Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Red Flags You Overlooked?

Today’s Friday Challenge is brought to you by Spackle! It brightens! It whitens! Do you have some unsightly behavior you need covering? SPACKLE!


Every healthy relationship possess a small degree of spackle. You overlook the bad morning breath, the way she leaves her shoes everywhere, how he drives 10 miles under the speed limit. You forgive. You’re a little deaf when she natters on about pinecone elves.

But bad relationships require loads of spackle. It’s the foundational substance. Spackle excuses the inexcusable and is the gateway drug to hopium. Hallucinating a commitment that doesn’t exist.

From the time you met this toxic person, what might you have done differently? What do you wish you would’ve paid attention to more carefully?

It’s not victim blaming to consider the red flags. After all, we all want to learn from this shit and fix the picker going forward.

No one deserves abuse. No one asks to have their boundaries trampled. There is no shame in loving with your whole heart. Speaking for myself, there is some residual mortification as a chump that I allowed bad behavior up until the point I didn’t any longer. And those mistakes — learn from them! — became the basis of this blog.

Got any red flags you’d like to share?

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.
  • Made me pay for all dates, belittled my job, made me buy him drugs, moved in with me after a month and then stopped working, got arrested, bought my engagement ring with my savings, made my pay for the wedding….

    …perhaps I’m colour blind.

    • I also paid for my own engagement ring! First and not the last time he used my credit cards!

      • I just realized I paid for both our wedding rings and my mother paid for the wedding he offered to pay for precisely nothing! oh god! could have saved myself 17 years of a man who basically was a child – embarressing. Of course there was cheating through out.

        • HUGE red flag: VOWS: he left out the vow that says he would be faithful – i mentioned it after wards (stunned) and he defensivly and angrily retorted he had left it out because it’s a given.

          red flag: DATING: He said a month or so after he’d met me was sad he’d met me because he had imagined himself remaining single for alot longer and once successful able to have any women he wanted.

          red flag: MOVING IN: to his apartment we were pulling a huge bag up the stairs i stopped to rest and he pushed me in a vicious and aggressive way up the stairs and i fell i felt humiliated he said nothing – i walked over the threshold into ‘our’ new life thinking ‘what the f just happened?’

          red flag: FIRST WEEK OF MARRIAGE: he started raging and would violently rage in my face until i’d sob (he was remembering sexual abuse so i put up with it)

          red flag: DATE: he never paid we always had to go dutch. One time i didnt have my half of the money (expensive place) so he went ahead and ate and i watched, (he had enough money to offer me a meal if he had wanted to). I was hurt and humiliated but pretended i was fine with it and told myself this should inspire me to make more money. (it did)

          red flag: I drank two gulps of his milk in the fridge, he was insensed and said i had stolen that milk. (i jsut throught he was eccentric or something – ignored it)

          red flag: PREGNANT: told me he was going to have fun and go out and flirt with who ever he wanted to. I wasn’t the jealous type so shrugged and said fine. ( men flirted with me – it was harmlesss) i was very nieve, later found out what he meant was ‘make out’ with who ever he wanted.

          red flag: MOTHER on the way to see his mother he got so frustrated with my driving he jumped on me and started to strangle me. He always was crazy when he’d see his mother, I put it down to stress haha god was a freaking crazy?

          red flag: PREGNANT: he jumped on me pinned me to the wall by my neck (feet off the floor) when i said i wasn’t scarred of him anymore

          red flag:SLEEP: he pulled the door off the hinges because i slept in and ripped the door to shreds we never spoke about it. he just got a new door and it was up by the time i returned home

          red flag; He was furious all the time and i thought he would mellow out. he didnt.

          red flag: before during or after doing the do he would nearly always say: “I just need variety” i thought well you just got me so that’s that really. what he was telling me was I am getting variety

          red flag: during intimacy he’d say it is so much better when you do x,y,z. (i now realize i was literally being compared to prostitutes he was seeing )

          red flag: walked into our bedroom and like a mad person enraged spat in my face then walked out (i still don’t know what i did) i did at least know that i didn’t deserve it, again shrugged and ignored it but was quite scarred of him after that

          red flag: said before we got married ‘oh good looks like i will pay less tax’

          red flag: bourght me an amathist $30 temporary engagement ring until he could afford a nice one. He never got me a nice one for 8 years until my mother triggered and got angry with him for not buying me a wedding ring yet

          red flag: i bourght the temporary wedding rings he was going to pay me back for his and he never did

          red flag: during engagment i bourght us a car he said if i got it he would re pay the $1000 back into my savings just before the wedding (which he did not pay a penny for my mum and i did) rather then contribute to wedding and pay me/the savings back he told me excitedly he just bought a motor bike for $1000. I said nothing but felt pain. no wonder he abused my generosity i would say nothing when he did.

          red flag: He often told me his ideal women would be elisabeth shu i look nothing like her!

  • Told lies about who he was speaking to on the phone, and started deleting his calls pretty consistently.

    • Oo, boy yeah I can relate. When one of my exes got a new phone, he was doing the fingerprint access for the security on it. He did his, then handed the phone to me and said I should input my fingerprint too so in case of an emergency, I could use his phone if I needed to.

      The following spring, he wanted me to look at a picture of a meme, and handed me his phone. The screen closed when he handed it to me and I tried to use my fingerprint to open it again so I could look at the picture…and the phone denied access, saying it did not recognize the print. I tried again, thinking I had just positioned my finger wrong. Nope. Kept getting denied. I handed it back to him and noticed he’d changed the access to a numbered password.

      I’m sure he didn’t think I’d notice, but I did. And I’m sure he’d straight up deny it to this day if called out, but I tried to tell myself at the time that it wasn’t enough to prove cheating or make an accusation. But it turned out to just be one of many odd behaviors that lead up to an unsurprising end.

    • Another time, with a different ex (a lot more short lived than the other one, thank god) I noticed a questionable text conversation. We were at a roller derby event and he “went to the bathroom” which took him an inordinately long time. When he came back he claimed he just couldn’t find it. I went and found it within five minutes just by asking security.

      He got up to get a beer, and left his phone sitting next to me with the screen still unlocked and I looked down and noticed a text conversation going on with someone named “Megan.” I only saw part of the conversation before he came back and grabbed it, but it said “Could you picture yourself with a 27 year-old, divorced auto detailer?” (Him) He looked at me and said my face looked like I was about to kill him, what’s wrong?

      I said nothing because I wanted to finish enjoying my time at the derby. But later I checked his facebook and he had no friends named Megan. I should have asked him right then and there at the derby who the fuck Megan was.

  • How much time do you have? This is going to take all day. I’ll start with this one, he was three hours late to the wedding. I married him anyway. Thus beginning my blighted marriage as a Super Chump. Trying hard to forgive myself for decades of tolerating his abuse. The upside? I see those red flags everywhere, now I know better.

    • Mine wasn’t 3 hours late, but immediately after the ceremony he posted to Facebook “It is accomplished.”
      Who does that? I remember feeling like sh*t, but brushed it off as one of his weird quirks.

      Now when I think about it, he never told me I was beautiful ever. He looks happier in our wedding photos when pictured solely with his family members than me. i was forced to spend the night in a suite with his family, whom I had never met, they day after we were married. It made me uncomfortable. He didn’t care. He did not contribute a single cent to the wedding. I could go on and on.

        • Not once did my ex tell me that I was beautiful. If I ever asked, “How do I look?”, he’d reply, “You look fine. Let’s go.” I told him that he was handsome all the time.

          • Oh he would say, I’m not extraordinarily beautiful. I would accept that and shower with compliments on his handsomeness.

      • when he complimented me it was so disingeuous, you know? He would say it in some stupid voices, and it was never believable at all.
        He actually once told me that my degrading myself (when I was displeased with my weight) made him *like me less* because it’s like I’m *criticizing his choice of woman*. There was no way my late 20’s brain knew how to even process that. I spackled a lot over sociopathic classic speak because I had no box where to put it, so I dismissed it as “incomprehensible”. I know better now!

        He would also sometimes break into these “sexy dances” at me that made him look like the caricature of a gay strip dancer.
        WTF was that about, I will never know (yes, I do suspect now he might have some gay tendencies, but again, will never know).

      • CC, I too did not meet his family until after the wedding. I paid for the wedding and our wedding rings. Now I see why because they are not nice people, a pack of racists and fake Christians. I will be vindicated when he pays for the divorce and my name change.

      • Yeah instead of dancing with me the bride, my Ex spent most of our wedding reception smoking cigars with buddies on some balcony off of the reception area. Too bad it took another 13 years for me to see his mask fall off.

    • I would love to chime in, but there is not enough bandwidth in Las Vegas for me to upload it all.

      • Haha x 1,000! 🙂

        Thank you. I really needed a laugh tonight.

    • 33years,

      I can’t even do this exercise. 35 years a chump and in hindsight SO many red flags were there. Literally too many to count.

      It MIGHT be cathartic to list some, but today it feels like it would be such a trigger.

      I’d spend all day feeling like shit and slapping my forehead in shame. WHAT A FOOL I WAS!

      I almost pity a future man in my life b/c I’ve got lots of triggers now…

      But then, I’m a great catch and very worth it.

      • DOCTOR’S1stwifeandkids, I was reduced to tears and sobbing by my post. So humiliating to be treated with such disrespect, it set the grounds for thirty five years of a lopsided shitshow of a marriage. Such a painful memory, I’m grateful it is in the past. I’m working on not beating myself up over past mistakes. It is done, over, and he cannot force me to stay married. Divorce trial soon and I’m praying he is late!!!!!

        You are a catch and completely worth it.

        • Congrats on your NEW life 33years. He’s the PAST. Relish that. Good luck at the upcoming trial.

        • Reading all of these self-flaggelations reminds me of a humorous quotation by my friend: “Never be ashamed of yourself. That’s your parents’ job.”

          How about we change it to “never beat yourself up about something. That’s fuckwit’s job.”

          In other words, why are we still doing their work even after they are gone?

      • Doctor’s1stWife&3kids,

        I am with you! I was married for twenty-two years. There were WAY too many red flags for me to name or count. When I think about the red flags now, I am stunned and embarrassed that I allowed myself to be abused for so long. ????

        That said, for whatever reason, the first red flag that popped into my mind when I read today’s post was this: I (repeatedly) asked my Ex for access to his phone to review his call history or whatever, and he (repeatedly) told me that he didn’t think it was appropriate for either of us to have access to the other’s phone.

        This red flag alone should have been enough. And yet, there were thousands more. ???? It took me way too long to act on them.

        • That’s what finally led to me declaring, I’m done.’ He wouldn’t let me access his ‘KIK’ account I had just discovered.
          That was the last straw. 35 years of red flags.

  • So many red flags, but here’s one:

    He treated his mother like shit. Total disrespect.

    Little did I realize at 23 that that would be me in the future, the disrespected woman ????????‍♀️.

    • Snap!! Also that he was a bad drunk, a liar, and violent.

      But marriage fixes all of those things, you see. So you should just keep planning the wedding, even when he slams your arm in a car door after someone else’s wedding.

      That was Cheater #1. Cheater #2 was not memorable.

      But Cheater #3 was egregious. Complete opposite of Cheater#1: sober, placid, diligent, opened the car door for me.

      In fact, you wouldn’t want to get between him and a chance to do real good – mostly witnessed by others.

      I overlooked passive aggression, managing down my expectations, workaholism, ignoring me and treating me like a piece of furniture, and the fact that his workplace struggled to keep up with who his real girlfriend was.

      I just diagnosed him with Cushing’s disease instead.

      Like you do.

      I no longer date, and am much happier for it.

    • :). Mine was the opposite. Weirdly fixated with Mom . He would bring her up at inappropriate times. Very concerned about keeping her happy. Once married that fixation increased and he would ignore my and our children’s needs for her.
      We were also 23 when we met and I attributed it to immaturity. Once he started on line cheating he would send pictures of Mom as a young women to his online flirts and sext partners. ( she had done some modeling) They would respond with how prettty she was as a young woman. Have no idea what to make of that. Over sexualized child hood relationship I guess. Once a widow, she dated married men. She never liked me and would criticize me behind my back or only address him and ignore me. It was not the cause of the divorce, but I think it gave him a sense of “ permission “ to cheat
      And, lastly. The misogyny. There was always a Co worker or friend he would endlessly dump hostility on for no reason. Glad to be getting rid of them

        • YES a million times to this. My cheaters’ families were mostly like the Addams Family, but with none of the charm.

          Cheater No #4 – the last of the happy crew – was actually in Norman Bates territory.

        • Agree about that being a whole new level of “mommy issues.” So creepy and inappropriate!

          Years ago, my former (now deceased) FIL was going through prostate cancer treatement. As we all now, sexual abilities can be impacted, so it’s nice to report that all is well on that front.

          It’s nice to report that to close friends and your physician, that is.

          I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate to report that to your son except in a vary vague way, such as, “Fortunately, he’s had no ill effects from the treatment.”

          Instead, my then-MIL wrote to my then-husband that she and his dad had had sex the night before. I remember she also drew a happy face after that. TMI! Am I a prude?

          She also liked to share that she was still getting her period when she was in her early 50s. I mean, she did this at Thanksgiving dinners as we were all gathered around the table waiting for the patriarch to tell us what the preacher screwed up in his sermon and how it could have been better if he’d said x (at which point he basically proceeeded to give a sermon). Torture!!

          The whole lot of them felt superior and holier than thou! My cheating ex probably still feels that way, adultery aside. He’ll figure out a way to keep the sparkle on.

      • Oh lordy. Cheater #4 had her photo prominently displayed – her as a young woman.

        I found out later that all his girlfriends – including me – looked rather like her.

        And that he was a walker for a wealthy widow, who wanted to take things further.

        And had a long-term girlfriend in another country.

        He was presented to me by a very gullible friend as a bachelor who was looking to settle down.

        She’d known him for around two months. It took me less than one month to expose:
        – the homosexual affairs
        – the fact that he took Mummy on dates
        – that his father was a serial cheater
        – his prescription drug addiction
        – his string of dodgy relationships with identical looking women
        – the multiple suicide attempts and involuntary psychiatric admissions

        After our first daytime meeting, he gave me a lift, and he had to blow into a device to start his car, because he’d been busted so many times for drunk driving.

        But he went to Cambridge, you see.

        No red flags here, folks.

        This mini disaster was the best thing that could have happened, because I offloaded not only him, but the gullible and – as it turned out – abusive and disloyal friend.

        • Yes. Cambridge. Mine is a graduate of an Ivy League university here in the states. And has an MBA From a top school. Banker. Very fancy. Very good student. Good career. Had personality issues at work tho.
          So smart yet so stunted. Took me years to understand how he could be so bright but so clueless personally. I veer toward his having something form of narcissism

    • I remember sitting across from him at a restaurant, on a date, shortly after we met, and he was told me all about how he lied to his mother to get money from her. The thought popped into my head, crystal clear: “If he does that to her, he’ll do it to you.” Unfortunately I spent the next three years trying to please that hobosexual, and yep, the financial abuse got worse and worse. I’m lucky I got out when I did, given what so many here have endured.

      • You know I had forgotten about that.

        When we were young he told me of many stories of him sneaking out at night, doing stuff and pulling the wool over his moms eyes. We were married at 18, so these stories came after our marriage, but those should have been a red flag to me. I think in real time I just chalked it up to being a kid. Yes, maybe so; but he did seem to be extra proud of it.

        Most folks are shamed of their youthful indiscretions not proud of them. Or maybe not most folks, but decent folks.

    • Opposite, he treated his mother really well and his mother treated him like her husband. He was her knight in shining armour.
      On one of our really early dates, he took a longish phone call from his mother at the table. It was nothing import / it could have waited.
      His family is really enmeshed- too many examples.
      Also the Big-time over the top infatuation with me the first year. I was the woman of his dreams before he even knew me very well.
      It was a long fall…

    • Similar here. Pretty much hated his mother–she’s a narcissist for sure–and as a result could not and I do mean could NOT open his mouth and argue with her but instead talked shit about her behind her back and blamed her for everything he could. 25 years later? He evidently was ‘afraid’ to tell me how he was feeling but instead talked shit about me behind my back and blamed me for everything.

      • But what about when their mother is “golden” and can do no wrong? This kind of “held in the halo of perfection” is another form of hell for the daughter-in-law / wife. No one is perfect but Mommy Dearest.

        Mine never said ANYTHING negative about his mother. But he had plenty of negative things to say about me. I was “too strong” and “too dominant” among many other faults, so of course he had to cheat.

      • Yes! “afraid” can be a huge cop-out. It’s another way of saying “It’s not my fault. You made me do it.”

