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Are These Red Flags?

Dear Chump Lady,

My question is to see if I’m about to get involved with a user and would be interested in what your experienced readers think. My new boyfriend and I are both mid-40s and both divorced twice, he has one child I have none.

Three months ago I met the most amazing man. He makes me feel beautiful and alive. He is fun, affectionate, witty, intelligent and strong character. Plus he’s very handsome and gentle, and I am in love with him. I’ve not met someone I feel so good around before. Okay, where’s the rub? Here are some characteristics I’m concerned about:

– I pay for 90% of the time we go out. I make 4x being an executive, he’s been underemployed for 2 years getting paid cash for manual work. The service industry career he was in for 15 years he was fired twice due to performance. That was only a small piece, in reality he drank too much while traveling for work weekly.

– 20 years ago he had two DWIs. He’s known in his former industry to drink too much. I’ve talked to him about it a few times. He seems to have been watching it, but not sure what he does when alone as he drinks beer while alone too. Who goes out to dinner and has 3 tall tap beers in an hour?

– His relationship with the child’s mother is tense. He’s shared she’s a whack job and drama filled. I can see some of that, however he is a poor communicator and doesn’t have clear boundaries so that contributes a lot too.

– His second wife, a breadwinner, packed up her clothes and left him 2 years ago. He still has some communication with her, probably guilt. She bought a house for them in his area before they were married and walked away from it.

– Well, he has been telling me since our second week of dating that I’m The One. He’s now asking me to move in with him. I would keep my house and my sister would live in it for a while, then eventually I would sell my house, then we would buy a house closer to the city together. He is very excited about me moving in.

– He can be extremely kind to me, being supportive through family struggles, my anxiety disorder (which has been treated for 20 years). We have a lot of fun together, laugh, talk deeply, etc. But if we have a disagreement, which has only happened 2-3 times, he becomes sharp, moody and basically shuts down. Rather than resolve, he wants the conversation over. He says some hurtful things, but never yells. I on the other hand like to discuss it out, which I know is different. Then I get the silent treatment the whole next day which leaves me very anxious. I get over disagreements easily regardless of who’s fault it is. He doesn’t think he’s to blame ever and doesn’t understand that how he treats me during/after a fight is more damaging than what we even fought about.

The question is, there’s something bugging me, like a pea under my mattress about this whole relationship. How can something so good have red flags? Such as drinking, underemployed, unbalanced relationship with ex, moodiness. Is it possibly true that it’s too good to be true? Or am I looking for problems that don’t exist because I’m afraid?

Thank you for your help in Minnesota.

Dear Minnesota,

That’s not a pea under your mattress — it’s a rhinoceros. Any ONE thing on that list would be a deal breaker. But SIX?

Let’s unpack these one by one, shall we?

– I pay for 90% of the time we go out. I make 4x being an executive, he’s been underemployed for 2 years getting paid cash for manual work. The service industry career he was in for 15 years he was fired twice due to performance. That was only a small piece, in reality he drank too much while traveling for work weekly.

You snuck two deal breakers into one bullet point. You pay 90 percent of the time AND he was fired twice for performance. It’s noble to think we’re evolved feminists who can out earn men and be secure in our romantic relationships. Or to be above such prejudices as to date someone from a different socio-economic background. That’s not what this is. This guy is a mooch. He might not be able to afford dinners out, so you know what — a guy with dignity doesn’t go out. He cooks for you. He takes you out less often so he can pay, or pays half of the time. He doesn’t sit back and enjoy you picking up the check dinner after dinner.

If you’re the kind of person who really enjoys dining out and finer things — you need a different class of boyfriend. You need a guy who’s got the same kind of disposable income you have.

The bigger issue here is that’s he’s THIS okay with taking. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. I’m not hearing what he’s doing to balance the trade deficit.

Here’s another thing you don’t have in common — how many times have YOU been fired for performance? Not downsized, but FIRED. Twice? Dude has work ethic problems AND he’s okay with you picking up the check. Red flag #1 — he’s a user.

– 20 years ago he had two DWIs. He’s known in his former industry to drink too much. I’ve talked to him about it a few times. He seems to have been watching it, but not sure what he does when alone as he drinks beer while alone too. Who goes out to dinner and has 3 tall tap beers in an hour?

Who does this? People who drink a lot. A guy who had two DWIs, I don’t care how long ago, is a guy who needs to be in AA. Failing that, he needs to be a guy who slowly sips one drink over the course of an hour or two. Not a guy who drinks alone or guzzles three beers in an hour. He’s a practiced drinker and he’s OKAY with that. Despite some painful criminal consequences years ago, he’s STILL okay with that. Red flag #2 — substance abuse. 

– His relationship with the child’s mother is tense. He’s shared she’s a whack job and drama filled. I can see some of that, however he is a poor communicator and doesn’t have clear boundaries so that contributes a lot too.

Did it ever occur to you that he might be the whack job and she’s got drama dealing with his drunk, user ass? You’ll concede he “contributes” to some of the issues, but did you ever think they’re not together because he’s not exactly responsible Daddy material? He’s underemployed and works under the table (read: child support enforcement can’t find him). Yeah, I’d be full of drama too if I had to co-parent with that guy. And he demonizes the woman raising his child. He might not like her, but he should respect that she’s doing the job he’s not doing. Red flag #3 — he’s demonizes his ex.

– His second wife, a breadwinner, packed up her clothes and left him 2 years ago. He still has some communication with her, probably guilt. She bought a house for them in his area before they were married and walked away from it.

If he doesn’t have a kid with his ex, there is NO reason for him to be in contact with her, unless he’s fishing for something. Women who pack up and leave suddenly, especially when they’re invested in real estate they purchased — they’re running away from something pretty fiercely. There’s a story there, Minnesota. What does he have to feel “guilty” about? And WTF “she bought a house for them“? SHE bought it? She was the breadwinner? Think maybe he’s looking for a new sucker? He has a track record of letting women do the grown-up things like pay bills and buy houses. It’s not a little phase he’s going through, it’s a history. Red flag #4 — he’s still talking to his ex. Red flag #5 — More history he’s a user.

– Well, he has been telling me since our second week of dating that I’m The One. He’s now asking me to move in with him. I would keep my house and my sister would live in it for a while, then eventually I would sell my house, then we would buy a house closer to the city together. He is very excited about me moving in.

Of course he is. He wants to seal the deal before you discover what a wing nut he is. Moving too soon is a classic sign of an abuser. And here’s a terrifically stupid thing you could do — move in with him, marry him, and THEN sell your house. Bingo, now that cash is a marital asset. Bet a guy who’s been through two divorces knows that. Don’t you know that? You’ve been through two divorces too. He already swindled one woman for a house, to me it appears you’re next. Which raises another question — if he can afford that house you’d be moving into, why can’t he afford dinner? Do you have any idea what this guy’s financial picture looks like?

Anyway, hell NO do you move in with someone after 3 months! It’s lovely to hear “you’re the ONE” — but consider that this is love bombing, and people who are careful with their hearts (and wallets) take things a LOT slower. Tell him you couldn’t possibly consider moving in with him until you’ve dated at least a year or two and he gives you a copy of his credit report. Something tells me that might dampen his ardor. Red flag #6 — he’s pressing too quickly for a commitment.

– He can be extremely kind to me, being supportive through family struggles, my anxiety disorder (which has been treated for 20 years). We have a lot of fun together, laugh, talk deeply, etc. But if we have a disagreement, which has only happened 2-3 times, he becomes sharp, moody and basically shuts down. Rather than resolve, he wants the conversation over. He says some hurtful things, but never yells. I on the other hand like to discuss it out, which I know is different. Then I get the silent treatment the whole next day which leaves me very anxious. I get over disagreements easily regardless of who’s fault it is. He doesn’t think he’s to blame ever and doesn’t understand that how he treats me during/after a fight is more damaging than what we even fought about.

AIGH! So many red flags, where to begin? He doesn’t think he’s to blame EVER? The silent treatment? Coldly says hurtful things? Best case scenario — this guy is really immature (in his 40s), worst case scenario — he’s a flaming personality disorder. Either way, this is a guy who needs to be dumped immediately. No one has time for that shit. He’s a middle aged man and after two divorces, he hasn’t learned how to communicate or get along with people without antagonizing them into fits. (Consider the mother of his child here.)

He’s got you walking on eggshells after THREE MONTHS. He’s sussing out your finances and living situation after THREE MONTHS. He’s grooming you, Minnesota, to see if you’ll be his chump.

Your letter isn’t about cheating (although if he’s a cheater too that wouldn’t surprise me), but I answered it because it’s about red flags and fixing your picker. Anyone reading this can see there are a bazillion red flags — our guts are screaming at us and we don’t even know you. But to you, these red flags are the size of a “pea under my mattress.” For some reason, you’ve learned to shut down your good sense when it comes to romance. You’re an accomplished woman, a good-earning executive — I know you have intelligence. You need to figure out in therapy why your warning system isn’t working, why the volume is set so low on your sirens. You’ve let this guy trample your boundaries, perhaps because you’re not putting up many of them, such as, “it’s your turn to buy dinner” or “it’s not okay with me when you give me the silent treatment.”

You’re not “looking for problems” — you’re IGNORING problems. The fact that you’d put it on yourself (I’m the problem here) is a problem.

Dating is when someone is supposed to be on their BEST BEHAVIOR. Dating is easy, it’s just food, fun, and fucking. It’s the honeymoon. When three months in is this fraught, it’s a terrible sign. This is as good as he GETS, and he’s not being at ALL good! The sparkles and love bombing feel awesome, I know — but you need to chase a different kind of high. Until you fix yourself, you’re going to be catnip to users like this guy. You need to shut his shit down after the first deal breaker.

How do you do that? You need to know what is and is not acceptable to you, and then you need the guts and the self worth to enforce those boundaries. Have faith that someone else is out there and have faith that you’ll be okay even if someone isn’t. Being alone is a million times better than being with a user/abuser.

And now I leave you with my obligatory, tangential, R&B youtube video — Billy Preston’s “Nothing from Nothing.”

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.
You gotta have something/If you want to be me.
I’m not trying to be your hero
Cause that zero is too cold for me.

You’re something, Minnesota. Don’t date nothing.

This one ran before, but we all need a picker primer on occasion. 

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.
  • Minnesota, where are you? Are you cheater free? Did you listen to Chump Lady? Did you dump this red flag pole of a man?

    This letter made me anxious for Minnesota. Stonewalling is abuse. Stonewalling is horrendously painful and dehumanizing.

    Chumps, there are billions of men. Billions. Find you one that isn’t running up red flags. Don’t settle.

  • This is exactly the kind of post that makes me beg Chumps not to date too soon.

    Or at all.

    It also makes me want to plead with other Chumps not to talk here about how they’ve ‘moved on with someone wonderful’, when they’ve known Someone Wonderful for less than a year.

    The object of the game is to gain a life, not a new partner.

