, maybe once in six months. He never sent a card to them either. He just did not care. He despised his sister, because she was fat, ugly and poor. (Lose your looks temporarily, get sick or make less, he will hate you).

    My guts told me from the start that if I got hurt, he would not help. I dismissed the feeling.

    * Early signs of his bad personality:

    He had no friends, would keep in touch with no one. The only people he talked to outside his work were guys of his martial arts club.

    He was critical of everybody: family, his colleagues, my friends, etc. It was always in a joking manner, but later it resulted in having no one around.

    If a problem occurred, he would have a cowardly response, or sulk and expect me to solve it.

    I think I received a lot of early warning signs 15 years ago. But he seemed still better than the other guys I met, so I can’t really blame myself.

  • Some of the red flags I ignored or spackled:
    1. He did move fast. When we first met, he was supposed to go away for work for 6 months Asked me if he should go or stay so he would know where our relationship stood. I told him that was his choice not mine and he could do either. He chose to stay because he didn’t want to be away from me for that long. I let him hook me with that statement.
    2. I mistook his shyness and low self esteem as cute and humble.
    3. He had friends but they were superficial relationships. He didn’t maintain relationships with anyone unless it was convenient and easy – like someone he worked with. But if they left for another job, he never spoke to them again. To this day, he has no friends. He only calls someone he knows if he needs something.
    4. I mistook sex for intimacy. Just like Tracy said. For him though, it was just sex. I could have been anyone and he treated me no better than he probably treated the prostitutes he was frequenting.
    5. He was shit at gift giving. Not early on in our marriage. He gave me a few thoughtful gifts that I really liked. Then he turned. He’d run in the store at the last minute and get me the first thing he saw on a sale rack. I got the same matronly ugly necklace 3 years in a row – yes, that happened. I returned it each time and he knew it each time. He once gave me a shirt with a logo on it to a college I didn’t attend. He blame shifted his present giving by saying I was too picky.

    Here’s the biggie though – he words and actions never matched up. Unfortunately it took me long time to realize this. Always, always watch for this one.

    • oh and I forgot to say that he told me before we got married that the one thing HE would not tolerate was cheating. I fell for that hook, line and sinker. I never ever thought he would cheat because he had said this up front. Trusted him completed from that standpoint. I guess I assumed that statement meant HE wouldn’t cheat – silly me.

  • Oh and the red flag that my XH new GF chooses to ignore,

    Yes he did cheat but it wasn’t his fault he was inflicted with an unclean sexual spirit that caused him to do it and he was delivered from said spirit after he confessed. The only reason he is divorced if because his wife was abuseive and unwilling to accept her share of his afliction. But it’s ok no forgiveness needed from the wife he got that from God and the church so he is now free to move on into peace and restoration with her his twu wuv.

  • The biggest red flag I ignored was that he treated other people differently than me. Friends and family would complain to me that he could be very rude and jerky. Yet, he was very sweet to me. I was 23 and naive and I just assumed there was something special about me so that he could be himself with me, just a big teddy bear. Yeah right. After 20 years I have learned there is no real teddy bear in there, he’s more like a grizzly.

    As for gift giving, my STBXH gave me great gifts. I think some disordered listen to your every word and use it predatorily to suck you in- that’s true in my case anyway..

    • Like you Nicole, my husband gave me GREAT gifts! and I’ve said this before on here, that what disturbs me the most is there weren’t really red flags. . . because he made sure not to wave any. The best I can work it out, he seemed to think, ‘Oh, it’s whatthefuckever’s birthday soon, so I mustn’t give her something like a license plate cover, because then she might realise I’m an asshole. What can I give her to make her feel loved and special and safe? Something to do with the stuff in her soul. Maybe something about a childhood dream or unfulfilled life ambition. If I make it good, I bet she’ll give me lots of blow jobs.’ And then on my birthday he’d present me with something that was just perfect, that would bring tears to my eyes and make me tell my friends how lucky I was to have such an amazing man. What I didn’t know – I didn’t know it for YEARS, it was months after he cheated and in the avalanche of lies I uncovered then. .. he made up completely different stories about these gifts that he told his family, friends, co-workers. . . stories in which they weren’t presents that he’d given me, but things I had DEMANDED or had shouted at him about or that i’d intimidated and threatened him until he bought them for me. (I swear, if you don’t buy me what I want you’ll never see your children again!!) It’s just mind-blowing HOW GOOD some of these con artist puppeteers are at what they do.

      • Wow! What a jerk! Sorry you had to go through that! I can now look back and know from what my stbxh has said to me after our separation was that he had to give me good gifts because it was the only thing he could do well in any relationship. He can NOT love unconditionally, give emotional support, understand lovemaking (he only understands the physical aspect of sex), understand the value of affection, etc. so he tries to make up for all of this with great gift giving and since material things mean very little to me it was eventually disastrous. He genuinely believed gifts could make up for love and emotional support he could not give. I see now how his childhood created this hole in his soul and I find it very sad.

  • For me, there were several.

    1.) He never stood up for me. His mom hated me with a passion. Told me to fuck off twice – once on Christmas. He sat there and said nothing! (and I did nothing to deserve enmeshing, psycho-ex-mil’s abuse). I spackled and said, “Oh, he doesn’t stand up for me because he knows I am strong enough to stand up for myself.”

    2.) He never stood for us. He didn’t celebrate anniversaries after a while. It became, oh, we should save money now. We’ll go out to dinner when we go on vacation in a few months. Sadly, I thought it was ok. He was doing things that were prudent to our financial well being.

    3.) He stopped wearing his wedding ring, one year into our marriage. You see, he was afraid he would hurt his finger while playing basket ball and it would swell with the ring around it.

    4.) He made sure he had time for himself. ALWAYS had a hobby: basketball, golf, and then marathon running. My hobbies, curiously enough, involved things that would please him. Cooking (only the things that he wanted to eat) and doing airline mileage churns (so that we could go on vacations to places that, you guessed it, he could golf and/or run marathons).

    To be honest, I was the one that sucked at buying him gifts. I had tried previously and failed in the worst way possible. He had mocked my gifts and ability to shop for the best deal. I would ask him what he wanted specifically to avoid failing and he would just buy his own gift. I’m sure that it was his “love language” and obviously, I failed big time there. Maybe Twinkle Twat is better at choosing gifts for him. She shares his running hobby and they work together. She’s with him 24/7, so she may know him better than I at this point.

  • The most important red flag that I ignored was that he had a reputation of being cunning and vindictive. People called him “the rat”.

    Oh but he was so charming and sweet with me! He was a gentleman, caring, giving, loving, a prince charming. And he kept saying “You changed me Gaby! Your love and vulnerability and tenderness are so courageous! You showed me what love is and you changed me!!!”. See? The beast had turned into the prince because this beauty’s love was magical. Good grief!!!

    I spent 20 years living in this “lived happily ever after” life. Until one day the beast was there again. And I was to blame for his cheating and his 15 yr double life. Whaaaat?????

    As red flags go I have learned that people can’t change, and IF they can, they can go ahead and change with someone else. I WONT GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN.

    And another big red flag is that if you see or hear about a person being capable of doing something bad to anyone, HE/SHE EVENTUALLY WILL DO IT TO YOU. He is CAPABLE of doing it and it is just a matter of time for them to be disappointed or angry at you and you will suffer the consequences.

    Silly me thought my prince would never hurt me or deceive me. I was the beauty and the love of his life!!! Brutal awakening friends. Brutal awakening.

  • Total BPDNPD onslaught, yes. I was in heaven from the love bombing, and oblivious to

    the nasty, dictatorial attitudes toward anyone “beneath” her: waiters, service-people…
    Utter lack of boundaries: she told my brother weeks into knowing me, how my semen tasted. I remember a chill going down my spine–but boy did I have a lot of spackle in supply. Ten years later she took me and our children into hell.

    • Oh, and the fact that she had never been without a boyfriend since 15: she would meet someone else, cheat on or dump the current boyfriend. I just lasted a few years longer. (Unless she was cheating our entire marriage.) God, I was an idiot.

      • Exactly! Never single since 15. She always found a new guy, and tried them out for a while without telling anyone before leaving the chump. I lasted much longer, but I think it’s because I put my head in the sand to avoid the truth.

  • “Forget the serial cheating — a man who gives a woman a license plate cover for Xmas is a man who should be divorced.”

    OMG. Asshat bought me a stupid plastic Happy Bunny license plate holder, years ago. I got lots of idiotic ‘joke’ gifts and every time I would practically beg him to just skip the gifts (if they were gonna be so shitty!). What a colossal waste of money over the years. I would drop hints about a sweater from J Crew or something from Williams Sonoma but Dr Asshat wanted to be original. WTF? This July, while supposedly making it all up to me, gave me stale Easter candy and two books, one about concubines. Every month, I unearth more treasures, like Hello Kitty sticker books, to give to my friend’s toddler. I am almost too angry to admit why I even have the junk.

    I think a complete lack of boundaries is a red flag. It could be about something unrelated to relationships but chances are if they can’t control their own eating/spending/verbal incontinence, they may have trouble with the big boundaries. Like whether or not to fuck somebody to whom they’re not married….

    • I interpreted my stbxh similar gift giving behavior as passive aggressive. I think they really have a difficult satisfying others because they are never satisfied themselves. If anyone is going to be satisfied, it’s THEM. Typically, when a healthy person loves somebody it gives them great joy to make that person happy.
      To a narcissist, this relationship is inverse… as if happiness and joy were limited resources. When they see a healthy person (spouse, partner etc) glow with delight it makes them feel dim.

      • IAJ, what frightens me is I think this is how he truly feels BUT he has everyone snowed when he professes the complete opposite. He would get OTT gifts for others on trips. His feckless half brother’s underage girlfriend would receive a present. Basically the same thing I got. I don’t begrudge anyone a present and I realize I am supposed to be grateful for anything and I guess I was supposed to recognize my place. He swoops in to help others and leaves me in a lurch. Because I am privileged and all these other people are disadvantaged. He would tell me to befriend Florence and others he felt sorry for. He would ask me to babysit his nurse’s kid. He asked me to teach her to speak French ahead of a trip she was taking. Without stopping to think she was intelligent and had been learning on her own. What am I? A freaking employee? Oh, wait, if i were, he’d be lavishing unnecessary gifts on me and having sex with ME then.