        Afraid my ass. Wasband is six foot eight inches tall and pushing 400 lbs.

        • Lol. Yeah my Ex is 6’3 pushing 400 lbs and yet he was afraid of me. Such man babies!

      • Same here. His mom was always not getting along with coworkers, her sister, her in-laws, and on and off with my Ex her son. So he was either not talking to her or talking too much to her. But he couldn’t talk to me about his feelings because he was afraid of me because of my job. Yet he could run his mouth behind my back no problem for at least 1 year prior to discard.

  • He went to a wedding in the days we used to have cameras on the table. When the bride had them developed he was in EVERY one. On one of our first dates he had a melt down because he couldn’t find the address. He took another woman out on a jetski when we were on our honeymoon. He lost his job due to sexual harrassment claims…I spackled this and 2 more claims over the 17 years and yet it was all still a surprise when I found out he was a Serial Cheater and I also found out what a Narcissist is.

    • Mine lost his job over sexual harassment accusations (which I believe). His average lifespan on a job is about 3 years, I supported him most of the 10 1/2 years we were married/together. He is also a serial cheater, and has a formal diagnosis of NPD. We do deserve better!

      • One of my exes also lost a job over sexual harassment claims. At the time I tried to tell myself it couldn’t have been as bad as that…but…wow I was Grade-A, heavy-duty, lay-it-on-THICK spackling. We tried being “poly” (another stupid spackle move by me…marriage problems are not solved by adding extra people) and my understanding was talking about it was need-to-know basis, it wasn’t something that needed to be advertised all over. If I was asked my relationship status, I simply said “I’m married.”

        He decided he was going to tell everyone who would listen, and thought it appropriate to start talking about it AT WORK. He said he only mentioned it once (which I no longer believe) and he said he just “complimented” one of his female coworkers on her gym routine, saying “It was definitely working.”

        I’m not sure what parts of this story are true, except I don’t doubt he did talk about being poly in his workplace. But that was such a huge red flag it was like I was being outright whacked in the face with it.

        • Mine also was accused of sexual harassment 2 months before the wedding. He lost his job a week before the wedding. I spackled like crazy. Never crossed my mind not to believe his version
          Oh and he tried the open/poly shit too. Again I bought his line that it would put the spark in our relationship. It was more like a nuclear bomb for me. Him, not so much

          • Yeah same. I thought it would help, I think at one point I really wanted it to work. But the red flags just got too much and I realized the marriage was over. It wasn’t the thing that fixed it, it was the thing that nailed the coffin shut. We did have a lot of other issues, but all of them could have been fixed if it weren’t for his need to be poly. That’s what made it truly irreconcilable. He told me he would stop doing it and shut it all down and I said no, because I knew it’s what he really wanted. Even if he stopped doing it in front of my face, I’d still know deep down he would be wanting to be with other women, and there was no way I could ever be okay with living like that. One of us would always be miserable and that would just poison everything. It had to end.

      • Mine was also accused of sexual harassment. At the time, I believed his side of the story. Now, I believe hers. When multiple people accuse you of something, it is probably true.

        • My ex father in law was almost thrown out of the navy and prosecuted for sexual harassment of a young man under his care as a chaplain. By the time I came along, this was the story the family would tell:

          Young man was emotionally disturbed and falsely accused ex father in law. Bad people who were against him tried to make the accusation stick. EFIL became so depressed about he was going to give up and was suicidal. EMIL found a lawyer to defend him and good people stood up for him, but they were financially devastated and had to eat ramen for a couple of years, but they grew stronger as a family, as a result. This is the reason cheater ex became a public defender.

          Everyone gets served this story with a dish of “we are the perfect Christian family.”

          One year after I caught my ex cheating, I found craigslist ads on our family computer showing my EFIL was soliciting sex with strangers (male) online from our home.

          To this day, cheater ex says his father only did that because he was distraught over his prostate cancer (?) and that he never acted on those ads.

          That poor kid in the Navy. I wish I could find him and tell him I believe him.

  • We’d been dating for about 9 months (1996) when she started working for a business writing company. She left some of her training materials in her apartment, including a set of sample emails announcing our engagement. (Red Flag #1)

    Later that month, we attended a party at which the hostess took me aside and asked me when she should be expecting an invitation to the wedding. (Red Flag #2)

    After the party, I told KK that I thought she was moving way too fast, that I was uncomfortable, and that perhaps we should think about slowing things down. She threw everything I’d given her out of her apartment window. (Red Flag #3)

    A few weeks later, she called to tell me that she’d secretly had an abortion but provided no proof she’d ever been pregnant. (Red Flag #4)

    After a few months of trying to remain friends, she started telling me about her hook-up dates with other guys — betting for sex over a game of pool, responding to booty calls, etc. (Red Flag #5)

    And these are just the major ones. There are countless others — hostility when challenged, sisters always got preferential treatment, inability to contribute to a conversation that wasn’t about her, on and on and on

    • Jeez, I think you married simeone I know. The casual dating attitude covering a kamikaze marriage trap bait and switch– check. Acting like a switched-on Elmo doll during adult group conversations only when the focus is on them and then returning to inanimate, slighly resentful baseline when the discussion shifts to, say, world politics or someone else’s life– check.

      I wonder if the rest checks out. BPD? Expert level triangulation and fabricated character assassination against anyone who sets boundaries? Past eating disorders? Expedient tear trigger? Mate poaching? Embezzlement? Seething envy? Expediently going in and out of whispery weirdo baby voice?

      • There was another thread once upon a time exactly about whispery weirdo baby voices. What is that?

      • I keep seeing red flags in myself. I read fantasy novels (in fact, T. Kingfisher’s _Paladin’s Grace_ really helped me heal). I have past eating disorders. ( They were pretty much directly caused by cheater’s hateful attitude toward my body and physical and mental health, both of which I cheerfully destroyed for the sake of his sense of “aesthetics.” Not that this is any excuse.)

        I keep wondering how the cheater gene gave me these only-appearing-in-shitty-people traits while completely withholding the ability to abuse and cheat. I just… can’t comprehend how you could do that to a person.

        • What does reading fantasy novels have to do with red flags? I read them. Game of Thrones series brought the masses to reading them, in fact. Just curious.

  • My awful, lying, cheating STBXW:

    Silence and Not answering questions were the common theme for 20+ years. I saw this as marital stress but never saw it as a true red flag. We always seemed to move forward regardless. Looking back, I believe she was incapable of expressing how she felt and quite possibly had cheated long ago. Even after I found out about her cheating, she still cannot express any remorse for the utter destruction she cause to me and kids.

    Other flags:

    Sudden switch off of all emotion and affection (literally light a light switch)
    Blaming you for everything
    Saying “You deserve better than me”
    Saying “Something is missing”
    Becoming unusually irate when you state “well, if you want a divorce, I am going to tell the kids and family and friends the truth….I do not want a divorce, you do”. (Claws come out)
    Lots of after “work dinners” with “friends”
    Texts at all hours of the night “those are just my friends”
    99% of the time staring at her phone
    Illogical and non-rational behavior
    Anger when you point out double-standards or illogical statements
    Complete re-writing of your entire history
    Blameshifting….I told her (even before I knew about the cheating) that “you are breaking your vows if you want a divorce…I have not ever broken my vows”….next day she says “You broke your vows too”….I said “really….how?”……of course, there was no answer
    Calling you a Narcissist (projection of her own guilt and shame)

    • Nothing Compares to U:

      This one hits my personal bullseye: “You broke your vows too”….I said “really….how?”……of course, there was no answer

      As does this: Anger when you point out double-standards or illogical statements

      Crazymaking shit like that.

      Btw, when mine realized the BS of his statement about the vows, he threw out this head-scratching beauty: “You’re blinded by your own self-righteousness. What?

      Gotta agree with the part about my being blinded. The red flags were waving and I thought I was in a parade!

      • “The red flags were waving, and I thought I was in a parade!”

        Ha ha. That was me to a T.

        My ex exit-affaired me, so the signs there were pretty typical: obsession with weight-lifting/exercise, staying “at the gym” late after work, moving out of the marital bed, emotional distance and hostility. Textbook. In fact, I was starting to get pretty suspicious when he blew it all up and left.

        Trickier are the red flags of narcissism. It took me months to piece those together, and I’m not sure I have all of them, and I’m still really scared I wouldn’t recognize some of the more subtle ones (the yellow cards?). But here are the ones I listed in my journal the other day:
        —speaking disrespectfully to his mother and an ex-girlfriend on the phone
        —calling all of his ex-girlfriends (ALL of them) “crazy”
        —lying about raping an ex-girlfriend and getting her pregnant (I know, how did I miss that one? Well, because when he revealed the lie he just lied again and said the rape was a false accusation [even though the university made a report and he had to go to mandated sexual aggression therapy], and he got really sad-sausagey because his Ex-girlfriend aborted his baby, so I ended up comforting him instead of throwing him out on his ear).
        —fits of rage over really minor shit like being a few minutes late to a concert
        —yelling at me and calling me names after only a few months of sleeping together
        —taking things out of my hands and moving me around physically; this went with a nasty tendency to do what he wanted to me sexually and ignore if I were in pain unless I yelled at him and told him to stop.
        —changing moods like a switch was flipped: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
        There were more, but these were enough, and now that I look at the list, I think I wouldn’t miss this stuff again. Some of it’s pretty flagrant….

          • Thank you. I’m learning to be glad about it, too, a year post-divorce (1.5 years post d-day). Your site and book have been tremendously helpful: wish I found them a little earlier…would have handled the discard much better and saved myself a lot of unnecessary pain. But your good counsel still helped me get my head screwed on straight in the months that followed and really speeded up my recovery—and I was able to point a friend to your site right away when her husband did the exact same thing to her a few months after my d-day. Thank you so much for everything you do.

      • “The red flags were waving and I thought I was in a parade!”

        Can I borrow this phrase? It describes being chumped so much better than anything I can come up with.

    • My STBXW was glued to her phone too. Constantly on it. Mind you she was sexting near 20 guys and storing men numbers under female names and she was making sexual videos and photos of herself on a daily basis to send to them all. She even hid in the bathroom to receive video calls from some. Plus the affair with one guy in particular who use to have sex with her in public places whilst she pretended she was at the store for groceries. I find seeing girls on their phone to trigger me about, maybe I have mild PTSD from all the abuse.

      After I found her affairs, nothing I ever did was right. I would walk past her and not even look at her and she scream that I was giving her dirty looks. She did next to no housework. She cooked and did laundry and that was it. I did everything and she left piles of crap all over the house, so after her affairs discovered all of a sudden she was screaming that I do no housework. No logic to that.
      Or the accusations of how I don’t love her, after 15 years together and three kids I suddenly don’t love her. Or starting fights over the most minor issues so she could scream about sleeping downstairs, ie, talk to him all night.

      She called All her cheating a “mistake”. But she twisted it and said well you cheated on your ex. Yes I did once cheat on my ex when I was 18 years old. But we are now 36 and been together 15 years and have kids and I’ve never been unfaithful. Or how drunken rages at me and throwing it in my face that he makes her feel beautiful. I could write a book of all her abuse towards me.

      Now we are broke up and she loves elsewhere as she had me arrested and she suddenly regrets everything and wishes she could go back in time and just have me. She deeply loves and misses me. She breaks down in tears when bringing the kids to see me. It’s exhausting dealing with this. I’m beyond glad we are over.

      • Don’t be alone with her. Document everything. I hope you’ve got a good attorney. Keep a voice recorder on you.

    • Telling you that you deserve better is the closest thing you will ever get to honesty with a narcissist. My STBXH did this too. When I told him why I was upset that he cheated on me he just shrugged and said, “You’ll find a better guy.” His idea of a “better guy” was one of his male friends he may or may not have had a gay affair with. Yes, he tried to set me up with his maybe-lover.

      I do intend to find a better guy someday, but on my own timetable and one that I pick for myself. He’s the last person in the world I would trust to find me a good guy.

      • NoMoreMsNiceChump,

        While reading your post, I had a lightbulb moment!

        I had been thinking about him trying to set you up with his possibly-former lover. I was trying to wrap my mind around why someone would do that.

        (I realize this is untangling the skein, but it’s not my skein so does it break the rule?)

        It suddenly came to me that setting you up with his would-be lover is another form of projection. Just like when they accuse you of things THEY are thinking and feeling.
        Just switch the pronouns.

        That is twisted. Is it possible that on some level they cannot distinguish themselves as a separate entity?

        • I always thought it was more of an image-management thing. If I’m with another guy soon after discovering the cheating (my divorce will not be final until February) Nitwit can say, “Look, I’m not such a bad guy! Look how quickly NMMNC found another guy and how happy she is with him. If she really loved me she would be devastated so is my cheating on a woman who doesn’t really love me such a bad thing? All’s well that ends well, right?”. And I guess he would know how happy this guy would make me in bed if he really did “test-drive” him for me (I have no hard proof that he had a gay affair, just circumstantial evidence, hard evidence of affairs with at least one OW, and knowledge of his character, or lack thereof).

          But you could be right; they may not be able to distinguish themselves from the chump and so sharing a lover may not be a big deal to them, though the thought of picking up my husband’s sloppy seconds makes me gag. There was a thread last week about how the narcissist expressing suicidal desires may actually be a clue they want to kill their chump. Suicide and homicide of the chump are intertwined in their minds. They have no boundaries and often harm their chumps because they hate themselves.

          • Or it’s just another ham-fisted way to get you to buy into an ‘open’ marriage, after the horse has left the barn. My ex thought I would let him stay married to me and financially supported by me, if he offered to let me sleep with other men. Sorry, dude, I’m not your mother.

          • I think both things could be going on simultaneously—projection and image management.

            Mine insisted I wanted a threesome with his best friends. I didn’t, but maybe he did.

            The last play we say happened to be about homosexual love. When we sat and looked at the playbill, he wanted to walk out. He was visibly distressed. I insisted on staying, plus the curtain was rising. At the time I thought he might be homophobic. I think instead that he has homosexual tendencies.

            And yes to their mixed hope that we find someone else. It would make them feel better but it probably pisses them off, too.

            These types of cheaters have a lot going on in their minds. It’s not a pretty place. I almost feel sorry for mine. He’s just so screwed up.

    • I’ve read that silent treatments and withholding are the calling cards of overt narcissists. It’s not “quite reflection” but severe punishment. Like – I can blink you in and out of existence.

    • Phone hiding, porn watching, video game addiction, found his AP on the same game… Wow!

  • His momentary flare of suspicion that, when I ran out of gas next to a freeway ramp one night a few weeks after we’d started dating, it was my attempt to play damsel in distress. It was a surprising flash of cynicism that didn’t jibe with the rest of his self presentation at the time. Difficult to explain– a cold, hard look. Then poof, it was gone. But apparently I didn’t imagine it because I saw that shark face again during the DARVO stage before D-Day when my health fell apart and my weight dropped to a BMI of 17. Seems I was just faking for effect.

    Maybe the fact that I ran out of gas in the first place was a red flag– rare event. I should have asked myself what was soaking up my bandwidth. Intuition?

  • The Rev Cheaterpants frequently came off as obnoxious and/or basically a jerk on first impression. His MO typically was to say outrageous things to get a reaction or argue or ask people questions that they clearly felt uncomfortable answering.

    Very early on in our dating, the he told me that it didn’t matter if a woman (although he probably said “girl”) didn’t like him when she first met him, because women would only remember that they had a strong reaction to meeting him, not what it actually was. So on those subsequent meetings, I guess he could work his wiles.

    Basically, he’d rather be disliked than ignored, he thinks women are idiots, and he’s telling his girlfriend how he picks up chicks.

    I used to make excuses for him (“I’ve toned him down—a lot”), now this is so blissfully not my problem. But boy howdy. What a red flag

  • He had so many extremely close female friends. So, so many. And they were always talking on the phone or texting or going out together for coffee or dinner. Without me, of course.

    For the first 10 years of our marriage, I thought this showed that he was a truly caring, sensitive man. Someone who was always there to support his friends. A feminist.

    Yeah, I was an idiot.

    • I did the same thing with spackling the friendships with women. I actually did not want to appear insecure and told myself he’s just different than other guys and can relate to women so well. Yikes

      • Mine also only connected with women, zero male friends. I didn’t think this meant anything besides not being a guy’s guy – he was never out and about with them or talking to them on the phone. What is with only having friends with the gender you’re sexually attracted to?

        • Mine too. Only women friends. And very touchy feely with them. I thought it was because he was in touch with his feminine side. What a fool I was

          • Yes, touchy feely…. I felt like a tight ass pointing out how touchy he was with women and questioning why he felt the need to have his hand on a woman’s back for the entire conversation. I thought I was the one with the issue.

