25 red flags... My story. Long read.

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tvda

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25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« on: July 05, 2021, 09:11:26 AM »
I “moved” from BPDfamily to this forum because the narcissistic traits were so strong… Here’s my story, full of red flags that I chose to ignore – leaving me discarded with serious emotional damage…

19 months ago I flew back from a kitesurfing holiday, and saw an attractive woman sitting at a table. We smiled and shared an intense moment of connection. Through sheer coincidence she found me through facebook a week later – apparently she was on my flight and a passenger was a mutual acquaintance. Perhaps that was red flag number 1. She threw herself at me.

From her facebook page I could tell that she was still in a relationship with a man, and had three kids. Red flag number 2. We started talking nonetheless, and she told me a big pity story of how she was unhappy in a dead relationship with an abusive partner, for years. Red flag nr 3. The three kids were from two different fathers (red flag 4). The previous relationship had also been very abusive and cold, she told me… She was the big victim in all her life choices for the past 15 years… Red flag 5.

After not even a week we would spend every evening chatting for 2 to 3 hours. Things went fast. We didn’t see eachother in real life for two months, but the contact was intense and frequent. Even before seeing eachother she disclosed soooo much about her life, and moved on to sexting and sending nude pics… Red flag 6.

She told me that she would never ever ever cheat on her partner. She broke up with the father of her two oldest kids because he had cheated on her, and apparently that was a line you never cross for her… But she had no other option in her currently life that she described was a prison with a controlling partner who threatened her if she would leave… Yeah, so I started an affair with a woman who said she would normally never ever have an affair… Red flag 7.

Two months after first contact we met. The first meeting was “proper”. The second meeting, a week later turned intimate. We started seeing eachother regularly. Two months later she introduced me to her two daughters, age 10 and 11. Yes, she openly  introduced me to her kids, as her affair, and future stepdad to them. She sort of included them in all the excitement of an illicit relationship, and of course required them to lie about this to their current stepdad. BIG red flag 8. What kind of mother would do this, would be so irresponsible. I was caught up in the lovebombing, of course, because by this time I was promised a future life as stepdad with the kids… Looking back it’s so crazy how she would do daytrips with me and her daughters from the previous relationship, when her current partner and their son would be off to the coast for a weekend… Crimson red flag…

This continued for a while, with her promising to take steps to leave her current partner, now that she had found the love of her life… She was 10000% certain, she stated, that she had found her soulmate, and felt nothing anymore for her current, allegedly abusive partner. We’d have a crazy passionate time. One time, right after making loving, even during the afterglow she made a harsh statement right out of the blue… “If I’d be pregnant with you now, I’d drive instantly to the neighboring country (with lax abortion laws) to get an abortion.” It was like a punch to the gut. I could understand that she would not want another child at age 42 and her point in life. But the statement was so blunt… Red flag number 10.

There were some weird casual mentions that would trigger a funny feeling in my stomach… Often illustrations of how long she had been unhappy with her partner and previous partner, and how she ‘d had male friends that were her shoulder to cry on for a while. But she was always quick to state “but we never crossed the line – we never did more than talk”. One of these cases was a university professor of hers that even visited her at home “because she was so down”. That’s a weird boundary to cross, I thought, inviting a professor to your home while still in a relationship with two kids… She stopped talking to the professor and the old college buddy because of course “they developed feelings for her” and she would have none of that. Red flag number 11. The study buddy will pop up later in this story…

Nine months after we met her partner discovered our affair… And instead of breaking things off with hem, she was “confused” and need time and space to herself. Red flag 9. I think that is when the devalueing started. It certainly was the end of the constant lovebombing. Lovebombing continued, but it came in cycles from now on… Push and pull… Red flag 12.

Without realizing it a very skewed power dynamic had become firmly installed by now… I could never call her or visit her when I wanted, because of course she had to do things behind his back… So I was always ‘on call’, waiting for her to contact me. Adjusting my schedule to work around her need for secrecy and the three kids.