    (And all power to the Chumps who have come back here and admitted when Someone Wonderful turned out to be a very poor choice.)

    • I agree that re-coupling is not necessary to gain a life, but I did meet someone I really like. I will never remarry and will maintain my own home. But, damn, I’m enjoying this person! SO FAR I haven’t seen any red flags, and that radar is locked in the ON position!

      That you point out that so many chumps return here to admit that Someone Wonderful turned out to be a poor choice isn’t the breakfast food I was hoping for this morning. *sigh*

      • Here’s some breakfast food. I met Mr. CL when I was 42. It will be 11 happy years of marriage this year.

        But yes, I agree with LG, that gaining a life is the point. Sometimes that includes a partner. Or not.

        And sometimes a good thing turns out to be a good thing. I just want people to hold out for good people and not spackle the big stuff. That goes for relationships beyond romance.

        • My mother was a chump in her first marriage in the 60’s. She met up with my father 6 months after her D-day and in the middle of her divorce process. I am the product of that loving relationship that has lasted more than 50 years.

          Sometimes real love comes in, breaking all the rules.

          I was chumped in my first marriage and thought my first gal-pal post divorce had all the makings of a great partner (see my older posts for data). But she wasn’t and I learned a lot.

          I am in a new relationship and it feels even better. There is strong intimacy; physical AND spiritual. So I’m feeling like this could be “it”. It helps that I felt that “lightening” people describe when we first met.

          I’m just saying it happens. Be open to it. I might get burned. I might not.

          But I refuse to let my cheater steal my openness and availability to love. Its my superpower.

          • Yeah. I’m on the same page, knowing full well that I might get burned but not wanting my FW to “steal my openness and availability to love.” He has stolen too much of my life already.

            This guy I met seems like a good one. Who knows? I can’t be sure. It’s too soon, But as CL puts it, “sometimes a good thing turns out to be a good thing.” Sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll take my chances.

            My big boundary is that I will never marry or merge finances. And I won’t let someone else’s needs eclipse my own.

            For me, “gaining a life” means that I will live authentically, be self-sufficient, assert my own wants and needs, and accept (truly accept) that I deserve good things in life. It also means that I have to take risks and accept the consequences. Like most chumps here, I survived an infidelity nuclear bomb and years of abuse. I consider myself a mighty chump. If this new relationship goes belly up, I’ll survive!

        • I have a boyfriend I met during the divorce. I was a mess but he was a distraction from the hell I was going thru. He’s cute and funny and smart and we both work as academics in separate universities and it’s nice to have someone I can toss research ideas with and moan about the University system. However he has kids, no assets and an overdraft and there’s no way in hell I’m getting involved in all that. I’m rebuilding my life and I’ve told him it doesn’t involve us living together. Ever. He was upset at that but that’s the deal. It’s a good test of my boundaries that were non-existent with Fuckwit.

          • CDU – what happened? Did the boyfriend leave? Or stick around?

            Totally agree with your plan, BTW. I have 2 boys, no other dude is moving into my house, ever. I just need to find a dude who has his own house and money that he keeps, I keep my own house and money, and we’re good.

            • I’m still with the boyfriend and he seems to have accepted that I’ll be moving in to my tiny house 800km from where he lives. I said it would be great if he could fly up occasionally and I can meet up when I’m down in Sydney for work. He seems ok with it on the surface but I’m expecting him to not be ok with it when it happens at which point it’s bye bye.

              • Go you CDU!

                Something I think always needs repeating is that we can all do sometimes with Mr/Miss RightForNow. No big deal.

                Just some fun. And a roll in the hay. As long as we have awareness of both our and their limitations. There are reasonably decent people in the world who unfortunately have avoidant attachment styles … we don’t need to take it personally. Or smoke the hopium on them magically changing attachment patterns.

                ps did you see me inviting myself up to your place a couple of posts ago?

          • I agree with chump ladies advice here and I think all the other sentiment is great and helpful.
            My only reservation is I think on the one hand we are saying leave a cheater gain a life, but it seems we are also saying unless you are a chump that has suffered great financial loss.
            I think the truth is for most chumps part of the fallout is major financial loss( as well as other major issues)
            A lot of chumps walk away with nothing and have to rebuild there lives, and I speak for myself and many others I’ve never been unemployed in my life,
            Never been fired, never had a ( DUI)
            I’m now happy remarried and building a new house together with my wife.
            I just think it’s wise to look at someone’s character, work ethic etc,
            And of course protect your assets,
            But we shouldn’t write someone off because of there assets

            • We should write people off if they’re MOOCHES, who are not reciprocal and have several red flags flying.

              Obviously the ::opposite:: of financially rebuilding, strong work ethic having Chumps. See the distinction?

        • I agree. My cheater pants reminded me it was only “twice” and that it happened a very long time ago. As he’s digging a garden of Califlower broccoli tomatoes and asparagus.
          All the while I’m stuck at “twice”. So tou were a shitty decision maker but now you’re into gardening? Because six years ago when we moved in, I think I would’ve loved one. Now it just makes me sad.
          SO. You are correct I am just seeking direction now for my future. Go alone and take chances or stay with what I know and just take all this good/normal stuff I always wanted. Like attention. Gardens. New floors. His presence at all the family functions. Makes me so mad. Like, why now?

      • Well, it’s not breakfast food for me. It’s an afternoon snack! But I’m so thankful for these tips and for the insight into Minnesota’s dark Knight.

        Will she leave him, when a host of Been There’s are saying “Run!? !!” Maybe not.

        There is something right here – at the point of pause – that stops people from leaving, even when they’re encountering the worst of the worst. They second-guess. They doubt themselves. They say, “Are these red flags?”

        It’s happened to me multiple times. I just stick with it. I just go another day. I just want one more kiss. I just don’t want to leave until after Wednesday night. (He cooks on Wednesday night and it’s awesome.) Oh! It’s his birthday after that. I can’t leave until after that. Oh, he’s down because he got fired again. Not a good time to leave. But I know I must go. I just don’t want to. I love him!

        Yeah. If I could just crack this code for myself and my friends! It’s gotta be more complicated than Hopium. It’s Hopium and justifying the investment, and inertia (as was said in the 5 reasons it’s so hard to leave,) and it’s just not wanting to deal with being alone.

        Hmmmm… next time around I’m gonna just date. Just light-hearted, happy, not-too-serious dating! Friends first. No talk of moving in together. No exclusivity. Let the best man win my heart with a ring and a wedding date. But let me get to know him first. While I’m getting to know other men, too, as friends. And let the comparison show me the best person for me. Who am I more myself with? Who brings out the best in me? Who makes my heart smile?

        Yes, I’m liking this idea.

        If I stay in the game, even against the wishes of my favorite man, I’ll be able to choose a good guy. And I believe that good guy will go the distance and endure the competition. And yes, he’ll put a ring on my finger. I won’t have to wait years for it. I won’t be living with him and wondering if it’ll ever happen. He’ll be tickled pink when I say yes, because he’ll be scared silly that I’ll say yes to someone else first.

        Sorry, Minnesota, this is about me and not about you.

        You? I agree with Chump Lady. Those are red flags. How long will you be able to ignore them? I’m glad you found a gentle, cuddly, handsome guy who makes your heart happy! They’re hard to find! But go for VALUES. Go for TRUSTWORTHINESS. Go for STABILITY. Go for a PROVIDER. Go for a GIVER. Go for the LOVELY. A person like that will make your heart sing, too, for a lifetime. ♥ And the sooner you start going for those things, the sooner you’ll value your own worth and feel safe enough to step out on your own again…

    • I get you, Lola G. I know it’s a hard pill for people who are feeling the euphoria of new, exciting love to have to consider that it may not be the utopia it seems during the earlier times, and I get (firsthand) how less than a year can feel like a long time when things are feeling really good, so I see why the resistance comes up – – but that doesn’t make your statements incorrect. In fact, from my chair, it illustrates them.

      The first year of any experience – – loss, new job, new home, new school, relationship, new pet, new illness, etc. – – is the time where we experience all the seasons of the thing for the first time. How does it fit into good weather? Bad weather? Birthdays? Meaningful holidays? Pandemics? Election cycles? Births? Deaths? Trips? It’s a short time that sometimes feels like a long time.

      The second year is where we find out how it bears out. What happens when those times arise again? Are the behaviors and perspectives consistent? Why or why not?

      I would like to see our culture change to adopt a “this feels nice right now and we’ll see how that bears out” approach to many more things. It’s more realistic, and less likely to put us into drama spirals and harm’s way. This shows up most deeply in intimate relating.

      I don’t want to pee in anyone’s cheerios (breakfast pun sadly intended). I also don’t think it’s off base to say “if you sing vociferously about your wonderful shiny new relationship after less than one year in a Chump forum, it might come across as gloating, and chumps may respond with skepticism because we’re learning to slow down and dig deeper”. I don’t think that counts as negativity. Painful, maybe, but not negative.

      Carson on Downton Abbey, when told he has a poor opinion of his fellow man, replied “I have the opinion life has taught me.” Many of us know that all too well.

      You can certainly share as you like here and in any forum – – it’s just also true that if you’re expecting chumps to be wildly supportive without skepticism in the face of early relationship utopia, you might be disappointed. That’s the read of this room. ????

      • My daughter is trying to get me on a dating site. She said” it’s a good one, I had to pay to get you on…’s under my name for now”. She’s married….we were all watching tv. Then she started asking me their questions…..things like” where do you want to live…urban apt, country home, etc….” all questions about married life. Hell, 5 years out and I’m trying to stomach the idea of going to the movies, or getting coffee with someone. I literally had a panic attack. Guess not. I do admire Chumps bravery, and I hope everyone finds happiness.

        • But Hope Springs, your name shouts out to the world that you can do it! All in good time… because “hope springs eternal…” Go to the movies. Go for coffee. Enjoy yourself. Even if it’s by yourself! There’s a time for everything…

    • Yes!!!! You are right on the money. I think that a big part of healing after living the chump life is to really be okay with yourself and being by yourself. Make your life so rich with your interests, your career, your hobbies that when you do meet someone that interests you, they really are special and valuable enough for you to add them to your busy schedule (define busy schedule as fits your values-hell part of my busy schedule includes time to listen to my audiobooks and snuggle with my kitties).

      When I hear, “I met a WONDERFUL man”, so often it sounds like I’m lonely ( being lonely is normal, I’m not knocking people for it), my life is not exciting, I have extra energy that is making me restless, so putting energy into this new relationship is plugging up those gaps in my life.

      Red flags or no, that is not a good basis for a healthy relationship with anyone. And when those feelings are the impetus for starting a relationship, it’s damn hard to be vetting that someone’s goals, morals, way of living daily life are aligned with yours.

      One of the hardest things that I’ve been working on is believing that I will reach my accomplishments on my own and live the life I want on my own. Once I feel 100% secure in those areas maybe I’ll make time for a romantic relationship or maybe not.