        • Yeah – this issue was a real problem for me, since my STBX and I are both women. Most of our friends are also women. BUT, I’m not romantically attracted to any of the women I’m close friends with! My STBX, on the other hand, couldn’t make that distinction and had terrible boundaries (as you can expect). I now call them “affair-lite” friendships – even if they were not actively exchanging romantic language, they were still emotionally intense friendships with people to whom STBX was attracted. After her second “hot” affair, she admitted to crushing on her “best friend” for a while, no doubt devaluing next all the while, until she finally convinced herself that picking up a stranger in a bar would be preferable to actually telling me the truth about how she was feeling.

          So yeah, intense friendships with someone spouse could be attracted to, are a huge red flag.

    • Idiot or just blissfully missing the jealousy bug?

      So many chump traits, if they existed in a better world, would be ideal.

    • Yeah the female coworkers needing career tips and the recently divorced female coworkers who shared their sexual exploits with him and others. During my hospital stay after a c-section with our 2nd child, I remember one of his female coworkers bringing a handmade baby blanket to the hospital. I wasn’t in the mood for visitors especially people I had never met before! She later remarried and moved out of state. But hey maybe during my pregnancy they fooled around and they both got some duper’s delight from the hospital visit. I would have never thought a thing back then but now nothing surprises me.

  • Red flags while dating:

    Number 2: He criticized me for not even trying to wear sexy lingerie for him. I was only 22 and a runner. Guess my naked body wasn’t enough. I stormed out of his apartment. But I couldn’t leave because he hid my keys and my purse. We argued and then had sex. The pattern was set.

    Number 3: He threw a fit that I wouldn’t have oral sex when he had an active herpes outbreak.

    Number 4: He got angry that I didn’t visit him enough. He lived 30 mins away. I worked full time. Had to wake up early…He didn’t care!

    Number 5: He said, “You don’t do anything for me,” while I was nursing him after an eye injury.

    Number 6: He asked how I would rate myself in terms of looks.

    And chumpy me, married that man. Looking back at these (and so many other instances) makes me sad for my former self (and a little pissed at her).

    I’ll stop….

    But let all of our red flags serve as PSAs for those who are not yet married. Run away now if you see these and all the other red flags described on this site.

      • Exactly my thought!?! Frankly, the herpes would have been a deal breaker from the get-go!

        • Hey, maybe no herpes-shaming. Some of us good people end up with it and are not serial cheaters.

          • That’s right, Sous-vide. Herpes-shaming just shows people’s ignorance and judgment about the disease.

            Now, trying to demand that someone have sex with you when you have an active outbreak, like Spinach’s husband did? That’s different.

        • Yes this!! Expecting his mum to cater to his every need then when she was ill, resenting every visit.

        • Spinach– Oh, from your earlier post, thanks.

          Did his mother just roll over and take it or did she turn around and pass the aggression buck, taking it out on others?

          The former is tragic and the latter is sickening. I had always wished my FW had been harder on his mommy narc instead of drifting off and spacing out every time she aimed her hatchet at my head.

          I did notice how his mother and sister– who hated me in this lurking, passive aggressive way from day one, much like Chris Watts’ mother and sister hated Shanann– let FW man-splain everything to them in a blathering, blustering, asshole voice. They would just soak it up like entrhralled puppets.

          Back when we were really young and he was just starting his career and “shy,” the behavior really stood out. I thought it was an anomaly. I used to tease him about it– that I didn’t appreciate his family helping him hone his most obnoxious trait.

          The women in the family giving him alpha elbow room wasn’t for free though. In exchange, they expected a free pass to meddle with me and the children, sort of hijacking top dog posts in the lower order “female hierarchy” that often exists within weirdly patriarchal families.

          I’m sort of a natural social anarchist and never understood the suck-up/slap-down game. I once repeated to FW mum something a friend had said– that one good reason to never take shit is because it ultimately turns you into a buck-passing bitch. I think I put it more politely than that. Little did I know that FW mum’s NGO job entailed fluttering around and flattering epically evil, global level narcissists and power mongers. Naturally she took what I said as an affront.

          Reason #2 to not eat shit for a living– turning sons into buck-passing bitches who compensate for how puny they feel in the accepted pecking order by taking out their aggression on designated lesser beings.

          • Thanks for bringing up the buck passing of abuse. Dr. Drew Pinsky referred to it as the two sides of the abuse coin. It’s been mentioned on this blog in terms of parents falling short with their kids because the other parent is a narcissistic abuser.
            I noticed this disturbing interpersonal dynamic between my mother (a chump who was discarded by my father) and some of her “friends”, women who stayed with their cheating husbands. They either used her or were condescending. I saw their behavior as stemming from envy that she was free. One of the women was in a second marriage and her husband had adopted her son. Guess she didn’t want to be seen as a two time “failure”. And the other woman was abandoned by her own father, taken in by an uncle who sexually abused her and she didn’t have any job skills. She stayed for a lifestyle of the one percent $$$.
            I was a narc magnet and one loser I dated flew into a rage over the phone once. His housemates’ teenage son (who played video games all the time) accessed loser’s bank account and stole $1,000 to gamble. I had been on loser’s computer earlier that day so he phoned me with accusations. When I told him I did no such thing, he screamed “You’re right ! You’re too stupid !” I didn’t yell back, just calmly responded “Why don’t you direct your anger at the appropriate person” and hung up on him. This is a man who had been in therapy for ten years. Supposedly.
            I attended a presentation by Dr. George Simon. During the q&a session after, one of the attendees (a therapist) spoke of a client who survived the concentration camp during WWII by “licking up and kicking down”. Survival mode that haunted him decades later.
            I have compassion for myself. I knew what I knew then and now I expect reciprocity and respect.
            Hugs to all of you

    • This one hurts to answer because my picker was clearly broken. On our first date, I remember him looking over my shoulder the whole time at other people in the restaurant. After we’d been dating about 2 months, he excitedly shared that he had filmed a session for a video dating program he had “paid for before he met me.” I should have walked away at that point.

      I was always a step behind and loving more from our first date. Twenty one years and two kids later, he left us with a text for a woman half our age with whom he’d had a one night stand with on a business trip in China, and managed to bring her to the States so she could go to college and be with him. (He was 50 at the time and she was not his first business trip side dish).

      I’m a different person than that young woman who thought I was lucky to be with this handsome but “slightly” selfish man. If I ever get the chance to be with someone again, I won’t settle for less than reciprocity and care.

      • Yeah, I got the looking over my shoulder when out with him. He also flirted with every female server we ever had, and it used to annoy me that he’d be done eating and flirting while I was trying to decide whether it was impolite to eat my dinner while he was “chatting” with the server or whether I should just let it get cold. Big red flag — he wasn’t paying any attention to me on our dates.

        • ManChild ended our nearly 20 year marriage with a text message
          the text also had a “joke” (to him anyways) about how he was doing me this big favor of ending my hopes of reconciling.
          “Classy” to the end!

        • Yep. I was at Safeway with my 10 year old daughter. She said, “Mom, you need to look at your phone.“ Left our cart sitting in the bread aisle to get home to my 12 year old son who was home alone.

          I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to help my adopted kids heal from that abandonment. To this day, better keep texts short or they won’t read them due to triggering.

          Ex lives a thousand miles away with his child bride and I’ve had the kids full time since that day in Safeway. Sigh. What a sad excuse for a man.

      • Agreed, on one of our first dates my ex (rather proudly) admitted that he’d cheated on every one of his long-term girlfriends. He said he felt guilty about it but was also surprised at how easy it was.
        Red flag anyone? I told myself our relationship was ‘special’ and it wouldn’t happen to me. Lol.
        Other red flags (apart from the gaslighting and occasional abuse) included discarding his friends and family and not having any long-term sustained relationships of depth apart from myself. The pattern of love-bombing, de-value and discard was evident across many of his relationships. Makes me wonder what’s in store for our beautiful son.

  • During our first date, I asked her (jokingly): “So, why is it you don’t already have a boyfriend” and she answered “I do!”

    I called a halt to our dating, but she convinced me that he wasn’t a “real” boyfriend (he’s not right for me – you’re so much better; I just need to wait until I can see him in person to break up; he’s unstable and I’m afraid about what he’ll do if I tell him). Those turned out to be exactly the reasons she gave for her affair, 25 years later.

    Like many of my interactions with XW, I used to tell this as a cute story about us (I know, I know) but I now recognize it as a very early reveal of a very deep character flaw. I rationalized it away as cultural differences, but this was pure self-justification on my part (I didn’t fully understand that the date I’d asked her on was so expensive and romantic, because it wasn’t my home country), and totally ludicrous on her part (she was well aware of the nature of our date, plus of course she knew full well that she was already dating someone else). All I can say is, I was young and stupid and I have since paid for my naïveté in spades.

    I’ll do better in my next life.

    • Involuntary Georgian,

      I turned a lot of my ex’s red flags into jokes, too. Humor was a good spackling agent for me.

      Example: While showing the kids pics of our honeymoon, I would say, “Here are pics of Dad on our honeymoon.” There were hardly any pics of me. “Here’s dad snorkeling. Here’s dad driving a mini moke.” I made a joke of it. hahaha…not.

      • Me too. I have another story I used to tell (essentially a “clueless father” story about me not understanding how to use conditioner on my 2-year-old my daughter’s hair) as an amusing anecdote. It wasn’t until after XW left me that I realized that another implication of the story was that my XW had never given my daughter a bath. It was actually a good “clueless single father” story; its only flaw is that I was actually married.

      • Yes – what is it with the pictures? I have pictures of 20 years of my life that include LOADS of pictures of HIM doing things and about 20 pictures of me total. Perhaps it is a reflection of their narcissism that they expect to be IN all the photos but would never think of taking one or of asking someone to take a photo of the two of you together.

        • Not long ago I tried on line dating (ugh) and when building my profile I discovered that had NO decent pictures of myself. The few pics that XAss took of me I swear he purposely took to make me look as horrible as possible (bad camera angles, body positions, lighting). Yet I would be expected to take many, many pictures of him at any one time to be sure we got the best shot.

          We are just bit players in their starring role, and god forbid we should upstage them.

          • Bit players indeed!

            In the end, mine, who rarely took pics of me, started to whip out his phone to take unflattering candids while I was mid-bite etc… WTF? Did he share these with the OW and laugh with her? Sick and childish!

            Also in the end, when he knew he was about to fess up, he asked me to take pictures of him with our grandchild who was about 6 mos at the time. I remember the scene so well because he insisted on multiple photos–one with her wearing the new little furry vest she’d received and one without. I remember wondering, “Since when does he give a rat’s ass about how a baby is dressed?” And “Why the hell is he so intent on pics of himself with her?”

            His smile in those pics makes my toes curl. Oh and the dead-eyed, far-off stare, too. He didn’t (couldn’t!) look at the camera directly. What a tell!

            Anyway, the message to Schmoopie and whoever else received these photos was, “Look at me!!! I’m a great granddad!”

            His level of cluelessness about the consequences of his behavior reveals itself in his assumption that he and schmoopie would babysit post D-Day. Babysit!! “This is just between your mother and me, ” he intoned.

            Not so fast!

            My adult daughter (and mother of the baby) has gone no contact. What was he thinking?

          • I was the family photographer. So, not a lot of pics of me, either. STBX was super-picky about photos of her (we’re both women) – she has a lot of body-image issues. But I made sure to select only the best shots to share, or Photoshop obvious issues to make STBX (and others) look better. Very rarely would she thank me for my sensitivity and skillz: I guess she thought they just came along with the spouse appliance. Talk about spackling!

        • I have the same thing — all the marvelous trips we took, and there are maybe five or six photos of me and hundreds of him!

          • Me too. And like Spinach, my Ex used to take unflattering candids of me. I have always wondered if he took those photos to share with the OW and laugh. What a sicko.

  • Viagra
    A text message that said “I love you”
    Being gone overnight on Valentines Day yet “making it up” with me on the next day, February 15
    Taking a lasagna out of our freezer to feed “the guys” while they played cards. Men hanging out together don’t bake a lasagna! They grill or order pizza… He was feeding her family!
    Leaving me alone on my 40th birthday during a pandemic
    Not visiting his mother on her deathbed

  • About six weeks into our relationship, I came down with the flu. He came over to take care of me. I remember taking NyQuil then passing out on the couch until the next day. A few days later, I was looking for a certain website and went to the history tab on my iMac. Low & behold there were listings for “back page”- not knowing what that was, I clicked on them. Turns out, he was responding to ads to be a “third” for threesomes and sh*t. I confronted him – emailed him the proof – then dumped him.

    A week later I took him back. His excuse? “I don’t know why I did it – you saw that no one responded – I didn’t do anything, have no clue why I went there other than I’m used to being single and did it out of curiosity.”

    I took him back. I married him a year later. Six years into our marriage, I found out that he was having an online affair using Snapchat & Instagram with a girl who lived in Oklahoma (he used to work with her ex-husband years earlier which is how they were ‘facebook friends’). I started looking for a new apartment, but after the hordes of flowers, expensive purses, and shit – I gave in. Why did I change my mind?

    “Give me the rest of my life to make it up to you.” –Asshat

    Well, he didn’t “actually” have sex with her – all via text, pics, and such, right???

    Exactly two years later: he had an 8 week affair with MY BEST FRIEND. Ah, there it is. The Jerry Springer episode! He ruined six peoples’ lives (she was married with two children, too) – all for a few booty calls. I may have a eventually took him back. But, it was my daughter (who was 21) who looked him in the eye (while I was crying my heart out) and asked, “Why are you still here????”

    Suddenly – I snapped out of it. I was done with his sorry ass & thank God for her! She had the strength when I had ZERO. I made him leave at that instant. I’m so happy for finding your book & blog – and it helped immensely.

    He didn’t become a better husband – he became a better cheater. Ten years wasted, but the one thing I learned:

    He was NEVER the person he projected. The person he pretended to be would have never done those awful things. He was always a POS pretending to be a great guy.

    It’s been 18 months ~ and I’m happier than I’ve ever been!

    This is the only blog that I follow and need :).

    • “He didn’t become a better husband – he became a better cheater.”

      ^^^ this, and I experienced it for over 31 years ^^^

    • I love your daughter! She knew you needed protection, good for her. Gives me hope for the young women today.

    • “better cheater”

      I have recently read a multiyear blog about a woman whose husband rev ealed a year long affair. The blog was about her and him working to rebuild their marriage, even with the reality of an affair child.

      Though I didn’t try to reconcile with my ex after the one week he asked for and treated me like crap; still I was curious on how this worked for those who did. More of my research while in lock down. 🙂

      Anyway, I went through fourish years of their journey, and frankly I was pleasantly surprised at their growth and their story of saving a marriage. As it got to the end the posts became less frequent, which you would expect. Then after about a year a new post, and yep he had another one, she did a last post and admitted he had evidently lied his way through the recon, I feel so sorry for her.

      I just wonder what the real story is on reconcilliations of these sorts. Of course some have to work, but how many.

      It is much like the stories of cheaters and schmoopies who marry, yes of course some have to be successful; but if the real story is known, how many really are?

      It just seems that overwhelmingly like it or not, folks just don’t change who they are.

    • Omgoodness, my eldest son 20 said the same thing only to me while pointing at his father, “Why is he still here?” I forgot about that until I read this.

  • I didn’t take him seriously when he said he lies for sport and that bending the truth to the “technical truth” (ie., lies of omission or “you just didn’t ask specifically enough”) was a game to him.

    His mommy issues hid deep seated misogyny and contempt for women. Donating to the domestic violence shelter didn’t make up for that.

    Actions not matching words.

    The constant comparisons to everything about everything, but specifically to his exes. I didn’t realize that’s a narcissist thing – triangulation – and a toxic form of manipulation. And it meant he was always on the hunt for something “better.”

    The list of red flags is quite long, but what I most lament is that I ignored my instincts in the beginning that this was too good to be true. It was setting of alarm bells in my head and I just chalked it up to be being afraid to get into another relationship again. Ugh. I knew!

  • He didn’t actually even propose. He introduced me to his boss as his fiancé at a Christmas party… and then I had to buy my own ring.
    He couldn’t stand things staying the same. New cars every 2 years, the furniture would constantly get rearranged… moved 15 times in 7 years….
    Apparently he couldn’t stand staying with the same woman either. Always needed to be praised and bragged about to my family and would give me the silent treatment for days if I went “off script”.
    Don’t know that I’d ever realized how bad it was until I finally left and eventually met my Mr. CL. Good people ARE out there. Not even a yellow tinged flag in almost 4 years.

