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Dear Chump Lady, When dating, how do I know if someone is a cheater?

baddateDear Chump Lady,

Is there a fool-proof way to test people for this cheating fuck-wittedness disorder, before we get hooked by them? (Like with vampires, where you can hold a mirror up to them and see they have no reflection). Do these people represent a third of the population? Are they difficult to detect? Will I ever be sure the next one isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Gorilla Poop

Dear GP,

Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice if we had a field guide to monsters, complete with antidotes? Like you just have to drive a stake of holly through their hearts, problem solved! Alas, it’s not that simple. Cheaters don’t come with forehead tattoos. You have to use your powers of discernment. Or as we say around here — “fix your picker.”

Will you ever be 100 percent certain that someone isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing? No. But that’s a chumpy way to frame the problem — certainty about someone else. Instead, fixing your picker is about YOU. Know how to enforce your boundaries when you encounter a red flag and then watch very carefully how this person reacts. Picker fixing is putting down the spackle (what you want to believe about this person) and paying attention to actions. Judge people by their actions. Does he take responsibility for his mistakes? Is she kind to the waitstaff? Does he live beyond his means? Does she apologize? Does he work hard at his job? Is she sober?

Actions reveal character.

In the process of picker refinement, remember that no one is perfect. Any two people are going to experience some conflict at some point. So when those issues arise, watch what happens next. If you enforce a boundary — how does this person react? Do you get the three channels of mindfuckery? Rage, charm, or self-pity? Or is this person capable of self-reflection? Most important, do they care if they hurt you? Do they want to please you? Does the relationship feel reciprocal?

Generally, when someone asks this question, what they want is a list of red flags for cheating. (We can give you those in a moment…) But the fact is, some people are good at concealing double lives. What they are NOT good at concealing is superficiality and lack of character. So know your worth. Know what you will tolerate. Know how to enforce your boundaries. You control that, and if you don’t put up with shit, fact is character disordered people probably won’t want you. They’ll move on to easier prey and better kibble supply. They don’t want to work that hard.

Now then — for the shady signs someone is cheating. CN — please add your own in the comments!

  1. They’re bad at time management. If they cancel dates or can’t commit to next weekend? Red flag. Juggling a double life requires lots of flexibility.
  2. They’re secretive about their technology. The phone is glued to them. It’s always on silent. They take it to the bathroom.
  3. They have a lot of exes who are “friends.” They keep a large circle of auxiliary kibble supply. Yes, I believe people can think fondly of their exes, but I don’t believe that healthy people in healthy relationships spend significant amounts of time and centrality on exes.
  4. They have a lot of exes who are “batshit crazy.” If this person’s marriage ended because “bitch be crazy” or some other nebulous slur? I’d want specifics. If every person who got ever close to them was hideously flawed and horrible, and their bosses don’t understand them, and you’re the only super, special person they can let their guard down with to love again? RUN.
  5. They’re okay with lack of reciprocity. If you’re working hard to please this person, if you’re picking up the check, if you’re lending them money, if your gifts are more thoughtful and extravagant than their gifts? If this person is A Okay with you doing the lion’s share of ANYTHING? RUN.

Cheating is about entitlement. You see entitled behavior? That should be all the red flag you need — NEXT.

And remember, there is always a next. Never feel like you need a relationship to complete you. That notion makes you prone to spackle. There’s nothing so lonely as being invested in a cheater. Know your worth, GP! And good luck!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I can’t commend this article enough… and not just because of my X. After the X (and in an emotionally weak state), I dated another girl who was many of these things. She eventually settled down and some of them abated, but I kept a close watch and – sure enough – when I was off travelling, she strayed. Turned out she has mild BPD and has all the traits that go with it. I made excuses for her at first (we all spackle), and then sorted myself out before letting her slowly slip away with as little drama as possible. You can feel sorry for people with issues (and some of them may be a factor in why they cheat), but you shouldn’t feel responsible for them or allow yourself to be sucked into thinking your happiness depends upon them (which can be a very powerful feeling at the time).

    • You are doing what I think all we chumps are bad at. Letting someone without our values go. I’ve always had a hard time ending any relationship even if it was bad. Felt that I should forgive and help that person grow. It took getting royally screwed over to help me change my thoughts. Well, Chump Lady and CN helped me realize that i’m not responsible for them and it’s ok to let damaged people go. It would be a miracle for you to get someone to change anyway.

      • Lostntx
        Me too. It took daily visits to this site and reading CL book for me to know it’s ok to get myself off the hook of helping and saving him.
        I didn’t even know I was different until he just got back from two months away (dday July 10, divorce underway).
        He came back, I felt triggered, found out he had lied again and that’s it- something inside me shifted and I knew all hope had died. He is who he is and I don’t want him. I want to be on my own. Now I don’t really feel angry or punitive. I will just wait until the divorce is final and will move on.
        I got chumped but thanks to all here I am beginning to see my value.
        Thank heavens for the UBT.

        • And I thought he was broken or would implode if I stopped helping him but now I see he’s actually just fine! Sleeping, eating, laughing – AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED.
          He didn’t need rescuing. I did.

        • Capricorn,

          It sounds like you are not really trying gray rock. I hope you are okay. Are you able to get away from him again – like send him to a hotel, or say with friends? You mention you caught him in another lie. Until you get some space from him the healing can’t really start. Take care.

          • Hey Ian. I am ashamed to admit he is now thinking he can come back weekends while working in Europe and have Christmas with us before returning to the Far East in january for the long term. Trouble is the boys are happy to see him. Usually he is only home for a few weeks a year.
            I am so not grey rock more technicolor marshmallow. But that’s on me so I need to man up. Sigh.

            • Just be cautious Capricorn. He may be eating, sleeping and laughing like nothing has happened for now. Your divorce is still underway and its ugly consequences have not yet been felt by him. These types don’t understand the brutality of consequences until they have been fired from a job, physically kicked out by a spouse or ignored by their children. THEN, they get it. Their tiny minds simply cannot comprehend that there will be payback for their shitty behavior. Once the hammer falls, they have so few emotional resources to fall back on, that they go into a deep funk, dare I say, a clinical depression. I have had this scenario played out by a covert narc in my life. It’s not pretty.

              • Capricorn, I briefly tried having ex over for tuesday night dinner to help the boys adjust after he moved out for OW. It was so wrong, so confusing for my boys and so painful for me I stopped it after 2 weeks. Please consider telling him to get a hotel room or stay with a friend and see your boys by himself. They will cope, but you’re just prolonging the pain by having him stay with you.

              • Tflan – ‘These types don’t understand the brutality of consequences until they have been fired from a job, physically kicked out by a spouse or ignored by their children. THEN, they get it.’

                Thank you for this. The only thing I seem to be curious about is whether the X is happy about his decision or does he regret everything. Of course, I have no way of finding out. But, during his 3 year ‘fling’, he became just ecstatic when he arrived home from a weekend with her (unbekownst to me), was all excited, putting music on like ‘Johnny be Good’ and danced to it. It was very odd behavior since he just got home from a ‘business’ function. Inappropriate behavior that left me scratching my head.

                Once the divorce started, he went downhill really quickly. He was nervous all the time and his mellow voice turned into a raised holler every time I talked to him on the phone. He shaved his head, gained weight and looked sallow. I think he finally ‘got’ the consequences and he was not happy. ha! I really don’t think he thought I’d go so bad-ass on him so quickly and kick him out immediately and his family told me he wasn’t doing well emotionally and it showed up in his physique and more odd behaviors.

                Now that he’s all alone without any of our former friends, any of my family and many of his family who rejected him, I wonder how happy he is and if he thinks of what he threw away for the instant (entitled) consequences. I think he thought he could beat the divorce outcome monetarily, and that sure never worked. I had all the goods on him, thanks to lining up my ducks.

                So, I get pleasure when I read stuff like this in a morbid pleasurable way, that he’s all on his own – got his freedom, just like he wanted. My sister said, quit it – he’s moved on. Well, I don’t think so.

            • Try not to beat yourself up, Capricorn. Did. you have sex with him when he got back? You sound different.

              I keep coming back here because I have some experience strength and hope to share. I always joke around, but I keep an eye out for the newcomer. It’s important for me to give back a little of what I’ve learned here. And what I’ve learned is this stuff can be deadly.

              You are obviously clever. I am going to guess you have enough resource to get away. There are at least two other chumps just today who seem to be “linining up ducks” in their mind. But when I read it it seems they are stalling. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Sleeping with a known cheater risks a deadly STI. And after all, it’s only money. There is no perfect moment. It’s agonizing to see y’all flailing.

              I hope every chump reading this knows I want the best for y’all. Leave a

              • I feel like Ian is like the homeland security force of chumpville. When I read whatever Ian writes, it feels like a protective big brother.

                Thanks, Ian.

              • Hey Ian. I am subdued I guess but no I haven’t slept with him. I am physically cautious around him careful even not to be to close or actually let any part of me touch any part of him. He will not be here past this week as I asked him not to be. It was hard as he is such a sad sausage. I also might be different here as sometimes I think he may read here. He knows from others I like this site. I guess I do feel a bit trapped.

              • Capricorn,

                So sorry to hear you’re struggling. I was a shambles a year ago this week. Life is still an uphill slog, and I and still not divorced. I reached out to you yesterday because your pain is palpable. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how to best navigate that split. I do know that there are many women and men here who have.

                If you are worried he might be reading that’s understandably worrying. You can change your user name on a daily basis maybe. You can go to the forums for more real-time support. Also in the forum, you might find a meetup in your area. If you go to the forums and post and anonymous email address (I recommend, but any anonymous address will do) Tempest can swap emails with other women so you can chat more freely. There are a number of things to do to help you feel so not alone. Also, did someone you know tell him about this place? If so, they can’t be trusted. Divorce is war, Capricorn. You have to be a mama bear and a soldier. You can say no more – Indesrve better. Get on your boots and start kicking ass!

            • Capricorn, it’s tough having to be in close proximity with the cheater ex for whatever reason, like to facilitate him spending time with the kids if he is on a short visit to the US. No wonder you are subdued, having to be on your guard while he stays in your home. You must be drained,in addition to having feelings and memories stirred up. I guess part of this experience for you may be to manage to keep that distance and your heart safely within its fortress WITHOUT anger as a crutch. Real tough but you will manage. Remember you are the good one and the sane one. Good luck.

              • Where is the forum ?

                My estranged hubby still comes around. It’s not fun at all. I try to be kind & polite, but that’s about all.

                He tries to act as if all is normal, I am complete financially depended on him, (( I’ve never worked in my life)) & as neither want to D as we have been married a very ling time. We live apart.

                If someone met my hubby I doubt held cheat again, & I doubt held cheat on me again, he ended up loosing too much, as well as he saw first hand how it destroyed me and put me thu Dante inferno.
                He has to look in the mirror everyday as he says, and he doesn’t like what he knows looks back.

                He also realized that it talks a life time to build a reputation and one mistake to ruin it .
                But none of this can change what he did in our marriag…

      • I can relate. My mother used to say I was a sucker for lost causes. This whole experience has certainly cured me of that (mostly). My X honed his “pity” channel skills to a masterful level, which is how he kept hooked every time I would ask to end the relationship (on at least an annual basis).

        • My mom said that and I was a creep magnet. I think I need to find another bleeding heart to save the world with instead of rescuing. Ha ha! That is a down the road worry, freedom first.

        • Tempest, my mother told me from the time I could understand that I was a bad seed. I somehow think that, that alone is what moulded me into who I am but I am not sure. In order to be compliant and likeable, I bowed down to almost everyone and everything that came my way including the ex and our 2 children. I didn’t want to appear to be the monster that my mother said I was, which of course I am not and never have been. Hindsight is a wonderful thing ! 🙂

          • I can’t believe how many similarities we have Maree, I grew up being told I was a bad seed.
            I believe our upbringing has something to do with how our lives turned.
            It’s more than a coincidence.
            Once I married then had my son, my life revolved around them. I was willing to sacrifice myself to prove I was a nice, devoted wife and mother. Keeping peace in the home by spackling.
            The end result of not having any boundaries or expectations is a lack of respect.
            Yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing. =)

            • brit, yes we do have a lot of similarities but I genuinely believe that we are very decent people. We have jumped through hoops all our lives to prove our worth. We don’t need to do that anymore because we know our worth. ((HUGS to you Brit))

          • That is horrible, Maree & Brit. Parents demeaning children is unforgivable, and bound to affect us our whole lives. I was certainly never perfect enough for my father, who was abundant with his criticism, but it’s worse when it’s the same-sex parent saying it–the parent who is supposed to be our role model.

            • When I was a little girl, if someone told me I was “pretty”, my mother corrected them “She is pretty damn ugly and pretty apt to stay that way”.

              And now she wants my money and to live with me vs a Nursing Home.

              Can we all see the single word sentence that I respond with?


              • Unicornomore, it’s horrible hearing that a mother could say that about her child. What kind of person thinks it’s ok to demean and criticize their child? I am so sorry that your mother spoke to you and about you that way when you were a vulnerable child. But I’m so glad that you now have a wonderful man in your life who treats you the way you deserve to be treated, you’re standing up to your abusive mother, and that you’re forging a mighty new life for yourself!

          • I was told I was “found at the garbage dump.” We actually had a small garbage dump in our community and we had to drive past it a lot on our way home to the Projects. I was also constantly told I was adopted. My siblings have since apologized for all that they said to me, BUT my mom never stopped them. And she added more abuse by telling me and of course my female siblings, but not the male that she “couldn’t wait until we moved out!” We did my school shopping at the Goodwill, but my mom had money to go out dancing and drinking. I had one dress that I wore each day to school in second grade. It was ripped at the bottom, but I had no idea how to fix it and to ask to have it fixed would get me in trouble for asking for too much. I took a freezing cold bath one time, because I was afraid to tell my sister who ran my bath that it was too cold. My brother beat the shit out of me a lot of times, but now he says he “doesn’t remember” but one time. Hello? Can you see why I accepted gaslighting by my ex? I was spanked by my mom and siblings with red marks on my body to prove it. I purposely try not to spank my kids even though the church encourages it. My son, he got a few swats on the butt and hand, but I felt bad about it. My daughter, one swat on her behind and she cried and I felt bad and never did that again. My kids were brought up in a home with encouragement. No abuse to each other or from me. If they screwed up, I always tried to be understanding and encouraged trying better next time. Neither one of my kids ever hit each other. For the most part, they are loving and encouraging of each other. My families motto is “that is what siblings do to each other.” No, that is not the truth. My siblings fed off my parents treatment of each other and treated me the same. Years of being devalued set me up for many relationships with narc friends, boyfriends and my lying cheating ex-husband. My siblings only did what they learned. My parents learned this shitty way of treating each other from their parents and on and on it goes. I’m hoping I broke the cycle, but my kids are not “perfect and special” like my cheating and lying ex. So, I’m guessing the picked up from our relationship that women are not valued and moms do everything for the family unselfishly without complaining.

          • OMG! How can a mom say such things to their child? I’m sooooo sorry you all experience such.

            Something my mom told me,
            ” it’s not so important the family you come from, as it is the family you make…”

  • Time management always blows me away. How do serial cheaters manage a double life?

    Predators are always looking. They are opportunists. It’s always about power and control.

    The devaluing is subtle. Over time what was once unacceptable becomes natural.
    This is why boundaries are so important to practice.

    • My STBX was diabolical about this: as soon as we moved to a new city and he started a new job, he built cheating time into his schedule. He blamed his long hours on work and his commute. I was struggling with setting up house, 3 kids, school, and establishing our family. He was meeting strangers for sex. When he moved to long term affairs, the time was built into his schedule.

      • Yes, as a wife, I always looked for a sudden change that might signal cheating….what I didn’t know is that he had worked it in from the very beginning, so there was no “change”.

        Moving and settling houses with little kids – monumental task…one memory I now wince at was when we moved on our 5th wedding anniversary…the day of the move, I did everything, with 2 little kids underfoot. I delegated him the task of getting rid of the propane tank. He was gone 3-4 hours and returned WITH the tank and an excuse that no one would take it. At the time I dismissed it as simple “cluelessness” but now I see classic cheater behavior.

        • Oh yes. Dr. Crazy plays that clueless “absentminded professor” so well. And couple that with the utter sparkliness of his ability to give people a new life, having been given up for adoption to a “poor” couple, and plenty of money for love bombing and future faking and you have everyone, including all his chump wives, kids and friends spackling like crazy. While he enjoys the well-controlled “messiness” of his perverted lie-filled personal, professional and financial life. Enabled Clusterf— B indeed.

          • A job in academia provides the perfect flexible schedule for cheaters, ample contact time spent with young, adoring students, and the ego-trip necessary to pull off infidelity with savoir faire.

            • I am at a major academic conference now and after a session I tried to ask the old fart who gave his talk a question. He was ‘busy’ and standing next to him with a adoring look in her protective eyes was a young beautiful grad student. I thought of you, Tempest.

          • Absent minded professor, funny how they come up with the same routines.
            I remember his absent minded professor act he used a few times when things weren’t adding up. I was brainwashed into believing him no matter how obvious and stupid he acted or what lame excuse he came up with.
            Airline pilots, goes without saying, opportunity all over the world. X would come home with stories of other crew members and their indiscretions or full blown affairs, married men with GF’s in other countries. X had so much empathy for their wives. Sometimes he thought theses me and what they were doing was funny..
            I did notice when we would travel, X was quick to point out the prostitutes in the hotel lobby or outside the hotel. He could spot them from our hotel window and tell me in detail how they operate. Always thought it interesting that he knew so much about them.
            Too much for just a casual observer. Wouldn’t surprise me..