  • This guy is a weak man child looking for his next “mark”. He needs you to deal with all that nasty reality and ignore his bad behaviour while he drinks and does God knows what with his life.

    He’s got a horrible past. The problem here is that you steam rolled right over all those red flags and still kept on dating him.

    I think that it’s time to invest in yourself. Get a really good therapist and find out why you are falling for a love bombing narcissist. Maybe you have a pattern or some foo issues you need to address.

    I agree – slow way down with this guy or dump him all together. He is too old to change. This is who he is.

    • For those out of free articles at the Atlantic this was a key takeaway:

      “People use the silent treatment because they can get away with it without looking abusive to others,” Williams explained, “and because it’s highly effective in making the targeted individual feel bad.

      The silent treatment is a particularly insidious form of abuse because it might force the victim to reconcile with the perpetrator in an effort to end the behavior, even if the victim doesn’t know why they’re apologizing. “It’s especially controlling because it deprives both sides from weighing in,” Williams said. “One person does it to the other person, and that person can’t do anything about it.”

      • The silent treatment hurts. Mine used that frequently and it was worse than yelling. I read it triggers the pain centers in our brain.

    • This was my strongest response, too. Silent treatment is a chilling red flag. Has its own dedicated spotlight for me.

      (Disclaimer: Needing time and space, communicating it, proactively checking in if you need more time, and circling back without being asked after you’ve had time to process, isn’t silent treatment. It might be neurodivergent, and not everyone’s way, and hard for some to accept – – but done respectfully, it is also considerate, and accountable. If this is you, you have nothing to defend with me.)

      • Also…..NC with an abusive ex or addicted parent for your own protection and healing is not the silent treatment.

        • yes– no contact is NOT the silent treatment. thank you for clarifying!

      • Yes, agreed, excellent distinctions, you beat me to it .

      • You make important distinctions Amiisfree.

        Silent treatment is abuse. It’s the apex of covert abuse tactics and the number one red flag for covert passive aggressive narcissism. It’s a known form of psychological torture, is a form of punishment and puts the victim in the corner on a “time out” that is solely controlled by the perp. If you’re getting silent treatment from someone, then you also know you’ve entered the cycle of abuse!

        No contact is very different. To be respectful and clear, people should communicate that they need space, or that they would prefer to end the relationship altogether. It’s only fair to the other person that this must be communicated clearly and fairly. That’s the adult neurotypical way of course.

        To do otherwise and keep someone dangling (not replying to texts or emails, screening calls etc letting the victim remain “on read” or simply not responding at all after a conflict or issue has arisen within the relationship) is to silently punish someone while remaining unavailable to resolve anything. My psychologist has confirmed this reveals the person doing the silent treatment as a power abuser and is evidence of narcissist / borderline / cluster b etc behavior – and is often a devalue / discard.

        In the context of our letter writer today (who has hopefully moved on to much happier pastures!) the silent treatment in this early stages of the romantic relationship looks like a form of intermittent reinforcement and operant conditioning.

        Bottomline, I agree with you that it is super chilling, super abusive and absolutely deserves its own spotlight as a red flag.

    • I’m living with a friend who gives me the silent treatment a lot. It freaks me out trying to decipher what I’ve done wrong. She kindly offered me a room when I was unemployed and quite ill. Now I’m getting back on my feet it seems that she’s kind of annoyed that I’m doing well which I find strange. I’m moving out in June when my tiny house I’m building will be finished. But it’s getting so uncomfortable here that I’m thinking of getting out sooner. She cheated on her first husband from before they were married but I’ve overlooked it because her first husband was quite abusive and she’s always been kind to me. I was shocked when she told me and didn’t know how to take it as she’s always been a good friend. Her second husband dies of cancer and for years she’d go on and on about her friends not helping her. But when I asked her whether she’d reached out to them she said they should know she needed help! However when we helped her with things she took it as her due, never said thanks and even laughed when she broke some things of ours. So I guess maybe she’s not a good person. Sorry stream of consciousness happening there

      • Your stream of consciousness makes a great point however, it can take years to really see if someone has good character.

        I had a similar experience with a friend who had an exit affair. Her husband was awful – put it this way – when they met she was a teen and he was a good ten years older AND married. I don’t condone exit affairs, but part of me was so happy to see this loser out of her and her kid’s lives.

        But… then she told me a heartbreaking story of her tween unexpectedly walking over from her Dad’s to her house alone. My friend said she sent her daughter right back, saying it was her “mommy time” and to never come over unexpectedly again. I can’t imagine the lonely walk her little girl had back to her Dad’s.

        That was the point I realized you only really know someone when you’ve seen them face adversity. It’s what they do when things aren’t easy that show their character.

      • Some people are happy to be generous, the person is top position helping out the poor or the victim. And they don’t like it when the person they helped get back on their feet.

  • Definitely run a background check. You’ve got the money. Just do it. Get the skinny on his divorces and DWIs – perhaps they weren’t 20 years ago. Or only 2. He might also have been in jail. You can’t fix a drinker like this. I know from my family’s experience. Hon, just run.

    • Oh. And if you uncover all the unsavory mess of his life, make it a clean fast and hard break. Don’t dilly dally. Don’t reveal what you know. Or it could get dangerous. You might need an order of protection. Let your sister know. Good luck.

      • What MN already knows is bad enough but I’d bet the farm there is so much more to find out about this loser.

        • Exactly KB! If she knows this much now and it is this terrible what will come out later will be much, MUCH worse.

  • “Three months ago I met the most amazing man. He makes me feel beautiful and alive. He is fun, affectionate, witty, intelligent and strong character. Plus he’s very handsome and gentle, and I am in love with him. I’ve not met someone I feel so good around before. ‘

    Yup, this is the sparkle of which we speak.

    “I pay for 90% of the time when we go out, he’s underemployed, fired twice, DWI’s, drinks like a fish, silent treatment, calls his ex and mother of his child a whack job, second week of dating says “Your’re the One, ex-wife ran so fast she left him the house, says hurtful things.”

    Yup, this is the turd of which we also speak.

    • You win the internet for today. If only I’d said my piece with such eloquence!

      This is my take on it, in a nutshell.

  • Damn, he sounds like a serial sponger to me, a con artist! Hope Minnesota ran far and fast!

  • Considering you feel as if you are “in love,” I am very glad to know that you were able to see these “red flags,” which are HUGE. He is a narcissist. Run!!!

  • My dear friend married such a guy: drinker & pothead, underemployed, baby mama drama. She’s a high paid pro. He was a contractor so very handy and all. The connection felt amazing. He moved in, they wed, honeymooned and had a baby.

    When I visited (out of state), he’d come home at 2am or next day, high as a kite, home was in disrepair, she was bogged by baby and preschooler. . . The sibs in-law are nice and love her big house and cash but rarely help.

    Ask yourself why ex fled and left the house. Abuse, horror, fear for her safety. (but I bet he gave you some unicorn version where he’s both hero & victim)

    Run for your life and sanity.

  • He’s 40 years, 40 years old. Not 15 not 20. He’s 40 years old. Aint nothing there.

  • Love Bomber. From experience I can testify that when you have been in a bad relationship you become starved for attention. He knows how to give you attention, for now, and he is anticipating a big payoff.

    Please stop providing him resources. Find a good counselor. Put up solid boundaries, and don’t move in with him. He will lose interest when you stop picking up the tab. You do not OWE him because you make more money. This dynamic is off balance, and it will not get better with time. He has already shown you who he is, believe him.

  • So. This is an older article but it’s still a good reminder.

    To me the term underemployed implies the man is capable of more. Clearly- he isn’t. He’s employed at the maximum level of his competence- as he still gets fired- and he’s obviously ok with it.

    I think the language people use about their exes definitely matters. His ex is a whacko? No. I don’t need to be the woman he talks about next.

    she has to move to him, he characterizes others as crazy and mooches like a leech…drinks like a fish. I don’t really think him being a nice guy really matters. Because he may just be holding his tongue. When he’s mad, he chooses punishment, not to communicate, compromise or convalesce it out. (I think the three c’s are effective ways of resolving fights. You talk, or strategically choose a midpoint, or if it’s just a spat you can both agree to let it go and cuddle it out.) He moves straight to manipulations. Not good.

  • I am reading this and thinking “Is she for real?” How did she achieve executive status with her picker like this?

    Would she hire someone with this background? I would hope not.

    • I bet if she’d gotten all this information in black and white in a two-page CV *before* her oxytocin started kicking in she’d have had the same reaction we all are having.

  • My ex is a conman. He frequently referred to people as ‘whack jobs’.

    I realize now, these people probably had strong boundaries against him.

  • Minnesota, I am also here in MN and for a minute I was worried you were talking about my ex! Same work allergy, communication issues, and substance use. Unfortunately I suspect there is more than one narcissistic alcoholic around and they are probably two separate people ha ha. However the issues you are describing are not little potential issues like “can I really live with someone who listens to sports radio all day?” They are HUGE signs that this is a person who is absolutely incapable of any type of normal life and relationship. If you know all of this stuff NOW, that is your cue to run. Who knows what else he is hiding? It took many of us years to find out all of the truly terrible things about our exes, often when we well and truly trapped with them. Consider it a gift that you know this stuff now and get away! We could go have dinner after and I will pay for myself which will already be an improvement ha ha!!!

  • I barely got into our writer’s letter before my hair stood on end and my blood ran cold.

    Divorced twice + charming + underemployed + she pays for 90% + FIRED + DRANK TOO MUCH + DWI

    I stopped reading because I could not concentrate over the screams in my head, like when I watch a horror movie and THEY ARE GOING TO OPEN THE DOOR AND THE FLESH VAPORIZING MONSTER IS INSIDE!!!

    I can only hear one thing louder than those screams.

    (alcoholism, codependence etc)

    I wrote Robin. She wrote me back. The letter in her lavender stationery is the bookmark. Despite being chumped by my STBX, this book is still the gold standard IMHO.

    This man is an active alcoholic IMHO and
    DETACH stands for

    Don’t Even Try And Change Him/Her

    I met my husband in recovery. I am out of this marriage because he went back out. The affair is just another manifestation of a very troubled person.

    All of us have issues. But the ones in play and active for our reeder when added together add up to a monkey trap she is already snared in. There are no bananas inside, either.

    My therapist, who was out family therapist for years, recommended The Human Magnet: The Codependent Narcissist Trap by Ross Rosenberg.


    This person is a one-man red flag factory.

    • Whack job ex-wife? Poor communicator? Boundary problems?
      Conflict avoidant? Says hurtful things (but never yells).

      I have to go outside and scream. Hold on a sec.

      Okay, I’m back.

      Guess what I’m realizing after 27 years with my Prince Charming?

      I was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t see it because he didn’t hit. He didn’t yell. He went to therapy with me the entire time. AND LIED ABOUT BEING IN RECOVERY.

      Our writer’s boyfriend belongs in REHAB, not a RELATIONSHIP.