    • Oh my God!!! Is that a red flag? I thought it’s just an ocd thing to rearrange furniture or buy a phone every year. I did agree with him in finding the environment ‘new and fresh’ after the furniture was rearranged. I once dislocated my shoulder pushing our bed once. He would always go for brand new things for himself and I would buy second hand to save money. Oh God!!!

  • I married a widow — 35 years of marriage til death did them part. I saw it as a sign of a successful marriage.

    Red flag I ignored:
    Q: Your wife painted such beautiful things — where was her studio?
    A: I don’t really know.

    Found out later from her best friend that she painted and neatly packed away her supplies to store them at at a secret storage room the best friend rented for her.

  • I was in the Marines. My fiancée was still at the U. On Leave, a friend told me she had stayed overnight in my best friend’s dorm room at another U nearby. I inquired, she and BF had the same story – she missed her ride home, but there was no sex. (Klaxon Horn – Major Red Flag). I overlooked the red flag because I didn’t want it to be true. Big mistake. Four months later, she and her parents came to visit me. When they were leaving, she said, “I’m pregnant and it’s not yours. I’m so sorry”. To say I felt like the world’s most foolish chump would be an understatement. I eventually got over it, but it left a scar.

    • OMG! I’m so sorry. That’s terrible. Of course it left a scar! She’s awful.

      And I can relate to this: “I overlooked the red flag because I didn’t want it to be true.” Pretty much sums it up for me.

      • Same thing for me, with the only (long distance) boyfriend I know for sure cheated on me – got a text apparently meant for someone else saying “my girlfriend works as a nurse” (or along those lines). Stupidly replied to correct him that I was a care assistant, didn’t hear back. But later, got texts back from his number signed off with a girl’s name, and then came the cruel discard of him saying he never asked me out. I still had the message asking me to be his gf, though!

  • He was hesitant to give me the Apple ID password to access iTunes. I had to drag it out of him which at the time was weird. Changed his phone password. Never left his phone unattended.

    Had to have weekly massages for his bad back. Refused to see another massage therapist because apparently only she could relieve his pain. Turns out he was screwing her.

    In retrospect, I couldn’t figure out why after a year and a half his back wasn’t getting any better! It wasn’t his back she was working on!

  • The one I should of paid attention to:

    When we were first dating and introducing each other to our respective families there was tension between himself and his brother. Eventually I found out why. About 3 years prior, his brother had been enagaged with the wedding less than 2 weeks away. Brother, fuckwit, and fiance went out for a drink. For some reason brother had to unexpectedly leave. Fuckwit and fiance stayed at bar and then they left and did the fuckwit thing.
    I don’t know why this red flag did stop me in my tracks. This complete blowing up of boundaries was repeated years later when as a college prof he f**cked one of his undergrad students and knocked her up.

    Missed that flag.

    • He fucked his brother’s fiance 2 weeks before the wedding? Thats not a red flag, thats a nuclear bomb.

      • One thing I’ve noticed about cheaters is that they are always competing. They have a lot of rage/hostility lurking and then they do something to show who is “The Best.” It doesn’t surprise me that he fucked his brother’s fiancee two weeks before the wedding. He had sibling rivalry that never ended. And once they marry us/ make a commitment, then we get to be the one they compete with. They have to feel better than everyone. I think that my XH cheated when he gradually wised up to the fact that I was winning every competition without realizing we were competing: better spouse, better parent, better daughter, better worker etc. He had to find someone he could go out and feel superior to. For him to be one- up, someone has to be one-down. That’s why they never trade UP!

        • “And once they marry us/ make a commitment, then we get to be the one they compete with. They have to feel better than everyone. I think that my XH cheated when he gradually wised up to the fact that I was winning every competition without realizing we were competing: better spouse, better parent, better daughter, better worker etc. He had to find someone he could go out and feel superior to. For him to be one- up, someone has to be one-down. That’s why they never trade UP!”

          This ^^^^^^^^^^ 1000 times over

          My Ex was ALWAYS competing with me, but I never realized we were competing. I too “won” all of the competitions. And so, he kept having affairs with women to whom he felt superior. What a Loser.

          • Right. After the discard, I was on the phone with my friend and she said it was like he was competing with me. I had no idea until then that yes it was like I was the opponent who had to be defeated. I had the better job and I started a biz that was bringing in $. So all he could do was come up with an exit affair for the win.

        • Meg, Yes! They are driven by Envy and must compete in all things, even the most trivial. It’s exhausting to be around.

  • “Every healthy relationship possess a small degree of spackle. You overlook the bad morning breath, the way she leaves her shoes everywhere, how he drives 10 miles under the speed limit. You forgive. You’re a little deaf when she natters on about pinecone elves.”

    I call it “Selective Deafness”. But it applies to the little things that aren’t particularly important.

    Spackle is reserved for damage and structural flaws.

  • He didn’t drink all the time, but when he did he couldn’t stop till he was absolutely hammered.
    He stayed out till five in the morning “with the guys“ and slept in the car because “you wouldn’t want me to drive home drunk would you“. (In hindsight it would be highly likely anyone would sleep in the car in November in the Midwest and not freeze.)

        • Either he slept in the car or the “I left my phone in the car” Riiight…

          • He once left his phone at home, and was in a mad hurry to get home.

            Another time he left it at home and completely peaceful without it. Until he was home, he did look tensed.


    • Oh I had that excuse once from my STBXW. She was sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night and returning at 4 or 5am. I said where the hell where you on one occasion. She stated she just sat in the car park at Walmart all night on her own. This was in Wisconsin in January where it was 30 below.

    • Same problem here. He wouldn’t drink every day, but when he started and that often lead to poor impulse control, such a drunk driving, disappearing for hours and not taking my calls whenever he didn’t even let me know he’d go out drinking, deny every time I caught him drunk, coming back at 2 am without his keys and getting me out of bed to let him in because he had lost keys/coat/bag while he was drunk and somehow it kept happening.

      The way he would spin it to me is that since we were from different cultures (he’s British and I’m from Europe and in my country we drink wine with food, we don’t really have a drinking culture unless you’re young and don’t have a family), I just didn’t get it. Mind you that he was doing all these things even when I was a young mum alone with a baby with no support because my family lived in my home country.

      I remember always being super upset about these behaviours, but because he was kind in other ways I stayed. It was silly. Drinking wasn’t even all he was doing, he was having hook ups and affairs with all sorts of people (and I didn’t even know he was bisexual). Looking back it was a big mistake, I would avoided myself a lot of pain if I had left in the early years, rather than staying with him for 17 years while he clearly did not respect me.

  • Sexually harassing a teenaged coworker while I was heavily pregnant SHOULD have been a red flag, but I was a fucking idiot.

  • Early in our dating life, she recieved a gift from a guy “friend” from home. I should have known then that she was fine with keeping multiple guys around feeding her ego kibbles.

  • Criticising my choice of clothes/shoes/going to a top university. “Forgetting” to pick me up when he said he’d give me a ride to work, so I had to run for the train. Twice (I said nothing). Smoking weed to a point of stupefaction most evenings and taking monthly nights out with a supposedly recovering addict friend to “party” with the harder stuff (friend subsequently died of an overdose).

    Making rude comments about my friends and family. Making sexualised comments about me in front of his and my family (his family laughed). Laughing about falling asleep on an ex while she was performing oral sex on him. Calling his other ex crazy and always ill (she had a serious genetic condition – we are now friends and she is a smart and funny woman).

    Piles of unpaid parking tickets and regular speeding fines. Cheating on his taxes. “Once” going to a prostitute “for a bet”. Porn addiction, including racking up a £500 bill in three months while I was working a minimum wage job and not even breaking even on my living costs. Telling me other women had “quality tits” when he knew I was insecure about my AAs.

    In the first week, lifting my skirt up in the park in front of a group of seniors so they all saw my underwear. He lived in a windowless room with no furniture when we met and was not even paying rent to his friend who owned the apartment. Very sketchy on his childhood and would never admit how weird his relationship was with his mother. Hasn’t made a single new friend since the age of 12 who’s stayed in his life for more than a couple of years. Obsessed with soccer hooliganism. Yet somehow he convinced me I was lucky to have him. I developed anxiety, depression, OCD and panic attacks, as well as all kind of weird physical ailments during the relationship but never connected it to him.

    22 years later, after many years of him working abroad and being “forced” to stay away over the weekend, I found out he’d been cheating on me for 14 years of our 15 year marriage and had been leading a double life for seven years. He pretended to the OW he was divorced and living in an apartment she was not allowed to visit and that his parents didn’t want to meet her because she’d broken up his marriage. When I found out, he gave me her number so I could call her and tell her the news he was still married. Two weeks later, she took him back.

    Well guess what? It’s 18 months since D-Day when I kicked him out and the parents still haven’t met her, he never dares mention her to them (his dad calls him Walter Mitty) and his new city is about to go into COVID lockdown for a very long time. And I shall shortly be walking away with a tidy sum to start my new life.

  • I repeated to him something his mother said to me, and asked that he not tell her I told him. As soon as we hung up the phone, he phoned her and told her what I told him.

  • My contributions to:
    The Field Guide to Red Flags and Spackle.
    Chump Nation, Editor.

    – Made fun of me constantly
    – Would say nothing when jerk brother would be petty and rude to me
    – Would make a scene to make me pay for restaurants, parking, movies (unless there was someone to impress nearby, then he would pay for everyone in spite of being in debt, the reason he was being so petty about the normal outings of a couple who had been married for 39 years)
    -Would demoralize me when having issues with discipline for sons (and did not care about giving them a bad example and reinforcing bad behavior)
    – While innocently using sparkledick’s computer, found porn on it and he blamed sons
    – Refused to show me his pay check and bank accounts so we could figure out together why we were always in debt (I wasn’t, but he was, but spackly chump here thought she was doing something wrong)
    – Took out a consigned loan on MY paycheck and LIED to me that it was NOT him, that chump here was disorganized with $ and chump here made a big stink with the bank manager who showed her the ID of person taking out the loan and chump slunk out of the bank mortified
    – Bellowed in chump’s ear that he was a failure and that it was chump’s fault
    – Was working very hard almost every weekend
    – Would never answer phone calls

  • The realtionship started on his terms, because he had young kids and wanted to take it slow…as in I did not meet his kids for FIVE YEARS. Also used words to describe himself like ‘scammer’, ‘devious’, which I took to as him being too hard on himself. Once he told me that he asked me to marry him because he didnt want to lose me, now I see those words in a different light… “I wanted you around”, not “I wanted to share myself, my life with you”.
    Like many chumps, I saw all of the good in him, I still miss those things and the husband that I married (the one in my heart and in my head). So sad that he threw it away, because I loved him so very much.

  • We dated for a few months and he was a nice guy and didn’t attempt to sleep with me too soon. We took things slowly and I found it refreshing. When the time came to finally get it on, he couldn’t get an erection. Like never. So we part ways and that was that.

    A couple of years later we reconnect (stupid me but he was so NICE). We finally have normal sex and he says he couldn’t get it up in the past because he had a porn addiction that he had now recovered from. Well he never had erection issues after this and I got pregnant but the porn addiction that was so severe that it caused erectile dysfunction was a huge red flag. His “addiction” has progressed into sleeping with the older neighbor woman while I was pregnant to hiring transexual escorts. I put addiction in quotes because I think it’s more about his personality disorder than an addiction. However, his sister is a heroin addict so there is that genetic component. Anyhow, I’m not a prude but porn will be a no for me in future relationships.

    • Also his phone was always face down. I noticed this early on and after some tequila one night I was like “you know only shady people always have their phone face down right?” His response “oh I guess it’s just a habit, I never realized” LOL gosh I feel dumb

  • He was 26. He lived with his parents. He had no job. He told me he wasn’t ready to get married.

    Reader, I married him anyway.

  • Humor as spackling agent. Great observation.

    For me, assigning edginess/unconventionality to my ex’s actions was my go-to spackle. Instead of seeing his actions as reasons to run, I saw them as evidence that he was an unconventional type with an “artistic temperament,” and at the time, the last thing I wanted was a conventional life. I was foolish enough not to see that most of these actions revealed his elevation of his own sexual gratification.

    So, for just one example: when he was in college, he slept with the married secretary of the department in the discipline in which he was majoring. The woman’s husband caught them in the shower and landed a punch on my near-sighted ex’s chin that left a scar. I used to tell this story as an instance of the wild things my husband had got up to in his youth. It should be noted that his father was a professor in this department–and that his father had left the family ten years before for a graduate student he’d been shtupping.

    • This was supposed to nest under Involuntary Georgian’s response, but the site crashed and I lost my place in the queue.

  • Took his phone in the bathroom or otherwise kept him in his PJ pocket around the house and slept with his face inches from it (this was after busting him once).
    Extremely defensive about it
    Had FB but didn’t appear active at all for years (he claimed he just scrolled through it – lies – he was posting things so all his coworkers would read and reply, but not me)
    Had no signal “at the gym”
    The biggest of all: we went to live together and instead of being “newlyweds” he withdrew sexually. He was always “too tired – from work”. Sounds about right he was!!!
    He would pick fights out of nowhere on weekend mornings while we had breakfast together. Never understood that one, as we would then spend to weekend together and it wasn’t ruined necessarily, but I guess in his mind he had to find ways to distance himself from me when together.

    This was 50% but the other 50%, Im sorry to report, was behavior that had a perfectly good explanation, like evening or weekend shifts at work, going out to do shopping/errands, lunch breaks, times of the day when he was home but I wasn’t. Those were all times he used for his cheating behavior.

    • My STBXW was the same with her phone. She use to leave phone sitting out and I knew the passcode. Then everything changed and she started keeping it on her at all times, changed passcode regular, even took phone with her to any room she went to in the house, kept it on silent and always face down. She really never wanted me to find the 15 men she was daily sexting or the one guy she was having an affair with. So glad the trash is gone.

  • When I started seeing ex-bf, I had seeing a counselor and told counselor about ex-bf Email address having a fake name and him lying about what city he lived in. Counselor encouraged me to see red flags and dump him, but I stupidly dropped the counselor instead. One year into relationship found dating profiles and Craigslist ads for sex. Believed nothing happened, he was just looking. Thought couples counseling worked. Invested another 5,5 years to finally do something about the parade of red flags waiving. Dumped him. So must happier not dating.

  • Mine threw me under the bus to placate his ex wife early on, then hired her as his realtor without speaking to me when WE were going house shopping because he “didn’t want to upset her”. From there everything had to be about image management and kissing his ex wife and daughter’s ass….i didn’t factor into anything.

    Ironically she didn’t even turn out to be the real problem…..that was his ex skank gf who he kept around our entire relationship even as she made it to her 5th marriage.

    And he was supremely conflict avoidant so nothing uncomfortable was to be discussed. Sports and the weather were ok but anything else made his majesty uncomfortable. He’d do passive aggressive shit like mutter nasty comments under his breath or walk behind me and change the thermostat then play dumb. It was very important that whatever douchbag thing he did be something he could deny and/or play dumb about because he didn’t have the balls to own anything he did.

    And he didn’t have any patience for my then little kids. He wasn’t abusive…just nasty. He was in their lives for 13 years and now at 19 and 17 they never even ask about him….it’s like he never existed…that’s how little he means to them.

    It’s unfortunate because he’s alone. He has one daughter who lives out of state and is generally self absorbed, and his two brothers live on the opposite coast. If he’d had any kind of relationship with my kids he might have two more adults that give a shit about him.

    Oh well….not my circus anymore.

    I will say that my biggest regret is not finding someone that bonded with my boys and I have apologized to them for that. Fortunately we are close and they forgive me. My only excuse is that their father was abusive and after that anyone who isn’t openly an asshole seems pretty good. I didn’t tell them that last part because he’s their fatger, and he and i get along well these days (he quit drinking). I should’ve spent more time single after that.

  • – Moving super fast and/or “lovebombing”, especially when combined with “just coming out of a bad relationship” or being “pursued by” a person described as “crazy” or a “stalker”

    – Showing intense interest in things that require others to work hard to accommodate the interest

    – Having no respect for my time (which can include being late to important things, but also extends far beyond that)

    – Subtly controlling physical space, like stopping in doorways and making their own body really wide wherever they’re existing, not moving over to make space when I come up to the couch, etc.

    – Little comments that would pass easily but turn out to mean a lot: perhaps calling someone who doesn’t look anything like you exceptionally attractive, saying to remind them of their ex, etc.