        • So true, Unicornnomore! They do build it into their schedules. I too, thought he might be “clueless” about simple tasks. Car washing often took 3-4 hours due to “the long lines,” or a simple haircut took a good 2 hours, again because of the long wait. I was so, so trusting. It really never occurred to me that he was a bold-faced liar. I just couldn’t imagine that. Now that I wash my own car (including vacuuming the interior), I realize how utterly unrealistic those time spans are.

          • One of the things that made me realize that I needed to get divorced was realizing that I would spend the rest of my life in the roll of Marriage Police trying to make a judgement call on every trip to the post office, haircut, Target run etc. about whether it was completed in a reasonable amount of time or if it took just a little too long and I should be suspicious about where he was. It was exhausting for the short amount of time I did do it and I am so relieved to not need to worry about it any more.

            One of my Ex’s favorites was hanging out with the guys after the game on Sunday. He would go to watch a game at like 10 AM on the west coast, and would claim he got too drunk and needed to sober up before he got home. He would essentially disappear for hours and it was torture for me milling around the house wondering where he really was and when he was coming home. This fall I have had so many “I’m so glad I’m divorced” moments, because I don’t spend a chunk of my Sunday wondering what the hell he is up to and trying to deal with the anger and anxiety. It’s so calm and peaceful.

      • The cheating time was always built into his schedule. When I spoke to his latest whore I told her about the CODE words.

        At the GYM. This offered three hours of down time a day. He also met women there.

        The area I’m in has no cell SERVICE.

        I was pricing a JOB.

        His service business offered him the flexibility to lead a double life.

        • I never figured out the code. Not that I would warn anyone anyway.
          Now I assume that everything is a lie unless proven otherwise.

          • 1) Gym, increasing my time on the bike, “added more tim/reps to my routine”.

            2) Visiting Mom-bad sorry we’re not able to talk or get through. phone connection.

            3) I’ll be getting in late, going to stay the night at the hotel near the airport
            as not to wake you when I come in. I can get some sleep then go to the
            gym on my way home.

            4) Spent the day at the book store/library. “I like to read and have a coffee”

            5) I’m going hiking, (all day) on my own. All 25 miles, sorry, I know you don’t
            hike that far. Hike became a weekly routine without any regard for me.
            My suggestion to go hiking as a family was turned down. He only likes to hike
            long difficult hikes…

            6) Began spending more and more time grooming himself in front of the mirror.
            Suddenly his work out clothes became more important to him. He went from
            old no-name, un matching worn t-shirts and shorts to expensive work out clothes,
            fluorescent colors and matching ensembles, getting his hair cut once a week.

            • Mine too- and he went mental when I queried his fitted(???) shirts after 16 years of baggy t-shirts cos of his ‘ moobs ‘and then he started wearing a man bag ? like he was going to college with the hip kids ……

              • At one time his gym clothes were hideous, mis matched, stained, thin, they looked like cleaning rags. I would buy him gym clothes and he would insist I take them back, telling me that he went to the gym to work out not to pick up on anyone.., that he liked his old gym clothes, “he likes old things.”
                He’s say that in reference to me since I’m four years older than him.
                Evidently he changed his thinking and prefers new young things. While wearing florescent matching gym ensembles.

          • Oh Geode this brings back painful memories! My ex not only had “extra cases” that often got “bumped by an emergency Caesarean” but had “paperwork” that needed to be done at the office late at night or weekends. I clearly remember thinking “if I didn’t know my husband was a good man, I’d think he was cheating”.
            Trouble was, the only reason I thought he was a good man was that he kept telling me so. That’s another red flag – if you need to tell people how honest and ethical you are, you probably aren’t.

            • Oh Vastra… He told me so and so did his patients. But not his friends or family. When we announced our engagement, one of his sons told his father very seriously “don’t screw this one up.” I missed that red flag too.

            • Yes, I heard that he was a man of integrity every chance he got to tell me. Whenever I had a doubt in my mind about him fooling around I’d shrug my shoulders and think, no, not my husband, he’s a man of integrity, sound character and high moral standards, after all, doesn’t he mention it or rather lecture me on his virtues at least once a week.. honest people don’t need to advertise.

              • Excellent point Brit. Honest people don’t need to advertise. I got “I was cheated on in my last marriage and it broke my heart; I’d never do that to you.” Well, he was the cheater in that marriage, my marriage and every other relationship he’s ever had. The right words (lie) at the right time.

              • Oh the bullshit lectures about integrity, a moral compass, loyalty he gave me and his kids. Funny how I have been able to live my entire life as a decent person without spending time even thinking about integrity and loyalty, let alone talking about that ceaselessly with my partner. It was always part of me, no need to talk about it. But he grilled me about all of this and fidelity when we were dating. Wanted to know if I had ever cheated. No one else had ever asked me this. I interpreted it to mean he had been cheated and suffered. But that was just me putting a good spin on it. He was grooming me to see how naive I was..

  • Thanks for this Chumplady! … It will probably be a looong time before I date again but this is a great guide to prevent rechumping… And it sounds like you are describing my stbxh. Too bad I can’t stamp “cheater” across his forehead. Maybe I can request that in the divorce settlement?

  • I never met ONE girlfriend from X’s past. And he never talked about an old girlfriend from middle, high or college with any fondness. It was a huge clue that once he found someone else to worship him, was done with me, I would also cease to exist.

    Dang those pesky children we had together that demands he acknowledge me as his mother.

      • (I was his mother too. Ugh. The other day I was thinking “WHEN is he going to run out of clothes that I bought him?” It cannot happen soon enough.)

        • Mine solved that problem he had his AP take him to the US and buy him a new (designer label) wardrobe and left all of his old clothes here. Shake my head….

        • From the time we were married, I purchased every single piece of clothing worn by X, down to his underwear! When he needed new suits, I preselected based on his color choice and had them waiting, so he wouldn’t waste any of his precious time on unimportant things like what to wear. I was raised by my narc mom to be a chump, so I didn’t even realize how bad it was. As much as I still hate OW, I also realize the favor she did for me by showing me his true self. Why wasn’t I able to see this on my own, though? This question still bothers me.

          • Violet
            Did you answer your own question?
            Why wasn’t I able to see this on my own……’raised by a narc mom’.
            I’m getting the idea that those of us raised by one or more narc parents were ripe fodder for the disordered.
            We couldn’t see. Never had anything other to judge it against. Until now.

          • Violet, I bet you took care of all of the laundry, dry cleaning and mending too. I did. These were some of the 5 million ways I tried to get him to appreciate me.

            • I did all of these things to, plus yard work, wood, raising children, so when he came home all he had to do was relax, as he had been working all week.
              But I did all of these things out of love, I did these things ‘cuz I wanted to.
              I did these things for 28 yrs, thinking all was good. I then found out things weren’t so good, he had been having an affair for 1.5 yrs.
              Now I look back and wonder if my whole marriage was real ?

              • Same! After d-day we had a VERY deep and long and difficult conversation about the state of the marriage and came to many conclusions. In my case apparently it was a not understanding on either side of why things were being done by each of us. And I did many homemakery type things to make him happy and feel loved but he just never saw it that way. I’m not sure about anyone else’s ex but my h just didn’t get it. Recently he even told me “You did all those things out of love and I’m a fucktard and just didn’t see it.” I don’t have a lot of hope for a sudden I see the light moment but maybe. I think that it’s easy to take for granted the things people do for you and not realize it isn’t just because they have to but because they want to. Now I know. And will never take any of that for granted ever again. Whether my h turns out to be an actual unicorn or just a standard a-hole it’s something I’ve learned that I will always take with me.

  • Another red flag:

    Can they be alone with themselves? Or have they ALWAYS been dating someone (s)?

    • This! I reflected not too long ago about my ex and realized in the time I knew him before dating (acquaintances first), he was NEVER alone. He always had one on the arm and one waiting. And they were always trashy, with really bad situations. I was the first woman he dated with a normal, drama free life. That should have been a sign to run like hell! Makes me believe he was and is a total mysognist.

      Also, in relation to poor time management, ex had no problem being late…EVER. He just showed up when he wanted. Wedding, funeral, party, recital…no difference to him. He’ll get there when he gets there. Entitlement, anyone?

      And he was always trying to “reinvent” himself, which I now see as him trying to figure out who he was and where he could fit in. I thought he was to be admired..trying new things, but deep down, his core was still the same. Empty. It didn’t matter if this week he was going to be a writer, next week he was going to be a model, the next week a rodeo clown. He was always trying to mold himself to be what he thought others would like. Except of course, a good father and a transparent partner. Sad really.

      • Moose

        He was always complaining about his work and I made suggestions. He went to classes at least 6 times to be a realtor and never completed the courses.

        • I would tell mine to stay a few more days when he was away if the wx was bad as I was worried about his safety ! He used those times for xtra time w her !

      • X would usually be late to any event that didn’t directly involve him. If we were to go on a family outing for the the day he would appear to be ready to go but as we would be walking out the door or sitting in the car he’d run back in the house (he forgot his comb). He would go back inside of the house and leave us waiting outside for what seemed like ten minutes. During the summer when it would be 100 outside we would be suffering waiting for him.
        I think in some ways it was a control issue for him.
        X would look in the rear view mirror and comb his hair each time he entered his truck and before he exited. I can picture his miserable face now combing his hair and checking himself out in the mirror… (eye roll)

        Car rides especially after a long day make me sleepy and occasionally I would fall asleep on the way home. I would try to keep my eyes open, there were a few times I couldn’t help but drift off. As we pulled into the driveway I’d wake up knowing X would be furious that I fell asleep.

    • Spot on with this one Divorce Minister. My STBXW was never alone from the age of 15 in terms of being with someone. 20+ years later I left her so she could be happy with her dick head AP, I’ve mentioned it a few times on CN that he died 6 months after I left her, 4 days after he died she said she signed up for on-line dating!!! Her reason was “I can’t be alone”

      A good friend of mine whose been through it all as well has said they can’t be alone because they have a chance to reflect on who they are, and that is a very dark and lonely place.

      • This^^^^^ Can’t be alone. Always had to have the next one lined up before blowing up the current one.

        • Can’t be alone, don’t have pets ; money issues, job instability; no long term friends or have a court but no real friends, often late, change plans on you all the time. Offer to help and put themselves at the centre of what needs to happen then pull out at the last minute so YOU have to organise things around THEM. Constipated with turds that smell like plaster and are almost impossible to flush. Touchy, can’t tolerate accountability, call it criticism or negativity. RUN!!!

    • This is so on point. Screams co-dependency issues. The ex always needed someone around and always did have someone around. Any warm body would suffice as long as she stroked his ego and didn’t talk back. The guy can’t even spend alone time with his son because cheater found another co-dependent cheater and heaven forbid he have any special bonding time with his only child.

    • Yes! This! My ex kept his his last girlfriend on “stand by” for many years in to our marriage. He also either lived at his brother’s house, or with his mother. Then, finally, during his last job, he got hired by a shiny, new bimbo, who was dumb enough to fall for his shit. And 3 years later, the two of them have blown apart two marriages, the lives of 3 kids, just so they can have their “twu wuv” together. And I’m sure he’s pissed as hell because I refuse to be on stand-by for him, now that he’s moving on to newer, fresher kibble. How dare I reject hand me down kibble?!?!

      I briefly saw a guy, whose ex was “crazy”, and yet she was constantly texting him. He even admitted that he’d had an emotional affair with another woman. And the only reason the whole thing blew up and ended in divorce, was because SHE caught him. Yes, I was dumb to keep it going. I should have run right there. But the sex was good. And I needed that right there and then. 😉

      • As long as you figured out what it was before becoming invested, more power to you.

    • THIS ^^^ 1,000,000,000… Mr. Sparkles left me for the OW. They broke up in August. He’s been with the new girl since September (probably before then)! He cannot be alone, which is kinda ironic considering how much he jerks off to porn.

      My 19yo stepdaughter, who has to live with her Dad on college breaks, is disgusted beyond measure and lives in fear of meeting a man like her father some day. I’ll print this list out for her.

    • Same here! My XH could not be alone, EVER! Always had to have the attention or someone pining after him (triangulation in my marriage with him, me, my brother’s XW Hobag). Narcissists cannot be alone, it is too much quiet time for them, and then they have to be with themselves. And of course if they are with themselves who is going to tell them how wonderful they are and to be admired….

      After my divorce, I found out that XH started grooming the woman he is with now while still dating his other mistress (she was eventually phased out), and was STILL married to me!!!

      These people are insane.

      • OMG yes! Dr. C knew he had to lie to me and the wife before me about the number of times he’d been married because no healthy woman would give him the time of day if they knew the true number. Three months after I kicked him out he moved #6 (#7 if you count his failed engagement) in. His first marriage was in college. Almost 40 years of this behavior which the RIC proclaimed could be fixed with therapy and 12 step meetings.

    • There’s an old saying on this — “they’re like monkeys, they don’t let go of one branch until they have a firm grip on the next one.”

    • This!!!!! Stbxh blames our separation (you know… After he cheated and was abusive) as a reason for finding yet another affair partner.

    • This is something I have posted about before: their inability to be alone.

      I married my XW when she was 32. Since the age of 16, she had never been alone. I do not exaggerate. She would have a boyfriend, meet another guy, leave the first one (in hindsight it’s not unlikely she cheated). On and on until she met me. And then after eight years and two children, she grabbed onto the new relationship vine before releasing the old one. Moved in with the AP and boom–instant new family. I, however, have needed four years of grieving before I am feeling ready to even try a new relationship. And maybe I’m not ready even now.

      They are abnormal, pure and simple.

      • They don’t know the meaning of Loyal, faithful, sacrifice, integrity or empathy. It’s why they can do what they do. They have great big voids inside of them.

    • This for me is the biggest of all red flags. The relational history without any significant time being single (at least a year by your 30s).

      The codependency and lack of individuation that comes from this life history is psychological fact.

      • Yep, can’t be alone. The traitor claims it’s because he is a very sexual person, and the fact that I could be single for long periods is due to being asexual. Didn’t matter how many times I told him I love sex and I missed it, that I probably got into some bad relationships for that very reason, that I can also take care of myself in that area as well as any man can take care of me or better, that I have done so since I was a child, with no hang ups or shame. Nope I am asexual, I can be single… Eye roll.

  • Unfortunately, we can find ourselves being attracted to these types of people, and even seek them out without realizing it. I was raised by a narcissistic mother, and a self absorbed alcoholic father, so I felt comfortable with entitled people. I chose badly twice because I thought that if somebody was really THAT interested in me, there was something wrong with them! If you are dating, stay away from the sparkly love bomber and give the quiet, awkward person a chance. There are some real gems out there, if you are willing to open yourself up to something different. Also, look for someone who shows up and follows through. This is so important. I realize now that my ex would never solidly commit to plans, in case something better came up. He always gave himself an out and it took me a while to realize I was not a priority.

    • Cookie, if you and I ever had coffee, we might close down the shop at 3am…my mom is an alcoholic/BPD and my dad is a narc…I was born and bred to cater to entitled people. Compared to them (oh the stories!!!) nowdeadhusband seemed the picture of selfless mental health, plus he was a brooding bad-boy who happened to be in a great university who likely had a great future.

      I thought I had a good picker but I was never good at spotting trends…my mind had been long previous burned out to seeing patterns in behaviors (probably so I didnt kill myself as a teen – refusing to see patterns of behavior kept me forever hopeful and looking for the best in people and abuse right in front of me).

        • Potential is such a dirty word to me. It’s what my ex said she saw in me, which I now realize meant the potential to be molded into whatever she wanted.

          I think loving someone’s potential means you don’t really love the person. You love the idea that they can be whatever you want them to be.

          • ^^^^^^^ SO VERY THIS ^^^^^^^
            Exact words to my daughters right in front of me! “I married your dad for his potential”. It’s a slap in the face and admitting they never loved you. They just wanted to use you.

            • That sucks, man. I’m sorry she said that to your daughter and that you had to hear it.

              The hell of it is, at the time I thought it was understandable and I still beat punish myself for not measuring up. I didn’t comprehend that of course I didn’t feel good enough – she was telling me I wasn’t!

          • Yup, who wants to play Eliza Doolittle in a relationship? Mine certainly fancied himself Professor Higgins–put on this world to improve me, one criticism at a time.

            • Mine certainly fancied himself Professor Higgins–put on this world to improve me, one criticism at a time.

              Tempest, that really resonates with me right now. I thank you for putting into words the jumble of crap that was me putting my finger on what was happening (if that makes any sense).

        • I fully bought into his potential to be a devoted, loving husband. He was a brooding, avoidant boyfriend but I was just SURE that once we were married he would be a loving spouse.

          He did OK (not stellar) in his career but was a 25 yr military officer and kept a roof over our heads.

          I was just sure if I kept trying, someday he would “understand” and then he would be kind to me. I really believed he had what it took to be a good husband, but he could never get it together…turns out he simply didnt care to.