    • Yes on always going out of their way to do more things for others than for you (though this typically happens after they have you lured in, I would guess, so probably not an early warning sign).

      ChumpyElf, on boundaries, how about odd and inconsistent boundaries? When I met STBX he was a teetotaler, something he was very proud of. I just assumed he was in recovery and left the subject alone when it came up.

      But then he would insist that I order a glass of wine with dinner when we went out. To the point that he would order it for me even after I refused. Fast forward a year, and once we were married it became, “Why do you always feel the need to order a glass of wine at dinner?”

      The same with his all-over-the-map food fetishes. He went from one extreme dietary restriction to another so many times over the years that I couldn’t keep track, but my favorite were his lectures about how I should never cut vegetables too soon before cooking or they would lose all of their nutrients, an edict I observed religiously throughout our marriage.

      Then one day I come home and see he’s making soup. Containers of pre-cut veggies are laying out on the counter, waiting to be added in. I was shocked at the heresy–it truly had been such a strictly observed rule in our kitchen that violating it would never have been worth the days of contemptuous silent treatment that would surely have followed.

      So I asked him why he was using pre-cut vegetables. “Why would you waste time cutting them when you can buy them pre-cut?” Um, because as you’ve been saying for years, they lose their nutritional value. “Oh that’s ridiculous, that’s only if they’re cut hours or days before you use them.” But aren’t store-bought veggies cut at least a few hours or a day before . . . FACEPALM. Never mind.

      No surprise, the first time I tried using pre-cut veggies to fast-forward a soup I was making, I got a lecture about how the onions were toxic and why would I ever use such a disgusting product to make food for our family. Sigh. As many others here have said, I could go on with similar examples.

      • Other Kat, I hear ya on the inconsistent boundaries. Poor Little Elf is having half of Asshat’s upbringing with the constant moving goalposts. Rules for grade schoolers are easy. Set them and the kid understands. But Asshat lets some things slide and at other times, just like Mother Asshat, he overreacts and has a response completely disproportionate to the offense. Little Elf almost never misbehaves. He is an easy, easy child to handle but Asshat has some sort of mental imbalance bc somehow he can only handle life some of the time.

        His whole family has weird food issues. One sister has to have food searing hot or she will sent it back but in her house, flies are landing on the potato salad, sitting on the counter and the food is served lukewarm. Biology and chemistry would support the fact that food safety quirks should apply in and out of your own home. Everyone in his family basically has some sort of eating disorder too. Too much food, throwing it up in secret, binge eating, yo-yo dieting and the same goes for exercise. “It’s Zumba 24/7 and I’m never eating sugar again!” Next time you see them they have their hand stuck down an M&M bag, wearing some sort of muumuu.

        Blaming you for ordering wine is totally bizarre. When Asshat started being overwhelmed by the Affair and he was impatient for something to happen (he has never explained what that was – for Florence to kill me? Cause I’m sorta waiting for a house to drop out of the sky and land on him) he would lash out and accuse me of doing things that HE PRACTICALLY FORCED/BEGGED ME TO DO! It got to the point I told his doctor I thought he has a neurological problem (also runs in the family) bc he was like Jekyll and Hyde.

  • Chump Lady: well thought out list there. I am in the midst of starting a new relationship right now and these warning signs are really good to consider. My past Chumpdom has not made me paranoid or distrusting, but rather methodical, guarded and rational about choosing a partner. I think this new person is wonderful, but this is a reminder to me to keep things at a reasonable fun dating level for awhile to get all the information in.

    My missed warning signs in the past? Sooo many. My pet cringe-worthy one was my ex-wife’s explanation about her previous marriage’s end and why people cheat. I was informed people cheat because they are looking for something their spouse is not giving them. Ta da! Boy, what an idiot I was.

    • I think its more about observing behaviours and deciding if they are yellow flags (stuff to keep an eye on for later), or red flags (instant dealbreakers).
      Some things might be instant red flags for one person, but only a yellow for another. However, there are some things that are red across the board.

  • I’ve been married to stbxh since we graduated high school in the 80’s, so no red flag advice there. BUT… he does have a few behaviors that I now see as red flags. I plan on getting into the dating game soon, and have given this a lot of thought:
    1. I could never pin down his whereabouts. We are self-employed, but still, he was always a moving target e.g. Always running an errand, at a new gym, driving a different rental car, no real work routine or schedule.
    2. Bad driver. Never used his blinker (hear me out on this one). He drives a large truck, and would drive as if he was the only person on the road. Has been in so many accidents that I’VE had a hard time getting insurance because he lived in the same house. The blinker seemed especially dangerous, because he could potentially flatten a small compact car if he turned into them unexpectedly… and I was with him twice when he almost did! Huge lack of disregard for others.
    3. Told lots of little lies. Little lies. Like the kind of lies that make you wonder why he even bothered. They were so small that it didn’t bother me at the time. Red flag!
    4. Inconsistencies in his behavior: Went on yearly mission trips that he would tell everybody about, but would drive right past a lone woman with a flat tire.
    5. Always had urgent work to do when the kids were acting up, or I was in need of help around the house.
    6. Loves to buy new stuff. Never content with fixing up older stuff, or simply taking care of stuff. (I guess I would be considered old stuff).

    • For me, red flags… falling in love to quickly, not knowing who we were, not understanding that love was more than just being together. We met, day 1 we moved in together, had what we both agree a happy successful marriage, until the 28 th yr. our marriage. Our marriage was easy it would be going on 33 yrs.

      ….but now looking back over the past 4yrs, red flags…well, the days before we married, we had an argument, and how we both would, and did handle it, spoke loudly, but I never saw it until now, which was,”controlling behavior in the name of love.”

      I even said to my maid of honor, “I think I’m making a mistake.” Of course we laugh and thought it was premarital jitters, afterr all we were 28/29yr old, not children, he had a promising career, I had none, but a lot of interests & he was more than willing to help me explore.

      His family history… knowing father and grandfather where serial cheaters, but strong protectors as well.

      History of depression that I really never understood, cuz I never couldnt understand depression until I was betrayed.

      A strong sense of his ” I ” …

      I see lots of red flags now, but I’m not sure if these sign are sign of a jilted spouse, coming out of what was a good long term marriage, or signs I should have paid more attention to and would tell a younger self.

      Or if it’s just years of living w another person and you just really get to know the person you are living with.
      I’m
      After 4 yrs apart, I’m not sure if I’ll ever live 24/7 again… as to dependent and grow, plan, with anything other than yourself, it may not work. It’s ok for me to take people into my life, but a huge red flag, for me… Don’t lose yourself in another person.

      • “I see lots of red flags now, but I’m not sure if these sign are sign of a jilted spouse, coming out of what was a good long term marriage, or signs I should have paid more attention to and would tell a younger self. ”

        Eileen – I struggle with this too and I think this is a really hard part of learning in hindsight. There are things that are clearly red flags about his character in general, but other things that I can’t tell if they should have been warning signs, if they’d be warning signs I’d tell to someone else, or just everything making sense after the fact. Like in retrospect when people look at mass shooters everything makes sense, but often the “red flags” apply to lots of people, the majority of whom will never do something so terrible.

  • Six months in, I’m still learning my red flags. And like CL said, alone, some of these are not necessarily red flags, but in hindsight together…ugh. Still trying to accept my chumpdom.

    – Low empathy. Knew he had it, but spackled because he’s not a sociopath or an emotionless robot, especially with animals. But he just had no problem lying to get into places; accepting something for free from a friend and turning around and selling it; leaving jobs with no remorse; breaking promises while drunk and refusing to acknowledge after the fact that his drinking had anything to do with it.

    – Knew he was good at keeping emotions hidden. Didn’t tell me about some anxiety problems for a long time. He’d say something silly and I’d joke about how I could never tell if he was serious or not…ding ding ding.

    – Seriously tumultuous past with a history of acting out, drinking too much, and drug use, trouble with the law. LONG before me.

    – Inability to talk about sex. This one is particularly painful since it came up as a big factor when he told me he was leaving. For my part, I should have been more assertive about my own needs.

    – Not long after we met, he apparently thought I was being bitchy and just stopped talking to me without saying anything. I didn’t read into it other than being annoyed because it’s not like at that point either of us were seriously invested in a relationship. But was a *perfect* indicator of how he deals (or, more accurately, doesn’t deal) with problems in relationships.

  • I guess this is where age becomes something of a benefit because a young bpd might be hard to spot.

    The sex and chemistry is so great that you really want to overlook the flaming red flags. As a Chump, post divorce and in my new singledom — I listened.

    Here are a few.

    1. They say they are f*cked up.

    2. They tell you upfront that relationships are hard.

    3. a) They are open about their past. They want you to know everything — because they need to know everything about you.

    3. b) They openly tell you they are divorced. Later they admit to being divorced from their first wife, and they recently divorced their second. (Much later you are unsure if the second divorce is actually final.)

    3. c) They admit there is another woman already – you. They explain they were single when they met you but the gf doesn’t want to be broken up now. They say the relationship with the gf is terrible and they are trying to get out but financially can’t do it yet.

    3. d) They explain they cheated on almost all of their other partners – because really they had already left their partners in their mind and they were just going through the motions. They just wanted the perfect woman and the most perfect sex ever. Don’t they deserve that?

    3. e) They admit to any kind of violence — either done to them or they do to objects. (She used to hit me. I would never hit a woman so I put my fist threw the wall, etc.)

    3. f) They tell you they have tried to commit suicide a few times because they were so hurt by their relationships.

    4. You witness their eyes turning black and cold. I am not kidding on this one. It freaked me out.

    5. You witness them self harm through alcohol. At first, you don’t see it as self harm but as part of dating and fun. Then you understand they rely on alcohol to cope because you see the negative affects on their health.

    Run if you see anything from 3 c onward!

    • Ooh ooh, 3c and 5! I’ve realized now that stbx’s alleged attempts to break up with his previous were probably grossly exaggerated. As in, I was led to believe that he tried, she threatened suicide, but he’d otherwise made it clear it was over, and he just still had some stuff at her place. Now, I realize there’s a good chance it came as much more of a surprise to her than he led me to believe, much in the same way he led me on until dropping the bomb on me.