    – “Jokes” that make light of abuse or insult people unlike themselves, especially if you’re treated as oversensitive when I express dislike and say it isn’t funny

    – Really, ANY behavior that isn’t considerate or respectful is fully orange flag territory at a minimum when it comes to intimacy. At least when it comes to intimacy with me.

    • (Saying YOU remind them of their ex, that should say… Though the other would be weird, too, eh? ????)

    • Oh, and saying anything one does online, or on the phone, isn’t *really* doing the thing. Total dealbreaker.

    • Yes, I agree on the “orange flag” of disrespect, and my ex did almost all of the exact behaviors you list (except the love-bombing–he was a covert narc and liked to play hard to get, which worked on me b/c of an absent father, etc….) About the physical space thing: My favorite was when we would sit on the couch together and he would put his feet on me as if I were an ottoman. Or hand me trash to do something with when we were in the car as if I were a trash can. I did push back at these things, but then I would just get laughed at and gaslit with, “Geez, you’re so sensitive!” Followed, naturally, by withdrawal and the silent treatment….

  • He got a speeding ticket(92 in a 55) when we were dating and driving 2 hours from his service academy to his home. It was my fault because I had fallen asleep in the car ( at midnight after being up for work since 6 am) and he was angry that I wasn’t awake and amusing him. Dick.

  • The fact that when we finally started our official relationship, he needed to go spend a weekend with the woman he’d been seeing to break up with her in person first.

    The fact that all of his friends were always women, never guys.

    He is a doctor, and would give patients his cell phone number, and again it seemed like only female patients would develop these bizarre relationships with him and send him inappropriate texts – he would say “Are you kidding? If you could see what she looks like!”

    The courthouse secret wedding with the promised family/church wedding never materializing. The engagement ring provided a year thereafter.

    The gaslighting. The lies. The verbal and emotional abuse.

    I left, he followed, I forgave all of the above. Only to find out he’d been having an affair with a nurse 20 years younger for the last 2 years (oops! Make that 7 years!). BUT HE LOVED ME THE WHOLE TIME.


    • Newly Chumped,

      I can relate. My physician ex, who was a really quiet man, seemed to open up to the nurses, drug reps, and female patients. No boundaries!!!! I questioned this at times, and he dismissed my concerns, telling me I just don’t know what it’s like to take care of sick people.

      Btw, he seemed especially intrigued by one patient who was a sex worker: S&M stuff. He gleefully shared details. She sent him a long note commemorating his retirement. A lot of YOLO, carpe diem advice! Good God!

      • Oh, you mean the attractive female drug reps? Don’t even get me started on that! I had one get invited to a family event without telling me! No boundaries is exactly right. But don’t worry, he loved ME the whole time!

        • Haha. Of course you were! I, too, was oh so loved the entire time!

          It was always odd to me how this man, who complained SO much about being SO busy as a doctor (All Hail!), had time to chat about our daughter’s wedding dress, sports, fishing, etc…

          He knew all these details about these women and they knew so much about our kids (probably not about me).

          This pathologically shy/quiet man who couldn’t get a date in college suddenly found himself amidst all these women who aimed to serve and please (and, in the case of the drug reps, to sell). He violated every boundary in the book! That piece of sh*t!
          The OW ended up being one of those nurses. “She knew how I liked my coffee.” “She remembered the anniversary of my brother’s death.” “She said she got ‘wet’ when she saw my jacket hanging in the closet.” ????

          The kind chump that I am, I took pics of him at his retirement party, which was only months before D-Day. In one, he and this different nurse (not the exit-affair OW but maybe a previous partner?) are so close that their cheeks are touching. I remember being shocked while I dutifully snapped the photo.

          When I showed it to my therapist she deadpanned, “Oh, so he has no boundaries.”

          But, by golly, he loved me the entire time! “I think you can love two people at once,” he said. Key word: think. He hedged it.

          • Same here… not a doctor but in academia.
            Going for coffee with a female student? Not an issue… apparently she was so bright and needed advice regarding her future / career.
            Oh, why he never told me about it? It wasn’t ( or rather I WASNT relevant)
            Meeting a hooker for dinner ( of course he did… he was not an average Joe… he cared about her… wine and dine and listen to her hard life and struggles) and of course f- in her.


            Giving students his cell phone number? Not an issue
            Meeting them outside of the building for lunch? No problem

  • He told me he cheated on his high school girlfriend and then another girlfriend. I chalked it up to immaturity. He told me about the wife of one of his best friends hitting on him. About one of our neighbors hitting on him. He disappeared with a girlfriend of mine at parties. He put his arm around other women in bars. He made sexual comments about other women around me. He told me about his business partner who cheated regularly on his wife. About other cheaters in his office. About other cheaters in his industry. God, just writing this makes me feel like such an idiot. He told me over and over who he was and I refused to listen.

    • “He told me about his business partner who cheated regularly on his wife. About other cheaters in his office.”

      My ex did a lot of that in the last couple years. Always with a note of disapproval of the offending party. I have come to view those stories as his confessions. Such as, “A fire dept employee (married) screwed his girlfriend in his office” “The mayor is having marriage problems” “Schmoopie is dating a 50 year old man” in actuality Schmoopie (his direct report) was fucking him, and he was 40. I think their fuck fest started when he was about 37/38.

      He did a little of it in the early years of our marriage, but I didn’t pick up on it until hindsight kicked in. I think many of them confess in that fashion.

      • Cheaters encourage others to cheat.

        A girlfriend of mine who blew up her own marriage with affairs constantly tried to talk me into having one. They desperately want to believe that “everybody does it” to quell their own guilt.

        • Yes! I would imagine it’s a common tactic to make the cheater feel better. “You cheat; I cheat; we all cheat! Hip hip hooray!”

          My FW tried to get his best friend to cheat. I’m repeating myself on this site, but trying to drag your friend into your mud seems especially low to me. He tried to use another person in order to feel better about his own crappy behavior. I’m sure my ex envisioned double dates with his guy friend and their new young women. Ugh.

          I’m so confused as to why this friend continues to maintain a relationship with my ex. ????????‍♀️

          Ok. I need to let this one go. As CL would say, “Cull your social registry accordingly” (or something to that effect).

          • I think they do, but even more, I am thinking if the culture of the job is cheating, they will likely cheat too.

            What today I think is funny, (though I didn’t back then) is that his whole life has been a mess post marriage detonation. (I mean a mess) I think of him at some point (back then) looking around and saying to himself “what the hell” I have no doubt he was riding high for a while, and he likely though it would last. I do think that is what prompted his “apology” letter to me. Hovering, maybe; though I don’t think it was about me at all; he likely realized at some point, he had exactly what he went after and it didn’t look as good after the smoke cleared. He was grasping.

        • Yep My Ex over the years told me stories of this or that coworker or friend cheating. Lil exploits of oh married Bob met up with a coworker in the city for sex – one time thing, oh divorced coworker Pam still hooks up with her ex-h for sex, oh friend Tony slept with a stripper on the Vegas trip, Etc. Yep lil half truths where his name was omitted etc. And nice boundaries- a divorced coworker 10 years older than you is sharing that she still sleeps with her ex-h from time to time, I can only imagine how that came up in convo.

          • Honestly I think many times they are lying about the coworkers. They are confessing to their own sins, and changing the names and places to protect the innocent, namely themselves.

            My Ex FW toldme that the police chief had advised him to just seek out another woman now and then, and not bust up his marriage. FW said, that just isn’t me, I am not a good liar. I said “not a good liar, you just told me you have never loved me or been faithful our entire marriage!” His response, I just said that to make you hate me.

            Good Lord. PC never told him that, he was lying to make himself look like the good guy for just humping one toad instead of a bunch of them. Though after he married Toad, he hopped on more toadstools per my daughter in law. Evidently her magic twinkie didn’t hold his interest long.

  • That first rage, because he never came home for dinner and called at 10:30 at night. I said “Where are you, I was so worried?”. He started screaming that no one speaks to him that way, and “who the f*** do you think you are”. That should have been our last conversation, but I stayed 10 more years.

    • Oh the absolute rage that came out of the blue! We had been married about 2 weeks and he screamed at me. He was supposed to go for an interview in D.C. and I suggested it might be down by the Potomac. He went ballistic, how could I be such a stupid cow, who in the hell would put a shopping mall there? Turns out I was right – but that just made it even worse because he was never responsible for ANYTHING and he was NEVER wrong!

      • Yep….no apologies, ever. If you’re right or helpful it’s a lucky guess, you’re a know it all, and only weird people use such big words. Strange how there’s a whole world out here who use such big words.

  • In the first few weeks of dating he told me he was taking his 7 year old son and some of his son’s friends to the movies but we could get together afterwards. 10 o’clock rolls around and I don’t hear from him and he doesn’t answer his phone. So I drive over to his house and see him in his kitchen with a woman. He calls me back eventually and tells me it was one of the friend’s mother. Says the kids were playing (at 10 at night???) I believed him and drove back and slept with him. There were many other red flags after that, but if I had listened to my gut so early on I could have saved myself 9 years and a whole lot of pain.

  • Not only did he get a matching tattoo with a woman from his gym who happened to be half my age, he had the nerve to bring her home with him so they could show them off to me.

    • This is the thing I have the hardest time with.

      I get the official explanation of why they do it, but still can’t grasp it. Almost every woman I have ever talked to about this, has had the same experience. They have the need to bring the whore into their inner circle, including the wife and kids.

      • Duper’s delight. I know something you don’t know. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo. I’m putting one over on you. Stupid appliance, you’re such a sap for trusting me.

        • I can’t tell you how often the dick did this. Probably hundreds of times and women I don’t know about in addition to the 4 women I do know about. Maybe it would be easier to understand if I had somehow been cruel or vindictive to him? But I’m not that type of person. I’m honest , straightforward, and loving….a little, boring, and lazy. I did my best and always wanted the best for him at my own expense… what sport is there in that?

  • Before the 28 yr marriage… I was pregnant and we were engaged on my 21st birthday. He gave me a ring with my birthstone when we woke up. Awww… then left to go hang out with his band to practice and drink until after 10 pm. I sat alone and pregnant on my 21st birthday waiting for him to come back. I lived in his city… not my own. He ruined EVERY birthday for the next 29 years. Last year’s BD (big 50) was the first without him after DDay. Truthfully… it sucked. This year was the best birthday in 30 years. I didn’t have to ask what would be acceptable to do for my birthday. I had someone plan a whole weekend of celebrating me with my favorite (Covid safe) activities. I accepted so little for soooo long.

  • The night of our very first date while driving me back to my car after dinner, he said something very close to ‘I just want to set the expectation (a quirky–telling–phrase of his) that if the girl I was dating before you finds out I am dating you, she will try to insert herself into our relationship’. He’d been such a handsome, charming dinner companion and smelled so damn good I pondered it for a nanosecond and you know the rest.

    Eventually I asked him to move in with me. He contributed NOTHING to the finances.
    The ONLY thing he contributed was chaos. I call him POP–Predatory Opportunistic Parasite.

    Turns out he had quite the harem, many of whom were aware of me and encouraged his using me for everything they could get–in particular, the town bike I referenced above.
    I had to evict him, he wouldn’t willingly leave because he had no where to go. He ended up in a homeless shelter.

    His life has been sucktacular for the ensuing ten years and could get much worse as he’s awaiting trial in Jan 2021 for assaulting a woman he was involved with.

  • Lovebombing and devaluing.
    He met me in July of 2010 and I had a key to his house on Sept 1st. He called, texted all of the time. I took this as “I was special”. Calling and texting is his go-to, as evidenced by his long phone calls with other women glaring at me from the phone bill.
    I remember the first comment he made to me. He rambled about how he wasn’t above dating someone that wasn’t considered attractive and I remember thinking “what in the actual fuck”. His ex (maybe he was still seeing her at the time we met, who knows?) told him that I was ugly and he took her word for it. I remember it being the first time I felt unattractive and was questioning my self worth. Years of this, feeling hideous, worthless, and trying to please the unpleasable.
    I don’t feel this way anymore and none of it was true but it served him well for ten years.

  • He made a few really crude comments when we were dating. I objected, and he hit himself in the face a few times to ‘atone’ for what he said. I was a teenager when we met, I had very little life experience. He also referred to older women as old bags. I told him this was wrong. Boy was I naive. I felt I could help him. Barf.

  • He had no relationship with his mother and blamed me for years. She told him he was welcome with kids without me after I asked her to put the dog that bit my toddler leaving a scar. She blamed the child. After thirty years he spoke about getting money when she dies.

    Fast forward she doesn’t like Nanthony. Yet he reestablishes a relationship and is the ONLY one who goes to the funeral of her crazy boyfriend after making fun of him for decades. They weren’t invited to my daughters wedding. He’s just like his passive aggressive mother. Yet she didn’t name him as the executor. Who even thinks of their mother as a pay day?

  • If I could have a do over it would be the letter incident. We were 18, he was in the military; I was in my last semister of high school. We had started dating when he came home for Christmas. Had one date, had a fund time, a few innocent kisses; he was very sweet to me. (We had flirted a bit when I first moved to his home town, but not dated in his last year of HS. (I was a year behind)

    Anyway, after our date, he neve called back, so I just figured he didn’t have as good a time as I did. About two weeks later, I got a letter from him telling me he was sorry for not calling back, but he had a bunch of stuff to take care of, he really liked me and wanted to see me again blah blah blah. I even let my mother read the letter, and said I don’t know what to do. She said if he does it once, he will do it again. I pondered her advice and totally blew her off.

    Twenty years later, I was dumped for the town whore. Who knew?

  • Ex is a covert narcissist. He always told me I looked nice but would ask are you wearing that? He would come up behind me and ask if I needed help, while I was preparing a meal. He bought me a cute wagon he said it was for my garden but used it for his scuba equipment. We bought a low mileage used car for me, finally! He commuted with it adding tons of mileage while I drove his brand new F350 diesel truck we couldn’t afford, navigating it through the school parking lot and grocery stores – making sure I parked carefully where it would not get dinged or scratched. He would laugh and hug me when I messed up and say not to worry, he would take care of everything. 30 years of feeling incompetent, foolish and shy around everyone. When I finally began speaking up for myself he replaced me with a co-worker and married her as soon as our divorce was final. Now she is the appliance and I am free, still working on truly accepting and loving myself and coming to terms with living with someone who never loved me back all those years but I am free nonetheless and that is a real gift I gave myself.

    • Wow, Overcomer, I think we were married to the same covert narc. Except when I messed up he would get really disgusted and enraged rather than patronizing. But it had exactly the same effect. For months after he abandoned me, my heart would hammer in my chest every time I parked the car somewhere (which he gave me with the dents HE had put in it parking BTW) or moved something around in the garage–as if he would sudden rematerialize like a vengeful ghost just to berate me for being so incompetent. It’s quite the mindfuck–and very hard to explain to someone if they haven’t lived through something like it. And virtually impossible to see from the outside. Everyone except my sister and best friend thought he was just the greatest guy! So sweet and protective of his wife….

      • Same story here, Overcomer. I think the recovery from covert narcs is so confusing. He sounds just like my XH. My divorce will get finalised in 4 days, no contact since I walked out.

  • Yes,, big red flag. The first was a text On his phone “ are we going to hook up again tonight”. The second was that I found searches on his phone for escorts.
    It took me 5 years to finally find out that he had been going to prostitutes for 20 years. Divorced now. He continues the mindfuck now with lies because he was unmasked.

  • So very many red flags, looking back. Why, oh why, did I allow him to treat me that way? Almost 5 years after finding out and I’m still trying to heal from over 31 years of emotional, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse, gaslighting, projection, and manipulation.

    One of the first warning signs: he couldn’t say my name. Unless my parents were visiting or he had to say it in a conversation with friends, he would just start talking to or about me. At the very beginning of our relationship, he started calling me ‘T’, the first letter of my name, which I initially thought was endearing. Until I learned that his former girlfriend was ‘D’, the first letter of her name. Then he found a nickname for me, which I felt was insulting and hurtful, and told him not to call me that.

    After I found out about his 31 plus years of double life, cheating, and voyeurism, that he was diagnosed as a sex and porn addict, objectifies and fantasizes about pretty much every female he sees, I realised he couldn’t call me by name because it made me human, and he needed to see me as just an object to be used for his own twisted gratification.

    • This is REALLY interesting. My ex would never say my name either and I actually mentioned it to him like “haha i’ve never heard you say my name”…

      Seems like an easy way to create emotional distance

    • Mine, too. He would call me “babe,” and only when he was correcting me like…a baby.

  • As many others have said, there were so many red flags that it is triggering. But here is one that I’m not sure is actually a red flag but more of a warning about understanding how a person’s family of origin can be inimical to a healthy relationship.

