I still sleuth, play detective, checking up on my soon-to-be-ex-husband. This is important, because I still live under the same roof with him, and thus, his activities still have the potential to impact me.
It’s not that I like it. It’s not that I’m jealous. It’s not that I’m spiteful or vengeful. It’s not like I’m looking for dirt or entertainment or drama. Or anything else, for that matter. Only self-protection.
Because he tells me absolutely nothing. Acquaintances get more personal with each other than we do.
I found it interesting enough to raise my eyebrows when I learned that he’d created accounts on several dating sites. We’re not even divorced yet, and already, he’s hunting for another.
Am I scorned? No. Butthurt? No. Possessive? No. Defensive? Still no. None of those. Merely mildly amused, is all.
Because he is someone who showed absolutely no interest in interacting, sharing, communicating, engaging, being affectionate and loving, or any of that. He’d been secretive, detached, apathetic, and at times deceptive. He had withdrawn from me, in stages, over the years, starting just after the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship.
On the other hand, I am all of those things – interactive, communicative, engaging, affectionate, and loving. I’m also caring, open, honest, approachable, and transparent. I have nothing to hide from–and everything to share with–a life partner.
He’d shown no interest in having a relationship with me (beyond the first phase, of course, when he’d pursued me fairly energetically, putting forth full effort), despite the fact that I’m one of the easiest people to have a relationship with. I have near-endless patience, open-mindedness, tolerance, and so on.
So, why is he on several dating sites, with a detailed profile, attempting to showcase his best face? Perhaps he’s looking for a younger model; that’s not uncommon, and his target age range is 9-15 years younger than he is, which puts them just-before-through-right-about the time of the universal midlife crisis.
He says he’s not interested in wealth or status. Yet, my parents have begun to remark frequently in recent months (and maybe years) that they felt as though he’d treated them like a “bank”, requesting money, or asking me to do so on his behalf, whenever he’d gotten himself in a financial pinch (again).
Most interesting is his description of what he’s looking for in a mate. He used words like “shy”, “quiet”, even “mousey”. He also desires someone who is “conservative”, labeling himself as “old-fashioned”. In short, he wants to partner with someone who is relatively passive, maybe even codependent–someone who will not question him, challenge him, or attempt to call him out. He wants someone he can more easily control.
I’ve never been any of those things (well, other than codependent). I have always spoken my mind (most of the time), and I’ve not been shy with my opinions. Perhaps a bit too diplomatic when I shouldn’t have been, but definitely not the meek mouse he’s looking for.
I wondered, then, why he chose me, way back when? Why did he show the first interest in me 20 years ago, and why, upon realizing that I was a relatively bold, semi-wild, flamboyance-prone, even a tinge rebellious, did he pursue me relatively aggressively?
Probably because most of the others on the (now-defunct) site on which we met wouldn’t give him the time of day. He’d gone out on a few dates here and there, but the relationships never progressed beyond that point. Meanwhile, I’d just left an abusive relationship and was pathologically patient, with lower-bar standards; I would’ve accepted just about anybody, so long as they were different from my ex.
Turns out that he ignored his own ideals, decided not to keep looking, and decided to “settle” for me like I’d settled for him.
And 20 years later, here we are.
His profile resembles the one he’d written up back when he and I met, using the same stories and descriptions of personal qualities, with hints of boasting – the references to law enforcement (he uses his “background” and “training” to justify why he’s not very outgoing), and now his current post-doctoral status.
Here, he is setting the stage, masking up, softening suspicions and lowering your guard by assuring you that he is a stand-up individual. A professional with a rep to protect, an intelligent and self-made man, as well as an upstanding citizen with the right dose of street cred – all in one package. He attempts to exude maturity and experience, a father-like caretaker. Because cops never break laws and post-doctoral professionals never make mistakes, right?
His bio has a transactional feel; “this is who I am, this is what I want, now you adjust to me”.
In a way, I understand that logic. It is indeed simple and straightforward…kind of (it’s not exactly the whole truth; there is plenty that remains hidden, many dark layers). The online world isn’t exactly the most intimate setting, distanced even more these days by COVID. And with so many prone to playing coy and talking around real issues, a blunt, straightforward message may serve as a breath of fresh air.
However, it’s all in how you say and do it. The devil is in the details, always.
His bio is curious, dear ones. In one breath, he’s bragging, describing himself as “distinguished and trusted professional”, and in the next, he’s joking around, trying to soften the egotistical impression. Then he says he wants a “homebody”, a wholesome sweet, caring person. He uses “I” and “my” a little too frequently; it’s all about him, after all.
If you’re not paying attention, actively watching for it, you’ll probably miss it.
He has reached out to several people, and statistically, only about one-third of them respond. Maybe his low response rate has something to do with how he reaches out. “Greetings!”, he says. Not “hi!” or “hey there!” or “good morning!”.
This is a telling sign, dear ones, at least to me. It signals a certain avoidance or distance, the desire to not bond or interact. “Greetings”, even with an exclamation point behind it, is incredibly impersonal. Most people just don’t talk that way.
Psychopaths come off as very peculiar, but they use words from the same language we do, which disguises them easily.
So, we have “Greetings!”. Followed immediately by a humor-covered cheap shot at the girl’s surgical scar or tall height (as literally the first statement he made), or a compliment on her “white skin”, because “I just don’t see that a lot around here, and it’s quite refreshing”, or perhaps a half-handed superficial compliment on an animal costume they wore, or a full-force compliment (“you’re a knock-out!” – especially when the profile picture clearly depicts otherwise), or maybe even a reference to conspiracy theory material or a crude joke that crosses the line a little too far a little too early on (despite claiming to “deplore crudeness” in his bio).
Many pathological narcissists/psychopaths will end up contradicting themselves at some point. Watch for this, dear ones, because it’s a redder flag than it looks at first, especially when you’re attempting to be optimistic and open. The crude-not-crude example above illustrates how camouflaged this can be.
Also watch for racism, as many (but not all!) psychopaths/narcissist are racist, misogynistic (they actually, secretly want a “little woman” who will dote on their every need and question nothing), or superficial (it’s all about the looks, including–and especially–height and weight).
And never forget the data collection. Pathological narcissists and psychopaths are always collecting data on their targets. They never stop, until they’re satisfied that they have what they need in order to control, manipulate, exploit, or injure (psychologically, financially, or otherwise) later. They need an arsenal of weapons.
How they will accomplish this is to ask you, seemingly-innocuously enough, to “talk to me. Tell me more about you…Just unleash on me.” This makes the target feel important, significant, heard, listened to, and validated (oh wow, someone is actually interested in me!), and the “right” one will perceive that as welcome and pleasant, and it stimulates an endorphin rush. The target will take the bait and fall right into the trap.
Should the interaction proceed past that landmine and progress into a phone call, the conversations are “marathon chats”, per his words, after which he openly mentions “stalking” their social media profiles. While it’s not uncommon to check up on someone you just met to see what they’re really about, especially if you’re starting to think there may be a spark brewing, actually calling it stalking is a little creepy. And then he gets a little too personal a little too quickly, going to far as to insinuate that the girl he’s talking to might actually have a neurological condition (such as the autism spectrum) within the first few messages.
While none of these elements may be considered ominous on their own (except maybe the covert racism or trying to play armchair psychiatrist), there’s a certain uneasy picture that begins to form that gives off an equally-uneasy vibe.
Thank goodness not all psychopaths are masters of charisma; those who are shying away may just be saving themselves the decades of misery that I went through! ❤