      I hopefully just saved you from wasting 27 years and 5 billion dollars in therapy.

      • I pinned this on Pinterest yesterday, because I too thought that abuse was only hitting. “He/her” can also be swapped out for “she/him”.

        He hit her with false promises
        He hit her with accusations
        He hit her with solitude
        He hit her with manipulation
        He hit her with control
        He hit her with shame
        He hit her with slander
        He hit her with games
        He hit her with silence
        He hit her with the past
        He hit her with criticism
        He hit her with the masks
        He hit her with abandonment
        He hit her with betrayal
        He hit her with contempt

        And yet he never touched her

        • Martha,

          Thank you a thousand times over.

          I am amazed daily when I read something like this because when words are put on the behavior like you have done something in me WAKES UP and I finally ‘get’ a little bit more of what was indeed happening that I was clueless about although I was swimming in it.

          My burden gets lighter even though intellectually I know better….a part of me still dives head first into self blame and ‘if only’ thinking. A lifelong habit hard to see because it feels so natural.

          • Elderly Chump, I get the self blame and “if only” thinking that you are talking about. That’s why we are unfortunately chumps. I love these Pinterest memes/pins that come up as they spell out so succinctly so many different ways we can be abused. We don’t see that we are being abused, because it’s either subtle or we blow it off as a bad day for them or whatever. But when we look back at all the years we can finally see it for what it was and then we wake up and not blame ourselves for everything.

    • Rushing the relationship….lovebombing…..

      DANGER, Will Robinson!!

    • My beloved therapist told me in 1992….

      DO NOT MERGE MONEY WITHOUT MARRIAGE (or legal contract).

      I agree.

      And I wouldn’t even consider dating the man our writer has described, or recommend that anyone else date.

      • And even with marriage, don’t merge money without reserving money for your own safety. Everyone should have a savings account.

        • Do not merge money even in marriage if you are the one who has something to lose. Or merge only years into the marriage. Separate finances is the way I would go.

    • Gentle reader, if you don’t know if these are red flags, I’d suggest a great therapist for you along with Al Anon and CoDA.

      DDay for me was just 3.5 years ago, and with 36 years in active recovery, I am on my own back at Picker Fixing School, doing my homework and healing, following the suggestions I am offering to you.

    • Silent treatment = EMOTIONAL ABUSE. Major controlling behavior.

      This man is also VIOLENT.

      That is not a pea under your mattress, our lovely princess.

      It is a nuclear weapon of mass destruction.

      Woke therapist + Al Anon STAT

      • I was so alarmed I didn’t even read to the end to see it’s a rerun before I went off. A perfect example of why it’s good to sit still, breathe, and pause, proceed with caution and slowly when agitated and gather more intel, in any situation!


        I hope Minnesota ditched the Dud from Mystery Date.

        • Velvet Hammer,

          Laughing here because you wrote what I would have written if I could have calmed down long enough to type but I was busy trying to think of the tallest building around her to stand on top of and start yelling warnings to anyone who would listen.

          Alas, I couldn’t even make it out of my drive due to construction in my neighborhood…..and I am still in my ‘night clothes’….

          I am relaxed now. Laughing does that to me which I do now but didn’t do much of during the 30+ years with my guy in recovery….

          Things were Tense and I didn’t know it cuz I thought I was Tense so it was my problem for being Tense yet I never looked very deeply at why I was Tense in the first place…

          Tense was my first name.

          I now like to think of myself as ‘alert’ thanks to CL and CN. 🙂

          Anyway, the post above brought the following to mind:

          Not that this guy is a serial killer but…..


          I know this is an old post. I too wonder if she ran or stuck around despite CL’s warnings???

      • I had this game growing up LOL
        Now I see it in a different light. Thanks! ????

        • Me too. I remember this commercial. The Dud made us laugh hysterically (unlike finding out you married one in real life).

    • I read this book, too, back in the day. In my FOO culture women who loved too much were described as strong women — meaning they could take the abuse and function anyway. It was very confusing. I am so glad our culture is evolving and calling abuse, abuse.

      After 20 years, I could give up on the man, and that relationship. But I still had not given up on the dream, with all its built in imperfections. I had to go thru the love bomber experience. However, much shorter time to recognize and recover, and accept serious directions on how to fix my picker.

      I am glad when people who have gone thru the entire process are able to find a new partner, but I believe we are perfectly fine without a partner. We have to be able to stand alone, in order to be available as a good partner. We are not incomplete.

      That is the social message that needs to change, in my opinion.

  • All these read flags sound SO similar to my ex FW husband…and I’m the one who’s letter was posted yesterday…

    1) My ex sneakily moved in a month after we started dating because he was living with friends and didn’t have a place to live. Didn’t offer to pay rent at first.
    2) I said I love you too quickly because he would feed me lines of “I’ve never met anyone like you. How’d I get so lucky? My ex was so abusive and cruel. But you make me feel so special. Until I called him out on his bullshit and I suddenly became cruel.
    3) He bounced around from job to job before we met. And he constantly complained about his job but would never take initiative to find something else.
    4) Oh and the shutting down during important conversations. That was a big one. Even conversations about helping with chores around the house…yup…he flipped out about that one.
    5) And I paid for more than he did. I didn’t make way more than him but I did make more. Within 6 months of dating him, I had credit card debt…I had NEVER had credit card debt.
    6) My ex had an addictive personality too. He would drink several drinks when at home or out. Get drunk and say to me “how come you can do just one drink?” Uh…because I have self control and it costs money to buy drinks out. Oh, and I deal with my problems.

    I wish I had listened to those red flags so I never married him. But I was so blindly in love with the lovebombing that I thought he just need some encouragement and enough love to turn himself around. Nope. He turned out to be a serial cheater and a pathological liar.

    With all the love and understanding of how good it feels to be showered with love and praise. I think you should save yourself from anymore of this guys bullshit.

  • 25 years ago I met someone like you have, the only person I have truly been crazy about. After a few weeks we were already talking about a future together ( I was in my mid 20’s and dumb). She went to visit her family one weekend, I paid for her ticket, and I never seen or heard from her again. Come to find out her family was only a couple hours away by car so no telling where she flew to.

    On the other hand I dated my ex wife 3 years and she seemed great and turned out to be living a double life. So basically A LOT of people suck so be careful.

    • I definitely do not trust my picker. Quite happy to just be alone and spend time with people who don’t need or want anything from me. It’s a new way of living. Surprisingly there are many people who are self sustaining and just enjoy socializing-who knew.

  • Chump Lady is wrong.

    This man isn’t a rhinoceros under the mattress. He’s a rhinoceros AND an elephant and a herd of zebra and a giraffe and a water buffalo and a 747. When someone has more flags than the Chinese army you know what you have to do.

    Dodge that bullet Minnesota.

  • I hope she kicked him to the curb. I wish there was some type of course offered in High School on how to spot a person like him. There are so many both genders like him. My cousin(not the home wrecker) who is basically in the same situation. She came out of a bad 22 yr marriage. Her ex was a drinker and a serial cheater. She started dating a man we went to school with. He owned a home and had her move in one month after they started dating. He talked her into selling all her furniture ETC. And he took the money. He slowly groomed her to pay his bills. She pays every time they go out to eat. Pays for all the food and supplies for the house. He worked two jobs when she moved in. Now he just mows grass in the summer and does not work in the winter. It is to the point where she is paying almost everything. And he sits on ass and fighting with people on facebook about politics. He is critical of her weight. Insults anyone who has a different view then his. He makes sure he takes her car all the time. And he never puts gas in it. He is a user and a loser. In October she is marring him in Jamaica and she is paying for it. She will not listen to reason.
    Those kind of men look for women whom they can suck off of. Then throw them to the curb after all their money is gone. Minnesota I sure hope you have thrown him to the curb.

  • – ‘Well, he has been telling me since our second week of dating that I’m The One.’
    Too many red flags to count, but hearing the above at a certain point in life … just rings as
    you being the saviour that will make all his problems go away. Because it was always the other people… But YOU are the one.
    History tends to repeat itself.


    His mother felt entitled to walk into our house unannounced like it was her house.
    She asked for a key and was upset she could not have a key.

    When I very politely told her it made me uncomfortable and asked her to please not, she responded with the silent treatment. For three years. And he did nothing.

    But the real problem is that I STAYED WITH HIM.


  • Difficult to spot I find are those who are diligent, work regularly, have a career, family seems nice, everybody with and education an jobs, they go to church, and so an so forth…
    Then BAM.
    Suddenly you realize you were part of a covert narcissistic family. They close ranks and you are left out in the cold.

  • Red flag #1: you’re “in love” after 3 months. You are too needy and it’s clouding your judgement.

    This guy sees a meal ticket…that’s why he love bombs and is pushing to move in. My friend’s ex hb is this way…he refused to work during their 20 year marriage and now that he doesn’t have her to support him his goal is to find his next meal ticket.

    He found one stupid enough to move him in and get engaged to him. She posts all over fb about how much potential he has ????

    Don’t be one of these people…get rid of this bum.

  • Honestly, this story reminds me a lot of the Dirty John story. Maybe that’s too extreme, but it’s not out of the realm (and it’s how my chumpy brain works now). I hope this chump is safe and mooch-free now.

  • I am glad she has brought out about red flag ???? #4, talking with their ex. I have remarried and that was the only red flag I overlooked. We have a very good marriage BUT that has been a pea in my mattress. Anyone who is communicating with their ex (beyond co parenting) a lot should be questioned. I did question my now wife about it but should have pressed the issue more. My wife wasn’t over her serial cheater ex (5 years after they separated/divorced). She hid the lack of boundaries until 6 months after we were married. He was trying to smooth talk her to come back to him. When I threatened divorce she has (to her credit) been enforcing boundaries with him. But the trust has been damaged. That is what happens when you accept ONE red flag. This man has to many to count. Run away, run away (Monty Python).

    • SirChump…I am so sorry that your new wife has poor boundaries. She should be kissing your ass, and if she’s not bending over backwards to fix your broken trust within the marriage – we’re here for you.

      The guy I dated and moved in with a few years after my divorce used my head as a punching bag one day and I moved out and went NC.
      I did not think him a cheater, but he was in contact with his x while we were dating and he told me that he had stopped.

      I moved out and a mutual friend let me know that this dude was now “ in a serious relationship “ with this same woman in less than a week of me leaving. So….

      On a happy note – I am now with a wonderful guy.
      I started cutting his hair about 7 years ago. I got to know him over the years and we’ve been dating for the last 3. He is a fellow chump. He was alone for over 10 years when he finally asked me out.

      I hope your wife stops taking you for granted and gets her shit together.