    My ex and I met as undergrads and got married after a whirlwind courtship after our junior year. Since we were both self-supporting, I thought I was old enough to make that decision. But I wasn’t as mature as I thought.

    I fell for the sad story of a boy whose mother had died accidentally when he was nine. There were seven other children, the youngest in diapers. His father’s mother came to live with them, but in a horrible coincidence, was hit and killed by a car five months later.

    In desperation, his father hired a never-married woman as a housekeeper who was recommended by their parish priest. They were married soon after but it was a disaster. There was physical and verbal abuse but my ex (and all his siblings) always blamed his step-mother.

    My ex seemed so together that I thought he had risen above his chaotic childhood and become a wonderful, caring man. He actually married me to have an outwardly-appearing normal life. Yet it took me over forty years to understand this, as he is an extremely covert narcissist. I also eventually found out that he had been having sex with men our entire marriage. He still denies he’s gay.

    I gave him so many passes for his angry outbursts, cruel behavior, and gaslighting because I thought I could help him overcome the pain of his childhood. He refused all therapy so I should have realized that he didn’t want my help. In the end, he proclaimed everything was my fault anyway.

    Moral of the story: never try to save anyone from their demons.

    • Oh my gosh, SeenTooMuch, me too. Over 31 years with someone who’s mother left him with the babysitter at 18 months, raised by his dad and stepmom, with 4 kids of her own, until 12, turns out there was cheating on all sides, in all marriages. According to him, he was the forgotten and neglected step-child, never felt like he belonged.

      And I thought I could love him enough to make up for it, that our family, me, his own children, would be the stable home he had missed out on. He had very little contact with his family, my family welcomed and embraced him. He looked and seemed so happy and content…. But from the very beginning was living a double life.

      I now know that he used all of us as a facade of the perfect husband, father, family man. It made him look good, and provided a great cover for his dark, evil, twisted true self.

      • Same – early loss of mother and step mother. father probably cheating while step mother was dying of breast cancer.
        I was young and apparently very naive in thinking how strong and self aware it was that he could overcome all this to be such a charismatic person.
        We dated for years and In retrospect, red flags on parade.
        At some level, I knew he married me because he wanted a stable family life and he would talk openly about the how he admired men who built strong families and the kind of man and father he wanted to be.
        32 years together, It was all a show.
        Life got a little bit tough and not all about him and he had an affair with a married employee with small children our own kids knew and babysat for ( arranged by him)

      • Same same! Only mine was father left him and life was so hard…which was true but many others go through same and are kind humans still!

  • Love bombing, pretended to care, his mum made excuses for him. Never on time. His friends were more important. His mum behaviour was inexcusable, swearing, nasty comments about my stillborn. You could see him changing through the years. Always made himself look good to strangers, and neighbours.

  • So many red flags:
    – he had to get drunk to have sex with me the first time, and he wasn’t a drinker. Generally not physically responsive to me at all while we were dating.
    – he had no interest in having sex again for weeks after the first time – even while claiming to be so into me.
    – he communicated with two single, younger female friends of mine behind my back and asked one out for a drink when I was out of the country (Claimed he just wanted to be friends. She declined and told me he asked her out.)
    – after a month or two of very confusing mixed-message dating suddenly declared he was deeply in love with me and soon asked to move in.
    – pushed for a quick marriage very, very aggressively.
    – never got me an engagement ring and I somehow never even noticed.
    – sex life went down the tubes very quickly after marriage.
    – admitted he’d had a phone-sex problem many years before but was totally over it.
    – his logistics, locations were always bizarre – like he’d have lunch way across town or in an area he had no reason to be in.
    – I felt off-kilter, insecure and confused by him but couldn’t put my finger on why and chalked it up to my own insecurities because he was so good-looking and charming.

  • 1. Treated his mother like shit, only had her around when he needed a babysitter. (Openly disliked my close relationship with my mother and did his best to alienate us.)

    2. Refused to marry the mother of his twin boys – he loved her, but he wasn’t “in love with her”… she was crazy and walked out on him. (I eventually learned she left him because he was cheating on her.)

    3. Walked out on a marriage and left 3 kids behind. (I eventually learned this was the woman he had cheated on the baby mom above with and subsequently married in a “I’ll show you” game play to the baby mom above).

    4. He stopped making car payments on the car he gave to his XW who had 80% custody out of state with the kids. It got repossessed while she was out with the kids – I paid off the loan to protect her and he was supposed to pay me back… never happened.

    5. We never went anywhere that I didn’t pay for it. Dates were staying in and watching a movie.

    6. Sex became boring after he moved in with me.

    7. Any time I went out or away for the weekend with out him, he’d call or text all night and then go MIA from about 2am until the next day… never occurred to me those are prime bar closing hook-up hours.

    I could go on… but these were all BEFORE the marriage. UGH. I love the book Psychopath Free… it helped me realize why I accepted all of these things and why Mr. Sparkles “chose” me. Our goal here is to forgive ourselves for ignoring these red flags and help others to see them.

  • After 3 decades of what I though was a good marriage I made excuses for he slowly started going out without me saying he was with his guy friend. When he met the Owhore he told me he had a group of friends that got together doing fun things. He took away Saturday nights which we always went out together so he wanted to listen to certain bands. Disappearing at times with no explanation, hiding his phone, taking walks around the blocks in our neighborhood with his cell. Many other things that I tried to make sense of but couldn’t. Finally I caught him at whores house where they both verbally abused & made fun of me him saying how he loved her
    & telling me he’s been cheating 20 years of our 35 year
    marriage. Divorced him months after that but I’m angry at myself for ignoring all the obvious signs. I loved him so & didn’t want to lose him. But my mental & physical health was at stake. Now 4 years later, I’m free of the lying cheating narcissist but not at meh yet. Don’t know if I ever will.

  • The general anxiety I felt for years becuase I was not good enough, perpetually less-than, not listened to, talked over at dinner. It almost killed me, I discovered the affairs and got free.

  • I had been married 20 years when I discovered the ExH’s affair, then his secret email containing evidence of Craigslist hookups on his lunch hour. I thought he was my best friend. Totally blindsided but promptly filed for divorce. Now, divorced about 2.5 years, I can look back and see SO MUCH spackle and oh so many red flags. Here are a few:

    Married just a few months, we wanted a pet. We lived in an apartment and agreed to get a cat. I came home from work and he’d gotten a puppy. He told me he never liked cats and wanted a dog. A few months later, we were forced to move from the apartment because the dog was over their allowed pet size limit.

    Married under a year when a debt collector called. Found out he had a secret credit card and the statements were being sent to his work office address, but he wasn’t paying them.

    Married a couple years when I discovered he’d gotten a couple speeding tickets and had a shoplifting charge. He told me that he was embarrassed about the speeding tickets because I hadn’t gotten any and the shoplifting charge was just a misunderstanding, he did nothing wrong. I felt sorry for him. Ugh.

    Married a few years when he decided he wanted to be a teacher and go back to college for a master’s degree. I didn’t think we could afford that. He quit his job anyway to attend the expensive, private university nearby. At the end of the degree program, he decided he didn’t want to be a teacher and deal with parents, so he spent the next two years as a tutor, making almost no money.

    That was just the beginning of our marriage. I’m sure there are a gazillion more, but I was often too busy working, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, etc. to notice them. My parents tell me that I seem so much happier now. I agree.

  • He went to Home Depot. For two hours. Came home with nothing. No problem! He just likes to browse.

    He brought home a female friend. On a night when he thought I would be out. No problem! He just wanted to introduce her to our au pair, who speaks a language the friend was learning. He wanted her to have a practice buddy.

    He purposely picked fights with me. Made me cry. Blamed it on me. Refused to apologize even after I begged him to. No problem! I’m too sensitive.

    And so on, and so forth…. Yeah.

    • Kristen,

      “He purposely picked fights with me. Made me cry. Blamed it on me. Refused to apologize even after I begged him to. No problem! I’m too sensitive.”

      Yup. Got that, too.

      And the flare-ups were manipulative and premeditated. Creepy to think back on it now.

  • Three VERY early:
    He lied about his age, lied that he had a drivers license, took his friend’s Porsche and told me it was his.

    One HUGE one when we were engaged:
    I got crabs and only admitted that he gave them to me when asked. He said his doctor told him he got them from a toilet seat.
    It was 1983 so no doctor google to consult.
    But could have saved myself so many years of heartache.

  • Ex-Wife’s father died 15 years ago, about 15 years after we got married.

    I overlooked the fact that my Ex-Wife absolutely idolised him. I found out subsequently, and through a process of drip feeding, that he was an image obsessed liar, cheater, abuser and drunk. Oddly enough my Ex-Wife took pretty much every leaf out of his book that she could.

    The thing that is most upsetting is that she knew exactly what the consequences of her father’s actions were on the rest of her family; and yet she went and did exactly the same to me and our kids anyway.

    • Me too. Stbx’s father was a serial cheater.

      Stbx talked about how awful his childhood was due to the cheating and divorce. How it was horrible that his parents hated each other.

      Then he did the exact same thing to our kids.

      • Sadly, her mirroring of her father’s behaviour extended to the way she behaved after she was caught cheating. She lied, obfuscated, denied and refused to accept that her actions were wrong and had hurt me and the children.

        My MIL (who I am still on very good terms with, much to my Ex-Wife’s chagrin) was appalled. She told me not to expect her to “own her own sh*t” or to apologise; like her father, she just does not have it in her. Even worse, her fear of being judged (just like her father’s) is off the scale and so she lies as easily as she breathes; anything to stop the chickens from coming home to roost.

      • Same here. His parents divorced when he was about 4 because dad was cheating. Dad wasn’t around for his childhood nor the first 15 years of our relationship. About 7 years ago, he reconnected with his dad who is a drunk. So then my Ex carried out a year long affair before discarding me. Our kids just slightly older than when his bio dad left. He’s still in our kids lives for now but doesn’t live nearby and his drinking is starting to rival his fathers drinking.

  • What terrifies me personally about this experience is that I’ve always been very good at heading red flags and walking away. Fuckwit, being a covert narc/sociopath didn’t raise any at all. No love bombing, no weirdness, nothing at all that was off in any way that would have alarmed me and sent me running.

    That said, in 20/20 hindsight it does come down to reciprocity or rather lack off. It was also the right combination of my extremely easy going nature falling perfectly in line with his covert control.

    We always had great dates, a good time but, looking back, it was always on his terms, his ideas, his ways, his schedule. I had no input and even if I did try to plan something, he’d politely tweak it or change it completely. Since fuckwit always had a taste for the good things and was always fun – that he is being controlling flew right over my head.

    I actually think that is the most dangerous red flag of all, because it’s so easy to miss completely while you are having a good time. It’s a very subtle form of control.

    For example, I’ll tell him that I’d like to go to x restaurant because of y reason. He’d respond positively and then suddenly come up with a reason why we can’t go there – too far to drive, or he is in the mood for something else, but we’ll go there another day, or he’d really like for me to go to z restaurant instead because you’ve just go to try this dish there, you’ll love it and I’ve been wanting to share this with you. It ALL sounds so reasonable and even sweet in each instance, but once you zoom out, you realize that this is happening 99% of the time you suggest anything and that is your giant red flag.

    We think of controlling as someone who is openly mean and abusive, but control can be exerted under a guise of niceness and caring and sharing just as well. So that’s my PSA for any chump living in denial and focusing on the fact that your relationship was/is really quite nice.

    • Wow I had that exact thing happen with restaurants and dates. My husband would always talk about the fun dates we would have and then I would get a babysitter and then something would happen. Such as, I just had Vietnamese for lunch, so let’s go somewhere else. Or, even worse, I had a busy week so let’s just grab a quick bite and then go home. He always had a stomach ache when we got home, so no sex. Then, I was always accused of being “sexless”. He talked a big game but subtly sabotaged every single date we ever had. It got to the point of only talk, no action. But oddly, for many years, I believed the talk instead of focusing on the fact that none of it was real. The future faking kept me on the hook.

    • My covert X did the exact same thing. Always found a way to derail any plans / wants that me and the kid had to be changed to what he wanted. Or if I insisted he stick with our agreed plans, he sulked and made everyone miserable. In the end it was just easier to do what he wanted, when, how and where. And then he’d bitch because me and kid weren’t as enthusiastic about his plans as he wanted us to be.

    • Foolishchump

      Omg ???? yes to all you wrote…
      now, in my case, the mask was falling down few times… I couldn’t understand WTF was happening at a time
      So yes, he was fun, doing million things but somehow, all of it was on his terms. I’m an easy going person, interested in all- do that was an easy red flag to miss.
      Ex. We went on a lovely trip- we planned to visit x and y; we had to be on schedule in order to visit both places; on the way to y I wanted to quickly scan the gift shop … he was rushing because of the y.
      We got into an insane fight- I was completely surprised of what just happened. The rest of the trip was a nightmare- he was mad, cold, absolutely stone walking me.
      Because I wanted to do something I enjoyed.
      Plenty of similar cases during the marriage, but since I had no idea what a narc, or covert narc is- I was brushing it off.
      Being mind fuck For years is no fun

  • After I took my car out, “Gee, honey, I forgot to tell you. You have a leak in your break line.

  • The book “The Passive Aggressive Covert Narcissist” has a great list of red flags that are subtle but telling. One that stands out to me from very early in our relationship is that he would never slow down his pace when we were walking together. His legs were longer and I had to constantly run to catch up with him or end up walking far behind him.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is trying to fix their picker. There are many subtle red flags before you get too far into a relationship.

    • Thank you for posting that. I’ll have to check it out as I can’t help thinking over and over – what did I miss and how???

      Can’t even think about dating or relationships until I settle these questions somehow.

      What can I say – fuckwits – a “gift” that keeps giving and giving.

    • Same thing with me – I spent years trying to catch up to him! I know he is passive aggressive. Maybe a covert narcissist. I was lovebombed and discarded.

      • Hahaha me toooo! He was always walking in the front, leaving me and the kids behind…It makes sense now

  • Oh, and just for a change of pace:

    AP married my XW (after divorcing his). He spends a fair amount of time 1000 miles away (due to job / custody). For some time, he has been having weeknight dinners with a younger, prettier, richer, recent divorcee, supposedly because all their kids get along. He recently started having weekend sleepovers at her house, too.

    Not my red flag to deal with, thank god. I’m just grateful that in the flowchart of STI’s there is no longer any pathway from him to me.

  • Oh the red flags in the two years preceding our marriage and the next five after it (and never mind the parade-o-flags in the rest of our 25 year marriage). He was drunk every night in college–and every night of our marriage. He borrowed his college roommate’s car to go buy more beer, hit two girls walking on the side of the road, and left them there without stopping; he then hid in bed, drinking and crying for days, until his roommates got him to confess to me and I found him a lawyer. Chumpy me assumed he was riddled with guilt and remorse; wiser me realizes now he was just upset about what would happen to him. When his apology in court consisted of a one-word “Sorry,” I should have run. Nope. Married him. Then got a $900 bill for phone sex in the first six months of our marriage where he first insisted it was a mistake and then that he’d thought “it was free and that he’d only called because I had a yeast infection and couldn’t have sex with him.” There was the DUI arrest where he went to find his car the morning after and left me miscarrying alone. There were the 100s of late nights at work, the hotels “work put him up in because he was on call,” the constant stopping at bars on his way home, the sexting where “she came onto me,” the insistence that I s*ck his d*ck and that those were just calluses from too much masturbation, the HPV-positive OB-GYN test…

  • “Reality distortion field” seemed to be effective even if you were acutely aware of it. We value ourselves so little, why? Our own mother’s (who we become) showed us how to put everyone else first. Was this to make ourselves worthy or was it really necessary? We need to show the next generation to know their worth. First thing is to protect and value yourself, respect your mind and body. Become a woman with a moral compass who respects boundaries. We can’t accept it structurally and we can’t accept it spiritually. We continue demanding women remain second class worker bees in many religious communities. We accept this in the name of God and family were we would never accept that treatment in the workplace or the political arena. We need to face reality, own our choices, we need to start raising adults not children.

    • Agree, AuntBea619. My mother and the women and her family made non-stop excuses for the drunken/addicted men who did horrible things like beat their children, physically abuse their wives, expose themselves to strangers, cheat on their wives, ruin their families financially, and sit on their asses during every holiday while the “womenfolk” prepared the food, served them, and cleaned up after them. My sister and I remember a time when we were young, and our father sternly told us to lock our bedroom doors because my mother’s psychopathic cousin was coming over to stay the night. What???????

      And most all of these women are very religious and believe it is their duty to serve God by staying faithful and married and fixing broken men.