And now that he had discovered our affair she was superconfused… Gone were the total conviction and commitment. Her guy was trying to patch things up, make it work, and she was completely lost, so she said… She told me she had tried to end things, but he was so dominant and controlling that she could not stand up to him… It was as if he could hypnotize her, and she would just freeze and give in…

She kept on repeating this… so at a certain point I asked “If he has such an eery hold over you… what happens when he insists on sex?”. She was silent for a couple of seconds. She’d always sworn that they had no intimate life whatsoever anymore. But now she admitted that, in the week of his discovery, she had slept with him. But it was only out of compassion, not love. Big big big red flag 13. Where was her compassion with me when this happened?

I was angry, of course. To my dismay, she became angry at me herself. She said “You told me that I could always be honest with you, but now that I am, you punish me for it!”… Reversing the victim/offender role… and no empathy for my hurt… Red flag 14.

A day later she told me “I don’t want to lose you! I love you! I’m so sorry! I would do anything to make it right!”. So I told her: “okay. Then break it off with him and commit yourself to me.” She couldn’t do that… was too confused and threatened by him. Red flag 15.

The next 9 months we continued to see eachother behind her partner’s back. Or in other words: she did not choose either way. Not him, not me. Everything became repeating cycles… She would push me away, because of (real or fake) dissociation because things became stressful between us. After a week or so she would come back to me, and I would try to keep things nice and easy. She would start making promises of taking steps to leave him. I would wait a week or two and then become antsy because nothing really happened. We would have an argument and she would retreat out of guilt, confusion and dissociation. Cue the next cycle. Red flag 16.

Often my (justified) criticism at how things were going and attempts to set boundaries were met with a very frustrating reaction. She would instantly say “You are right… I’m not good for you. You deserve so much better, I need to set you free and let you go…” Of course I would then backtrack and start to say “No, I didn’t mean it that way, please don’t give up on us, I know you’re having a hard time…” In other words: I would be forced to retract my boundary, and instead care for her needs even more… That felt manipulative to me… Red flag 17.

Attempts to talk about my needs (which would be criticism of her in a way) would often be met with a very cold, harsh and immediate anger or irritation. That sweet, “loving” empathetic angel would disappear in a heartbeat. She’d always apologise profusely for wronging me afterwards, but the apologies would not be accompanied by showing the “right” behaviour as a logical consequence. The argument or issue would not really be addressed. It stuck with a promise of “next time I will treat you better”. But the next times would just be more of the same. Red flag 18.

This kept on going and going and going. There was always a future-faking goal in the near future, keeping me hooked for a couple of weeks. Then, right when that goal would become reality, there would be a reason why it wasn’t possible. The reasons became ever more vague and illogical, as I would be working hard to fix the logical reasons why she could not leave (e.g. car, house, finances, attorneys – I had a solution for all of it, but still she would not take steps). Every cycle started to end in a passive-aggressive feeling “I’m confused, I’m so lost, I need time, I need space…” Passive aggressive because of course when your partner is so down, you would be an *sshole to start making demands for yourself, right? My needs, by then, were not being met at all anymore… Red flag 19.

Contact was diminishing in the meantime. I’d hear her less and less. I’d see her less often. I wouldn’t see her kids anymore. Sometimes it felt as if she was testing how little she could give me, to see where my boundary would lie. Red flag 20.

There were a couple of serious break-ups that felt final. But she would always come back. In the meantime there was a weird “thing”… She called me one morning, totally screwed up and hung over… She’d been to a party, just her, two guys and a female friend. She was totally concerned because apparently her friend, who was in a relationship, had gone home with one of the guys, and had slept with him… I thought it was weird that she seemed to feel so guilty about what her friend had done… and that she already knew the details so early on the next morning, especially with being so hung over… Red flag 21. Three weeks later she told me, with joy, that this friend was getting married! “Wow” I thought, “cheating on your boyfriend and then getting engaged three weeks later?” Red flag 22. Which I consistently ignored…

A month ago she’d been “back” for a couple of weeks, and she was completely smitten with me, telling me she loved me insanely and wanted to be with me for the rest of her life. And then it happened: her partner found out again. And he was furious. He told her he wanted to sell his half of the house to her, just wanted 50% custody of her son, and wanted to move on as quickly as possible.