      Also, when we met, I was still trying to get over someone, but I don’t recall how much detail I went into. When he professed his love he said something that I thought was romantic at the time about how he wasn’t going to share me with someone else. Now, in retrospect I think he has one of those f-ed up romance fantasies about being with the wrong person and finding the right one. I think he may have thought I was really leaving someone for him, and if that’s true and if I’d known that I would have been more worried.

      OOH also: red flag- he stayed with previous girlfriends for a long time knowing he didn’t want a long-term future with them. I used to worry about that and I even told him. I guess I didn’t think that by the time he actually wanted to marry me I didn’t need to worry about that anymore. Hindsight…

  • I will use Tracy´s list and add a few more (these are all red flags before we got married and had kids – four years of living together…things just got worse when we married)
    1. He moved fast. – check: by the second date we were seeing each other intensely,everything was intense, we were living together four months after our first date
    2. He called too much. check – and emailed constantly (this was pre-smartphone days)
    3. He cancelled plans at the last minute. – he didn´t do this, but he was paranoid with punctuality. If I was 5 minutes late for anything he would go crazy, but he was always late, by hours, when he made appointments with me (I´ll be home for dinner in half an hour meant 2-3 hours)
    4. When I was with him, I felt charmed. When he left, I felt uneasy. – not for me, it was the other way around: when I was with him, I was always stressed about how not to get him upset, how not to ruin his day, how not to walk on eggs…when he left, I would relax and be myself again but cry because I knew that I was never enough for him, would never reach his standards
    5. I mistook intelligence for character – check. mine was the smartest guy I knew, but arrogant and treated people that weren´t important to him (for work or flirting) badly.
    6. He was okay with a lack of reciprocity – check. mine always kept tabs for years on when he paid more, or how much I owed him.
    7. Either he didn’t introduce me to his friends, or he simply didn’t have friends. check He had one friend from highschool and one from college. all other friends were acquired through us as a couple (but I have had many say they were friends with us as a couple because they liked me not him. However, he did make a group of friends-colleagues that never invited me to their outings (because I was at home with the kids). This is where he got all his OWs from. He treated my friends that I knew before him, very badly behind my back (many disappeared for years and didn´t tell me this until I was divorced)
    8. He was vague about his past. check
    9. I mistook sex for intimacy. check
    10. He was shit at gift giving. check

    I would add some others that have been mentioned

    11. Bad relation with his father – king of the narcissists, didn´t speak with him for years. I now think I was sort of his trophy wife to show his father that he could marry someone more educated and with more income than he ever had. I sometimes think his whole life is about proving to his father that he can outdo him in accomplishments and women.
    12. jealous of my past boyfriends and male friends, jealous of any present male friend
    13. competitive, tried to always show his work and time was more important than mine (we work in the same field and I am more recognized than he is and make more money…he hates this and tried to always put me down for it)
    14. used the phrase “you never” “you always” constantly – kept grudges
    15. remembered events from many years ago when he felt humiliated, like when I once asked for more sauce on a special dinner he made for me around the third date. He never made special dinners again and reminded me of that humiliation (asking for more sauce was an implied critique to the perfection of his cooking) for more than a decade.
    16. the times in his story tellings were always different and off from reality…so when something lasted a year, he would say two years, an hour, he would say two hours…this was always a mystery to me because I knew the timing but he would get furious if I suggested otherwise. It was a way of lying …
    17. he didn´t think badly of married people who had affairs, he considered it their “private business”, he even considered his own affairs private! I shouldn´t judge him for them!
    18. he had anger attacks for anything and everything that was not important, in the same way that he would get angry for things that were.
    19. hated all my family (parents, sister, aunts, uncles) tried to isolate me from them and argue how his disfunctional, alcoholic family was better than mine (mine was boring, of course…)
    20. bad with money and very stingy…I did all the finances and planned everything, I was the one who invested in our home, etc.
    21. blamed me for everything that went wrong in his life
    22. didn´t like make-up sex…preferred to have long lectures about how I messed up, and he called this “communication”…he was always mad at me for not wanting to “communicate” more. I would always say that that was not communication but an accusatory monologue. Who would want that?
    23. 4 out of 5 interactions were negative in the later years
    24. he was always stressed about everything, could never relax,
    25. viewed pornography
    26. had strange sleeping hours, called me a prude because I wanted to go to sleep by 11 pm. He would go to sleep by 4 am…yes, I know, I know…
    27. everything he criticized about me he was worse
    28. he was good at bringing out my bad side but never appreciated my good ones

    etc etc.

    In the end, I really think this is a lesson for all chumps to learn about ourselves and how not to put up with people that treat us badly. I am sure someone with more self love and self respect than myself would not have gone out with this guy for so long, and even less married him. But this is the biggest lesson I have learned from this relationship, and I want to believe that it was all worth it for the beautiful children I have and the great life I was able to build despite him. I now believe so much more in myself because things are working in my way as they never had before. I am even looking forward to a new relationship in which I don´t have to build anything unless I really want to (I already had the children, the home, the job). and I can just enjoy a partner who wants to keep young together and bring out the best in each other.

  • This is a GREAT post – I can really relate and will have some fun with it once I can get my thoughts down. Thanks Tracy.

  • Red flags (signs) in my case of a bad relationship (marriage) to come:

    (1) Paranoia (e.g., unwarranted jealousy leading to spying on me for years, breaking up with me very briefly without asking clarifying questions because he thought I was trying to hook up with a guy in front of him): Signs of Paranoid Personality Disorder

    (2) Attempt to impregnate me after one month of dating (Foolish me
    thought that this was a sign of self-knowledge on the part of now STBX and a sign of devotion): Possible signs of Borderline Personality Disorder. (He has all the signs of BPD listed in the DSM. I was too reckless, which is interesting considering that I am usually very cautious.)

    (3) ‘Pseudo-intelligence’: Incorrect use of big words to sound smart: Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    (4) Yelling at me when I tried to discuss, even briefly, important issues (e.g., where (in which region) we would live, whether he would get his first marriage annulled): Signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder

    I wish that it wouldn’t take so long for me to recover from this terrible marriage. I don’t know how much, if at all, life will improve after the divorce is finalized as I need to ‘co-parent’ with STBX and I very much doubt that STBX will ever get better. I need to recover a great deal to be the optimal parent, partner, friend, employee, etc.

  • All lists are spot on. Cant believe how many freaks are there..
    One thing (at the end of relationship, after getting engaged), all of a sudden he could not have sex longer than 30 seconds. We always had great sex life, yet after engagement, hed almost always come in his pants (after 9 years relationship) he was trying hard but just couldnt keep it. Wtf was that?? Any chumps there with similar experiences?

  • Wow, mine was hard to define at first because he seemed so “normal” all-around. He (in the beginning) respected my boundaries, didn’t try to accelerate the relationship and allowed me to set the pace. However, in hindsight, and with hard-earned wisdom, I now know what the early signs were:

    – What I now recognize as Love Bombing, but he parted it out in very carefully spaced and presented increments, so my alarms didn’t go off.

    – His extremely calm demeanor. My X acted so serene about most anything that was going on in his/our lives. It was as though nothing could rattle him. He could have rolled with a nuclear holocaust, and not broke a sweat. I welcomed that trait with open arms because I had grown up with drama addicts. In fact, my first husband was one. I now know it’s because of his disorder he has an extreme lack of empathy. Since he doesn’t really feel it, he doesn’t react to it.

    – He was very private about his life previous to me. He told me a brief narrative of his life (which I now know was 90% fabricated). When I asked specific questions, he replied with vague answers. This was a concern to me, and I went to a trusted, usually very insightful girlfriend about it. She told me that men are usually private about themselves, and “Would you just let it go? You’re over-thinking this, as usual.” Wrong assumption, my friend. Note to self: trust your own concerns more. Trust your own gut instincts.

    – He was overly generous and thoughtful in gift-giving. Right from the start, if I so much as saw something at a store, mall or Saturday Market situation, I could count on it becoming a “surprise, just because” gift for me in the near future. Being the self sufficient person I am, I seldom ask for anything, and only if it’s a legitimate need that I can’t supply for myself such as: would someone please pick up a prescription at the drugstore for me, as I just had surgery, and I can’t drive there myself? I quickly started to feel uncomfortable about the lavishness of the presents he gave me, and began to keep quiet and my eyes averted. I later learned that disordered people don’t give without an agenda, and the phrase used for this manipulation is called Loan Sharking – to prompt you to feel obligated to stay in relationship with the gift giver. Later, when everything imploded, I received the anger-infused litany of “look at all the things I gave you/did for you!”.

    – Ah yes, the “crazy” ex’s. This ploy was usually presented as prologue. As one of the early examples (more would arrive later), we were going to a favorite night spot of his for karaoke – first time for me, and he explained that there was a woman often there that had a crush on him, but they were nothing more than friends, and that she was a bit unstable. When we arrived and sat down, she spotted us together, quietly came over to us, stood behind him, and bent down to whisper in his ear: “F##k You!”. He acted aghast, and I was baffled, until after we married, when, as I was mining his computer for information after the 2nd D-day, a photo of her topless in his yard surfaced. I found lots of, uh, “provocative” photos of women he took that he claimed were just-friends-but-they-had-a-crush-on-him-and-they-misunderstood-his-kindness-for-interest.

    • When my exes mother died when he was 16 something in him died. His compassion, empathy, concern, sympathy for others all gone. He loves his kids and would be fucked up beyond repair if something happened to them but otherwise not there emotionally not one bit. Son contacts him only for money and dad usually gives in you know cause he’s the boy. Daughter doesn’t help her at all. There is a huge part of him he can’t or won’t share. Tears anger him. When the kids would cry when they were little they would run right past him to me with him screaming why is he or she crying and why don’t they come to him?! Would tell them only babies cry suck it up! No matter what is was he would get angry. His mom died, clamed up no emotions, father dies clamed up no emotion. Dog died only time anyone saw him cry. His sister called in hysterics when she came home from work and found the love if her life do ad inbed looking for some cocomfort from her brother. Stone faced, oh gee that’s a shame. No comfort from him. She got his number. When she called to say their dad had died wonderful man so glad to know he never had to see what his shit son turned into he in a cold voice says gee should I come over there? No help at all to his sister in caring for ailing father, no help with the arrangements, wanted the money, and flat out refused to go to his service with his sister out of state and we had the money for him to go. When his whores father was dying he was there every second holding her hand and comforting her and was front and center at the service like a big cheese. I often told him after almost 30 years together I could drop dead in front of him and he wouldn’t care. He claims he is there for his son daughter and sister but pretty much has ignored them the past three years except to show them off to the whores family at holidays. Hey everybody look at me!! Sick fuck no idea what he is losing. Both daughter and sister rarely contact him anymore. Stupid bastard.