      My sister and I decided a few years ago that all of this acceptance of abuse stops NOW and we have open and honest conversations with my daughter and our nieces.

      We talk to our mother, too, but we might as well scream into the void. My brother, who cheated on his two ex-wives, got fired from jobs and lost homes to foreclosure, and recently wrecked his car after drinking, has a new girlfriend. Who moved into my brother’s bedroom at my mom’s house. During a pandemic. While my mother is still grieving the very recent death of my father and her husband of 52 years.

      My mom said of my brother’s girlfriend: “Maybe she’s the one.” My sister and I said, “Oh, so all of his dysfunctional and abusive shit has happened because he just wasn’t with the RIGHT woman?” It’s just insane, and a lot of it comes from the religious conditioning that perpetuates the idea that women are responsible for men’s actions.

  • So CL…, how long is your tendency to matter on about pine cone elves?

  • This is very embarrassing. I was married in the ’80’s, fresh out of college. I admit I felt I didn’t deserve ANYBODY. He seemed like a dream. Warning: if anyone feels like that – get counseling to determine why & to help you see that you are deserving of every good thing. So here goes:
    1. he was early to dates before we were a couple
    2. he was late, or forgot dates, after we were committed
    3. he didn’t have any money saved after 2 years of a well paid job in a top 10 accounting firm
    4. our long distance conversations were mostly about sex
    5. he proposed by telling me “my mother thinks we should get married.”
    6. I paid for my engagement ring after working for 6 months post grad school
    7. he could never get out of bed & get to work on time
    8. he could never be relied on to get home at any “agreed” upon time.
    9. he’d always have to buy himself a Coke when we went out anywhere
    10. these habits got worse after we had kids
    11. sex with him was boring & often stopped after he was done
    12. he was always agreeable, pleasant, ready to “help”
    13. he never took on any responsibility on his own
    14. he upped his helpfulness when my out of town parents came to visit
    15. he never had set work hours
    16. he began to work some “all nighters”
    17. he traveled a lot and liked it
    18. he often would come home on an early morning flight
    19. he never brought up any disagreeable conversations himself
    20. he made promises to change habits, then “forgot”
    22. he was always too tired, too forgetful – like a 65 year old in a 35 year old body
    23. we never argued – he always agreed to my concerns
    24. he began using our credit card for phone sex (still pre-internet)
    25. I could pick up later that he outright would lie to others
    I could go on & on. Basically, he had me fooled until I had proof via the credit cards. He was great at impression management & I was great at believing him, & thinking “how could I deserve him?”My family also was fooled. Big time. Never saw it coming. Neighbors too. Old friends, people at church. He still fools everyone…Mr.Nice Guy.

    • It’s frustrating to try to describe the extent of his agreeableness. But I did catch on to his lack of responsibility the more kids we had. He never could be totally responsible for any chore, job, decision, anything, thus taking it off my radar. This is from changing a furnace filter, to meals, to thinking ahead to vacations. He would only “help.” But it was SO explainable by him having consistent business trips 2-4 times per month. And by him forgetting things due to his “stressful” travel & work! Soon he was only responsible for bringing in a paycheck. Yes, I appreciated that, but I thought we had agreed that I would be a SAHM to the large family WE wanted! See, agreeableness!!! I was always the irritated one, and he was always the nice one. I couldn’t keep up with being nice too. Now I understand what I was missing: faithfulness, respect, warmth, genuine love & concern, participation, interest, a sharing in all things.

      • Yes yes yes. I found myself depending on my oldest daughter to help me more than my husband in just about everything. Thank you for this comment because I couldn’t put it in words but the lack of being responsible for anything but work.

      • LimboChump,
        See my similar post below – this is exactly how I felt. I just managed everything, because my husband couldn’t or wouldn’t. He was “nice” and lovely to me, so I excused it and put up with it. My motto became, “make him happy and all will be good”. My therapist said abusers use this ‘intermittent reinforcement” to keep us on the hook. When DDay happened, he went from lovely and warm to hateful and cruel and he’s never since given me one ounce of kindness. He’s hateful and mean and doesn’t care if I die. He went from generous with money to not paying child support (being forced by tax department now). He is a complete POS. I’m so angry that he exploited my kindness and home making skills. They are cruel and I’m sorry you had this as well.

      • Ah yes, Mr. Nice. I married him too. And people around us still have trouble believing what he’s done–just had a conversation about it not 4 days ago in fact. How “nice he was how much he loved you, you guys never fought I saw it with my own eyes” and he’s just SO NICE!!!

        • Yeees! My STBX is very kind, calm and makes great impression. He talks slowly, he seems to be so caring…HA HA HA. Our friends were shocked when they found out as they thought he was such a great guy and he loved me so much…Image management, that’s it. I am happy he is out of my life!

      • Yes – they used us as wife appliances. My ex stopped helping with all things laundry related, vacuuming, bathing kids, etc. It was always on me to do the bill paying, tax prep, grocery shopping, cleaning, and shuttling kids to practices, homework, etc. He worked out of town during the week but was home on weekends. During the devaluation phase, he would nitpick about dishes in the sink etc. Gee, I’m working full time, taking care of kids, and running a biz, sorry if I didn’t have time to unload the dishwasher. Just an entitled ass looking for a gold medal when he mowed the grass (on a riding mower). I’m about 15 mos post discard & our divorce was finalized earlier this year. Now my home is much more peaceful, my biz income is up 130% compared to this time last year, enjoying my weekends with the kids, & working on fixing my picker.

  • The way his Dad treated his Mom-not always but often.
    The way he didn’t think rules and laws applied to him.
    The way he was always always right.
    And Limbo Chick yes!!! That’s it in a nutshell. He could watch me work myself into the ground with six kids and do everything and he’d just say well don’t do it then. Like some magic fairy would suddenly arrive to cut the lawn or change the diaper.

  • I do have a few… He liked to be without clothes more than normal. I would have to tell him to put on clothes when we were in hotels as someone might see him. He took me to a naturist resort without first asking me. He looked with binoculars where he shouldn’t and he didn’t tell me about two incidents where he was caught without clothes in the living area of our home. I received a letter telling me instead – not a nice thing to get. He said he didn’t want to worry me. These incidents were spaced out during our marriage, so I overlooked them. There was an inability to, you know, without fantasy. Not something you want to share when married, but wish I had more. Then there were several instances where some men got aggressive with me – trying to sell me something, confrontation wise – and he didn’t stick up for me. I thought that was strange. Previous relationships red flags – yes – left partners/wife suddenly. That’s what happened to me. There was the rewritten history I have read about so much here. I just thought he hit his head one time too many! Should have investigated those red flags. Interested to hear if someone else had something similar.

  • Here are some of my many red flags:

    -He wanted an open relationship even though I refused
    -He was deeply into video games and the card game Magic and played both of these for hours and hours
    -He was boring and didn’t want to do physical activity, only video games and card games
    -His ex was very “crazy”
    -He talked about his sexual prowess all the time, but was actually quite lame in bed (I thought it would get better over time)
    -We got married in a year after meeting
    -I was very, very bored and lonely because of the computer game playing
    -He was tired all the time and slept in very late (this never changed in 25 years)
    -We didn’t have sex very often, but he talked about sex all the time
    -He didn’t do chores
    -He didn’t manage money or save and kept telling me I was anxious about money
    -He was hedonistic and wanted everything to be perfect, all the time, including that all meals had to be big events (I cooked), we couldn’t just open up a can of beans and be done with it! Had to be a big thing, all the time even if I was tired or stretched for time
    -He was in the bathroom a lot, for a long time
    -He was ALWAYS on his phone or iPad
    -He didn’t get along with people at work
    -In our first few years of marriage, he struggled to hold down a job or finish school
    -He has a very close best friend (flying monkey) who he’s oddly close to, and had sex with once when they were young. Their relationship is creepy, and he was always more excited to go out with him than with me (his eyes would light up when you said his name), I had to drag him out of the house to be with me
    -He wouldn’t go for walks with me and he finally said, “don’t ask me again, I will never, ever go for walks with you. Walks are lame and I don’t want to go with you. I have better things to do with my time.”
    -He wouldn’t attend school events for our daughter because he couldn’t be bothered – he would bring his iPad to dance recitals and look up shit during the performance
    -He slept in the other room because of “insomnia”
    -He had bad relationships with his family
    -He really has nothing to show for his career, even after being a business owner
    -He loved bombed me always, and talked about how sexy I was and objectified me, and yet, hardly any sex
    -He was over the top and fake, which I chalked up to him being insecure. He love bombed me in front of other people, which I found a bit embarrassing, but again, I thought he was just insecure or something

    And that’s all before the real gaslighting and lying kicked up!! By then I was so confused I had no idea what was going on. He was always a self-centred, indulgent fuck that I believed because of his relentless love bombing. I was always waiting and waiting for him, and he bent the world to suit him. He was cheating on me for most of our 25 years together. This is a depressing post today, and when you read it, you do wonder how the hell we, as people who love so deeply, get sucked into this shit.

    • I bet you that his very close friend that they “only had sex once when they were young” is his regular and long term fuck buddy.

    • Up until you mentioned your 25 year sentence with him I thought you were talking about my Nitwit, who isn’t old enough to have had a 25 year relationship. The video game addiction, the overwhelming laziness around the house, the lack of sex, the male friend/fuck buddy/flying monkey. They really do operate out of the same playbook.

  • That he had ZERO friends. And after three dates, he reached over our restaurant table to hold my hands, look deeply into my eyes, tell me that he was ‘very monogamous’ (are there degrees of monogamy??), and try to pressure me into a commitment.

    He also wouldn’t shut the eff up ever about his days in the Swedish military OR his championship bodybuilding days in 1980s on Long Island, which made me feel like I was watching a never-ending SNL episode of ‘Pumping Up With Hans & Franz.’

    And finally, he never read books and insisted on wearing pleated trousers.

  • So many, some minor, some major…refused to answer certain questions of mine, road rage, impatience with senior citizens crossing the street, telling me how sexy his ex was, filming me (without first asking permission) during sex, never taking any responsibility for his actions, not introducing me as his girlfriend, screaming in my face if I innocently asked him to repeat himself when I couldn’t hear or understand, inappropriate FB behavior (and gaslighting me when I’d complain) including saving a photo of my attractive friend to his computer, double standards, sexism, anger issues, entitlement, barely complimenting me, refusing to say “happy birthday” on my birthday, triangulation, selfishness in bed, telling his friends and family that he would one day “trade me in for a younger model” and told me he was just joking when I got upset about it (ended up happening!)…this was all before we were even married. I really should have known better. But I am confident I will never tolerate such behavior again

  • I spackles so much I could have covered all of red china, never mind all of the red flags.

  • We were engaged, and the wedding was only a couple of weeks away. Someone on TV claimed that men were better drivers than women. I laughed and made a comment about the ignorance of the guy’s claim. FW responded with, “he’s right; men are better drivers.” Being an overt feminist, I was shocked that he not only believed such a ridiculous generalization, but that he would take a stand on it. That, however, wasn’t the red flag.

    The red flag came when I tried to debate the issue with him. He completely shut down and and went silent. A harmless debate over a silly opinion turned him into stone. He closed down all discussion and refused to speak to me, regardless of how upset I became.

    I slept in a different room that night, during which I reconsidered marrying him. There is something seriously wrong with a person who responds to a meaningless conflict with the silent treatment, and I knew that. Instead of simply postponing the wedding date (or, better yet, calling it off), I spackled. I convinced myself that he was just anxious about the wedding because I’d never seen him behave that way before.

    We were married for 19 years, during which his disorder gradually became a festering, seeping, gangrene thing that needed to be cut out of my life.

    Little did I know what a momentous turning point that night was. I wish I had been more ruthless with myself and forced the amputation the moment I caught that glimpse of his sickness.

    I’m not above giggling when I think of what the OW has in store for her. ????

    • Yeah, my Ex’s misogyny definitely got worse over the years. We couldn’t even talk politics which was then my work day/office stories also got included in no talk list as he was stressed out with work and dealing with worker stories all day. About a week prior to D-day, he was miffed looking at the loan estimate for our refi because my name was listed before his name! Lol, so happy I never changed my name when I married him – there was one less thing to do after divorce.

  • Oh God there were loads of them. And these flags weren’t just red, they were burning. You could smell the smoke from five miles away.

    The first was that his ‘best friend’ was an 18 year old girl who he used to sleep with (we were 28). The second was when his other ‘best friend’ (a 26 year old man) took me aside one day and said ‘I’m really sorry to have to tell you this but I just can’t stand by him. He’s been on a dating site and agreed to meet up with a random woman for sex. I have the evidence here. (He did.) He’s also been saying nasty stuff about you behind your back.’ This was enough for me to break up with Ex for all of a week or so until Ex convinced me that his best mate was a snake who hated me for taking his best friend off him and was trying it on with me to get him back. And also I hadn’t been paying him enough attention (despite that we were at it like rabbits back then) so of course he tried out other options, but the important thing is that he didn’t go through with it (because she stood him up).

    The third was when his ‘crazy’ ex who ‘stalked him’ and ‘would do anything to get him back’ calmly explained to me that he’s a cheating piece of shit and she’s very glad to be rid of him, but very sorry he’s still pulling the same old tricks. We bonded over both having been fooled by an utter tosspot… until I fell for his bullshit once more. I’m so sorry, Michelle. You tried. I wish I’d had the courage to listen.

    The fourth was when I found out about multiple affairs and attempted affairs (including Schmoopie) and finally ended it. After 8 years of denial. Schmoopie’s now in my denial phase. Good luck, Schmoopie!

    • Also I forgot about the debt thing! His best mate (the male one, the one who tipped me off about his cheating) also tipped me off that Ex was at least 10K in debt… despite having received double that amount in a shares sell off.

      The kicker is that Ex got away with it completely. He used his mum’s address for several years and she returned all his debt collection letters with ‘addressee unknown’ scrawled on the front. 10 years on now and he’s got a clean credit report.

      I’m under unhappy to report that his apparently virtuous best friend left his long term partner and kids for a much younger colleague.

  • 1) Made himself out to be so adventurous when he was just going along with other people
    2) Never made any plans on his own. Always someone else’s suggestion.
    3) Had Dyslexia, never mentioned it, even when the kids started having problems in school
    4)Never had the kids backs in school. They had dyslexia, but they were not stupid or incapable of learning (Both GATE identified). Acted like they should be able to process 33 math problems in 2 minutes when HE COULD NOT DO THAT.
    5) Never got to work at a normal time
    6) Never got home at a normal time or consistent time. Still expected us to drop everything we were doing when he walked in the door with no notice. Remember, kids with dyslexia. We were still doing the teacher’s “10 minutes” of homework that had thus far taken 1.5 hours.
    7) If he happened to get home before we started dinner, and the kids were not done with their homework, he wouldn’t’ t let them eat until they were done. Dinner was ruined, kids could not function, evening was a loss. (I would break for dinner, then come back to homework- I also learned to start eating earlier)
    8) When dating, stopped making dates and just “showed up”.
    9) Would pick fights when he wanted to do something he thought I wouldn’t like. Then go do it and tell me after the fact (Lord, that one is a flaming red flag and I didn’t get it for YEARS because I’d never known anyone who DID that)
    10) Projected his issue onto me. I didn’ t know what that was until I found out his mother did that when she told me I’d said something that “insulted” my SIL’s child. I immediately called SIL to apologize because I had meant no ill intent. SIL was not insulted and was like “What? That wasn’t insulting, just an observation and I think the same thing.” MIL was “offended” (really, upset about a birthmark that was raised and absorbed back in to the skin during the baby’s first year, and I had the audacity to mention how amazing the body is) and projected her issue onto SIL and me.
    11)HUGE red flag that once again I did not understand for years. He would hide something from me, then it would “magically appear” in a spot I had already searched five times. I caught him at it once and it never happened again, so I blew it off. I should not have, that was just bizarre. I learned about gaslighting.

    I could go on, but when you grow up in a family where people tell it like it is, you don’t expect people to lie to you by projecting or misrepresentation or whatever. You expect everyone tells the truth as best they can, with a little omission here or there to protect feelings.

    In my case, it wasn’t spackle as much as it was “Yep, there is a gaping hole. Never seen that before.” Until there was nothing but holes left. I didn’t spackle them as much as I didn’t get why anyone would do that and now that I know, I can work with it. I see now it’s a problem that other people’s issues don’t bother me.

  • 1st red flag….”I’m on probation for a misdemeanor”.

    I should have run a background check before the next date.

    Did I? Of course not. 7 years of abuse, mental, physical, and financial.