That was our dream!!! She’s always used the “excuse” that she really wanted to leave, but that he wouldn’t let her go, abusive as he was, and would threaten with custody and a long and bitter divorce settlement. And now he’d finally had enough, gave up and wanted out as quickly as possible! I was overjoyed.

A day later she called me, and said the weirdest thing had happened. Of all the days in her life, her old study buddy who had been her shoulder to cry on year before (during the same relationship) picked the day RIGHT after we had finally found our “freedom” to call her because he “felt” that there was something going on with her. What a crazy coincidence! She proceeded to add that he had suggested meeting up to talk about what was going on in her life, and casually mentioned that there had always been and remained “something” between the two of them – but nothing had ever happened! I got a sick feeling to my stomach… It felt as if she had just openly introduced “the next guy” – right at the moment when when could finally start our life together, after 18 months of struggling. Big red flag 23. I was a bit too shocked to respond properly so I sort of let it pass…

The next day we met up in the morning. That was three weeks ago. We had a very romantic time sitting by a lake, cuddling and kissing, and the topic moved to how her life had passed for the past 15 years. She spoke of how she’d made choices for the wrong men to have had kids with. Starting with the father of her two daughters, now over ten year ago. She outlined how that relationship was totally dead in the end, and how he had cheated on her… and casually mentioned that, well, during the last three months she had also cheated on him with her new partner, the father of her third child and current partner (during our affair).

Wait a minute… Our whole relationship started with a big innocent statement of how she would NEVER cheat, but this situation was exceptional because she was held captive in an abusive relationship and had no other option if she wanted to escape… All of a sudden this was a different story… So she had cheated on her ex with her current partner. And she had cheated and was cheating on her current partner with me. HUGE red flag number 24. If that pattern continued itself, then she would next be cheating on me with the next guy? Next guy that felt like he was casually introduced the day before???

Later that day she was supposed to have dinner with just her daughters. Her partner, angry with his recent discovery of her continued affair, had gone away with their son for the weekend. I innocently asked her to send of a picture of the family fun, as I had done so often before, and she had shared so freely before. I received two weird photos. One of a dinner table, with just bowls and cutlery, but no people in the picture, in strong blueish evening tones. And one of her daughters, I clear broad noontime sunlight. Clearly not taken at the same time… She was silent for a day, which I felt was weird with all that had been happening so recently – I repeat: this was like a “uncork the champagne” moment for me! After 18 months we could finally start our life together. When I finally heard her, she was highly irritated with me. I asked why, and she said: “Well, if you want to know, I was really irritated that you asked me to send a picture of my and my daughters. It felt as if you were checking up on me, as if I needed to prove that I was really having dinner with my daughters and not someone else…” My gut reaction: sometimes the subconscious mind has a habit of speaking the truth… Red flag 25.

And taking into account the past three days, red flag 25 was a succession of events:
1)   Finally we could start our life together after 18 months!
2)   She casually introduces an old flame into our story not a day later
3)   Another day later, she mentions that she in fact HAS cheated before.
4)   She sends two highly suspicious pics of “her dinner with her daughters”
5)   Lastly, pure anger and irritation with me because she felt she needed to prove that she was not having dinner with “someone else”.

There you have it. 25 big red flags that I ignored across the board…

A couple days later she sent me a text to tell me she’s breaking up with me. Because too much just happened to us over the past 18 months, and she no longer has the faith and trust in our relationship. Because now that she’s finally at a point where she can escape from her abusive relationship, she just wants to find herself again, be totally free and not be with any man whatsoever for a while. And frankly she’s not “feeling it” anymore. A total discard.

