This article was penned by a guest writer who prefers to remain anonymous.
At one point, I believed that in order to be happy and fulfilled in life, I needed to be married. After having been married to a serial philanderer in my first marriage, I created a specific list of benchmarks for my new mate to meet. As a well-traveled, educated woman, I was determined to find this person. I lived in a large city and meeting eligible men never seemed to be a problem. After a few years of dating men who did not meet my algorithm for a successful match, I was discouraged.
One night, I met a man whom I found quite captivating. He was intelligent, well spoken and very attentive. After several dates, I questioned him on his beliefs, values, financial goals and children. He was practically perfect in every way! What I did not recognize was how much information I was providing before I heard his answers. In my naiveté, I exposed myself to a man who shape shifted to become my ideal mate.
A chameleon changes its color to blend in with the environment. A narcissistic sociopath can do the same thing once they have identified someone they want. We often think we are involved in making choices in our relationship, when, in actuality, we been targeted by a predator. Had I paid closer attention, I could have recognized many red flags, such as a lack of continuity in his jobs, consistently blaming others for failures, glorifying false accomplishments and actions that did not match words. No one is perfect, but it’s difficult to recognize without knowing the red flags.
According to Lundy Bancroft in “Why Does He Do That?”, we need to pay attention to the following early warning signs:
- He speaks disrespectfully about former partners
- He pressures you for sex
- He gets serious too quickly about the relationship
- He intimidates you when he’s angry
- He has double standards
- He is disrespectful toward you
- He does favors for you that you don’t want or puts on such a show of generosity that it makes you uncomfortable
- He is controlling
- He is possessive
- Nothing is ever his fault
- He is self centered
- He abused drugs and alcohol
- He has negative attitudes toward women
- He treats you differently around other people
- He appears to be attracted to vulnerability
In my case,
- He was very disrespectful of his former partners and blamed them for enabling his recovery as an alcoholic.
- He tried quickly to have sex to secure a committed relationship. I assumed he really liked me and was trying to close the deal.
- He was always very respectful towards me, because he knew I would have otherwise ended the relationship. The disrespect came years later when I had lost my self respect.
- He was poisonous about his mother. He could not say one nice thing about his mother and although I had always heard the adage of a man who loves his mother will also love his wife, I really believed I was special and this rule did not apply to me.
- He could not have been more generous or helpful to the point I was a little embarrassed.
- He used his possessiveness like a love gift, wanting almost all of my time and attention.
- He could not accept blame for any mistakes he ever made and went as far as blaming his parents and teachers for silly childhood blunders.
- I did not realize that he was still drinking, and it certainly was not his former partner’s fault. The fault lay only with the person lifting the cup.
After much reflection and many years of therapy, I know I am not special enough to be in a relationship with a narcissistic sociopath. It requires superhuman powers that I simply do not possess. More importantly, I choose not to be in an unhealthy relationship. I was a smart, self confident, successful woman. After fifteen years of marriage, I was nearly erased as a human being. I could not understand what happened to the near perfect mate I had chosen. I realize now, I was chosen by him for financial reasons, and I have learned to never be so forthcoming with someone I am getting to know. In reality, I fell in love with a part of myself. Everything I told him I wanted were qualities I possessed. With therapy and a strong will to survive, these qualities were the foundation upon which I rebuilt my life.
My wish is for all of us to be able to identify abusive partners and immediately hold up the stop sign. Through education, life coaching and a strong support group, we can begin to make it so.