    The silver lining is my beautiful son, and that I finally got the guts to leave.

  • Mine was kind of clever about it. He had a contentious relationship with his mother, almost no relationship with his father, and was emotionally repressed, which he used to gain my sympathy. These were all red flags. The first concrete indication of his dishonest nature was pretending to forget we had a date sometime in the first few weeks we were dating. He nonchalantly called me minutes before he was supposed to be picking me up, not to apologize for a change in plan, but just to let me know he was going out with his friends and would see me tomorrow. I was too stunned to say anything. Later he denied knowing there was a date, which we had made the day before this happened. Looking back that was the first time he used covert aggression and gaslighting on me. Did I run? No. I believed he had forgotten and shrugged it off, because he said something like “I don’t remember a date and I’m sorry I hurt your feelings by forgetting.” I was newly in love. What a fool I was.
    Naturally the covert aggression increased very slowly so that I didn’t detect the pattern. I only knew he was doing unkind things and afterward was very apologetic. He was smart enough to change his tactics when I was upset by a particular mode of abuse and called him out. So he’d apologize, everything would be okay for a while and then another mode of abuse would take over. Rinse and repeat for 30 years. His final mode of abuse was fucking around without a condom and heartlessly discarding me for some worthless skank, but neglecting to tell me that I was out and she was in. All I knew was that he was cold and nasty and obviously no longer loved me. This went on for years. I tried to get him into counseling and he finally agreed, but I wasn’t so into the idea by that time and before it could happen he got caught.

    I don’t know of any affairs prior to the one I dumped him for, but I’m betting there were more. A guy that smooth and calculating has to have cheated before. A double life isn’t something you can pull off without practice. I see the Mayday parade of red flags I missed now and at last report he was still claiming none of it was intentionally done to abuse me, which of course means that all of it was. Whatever shit he says, the polar opposite of it is most likely to be true.

    It’s possible that this guy might be too scared if consequences to ever cheat again, but he’ll simply use another mode of abuse. His cruelty will never change no matter who he’s with and he will never stop lying. Besides, who wants somebody who only doesn’t cheat because of being afraid? I deserve somebody who doesn’t cheat because he adores me and feels that no other woman could possibly replace me, and because his character won’t permit dishonesty or cruelty.

  • Every single birthday I had while married he would ruin to varying degrees. Every. Single. One.

    Some seemed innocent or out of his control, but like clockwork ruin would arrive. He’d talk up taking me out to this cool event or new place but then, darn ticket snafu or work thing happened and let’s just postpone.

    On 3 birthdays he fell ill. Three out of a 10 year marriage! Once ending up in the hospital with kidney stones, and I chalked that one up to crummy timing. I felt sorry for him then.

  • Oh, I just remembered another.
    I was pregnant with my first (and only) and Mother’s Day rolled around. I had expectations of a card or at least a comment from him, you know the father of the human being I was growing. Nope. Not a thing, not a word. When I asked hey how come no card he simply responded, “you’re not a mother yet.”

    You know who did get me a card? My 68 year old boss, dad of 4 grandfather of 6. That man knew the value of family.

    This one is Matador red flag but the was so stuck into the marriage and hormonal I just chumped along.

    • You reminded me that he said “you’re not MY mom”. A Mother’s Day where we both share two daughters(one each) but still?!?
      Moving forward 10 years he’s trying to be the man I always wanted because now I know he’s cheated. He hid it for years

  • too WASP-y to make others uncomfortable, but he told me at our rehearsal dinner at the country club, the night before our wedding service that he ‘wasn’t sure about me.’ Of course, all our family and people who flew in for the wedding the next day were there—so of course I didn’t say a word. Worst mistake of my life, and have made a few.

  • Cheater 1 was a perfect Dr. Jekyll sociopath and I was happily married with him pulling his weight at home and being romantic (in retrospect, it was mirroring & lovebombing). The only real red flag was visible in hindsight: his mom was a cheater, pathological liar, histrionic illness faker, and stole both of her kids’ identities, ruining their credit. 13 years married to him, ending in a terrible divorce. He cheated at least the last 8 years of our marriage with other married men like him who were on the down low.

    Cheater 2 was someone I had dated long distance for 3.5 years. One time we were having phone sex and he said the name of my then-9-year-old daughter. He played it off with a joke. Found out his daughter had accused him of sexually abusing her, and he was living a double life and cheating on me the whole time we were together – his primary target was a newly-divorced single mom of adolescent girls who had relocated to his neighborhood to be with him, and who had no idea about me either.

  • Oh, where do we begin?

    1) He’s supposed to be in recovery. He’d been drinking NyQuil to go to sleep after getting home following swing shift. Um, NyQuil IS alcohol….

    2) We got tree permits to cut Christmas trees. He was mad at me because his mother wanted my tree and I wouldn’t give it to her.

    3) The junior college female “study partner”, who he had to partner with “because there were no other guys in the class.” Then I got a phone call. From one of the other guys in the class. Who wanted to borrow his notes.

    4) We moved into our house in 1992 prior to getting married in 1997 to “live here three to five years, fix it up and sell it.” It is now 2020. My kitchen is the original 1951 kitchen, complete with a dishwasher you have to roll across the floor. But up at the business we started in 1998 after we got married, there seems to be plenty of money for new machines that cost high six-figures and we own the buildings…..

    5) Routinely “stood back and stood by” while his alcoholic family violated violated violated me.

    Why did I stay?

    Mixed messages + intermittent reward = HOOK

    He’s a Nice Guy! He’s In Recovery! We Go To Therapy! So The Slot Machine Is Going To Pay Off So I Can’t Leave Now!!

    I wrote a story about him and fell in love with the story I wrote about him and believed my own hype about him. Just like Shanann Watts.

    Denial is real and powerful and dangerous.

    And sometimes fatal.

  • Early in our relationship he told me, “I love you so much I wouldn’t even mind if you cheat on me.”

    Wait! Whaaaaaaat??!! I should have recognized that as a red flag.

    Instead: I wrote it off to some kind of weird compliment.

    17 years later…

    He didn’t love me enough not to cheat on me.

  • Silent treatment, never apologized, phone always locked, vague answers when asked about whereabouts, inflated sense of self to name a few

  • Death by a thousand cuts ……..

    Stayed way to long with the ingenuous, argue to the death (divorce was the same) no surprise there. Always had to have his way, lied upon lies. The list goes on and on.

  • He was a widower married to “the love of his life” for 24 years. She was old enough to be his mother. He was looking for someone three months after her death.

    He wanted to move in after we had been seeing each other for six months. He lived in a small town 100 miles away and came to see me ever weekend and sometimes in the middle of the week. Oh, the love-bombing. I did wait a year to let him move in.

    He changed jobs every two years..or more often. We were together 10 years. He had six jobs.

    We had been together six months and went to Hawaii for a vacation and to see his brother and sister-in-law who lived on Maui. She asked me if we were together before his wife had died.

    He filled out his income tax return every five years. Actually, he got his accountant to do it every five years. He didn’t owe taxes, he always got a refund. But, WTH? Just do your damn taxes, it is not that hard.

    The reciprocity though…Why did I do all the work?

    I’m almost retirement age and have a substantial retirement fund built up. At least I had enough sense not to marry that asshole.

    • Thank God you didn’t ! Enjoy your retirement (and all your money) without that albatross.

  • Six years into the marriage I told him to make a choice: his porn addiction or me. He said he chose porn and told me there would always be someone out there prettier than me, with a better body than mine, and better in bed than me. Should have packed a suitcase that night, left to stay with family, and filed for divorce the next day. Chumpy me wanted kids with this man and I believed I could save him from himself. Boy was I wrong.

  • The first red flag that was more than just an observation: I had been away on a trip for one week. When I arrived back at the airport, in the morning, I was surprised she was not there to pick me up; on every other occasion, she’d driven to the airport hours before and found ways to entertain herself at the nearby shops. When she finally did appear, she was cranky and seemingly annoyed at having to come get me. As we drove home, I commented that this situation seemed oddly similar to when a previous (long-term) girlfriend of mine had been hours late picking me up at the airport and, when she did, she had been sullen and resentful—it turned out that she’d spent the night cheating on me, and her being late (and her bad mood) was because she’d had to force herself away from her affair partner’s bed to come get me. My wife paled and fell silent. I laughed, trying to lighten her mood, having interpreted her stricken look to mean that she recognized the close parallel and was aghast that she’d made me worry like that.

    Yeah, hey, guess what.

    • Oh my goodness, snap!!!!!

      Except the paling. He couldn’t care less.

      Then he never even arrived at the airport and I had to make my own way home. Did I protest? Expectations were so low by that stage

      • Nothing new under the chumpy sun, is there! Ha. Wow. She took so long to get there I almost did tell her to stay home and have me use public transit.

        As for going pale, it was evident, once I knew the facts, that she went pale simply because she thought she’d been found out. (And it was only a week or so after this that I did find out.)

      • Oh, wait, I see.. you mean that he didn’t even care about being found out!

        (Geez… even at this stage, we chumps still don’t assume the worst in people)

  • Don’t date someone whose childhood nickname was Pinocchio! ????

    • Just going through archives for strength. Read your article I’m so sorry. Thanks for sharing

  • Three things I wish I had forced a conversation about during the year we were engaged:

    1) How angry he got when I suggested we find a new place to live instead of me moving in with him. (He said I was insulting him by not being grateful for the home he was providing for me.)

    2) How angry he got when I tried to insist on driving us home after a party where he drank way too much. (I got into the car with him at the wheel to avoid the humiliation of a public argument, and while he dropped me off at my own house a mile away, he refused to come in and sleep at my place, but drove himself 20 miles home very inebriated. He never apologized or admitted his intoxication. He insisted I had humiliated him by trying to take the keys in front of friends.

    3) How often he was livid at his boss all year.

    In retrospect, it is easy to see he had an anger management problem and used anger (and my fear/discomfort with fighting, especially publicly) to begin a pattern of bullying and abuse that only got worse after we married. At the time, I didn’t want to be difficult, appear critical, or ruin a good thing.

  • We were together for 3 years before he changed. Up until then he was great to me, sweet and reliable. This all changed when we had our baby. Just some red flags:

    – drinking too much which led to poor impulse control
    – disappear for hours without me being able to reach him when he was drinking (and he didn’t even let me know he’d be late)
    – gaslighting me into thinking his drinking was normal and I didn’t get it
    – being away for days for work commitments elsewhere, or working in a different city, while we couldn’t go with him and move as well not because I didn’t want to but because he didn’t want us, and find many excuses as to why this was a good arrangement since he was home on weekends
    – his phone was always on silent, with a million passwords and codes and always out of my sight
    – once when I was complaining that he was working in another city and I barely saw him, I asked him if he didn’t care about me and our son and why were we making all these sacrifices for a life we didn’t know how it would turn out. His answer was that his family mattered but not as much as his job at the time, because the family was something he could always pick back up, whereas his career needed to happen now (I should have left there and then)
    – lying by omission all the time, me catching him, and getting the “i didn’t lie, i just didn’t think it was important so I didn’t mention it”
    – separating his work life and family life to the point I had no idea what he was even working on at some points in 17 years together
    – when I went back to Uni to finish my degree he told me my time had passed for that and I had to concentrate on raising our kid (so that he could travel and have his career)
    – me noticing how he would often put a mask on and act very differently when I wasn’t around, and him telling me he felt criticised and that I didn’t get it

    Looking back it was so many. But because he a good provider, and when he was around he seemed a good loving husband, I let it all slide. I’m so angry at myself for it.

    • Same. Mine was a good provider. Early on right after I had my first child the emotional abuse started I asked my Mom if I could come home. Both my parents said having a baby was difficult but he was such a good provider it would be ok. His income prevented me from
      Criticizing him to others because they would assume the financial security made up for the trouble. He became so arrogant it only got worse and of course he decided he needed a thinner more accomplished wife, even though I did 100% of parenting and running family life and had a good career before. Also I looked fine. I think it was just another devaluement. As a tried and true cliché if someone shows you who they are, believe them. And I was overly dependent on my parents opinions.

      • Mine turned out to be a serial cheater, there had been so many people I could barely wrap my head around it (and I didn’t even know he was bisexual because in so many years he never told me). He didn’t even trade me for any particular person, he traded me for whatever. I’m still well in the middle of it because it’s recent, but it’s like my reality shattered and yet when I look into it there was so much wrong.

        I think it’s hard with men who are good providers because they make you feel like they’re working for yours and the family’s future, but we can attest it’s not always the case. In my husband’s case he was doing it for himself.

        I understand depending on parents’ opinions, mine were the same. They thought so highly of him because he seemed such a good guy, made good money, and put up a front of being a family man. They thought I was very lucky.

  • When I started reading this thread, I thought I might not have any. But then the memories came flooding back. There are literally so many, but here are a few that stand out.
    -He used to tell me that he only had two feelings: good and not good. I thought he was joking. I should have believed him.
    -He’d throw me under the bus with his family every single time. He once made me visit his parents for the weekend while I had strep because it was easier to drag me there than tell me no.
    -He could say something to be one minute, and then the next deny he said that.
    -He lied about the STRANGEST things. Like, saying he’d never tried a certain pizza chain before when he had.
    -He had all female friends for the most part, and wouldn’t let me come hang out with them because he said they didn’t want to be around me.
    -I wrote his wedding speech, including his words to me. He told me if I didn’t, he just wouldn’t say anything. This is still really embarrassing for me to admit.


    -He (an Israeli) used the computer game The Sims to create a concentration camp. He kept the sims in a fenced in area, put them in striped pyjamas, starved them and watched them die.

    I should have run right then. Whenever I remember this, it shakes me to my core.

  • Red Flag #1: Never, ever wanted to know about my history—nothing. Called it torture to think about my sexual past but his was open for sharing, commenting and reliving during our “private time” together (esp. the affair partners’ proclivities!!).

    Red Flag #2: Yelling at me about someone else’s choice for a dinner party. He was embarrassed that he didn’t have the money (but I DID) to pay and told me he’d never forgive me.

    Red Flag #3: Telling me that–after a weekend away–it was a “deal breaker” that I didn’t want to hang out in a cigar store (I don’t smoke!!) for 2+ hours with a friend of his I’d never met.

    Red Flag #4: When he told me about the affair he had when he was married to wife #1.

    Red Flag #5: When he told me about the day he had sex with 5 different people; no shower in between and no condom with any of them. (IKR?!)

    Red Flag #6: When I asked why his affair partner’s husband was calling me and he said “She’s crazy. She’s my sister’s friend. All we did was have lunch and talk on the phone about her alcoholism.”

    Red Flag #7: Leaves me and our kids (all under age 9) for days on end without excuse, explanation or regret. This happened for almost a decade (obv. kids are older now…but it was the pattern for almost a decade…ugh).

    Red Flag #8: Walks into my office at 4pm and asks: “Is it your birthday today?” This is AFTER we have birthday cake and the office folks sing me a song. We’d been together 16 years.

    Red Flag #9: Tells me, after first “disclosure”, that his affairs were MY FAULT because I was too busy being a mother, full time employee, and support system to family members. (Side note–“they” were “always available” when he wanted….)

    Red Flag #10: Every. Single. Time. I. Asked. For. Help. Or. A. Day. Off.

    I could go on–about the “unexplained” STI, “unexplained” box of condoms, the missing money, the hidden photos and videos–but really, I’m exhausted. I’m preparing to file in January 2021; he was asked to leave (nicely, I might add) in June 2020 as I explained that remaining with him was toxic to both of us. It was after 2+ years of therapy for both of us and he still told me his affairs were the result of my failings.

    So, I’ve got my kids all day, every day, I still work 60+ hours a week, I maintain the family home, pets, garden, cars, etc., AND I smile EVERY DAMN DAY that he’s in an apartment and I don’t live with him anymore.

  • My husband took me to Thornecrown Chapel in Arkansas to ” renew our vows”. Just seemed interesting and a bit touching at the time .I found out later he already had girlfriends lined up so this was guilt and manipulation. When he didn’t get what he wanted in bed, off came his ring. Another time he threw out all my lacy underware and raged…” So why did I buy these for you if you never put them on!!!” I was being compared with his other woman, how many I do not know. I had no idea of what he was capable of. Makes me cry now, how i stayed 32 years with a creep. My kids knew though and disrespected me for staying. When I left my cheating husband my daughter said I was the strongest woman she ever knew, put that in Facebook. I cried at that too.

  • He went to the gym instead of home.
    I painted the house alone.
    He didn’t want me to come to company parties.
    If I went, I sat alone with the kids.
    If I spoke up, I was jealous.
    It got so much worse after that.

  • >