There was one more paragraph to her message. Yes, message. Hurtful that, after 18 months of intense passion and shared life she didn’t even take the effort of talking to me in person. Her last paragraph read: “In a couple of months time, when I have found myself, I will probably come to realise that you were the man of my life. Maybe it will be too late by then…” I can only translate this message as “I am pushing you out of my life harshly, because I have zero interest in you right now, but I want to keep you within reach in case I want to recycle you…” I won’t add another red flag here, because I’m at the nice round number of 25…

Epilogue:
By sheer coincidence, a friend of mine had a Tinderdate with an old friend of hers during our discard-week. Since we were from totally different towns, and I was always carefully concealed (being an affair), I had zero shared social connections with her, and knew nothing about her past besides what she told me. The first thing my friend’s date said when he mentioned us was “Tell your friend to run away as fast as he can – before she ‘accidentally’ gets pregnant”. His date went on to outline how she has twenty years of past history cheating on her partners, hunting down rich guys and getting pregnant, and generally sleeping around with the whole town, while still managing to maintain a pristine image and somehow convincing everyone that her female friends were all sl*ts…

My friend tried to placate her, and said “well, maybe she has changed… After all, she’s been through a hard time after ten years with her narcissistic boyfriend, and has probably learned some life lessons by now…”. She responded with: “Oh no. In our circle of friends (who have distanced themselves from he) SHE is known as the big narcissist, not her partner!”. And his date also told him that she’d been having an affair with her old study buddy for the past two years…

Soooo… I’ve been tricked. Ignored soooo many red flags and fell into her pity victim story… Only to discover that she was the narcissist all along, and was running TWO affairs at the same time… All the time keeping me on the hook and letting me believe that she was fighting for a life together… Right up to the point where we could actually start that life. And then it was over in a matter of days…

My head is spinning. It’ll take a lot of time to heal the damage and process this… I don’t know why I’m writing this. I guess it’s to ask if anyone here can relate and shine their light on my story…

p.s. Her appearance had something almost too sweet. Saccharine smile and voice, child-like posture (something in the way she’d hold her head inclined a bit, if you know what I mean), very ‘impressionistic’ speech and text with LOTS of flower and kisses emojis… It didn’t feel adult at times. And lots of links of spiritual, poetic, horoscope type things… All very “loving” and beautiful, but also very vague and superficial at the same time… a stark contrast with her hypersexuality… Another big red flag…

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tvda

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2021, 04:32:05 PM »
Wow... It's sobering to read my own post. Not just because of the content, but because of how poorly it is written... So many typos, so many grammar errors, such poor wording and structure. I used to have such pride in how I would write. That shows me I'm in a bad state at the moment...

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Boat Babe

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2021, 06:45:47 PM »
You needed to pour that into the page tvda so forget about the syntax man.

Wow, that's a classic narc trip. You must feel absolutely devastated by it all.  Your excellent understanding of how some people with off the scale narcissism operate,  will help you immensely when she comes knocking for supply again in a few weeks, months or years.

I can only say welcome here, where your broken heart can mend amongst people who have experienced similar inhumane treatment at the hands of someone they loved. You won't feel this awful for too long and you will emerge stronger, wiser and more compassionate. Sending hugs.
It gets better. It has to.

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tvda

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2021, 05:05:26 AM »
Hi Boat Babe, and thanks for the reply and the support. If you don't mind I have two questions for you - fairly confused about all of this, as you can imagine...

1) Classic narc trip, you say... In what sense? In some way I know what you mean, of course, but then again I'm looking for... confirmation or validation of sorts? Is this off-the-scale narcissism to you?

2) "My excellent understanding of how these people operate" will help me in the future... I have the opposite feeling. I fell for it hook, line and sinker, and still hardly understand what happened, and am prone to slipping into doubt and self-blame...

It will help me when she comes looking for supply in a few weeks, months or years, you say... I don't think she's ever coming back. And even though that's for the best, I'm still at the point where I want her to hoover... But I don't see it happening ever again. I think she knows her game is up, and she'll never even consider putting in the effort needed to pry open the door with me, given what I now know, when there's much easier new supply to be found around any corner for her...
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 05:18:26 AM by tvda »

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Boat Babe

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2021, 06:07:44 AM »
I'm just off to work. Will post tonight. Hang on in there.
It gets better. It has to.