    • You are soooo right!! I was attracted to a tall good looking drink of water that joined my variety show group. Red flags all over the place, very shallow guy, waaay too much fun. Then there was this other guy, kept trying to sit near me,quiet, unassuming, not sexy at all just a steady guy; I just ignored him. Well, 13 months later and I’m much much wiser, quiet guy and I are friends looking like we are working our way( very slowly and carefully) to more than that( my feeling is that he is waiting for me to announce final divorce or that it is imminent). Its nice because I feel absolutely safe with him, no red flags at all. I don’t know if I can feel the same way I felt about my ex, I feel rather damaged, but I’m taking it really slow…

  • I agree with Tracy. Look at the small details. I had a friend who let a very expensive bottle of wine make it to her car without paying for it. She laughed about it and said she didn’t mean to but said since she had it she would keep it. The next year she took a husband away from his wife. The second woman who cheated on her husband several times told me that she forged her supervisor’s signature on a very “unimportant” paper and could not understand the outcry. Needless to say I don’t know those two women anymore

  • Ah, dating…shopping for people. What fun! Anyway. What I’ve learned is, stop looking at every person you have coffee with as a potential partner. Sounds like a screwy way to think of it, but keeping your expectations realistic makes you see the other person with more clarity. Your meet for coffee or a drink is an interview. Just like at a company hiring a prospective employee, you’re looking for certain qualities, you’re looking for someone to compliment your life. My biggest words of advice is LET THEM TALK. I’m not telling you to be a statue, but disordered, entitled people love to talk about themselves. Really listen to what they’re saying, listen in between the lines. When you do ask questions, how do they answer? Evasive, vague, do they over-tell? Watch for body language. Do they over-touch? Touching is a psychological move, meant to throw you off balance. Leaning in too closely and whispering might seem flirty, but it’s a move meant to imply intimacy. Does something just feel ‘off’…trust your gut, always.

    • Totally agree with taking your sweet time in getting to know someone before even considering them partner material. By letting them talk you can also see if their stories ever change, narcs have crappy memories. Also, unless there is an authentic emergency followed up immediately with a rescheduled date, dump the person that cancels out on plans. Even once. They’re just using you as back up in case nothing better comes up. Other red flags already mentioned but still worth noting are when they say they will never love anyone as they did their ex. They are really saying that you are a fill in for the time being and they fully intend to dump your behind once someone “better” comes along. Hey, they WARNED you. Sometimes they are trying to make you feel insecure so you work harder to make them love you just as much as their ex. Always a plus for defects to have someone cater, spoil & jump thru hoops for them. When out on a date or with a group and they ignore you or flirt with others. Say nothing, just dump. Seeing them on week days, not weekends. Unless they work weekends, huge red flag. Crashing at your house to eat and watch TV is not a date and should never be allowed unless it is a Sunday football game and you were already out Saturday evening on a proper date.

        • +1000! Terrible memories. I thought it was just a memory issue, but it is the perfect cover for lies. Vagueness and bad memory. RUN!!

          • I’ve mentioned it before, but my ex liked to tell me (unprompted!) that I knew she’d never lie to me because her memory was too bad to keep a story straight. Uh huh.

            • ha, ha! And always bragged he couldn’t tell a lie. Lied all along, lied from day one, he was not even divorced from his first wife, 7 years after leaving her, and after a -6 year relationship with someone else and one more child. How was I supposed to suspect he wasn’t even divorced?
              “I can’t tell a lie, I hate lies” just a bad memory, forgot to get divorced.

              • Kiwi – that is f.r.e.a.k.y!

                I guess I’d never have thought to check if a guy you’d been with that long was not divorced yet.
                Gad – the heights of a liar astound me.

      • I love all of this, KB22!

        It just tells me I sure don’t want to date anymore, but great guidelines if I ever did.

      • Lots of nice tips right there! Not yet free to date again, but I’m taking notes for future reference.

  • Listen carefully to the amount of times they mention “I…I…Me…Me…. Also take a good look at their “friends”…most narcissistic people have lots of “friends” but usually no long term friends.

    Be wary of “new age spiritual people”….it’s code for flaky.

    Be wary of people who are invested in forgiving themselves and those who see their life as journey, it’s code for dead end.

    Most of all be wary of love bombers, these freaks are in love with being in love. Be sceptical of those who “fall in love” within a short time frame and stay away from anyone who believes in “soul mates”… It’s code for stealing your soul.

    Namaste ya’ll

    • Yea, that “Soul Mate” thing…from what I know, no major world religion has any tradition, teaching or scripture on that topic. If, in fact, the G-d (however you see Them) designed such a concept into the great Creation, dont you think They might have bothered to mention it somewhere?

      I am of the Roman Catholic Tradition and it is simply NOT a teaching. It DOES warn sternly about adultery and there is a mention of not treating ones “wife of your youth” with treachery.

      • I’m on 2 online dating sites and believe me, the pickins are slim. I haven’t gone on one date in an entire year. Last suitor ended up being a rat’s ass–checking out women online even though we had agreed we were ‘exclusive’ while we were seeing if a relationship would bloom. Luckily I only wasted 7 weeks (and a delicious labor intensive Thanksgiving meal) on him.

        I ‘dismiss’ guys on their first contact for what I am sure are frequently invalid reasons…just because something minor that I read in their profile strikes me as being ‘annoying’/not acceptable/something I would never consider tolerating. Or how they approach me in their first message……example: “blab blab blab…..Did I mention I’m a great kisser?…..”
        This morning I got a very witty first message from a man–I’m not sure if he really didn’t know what my reference to HWP meant. (Height Weight Proportionate). His guesses what it might mean were comical and showed intelligence. Then I read his profile…..
        He’s a ‘writer’ and his profile was blab blab blab “ME-ME-ME” and actually implied ‘don’t expect too much from me’. Way too ‘new age’ for my tolerance level. I have a strong sense he’s a narc and expects deep admiration for his ‘profession’.

        Click. I’ll wait for the next one and see just how ‘annoying’ he is. 🙂

        • Oh, He’sAtTheCurb – I wanna PLAY!
          You know, on weekends when C/N is off the air.
          I’ve thought about hitting that button once my g/f urged me to, but didn’t.
          I would not want to hurt anybody with my intentions, that I’m just looking at profiles and I never intend to date again, or respond to anything.
          Not even sure I can read them w/o pasting a profile – which would be blank from me – the last thing I want to do is attract a man.
          So, is that okay to do morally on there? I’m just curious who emails you back.

          • Ex asswipe is on most all the dating sites wish i could flag him as a cheater. Oh well but i will never be on dating sites. Thats all i need his face flying by! Hahaha!

            • ROFL Kar Marie – that’s all I had to hear, thank you.
              I just know the first guy I’d hear from, by chance and it would be the X.

              I don’t even want to play actually. Just thinking of looking at it.

      • Oh yes, I met one on a dating site. He was an angel healer. Tried to convince me to go to his house after the first date then ghosted me. then tried to pick up a friend of mine on the same dating site. when she said he has disappointed a friend in the same town he said was it “X” or “X” or “sadlady”? She said if you can’t figure it out you’re seeing too many women!! Predator much? You would not believe it he was geeky small and quiet… you have to really watch out for the red flags. Ughh!

        • Beware people, LOTS of predators on dating sites. The weird thing is that they don’t even KNOW they are predators. They are so comfortable being a predator they feel like the way they act is NORMAL. Beware of the person who falls in love quickly and wants to marry or move in with you within the first six months. And the ‘soulmate’ thing is a for sure a red flag. Listen carefully to what they DON’T say. Lying by omission is still a lie. Check out their grown kids. Are they still supporting them in some way for their poor life choices?? If so, Run!!! Do they look contemptuous when they speak about past spouses or lovers? Do they have any long term friends? Are they financially secure …make sure you find this out almost immediately. A lot of these people don’t have a dime and are looking for someone to save them. Do they own their own home or buying it? Go look inside of it. Lots of things to check on, for sure.

          • I look a lot worse than contemptuous when talking about the traitor. That would make me undatable!

          • Wow that’s so on target Syringa it’s almost eerie. I met Dr. Crazy online and the rest was EXACTLY like you say in your post.

    • If there is only one red flag I would recommend to take extremely seriously, it is the need for constant self-promotion, Yes, these folks are the life of the party, but the stories are always about them-their adventures, their accomplishments, the way they made it to the top because of their amazing determination and abilities. They also love to brag about where they went to school, where they live and what kind of car they drive. They re always the best at everything, despite evidence to the contrary.

      Conversely, I always look for the folks who can casually explain away their role in creating a mess. They aren’t perfect, “just forgiven.” Nothing is ever their fault and they are completely unable to apologize, no matter how damaging their conduct is to others. There is never a simple, “I am sorry.” Instead, it is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Big, big difference there!

      Finally, any accomplishment with which they are connected is their accomplishment. Whether it be a discussion of children or work, it is their involvement that made all the difference. It isn’t just that they always talk about themselves, which they do, it’s that no one else in their circle has near the talent or acumen. They are always the hero and everyone else has nothing more than a supporting role.

      • “I am sorry you feel that way” – if I ever hear that sentence again, it will be too soon. A faux apology, always said with pursed lips, in that sad yet sanctimonius way, while slowly shaking their heads. Tsk, tsk. BARF.

        • My STBX says this to my kids, who don’t pick up on the subtlety. It drives me insane.

          • Yup. I used to get it from my mother all the time. She’d make some draconian decision and then tell me she was sorry that it upset me. I was always distressed at her comments,but couldn’t put my finger on why until years later.

          • Violet – ‘They also love to brag about where they went to school, where they live and what kind of car they drive. They re always the best at everything, despite evidence to the contrary.”

            Yes, mine was very subtle about all of it and so smooth that, everything turned around to his success. Since he was a very good salesman, he needed a human family story to tell customers. We had show dogs (no kids) and those were our family – As I’ve mentioned, when I was out traveling and putting purple/gold ribbons on the dogs for Best of Breed, bringing home trophy’s – I heard him constantly tell his customers what a great job HIS dogs were doing in the AKC ring!
            Meanwhile, while I was showing them on very long truck tours across the country on my own, he had moved his g/f into MY FUCKING HOUSE. Oops, I have a bit of turrets..

            So, now that he’s without dogs or me or whatever, to brag about his lifestyle to his customers and his Mother, what stories or adventures to tell without me now? huh?

            • In fact, he’d have me send him all the photos of the winning dogs so he could send them to his customers.
              He hated dog shows.

          • OMG! “I’m sorry but…” We got into a HUGE argument once about that! How about just “I’m sorry!” It’s okay to fuck up bits life. I’m sorry. That’s all I needed. You see it was a fuck up we are both adults. You move on. That’s it. Over. Done! If you’d like to discuss the but part afterwards or at a different time, let’s get that sucker out there and we can discuss it. But don’t make me a fake apology! Just say I’m sorry and then it’s done!

      • “just forgiven” rings bells for me. Mine just added God or Jesus to the statement. Never heard “i’m sorry” for anything that actually warranted it either.

        • Lostntx – I was proud of myself when we were trying to avoid going to a judge and, after a year, settled for mediation.

          I wasn’t going to settle on anything (I really, honestly, didn’t care about any of the money or house or anything – gotta watch those emotions!), I just wanted a sincere apology, that was all. We all KNOW what those sound like! I am sorry for….

          So, after I got 20 mins of MY talk out during the first session in front of 5 lawyers, and told him what I thought of him without a foul word.
          He got to say his 20 mins worth. (sorry for you folks who’ve heard this before, but it’s my victory speech)
          And, he took 3 seconds to say…..wait for it….’I’m sorry you feel that way”…..and that’s all he had.

          Well, I said, ‘that’s not an apology’ and I laughed really heartedly (I have no idea where my strength came from) and walked out of the conference room to my lawyers office. Like in Fargo, we both sat in front of her window and watched the STBX run out of the building with his lawyer close behind. I thought I was losing him to traffic – lol. It really was a stress-remover while the tension went on in this office to laugh at this scenario right beside us.

          I guess the lawyer finally caught him – geez, we’re all wanting to settle, and they came back in the building and asked for another conference. So, back the 6 of us file (one was typing), and we stared at each other across the table, not blinking or taking our eyes off each other, he said….

          ‘I am so sorry I hurt you by having an affair and going against our vows. I was totally wrong and will regret my decision to decieve you for the rest of my life.”

          I said, thank you, I think we can settle now, folks. And, in 5 mins flat, we were officially divorced.

          It was a good apology for me, anyway.

          • That is AWESOME! I’ve gotten the real apology multiple times since d-day and it feels so good. He may not be as sorry as you actually wish he was but him acknowledging it as a real human being should is a very gratifying feeling!

      • Violet, this is a perfect description of my ex. I just wish I had known this what huge red flags these characteristics are.

      • Too nice to be nice, conversations on not only how honest they are but so much more than everyone else. Ridicule of others, insinuating they’re better than everyone else.
        The poor me stories, the sad stories of which they’re just the great, humble guy who forged ahead despite the obstacles. Bragging about how much money, education, better job, than everyone else.
        Has to always know more about a subject than anyone else.
        Quick to point out other peoples faults or short comings, highly critical.
        Complains about other drivers constantly while driving, road rage or anger when driving.
        Unforgiving and needs to “get back” at other drivers or spite people who he feels deserve to be punished. Feels he is better than everyone else and entitled. Loves to be the center of attention.
        Overly dramatic and unrealistic when it comes to his “feelings” which is usually feeling sorry for himself. Exaggerated interest in other peoples children or elderly, unnatural, too nice.

        • Great list, Brit. I had completely forgotten about the road rage, and the need to “get back” at other drivers. I finally told him I would never be riding with him again if he continued this, and he was able to put this particular “issue” under wraps for most of our marriage. But wow, this should have shown me how he would want to get back at me for every perceived slight as well.

          And don’t forget mirroring. Whatever you hope to do in the future, why they want that too! You want 3 kids, they do too! You’ve always wanted to travel in Europe, oh my goodness, they can’t believe it, that’s EXACTLY what they’ve always wanted to do with someone! They will in the early stages mimic or mirror you so that you’ll like them. Once you’re hooked, they don’t give a damn what you want or like. When asked, they will have “forgotten they said that, don’t remember, or this gem, “IF I said that, I’ve changed my mind.” They avoid self-reflection and don’t have self-knowledge, because who can face that monster inside of them?

          • That’s right FindingBliss, the mirroring, I’d almost forgotten about those days, you like going to the beach? Wow, so do I. You like to cook?? what a coincidence.., so do I!!!
            You’re kidding you like dogs?? Me too!! I love dogs!! (although he’d never had one).
            Once you’re hooked anything you suggest doing or would like to do is the last thing they’re going to do. You’re right they down’t give a damn if it’s important to you.
            Before we were married he’d plan Bed and Breakfast weekends away for my birthday.
            X never planned anything for us to do after we were married.
            My birthday would almost be overlooked. He’d tell me to go order my own birthday cake which I would and pick it up. I’d invite family over to celebrate and make it look like the cake was his idea. One birthday I went to order my birthday cake and told the lady behind the counter what I wanted written on the cake, Happy Birthday Brit, she paused then looked at me and said, isn’t that your name??

            • I feel bad for laughing, but this is SO funny! Yes, over time, the poor Chump helps to cover up what a LAME ASS partner the Narc is.
              Then people are like ‘Ooh, you’re so lucky to be married to him! It must be so fun’!!

          • Also “I meant it at the time”.

            There is a laundry list of things I thought my ex and I had in common in terms of emotional damage and recovery. Turns out she was just repeating my words back to me and I was so thrilled to have met someone with all of the similarities that I didn’t notice it. But then at the end of our relationship I actually thanked her for spending part of her life with me and she said it back to me. Suddenly it all clicked. She was a (emotionally -dead, not pining for the fjords) parrot.

        • The traitor wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper 10 years ago about a $2.40 expenses reimbursement he refused to take as a community board member as an example of his ethical commitment to serving the people and of the other councilors ‘corruption’ of the system because they accepted it. He was campaigning to be elected to the city council then. What a hero of the people! Use to sign off his emails with quotes from Jefferson. Arrogant prick!

      • Yes!!! Self promotion! I forgot about that in my above post about the writer–he had links in his profile, promoting himself. Ugh.

      • Ick. This is my toxic co-worker to a T. I don’t know if she’s actively cheating now, but she has had at least a few emotional affairs in the past, one just last year with a co-worker. Anything you can do, she can do better, and so can her children. Any disaster you’ve dealt with, hers has been worse. I can’t stand to be around her for more than a minute, and I pretty much ignore her now because I’m not interesting in being drawn into another one of her fake friend “me me me” conversations.

        I saw this in online dating as well. The first couple of guys I interacted with were nice, but our phone conversations were all about them. They hardly asked me anything about my life; they just seemed to enjoy having me around to talk to. So, I nexted them both. “Nice” isn’t enough. If you’re not going to take any interest in me, go rub rock salt, as my aunt liked to say. If you need someone to talk to about yourself, get a therapist!

    • Today’s posts are capturing my experience perfectly! I was totally creeped when I found out that Dr. C was designing my engagement ring just THREE MONTHS after we started dating.

    • Although I would say it is true sparkly narckies have a lot of ‘friends’ (I prefer the term groupies), it is also true some do have ‘long term’ friends. But check them out, they are either fairly unintelligent people (sorry no good way to say that) or completely blinded by the sparkly narcky adulterers charm (usually facilitated by living in another State so they don’t have an in depth view into the inconsistencies of the fraudster) OR they are long term friends with fellow liars, cheats, swindlers, thieves, abusers, players and so on. These fellow narc’s help each other out, lie for each other, cover each others stories, and keep each others secrets. Truly sick.