  • Come to think of it, I wasn’t that impressed with my X either the first time I met him. I thought he was kind of rude and off putting.
    Red flags? He had recently broke up with a long time girlfriend who had a little girl. He had lived with them for five years and I didn’t see a whiff of grief coming from him. I really looked for it too and wondered. I spackled by deciding he didn’t really care for the girlfriend any more. No, this is how sociopath’s turn it off and on… very easily.

    He was so dumb about money. When I met him he owed thousands on credit cards. He was paying over the limit fees and late charges every month. He’d make a $150 payment and maybe two dollars would go to the principal. “You do with your money what you do with your love.”

    As soon as we got married he started bugging me to sell my house and buy a different one. Nothing was ever good enough for him. He never talked about his past life. Very closed mouth. I figured out the reason later was because he had so many skeletons in his closet, bones would fly out his mouth if he talked. Probably didn’t want to say anything because he might slip up and mention something about three ex wives he forgot to tell me about when we got married.

    Another curious thing was that he didn’t have any Real Friends. And he grew up in this small city we live in. Born and raised. You’d think he’d have some.

    Love Bombing. OMG! I didn’t know there was a word for that until CL and CN. He love bombed the hell out of me. I’d never felt so special. Haha. He fell in love with immediately. (I’m so dang cool…more hahaha)

    And the disconnect. I never really knew what to think about that. He never held my hand in public or came up behind me for a kiss or a hug. Sex with him was good but the minute it was over he shot up out of bed like a rocket launcher sent him. Never stayed to cuddle. I never felt connected to him in any meaningful way but I spackled that thinking that’s just the way he was.

    I saw all these things and took them in stride. I just thought if he could overlook my flaws I could overlook his. I thought this was all about two people learning to get along. Now I know better.

    • “he had so many skeletons in his closet, bones would fly out his mouth if he talked”

      I am not sure why but this made me LOL, Syringa! I am pretty sure the only things that flies out of Asshat’s mouth is shit ;O

  • When I was thirteen, I quite bluntly told a guy who was trying to flirt with me, “I don’t like you.” “Why don’t you like me?” “I don’t know, I just don’t.” Eventually he believed me and left me alone.

    When I was about twenty-two, a friend introduced me to a guy who took me out once and it was okay. Then he took me home to Mama, introduced me to his whole family, and started making plans for us for the next three weeks. if he was sitting close by, his hand was on me. Always. If he was a few feet away or across the room, he was staring at me. Always.

    I told him a few days later that it wasn’t going to work out for us. I left out the part where I felt utterly creeped out. My friend told me that the next time she saw him, he yelled “What did you say to her? She was crazy about me!”

    Now, I don’t know if either of these two would really have been bad to or for me, but as CL says, always trust your gut.

    When I was twenty-eight and met my ex-husband, a trucker thirteen years older than me, my gut let me down. I noticed not one of the red flags. The age difference, the love-bombing, the need to leave my friends and my good job in order to be with him, meant nothing. This was how things were meant to be. It took two years of the next stages–: Affection disappeared? Check. Sex disappeared? Check. Money disappeared? Check. Gifts? Hah! –before I fully realized I’d made a huge mistake.

    My best friend rescued me before things got worse, so I honestly don’t know how far things would have gone, but my gut (which had finally kicked in sometime during the first year) and the posts I read here daily tell me I dodged a great big bullet. Well, it grazed me, but it could have been so much worse.

    I had turned over my pension savings to him, and he had gotten us in trouble with the IRS. It had become obvious that he had no interest in me or in us. At least he never hit me, but he did like to intertwine his fingers with mine lovingly, then squeeze my fingers between his til it brought tears to my eyes, and when I yelled he would laugh at my weakness.

    Cheating? Maybe. I know the first week I joined him, he went off with his only buddy, a tow truck driver. They were supposedly helping at an accident, but the buddy’s wife was having a fit over their disappearance. She was furious and sure they had gone to a strip club, at the least. She warned me that they were both philandering bastards. I told ex later and he blew her off as an hysterical crazy bitch, and I chose to believe him. While I was on the road with him, we were too busy working, and when we were in the tiny burg we lived in, I don’t think there was much to choose from, but who knows?

    Oh yeah, I had a point in here somewhere. As I said, my gut let me down when I really could have used it. Or maybe I simply couldn’t hear it screaming at me over the love-bombing strafing runs. I’m just afraid guts and red flags are only useful after the fact. For the next time. Frankly, I would like to see Chump Lady’s books used in schools, but I’m afraid love will always trump the gut, not to mention the brain.

  • I’m doing some financial analysis to figure out my financial situation prior to marriage date for legal reasons, and I just observed how in the first year of dating, I spent thousands of dollars on clothing, furniture, travel, and paying off some of her debts. Wow! was I f’ing crazy or what? What was I thinking? I guess I thought we were engaged and going to build a wonderful life together, so I became a giving machine. What a chump!!!

    Anyway, I suppose the amount of cash flowing out was a red flag.

    Another red flag:
    Months 1-4: she was the most sensual, passionate, loving person I had ever met. Sex five times a week.
    Month 5: suddenly, all that just stopped and I began the pining for that passion and looking back, she then knew she had me. Sex once a week at most.
    Month 12: we’re married. Sex once every two weeks. She won’t kiss me before leaving the house like she used to.
    Month 36: sex once a month. She flinches when I touch her neck/back.

    All the while, I keep upping my game, trying to give more and more and more: parenting, working, cleaning, repairing, traveling, purchasing.

    All the while: chump.

    Month 100: she’s unemployed, attending meditation retreats, yoga, competing in bike racing, and boning another guy, while I work and parent.

  • Gifts? What is this thing you speak of.. gifts? You’d have to be gainfully employed and not living off your girlfriend (that would be me) to be able to BUY gifts. Oh well…

  • So odd, but from what I have learned from my cheater and her APs chumped wife about the AP’s personality, this describes the AP pretty well. My poor cheating wife was tricked and taken advantage of by a serial cheater. My cheater is also a chump! There are times when feel sorry for her, what a mess she’s made.

    Who said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”?

      • FlattenedChump – odd to hear you say this tonight. “Who said, ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”?'”

        My X said this to me while we were divorcing and I couldn’t figure out if he meant he was sorry or not.

        How would you interpret him saying this to me? Just curious – what it might mean from a cheater.

        • Shechump – maybe its as close as he could get to an apology. I’ve heard/read narcissists have a lot of trouble owning up to mistakes. Or maybe he was just reflecting on the impending changes in your lives brought about by his infidelity.

          I first heard this saying from Sheriff Andy Taylor in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (my cheater and I both loved this show and watched and laughed together through many episodes). I broke down and looked it up though – its from a poem called “Marmion” by Walter Scott, written in 1808. Its a timeless truth though, isn’t it?

  • 1. She moved fast. On our first date she literally jumped on me while we were sitting on the beach. Then for the rest of our relationship, she denied this.

    2. She moved in fast. Although she didn’t literally move in, we were neighbors and she came over daily. We were literally together everyday. I thought is was slightly odd but I also enjoyed the love bombing at this point not knowing better.

    3. She was very sharp. I mistook her intelligence for wisdom.

    4. She very quickly introduced me to all 5 of her friends, which she never hung out with ever again except for one on occasion.

    5. She had a quick temper which I excused as her being young. She would snap over superficial things that didn’t really matter. Mostly it was over her not getting her way, such as not being able to have drinks because it was the end of the month and we were close to the end of our restaurant budget.

    • 6. All her relationships ended because of the other person.

      7. Her one friend told me once that she was a better person when she was with me.

      • Mine said all of his relationships ended because of the other person= they cheated/were lunatics/delusional/chronic compulsive liars

        They all told me it ended because of HIM.

        Whom shall we believe?

  • 1. Being wishy-washy in every area of his life. He would not make plans or commitments and always wanted his options open until the last feasible moment. (When he was offered his current job, the hiring official had to call him twice to push him for a yes or no answer because ex wanted to take weeks to decide. He finally took the job after 10 days when they said they would have to offer it to someone else if he didn’t answer. Every other decision has been similarly laborious and difficult for the people around him.)

    2. He portrayed himself as the victim in previous relationships. They wanted unreasonable things from him (like honesty and commitment, THE NERVE), they used “emotional blackmail” on him (ie, communicating their needs), and they thought he was a jerk when he was just “being true to himself.” I assumed that our relationship would be different because *I* was different, but of course he cheated on me just like he cheated on them. (Of course he waited to share his history of cheating until I was very invested, and I was ignorant of behavioral patterns of serial cheaters.) Now he has himself wrapped up with an AP who has similar character flaws and is a serial cheater, so good luck with that.

    3. He took pride in being the non-conformist in every situation.

    I’m sure the list will go on the more I think about it.

  • Everything Michael says! Maybe the most egregious sign I neglected to heed was the violent tantrum she threw when I didn’t submit my financial aid form when we were in Graduate School. I thought our love would carry us through the temporary poverty we would endure (and that I had already endured for two years). Nope. She wanted that money and now those loans are still with me. I could go on and on though. There are so many now in retrospect that it makes me cringe at my obtuseness.

  • I’ve been chumped before, and hope that I’ve learned (the hard way) from the experience.

    That being said – I’ve been seeing someone and… well, 1,2,8 and 10 are all standing out like a beacon.

    I’m just taking it slow and not committing to anything just yet. I can’t decide if I’m nervous because of my previous experience, or I’m nervous because I *should* be nervous.