      You deserve better {{}}

  • This guy reminds me of a childhood friend of mine. Man child was good looking, charming, kind, etc. As a child he used those qualities to get away with stuff , impish look in his eye. As an adult , he is chronically unemployed/ underemployed, smokes pot & mooches off a series of live in girlfriends. He is from a good family and can make a great first impression. He knows it and directs that charm to get what he needs today. He is lazy and believes he shouldn’t have to be responsible for himself. He is also highly passive aggressive. He attempts to move in with a woman in the first 30 days of meeting her. If he can’t he moves on to another target.

  • Many years ago there was a powerful commercial on TV (think it was Clint Eastwood) He said “If you have to ask yourself IF you have a drinking problem ………….then you DO”. Same applies to dating user/losers and alcoholics/addicts of any kind to boot.

    We all want to have attention and love etc…I get it but seriously you have lowered your bar and are overlooking and are willing to accept his Red Flags becasue he was awesome for the first few dates. For God sake don’t move him in and quit supporting this cheapskate. AND I have observed in my 64 yrs that at 40 men and women are in prime earning years. So there’s That!!


  • Velvet Hammer’s “Danger Will Robinson” was the perfect concise response to this letter for [cough, cough] People-of-a-Certain-Age-Who-Get-the-Reference. 🙂 This letter was hard to read as it kicked my fight or flight instincts into high gear. Those weren’t red flags Minnesota was seeing – they were giant red sky banners towed behind a squadron of planes. I hope she got out.

  • While we’re on the subject, Chump Nation….when I hear drink numbers mentioned in conversations about alcoholism…..

    Alcoholism is not about how much someone drinks. When I got into recovery at 22, I could leave a drink partly finished. I could have one drink and stop. I might be unable to stop. I had one blackout (the hallmark symptom of alcoholism) when I was 16. Fortunately I did not get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone. It’s not about when where how much. It’s about what happens. When what happens when one drinks can’t be predicted accurately it’s time to get help.

    I tell kids that alcoholism is like a peanut allergy. If you’re allergic to peanuts, it has nothing to do with the number of peanuts you eat. You still have the allergy even if you eat no peanuts at all.

    I believe that learning all you can about this very cunning baffling powerful disease, which is very common and most people don’t truly understand, is a good idea when fixing your picker. Even better is learning if you have it. The Marty Mann test or the AA 20 Questions are good places to start. Going to open meetings and listening.

    The life you save may be your own. And I don’t know anybody whose life got worse when they stopped drinking. No matter who you are, it’s very kick ass powerful drug and I want to be sharp as possible at all times in this world, especially since I was chumped by a husband I met in recovery. ☹️

    (DOS 8/15/86)

    • Thank you for this very important message about alcoholism. It is certainly much more than the numbers of drinks.

      I would also say that if someone is dating a person who drinks more than they are comfortable with, that this is an area of concern regardless of whether or not that person is an alcoholic as per Velvet Hammer’s excellent explanation. Some people tend to drink more at social situations, and if you feel uncomfortable with how much they’re drinking, then that shows a different set of values and expectations.

      • I went out with a guy who was a handsome college professor, and we went to a play. He was totally in to me! He bought a drink before the play, then he went back to the bartender and was gone quite a while, and brought another drink back with him. (He asked if I wanted one; I said no.) It was in a downtown neighborhood with many bars, and afterwards, he said, “hey, let’s go next door! There’s a piano player there.” So we went, and he had a few/ maybe three beers. Then two or three more, at another place, and I lost count. So glad I met him there and my car was in the parking lot! When we got back to our cars, I told him I didn’t think we were a match. Yay for me!

        • My ex cheater (long marriage, no kids) used social events as an excuse to drink to excess, especially going out for dinner. It was a socially acceptable way for him to get his alcohol fix. I was anxious before every event because I did not know which character I would be coming home with: good fun husband; cruel, verbally abusive husband. He could stop drinking for 3 months or so when training for a marathon. He denied a drink problem and called me ‘puritanical’. I found myself drinking more, to be acceptable and not ‘puritanical’. Yesterday my therapist said ‘it was not your fault, he is an alcoholic’. I knew that at least one BIL’s marriage had broken down over alcohol. His mother drank every day, while cooking. But because he could stop drinking if it suited him, I thought he was a drinker but not an alcoholic. The fact of the matter is that he could not stop drinking when I told him how it upset me. A red flag. And I blamed myself, when his behaviour should have been unacceptable to me. My boundaries were non-existent.

          He had an emotional affair over at least 10 years with his ex-girlfriend from his home town and school, who now lives overseas. At some point that affair became sexual when she was in the UK, with much lying and deception to both spouses. He left me for her because we had ‘never been compatible’. She is his ‘soulmate’. And she knows how much he drinks. He is 54 and I am 61. I knew that our values were different from the start. I thought love for me would change him. That was a basic error. Thank goodness that those monkeys don’t belong to me any more. I hope Minnesota has also handed the monkeys over to another ‘rescue’ centre!

    • I have never had a drinking problem. I would occasionally–once every 2 or 3 years go out and drink myself into a blackout, usually when I was unhappy.

      That’s why I don’t drink at all. A blackout is the drinking equivalent of having anaphylactic shock from eating something you are allergic to. You just can’t ever do it again and be safe. Lots of alcoholics in my family so none of this was a surprise to me.

  • Man an update would be great.
    I got chills reading about how he treated her during argument.

    It would not surprise me one bit if he was a cheater.

  • I have benefitted greatly from a local 12-step group, being a codependent, anxious type. I volunteer in that type of thing and am around recovering alcoholics and drug users. Most of my marriage, my ex was taking prescription drugs which made him very difficult to be around. IMHO they stoked his entitled attitudes which he kept even when off of them.

    From all that, I personally decided no signs of addiction AT ALL (that includes porn). As a therapist friend of mine says, addicts don’t have relationships, they take hostages. If they have maybe a decade of sobriety and are still active in the recovery community, it’s a possibility.

    The economic disparity would be an issue too. It’s OK if there’s some inequity, but steady, professional work is a must, or retirement from that.

    And no stonewalling, period. My ex could stonewall for a month at a time. Completely destructive.

  • I’m not being mean when I say these guys have a talent for being able to suss out women with either self esteem issues or a chink in their armor such as anxiety issues. These issues give you a lot of self doubt something these predators bank on. However for arguments sake lets say that even if HE paid 90% of the time and was gainfully employed…the over the top love bombing within a few dates is a monster of a red flag. People that move fast, move fast because being charming, loving, understanding, supportive and sweet is exhausting for the disordered. They can just keep it up for so long. Of course we know psychopaths can keep it up for years but what MN has is a run of the mill, narcissistic bum. Although the second wife couldn’t get out of Dodge fast enough…to relinquish real estate that she paid for is cause for major concern. MN learned a lot about this creep in a short period of time but I can guarantee there are far more disturbing items to learn about this guy. I hope MN ran for the hills.

  • I redid my will after my divorce. I diligently saved for my retirement throughout my entire career. The attorney who redid my will gave me some parting advice: Men will see you as a free meal ticket. They will try to take advantage of you. If you get serious about someone, come back to me and I will run a background check and draft a prenup. Do not get married again without a pre-nup.

    Falling in love can feel great, but money is money, and you need to keep a clear head where finances are involved. Keep him as a boy toy if you must, but this guy is not marriage material or business partner material.

    • I agree with this 100%. My ex was a CPA so it seemed logical to me to have him control the family finances. HUGE mistake. I will never, ever be in a relationship of any kind (marriage or partnership) where my finances are not under my control. I’ve worked too hard to be independent to give it up now.

      • Co-sign, Discarded & Beth! My divorce attorney told me something similar. I was 43 when I got divorced and she told me: “you have good earning years ahead of you & a good career/employer, you have time to rebuild from this loss. DO NOT get married again without an ironclad pre-nup for your house & your 401k”.

        It was my biggest relief when I got divorced, that I wouldn’t come home one day at 67 and find Dracula raided the 401k to buy an airplane (which he’d done twice before in our marriage) and I’d scream at him “how are we going to live, I’m 67!” And he’d shrug and go “you go figure it out”

    • Women will use men as a meal ticket too. I have absolutely no doubt the whore my ex ended up with wanted him as her meal ticket. She had tried with several other married men who worked for the city. With my fw she hit the jackpot. He was her superviosr and he went for it.

      As fw’s will do they fucked up their financial life royally. Gambling debts, bankruptcy bad purchases etc. It still stuns me that he gambled himself into that mess.

      But, though he lost a lot, she is still better off than she likely would have been had she not poached him, or some other married man. She at least has a small pension now, though he left her in serious debt. I don’t know if she can file BR again or not. I assume she will if she can.

      On another topic, I wonder how many fw’s marry their younger women and don’t do a prenup to protect their assets/pensions?

      • My ex married one of his stripper girlfriends. She wasn’t the one who caused DDay #2 nor, I’m sure, was she the last of his stripper girlfriends so I have no real hard feelings towards her as long as she leaves me and my adult children alone. She is a drug addict and was probably aging out of the stripper profession so she was absolutely looking for a meal ticket. Sadly for her, his career in upper management is gone, the big house is gone, the 401K is gone, his health is gone and his ability to earn a six figure income is probably long gone too. But as you said, she’s still better off than she would have been if she hadn’t latched onto him. They deserve each other. I am just relieved I got out before the he destroyed my financial security along with his own.

        • Beth,

          Love your compassion for the OW. Must be ‘Meh’.

          Closest I am to accepting OW is that I feel gratitude for her since she is the one that blew up his double life making him go ‘public’. Otherwise he could very well still be here doing the same thing and I would be as clueless as ever and not getting any younger.

          Horrifically painful at the time….watching my beloved falling in luv/lust with another woman…despite knowing it would all come to a grinding halt at some point, which it did.

          • EC, thank you. Yes, definitely at Meh. It’s easier, I think, to be compassionate when the OW is simply one in a looooong string of OWs who I suspect now span the entire length of our 35+ year relationship and is probably continuing in this second marriage if he can muster up the funds to go to a strip club. She wasn’t the one who broke up my marriage, she wasn’t even the second or third one after that one. By the time I was aware of her I was already on my way out of the marriage so there was no sense of loss or betrayal. I can feel sorry for her because I know the price she is paying for her “meal ticket” – the emotional and sexual abuse she is no doubt enduring. I had the means to get out and she does not even if she wants to but I don’t think she does. She still thinks she won the sparkly turd. I am just thankful every single day that my kids were already adults when my marriage imploded so I don’t have to worry about them being exposed to the crazy toxicity their dad exists in.

            • Beth,

              Indeed yes. That is another thing I am grateful for too – that my children didn’t have to grow up in that kind of toxicity.

              Yes, we were all shocked to find out about his double life but while he was here and we were together , 30+ years, he presented as the perfect husband and father albeit he was never home we assumed he was working hard to support us all…therefore my children grew up in what they thought was a ‘normal’ home – in fact, their lives were a bit boring compared to some of the stuff that was happening with their friends….

              Nurturing an attitude of gratitude works wonders on the Soul.

              Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  • I hate how he insults the mother of his child and she’s just like “yeah, I’ve seen some of that.”

