I used to adhere to a misguided belief that men would, for the most part, treat me well and value me as a human being. I know, hilarious. By the time I was 24 I had only ever had one pseudo-boyfriend-like situation and he doesn’t really count any more than a package of Runts counts as a basket of fruit.
By the time I got around to dating again– this time a Much Older Man— I thought I’d learned a thing or two about cheating and abuse and liars. But I was really just getting started. We dated for 11 months, the last 10 months of which were pretty much hell. Months after I ended it I still couldn’t fully admit that my ex boyfriend was stalking me… until a police officer told me it was the worst case of stalking and harassment she had seen in her career.
I hate that I went through this, but I’m pretty sure it was so I could share the following tips:
Red Flag#1. Paranoia and Delusions of Grandeur:
My ex was a former Green Beret and believed the government was continuing to track him even though he was retired. He got to the point where he didn’t want to take me out in public because he thought we were being photographed and followed. Or maybe it was just because he was afraid his girlfriend OF TEN YEARS (that I didn’t know existed…) might see us.
Red Flag#2: Jealousy
If he constantly tells you to put on more clothing or tries to hide you away because every other man on the face of the planet wants to sleep with you, that is not normal. A fair amount of the other men on the face of the planet are gay and do not want to sleep with you. And a lot of the straight one’s don’t either. You’re not their type.
Red Flag #3: IF YOU WORK IN A PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL – DO NOT DATE YOUR COWORKERS:
I’m not going to elaborate, I already told you I make stupid decisions.
Red Flag #4: He Knows Way Too Much About You:
Keep your facebook profile private, otherwise the weirdys of this world will download EVERY photo of you, research them, and use this to fabricate fake common interests. “Oh– I love Laos!” they’ll say, and “Katy Perry is so awesome!” (okay that second one didn’t happen. But it COULD have, because guilty pleasures).
Once you’re actually in the thick of a relationship, there are a few things to watch out for:
Warning Sign #1: He mentions something about being a sociopath (this is a bad sign).
Warning Sign #2: He tells you that hurting people is his only skill and that God put him on the earth so he could join the Army and kill people (that is also a bad sign).
Warning Sign #3: He keeps photos of people he killed in a war (because that is cause for concern).
Warning Sign #4: He goes into long passionate rants about the harm he will inflict upon some guy you barely know at work and mentions the use of a tire iron or baseball bat (not healthy behavior).
Warning Sign #5: He disappears for a day or so then comes back with various wounds and tells you not to worry but that he can’t explain (this is actually a really good reason to worry).
Warning Sign #6: You’re not able to go out with your friends for a happy hour without him screaming into your voicemail about all the infidelity you are committing (at this point you might want to reconsider your choice of partner).
Warning Sign #7: He expects you to leave your family in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner because he “loves” you and “you’re beautiful” and he “has to see you” (none of that is really true, he is just a worthless piece of shite. Except actually you are beautiful, that part is true. But he’s still shite).
If you’re not quite sure if he’s gone nuts, ask yourself the following questions:
* Have you begun to hear salacious rumors about yourself that include peculiar twistings of truths that only he knows about?
*Did he tell you that if you betray him (broadly defined) he will kill you and he won’t feel bad about it because you would be his enemy, and he kills all his enemies?
*Has he told you that your body and/or sex appeal has rendered him helpless, he is now your slave, and then gotten down on his knees and worshiped you?
Don’t Forget– he does this to himself:
If he wants to drink a bottle of whiskey, swallow a handful of sleeping pills and then watch Pulp Fiction ten times in a row then that’s not your problem.
If he claims to be tortured by Demons that demand he hurt someone before they will leave him alone, that’s not your responsibility to fix. What you need to fix is the lack of distance between your face and his fists.
Remember, when you finally come to your senses and stop thinking it’s your duty to sacrifice your happiness on the altar of his narcissism, then goodbye is goodbye. This means he is not allowed to:
1. Keep texting you everyday. Particularly if the texts are just narrative descriptions of things he is watching you do even though you don’t realize he is there.
2. Accuse you of being a whore, a seductress or some psychological manifestation of his issues. He’s a big boy, and he’s probably sexting another woman when he’s not sending you suicidal threats.
3. Show up at your house in a drunken rage because it’s Valentine’s Day and he’s lonely and thinks you are sleeping with every other man on the face of the planet even though you are at a sad Girls-Night-In watching Sense & Sensibility and eating cake balls.
4. Wait in your parking lot at work so he can ask if you’re happy/sleeping with anyone/“why exactly” it was you broke up with him, for the thousandth time.
5. Sneak into your building at the end of the day and pace outside your office door when no one else is around to hear you scream.
6. Follow you around town as you run errands.
7. Chase you around a supermarket insisting that your paths are meant to cross and then accusing you of betraying him and telling people about the fact that he is a crazy mother-effer (my attorney’s words, not mine).
If any of these things happen, you have to stand up for yourself. I explored several alternative responses that were not as effective, like:
1. Binging on Netflix and watching every episode of Weeds while eating a lot of frozen pizza and drinking wine from the bottle.
2. Being filled with self-loathing for having been so stupid in the first place.
3. Assuming it will go away on it’s own.
This is almost always NOT the case. Men like this tend to escalate and feed off the rush of power it gives them to control and terrorize, and it’s much easier for us to pretend like everything is okay or on the up and up. Unfortunately this is not the end of my story and it only continued to get worse from here.
Ladies— hear my words and learn from my missteps.
Men Folk — Don’t let the women in your life end up with a guy like this.
And if they do, get your tire iron out.
Do you have your own stalker story? What warning signs have YOU identified?
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