    I guess time will tell….. 🙁

  • A predator is going to tailor if he’s intelligent, I’m not sure CLs ex was particularly smart. At any rate, my experience differed in too many ways to post right now cos a whole lot going on. One thing stuck out in the post that I disagree with because not every cheater is as wacked as the next. CL said “I’m convinced they can’t disguise the crazy for over a year.” that is not true. They absolutely can disguise most of it and they can let bits of it spill over accompanied by pity parties or using the ” I’m good, slightly broken, don’t leave, I’m working on it” or even simply so very slowly leaking you accept it , forgive it taking enormous time for all the fuckedupedness to become unbearable. By then your intuition/ gut feelings have already been obliterated. This slow churn is typically how abuse happens. As for love bombing, my ex listened to me and knew I didn’t want a relationship, he was damn subtle, but he was always there for me, he was oh so careful not to scare me off so he could hook me in. Red flags are highly variable, the best way to see them is to know what you will not tolerate, to understand yourself and to keep your boundaries intact.

  • RED FLAGS! And here I thought they were waving to celebrate our love [palm slap to forehead].

    1. Arrogant. But I spackled it to be the dark, silent type persona. I ignored the snark and sneer when he talked about others.
    2. His “best friends” lived at least 1000 miles away and they only saw each other every few years.
    3. He refused to talk about past relationships. Ever. Because he had nothing but superficial ones.
    4. I could have been anyone.
    5. His parents treated each other like shit. His father was the meanest man I ever met. He was only nice to me.
    6. He talked “at” his only sister. It was always dismissive and sarcastic. I never heard him say one nice thing about her.
    7. Gift giving was embarrassingly cheap and deliberately perfunctory and off the mark; and then designed to elicit a disappointed response in me, so he could be pissed at my selfishness.
    8. He always got a migraine whenever I planned an event with my family or friends. I ended up leaving more parties and events than I want to count because the poor guy had a headache.
    9. He is a tit-for-tat king, for any and all things. It proved to me he had no clue how to give. Anything.
    10. He gave me a tee shirt for our wedding day.
    11. He visited me and our sons for exactly 30 minutes daily when I gave birth. Then enjoyed his “vacation.”
    12. He never once talked about his dating past. He liked the mystery surrounding his history. But when I found a Lunch Dates debit on his credit card, he said it was an error and then wouldn’t talk to me for a month for snooping. I was the bill payer.
    13. He wouldn’t friend me on Facebook, saying that I wasn’t a “friend.”
    14. He left our bed when I was 8 months pregnant with our first child and never came back. He slept on a pull out next to his bar and computer in his basement.

    The biggest red flag that I ignored to my own peril was when we talked about marriage, and he said, “So I guess we should get married.” I got the most intense “fight or flight” terror feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had had it once before; when our neighborhood trash collector grabbed me from behind, pinned my arms so I couldn’t move when I was 10 and pretended to throw me in the trash. Ironically, my marriage produced the same result; both left me feeling powerlessness and thrown away like trash.

  • Red flags — hmmm

    1. Love bombing. I was his “sun, moon and stars.” He had known me in high school and “I’ve been in love with you since I was 15.” Never mind that now we’re 50 something and have both been married and divorced. I’m so embarrassed that I so wanted to believe this bullshit.

    2. Constantly talking about other women — his first wife, his colleagues at work, his supervisor, his physical therapist, the pretty woman who served food in town. Also, no close male friends that I could see.

    3. Porn. BDSM porn. Yes, I should have fled then. He is a therapist, and he said he was trying to understand a patient — he swore he had no interest in that sort of thing for himself. D-Day involved finding out that he has a 20-year plus habit of visiting bdsm dungeons in Manhattan, where for $300 an hour……

    4. Lots of fantasies about great trips we were going to take together — none of which came true.

    5. This weird thing he said about homosexuality — “I have no interest in men. That is one thing you never have to worry about.” Begging the question — well, what DO I have to worry about?

    6. Over the top protestations of fidelity — “you are all the woman any man would need,” “this body is all for you,” “I’m going to tattoo your name on my penis,” “I’m going to show you what a relationship with a good man feels like,” — uggh I could gag now.

    7. I paid for so much, got the tab so many times in restaurants– poor guy, he was paying so much child support and needed my help, blah blah, uggh.

    8. Hooked in by great sex — yes, he could have vanilla sex and claim that it was all he wanted and needed.

    What would I tell someone just starting out? Make sure they have some good friends of the same sex.
    That, to me, was the biggest red flag that I ignored.

    • Yes, this is huge and not given nearly enough attention. Not having friends is one of the biggest red flags, and not just that but having QUALITY friends of long standing.

      • I hate to say it, but as with some red flags, not all apply. My STBX has LOTS of good same-sex friends, but that’s because he’s been on the down-low for years and using EAs and possibly PAs with women to cover for it. Not all of those “friends” set off my gay-dar, either, though a number of them did.

        That said, he has lost touch with most of his high-school and college friends, so maybe that is the part of the pattern to be on the look-out for, the inability to maintain longstanding friendships from high-school/college/early adulthood.

  • Like many others here, my stbx moved way too fast and proposed at 6 months. He also moved into my place without asking for my permission!!

    1. He never asked about my interests, my opinions, etc. I went to an amazing backpacking at the start of our relationship and not once did he ask me about it.
    2. He’s a compulsive liar and never apologised when caught. Ever! No shame. He lied about his identity when I first met him and he was just 23 at the time. Just flabbergasting amounts of manipulation at such a young age.
    3. His excuse for everything was along the lines of “everyone does it too.” “Women lie too.” “You cheated on me too.” “According to a study, there’s a little bit of sociopath in everyone” WTF!!
    4. Extreme jealousy. He was jealous even of my dear uncles. My uncles! Apparently, any man who shows any kindness to me wants to fuck me. When I worked with the U.N. (dream job!) while we were engaged, he would say I only took that job to meet white men (We’re both Filipinos…). I quit that job cause he stressed me out so much–I’m really heartbroken about that.
    5. He had no friends.
    6. He made up rules that only seem to work for his benefit (gender-divided). He said I shouldn’t smoke because that’s how women start affairs with men; in the meantime, he can smoke happily with his friends/at work because they’re all guys. WTF!!
    7. He thought he was smarter than most people, which confused me at the time lol.
    8. He would put me down in front of my friends or discuss our sex life with them. We don’t even discuss it in private!
    9. He treats his family like shit and doesn’t seem to mind not seeing them.
    10. His mother treated him like God.
    11. He gifted me with vacations to places that he actually wants to go to (I’ve been there before).
    11. What really killed me was that he proposed after he threatened to leave me penniless while on a trip (and I begged him to stay). It’s like I wasn’t allowed to feel happy even about marrying him.

    Ugh I could go on and on

  • Watch out for the man who lovebombs you with his kids. If he has you meeting his kids on the first or second date, that is a huge warning sign. If it wasn’t for his kids I’m pretty sure I would’ve walked away half way through the relationship. Also, never trust a man who says they’re going to “take care” of you. That’s how my ex convinced me to stay despite the immense drama involving his ex wife. (Prior to him I avoided drama like the plague. I didn’t even like overly dramatic tv.) And recently I witnessed grooming behaviors from a doctor who was in charge of my floor while I was hospitalized. Gut tells me he’s probably an abusive man. His big line also was that I just needed someone to take care of me. And he wanted to see pictures of my son. Hello creepy.

    But yeah….my ex’s M.O. was to lovebomb the ladies with his kids. Ready made family and it lulls them into thinking he’s really committed. Or that at least he’s a good guy. Every creepy personal ad I saw him respond to he mentioned how he had his kids half time. It took him a while to realize that doesn’t work on girls in their early to mid twenties because they don’t need that baggage. But ladies in their thirties and forties……it just scoops them up.

  • This has me thinking. I really didn’t have the kind of warning signs this article talks about. My ex is really not disordered. He just fell out of love with me; didn’t tell me; took it somewhere else. It happens, but I will not let him off the hook about the way he disrespected our marriage, me, our children, and taking the easy way out. Truth is, he was never afraid of hard work; so why did that work ethic fail him when he needed it the most to try and save our marriage? That said, as I look back…yep, some warning signs. 1989: Told me how much I meant to him; he was dating two other girls at the same time, but wanted to date me exclusively. Not that playing the field is a bad thing when you’re single, but looking back at his past relationships, he was rarely without one. To this day, he’d still be with me if he hadn’t found someone else to go to. 1990: Next words out of his mouth after he asked me to marry him: “But there won’t be a wedding for at least a year.” Thanks for asking what I thought about when OUR wedding should be. 1991: On the honeymoon, we sat on the beach and he had his nose in a book practically the whole time. I wanted to talk; to connect. He was busy. 1992: After spending two days with him in another state doing something fun he wanted to do, I asked if we could go to an antique show for a few hours. It was my birthday. He didn’t want to. I talked him into it, but I didn’t feel comfortable “dragging” him there against his will. 1993: We went through some rough stuff to get pregnant. When it finally happened, I couldn’t wait to tell him. He was golfing with his brother. When they walked in the door together, I burst out with the news. Both were calm, cool, and collected. Though I know he was happy, he didn’t show it. I wanted to be hurled into the air and kissed all over my face. It wasn’t who he was. 1996: He applied for and got a job in another area. I didn’t want to leave my job, where we lived, our extended families. He became so angry with me that he stopped talking to me. We had two babies at this point. I agreed to the move. We went to counseling. I thought it helped. 1999: We applied for a life insurance policy for each of us and he was denied because his blood alcohol markers were too high. They told him not to eat or drink the night before. He didn’t listen. Drank beer anyway, but lied about it when they asked him before they took his blood. Seems he lies to cover up his wrongdoings, like the affair. Otherwise, he’s on the up and up. Our son had some health issues that caused me a lot of anxiety (even though he was actually okay). In 2005, I had a breakdown because I worried too much about it. I was in a state of general anxiety one evening and wanted to go to the hospital. Felt really bad. He seemed annoyed to be at the hospital as long as we were. I sensed he thought I was overreacting and in truth, that I was losing it. My son had a baseball game that evening, and he didn’t want to miss it. I was discharged with some meds and he went to the game. I had a girlfriend come sit with me while he was gone because I was afraid to be alone. In general, he wasn’t supportive of my needs. I tried to communicate that with him from time to time. He never communicated with me about what he needed, other than to tell me how to do things, like pay the bills, get him something at the store, do this, do that. I will say we raised two amazing kids. We parented well together, and he backed me up in that arena in every aspect. He supported me as a mother. But not as a person or a wife. When our youngest child left for college, I suppose my usefulness was done. He traded me in for a newer model. THAT was really a sign I am forced to not ignore..