    That’s so incredibly shitty. She’s raising his child and he insults her to the new girlfriend and new girlfriend nods along. He’s a lazy drunk who has been fired for it, imagine how horrible it must have been to try to raise a child with him. Oh, she’s a whack job? Well he’s a lazy drunk who would rather drunk than be a father and won’t hold a job to provide his child with food. Looks like the “whack job” is a better human being, she wins. Go figure.

    Sorry, I can’t summon any sympathy for Minnesota. I see women who participate in this crap as super low. The ex is raising this man’s child while he calls her names and Minnesota is nodding along. She deserves what she gets as far as I’m concerned.

      • This afternoon I ran to the grocery store & spotted a large day-glo green poster on the windshield of a nearby car. It read “So, you can afford a lawyer to lower the child support that you don’t pay? It’s okay. I know you’re saving for a pair of replacement balls.”

        You go girl!

  • Wow. Red flags ignored are always your worst disaster. Dump this dude.

  • I have a question about stonewalling.

    My ex-husband was always happy to change the subject and I was the one more apt to remove myself when he wouldn’t contribute to the discussion at hand. BUT, I can’t remember one time in 30 years that he came to me the next day and said “I’ve been thinking about the argument we had yesterday and have an idea”. Is that stonewalling?

    • Stonewalling is refusal to communicate and discuss an issue without giving a valid reason. It may take the form of evasion, like changing the subject, acting like he hasn’t even heard you, not responding to texts about the issue, or leaving the room (or house) when you bring it up. My ex was fond of all of these. On one memorable occasion, when I asked him if he had booked a couple’s therapy appointment he had promised to, he actually ran, in seeming full-blown panic, up a flight of stairs, then ran back down and out of the building. It was bizarre. I gave up trying after that, which is the stonewaller’s objective. They want to control what you say to them and they want to evade shared responsibility to solve problems.

      If your ex refused to contribute to the discussion, giving no valid reason for his refusal, or if he changed the subject to evade discussing the issue, that certainly qualifies as stonewalling. You removing yourself because of his refusal to communicate does not qualify as stonewalling.

    • Yes, my ex would say “Do you really want to waste our night and fight about this now?”, so that I would drop it.

      Nothing ever got resolved

      • I also got accused of “starting fights” and “spoiling the evening” for bringing up important issues. This behaviour wasn’t as frequent before he met schmoopie, but peaked to an intolerable level while he was cheating. One time he said; “See? You always start a fight and spoil everything!” I had merely asked him if something was wrong, and if he’d like to talk about it, as he’d been so distant and moody.
        It still makes my blood boil to think of it. I wish I had flipped him off and gotten up and left him right then and there. Everybody told me he was just depressed and to be patient. Chumpy me took that stupid advice. Never again.

        • My ex had a unique nice guy way of stonewalling. He would listen to me if I got upset or concerned about something, but he never participated. He never had a feeling about anything. I didn’t pick up on the lack of empathy. He was calm, cool and collected – always. I realize now, he was observing and judging me. I would always be the one to apologize, I was always the one trying to connect.
          Nothing ever bothered him….until the discard.

            • The discard was when Mr Easygoing, full of love for me, nothing ever bothers him great guy – turned into Mr suddenly has a lot of issues with me, I’m not worth working any of these supposed issues out with, struck with a sudden case of unhappiness caused by me etc etc. I went from being the recipient of a ton of ‘love’
              to the recipient of being belittled, put down….and emotionally tossed out for trash.
              His surprise younger and far more superior married twu wuv was all that mattered. He was done with me and wanted to protect her.

              • Zip, we were with the same man. My experience precisely regarding important discussions before and after the devalue and discard. It was confusing and mind boggling. He reported conversations to the ex girlfriend/OW and she, as a life coach with a psychology PhD, was able to coach him in what to say and how to ‘deal’ with me. I had a ‘fixed’ mindset and he had a ‘growth’ mindset. He definitely had a big head if that counts as growth!

                I found out after the discard that, during the devalue, he refused social invitations from mutual friends because I was ‘restraining his drinking’. This was at least a year before he left me. The cold, calculating manipulation was unbelievable. Except that I do believe it.

            • Mighty and Flower, ugh…..They SUCK. Mighty, I know what you mean, mine started using phrases during discard that didn’t sound like him ( they were OW’s way of speaking). It’s clear that he’s an empty shell, easily manipulated and loyal to the biggest kibble source.

  • I married that guy. I didn’t think I could get better and I really believed he loved me. I don’t think he ever did. 30 yrs us a long time to play that game but he had a nice life. I worked my tail off and did 80% of everything. He played -literally with our sons and in a band. Foe the last 5 yrs he did not even try to work. Don’t know what he did all day. Moochers who become cheaters stay with you until they find a new Mark. Taking that mooch on is on me, cheating and throwing the family under the bus is on him. Hugs!

  • I actually only read thru to Red Flag number one. Under employed. Unemployed. Dump this loser. I’m not materialistic but every man who fits this profile is a user. Ex quit high paying job to become “self employed”. In reality, it was him sitting on his ass all day, doing nothing.

  • Argh! One of my personal pet peeves is if they accuse the ex of being a drama queen. You just know he’s an asshole by that alone. I’ve done a casual sort of study of men on my local dating apps, and I found 20% of those who were divorced or never married say they “don’t want drama”, or words to that effect, thereby implying their exes were dramatic. Translation; be a chump and put up with all my bullshit without complaint.
    It tends to correlate to other profile horrors such as inept bathroom selfies, macho photos of them flexing, on motorcycles or with muscle cars, even old photos of them with their ex with ex’s face crudely photoshopped out. Many versions were so bad it looked like they’d used white out and one had the gall to superimpose a skull head on his ex’s. I shit you not. The defaced ex partner photo appeared in 5% of male profiles, a staggering number when you consider how awful it makes them look.

    But back to this particular specimen. We have;

    Nasty comments about the mother of his child, including the “drama” whine, always a tell for flaming assholery.

    Allergic to picking up a check.

    Fired for being a complete fuckup at least two times. Imagine all the times he *hasn’t* told you about.

    A substance abuser, and a criminal one at that. If being charged with DWI even once doesn’t put you on the wagon, you have a serious problem.

    An emotional abuser. Yes, silent treatments and deliberately hurtful comments are abuse. Like all abusers, he’s saving his best work for when you move in together. Imagine how much fun that will be.

    Painfully obvious lovebombing. Nobody honest, with as much relationship experience as he has apparently had, is going to pronounce you “the one” that quickly.

    Pushing for a commitment too soon. See above.

    Wants to “buy a house together” but has no money to do so. So you know he’s lying about his intentions already. *You* would be buying a house, and for a guy you’ve known all of three months?

    Still communicating with an ex he has no children with, and ex who dumped his ass.

    Bitterly resents communication so much that he reacts aggressively and punishes you. I’m thinking attempts at communication are his idea of “drama”.

    I’m sure there are even more you didn’t list because you thought they weren’t red flag material, but actually, they probably are. Go to several of the many websites which list the warning signs of an abuser. See how many of them match up with the above. You’ll get to shout BINGO! at the end, and your prize will be avoiding investing in a creep. There is absolutely no doubt. I’m sorry.

    • This sums up my STBXH perfectly: attempts at communication are his idea of drama. Thank you for sharing that.

  • My apologies to those outwardly beautiful who are stuck with people who judge them harshly only because they are beautiful, but Im leery of beautiful people with no interpersonal skills. I think for some, their looks may have contributed to people giving them too much latitude and it may lead to their entitlement. Beautiful underemployed guy …yea, RED FLAG

  • Silent treatment = emotional abuse that belittles, demeans, disrespects and devalues. Stonewalling is a form of gaslighting. Major deal breaker.

  • (I know this is a re-run, but good advice (IMHO) anyway!)

    1. Run a title check on “his” house. Many ways to get this info, but certainly you can get it at the county office, as is public info. See what name/s are on title. (Maybe ex#2 owns the house and hasn’t kicked him out yet, or maybe he’s mortgaged it to the hilt.) See what liens/mortgages are on it. Maybe he’s so eager to combine real estate, because he has no/little equity, and would love it if you were sloppy with yours, so his name could get on it. Do you think it’s a coincidence that both of his recent girlfriends have bank and are very generous with it? DO NOT MOVE IN TOGETHER OR COMBINE REAL ESTATE.

    2. Talk with both of the exes. I’m sure that you will find out a lot. Clearly, he will not like this, as he is surely lying about the past and present regarding them, so I would not warn him first.

    3. Run a credit report on him. Run a background report on him. Also, compare and contrast with what he has told/not told you. Look up his criminal/traffic/family court/divorce history on the county court website. It’s immediate and free.

    4. Stop wining and dining him.

    5. Slow down. No hurry. Doesn’t sound like you are rushing to beat the clock.

    6. When he throws controlling (moody, silence) tantrums, give him a good, long time out. Preferably FOREVER.

    • Yeah after thinking about how his 2nd wife left him the house, maybe it was worth her while to just walk away (huge mortgage or being upside down) or maybe she still has dibs on it and he lied to MN. He may be squatting and that is the reason why he and 2nd ex still communicate. His plan may have been to have MN sell her house, buy a house together but at the last minute he’ll have a reason for not having his share of the money. There is a holdup, the 2nd ex wife is being difficult, etc. He would count on MN being excited with the new home and go forward with the purchase without his share of a down payment but his name would still be on the property.

      • The house may not even be in his name. Ex may have ‘left” it to him but not have signed it over. Or she could be lending it to him. The house thing may be a lie.

        While checking out the real estate records at the court house, check the marriage licenses and divorce records, etc. There might actually be more than two exes.

        • You have to know in which county somebody married to access the marriage record. How many counties are there in the US ? And what about foreign weddings ? Slimy people are adept at covering their tracks.

  • In case anyone missed the Fix Your Picker training video. Please forgive any anachronistic gender propaganda and imagine your pronouns.

    To win the game you AVOID the Dud. We at Chump Nation also know all too well that the Dud can also be disguised as the Dream Date. Be on the lookout for Duds with Dream Date trappings!

    I wish for an updated version of the game where the Dud has a red flag as an accessory, like the Dream Date skis or picnic basket.

    Also, a variety of genders when you Open the Door….for your….Mystery Daaaaaaate…….

  • I’m really stunned anyone would think this guy is a good catch. My ex looked great “on paper”, at least. His true nature was not revealed for a long time so i can’t imagine the horror this guy’s really hiding.

    One thing people wanted to give me feedback on was my lack of “forgiveness” towards the ex. It wasn’t really a matter of forgiveness. If he’d presented as a lying cheating creep at the beginning i would have dumped him immediately. You cant forgive bad character.

  • Another example of why our local Abused Women’s Center tells people to not move in with or marry someone until you know them two full years.

    Because too often abuse victims can’t see a problem man/woman when they are right in front of them.