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Happytobefree

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2021, 09:46:22 AM »
I completely understand the feeling of wanting our Nexes to hoover, but, really, we are so much better off never hearing from them again.  Many of your red flags are as a result of a hoover attempt, and I'm sure there will be another one in the future.  You provide something extremely valuable to her - a narcissistic supply.  She knows that you will always be there for her. All she needs is to say the right words and boom...red flag #26.

My suggestion is to block every avenue of communication.  Be proactive in your healing and take back control of your life.  Now that you know what red flags looks like (ah, the gift of hindsight), you can avoid them in the future.  If she does manage to contact you, ignore, ignore, ignore.  Any response and she will interpret as caring, thus feeding her supply.  Silence is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. 

You can do this!  You deserve SO much better!

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Boat Babe

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2021, 06:32:22 PM »
It's been a long day!  Ok, this woman has played you right out of the NPD playbook. Love bombing and lies. Devaluing and lies. Discard and lies. She has used you. None of it was love and I'm so sorry that you have had to experience this.  You fell prey to a predator and it's utterly mindfucking.

As to falling for it hook line and sinker, well you aren't the first. Until you have a run in with a person like this, you have NO idea that people can act in this way. How could you? It's utterly bonkers and toxic. It's her children I feel really sorry for.

I was struck by how well you analysed your story. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Continue to write about what has happened to you and begin to explore your own part in this toxic tango. Why you overlooked the red flags? What part of your childhood set you up for this?  This is the silver lining to this very dark cloud.

So now, you have to rebuild yourself after two years of gaslighting and abuse. You need to self-care like a boss. Exercise, nutrition, no recreationals/booze, an inner practice like mindfulness, possibly therapy if you can afford it, surround yourself with GOOD people and educate yourself about codependency.

You feel godawful right now, but I promise you that you will recover and become a much better person as a result of this work. We are here with you, all the way.
It gets better. It has to.

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tvda

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2021, 06:16:05 AM »
Thanks, HappyToBeFree and BoatBabe. Your replies mean a lot to me.

HappyToBeFree, you wrote:
Quote
My suggestion is to block every avenue of communication.
Well... As the discard was totally brutal I don't expect to hear from her ever again. In my anger I contacted a few mutual acquaintances and told them I know what she's up to (specifically with the new guy) so I don't think she'll ever go through the effort of reaching out again, as it's evident she will need to explain a lot...

Either way, I needed to make a choice, three weeks ago, right after the final discard, between erasing her contact info, or blocking her. When you block someone you need to keep their number to specify which number to block. And you can then unblock it again. Since my biggest "risk" was me reaching out to her, and not the other way around, I decided to erase her info, so I can't reach her anymore...

BoatBabe, can I ask you a question? Where in my story do you see gaslighting? I see a lot of manipulation - clearly - and I felt this in my gut as well... But gaslighting I can't really see where that happened... So I'm a bit confused about this...

Well... Two weeks and a half into NC. It's not easy. But I'm surviving. Emotions all over the place, mostly from anger to sadness and emptiness, and then back again...

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JollyJazz

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2021, 07:07:35 AM »
Hi tvda,

I'm so sorry to hear about what you've been through. You aren't alone so many of us have also been there.

And here's the thing. You're analysis is spot on. But please don't beat yourself up for being 'tricked' so much of why we end up in these situations is from deep subconscious emotional things from childhood. Sometimes we can even intellectually be noticing things but the power of the subconscious mind is so great. But the good news is we can change this  :) it takes time and effort but its sounds like you're already doing some great analysis.

It is super helpful to go through something like that. I'm so sorry to hear about what you've been through. Hope you can get in some lovely self care and healing. Best wishes

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Boat Babe

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2021, 07:20:03 AM »
Sorry, I may have presumed gaslighting given the lies. Not sure where the dividing line is. Thanks for pointing that out.
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tvda

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Re: 25 red flags... My story. Long read.
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2021, 08:19:46 AM »
Quote
Sorry, I may have presumed gaslighting given the lies. Not sure where the dividing line is. Thanks for pointing that out.

Hi BoatBabe, no don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there was no gaslighting. Quite the opposite, I presume actually. I just have a hard time pointing it out, so I'm really looking for someone who can sort of tell me where this was happening - even though that's hard, going from just my story.