    • 2kids2love,

      We parented well together, and he backed me up in that arena in every aspect. He supported me as a mother. But not as a person or a wife. When our youngest child left for college, I suppose my usefulness was done. He traded me in for a newer model. THAT was really a sign I am forced to not ignore.

      ^^^^^ This is my story. Makes me cry reading those words!!!

        • Its no coincidence. You were of great use to them as their mother…and as the individual who could allow him to claim his children were raised in an intact family. I suspect if there were no kids….there would have been no use for the assholes’s wives…and they wuold have cheated and left earlier. They made it bearable for you, so YOU wouldn’t leave…or rock the boat. But yep once the kids were gone…the role you filled was no longer of use to them.

          how selfish and entitled of them to use you for YEARS in this regard. Thats a whole special level of disordered, highly manipulative.

          • It’s sad, isn’t it? Ironically, just because the kids are out of the house at college doesn’t mean my job is done. As they venture out into the world and slowly become more independent, they need some help along the way to learn how to be financially responsible, apply for loans, handle their bank accounts, take care of their vehicles, handle any kind of crisis that might arise, and just have a shoulder to lean on if they’ve had a tough week. I’m still that person, but now I don’t have my husband to talk to about it. And he’s the only other person in the world who loves them as much as I do. Damn him.

  • The only thing on this list that fit with my ex is that he used to call a lot and get mad if I did not answer right away.
    Other red flags I should have seen is that he always got extremly jealous if a guy talked to me and another thing was also when I told him about my cousin had just found out that her husband cheated on her my ex said: ,,why is she telling people about that” instead of saying something like this: ,,wow her husband is a jerk for cheating on her”.

  • I started making a list. What was I thinking!?! Some of his comments are in the quotation marks.

    •Dad cheated on his mom.
    “Mom turned my brother and sister against my dad by her awful comments about the affair.”

    •A check book that was in the red.
    “I work hard for my money so I should be able to buy what I want.”

    •Total lack of respect for law enforcement.
    “Look at those cops with their ‘God’ complex.”

    •Treatment of his mother.
    “She is such a bitch!”

    •Lack of care, concern, or desire to interact with his family.
    “My sister and brother are unmotivated, lazy people who have no desire to get ahead in life.”

    •Never apologizing for anything. (Hard to apologize when you are never wrong.)
    “I never said that. You took it the wrong way.”

    •Never helping around the house.
    “What do you want me to do…I work hard all day!?!”

    And probably one of the biggest…

    •Disguising mean comments under the banner of humor. After a while, you slowly begin to realize that there is no humor, and you are just the butt of mean and ugly comments.

    I could go on, but when I start thinking about all the HUGE red flags I overlooked, it is just too depressing. The flags showed up slowly. I was the frog in the water who was slowly being boiled and didn’t try to jump out of the pot.

    I know there are many comments and feelings shared between spouses that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. You are supposed to have a safe place to share your feelings, BUT it was the total disgust and disdain for anyone and anything who did not meet his standards that wore me down. It took some years, but I guess his standards were too high for even me. Good luck to the whore…she got herself a prize!!!

      • “Disguising mean comments under the banner of humour” THIS

        Towards the end mine escalated his mean behaviour and looking back now I cannot believe I was so smitten with him that I accepted that shit.

        e.g. He recorded me snoring and played it to friends in the pub, unbeknownst to me one of his BF’s girlfriends (later I discovered the OW) was there to witness this, he later claimed it was just a joke.

        Another Xmas a year before DDay 1 his other BF (a serial cheat) and his wife gave me the book “Dear Fatty” and they all had a good laugh when I unwrapped it Xmas morning, I had know them 16 years so was rather taken back and I actually cried when I got home a few days later, of course I was shown no compassion from XH, I had overreacted, well yeah, I suppose I was, especially when I spent 16 hours handcrafting them a beautiful Xmas fairy for their tree, ungrateful fuckers, they have since split up unsurprisingly.

        It’s only when I look back at all the disdain that XH showed me, particularly towards the bitter end, that I can see how fucked up that situation was, I should have told them to shove the book up their arse, it was probably a very good book ‘cept it was aimed to humiliate me.

        BTW lost 3 stone that year (for me) before I hit 40 and XH never noticed, luckily the chump diet has taken care of any excess pounds nowadays and I am much healthier and relaxed about my size now.

  • Red flags galore:
    Started to propose to me then back peddled half way through as “we are both Catholic so getting a divorce would not be easy”.
    Proposed to me after telling me that we would have to end our relationship as his job was taking him abroad.
    Did not accompany me to choose a ring and treated engagement like a hole in the corner thing as his mother was not happy.
    Sulked because we did not get back from a shopping trip in time for him to watch a kids TV show.
    Lied on the phone to his mother about coming to London to see me – pretended it was a last minute plan.
    Needed his mothers permission for everything and put his familys wants and needs before us.
    Suggested I wear a shawl at his parents house as my blouse was a little sheer.
    Sex became problematic and infrequent before the wedding – and that continued after.
    Presented me with a general card on our first wedding anniversary that was intended for a couple -it read “congratulations on your anniversary.
    Done the same on the birth of our first two children – gave me general birth congrats cards intended for outsiders to send the new parents.
    Dont even get me started on the affair red flags as my chumpiness reached heights of such embarrassment at my naivity.

    • Mary, I can relate. #) I call my ex MIL the OW. That’s how huge she was in my X’s life . . and, of course, probably thinks I made him cheat on me. Hurts. Loved the lady for many years.

      And, #2) Funny but ‘we’ held off on sex until we were officially married. He was adamant about that! But, BJ’s and H/J’s were just fine. Boy, after being single until I was 23 yrs old, I was a wild woman, and this guy – actually, was rejecting me sexually? What a red flag.
      Our sex never changed once married.
      What a rip-off. And, I blame myself, so that’s okay.

  • When I met my stbx, he told me he was just getting over a long term relationship. He allowed me to believe for more than a month that they had merely been dating, until I questioned some statements that didn’t make sense. It turned out that he was still legally married to her, though she had left him and filed for divorce. And rather than apologize for lying, he blamed me for not figuring things out sooner. I stayed.

    He told me a sad story about how they had “grown apart” because she changed for the worse, and said she cheated on him. I bought it.

    He loved bombed: wanted to see me every day, pouted and pressured me when I had other plans, told me he loved me long before I was ready to say it, proposed before we had been dating a year. And I was flattered rather than freaked out.

    I SO wish I could go back to that naive girl I used to be, and tell her to RUN for her life…

      • I agree with Nowire – Halloween was a huge deal at our place since it’s X’s bday and oh, how he always NEEDED a 4 tiered German Chocolate Cake HOMEMADE freaking cake that took me 2 days to put together. We had the haunted house for the neighbor kids (none ourselves, but I like kids, especially on Halloween – it was my favorite day because I was addicted to candy when I was young).

        Big party of adults in the other part of the house, eating Adult food. Seriously, a full week event to get ready for.

        OK – my point is – he ALWAYS picked the vampire costume and perfected the teeth really well, complete with black cape.. ya think this is a pattern? Yes, he sucked the blood out of me eventually.

        And, you know the rest of the boring story – I rarely got a gift on my bday or any personal celebration – I was passive about it – unlike him…oh, I don’t need much. But one night while traveling on the road and I got nothing for my b’day and we were in Bum F-Egypt along the desert Columbia Gorge, I went and bought a first-ever ‘TWINKIE’ in a major sand storm.. I’m a lemon lover.

        Guess I’ll never forget that non-birthday either.

        Again, I don’t need or want things, but yanno – A special lemon something instead of a box of chocolates (which I don’t eat much of and he wound up eating himself) – is that too much to ask for?

  • I’ll never forget the way the X proposed to me 37 yrs ago. He was just graduating from college and wanted a wife to move with him while he took a job 1500 miles away. Don’t get me wrong – we had a yr long whirlwind relationship for a full year but it meant I’d have to leave my country, my family and everything I knew.

    The ‘proposal’ was SO romantic, I just have to mention it here – rather classic of what was to come…

    He said, “if you don’t marry me, I never want to see you again”. Full stop.

    Soo…me, the sucker said – well, I love the guy, don’t want to lose him but I sure never anticipated a proposal with an ultimatum attached.

    And, yup – as soon as we moved away from everything we knew, he became very very controlling.

  • Mine are too numerous to mention, but they don’t top this one.

    Someone I know, and her husband-to-be, planned to elope to a southern island, just the two of them. At the last minute, he invited his drinking buddy along, who actually said yes. How romantic is that, eh?

    I suppose that means there’s a woman out there who’s saying, “My first red flag was when my boyfriend got an invite from his drinking buddy …”

    • On the first vacation after our wedding, we went on an outdoorsy trip with another couple (his drinking buddy and long-suffering wife) and guess what – it was all drinking all the time while the wife appliances cooked and cleaned. For our “honeymoon” he wanted to re-visit the place he and his drinking buddy went to on a vacation the year before. Mine was a binger and he’d go months without a drop so his drinking problem stayed under the radar for a long time.

    • Triangulation. They can’t do one on one intimacy. They’ll invite others, make you compete for their attention—SEE! How important I am that they all FIGHT OVER ME! They do it with the kids, if you’ve ever felt like it’s “them and the kids against you”, that is intentional. If you feel like they are constantly “one upping” you with the kids, competing with you for the “who do you love best” trophy…they do it on purpose.

      It’s all Triangulation.

      If they put work in front of you and force you to jump through hoops for a little attention. Triangulation.

      If they put alcohol or drugs in front of you/your kids/family and make you compete for attention from that…triangulation.

      If you voice your concern about “just a friend”…that is the PERFECT triangulation. It gives them “the button” to push repeatedly when the kibble supply is running low. DANCE! UP YOUR GAME FOR ME!!

      If you never get invited to THEIR house….there is a clear warning right there that they either have a SO or a spouse/kids.

      If you get the

      Now that I am “out there”, even with friends, if I see this type of behavior directed at me, I am gone.