    What is the damn rush to move in with a new person ? Desperation to lock a new person down is the worst type of life planning. Mature people can wait and do wait.

    • IMO experience someone anxious to move in with a new partner is financially motivated. Housing insecure is another term. They either don’t have a place to live or can’t afford the one they have.

    • I didn’t marry or live with Nitwit until 2 years after I’d met him and I still ended up with a cheating narc. Some narcs are better at covert ops than others. I’m just never marrying or living with a man again. I just don’t see any benefit in it.

      • Yikes, your FW was Olympic gold medal level, to keep up the ruse & the mask for 2 years!!

  • Having an violent alcoholic father myself and a mother who modeled resilience by divorcing him, I followed her example and divorced my first wife- also an alcoholic. I was also blessed with the disease of alcoholism. When my daughter was born during the first year of marriage I firmly decided to get sober because I never wanted my daughter to be exposed to the childhood I went through. June 21 94 I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and finally worked all the 12 steps. My A&A sponser presented the facts of two options for me 13 years later: stay and endure (this required me to be in Alanon), or divorce.
    My 1st wife did not have the capacity to be honest with herself about her alcoholisn, nor was she willing to go to any lengths to get sobriety. She tried AA, went into Tx yet died from this disease post divorce
    a few years later. I would have remarried her had she gotten sober.
    Jails, Institutions, or Death. Those are the 3 absolute outcomes for most of us who identify themselves as alcoholics. I love the peanut allergy description. Brilliant!
    One drink is too many and a thousand are not enough. My daughter grew up in meetings because I wanted her to know about the fellowship and model for her what her mom couldn’t. She sat through hundreds of speaker meetings. I’d observe her and watch her little head cock to the side when she’d hear the message. I raised her with the knowledge that she too might have this disease. She married her HS sweetheart, moved away (AF hubby), got a degree and is doing great. They’re still in love 11 years later-even through the sacrifices the military wifestyle imposes on a couple.
    Wife #2 brought me here. A long and painful journey to gain the knowledge that covert narcs really are a thing and exist to destroy and rob your joy.

    Tracy you made me LOL when I read your definition of dating. But yeah. Pretty much so.

    Keep coming back! It works if you work it!

  • Oh, honey. This guy has more red flags than the running of the bulls at Pamplona. Silent treatment and nasty fighting themselves are a “Bye, Felicia” moment. You heap unemployment, keeping in touch with an X who just up and left him, non-reciprocity (aka, mooching), and drinking on top of that….the support and love you feel from him will only last as long as your usefulness. Silent treatment is also the mark of avoidant attachment, and employed because a person is (a) a sniveling little pants-shitter who can’t do confrontation, and (b) they wield silence as a weapon to get you back into your lane.

    I understand the appeal, though. After having been chumped, someone who is warm and supportive (most of the time) feels like falling into a bath of warm pudding. After divorcing my overt narc cheater, I fell in love with a guy who was warm, supportive, affectionate, seemed like he could talk about feelings….he had fewer red flags than your guy, and ended up dumping me by email (after 18 months together) because I caught him in a small lie and he wanted to hide the even bigger lies of having been a serial cheater in his marriage and continuing alcoholism (never.even.suspected).

    Get ahead of this situation by dumping him, because as you try to hold him accountable, he will distance himself more and more as your sense of self weakens. Hugs.

  • I know this isn’t the point, but he lives in a house but he doesn’t really work…which makes me wonder if it’s HIS house or his 2nd Wife’s house? Which makes me also wonder if they are fully and legally divorced?

    Lot’s of other flags to contend with so this is ‘minor’ in the grand scheme of things…

    Something to keep in mind that I’ve recently realized: not everyone get’s their act together.

    • Yeah, who’s paying for the mortgage and utilities there? That’s why he want his new mark to move it. He needs a paycheck (one that isn’t his).

    • I think it could still be the 2nd ex wife’s house. She left and he could be squatting (no where else to go) , which is why they still communicate. He may be conning MN into thinking it’s his house and whatever equity in the house is his…that’s why he wants to buy a house together. Then last minute he would come up with all the excuses for not coming up with his share but count on MN still placing him as co-owner. I hope MN left this guy in the dust.

  • It’s worth not just unpacking the Con Man Boyfriend’s red flags, but Minnesota’s truly shocking ability to spackle for a guy she met 90 days before.

    1. “Three months ago I met the most amazing man.” At the 3 month level, you should be relaxed, getting to know someone, not convinced he’s “the most amazing man.” Ordinary people come across as ordinary, like 85% of us. Thinking someone is “amazing” before you KNOW him is a sign of a broken picker.

    2. “I am in love with him. I’ve not met someone I feel so good around before.” As we read on, we ask ourselves, how can she be “in love” with him after 90 days? That’s a sign that she doesn’t distinguish between love and far lesser, more deceptive and dangerous feelings: infatuation. limerence, love-bombing.

    3. “How can something so good have red flags?” –Because what she thinks is “good” is a red-flag filled mirage that she has spackled to high heaven.

    4. “Such as drinking, underemployed, unbalanced relationship with ex, moodiness. Is it possibly true that it’s too good to be true? Or am I looking for problems that don’t exist because I’m afraid?” Please look at these sentences together. 4 huge red flags, including two that should be absolute deal breakers, drinking and underemployed/unemployed. How does Minnesota interpret those dealbreakers? As “problems that don’t exist.” Then she blames herself: she sees red flags because she’s “afraid.”

    We SHOULD be afraid of getting involved with a drinker who doesn’t pay for anything and is under- or unemployed. Fear is appropriate in that case. She asks if “it” (the relationship) is “too good to be true,” although she just listed 4 terrible aspects of this guy, including poor relationship with his Xs and what she calls here “moodiness” and which she indicates later is abusive and manipulate behavior (e.g., silent treatment, avoiding conflict).

    5. Regarding X#1: “He’s shared she’s a whack job and drama filled.” And Minnesota takes that at face value although she thinks what he brings to that disfunction is poor communication and lack of boundaries (Another DEALBREAKER for a live-in relationship.

    6. She doesn’t question why X2 walked away without her house, or why she had to pay for it, or how Con Man BF pays for the house now. Is he collecting alimony? Is she paying the mortgage? And how would Minnesota spackle THAT?

    7. The whole scheme involves Minnesota moving in with HIM (to pay on “his” house, getting M’s sister to occupy her house (pay the bills there?) and then…instead of living in one of two houses they already have, Minnesota liquidating her house and buying THEM one that Con Man owns half of. Which, of course, probably explains why XW#2 walked away. He wasn’t giving up his half of her house.

    This Chump starts with the idea this man is “amazing” and she steadfastly ignores any evidence to the contrary. She has already decided she loves him, so she ignores and dismisses major, major character flaws and personality problems, as well as how bad she feels (90 days in!) when they fight and he mistreats her. Truly, what’s there to fight about after 90 days? Chances are, she was already more or less co-habiting with this guy when she wrote this letter.

    If you find yourself “in love” in 90 days, and the new person totally “amazing” while listing 8-10 major red flags and dealbreakers, stop. Just stop. You aren’t ready to date. You have a giant well of need for love and approval and your inner neglected child or teenager or your lonely adult side is doing the picking without regard to basic standards like, no parasites, no mooches, no love-bombers, no silents treatment…

    • As I was reading the letter, all the red flags were screaming at me. Especially the soulmate comment after few weeks, the silent treatment and not taking responsibility for his own actions in his past relationships (victim mentality)..I don’t know if she has any experience with abuse, perhaps we can’t blame her for not knowing these things, but she definetely is getting her vulnerability taken advantage of. She’s too up in cloud nine and idealizing this man who has narcissistic traits all over his face instead of looking at what she really has in front of her.

  • I stopped reading after number one. If someone has been fired from a job for performance issues, that’s enough of a red flag! Not just once, but twice! Run!

  • Wow, thanks for running this again. I hadn’t seen it before. Could be my most recent story. I’m a decently paid academic working on paying off my little house, have a creative practice and good professional reputation. My most recent boyfriend was the best experience I’ve ever had, and it was still rife with red flags like the above.

    Musician, younger, lived at home in mom’s basement when I met him. Said he had come back to our town to be with her because she got cancer. We connected over music, which for me, after years of academic booky life feels like finding myself, like therapy and joy and truth all at once. I’ve got a trauma history and he listened to all of it, remembered my stories, made me feel so heard and seen.

    But not long into it I learned he’d been fired from his last job, that he didn’t finish his degree but was hanging around the college for years kind of not leaving, that his mom had finished her chemo long before he came home. He said he left “in crisis” when his father lost his job and his support for school/rent/food disappeared. (I put myself through all of undergrad and grad school.) But the timelines of his “crisis,” his mom’s cancer and his return never lined up. He has a job as a music teacher; I learned 10 months into it that he got the job because his mom dropped his uncle’s name (his uncle is a self-sufficient touring musician).

    In the year we were together, he never took me out for a meal or bought me flowers or anything (he did do this for his mom). We talked about his finances and tried to go dutch or proportional, since I make probably 3-4 times what he does. He did move out of his parents’ house, but what it took to get there, it shouldn’t have. He offered to take me driving in the convertible his dad bought his mom; it didn’t seem to him any loss of dignity to drive his girlfriend in his mom’s car.

    He gave up pot (I believe) during the time we were together, but had mentioned a porn issue (which he said he had dealt with) and often stayed up so late playing video games that he’d fail to call at the agreed time the next morning.

    I’m shaking my head as I write this out! I couldn’t understand how I could feel so valued and seen, so safe in some ways, with a person who sometimes seemed to be actively sabotaging our relationship by just not doing things he promised to do. I didn’t like how chummy he got with women from his 12-step group, and felt like his “good listener” thing was something he spread around quite liberally. There were lots of women, like myself, who lit up under his attention. He would often share details of their sad childhoods or trauma histories with me.

    Have any of you seen Baby Driver? The main character works so hard to take his crush out to a nice dinner. We were watching that together and I broke down crying, because I’d been with him a year and had never seen him do that. But I had seen him make me dinners, memorize basslines and learn accompaniments, and give me great massages and be very safe physically. He said, “It’s like you’re calling me a bad boyfriend,” and I felt sick, because I sensed he wasn’t great but that I should see he was trying very hard and that love and effort were what mattered. And he really was the kindest, most attentive person to me in other ways.

    It took me forever to get that the lack of trust I felt was important information. Like maybe the most important information. Since we split (I called it off just as lockdown started). I’m still figuring out what my deal is.

    Over the past year I’ve also “lost” two long-term women friends, basically over me having standards for how I’m treated that don’t jive with their ways of relating to me. I felt like I was chewing off my own arm to let them go, but it has been like coming out of years of fog and subtle minimizing/discounting of my perceptions. And just this week some family stuff went down that shocked me, made me see my FOO from a whole new angle, makes me see that I may have been gaslit my entire life. Like, people denying things are as exploitive as they are is the air I breathed.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share that I can relate to the disorienting feeling that something is simultaneously “so good” and full of flags. When folks say “you lowered your bar” to the OP, I envy anyone who has an experience of a higher bar. I have the beliefs that life has taught me, and it’s the challenge of my life to believe that a higher bar exists — for me. That said, I am up for the challenge and work everyday to build new beliefs and a radar for integrity.