  • First off, GP, I think your background has a lot to do with it. Grown with entitled parents? Then it doesn’t seem like such bizarre behavior so you might not notice red flags other people see right away.

    Second thing is to look out for someone who moves too fast. I dated a bit and the love bombing felt right because I didn’t know anything different. Roses to my office, limos to concerts, dinners in fancy places, the most expensive hotels followed by admissions of crushing debt. Then I heard “I love you” a couple months into the relationship, followed by “I know you love me too even if you can’t say it yet.” Thank goodness Chump Nation helped me sort that out. I look back now and it was just me lining up for more of the same shit I just went through. After that I went to therapy for me, not my relationship with Narkles the Clown, for me, to fix me, to figure out why I accepted shitty behavior for so long. Only then did I stumble upon someone worthy my time and effort. He’s comfortable being alone. He shows no entitlement. He asks what I want to do, what I think about things and how I feel. He is comfortable communicating about everything and one thing we communicate about is our relationship and the glacial pace at which it moves. We talk about having an intentionally healthy relationship and what that means. We talk about boundaries, and we respect boundaries.

    Third, don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who doesn’t treat you right, after one date or one year or one decade.

    • The love bombing seems to be universal. Mine gave me the “i love you” a couple of months after the first date. I didn’t even go out with her for a month after the 1st blind date. I just wasn’t that interested but she love bombed like crazy. It worked because I grew up in a family that didn’t show love like that and I wanted it. She admitted pretty early on the 1st time she saw me “God” told her I was the one to marry. Wonder if he told her to cheat on me the numerous times she did? I have a lot of work to do before I ever consider dating again. Mostly, just learning to love myself and be alone!

      • The only “god” who talks to them in their minds is a reflection of their deluded, self-centered wreck of disordered-piece-of-shit excuse for a human. Funny how this outside “authority” condones and grants all of their wishes! Can’t run fast enough!

        • ^^^^Exactly* they follow themselves without regard for anyone else unless of course they need something from them or could use them for PR purposes or to create a following especially once they slander you with their sob stories and blatant lies.
          Once these people have served their purpose they disappear.
          They’re cunning manipulators. I was so wrapped up in believing his endless lectures on his integrity I couldn’t believe he had an AP when all the obvious signs were right in front of me.
          Even my pool guy told me that men don’t leave unless they have someone else.
          It took reading CN to finally open my eyes to the truth. I was the Queen of Chumps.
          Looking back at all the obvious clues I’m embarrassed.
          I was still dancing and attempting to work things out believing he just needs space.

          Unbelievably evil

        • “Funny how this outside “authority” condones and grants all of their wishes!” ha ha, wow, so true!!

  • I have been working hard on setting my boundaries and only last week had a friend end our friendship by text. Text doesn’t bother me, but the message was mean and nasty. When I look back I am very aware of how much I spackled for her. I had a discussion about a particular action of hers that let me down this year with other close friends and stated that I had placed her outside of my inner circle. I believe she ‘dumped’ me because she realised I was not as easily manipulated. So if you want to know if you are fixing your picker, notice if non-romantic relationships are getting better. If the users are dropping off, you are doing well.

    • Wow. That has been my most recent learning. After being cheated on and disrespected by my ex, I had experiences with two girlfriends who were beyond disrespectful. In fact, they were cruel in how they spoke to me and I realized over time that it was a pattern with them too. I had never enforced boundaries. I am now also no contact with them and my friends who remain plus some new ones are very respectful as I am towards them. It really is a new life now. I have learned so much and will never let anyone treat me badly again.

  • My ex was soooo good at keeping his secret life underground and showed remarkable cunning and deviousness in being able to juggle a harem of fuck buddies who worked together and knew each other.He was a master manipulator who managed to conceal a secret life for more than thirty years.The flexibility of his job enabled him in his concealment and provided him with rich hunting grounds.
    On the surface he was Mr. Nice Guy,charming,generous,funny.A veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing.It has made me too scared to entrust my heart and soul to anyone since and it took me years to recover.Dangerous,dangerous man masquerading as wonderful family guy.
    The good news is I no longer care what he does or who he’s with.Meh was a long time coming.

    • X is an expert at masquerading as the nice family guy, behind closed doors highly critical and sarcastic, wicked. The truth is he’s a master manipulator, devious and cruel.
      To outsiders, funny, charming, life of the party, great guy. I had been told more than once how lucky I was to be married to such a wonder man.
      The sad thing is I trusted this monster with my life and he tried to destroy me.

    • Deedee and brit.

      Mine so much the same but seemingly nice to me too if you discount all the dating websites and fuck buddies.
      Another sort of red flag is notice how our own body reacts to them. Not just gut feeling more than that. I am no longer a hypochondriac as all of my nervous twitches, eye twitches, digestive troubles ALL GONE. It’s as if he triggered my unconscious mind that tried to get my attention with all this stuff but then he cheated and I could see the person he was – all the spackle fell off – I decide to divorce and I relax and boom everything in my system settles down.

      • Capricorn, I had forgotten about the eyelid twitching! That stopped as soon as I filed–who woulda thunk?

        Also, if upon meeting any co-worker, they say jokingly to you that they are his “work wife, or just like we’re married.” More true than you know. Gosh it’s painful to write that out and put it out there–can you say gullible? At a funeral of one of my uncles, a woman got up to announce how much she loved working and traveling with him, she was “just like his work wife”–funny how we all figured that was true and that he was cheating with her. However, the spackle and hopium gave me complete stupid blindness when a female coworker said the same thing to me. Ex went out of his way to mention how unattractive he found her, and how she would never be his type. If I didn’t know the power of hopium and spackle, I’d make myself nauseated just remembering this crap.

        Yes, work on ourselves, our pickers, our boundaries.

      • OMG…my eye hasn’t twitched since I kicked his ass out! I use to twitch EVERYWHERE – couldn’t sleep for the twitching…wow…just wow…

        That was quite a moment of clarity! Thank you!

        • Fork and Finding Bliss

          The twitching thing is very odd but now my STBX is back and forth it’s just bizarre how it gets going as soon as he is here and goes when he is gone. Hopefully this is now my own narc radar!!! If I ever date again I hope it is!!

          Bliss I get it with the gullible. I used to actually boast about how great he was talking to women. He was such a great listener and seemed to just be there for them. It makes me cringe now. Actually looking back after all hell broke lose is hard – as red flag after red flag pops up. It’s like Poppy Day my history. ?

          • My eyelids twitched, my thumbs both twitched, my shoulder ached from bursitis, and I had sharp shooting pain in my lower back. My body was screaming at me to see the truth.

            All of that is gone now. No more twitches.

      • I remember the nervousness and the eye twitches whenever X was home. I’d have friends call and tell me they could tell when X was on a business trip by the relaxed tone of my voice when he was home.
        I would have trouble falling asleep then staying asleep when X was home. Once I fell asleep I would inevitably wake up one or two hours afterwards then wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.
        My muscles would be tense, I would felt tension throughout my entire body, arms and legs.
        I didn’t realize how much stress he created in the home until he left. I regret not leaving him long before he moved out. I feel guilty for not choosing a better father for my son.

        • Jesus you just explained what I’m going through!

          Whenever he’s home I cannot sleep. And when he’s home I smoke a lot.

          As soon as I walk out of the house the urge to smoke disappears.

        • Brit
          I don’t mean to sound ‘wrong’ but really just let that guilt go. One thing chumps seem to be experts at is taking the blame. We have often had appalling parents and then appalling spouses. We have usually been expert doers and trusted and spackled and loved wholeheartedly.
          We cannot do anything about the people who have been in our lives. We can somewhat control who we let into our lives from now on but we Absolutely can control if we choose to continue to bludgeon ourselves with guilt as well.
          It was not your fault. At all. You did the best you could at the time. That is good enough. Be gentle with yourself otherwise these fuckers win. They treated us horribly. Let’s not do the same to ourselves.
          No guilt. No shame. No blame.
          Just straightforward, honest, conscientious, loving real and mighty chumps.

        • Ugh. This is what I am going through now. I literally cannot sleep in the same bed as him anymore. Since he snores a lot, he sleeps in the other room most nights, but the real reason I have been requesting it more and more is that I have chronic insomnia when I share our bed with him. Since he has been in the other room, I sleep through the night no problems.

          Also a few months ago I left for a month. I slept like a baby every night I was gone, after 18 months of chronic all night insomnia.

          Now my body aches most days, my shoulders are tense, I clench my teeth, my sides hurt, my tummy does flips and I am bone dead exhausted everyday.

          So glad I found this blog. If only it was around a pre 2009, maybe I wouldn’t have taken him back and found myself in this situation a second time 🙁

      • YES! This was my experience – my body was just screaming at me to wake up. I had a small burning spot under my breast that drove me crazy at night when we were sleeping together, twitching, clinching my teeth…I nearly drove myself crazy with a hyper-vigilant obsession about my body. When I broke free of my massive denial and kicked him out – even though the pain of the broken pair bonding was severe and I experienced deep emotional trauma, ALL of my physical complaints vanished. Our bodies are so powerful and linked inextricably with our mind. The outcome of this discovery for me led me to fall passionately in love with yoga because it is such a healing practice that strengthens the connection of body, mind, spirit. Now I’m teaching yoga and I ask my students to listen to their bodies and the messages they send.

        I am so grateful for the community of understanding on this site and the voices that reassure that if we love ourselves and don’t lose sight of that self love, we can not only move past this but we can choose to both thrive and not let our lives be negatively defined by abuse.

  • I think one red flag I missed is secretiveness about exes. My ex never mentioned anyone he had dated, and a couple of times I found out he had dated women he acted like he barely knew. They do this so they can circle back to an ex (which is the easiest thing to do, bar none, except co workers,)without raising any suspicion. They are just Friends or someone you went to school with, or lived in the same apartments with.

    I also think exes very seldom expose cheaters who contact them, whereas other potential affair partners might. So they are easy, and low risk.

    • Yes, Anita!!! XH would never say ex, it was always a “old neighbor” when telling me about people from his past. Wow, that just reminded me of another huge red flag. He would reveal over time all the different states he had lived in, but with no real details for all the moving around. I realized he would probably somewhere for a relationship and once he screwed that up and burned all his bridges there, he would find a new one somewhere else. Rinse and repeat…so, this is also a big red flag.

  • I’m not in the dating pool yet. But I do see plenty of single people on facebook, and I’ll look at their pages. If it’s a bunch of pictures of themselves posing this way and that, and/or a bunch of selfies, then I’m not interested. My wife’s page is a perfect advertisement of exactly what to avoid.

    And the phone, oh god the phone. If they can’t put their phone down, if they can’t have it out of their sight, if it’s on silent, facedown all the time. Then run, my friends, run!

  • The covert narcissists are meek, will open the door for you and appear to be empathetic. The entitlement is well hidden.

    The red flags for him might be complaining, blaming,and empathy seeking. By all appearances he is a knight in shining armor. His story will be about the contrast between all of his goodness and how little affection he received.

    This covert malignant narcissist will mirror your every emotion. He was so deprived you will want to give him gifts and shower him with affection. But he’s lazy. He’s dating multiple women and the first one to sleep with him wins the prize.

    He presents like a wounded bird or the runt of the litter. He wants PITY.

    • Doingme, do you know my ex husband? You have just described him perfectly.

      Can I tell you I was actually asked out last week and my skin crawled. The chap presented as nice and not sleazy at all but I just couldn’t bring myself to go out. He gave me his name and mobile number and I told him I wouldn’t be giving him my mobile number although I did give him my first name only. I did tell him that if he received a call from me he could consider himself lucky. I was just being a bit playful but his number is now in the trash. This man was so completely opposite to my ex husband and he may have been very genuine but I am not prepared at nearly 65 years of age to take a chance now. I might have missed a nice chance who knows!

      • Maree, that “skin crawl” is a sign that your subconscious picked up on something your conscious mind didn’t. You were very smart to pay attention to that! I highly recommend the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker. It’s all about listening to your intuition.

        • Beth, it is interesting but I have always had a good ‘picker’ I just ignored it because I thought people I met were honest and genuine like myself and never wanted anything from me because I was projecting “me” onto them. Not any more. CL & CN has taught me so, so much and opened my eyes to my foolishness. My sister knows that I am on this site without knowing the name of it but I make her laugh a lot when I come out with some of the priceless quotes that I have learned here. You see my sister has been married for 44 years to a great guy, not perfect but a good solid marriage so she doesn’t have the need for this site but she sure has noticed my spine is straighter and I don’t take any crap any more. Thank you for the book reference I will make to sure that I read it.

      • Sounds like my X too Marlee, the poor me how he’s been badly treated but managed to pull through despite adversity and the struggle which only exits in his mind.

        Almost trips over himself to open doors for elderly or handicapped people. It’s nice to do if you’re right there but to run across a room when there are others close who are capable and willing to hold the door open it’s unnecessary and appears to me X did this for attention and to show what a great guy he is. All of it fake, he wouldn’t help them if there weren’t an audience.

        • brit, skankboy did that stuff, too. Would do small and large favors for others to look like the “great guy.” After the love bombing, he did squat for me. Idiot was the runt of the litter, poor me, etc.etc.
          Rarely spoke of the exes…..”they all broke up with me.” One thing he did say was “if you knew me before you would not have liked me” when we first dated. Why didn’t I see that as a HUGE red flag??? Thank goodness my picker is getting a complete overhaul.

          • X said the same thing to me nomoreskankboy, that “if I had known him before I wouldn’t have liked him” I wonder why I didn’t take that statement more seriously.
            A glaring red flag, how could I have missed that one??
            He would rarely speak of any ex’s they all broke it off with him, claims to have never had a real girlfriend. I felt sorry for him and thought he’d appreciate me for paying attention to him.
            My picker is in need of a huge overhaul.
            X also did extra favors for others to look like the “good guy,” appeared to me he would bring attention to himself for doing whatever he did.

            • Oh my gosh. I got that too. I was told, “If you knew what I was like when you met me, you would have run in the other direction”. I never knew what to male of that statement. By the time it was said to me, it was way too late.

          • I used to say that my ex wouldn’t have liked me if she had meet me in my early 20s. I wouldn’t have liked me either; it was before I had my depression diagnosed and somewhat under control and I verbally took out my inner turmoil on other people. I guess just a reminder that a red flag is a notice that something may need monitored, not a foolproof sign that someone is planning on fucking you over.

        • brit and nomoreskankboy it never ceases to amaze me how similar our cheaters all are. There must be a special mould somewhere that these idiots are poured into and then churned out like robots who look like humans !!

      • I know Maree. It’s an awful warning label to be suspect to the good guys who may not be predators.

        However, why not go out? I refuse to live in fear of narcissists. Have some fun.

    • So true, Doingme. My ex was a covert narcissist too. The entitlement was well hidden and there was plenty of complaining, blaming and empathy seeking. From a lazy standpoint, he did just enough to say that he helped. If I asked for more help, he replied that nothing he did was ever good enough for me. They look so normal to people who don’t live with them but they’re not – not at all.

      • Bye Bye Cheater, you are exactly right about you usually don’t pick up on this stuff till you live with them. That’s why it is such a hoot when a delusional ow starts spouting off how much better they ” know ” your spouse than you do. I saw plenty of them on Ric sites trying to torment chumps with that little gem. News flash, ow, you see what they want to show you. Even more so than in a regular relationship. That’s why adulterous relationships fail. When cheaters marry, the ow gets to see what we saw. I mean, they already know they are lying, cheating scum but they finally get to see the whole package. Not pretty.

      • Doingme , ByeByeCheater, Brit, Nomoreskankboy thank you so so so much for your comments. I know exactly what you are talking about. The nice ones are so hard for others outside of the marriage to see them for who they are. From inside it still took me more than 20 years to see him. Every single day since his favorite prostitute knocked on my door, I’m still in disbelief:, no, not this guy, he is soooooooooo nice, meek, gentle, loving, a kind soul, God fearing, gooooooood Chrstian. Ah! But the the smirks, the satisfaction on his face. If anyone came to me talking about his smirks regarding the adultery and double life, I would not believe that person,I would dismiss said person just as someone trying to extinguish fire with alcohol. But I am the one who saw them on his face. He was so sure I would not divorce him because of the kids and because I’m a stay at home mom, that he did not even pretend to be sorry or remorseful . He was so wrong on that one. The day I told him that it is over, was the day the smirks stopped, not that he started caring for me and the children or the damaged caused by his deceitfulness , but because of his image, sure people will ask why I’m divorcing him and it will not look good on him, it will tarnish his polished image. It was all so funny until consequences. I’m so thankful for the smirks, each one for them hurt as hell and pierced me through, but they were a blessing in disguise for they were the window for me to see his soul/heart. As long as I live I’ll thank God for them smirks. They were the nail on his coffin. . That arrogance was very well hidden in a very deep place inside of him and only the smirks exposed it, brought it to the surface. He could smile because he felt superior, he had a secret, he felt mighty .What he thought was his superiority was his demise.
        Also want to thank everyone here for the comments you all do not even dream how much you have helped me and how much I rely on you guys for support and thanks Chump Lady for this space, you are one of the few voices portraying the ugliness of adultery and deception as it is. This special space is so important ,it is good for our sanity. No, we are not crazy. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH for what you are doing.
        Sorry for the bad English, still learning the language.