      Once, while dating Asshole….we made plans to go to a movie. Everything was set..I hadn’t seen him in almost a week. I was so excited!! I had to go and pick him up (yes, I know) because his truck was being “repaired)….I arrived and he answered his apartment door.

      I walk in and who is there….HIS EX GIRLFRIEND. He says to me…”Hey, sorry!! She called while you were en route (this was before cellphones) and she needs to talk….so…..can we do this movie thing some other time?”

      Yep. Chumpy me loved him, but I was crushed. Weirdly, it made me dance even harder at the time. I didn’t get infuriated like I should have. I didn’t stand up for myself and say to the XGF…get the fuck out of my boyfriend’s apartment and go find yourself someone else to talk to. You dumped him because you cheated on him (that is what he told me and I believed it)

      Turns out….HE cheated on HER and he was keeping her on the line, dancing pretty as well.

      Triangulation. HUGE, HUGE, HUGE red flag!!

      RUN!!!!!!!

  • I like to simplify, so here’s the advice I’d give myself on red flags:

    1) Trust your gut. If something feels off, then there’s most likely a red flag even if it’s not yet apparent.

    2) Financial issues of any kind.

    3) Not owning their own shit (first blaming something else before asking themselves if/how they contributed to the situation).

    4) Resentment.

    On a slightly different note, I can’t believe a) the crap that most of us chumps put up with, and b) how it’s possible that douchebag guys treat chump women so terribly, yet somehow I’ve yet to find a decent lady to date since booting my cheating stbxw out of the house! 🙂 Ladies, trust me when I tell you that there are chumped guys out there who aren’t a-holes!

    • Are there really? Where..? I dont see any. And back to a) they dose it very carefully. They dont shove a double decker shit sandwich down your throut right then and there. They love bomb, after youre hooked, they take it away, so youre completely confused and then the real fun begins. My ex always new when to put some honey on top of my shit sandwich so that I didnt notice, sometimes he was amazing for months (very careful, knowing I observe his every move) he’d wait till I put my guards down and then rip my heart out again.

        • 🙂 thanks for that. I think if all chumps knew that, we’d just trust that they suck much sooner..btw any pointers on how to recognize you? If there are red flags to spot cheaters there must be some on spotting the good guys. Help!, as apparently I cannot trust my judgment 🙂

  • I experienced the same things with the gifts. Close to Christmas XH was constantly dropping hints about what he wanted but never bothered to ask about anything I might like. Never once in 30 years together did he give me a carefully chosen present. One Christmas he bought me a pair of very large jeans….said he knew they were kind of big but that I would grow into them. And never a Mother’s Day gift because I’m “not his mother.” He could have taken my young son out and helped him find something for me.

    And the debt. He was entitled to buy anything because he hated his job so he should have nice things. Trucks, boats, fishing and hunting gear, campers, ATV’s. Lots of times he would purchase these items without my knowledge until after the fact. He also told me that if you didn’t go out and borrow money, you would never have anything. When he left me, he left ALL his stuff too. Apparently it didn’t bring him the happiness he was searching for after all.

  • I’ve had a bit of time to read the responses that came in fast and furious I may add. Overall, my ex exhibited many of the same things. Some things stick out which way back when should have made me run.

    When I was dating him at 17 – there was a knock on the door and he went to answer it. Some guy pulled him out of the house – beat him up yelling – “Keep away from my girlfriend”. He made excuses like I don’t know what he’s talking about – he’s got the wrong guy and I believed him. SPACKLE!

    He was constantly accusing me of cheating on him. If I wasn’t home at exactly 5:30 – I’d get the 5th degree and shamed – I couldn’t even stop at the market on the way home in fear that I’d have to deal with his wrath. It got to the point that I was afraid to do anything and walked on eggshells. I should have run back then, but I SPACKLED… When cell phones came into the picture it was great – I called said I’m going to stop for milk, and he’s seem peeved off that I even called to tell him that. Damed if you do damed if you don’t.

    FF Wedding day – I’m in the entrance of the church – see his Mom and ask – “Mom is Mike here”? I actually asked that question. She looked at me like I was crazy – I should have listened to my father because just that morning he said Kim – if you want to stop this you can there is no shame in it. I once again SPACKLED – “no Daddy – I love him”…grrrrrr

    Now, I get pregnant about 5 years later – and I ask for a rocking chair to rock the baby to sleep. You know what I got? A water bed mattress. I don’t know how the hell I was supposed to rock a baby to sleep on a water bed mattress. I was so disappointed – again.

    The cheating was constant and I was probably the biggest chump going because he’d come back and I’d take him back over and over again. I was thoughtful with every gift I got him, every party I threw him, and I never got anything in return but a card saying he loved me more than I know and a sentence of IOU dinner out or some bullshit like that. I was turning 40 and friend of mine asked what are you going to do for Kim for her birthday – He’s said I’m not throwing HER a party…

    I could go on and on, how he traded our microwave for a car, let his drunk buddy take my car home one night and the guy swung the door open when a car was coming and it got crunched – they managed to close the door, but I had to climb in over a stick shift for two years to get to work because we didn’t have the money to repair it. Didn’t let that guy take his truck – NOOOO – take my car – or better yet, hey pal, just sleep on the couch…

    How we had a new baby at home and he decided to quit his job of 10 years at a good solid company because he doesn’t like his female boss. She didn’t understand anything and was always on his back. I worked and worked saying it’s ok, I want you to be happy. You’ll find something that you love… SPACKLE Ho was probably screwing all the freaking girls in the neighborhood that summer. How he ruined every vacation we ever went on with some hurtful move.

    If I really think about this, it’s not his fault – it’s mine for ACCEPTING it. At anytime I had the ability to grow a sack and leave the situation – I didn’t because I loved him more than I loved myself. I had children with him a family. I was brought up that marriage was a sacred vow.

    I put up with many many abusive and horrible treatments because of this thing I called “LOVE”. What I didn’t realize is that it’s not love – it’s selfishness and entitlement and narcissistic crap.

    Now, I’m free and life has been PEACEFUL – I’m still very hurt, but healing takes time. I hope to get to the point of MEH – I’m 4 years out from a 30 year relationship and figure if the math is right I’ve got two more years to go.

    He’s remarried now to some white trash alcoholic sugar momma and both of them seem to be happy – traveling all the time, going out and really enjoying life.

    I’m enjoying life, but I have the responsibilities of my children all the expenses because they are over 18 – keeping a roof over my girls heads, feeding them, repairing and taking care of the property etc comforting them when they need help. He’s the dad who’ll text during a football game and say hey wasn’t that a great play.

    The disappointments while I was married to him were unending, they ate away at my self esteem and now I am trying my best to gain it back and move on to a better life with the knowledge I have gained through this whole process. It’s a journey for sure and my take is God is a fantastic artist. He wants something better for me and art can’t be rushed!

    Wishing everyone here on CN the best of everything for the future. xxoo

  • The basic thing to observe as a warning for any of us be it looking at a prospective partner or even just a new friendship is whether their behaviour is authentic or facade. You sometimes don’t even have to look hard or wait long for the “slips” that trigger that gut feeling that this is just not right.

    -Somebody who appears to be all gracious and when unaware of being observed you see expressions of disdain.

    -Seeming to be all friendly with his or your group of friends or workmates and then the subtle or blatant putdowns once out of their company.

    -The narration of how somebody did him or her wrong but never any self reflective critiques.

    -Tales of their derring do but never any tales of wonder where their role is secondary.

    -Love bombing yes but unusual sullen moments when the bombed one is not appearing to be overly charmed or enthusiastic.

    -Big lovely extravagant gestures in public places but not so apparent in an intimate arena.

    -The treatment of service industry personnel when not getting his way is rude and dismissive.

    – Jokes that seem out of place or inappropriate for the audience.

    – Never apologizing in a meaningful way.

    -Seemingly endless supply of money or spending but heavy debt load

    And the blank shark eyed stare not necessarily directed at you but once you see that come out RUNNNN…..

  • Thought about how many here said moving fast in the beginning this morning. I met him as a sales rep that called on his grocery store 26 years ago, He managed it and his parents owned it. After work, myself and a few other sales reps and customers would go for drinks at this watering hole in the city. One night after this happened, he invited us all over to his place for a BBQ, he had a swimming pool in his back yard where we all mingled to that night, when the party started to wind down and I was about to leave, he came up to me and pushed me into his pool. I was fully clothed with heels on, I was pissed of course as he laughed at me and told me he was sorry and to come in and he’ll give me something to change in to and use his dryer to dry my clothing. He then joked saying, that’s away to get a girls clothes off. Nothing happened that night between us but when I changed and was waiting for my clothes to dry, he went and changed and came out wearing this terry towel wrap around his waist, just covered his behind and front. He sat down on the couch and made sure his cock could be seen by me. It was uncomfortable to say the least and I left really soon after that. From that night on, he stalked me, called me always apologizing for what he did, offered to buy me new shoes because mine got ruined in the pool. After a month of this, I caved and started to have feelings for him, I moved into his house within 3 months.

    • They get a kick out of hearing ‘NO’ apparently.. I met mine on the project we were doing. He worked in the field i worked in the office. He was super nice cute and hitting on me but I wasnt interested. He wasnt giving up. Left me his number on the desk which i ignored, but he was texting, emailing, coming to the office..One night he called and ask to go out for a beer, I said i wouldnt so he pulled ‘oh im in a foreign country would love a beer and a chat’ I said ok but really wasnt looking fwd to that.. I kind of felt I had to (my duty was to make crew happy.. Well not that happy) anyway we met and he instantly grabbed my hand, at a bar he licked my ear, I refused to kiss him, he walked me back and invited himself into my apartment saying hed sleep on a couch as he didnt know how to get back to his place. I didnt let him in so he said hell sleep on the staircase. You know the rest. I didnt sleep with him that night but we kisses and all..from that moment I was in..i guess it has to do with us chumps thinking if their so determined maybe they deserve a chance. Then afterwards theres great sex and love bombing..by the time he was leaving i was completely intoxicated. It took 9 years until just 2weeks ago (dday). Last saturday was supposed to be our wedding.