    • Thank you so much for this post, Magnolia. This line in particular resonated with me so much: “it’s the challenge of my life to believe that a higher bar exists — for me.” That is so true for me. I am working every day to teach myself to believe that is true. Not just that a higher bar exists for me but that I am worthy of it. It can be a very lonely struggle. Seeing your words made it a little less so.

  • OK, I read the entire column & saw it was a rerun. I hope Minnesota saw CL’s answer & fixed her picker.

    Has anyone had any experience asking new potential partners to show their credit report or last several years of tax returns? I have daughters who are young adults. It seems like a reasonable thing to ask a potential partner, somewhere down the line. Just like talking about previous sexual partners & STD’s.
    Can anyone chime in with their experiences?

    • Would you gladly furnish your credit report to a fairly new partner? I wouldn’t personally, until the point of taking it toward commitment.

      But then I’m an honest chump with nothing to hide, making me prime target for a predatorial user.

      • Good point. I wouldn’t want to give my info away before a commitment.

        I think I’ll have to open up the conversation with the girls about still having dealbreakers & being willing to walk away at any time. Like, if they are engaged & starting to plan a wedding. If the guy doesn’t want to provide a credit report when credit is going to be joined together, that would be a dealbreaker. I’d hate for them to feel embarrassed about asking for solid, factual information.

    • I used to work with a guy who had contacts in the local police department. He ran the plates of every boy who came to pick up his daughter.

      When the boy came to pick her up, he’d chat with him in the living room while his youngest snuck out the back door to write down the license number. He’d excuse himself, phone his buddies to get the report, and then confront the boy about any speeding tickets, unpaid parking, etc. before he let them leave on the date. His daughter didn’t enjoy it much, but her boyfriends always got her home before curfew.

  • There are more red flags here than in a Barcelona bull ring (before it was banned a few years ago).
    I hope Minnesota got out, too. Ole!

  • This guy sounds exactly like my first boyfriend after my divorce. loved whiskey as much as the silent treatment. My friend said that the first time he come over to my house (she was hanging out with me) that his eyes were scanning the place like he had a mental cash register. He was SO excited about the house ‘WE’ were going to buy on the lake.

  • Suggested Friday Challenge: Identify your own cheater’s red flags for their next, unknowing Minnesota. Mine would have some splainin’ to do, Lucy.

    He would shit talk his X (me), for sure.

    He would have to explain why his adult daughters are NC with him.

    He would have to explain his sketchy job history of running all over the world doing short term work, always needing to change what he is doing and where.

    He would have to explain why he moved far away from any of his relatives (and daughters) to a place he was never connected to.

    He would have to cover for his excessive solo and day-drinking.

    He would have to explain why his last girlfriend was young enough to be his daughter (she was OW#2 I was abandoned for).

    He would have to put on a hell of an act to brush up his love bombing act because he is a passive aggressive, covert narc, entitled abuser of shitty character and horrible life skills.

    The obvious answer is that he will lie through all of it and will just keep his mask attached until new supply is secured. That worked before.

  • Red flag ???? times how many ?

    Say no to being a loser tow ???? And being a narc magnet ????

  • Hi Minnesota

    Chumplady is spot on with her translations. You can almost BET that one day you’ll be telling your story as the woman who loved this man who was kind gentle loving and it was all about “who he was” not “what he had”. Was he on a dating site by chance?
    It sounds a bit like someone I know.
    They met after both being chumped, he was her new fresh, start. Kind, loving, attentive, gentle, fun- all of the above. Didn’t get along well with his psycho baby mama (who treated him like crap then still expected him to do everything).
    Worked under the table- construction (it’s all he’s ever known) woman gets the apartment and the credit to buy the house. They get married. Despite the pressures of her having to provide health care, do all the adult stuff like make calls, find better car insurance, cancel the cable, organize the bills that are on auto pay, care for his daughter 50% of the time -while witnessing the train wreck of a way she’s being raised by “THEM”…

    She learned that he’s cheated. With her. The baby mana. The one who chumped him before they got together.

    It’s been ten years now and she is ME.

    I’ve shared this because although every situation is unique- trouble can be sniffed out a mile away.
    She right please pay attention here.
    I also have anxiety which makes life difficult but I learn to function just fine considering… one thing with anxiety is learning what works and this doesn’t help it.
    Codependency and being an empathetic are extra challenges you may have.
    He may be a fun and nice guy but please reconsider leaving your home.
    I do.

  • I don’t have anything to add to the comments about dump this guy before he rapes your financial and emotional life.
    I do want to say that prior to getting married in 1973 to what seemed like a very charming guy … I did what Minnesota has done with asking here. I’d share something he had done that secretly I’d want to know if it was a deal breaker. Such as, instead of enjoying a day at the beach, he spent it drinking a case of beer while I sat by his side plucking his shirt and asking if we could go now. Or he got another DWI. Or he got into another fender bender. Or he has this wonderful female collegue.

    My friends and family simply thought I was so lucky.

    I wonder if I had CL back then if I would have been strong enough to dump him. I would imagine life without him and it would seem wonderful and I’d feel selfish. When my kids were zero and two, I finally did it for them. Not for me. For them. I didn’t want them having a role model that accepted infidelity, drunken, getting fired behavior.

  • Is his name Mike? Because this description checks all the boxes. RUN!

  • Can I just highlight the whole letter in red? Thanks for the reminder of what not to do and who to avoid.

  • OMG please get our of this relationship Minesotta. He sounds exactly like my ex and everything you described is exactly our relationship and how it unfolded. It sounds like he’s a closet alcoholic and a narcissist and “love bombing” you. There are lots of resources on YouTube that will educate you on the red flags and dating behaviours of narcissists. I wish I knew the red flags and got out earlier.
    I too earned more than my ex when I met him. He used me for my money. He was an alcoholic and cheated on me. I will never know how many women because I caught him sexting women when we first started dating. I should have left then. Please RUN. it will not improve and he’ll only get worse. Good luck.

  • I read thru the posts again this morning, hoping that Minnesota had given an update. Alas, no. I have to hope she is out there, somewhere, without him and happier. I don’t want to think about what happened if she didn’t listen to that little voice within. I really believe we know what we should do when we ask for advice, but we don’t want to do it because hopium addiction is a serious issue. Withdrawal? EEEEEKKKK!!!

    I also would like to remind my fellow chumps that we have empathy and soft places we hide from the world for a very good reason, because we have endured a bad experience. Or more than one bad experience. We do have to evaluate someone based on their entire essence. I would not want to be judged based on some foolish thing I did at 16, or 25, or 45 or . . . last week at the grocery store. People do make mistakes. People do have true remorse and regret. Some fortunate people can change bad habits they have learned along the way. For instance, I am NOT my father, but I am my father’s daughter. The man was not a cartoon bad guy, but he did some serious emotional harm to me and all my siblings, and my mother. He was also a product of his time and FOO. In my rush for survival and rebellion against him, I made some mistakes which cost me dearly. But I survived, and learned, and saw the need to change, and worked, hard, to change.

    On this forum we have recovered alcoholics, and addicts, and people who have losses I cannot begin to fathom. We have people, like me, old enough to have lived through several recessions, and through my grandparents, ghosts of the Great Depression. We have people who have strong work ethic who have lost jobs, and had to file bankruptcies, and lost their home, and had to go into a shelter. We have people who have lost children. We have a diverse resilient nation.

    Please be careful not to judge all economic reversals in the same harsh light. Some of the smartest people I know have made some really stupid decisions. We are blessed because we are imperfect, so we should be able to cut other’s some slack. We have to see where the potential new friend, or lover, is in their life, NOW, when we are meeting them. We have to see if they will be a good influence on us, or if they will evoke old demons by their very presence in our life. Smug is not a good look on anyone. The part of each of us that could not believe our spouse would cheat on us, because WHY?, is the same chump that came to chump lady for her healing message. Kindness looks good on everyone. You can decide to keep your distance, or feel sorry for a lost soul, but you don’t have to say “that will never happen to me.” There, but for the grace of God, folks.

    I’m a news junkie. I recently saw a segment about an abandoned shepherd who did not like men, and was in the last chance shelter. He was beautiful. He was adopted, by a man, who decided there was something worth saving there. That man had incredible patience, and time, and he developed a deep relationship with that shepherd. Then one night he collapsed with a health crisis, and the shepherd drug him to his phone, and literally saved his life. He was not a trained service dog.

    This type of story gives me hope for some of the broken ones. I am not perfect, and I don’t believe I will ever meet a perfect mate. But maybe, just maybe, I might find one with the heart of that shepherd.

    • BEAUTIFUL. And kind. Thank you for all your words… they are much more than that
      I enjoyed reading this today. All the blessings to YOU today
      And to all of CN. We are so much more than just this

    • Portia,

      Thank you for taking the time to write what you have so eloquently written.

      Truth rings through it is waves and particles .:)

      A reminder for me recall again and again as I wade through what presents itself in my own life day after day to remain open – to nurture a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ – to use a Buddhist phrase.

      A process that continues to fold in on itself and then, as it expands, it reveals new insights formerly hidden in old memories which frees me from my own misconceptions in some miraculous way.

  • Run before this guy makes your anxiety issues worse. Sounds like hes lovebombing you and gaslighting you- look up the book “the sociopath next door” and read the story about Luke and Sydney. This sounds exactly like this kind of sociopath. I really hope you read this and if you do please message if you read the book cause i think itll be very eye opening!! I dont care if you respond a year later

  • Wow Minnesota, were you dating my ex-BF? The man you describe sounds so familiar:
    Never being to blame for anything? Check!
    Getting weird and angry during fights? Check!
    Being off with the mother of his child? Check!
    Drink problem? Check!
    Being ok with letting me pay for stuff? Check!
    The sad thing was in the beginning he was lovely. So sweet and supportive and fun and great with my daughter. I was really smitten! He paid his way until I let him move in to my house. As soon as he started to get comfortable the facade started to crack, and then I was paying all the bills while he paid about £150 plus a couple of grocery shops per month. His son used to stay with us and often I’d be the one looking after both kids. Ex had numerous mysterious ailments that prevented him from going to work/ childcare/ housework/ whatever. He got bad tempered and snappy with me and with my daughter and when I told him not to he would get angry or sulk.
    I finally booted him out after he shouted and swore at me in front of the kids. The reason? I asked him to take them for a walk for a couple of hours because I had an assignment to do (I’m currently retraining). I’ve taken the kids out on my own plenty of times, but he didn’t feel he should have to. I just had enough of being disrespected and treated like sh*t by my own partner in my own home.

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