        • Mdsqq, I know that smirk too – unfortunately, I didn’t understand what is was until it was too late.

    • Crap. I married a weasel like that. Experts in Darvo too, they are (apologies for yoda-speak).

    • Doingme
      Do you know that feeling of reading a post and your heart sinking. Yours gave me that.
      I had a narc emotionally abusive mother and a cheater father that just left when I was 10.
      I had never seen it that I would not see red flags the same as anyone else.
      My STBXH is a covert something. Met and married in six months. He mirrors, only I saw it as listening. He was needy of emotional support always. He changed jobs every two years as he wasn’t feeling comfortable where he was, always blaming ‘too aggressive work colleagues’. I felt I always had to protect him from their ‘negative’ views of his personality. He couldn’t stick at anything. Started a business but never followed through. Wanted to do further degrees but never got started. Always seemed disappointed with life so I worked hard to keep everyone happy. Got bigger but never exercised or ate healthy – so I was always worried. I followed everywhere raising the boys. He worked all hours. He was a good dad when home.
      He is rubbish with money and we always have debt. Our electricity or phone would be cut off before he paid. Racked up loads of speeding fines but didn’t pay until threatened with court.
      I mistook who he was. He always did stuff I asked him too but I was always excessively grateful for ordinary help.
      No male friends. Lots of women friends.
      Then all the affairs while working abroad. Now just wants things back the way they were.
      I was worried as he is back home right now – lots of help in the forum yesterday but now as I look at him I realise I want out more than the fear of leaving. He is being kind and generous and understanding but I know now he will not implode on his own he will be just fine. Nothing touches him. He will just carry on as is.
      I still love him but I don’t want him. I want my life back.

      • Yes, he’s a wounded bird Capricorn. Coverts tap into our fixer mixer that comes from our FOO.

        And he was always agreeable, a yes man. And always changing jobs, never satisfied. Never ever apologized.

        They are so cunning Capricorn. Once they know you see them they become angry as hell.

      • Capricorn! You just described the ex!!! Like… Exactly.
        His life is always in chaos
        Changed jobs every two years
        Always everybody else’s fault
        Unhappy in himself
        Terrible with money
        Never time for mundane things like mowing the lawn
        Can’t be alone
        No male friends, prefer women
        Does not respect any woman in authority
        Serial cheater
        Triangulator par excellence.

      • The changing jobs is always disturbing as are the delinquent bill payments. You can’t count on child support from your stbx so start lining up your ducks and try to get as much as possible now. These defects see child support as some sort of extortion and will dig their heels in and find every way not to pay their fair share and most times not pay at all.

    • I just reread your post Doingme and sounds identical, claim to be sensitive, all his goodness emphasized, you would think I married John Boy from the Waltons. Poor empathetic guy just doing the right thing always up against the unjust rejection and evil of the world. Pointing out the faults in others, such as a person not returning their shopping basket from the parking lot, someone had two samples from the sample cart in Costco when it specifically says only one sample per customer, a car who changed lanes without using their blinker, he would never think of doing such a thing. On and on..

      • Oh just the perfect guy Britt. They hide it so well. There is a boyish quality, an innocence you want to believe.

        They appear to listen and nod in agreement only to complain later as if they never heard you. And they are constantly scanning the information for later use.

        All that innocence and calm was his mask. They love to rack up our losses in the most deviant way.

        I had NO idea I was living with a sociopath.

    • Woah! The covert narcissist! Yes! Exactly! Chump Lady… Please do a post on this one!
      The ex’s councillor actuallt told him he is the NICEST person ever. (Dozens of women serial cheater). He fools every person (friends, family, me) with his nice-ness. So scary.

      • “Woah! The covert narcissist! Yes! Exactly! Chump Lady… Please do a post on this one!”Yes. please.
        “The ex’s councillor actuallt told him he is the NICEST person ever. (Dozens of women serial cheater). He fools every person (friends, family, me) with his nice-ness. So scary.” Scary indeed!

      • YES YES X100000 to all of these posts. That’s him!! So nice so kind. Yes boyish
        When I tell people what has happened they look at me like I can not be serious.
        ‘What!!’ ‘He did what????’ I can’t believe it. You can’t be serious. He’s so nice!?!? No no.
        And the kicker for me is they always ask
        ‘Are you sure?’ Honestly I feel like making a laminated sign.

        Please note X had three extramarital affairs with #1, #2, #3 over four years. He lied. He cheated. No I’m not kidding. I am serious. Yes X. Yes I am sure. Very sure. Nod when you have digested and understood.
        Yes really I am serious.

  • Since the red flag list is for if someone is cheating, don’t forget; they suddenly start taking care of their appearance in ways they never did before. Buying new clothes, haircut, dentist, working out, etc.

    For dating/making friends I really like

    “Speaking from personal experience, a red flag isn’t that big of a deal. It’s merely a warning, something to notice as a potential problem. Everyone I’ve ever dated has had multiple red flags, and I personally am a walking collection of red flags. Most of us are.

    In fact, it’s impossible to not have at least one red flag, because If I meet someone who doesn’t have any red flags, that’s a red flag.

    See what I’m getting at? Red flags aren’t a penalty or a punishment. They’re just indicators. By themselves, they aren’t cause for dismissal, and they don’t disqualify you from anything.”

    I think from our experiences we may have deal breakers while dating that we didn’t have before. My biggest two are:

    The person has never lived alone/been single for any significant period (at least a year).

    The person agrees with me on pretty much every topic. This one is tricky, you need to ask their opinions rather than simply give your own. Notice if they give very little response and instead turn it to you to speak first. Make sure they speak their words first.

    My newest deal breaker cannot be uttered here cos; politics.

    • I am late. Often. Because I always try to do one more thing. I know better, but it is true. And then an animal will barf, a toilet overflow, kid can’t find coat, shoes, most important item IN THE WORLD! and boom, late again.

      I also dated a lot when I was single because if a guy asked and I had nothing going on, I’d go. I didn’t spend a ton of time single more of serial monogamy, followed by various dates. I used to have a bunch of guys friends but not when married, I didn’t maintain contact and neither did they. I might have misunderstood the friendship, like “when Harry met sally”.

  • LIES. Little white ones. The ones by omission. Listen when they talk to OTHER people. Do they embellish stories? Do they shave strokes off of their golf game? My X used to do this all the time. Just little things, seemingly innocuous, but it was a pattern.

    When he was asked where he grew up, he’d lie about that, too! When asked to get something at the store and he’d return without it, instead of saying “I forgot” like a normal human being, he’d look me dead in the eye and say that the store was out of the item – which I knew was impossible. It was frustrating for me, but I blew it off as not a big deal.

    On DDay, when I had indisputable proof of his cheating, again he looked me dead in the eye and said it wasn’t true. He then only admitted to what I had tangible proof of.

    People who are allergic to the truth cannot be trusted. And people who lie when the telling the truth would be just as acceptable are waving a huge red flag in your face.

    • OMG, yes that one is dead on. The small lies for no apparent reason. Exasshole did that too, I didn’t notice until we’d been together for a couple of years. My BFF’s spouse did the same thing. We put it down to them growing up with a controlling mother where a little lie would have helped avoid unpleasant consequences. We were wrong about that (forehead hits keyboard). Turned out he was cheating all along and her spouse was blowing through money and other bad behavior. Sheesh.

    • Now when I look WAY WAY back to when we first dated, I see small lies that I dismissed…he told me he didnt know which name was his first name vs which name was his middle name (he had swapped them when he and I initially met and rather than fess up to the first lie, he told another) I just dismissed it as silliness.

      Later, when called out telling lies, he said “Men make up yarns, its part of our culture” to dismiss widespread, constant lying. Much much later in our lives, when I caught him in a lie, he would accuse me of being daft and having no sense of humor since I should have been able to tell that he was kidding.

      When we had been married like 16 years, he came home from an extended time away with a story of foiling a robbery at a gas station and it was full of detail…I later asked him about it and he said it was a “yarn” and again made fun of me for not understanding.

      Now, I feel stupid for how much I believed him. I am a really gullible (but loving and trusting) person, but in the end, God will hold him accountable for his lies.

  • Here’s a sign: the person tells you something shocking…and you explain it away. For example, Jackass told me that when he graduated, he spent time chopping stolen cars. I was shocked. Seriously shocked. And then I told myself, “he learned his lesson”–instead of asking “what kind of person can do this?”

  • This is a really good subject.

    I started the online dating way to soon, I admit that one, not sure when the right time is, but I stuck with it. I also had no intention of starting a relationship, nor just wanting casual sex. Without wanting to sound like something a Narc might say, i went with the attitude that life’s too short, if i make some new friends out of the experience then that’s a positive.

    Anyway i digress..heres my experience on dating:-

    1) Your are at an advantage already that you kind of know what you don’t want in a person based on your last experience. If you are aware of Cluster B fuck-wits then you are at an even bigger advantage.

    2) It may seem like and old romantic story, but I was looking for a fellow chump. I was in no hurry to meet someone and have a full blown relationship.

    3) When i connected with someone on the dating site, there was an immediate connection in terms of our sense of humour, not taking ourselves too seriously..She was a chump…I knew i could get along with this person.

    4) I was very honest about my experience, told her I’m only xx months out of a marriage, I’m not mental I just want to meet new people and enjoy life. The 5 minutes she took to reply felt more like an hour…when she replied and said she too was a chump we began texting each other pretty much every day and I knew even more so this was a person I would like to spend time with.

    5) When we met for our first date, There wasn’t an immediate spark or attraction there, she was lovely, funny, we got on well, it was a perfect date, but I still wasn’t sure. I just told myself not to over think it, enjoy the experience, If she doesn’t want to see me again then I’ll accept that.

    6) As the relationship progressed I kept finding myself thinking “This wasn’t what it was like when I fell in love with my Ex” That was fast, amazing, butterflies, exciting…Surely that what falling in love with was supposed to be about. Again, i stuck with it.

    7) I went into the relationship knowing I can survive on my own, I enjoy my own space, my own time, If she didn’t accept that then I would be disappointed but would go my own way…she felt the same.

    8) Most of all trust your gut, it probably served you well before…if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t

    18 months later and me and my fellow chump are very much in love, she reciprocates, listens, values my opinion, isn’t needy or demanding, intelligent and lovely. It’s not perfect, it gets hard when we both have kids, but aren’t rushing anything. All I need to do now if get my STBXW out of my life.

  • Sorry GP, sounds tricky. CL nailed it, as usual.

    Hard to say about the phone. Some of the people I work with are millennials. Don’t know if silent, face down, and attached 24/7 are totally reliable indicators of nefarious behavior.

    But your gut? Trust your gut. It won’t lie.

  • “isn’t needy or demanding, intelligent and lovely. ”

    This bit makes it sound like I’m saying she isn’t Intelligent and lovely 🙂

    Of course I’m trying to say she is intelligent and lovely!

  • Here’s a good sign – when the potential partner, date, etc… Has zero real friends of the same gender as they are. All of their close friends seem to be of the opposite sex.

    Find out if they have at least one meaningful, on going and deep relationship with someone of the same sex. If it’s all surface-y people and shallow, this is a red flag. Especially if they tout having deep, ongoing and meaningful”friendships” with many of the opposite sex.

    If a woman says all of her friends are guys and other women are always jealous of her, watch out. Evaluate her actions. I’m female, have many guy friends, but also have a great tribe of close female friends. Women who can’t relate to any women in healthy, reciprocal and positive-bonded ways are fucked up. (Chump guys, please share the male equivalent.)

    • ANC
      This is so true. I was actually so proud of my STBXH ability to be ‘female’ in his listening skills and how easy my women friends found it to get along with him. I didn’t notice of course that he never talked just listened and was quick to touch their arm or shoulder. He smiles and laughs a lot and is (was) seen as a really sweet guy.

    • ANC, you are soooo right about having no friends of the same sex. This actually should be one of the biggest red flags of all.

      How can you be as friendly and sociable as these people all seem to be, and yet have next to no friends from their childhoods, high school or college to speak of? The only friends my wife has from back then are a few old guy friends (whom I’ve never been introduced to of course). These people are the biggest social butterflies you’ll ever meet – and yet they have no close friends for any lengthy period of time.

      This will definitely be something I’ll look for going forward.

    • I can’t claim this. Most of my truly close relationships with non-relatives are with women. I do have many male cousins and uncles that I’m close to. So ANC’s definition could easily rule me out for many women. It could be different for men of course.

      • The next eval question may be, would you tell your date or mate that most guys feel intimidated by you (inferring you are too alpha to have at least one significant bromance?)

        If you have deep relationships with your male cousins or family members, do you regularly do stuff with them because you guys really enjoy each other? I have a two cousins like that. They are awesome friends.

    • I think it’s zero real friends of any sex, but particularly of the same sex.

      My ex had no real friends – just people he knew from high school or work. None were friends he spent time with outside of the circle in which they met. Funny thing is, I didn’t realize this until after we split and one of his many comments blaming me for his cheating was that we should have spent more time going out with friends. First, I’m not sure what going out with our friends has to do with him keeping it in his pants with random women. Second, I would have had to coordinate our going out which frankly, I was tired of doing. And third, when I thought about “our” friends, I realized that all our friends were really MY friends. He had none. I did give him the one set of switzerland friends though – they can have each other!

  • Big red flag – I dated a man with mommy issues and EVERY relationship he had his girlfriend cheated on poor little innocent him. Uhuh, a 39 year old man who never really has had a relationship longer then a few months is yet another red flag. He tried to move in with me after 6 months – hell no I couldn’t even bring myself to give him a drawer. The same guy “almost made the Olympic team” “was only a few hours away from getting his pilot license” “told me he dropped $80,000 cash to a dealership to buy the first model Silverado truck that was a prototype””was the boss of his semi-retired dad’s business” and name dropped like crazy.

    His lies were so ridiculous it was hard to keep them straight. Reality just a loser that was proud of his 10 year old truck and motorcycle who never held down a real job in his whole life other then the one failed attempt to be a dj at the age of 30.

    That was only one pretend relationship I had following cheaterpants and I waited a whole year after separation to date.

    Picker officially broken ?? I’m pretty sure when I was done with loser he needed a shrink – he received an email calling him out for all his untruths and I never talked to him again. I hate liers and would much rather be forever alone ?

  • My ex was firmly in the “all of my exes are crazy bitches and my bosses don’t understand me” camp. I felt VERY special that I was the first one to truly “get” him, and felt compassion that he had been victimized by women who had subjected him to what he called emotional blackmail. What I now know really happened is that he was cheating and the women he was with knew something was off, and as a result they justifiably got mad. He called them controlling, needy, and manipulative (before I knew he had cheated on them). His bosses were all jerks in one way or another and they all treated him badly. His family didn’t understand his desire for freedom from his hometown and his dad was “controlling.” What a sad, sad sob story, and I felt so badly for this awesome guy who couldn’t catch a break. But I was different. I wasn’t like the other women. I was the first woman that he was proud to show off as his girlfriend. I was the first to get him. I was the only one who communicated. I wasn’t manipulative or needy. I was confident and sure of myself. I was an adventurous free spirit. I was the one.

    ….until the script flipped to support his discard of me, our son, and our life. Then I was just another controlling, needy, manipulative outsider who didn’t understand him. I’m sure the OW fell for it, too. The poor abused underdog who just can’t get a break when all he wanted was someone who understands him. What he really wants is someone who will let him abuse her without complaint, cheat without suspicion, control her without question. The OW will put the pieces together eventually, and when she does she’ll be just another controlling, needy, manipulative bitch to set the stage for the next woman who will be the first to “get” him.

    Now I know those red flags, and I will never, ever fall victim to that manipulative bullshit ever again.

    • And about that OW–she was married to me. And she love-bombed me to smithereens…for years!

      I was “the first man she truly loved,”even though she’d had boyfriends almost non-stop since middle school. Our love was special and different and BETTER than other couples’ love.

      …until it wasn’t. Until we got married and the thrill wore off, and her eyes wandered the the next thrill…the next REAL love. Seriously this time. I swear.

      This helps to rationalize her branch-swinging from man to man, which she’s done ever since her hormones kicked in. After all, real and true love is (in her mind and in our pop culture) so special that it justifies affairs and heartbreak.

    • What Free Vixen said. Same stories, different guy, same outcome. Oddly, the only person in his family I maintain communication with (to facilitate a relationship for the grandkids) is the “controlling father.” I now know that “controlling” is code for “responsible and humane.”

      • Yes, I discovered that my former father in law just had a low tolerance for bullshit. Boundaries are often misinterpreted as controlling by those who don’t like other people’s boundaries.

    • “What he really wants is someone who will let him abuse her without complaint, cheat without suspicion, control her without question.”

      THIS. this was the ex’s fantasy world too

      Um. NO.

      • Ah, that was uncomfortably accurate in a lot of ways. I think I might have to stop resisting and finally accept that my ex was an abusive. It still feels wrong to say it, but so much of that essay mirrored my experience with her. Thank you for linking it.