      • Was Dday why you called off the wedding? OMG…this must be so very traumatic but just think that you saved yourself from having children with him and a divorce later on, because he would have cheated anyway. You´re lucky not to have procreated with him. Your story really goes to show how we need to follow our gut. Your body was screeming NO several times and that was his challenge! Hugs for you…take good care of yourself.

        • Thank you Chumpnomore.. Yes I called it off next day, informed parents and friends and didn’t really spare the details. I thought I am not going to let him sell his story. It was quite a shock. Especially finding out (whilst packing) from his daughter that he brought OW to the apartment.. in the middle of the night. This has been going for couple weeks so I found out pretty fast. locked all communication and threatened I’d kill him if he came anywhere near me. We had problems before but I thought he just had commitment issues (which I believed we got past when he proposed).. I feel Ive lost 9 years but yes you’re right It could have been much worse if I married him. I have wonderful friends and family, none can believe what he did (everybody loved him..), but their support is 100% with me. Haven’t heard from him since. Waiting for my Meh. 🙂

          • Don´t worry..you may have lost 9 years but most people on this blog have lost 2 or 3 decades or more. The way I see it now, is that all of us chumps had to learn a lesson in self -love and self-respect. I am sure that people who are strong in those areas will dump whoever treats them badly in an instant. Chumps don´t. We stay on and try to fix people, or give excuses and stay on because we can´t believe that anyone could harm the person they married in such a way….but you learned your lesson “quickly” and without as many side effects as people who have been married for years and have to continue parenting with the looser. So take advantage of that and love yourself more, even better…marry yourself and treat yourself how you would like your future partner to treat you…and don´t accept less. Many hugs…take care!

            • wow.. I’ll be printing this x2 and glueing to my wall and carrying in my wallet. Words of wisdom. ‘Marry yourself’ – How wonderful that sounds!! Thank you so much! Yes I thought I will fix him. And then I thought “I wasted my life” or my “best years” or my “youth” to this a-hole. I can see now I actually am lucky to not spend decades in this creepy roller coaster.. Im only 35.. Spent majority of my adult life with him so it just felt like its my whole life.., but of course it is not. I will look into future (hopefully) with an open heart but putting myself first. always. I apologize to myself for forgetting that. Hugs and cheers!

  • Love bombing. Definitely. On our third date, she told me that when she first saw me, a little voice inside her head told her I’d be her husband. She repeated this story to all friends and family.

    She sold the idea that our love was “better” than the love others shared. It was somehow more genuine. It was a love like she never experienced before! She saw visions during climax!

    Crazy. But I was dumb enough to eat it all up, with minor skepticism. I figured I’d vet her. Three years together before I proposed. Surely all those sentiments were authentic if she was still saying them by the time I proposed, and then still saying them 2 years into marriage…right!

    Wrong.

    At 3.5 years, she was telling something similar to someone new.

    I was no longer unique and special. I was, in her words, “like a roommate.”

    Fail, JC.

    • Your ex sounds like Fucktard’s Literary Genius OWhore. She saw visions during sex too.

      “It was like a bomb went off. And I was inside the bomb. It was . . . all my senses were maximally stimulated. It was sound and taste and scent and touch and light. And the light was . . . not blinding . . . it was flowing like a torrent. Like a tall strong waterfall. Only it was falling up and out and away. It was flowing from me. Blue and white and sharp and bright and flowing in a torrent from my chest and belly. . . ”

      Yeah. Some orgasm.

      Later on, she had visions of her aura bending with his during church services. “It felt like sex with you!” she wrote

  • I got a Very Early Clear Warning Sign, that I stupidly ignored. Dufuss was dressed as a vampire the first time I ever met him. It was at a Halloween party about a million years ago.

  • Uh oh. Me thinks perhaps my picker is broken. A lot of this sounds like my current boyfriend. No friends. check. No gifts. Check. Makes a lot more money than me and I’m a single mom and he moved in with me and contributes to none of my bills. check. Horny goat? check. check.

  • I guess this is the stuff that does my head in. Cheater was a truly great partner for twenty-one years. Kind, strong, considerate, a great dad, honest (well…..) did close to his share at home as I did mine in our business, good communicator, fantastic lover, sexy as fuck, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Even during his fifteen month long fuck fest with my “friend” – go figure. What the fuck are the warning signs for that? When all seems well, when the sex is still mutually amazing, when you communicate with him, assuming he is communicating back in kind, when you have always discussed cheating, cheating exes, cheating acquaintances, cheating ad nauseum? And he did it anyway, and after the “friend” lets me know, after he dumps her, THEN he is deeply disgusted in himself and works his arse off to “fix” his shit, and the agony and danger he put me in. There really were very few red flags, we were really great 99% of the time. How do you fix your picker then? I thought I was onto it, and had a fantastic bullshit detector. But there’s always one that seems able to sidestep it, huh? And then you have to build the walls even higher…. Fuck him

    • Oh Wow – HorsesAreCumin. I’m one of those that reads this and wonders how you possibly could have had problems if you had regular sexual relationships in your life. Like, that’s the mot romantic, affectionate, loving, involved thing you could do, right? Talk about INTIMACY! Ok – jealous here. Most people here know I was married 35 yr w/o sex, so I’m always fascinated how this could happen to people who HAD sex. I’m one of those myth-builders – if you don’t give the guys sex, he’ll find another way, but don’t get me wrong – >I< was the one that wanted sex. I gave him 'sex' 3 times a wk but never intercourse.

      So, you fascinate me beyond belief. It seems to me (and not to compare hurt-scales) but that it would be so much harder to split up after having a good sex life. I just.don't.get.it! Not even a little bit. In fact, if we'd been having regular sex and he cheated on me, I think that would be more devastating than not having sex at all.

      Anyway, I was actually devasted when he left me for another women (bff) and not a man.
      I came to the conclusion early on that I was his 'beard'.
      No matter – didn't do me any good.

      • Shechump, don’t ever underestimate the ability to be intimate – and not not just sexually, but including fabulous sex – with more than one person at a time. Sounds crazy, but apparently it is quite simple. And I do actually get it. The fact of the matter is, it is a long time here for me, six-and-nearly-a-half years since Dday. And I am still as devastated – maybe more if that is possible and I am honest – than I was on that night. Sex wasn’t the only amazingly great thing about us, we were a really great couple, still very in love, he had a breakdown, did some shitty stuff … then kept doing it for a long time before sorting his shit out. The OW (my dear ‘friend’) told me after he dumped her. Nice. Meh is looking ever less likely as the years peel on by, and by God have I chased it! I am sorry for your story, that is terribly sad.

        • ha, horsesercumin: quote: “Shechump, don’t ever underestimate the ability to be intimate – and not not just sexually, but including fabulous sex – with more than one person at a time.”

          Hey – I remember dating when I was single (a long time ago). I was a mad woman, loved sex – didn’t we all. Don’t we STILL!. Yes. My vibrator even knows my name nowadays.

          I still can’t think of myself as Single yet. (refuse to call myself divorced) and for sure, wouldn’t it be fun to pick up a guy or two at our local pubs down the street here (we have a great street of pubs). Hard to wrap my head around that but, you are right, Horse, I could have sex 3 times a night and only >I< would know.

          Couldn't do more than one guy at a time though 😉

          Actually, since I'm remodeling a little house at the moment, I can't believe I'm as horny as a 17 yr old looking at these Adonis', with 8-pack bellies, tattoos up the wha-hoo of great muscled arms (they wear shirts with no sleeves)…so, well, whatever, that rather thrills me. I think I"ll keep remodeling..

          I just do NOT feel as old as my age.

        • I’m sorry, but my above comment is complete bullshit. I do not ever want another relationship again. Yes, be fun to fuck a worker on a lunch break, but he’d probably be married and I’m not even one to go there (a guy 20 yrs younger? – ugh for him). I can’t imagine ever having sex again, frankly. And, I don’t see myself with another relationship again. I just cannot get over the trust thing. I can trust my dogs and family, and I guess that’s enough for me. Good luck to you all who keep trying though.
          Sex? well, again – that’s my vibrator and I will continue to use it as there’s no point in losing ‘it’.

  • Looking back with new sadder but much wiser eyes, this is what I noticed about serial cheater Narcboy.
    Not talking about his divorce which had been half a year ago back then and showing serious anger when the subject came up by chance.
    Reluctance/reticence of colleagues to say anything when his name came up. They knew something I did not.
    Very compartmentalized life.
    Hot/cold behavior; emotionally holding on to me as though a lifeline, then casting me aside this happened the very last day before OW randomly showed up
    Constantly volunteering, unasked, to help with stuff, then not showing up nor calling
    Hypocrisy: wanting to appear like a true enviro to all and sundry publicly but not living his truth
    Alternate praise and resentment for who I am
    Using colleagues: asking others to cover classes then never reciprocating

  • Wow I must have nailed 10 out of 10 on that list….
    We dated for only a few weeks when we married.
    He never told me about his previous girlfriends.
    I bought all the groceries and paid all the bills for 28 years.
    His gift for Christmas, (drum roll please)…. a bottle of fish oil
    I kid you not…fish oil

  • My D day WAS on our anniversary earlier this year!! The divorce petition has May 15, 2009 date of marriage/May 15, 2015 date of separation.

  • #5 Biggest blind spot for me. I mistook intellectual depth for emotional intelligence.
    *eyeroll* Silly me.

    I’ve been browsing these articles for a few days. I would love to read something on the lack of emotional intelligence these people have even if they are extremely intelligent and bright.
    In some way its facinating to know some people have a mature or even slightly advanced mental ability but it’s coupled with the emotional maturity of a child.
    If you’ve ever seen an intelligent smart grown ass man slump down scowling and pouting like a little boy when confronted then you know what I’m talking about.
    Thus springs the foundation of a Narc. A highly inflated ego coupled with a crippling inferiority complex due to (quite literally and i hate saying it this way) emotional retardation.
    *facepalm*
    It’s can be very dangerous.

    • I’m tempted to stay with mine just to start school for Psychology and use him as the subject of my end of year dissertation on Narcissicism and low EI. I’m sure he’d love that display of public attention. Power point and all.
      ” For Exhibit A we have the subject specimen. Notice his crossed arms and pouty scoul. He thought he was here to talk about how to navigate life with confidence but unbeknownst to him I wanted to display an example of what to look for when the ego of said subjects aren’t stroked but held accountable.”