  • I was a young, stupid 29 year old spackling maniac when The ClusterFuck B Sociopath love bombed the hell out of me. To this day I can say I had never felt so loved in a my life. That is the torture and mind fuck of a narc because you are always trying to please him for that “love” you felt when the fuckers formulate their plan to hook you.
    I also recall his own father telling me “good, someone else can take care of him now”
    Those words ring clearly in my ears today. Same thing I said to myself when Cock Slobber wanted him so bad. Here, have him, he’s all yours!!!!
    The good news is I have 18 years of mindfuckery mental and physical abuse courtesy of a sociopath. My picker is fixed but I can’t stomach the thought of giving up my freedom and peace of mind.

    • Ex
      I love the way you write.
      I’m only just divorcing but after only two months away I’m feeling the call of that quiet freedom from having to support his neediness.
      Just now working on giving myself permission to put it my effort into myself without guilt.

      • Capricorn, my love, I promise you will feel better in time. You will become angry that you ever allowed someone to treat you so horribly. it is so hard to find ourselves again and take care of ourselves again. Try to practice not feeling guilty to do what’s best for you. Eventually you will automatically fiercely protect yourself. And trust me, it feels great. Sitting at home last night with my 5 dogs, candle burning, quiet, peaceful, no tension, no eggshells, no miserable puss motherfucker ruining everything.
        I’m ashamed I allowed him to treat me so horribly. I deserved so much better. We all do/did.

  • Here is what I have learned from watching Mr. Sparkles:

    – Picks you up at the gym (and you’re not really fit, in fact, you probably struggle with your weight)

    – His idea of a fun date is going to the movies – every weekend (hard to have a good conversation and get to know someone in the movies)

    – Is ALWAYS available to you and resents you when you don’t show the same level of commitment

    – Expects you to pay your own way (he’s paying child support on two families after all)

    – Has a checkered past (three failed relationships – two of which were marriages – and 6 kids across them)

    – Has no lifelong friends – or even recent friends of the same gender

    – His adult children have no relationship or little respect for him

    – Wants your pity

    – Sex drops off after six months to a year…

    – Has never lived a full year without being in a relationship

    – Still asks his STBXW to go shopping for a Christmas tree and gives her bottles of wine to “try” from his sample case (Yes – Mr. Sparkles is hoovering.)

    Bottomline – as Ian said – TRUST YOUR GUT.

  • I haven’t dated and am no where near that but had a couple of guys I thought I could be friends with. First Guy complained how hurt he was that one of his friends blew him off for a night out. Then blew me off on a meetup and never thought to apologize. Done. Second guy, an old friend, had many red flags. We live in different states and any talk about visiting each other involved me doing all the traveling. All about him. Him wanting to skip friendship and go straight to a relationship because he was tired of being alone. I’m not interested in saving people anymore. Last and final straw was when I told him I wouldn’t be making arrangements to get together anytime soon as I was donating my vacation time to a friend at work who was going through cancer and had run out of paid time off. He told me I was selfish not to think of how much he was looking forward to seeing me and that my friend could “figure it out”. I thank CN for finding my strength and not being needy enough to put up with crap. I attract narcs but I no longer accept them.

  • I have one. Big huge giant over inflated ego at every turn for everything. Must be praised for everything and shows you what a good thing he or she did. Its exhausting to feed an ego that big, and impossible and to notice as he got older it got worse. Show something special or important not how you rearranged the garbage cans. I hate cleaning toliets but it has to be done i do it i expect no praise. Sheesh! Too exhausting to show love to someone that like cause its never enough.

    • It definitely gets worse as they age! I think it is because they realize they are no longer king of the hill, that others are clinging up to take their place. X’s extreme narcissism really reared its ugly head as his looks began to fade. He almost became a caricature of what he had been. And, naturally, OW was more than happy to tell him how truly special he was. Unlike others here, there was no pretense of love, at least for her. It was all about cold, hard cash. I will never, ever under estimate the power of greed, again. Tearing apart a family it only one of the many awful things some people are capable of-for the right price.

  • Lies. About everything. I would hear him fabricating stories to other people while he was on the phone. Then he would get off the phone and I would be looking at him in disgust and he would say “oh you know I had to tell him a bullshit story”. No motherfucker, you’re a pathological liar. Unfortunately for me I had to try to figure that mindfuck out (find some suitable spackle) cuz I sure didn’t know then that he is a sociopath. Now all of his behavior makes sense.

    • Yes… the lies!! And all his stories were embellished or completely fabricated. He’d lie about little things that he didn’t need to even lie about. Then later I learned he lied about really really big things. His entire being is just one giant ball of a lie.

    • My ex too. All the lying. Lying for no good reason. Lying by omission. I saw it a bit when we first started dating, but didn’t connect all the dots until the last few years we were together. It got to the point I didn’t trust very much of what he said. The sad part is that just about everyone thinks he’s this “nice guy”, but very few know the real man. As I saw someone else write, he’s going to have to answer to God someday about all the lies and his cheating.

      • The lies….I had to lie to his mother about when we got engaged…he love bombed me so hard we were engaged within three months of dating – had never even met his mother or his brothers and sisters…I thought it was romantic then…I’m seeing it for the bullshit it was now. The lies never stopped – and, at times, I was complicit – thought I was showing loyalty to him (and knew the price I would pay in rage if I didn’t go along) – ugh! I want to go back 20 years and slap some sense into me!

    • Yes!!! I would hear this phrase all the time as well. It was like NO you don’t have to make anything up, just say the truth. What is the worst that is going to happen??

  • I don’t feel like there were many major warning signs from my ex-douchecanoe. We were together for 12 years from the time we were in college through our 30s. Some things that were weird in hindsight:

    -He only cried 2 times in 12 years (and one of those times was in the movie Wall-E, which oddly enough is about robots falling in love)
    -He was really bad at keeping in touch with “friends” and lamented that he always felt like he was an outsider and other people were all closer to one another than to him. Yet he would never call them or ask them to spend time together. He expected others to do all the emotional work.
    -If I was upset with him about something and brought it up he would literally just walk away from me and lock himself in the bedroom and refuse to discuss it since he didn’t want to deal with me when I was emotional. Eventually I stopped bringing up anything that bothered me and I just shoved it all inside as to not inconvenience him with my emotions.
    -He was very selfish sexually. He only performed oral sex on me twice in 12 years and both times he acted like he was doing the world’s biggest favor. Sex to him was about his pleasure only and he didn’t give a hoot if I felt anything pleasurable. Afterwards he would roll off and start to fall asleep and I’d just get my vibrator out and finish myself off. He didn’t even care. In theory I should have spoken up about that but as I stated before he had trained me to not bring up any issues or concerns to him because me having emotions and preferences or needs was inconvenient to him.
    -He would often agree to complete a task but most of the time he wouldn’t follow through on it. This could be something simple like “pick up milk on the way home” or something more labor intensive like “find a pediatrician for our daughter.” I could not count on him to do anything. If I was upset about this then he would walk away because he didn’t want to deal with me when I was emotional.

    Now that I write it all out it seems worse. In the time it didn’t feel too horrible. Maybe I was just in the Monkey House and couldn’t smell the stench.

    • StrawberryJellyfish, this was my X to a tee!
      – He never cried (until we separated – then he was an emotional mess which I was supposed to comfort, even though he was the cheater). He was very robotic and unemotional.
      – He walked away, made a joke or said “I choose to be happy” whenever I would bring up something that was bothering me about our relationship. I wasn’t smart enough at the time to recognize that just because he was ‘happy’ doesn’t mean I was happy and he should actually care and want to fix what was making me unhappy. That’s what people do when they love someone. They don’t ignore what you are saying and walk away.
      – So much sexual withholding, and when we did have it I did all the work and it lasted 2 minutes. Same thing on oral sex – I didn’t realize until I started dating other men that lots of men actually enjoy pleasuring a woman in this way.
      – I can’t tell you how many times he would say he would do something that then didn’t follow through. If I dared to bring it up, months or years later, I was a nag. So, like you, I learned to not rely on him for anything and do everything myself.
      – I think of it now like the frog boiling analogy – I didn’t realize how unsatisfying and emotionally vacant our marriage was until I somehow got out of the pot alive (traumatized beyond belief but alive nonetheless)…

      • Strawberry and unencumbered

        So maybe never crying is a red flag. Oh my lord. My STBX never cried in 20 years! When I found out he cried once (it was weird to watch too I had never seen him cry so rather than feeling sorry I just watched and thought that’s odd) and he was crying because he thought there might be something wrong with him. Erm yes.
        Funnily enough it never happened again. When I told him I had decided to divorce and I was in pieces I asked why he wasn’t upset and he got angry and said that actually the previous day he had teared up a couple of times.
        Not a tear since. I guess that one time he used up his lifetime supply.

        • Exasshole cried only a few times in 17 years, each time for good reason. However, he cried a river of alligator tears in the months after I caught him cheating. If going ragy didn’t work to shut me down he would start talking about how painful everything was and start crying. I finally LISTENED to what he said and realized the tears were for him and him alone. Then I realized he could turn that shit on and off just like he could turn the rage on and off.

  • For me, one of the earliest flags should have been the readiness to provide “white lies” to smooth things over. That tied to an inability to stand up to anyone.

    • This is definitely my ex. The lies no matter what colour they were and being spineless. I cannot stand weak men and my ex was one of the weakest men I have ever had the misfortune of knowing.

    • YES YES YES.

      This should be everyone’s first thing to look for. When you know for a fact that “I’m not feeling very well” really means “I know I said I would, but I really don’t feel like it now,” the red flag should be hoisted high and prominently.

  • The red flag should have been that he didn’t break up with his previous gf before dating me. “Hey,” I spackled, “she’s in a different country, clearly that’s not going to work, and breaking up is such a difficult conversation to have, I can see how he’s procrastinating.” I congratulated myself that I put my foot down and insisted he break up with her before going any further with me. I should have run. I was 18 and stupid. 20 years later I’m a chump.

  • 2nd red flag: we went out to dinner and we forgot to pay. Later that evening I suddenly realized “HEY WE FORGOT TO PAY”. He replied “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. We got a free dinner.” I walked back and paid. I should have kept walking and never looked back.

  • I was married to ex cheater for 20 years. I’ve been married to Nice Guy for a little over two weeks now. I can only speak for myself, but I will tell you some of the ways my relationship with Nice Guy differs from my marriage to my ex. In no particular order:

    1. I have not even once felt the need to secretly look through Nice Guy’s dresser drawers, phone, computer, closet, etc. I know I would find nothing more interesting than funky gifts from his kids, texts/emails dealing with work, and neatly folded cloth handkerchiefs.

    2. On the occasions Nice Guy has said/done something that bothered me, once I told him how I felt, he did not reply, “I’m sorry YOU feel that way,” which was my ex’s favorite “apology.” Instead, Nice Guy genuinely is sorry he hurt my feelings, he takes responsibility, and most importantly, HE DOES HIS BEST TO NOT REPEAT THE ACTION.

    3. Nice Guy knows lots of people around our town. When we run into these people and I am introduced to them, not once has any of them said, “You poor thing,” or “I don’t know how you do it.” I swear, during my first marriage, I heard those words dozens of times when being introduced to someone who knew ex but not me. What a red flag. What I DO often hear after Nice Guy introduces me to someone is something nice about my new hubby.

    4. I never have the feeling Nice Guy is doing something just to keep me on the hook or butter me up. In my first marriage, I often had the feeling ex was throwing me a crumb to keep me quiet or smooth over his bad behavior.

    5. Nice Guy is totally responsible and reliable. He does what he says he is going to do. He is employed. He has good relationships with his adult children. He pays his alimony to his ex on time.

    6. I don’t have the cringing, scared little voice in my gut telling me that Nice Guy can’t be trusted or isn’t what he seems. Wish I had paid more attention to that voice the first time around.

    7. Nice Guy isn’t perfect by a long shot. Neither am I. But we fit together well and are able to tolerate each others’ quirks. He isn’t an attention whore, he doesn’t flirt with everyone he meets, he doesn’t give me sketchy stories about why he’s late — he doesn’t have to, he gets home when he says he will.

    8. Nice Guy doesn’t post every move he makes on Facebook looking for attention.

    Pay attention to your gut. It will tell you whether or not a person can be trusted.

  • Wow! I’ve read through all the comments and I’m thinking that maybe I’m in really big trouble. My STBXH and I started with a casual relationship. He was openly honest about not wanting a real relationship. We were good friends for many years before but I forgot a lot of his flaws in the years we didn’t speak. I was also hurting from a bad divorce. I guess I forgot how he has serious problems letting go of his ex-girlfriends even with years have passed. He always had many bed buddies but not many actual relationships. The relationships he did have were always doomed to fail in some way. I remember thinking two years into the relationship that he was one of the most selfish people I have ever met along with his mother. Stoic didn’t begin to describe it. He constantly asked for space … and only wanted to spend time on his terms (which was a lot of time). I still can’t believe the double life to be honest. The time management is astounding and I can’t imagine how exhausting. He always spoke about how perfect his ex was and how no woman would measure up. A few years into it he moved on from that but there was always some woman. He never believed in soul mates or anything like that … in fact it seemed he never really believed in a deep love. I tried many times over the years to leave and he would always turn up charm and attention for awhile making me believe maybe he really did love me. He would give examples of things he did to prove he was loving and selfless. Things that somehow you couldn’t argue with. But while I was so twisted around half the time something just never felt right most of the time. I spent a decade of my life convincing myself it was me and he also did. He said I was the selfish one and didn’t do anything for him. I would bend myself into a pretzel and it was never enough. He complained that I was insecure and that it came from before our relationship. I definitely don’t agree there my first husband although it ended badly never made me feel like nothing.

  • Thanks so much, GPoop and CL, for drawing attention to this issue.

    Those traits don’t apply to a covert narc, though. They can be VERY sneaky. Mirroring, attentive, offering to pay for everything at first (!!!), smothering, and unable to be alone. These constitute their game.

    The lovebombing, entitlement and disregard for even the smallest of boundaries (yours, their kids, rules of the road). Watch for those. Silent during fights and poor memories for the details (no need to discuss ~~ just say, ‘sorry for my part’ and never resolve or change!)

    Throw in gaslighting (like saying they answered a question when they did not ~~ “you should get your hearing tested” ~~ I did , TWICE ~~ normal!!)), siding with anyone who goes vs you or makes you uncomfortable (“it’s your fault, V”). This is the beginning of your dismantling.

    These guys and gals are a special kind of sick. One more: any pleasure at witnessing your discomfort. This is vile. Lacks all empathy. Though tries to ACT compassionate.

    Everyone loved him. Always got his way, beginning with his Mom who adores him (he is 68). She is hard core mean, while hugging and smiling. argh.

    These are a variant on the narc spectrum. Equally vile. Newbies, BEWARE.
    Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? ☀️☀️ Sorry, but geez. This stuff sucks! V

    • This struck home, thank you for articulating it so well.

      I think that staying silent during fights is a special kind of gaslighting. I’d be losing my shit while he stayed calm, dismissed my concerns, and ignored my questions/pleas/demands. I’d wear myself out and then feel like a total asshole for losing my shit, while making no progress on resolving the issue at hand. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Later on, he’d be vague about whatever the new complaint was, saying how I “always” did x, y, z (while being unable to give a single example) and would head off any discussions about anything because I “always” overreact and he “just can’t talk to me.”

      Have fun with that, OWife!

      • Kaycan
        OMG Mine always silent during fights!! The same. I would argue myself into the ground while he nodded and agreed to everything I said but then didn’t. I’d feel AWFUL after – like I’d kicked a puppy to death.

        He is like this now. I go after him about affairs – he just agrees, apologises then nothing. There is nothing.

        This topic has been amazingly eye opening.

        • Oh yes, the silent treatment. This was perhaps Shitbox’s biggest and main tactic. Lke you say, Kaycan and Capricorn, somehow them being silent, unresponsive, unflinching would make us lose our shit – either through distress, anxiety, anger whatever – so we became the crazy one (hence my screen name).

          When Shitbox gave me one of his silent treatments, I couldn’t stop myself from talking, begging, pleading and reading more into his silences – almost as if I was guessing what he might have been thinking and responding to that – like I was having a conversation with a silent man!

          Anyway, what I finally realised was that as I was becoming more and more anxious and distressed at his lack of response (compounded by his lack of response to my distress – a vicious circle), I was revealing everything about the contents of my head and my heart, my deepest fears and insecurities, my worries and my dreams and desires. While he revealed…. nothing. Through the silent treatment, my ex must have learnt an awful lot I never should have revealed in a one-sided conversation, an awful lot he could use against me, while I learnt nothing about him. Toward the end, during the affair, it started to creep me out, that I didn’t know this man, my husband, but there I was, laying myself bare. I’ve learnt from that.

          • Mine was like this as well. Though instead of silence, he would say “Don’t feel like that” (my feelings were wrong), “It’s not like what you think” (the way I interpreted his affair was wrong), etc. which is straight up gaslighting.

            He is very calm in an argument and as Capricorn descirbed, almost stoic. This is an insidious tactic because it makes me react more in order to illicit a response. When pressed further, he would avoid and retreat and just say, “I don’t know.”

            How can one possibly argue with that?

            Mutual friends also know this behaviour of his, as well as his favorite tactic of deploying half truths. So it is not like he is like this only with me.

            Arguments feels like a moot point – almost often one sided and rarely productive.

      • kaycan, you are NOT the asshole in this equation. He is. And losing your shit is appropriate to the mindfuckery they dish up.

        Likewise, Capricorn and Off the crazy train, there is no win with these ones (I had swear words in there but deleted!) My guts would be in such a knot when he did that and he LOVED it. The SOB. V

    • Any pleasure at witnessing your discomfort. Wow that brought back some repressed memories! X setting there laughing and saying not my problem

      • Yeah, newdaydawning, this is the vilest of the vile acts they perform. Even not speaking but so enjoying our discomfort. In my case, his daughter and her son did that to me as well. Quite revolting., That became the true limit of my tolerance!!!!!! V

    • No need to apologise. You just articulated my ex very well indeed. I’d say a 98% match there.

      But now we know what to watch out for. Be it new partner, colleague, boss, friend. We’re wiser and more self-resilient because of this experience.

      • Oh boy, no kidding, Off the crazy train! We have obtained the highest level of training in their awkward, mean, crippling conduct. Bring on the other offenders. I am totally prepared to meet them head on!!! We are sisters of the narc experience, Otct!!! shit, eh? ??, V

  • I think the first step is to know what you are looking for and your deal-breakers. Personally, I’d like someone who is self-aware.

    I always ask dates (or on-line potential dates) how long their most recent relationship lasted and what happened/why it ended. I have found this to be very insightful. This gives me an idea of their current state of mind and also how they think. Of course people lie, but I listen to the details of their story (i.e., a man who claimed was separated (and had 3 adopted kids) but who had zero understanding of the divorce process, another said she would hit him, another that his X just wanted out, another proclaimed he had Peter Pan syndrome).

    I have also asked if they have ever gone to counseling (or couples counseling). I am summarizing but a guy I dated told me that in counseling his xwife talked about her frustration about him working too much and the result was that she got the pool she wanted. I don’t know what kind of counseling he went to, but it helped me understand that he had no self-awareness and was lying.

    Later on, I also ask about their opinion on cheating. This, of course, is the most illuminating!

  • XH despised his mother and XW, accused both of abuse. He disclosed early that he had been through a recent bankruptcy, but other people’s faults. Meanwhile, he was accruing student debt and had no idea how much until we were filling out housing rental application; I almost ran away from him then. He had big business ideas but was unwilling to do anything towards making them happen. He talked about spending a couple days intensively cleaning the 3 rooms he rented in someones house before i visited; he couldn’t let me see that he lived in chaos and filth, knowing I’m a neat person. I just didn’t take care of myself with this stuff, I lived too much in my imagination.

    A guy I dated after divorce told me a lie to manipulate me to actually sleep with him, he wanted to wake up with someone in bed with him. It took me months to catch up with the truth, mostly because I put off sexual activity until I felt comfortable. When I asked him about the discrepancy, he started by denying it, then went through several variations trying to find something I would accept, never acknowledging lying or apologizing or asking how he could make it up to me. He ended with loudly saying I was calling him a liar, which I had not said. He knew the jig was up and we stopped dating.

    I’m going to keep in mind the phrase above: I attract narcs, and I don’t accept them.

  • So, I started dating a fellow Chump. Which is kind of weird because I am not yet divorced. (My very conservative mother asked “doesn’t that make you as bad as STBX?” Um, mom… dating someone 3 years after DDay 1 and after I have filed in no way compares to someone who admits to having cheated on me for 8 years… ?)
    And maybe it is too soon, but I am happy to say that so far he meets none of the criteria listed above.
    It is too soon for it to be serious. But slow is good. It gives me faith that some day I can get this right.

    • My mother is the same way. 🙂 My high school boyfriend for weeks threatened to leave me for one of my friends, then he did, and no-one could figure out why I was upset they started dating just minutes after he dumped me. “You guys broke up! He was single!” A few weeks later, I started seeing one of his friends on the periphery of our social circle. My mother said I was just as bad as my ex boyfriend. Sorry, no. I didn’t play mind games on someone for weeks, and then make two people pick-me dance. I didn’t tear apart a group of friends, and I didn’t covet someone else’s boyfriend. Having to explain this over and over made no difference, just had to love her where she was. 🙂

    • I worry about this in regards to myself. My kids don’t talk to me and I know how that looks to others. Since X and the kids have all discarded me, it makes me wonder if something is wrong with me. I’m the common denominator. I have no issues with co workers and friends, just family. The things I would see as red flags in others I see in me.

      • newdaydawning, I am in the exact same boat as you. I have had some very cruel things said to me and about me by strangers who have heard a little of my story but do not know the truth. Like every person on this earth, I am far from perfect but I was a damn good wife and mother but my kids prefer their neglectful father and his 24 year old prostitute. I am long past being heart broken and I now accept that my life will be lived on my own. Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts if I dwell on the situation but I do try not to, it is the only way I have stayed sane and not walked in front of a bus. I think it would make them happy to know that I was dead.

        • Dear Maree,
          Another way to feel better is to deeply understand your husband’s deviant and disgusting behavior is that the sole motivator for a true narcissist is narcissistic supply.

          View them like aliens. Actual different life forms. They need supply (this site calls it Kibbles but it is more sinister and spooky) because they are empty inside. Imagine a swirling black void, howling with emptiness and rage, self pity and warped thoughts, where their heart should be.

          Once they have sucked up your soul, and you are not jumping and up and down and clapping that they are #1!!!….they want someone who does.

          Sadly, most Narcs are shallow pigs. They value new and shiny over known and faithful. His whore in Cambodia will squeal with delight as long as the money flows.

          He is so disordered, this is the only thing that makes him feel “alive.” Not long, treasured bonds, not genuine love, but “supply”- to fill the void where his soul should be.

          It could not have had a different ending. They do not relate as we do. I went to a 3 day intensive retreat about recovering from Narc abuse and I learned this. I will give it to you for free.

          At first, I was gagging at this advice, as I hate my X with burning of 10,000 suns. But, it works.

          When you have those feelings of outrage, shame, misery, injustice, walking in the front of a bus 😉
          Just acknowledge them, say hello and let them go. My instructor said to bless them but I am not there yet.

          But, the linch pin is to get out of “the story”. You have to step out of the story of what they did to you because it revictimizes us over and over and over.

          What a wake up call….at this retreat to see women still rehashing their stories and being broken, and the abuse happened 5, 10, 15, 30 years ago. They have sacrificed their lives to being in this “story” of being a victim. The men who acted like a Tasmanian Devil in their hearts? Remarried. New children. Living life. Happy? It does not matter. They have moved on.

          Were these women victims? You better believe it. But I will be hanged if I am going to let a Human Cockroach derail the rest of my life. I read above where you threw away a man’s number. That is okay. You may not be ready. He may have been a creep.

          When it feels right, it will flow like honey and there will be no second guessing.

          I don’t believe in mixed messages anymore. If I have to decode someone, they can keep on walking.

          • Devil on a Chain, thank you for such a comprehensive response. I really appreciate it very much and I will reread it so that it sinks in as I am slow on the uptake !! 🙂 Yes, I will “get out of the story”. Trust me I have been doing my best and I am almost there. I no longer consider myself a victim and like you I will be damned if I will allow the predator to derail the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a nice life but the love I have for my kids cuts very deep.

            • Maree,
              I know you are doing your best. I pay attention to you. I bet you can guess who I am. 🙂
              I just had to share this info with you and the other kind people here.

              It feels like scratching poison ivy, that itch, to retell it. It feels so good in that moment…it feels like relief. But it is a mind trick.

              I learned at my retreat that it keeps us so stuck in a victim mode. At some point, retelling is massively damaging.

              I will not bog you down with all of it, but we learned that when we keep living in that story, our body releases chemicals identical to the trauma while it was happening. Your body does not know the difference.

              So, each time you relive it, after a point, all those awful addictive peptides, adrenaline and cortisol start pumping, and we don’t get well. Our bodies don’t know it is not happening again. Intellectually we know we are removed from the disordered presence…but not physically or subconsciously. This was hard at first for me to get my arms around, but I get it now. It is actually a type of addiction. Worst, it is one that can consume your every thought, and frame the rest of your life.

              When I was talking to my mother this morning, I felt the urge to pontificate on my X. (Many people want to beat me senseless as they are so over this topic) Like a powerful itch to scratch. I acknowledged this insane urge to keep reliving the past, then refrained. It passed. I went and exercised.

              I believe deeply your children will come around to the truth of your X’s rotten nature. Battling a Narc is hard. One thing people always say about me is how sharp I am. Really? I was duped by a Narc on a catastrophic scale. One woman at my retreat was an engineer at NASA. As in….rocket scientist. Your children are in the Narc Fog. They are duped.

              You will be their Lighthouse when they start to wake up. You will wave them to safety on the shore.

              • I know you are doing your best. I pay attention to you. I bet you can guess who I am. 🙂 I think I know but …………… now you have me puzzled. Can I have a hint please??

              • Devil on a Chain, May I ask where you went to this retreat? I really feel like I need major help getting over this narc abuse and addiction to him/my story.

          • I really like this. Let us not be victims, folks. Sure, we’ve got our stories (and coming on here and sharing our stories is fine), but what I take from your post is: what happened to us will NOT define us! Sure, it can be a back story to tell people, but it’s not who we are, it’s just something we’ve been through. It’s a chapter of our life story that’s made us wiser and stronger, and that’s all.

            I really believe that wisdom doesn’t come from age. Sure, there may be a correlation, but I believe wisdom comes from the combination of experience and reflection. We’ve experienced, we’re reflecting, this experience will help us to grow as people.

            • Off the Crazy Train,
              It is an eye opener to sit in a circle and hear women crying, broken and lost. Then, you hear that their betrayal happened 20 years ago.

              This got my attention fast. They did not: go back to school, start a business, find new companions, adopt a cow, plant a garden, travel to Oman, help children, not one significant productive tic on the old life plan….

              But, boy howdy, do they want to retell those betrayal stories. I wanted to chow down on the delicious food, but had to fake interest in hearing details of affairs that happened 20 years ago. And those are the people we send good thoughts and genuine empathy….but dodge on the buffet line at breakfast.

              I don’t want to be that person. And I could have been.

              It does help us grow, as trite as it sounds. My God, what do we have to fear now?

              • Devil.
                I liked at the back of CL’s book she suggests/tells us to Get Over It. In the nicest possible way she is reminding us not to let this define us and to live well.
                Thanks for reminding us not to get stuck.

              • I definitely agree with you Devil on a Chain. We absolutely have to move on and build a new life.

                One thing comes to mind though.

                When we find this site and it helps us figure out what we were really dealing with in the past. Like Tempest and Unicornomore, I have spent the last year or so connecting the dots on cheater ex’s behaviors. Even though it has been quite a while, I found myself being sucked back in those days until I could process the crap with the new knowledge and skills that I now have. Then I could let it go. Kind of like lancing an old boil. There were a lots of aha’s, and …So that is what was really going down. And yes, it pissed me off sometimes….and made me cry sometimes. And yes, it is important to talk about old shit. That is not a bad thing if it is healing old hurts. Especially here, where everyone knows exactly what we are talking about, and accepts our pain and angst without judgement, maybe for the first time in our lives. That’s the healing part. Then we can get back to the business of life as it is right now.

                I guess that a walk down memory lane is not a bad thing if it enables us to let go of old crap that is continuing to cause us pain. The key is learning what we need to learn from it all and then keep on stepping. Just sayin.

                I’m mostly back at meh these days. What I learned here made a huge difference. I post when I feel my story can be of use to a fellow/sister chump. Otherwise I don’t share my story much.

                One thing that will never change is the warm spot in my heart for all of you. You all are special, because you have walked through hell, and are still doing the best you can. There is raw courage here, along with plenty of gumption and boatloads of compassion. I’m proud to be in your company.

            • There was a point when I got tired of the way I was telling “the story” to people when a lightbulb moment came.

              Why do I keep telling the story based on what he did to me? (victim mentality). Instead, why can’t I tell “my story” and reframe everything based on what ‘I’ did about the situation? (I got fed up and left).

              That was when I realized the importance of ‘reframing’ the way I tell my tale and focus it on my response of the situation. It fees more empowering to say that it was MY choice to LEAVE due to the way I was being treated in the relationship.

              If people think I’m a bitch, so what? I learned here from you guys on CN never to apologize for taking your own survival on your own hands.

      • I know some wonderful people whose kids won’t talk to them — in three cases Mom, feeling abused and at the end of her rope, or even cheated on, leaves and asks for a divorce. The kids are teens or young adults and get manipulated by Dad, and judge Mom for “abandoning the family.” The kids are at that age where they are pulling away from their parents in any case, and then there is no required visitation rights for Mom that would give her time with the kids to win them back. Kids make a snap decision to stay with Dad even if he is an abuser, and that snap decision becomes permanent as they hear only Dads side of the story. I know two Dads who had the reverse happen as well, so it’s not gender specific. Parental alienation is a real and horrible thing.

  • Here’s one — making a habit of saying that his/her statements are “technically correct.”

    KK was always big on this. It’s just another way of avoiding honesty.

  • For me, it boils down to capacity for empathy. Empathy for other people or situations.
    Do not confuse this with “glory giving”. Cheaters are often very concerned with public persona, so outward appearances mean little. I’m talking about being able to sympathize with a situation when they are unguarded…. pay attention to that.

    Can and does the person give a rats behind about anything outside of their “bubble”?

    Cluster B’s often have high/inflated opinions of themselves, in reality this is a scab over a deep hidden feelings of inferiority or shame. Once the mask slips, rage and hatred are often unleashed. Unfortunately on the ones closet to them, wives, children, parents and friends. Pay attention to ego driven people.

    Often cluster b’s project.
    If you are considered a good friend and worker, quality person, thoughtful and kind by everyone else – but the guy you are dating often complains of your selfishness and inconsideration, that should be a red flag. If they criticize you in ways or of things that you have never been made aware of before, this is a red flag.

    (On the flip side, how they describe themselves is how they see you.) I have been told cheaters are attracted to the traits they would like to really have – loyal, kind, trustworthy – so it is often that they seek out natural born chumps…..

    THE GOOD NEWS is that being aware of this is 98% of the problem. No one can force you to have a relationship you don’t feel good about, and understanding your boundaries and listening to your gut is paramount to building the right relationship.

    • Great reply, Magneto.

      Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly for chumps. Learning to trust self.

      Its been the biggest internal hurdle after my previous relationship. Learning to trust myself again. Gut instincts are usually right on.

  • Here is another excellent way. It might seem sneaky, but this is your life.

    On the first few dates, do not breathe fire about fidelity issues. Adopt a calm, extremely non judgmental tone about relationships. Be a mellow mushroom.

    Then, with the casualness of offering a cheese danish, ask: Have you ever cheated on anyone before? Sort of smile and adopt a “You naughty boy!” tone.

    These people are led by their egos. They will, 99% of the time, indulge in a humble brag and want you to know that their utter fabulousness and animal magnetism makes being faithful, gosh darn it, really hard when so many are fighting for MY attention. There will be qualifiers and excuses, but they will tell you.

    Simply ask them. Their own narcissistic need to be desirable and low impulse control (People lose their minds over my sexiness!!!) will lead them to tell you the 411 on their character.

    Then run fast and run hard.

  • Another Red Flag: When in a conversation with them, do they ever ask a question about YOU? Your life, your interests, your work, your family, your health, your goals?

    According to Webster, the definition of a conversation is: “(1) The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words; (2) An oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions or ideas”. Key word = an EXCHANGE. Not a MONOLOGUE.

    Recently, a good friend and I went out of town to see one of my relatives; this was someone with whom I used to be close but I hadn’t seen him in 15 years. During our 2-hour visit, my relative didn’t ask either of us a single question… not one query directly at my male friend (whom my relative had never met before), nor of me (even though he absolutely knew that in the past 15 years, all 3 of my children had graduated from college and were now more than a decade into their respective careers, that 2 of my children had gotten married, that I’d gone through a divorce from my cheating XH of 40 years, that both of my parents had died, etc. It was rather astounding.

    At the conclusion of our time together, my relative asked several times if we would come back for another visit. In order to escape, we said we would consider it and left. You already know the question we were asking ourselves all the way home: WHY would we do that??

    • MyRedSandals
      Unfortunately my STBX is the opposite. He encourages monologues from others. I think as a way to get close and trusted fast. He listens, nods, asks questions, seems really fascinated. People are drawn in to overshare all kinds of personal stuff really quickly with such an attentive listener. Then a kind of bonding occurs but it’s all one sided as he never talks about himself just gets people to talk. Trouble is he isn’t really listening. If you asked him afterwards what they talked about he could never really remember. Was all really vague. But these people now thought he was the nicest guy.

      • Oh Yes. My X had the best listening skills of only one you ever met. He *remembers* everything you say. He nods. He commiserates. He says witty, clever things that express outrage on your behalf. He offers insights that are surprisingly helpful and kind. It appears you are dealing with a human being

        It is a huge trick. After you have overshared, you walk away and realize he has scraped you clean, and he is in tact. He has ammo on you. You have nothing on him. You feel unsettled…it was an unbalanced exchange.

        These are the high level Narcs, on the far end of the spectrum…the sociopaths who are hustlers, who are scary as hell. These are the predators.

        The idiots Red Sandals details are easier to spot, but just as nauseating and life draining. But they are ham fisted. The receptacle is irrelevant…they just want an adoring audience. You are not real to them.

        I joke about a member of my family who if I told her I just won the Nobel Peace Prize, wrote a best seller, got my body fat down to 10%, married Liam Neeson, saved a colony of endangered pandas, then canoed the entire Amazon with a monkey on my head, her eyes would glaze over and then she breathlessly would tell me about her bunions for 2 hours.

        And my exact response to any of those self absorbed Narc miserable bores: Fuck off.
        Life is too short.

        • Narc miserable bores!! HAH! They are, aren’t they?

          Yeah, there’s lots of other people around who are more authentic.

      • My XH would also listen very intently and was highly observant, but I discovered it was just to have things to use against me and/or throw back in my face later.

    • I agree with the Devil, the predators are way smarter than that. They ask, they listen, they are there for you whenever you need them (until they aren’t). They share your views on everything from politics to toenail polish or WTFEV matters to you in even the slightest way – but only after they know what you want to hear. They get your deepest secrets. One day you realize you don’t really know their stories, their full histories. The ones you do know probably aren’t true, those hero stories, the very sad ones, the ones that sound an awful lot like something that happened to you…cos they never forget anything and use it as it suits them.

    • A few years back I did a test on my ex-in-laws. I always felt like I was the one who asked them all the questions about their life, how other relatives were doing, etc. I was the attentive listener to their life stories, but they would NEVER ask me questions or ask about my family, job, etc. I have two sisters who had breast cancer and a brother who got ran over by a car. Was it my imagination that they never asked me anything? Well, let’s put theory to the test!

      We had the in-laws over for some type of dinner (yeah, that’s me being chumpy as usual — inviting them over for numerous dinners each year, but we only got invited over once a year for Easter. Funny how after D-day, evil lying MIL started inviting her “perfect and special” son over ONCE A WEEK for dinner.) So we sat down to eat and the usual way it would go would be me starting all the conversation at the table. How’s this doing? What’s new with xyz? Blah, blah, blah. This time I saw down and didn’t say a word. I was pleasant and smiling and all that. But I didn’t play my usual part. And you know what? Nothing was really said at dinner. Even narc X didn’t start any conversation. I remember feeling a big uncomfortable, but I wanted to see if my theory was true. And it was! My purpose in that family was to serve them and listen to them. Do you think they would ever ask about my family? How my sisters and brother were doing? After D-day, we my sister came to help me and she just couldn’t believe that narc husband didn’t ask how she was doing with her cancer treatment. Why would he? He truly didn’t care, because unless there’s some benefit to him, he wouldn’t help or ask. They same with his family.

  • I can honestly say the only issue from the article’s list my ex displayed was – “They’re okay with lack of reciprocity.”

    I think that’s the big one.

    Everything else was not remotely an issue, except locking his phone at the very end. Up until the last 5 months of our marriage his phone was always wide open. And his computer was wide open right up to the end.

    But make no mistake, his discard of me and my daughter was utterly unexpected and his method and behavior was Cluster B through and through.


  • I also want to add “mama’s boys”. And “daddy’s girl’s”. Or any “[insert family member]’s boy/girl” for that matter. While I believe that there are good people who are genuinely extra close to their families….aka REAL “mama’s boys”….there are also disordered people/narcissists who are close to their families as well. I was hurt (often) when my STBX would put his family’s (my in-laws’) matters before our own (me and our 2 kids). If they said “jump”, he asked “how high?”. If the kids and myself needed something, oh boy, you’d think we asked him to pull out his own teeth. (Red flag!) Chumpy me simply thought that his relationship with them was stronger than our relationship. You know, a mama’s boy. WROOOONNG! Fact was, our relationship did not matter at all and his “mama’s boy” status kept me from seeing that. Hence, the nasty sexual affair with a gross coworker in a school bathroom….all while I busted my ass working in the office and taking care of our kids until he decided to come home.

    • XMIL is a nasty narc. Always pitting her kids against each other. Big surprise her son does the same. She would constantly trash our kids and me to our face. X never once stood up to her or defended us. When I started to refuse to visit her he was furious because as he told me, I was the buffer. As long as I was there she wouldn’t criticize him. Giant red flag blowing.

  • A red flag for me is a person who is very very disliked by his/her ex. I get that break ups suck but an ex-wife or husband that can hardly tolerate them? Red flag. I want to know why that is…they might lie of course but over time if they cannot stand each other? Likely cheating. I’d keep an eye on those ex’s and see if they treat them respectfully.

    If you have a fight and they can’t apologize or blame you for being “overly sensitive.” Run.

    If they aren’t reasonably close to someone in their family….an aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, parent. Run.

    If they have lame ass friends. Do they drink, fuck around, treat women like trash? Run.

    If they always get what they want, cars, clothes, expensive watches and you are asked to be mindful of spending too much? Run.

    Cheaters are notorious liars so it’s very difficult to get the straight goods, but if something seems too good to be true? It is. These people reveal themselves to you over time. Trust your instincts.

  • I really glad to see this post because it is exactly what I have been wondering myself. I will probably start to venture out into the dating pool now at some point soon and I am terrified. What I am really nervous about is that I seem to only attract sociopaths and narcissists and some of them are so high-level that in the love-bombing stage, they cover all their bases and know how to successfully hide their red flags and may be able to hide them for extended periods of time. This is what scares me so much!!! I don’t want to ever waste any more of my precious time with these sick fucks…but so afraid I will be deceived again.

  • I think it is good practice to re-evaluate other relationships after dealing with the cheater. Chances are the dysfunction is not limited to the romantic. Seeing how far the problems go feels like the pain is just piling on but really, even though it is horribly painful, it’s a chance to heal on a deeper and deeper level. Practicing good boundaries with friends and relatives is good preparation for the high stakes of dating. It’s also a chance to get comfortable enforcing natural consequences, which often feel really mean to a chump. Things like “No, I’m not going to make any more plans when you’ve cancelled on me three times.”

    Also, listen to CN. The advice really works — No Contact. Don’t invest in Switzerland friends. Listen to your instincts. Don’t try to unravel the skein of fuckedupness. It’s hard to do but it’s even harder NOT to do it.

  • I spackled over these red flags at the very beginning of my total of 16 years with the Exhole:

    1. Talked endlessly about his fascinating past while not once asking me anything about mine. To this day I can tell you the names of the streets he lived on in xyz european country. Highly doubt he knows which countries I even lived in as a child. Even read a letter he showed me that he had written to his father, back then when we started dating, in which he said, “women find my past history fascinating.”

    2. We dated for a year and he was holding doors open, love bombing, being a gentleman than the devalue began after I moved into his house with my kids from prior marriage; suddenly getting the SILENT TREATMENT and narc rages. I spent the next sixteen years begging the children to “be quiet, he had a hard day,” and apologizing endlessly when I had done nothing wrong. The Silent Treatment is a huge devaluing red flag. 16 years of silent treatments followed by narc anger explosions.

    3. Early on in our courtship, we were riding an escalator down to the first floor while the muzak was playing Bonnie Raitt’s “Let’s Give them something to talk about.” I was soo in love with asshole; when we reached the ground floor we kissed. Exhole commenced to glow about how wonderful it was that just at that moment, a random strange woman in the mall was looking at us and smiling. He just couldn’t get over it! glowing and bragging endlessly about how wonderful it was that a random strange woman was smiling at us! I was really put off by that remark and reaction because to me, all that mattered what how WE two felt at that moment. But it gave him a huge thrill that a random strange Woman had been watching. I don’t know why that bugged me so much, but it did.

    4. Flirts with waitresses and store cashiers in front of you. If you flinch or cringe, gets angry and tells you you are imagining things or being unreasonably jealous and that he “just can’t help it if women are attracted to him.”

    5. When you get in a conflict with a third party and tell him about it and he ALWAYS takes the other person’s side. Tells you you’re wrong and that the other person was right. Over and frigging over again.

    6. Road rage. Yep.

    7. Can’t work for other people. Because they are all idiotic assholes who don’t recognize his superior intelligence and greatness.

    8. Nothing is ever his fault, no matter how great or how small.

    9. Talks trash about people supposedly his “friends.” Some of them even the Switzerland friends who took Sad Sausage’s side.

    10. Believes everyone is a “user” who is “just using” him for his superior skills and knowledge, and that others are taking advantage of him. This even extended to his family members. His sister would have numerous illnesses and other calamities and call him for support. After he finished talking to her, I would ask how she was doing and he would snarl, “She only calls me when she needs something from me!”

    11. Sore Loser. Believes that anyone who is successful got unfair advantages. Even on a macro scale, he used to have his only male friend over to play card games with him. After the friend left, I’d say, “did you guys have fun,” and Ex would pout like a 5 year old and claimed that Friend got better cards than him and waaah it wasn’t fair. One time I beat him at mini golf with his sister in law and niece and he was miserable the rest of the day claiming he would have won if he had brought his sunglasses because the sun being in his eyes was the only reason that I won.

    12. Bragged about how many people trusted him. Ex a home repairman, would brag about how many people – most of them senior citizens, trusted him enough to let him have keys to their house. He had a humongous keyring dangling from his belt. “These are all the people who trust me.” Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

    I didn’t know that my Ex was a liar, until DDay and the three years following. But all of the above should have been sufficient red flags combined with his easy acceptance of financial dependence on me, and whenever he did come into some money personally, he never invested it in our joint assets or enterprises but instead bought himself toys: electronics, sports equipment, a $200 watch, he owned five PCs. Later after he was gone and I realized he was both a cheater and a serial cheater, I found some lists that he was keeping, one a list of things like getting his teeth whitened, losing weight. etc. Clearly to enhance his cheating. And a list of electronics and other toys totaling $5000. This from a man who contributed $0 to our household expenses for a year prior to Dday and my kicking his ass to the curb. Poor baby.

  • I really like this topic and then I will stop. It is so helpful for us when as we navigate the rat infested sewage of online dating (Do I sound bitter?)

    People who are cheap. It is part of their entitlement. Watch them closely and their stinginess will reveal a dry and cracked heart.

    They buy you Palmer’s chocolate, but will gobble down your Godiva. They grumble, or will not pay for the lobster, but will sure gobble your plate shamelessly. People who make jokes about how much something costs that does not benefit them. “He who jokes, confesses.”

    They want luxury, but don’t want to pay. They want it all, but want to keep “their” money in a vault. They are always looking out for themselves, down to the penny.

    North Korea sized red flag waving frantically!!!

    They are not just cheap in their wallets. They are usually cheap and shitty in love and relationships.

  • After the dust settles and real life takes over, the chump (yours truly) is simply too busy juggling a job and 2 kids and running the household to spend much time wondering what is happening over there with Narc and his OW and her 2 kids. life is exhausting enough as it is. his family did not blame him nor reprimand him for his immoral behavior and abdnsonment of the family. his way of showing remorse is not an apology – it was blameshifting and giving me the house . well, thank you but these things cannot give my kids a full time dad. its 4 months from DDay. 4 months of PTSD, endless nightmares and barely functioning days. no more suffering on account of the fuckwit. I wonder what I ever saw in him throughout our 19 year marriage . he was simply an empty void of needs and validation. what a loser. I will move on and forge a new life, whether it be poorer, alone or tiring, it beats being trapped in a marriage with such a cheater.

  • When they have to talk about themselves and talk about themselves and talk about themselves. Every conversation no matter who it is with (even the marriage counselor) they start with all their conversations about their accomplishments and all the cool stuff they do. When the talk to anyone (not just their spouse, but esp their spouse ) they will be dying for them to stop their side of their conversation so they can turn the conversation back to them. Terrible at actually listening to someone.

  • I have been with my husband for 5 yrs. But married for 4 yrs. in October. We have 2 beautiful girls together. But on July 14th my husband came home to me at 7:30 a.m. in the morning and told me that he had been thinking for awhile that maybe we should seperate. I asked him why? His response was, well I just think that your unhappy, and I don’t want to stay with you, if all I do is make you unhappy. I told him that I was not unhappy with anything, and where was this coming from. He said that it seemed to him as if I had been unhappy for some months now. I burst into tears wondering why is this happening, and is this really happening. Well, he had been going to the pool hall that same day, came home and went to work. But the next day he said that he was leaving at 4p.m. and going to the pool hall I was referred to [email protected] during my desperate need of evidence. He totally understood my situation and guided me every step of the way to put a tracker on my husband’s phone where I could track him from his phone, see his text messages, social networks and even deleted messages and know exactly what he was up to directly from my phone. Tell him from vanessa and he will help, he can hack anything.

  • “You have to use your powers of discernment. Or as we say around here — “fix your picker.””

    What bothers me about this expression is that (some) people will say by itself and with that self satisfied look as if they are saying something as profound as “just be yourself.”

    No discussion about any specifics to look out for. And also there needs to be an appreication for the fact that people do change. I read now all too often of couples in decades long and generally happy marriages….. and then one in the couple just goes completely AWOL.

    We just have to accept that we can only be ready for this…… we may not be able to completely avoid it.

    My parents were married for 50+ years. But given a few things that were said in the last 10 years of my father’s life…. there may have been something going on. Thankfully now, it’s a non issue.

    • This was me. We have only been married for 10 years (which it seems to MANY a these days is an eternity!) but I thought EVERYTHING was pretty much cool. We’d had some conversations about “I want more sex” from him but I THOUGHT it was nothing more than regular husband griping. We went on an amazing little long vacation trip for our tenth anniversary and then 10 days later he’s telling me he slept with someone else since we got back, and she’s pregnant. REALLY?! WTF?! And now it’s been ten weeks tomorrow since d-day and he’s leaving to be with her. Even though she miscarried. Because he “hasn’t been happy in years”. He slept with her once. Really?! How can this be my life? He wasn’t a perfect husband but he was never neglectful or emotionally abusive or many of the things a lot of other husbands are on this site. I’m still in shock. I know we didn’t have a PERFECT marriage, but nobody else does either. He needs to “find his happiness” because he thinks other couples are 100% happy. And somehow OW is the answer. After texting for 5 months before he slept with her. I guess it’s because she “loves him” ? Well guess what! I love him too. And have for a decade you whore! ? I have to be tough and move on. I have no choice.

  • My STBX used Google Voice and Facebook Phone exclusively to call his women (of which there were many). So, my advice would be: If you want a person to date you completely up-front – Get his/her actual phone number! Do not allow him/her to contact you in some sneaky way (i.e. in ways that cannot be traced by their potential S.O.).

    Google Voice and Facebook Phone calls are easy to erase all evidence of after the call is over. Any other method of calling that is similar would be another red flag. If someone is being on the up-and-up with you and the rest of society then they should not have a problem communicating with you in a way that could be looked up by others (such as being subpoenaed – hint-hint).

  • Since I am new here, has anyone had experience with the in laws, being his greatest supporters and just as shallow and phony as him? Even ignoring all his evil and his adulteries while they keep worshiping him and protecting their perfect, happy, superficial little relationships with him? That is just as much a source of frustration to me as he is…almost.

    • Thank You SJAF. The apology was the most important thing in my life and I feel bad so many didn’t get one.
      So, ok, I sort of blackmailed him for one, but at least it worked and I got that out of my system.

      He hid so much of the affair from me: when I would ask outright if there was anything he wanted to tell me. (never accused him) He did that long long hesitation-stare before he said – NO -. Most devastating answer of all when you know almost everything he’s been doing. It makes you think he believes you are really stupid.

    • Dial-a-shark – trust me. The least of your troubles are your in-laws.
      They are out-laws now and go no-contact. Do you have children that they may press to see?
      It is the ‘blood-thing’. You may have been their favorite DIL but it sounds like your MIL was like mine and her son could do no wrong and all her sons didn’t marry good enough for her precious sons. My X was the Golden Child who could do no wrong. Very religious family.
      His father loved me to death, more than my own family and I was actually very loved and accepted in their family.

      Divorce, of course, always ruins the structure of any family.
      I was very surprised when he told his mom the truth of what he had done so her and I and the rest of the family have stayed friends.
      N/C with X.

      Figure out who, if any, you want to keep in your life.
      For me? I know I could be friends with these people but I am slowly removing myself because they hurt by just thinking about the pain their son did.
      I will not sustain the relationships in any way.
      That’s the only way to heal.
      But, I’m just trying to ease into it the departure.

  • Susan, I couldn’t respond directly to your post. Wow, you have been in wreckonciliation for years. Do you find it to be agreeable? Do you think he is a unicorn? Good for you!

  • I didn’t see any of these “cheater-red-flags” way back when I was dating my STBX. Maybe hints of a lack of reciprocity. Way back in marriage counseling, he was avoiding his homework and I had to help him do it. That should have been one hell of a sign I wasn’t getting a 50/50 deal.

    And general selfishness…we never really got to a 100% “we” as a couple, and most of our funds got sucked into big ticket items for his hobbies instead of mine. Usually on a loan that we couldn’t afford. But when Instant Gratification Boy had a new toy in his sights, life stopped until he got it. Then a few weeks later he’d need the “upgrade,” he’d sell the old one, and we’d start all over again. I’d occasionally worried that this personality quirk would apply to me someday. Apparently I was right.

    He also had an angry lack of empathy for strangers. It usually popped out during road rage, but it was bad…in his view, every driver on the road was trying to piss him off on purpose – rolling down the windows to swear at them and everything. I spackled the heck over that aspect of his personality and figured it was just part of marriage to have to accept the other’s flaws. But once he started up with the AP and I got bumped out of that inner circle, all that rage got focused on me, and he didn’t’ have a speck of empathy for my pain or the impossible life he left me with when he walked out.

    Not sure if these quirks would “cause” cheating in every person. But they sure did here. Hindsight is 20/20.