Dating a monster: Mum who’s lived through seven years of hell after her ‘fairytale relationship’ with a ‘charming and successful man’ took a terrifying turn warns of the red flags she missed
- A mum has revealed how she became ‘trapped’ by a narcissist in her own home
- She said she was lured in by the man who offered a ‘fairytale romance’ early on
- It wasn’t until they became engaged at six months that he started his abuse
- She then realised the red flags she had missed early on but couldn’t leave him
- The relationship lasted three years, ending after she has her first child
- She is still suffering though as the man is still in her life and brings her down
A young mum has revealed how she was left with crippling self-doubt and anxiety after a three-year relationship with a narcissist who used her vulnerabilities against her at every turn.
Sarah*, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she missed the red flags and ‘ignored her gut’ after being swept up by wild romantic gestures.
By the time she realised she had been trapped in a toxic relationship she didn’t know how to escape and was too ’emotionally involved to break up properly’.
A young mum has revealed how she was left with crippling self-doubt and anxiety after a three-year relationship with a narcissist who used her vulnerabilities against her at every turn
‘He would cry and I would remember how much he had to sacrifice to be with me and I would let him stay,’ she told FEMAIL.
It wasn’t until her first child was born she knew she had to get out for good.
‘I just knew I had to protect my baby from this monster,’ she said.
The young woman was 24 when she briefly met her now ex at a party, they connected on Facebook where they would ‘talk occasionally’.
‘He had a girlfriend at the time, it wasn’t anything romantic we would just say hello every now and then, touch base,’ she said.
Then six months later she was bombarded by messages where the man said he had broken up with his partner and wanted to be with her.
‘He fed me compliments and was really nice. He was this good-looking, lovely, successful man. He had a nice car, he was well-spoken and he adored me,’ she said.
‘It was a dream come true for a 25-year-old girl.’
Within weeks of messaging each other the man decided he desperately needed to see Sarah so ‘flew her to paradise’ for a luxury 30-hour vacation.
‘When he suggested it I told him no. I couldn’t afford it and it was too much,’ she said.
What are the red flags you need to watch for to avoid a narcissist?
1- Hard and fast communication – you don’t know them properly but they keep pushing to move things along – there is a level of lust confused as love here. Relationships need to be built over time – this is the biggest red flag.
2- Not taking no for an answer – they do it in a way that encourages to say yes. Over step boundaries slowly, by the end you have no boundaries left.
3- I would look at their social circle – do they have a good relationship and healthy social life? If the don’t have anyone outside the relationship you need to be worried instead of feeling bad for them.
4- Cruel fights – the little subconscious digs during arguments that have you questioning yourself – how you look or think or your family’s love for you. A fight about the laundry should never have you spiraling about how you drive or your weight.
5- How they treat people who are ‘just passing through’ their lives – like the elderly man, waiters, the rubbish. Little things that don’t sit well with you and that are shrugged off when mentioned.
‘He insisted it would be an amazing first date and that he liked me and wanted our first date to be memorable so he bought me tickets and sent them to my inbox. I wish I knew about love bombing then and could see how he manipulated me into saying yes.’
Looking back now Sarah realises this was the first of major red flags – his effortless ability to change a no into a yes without her feeling pressured.
‘If someone dropped tickets into my inbox now I would be mortally offended, I can pay my own way and have always stood by that, but I was caught in the moment,’ she admits.
‘It should have been a red flag that he was using money, at that time his only power, to make me do what he wanted.’
After the whirlwind trip the man decided he would change his tickets to fly back to Sarah’s city where they could keep getting to know each other.
‘I thought, oh my goodness, how romantic is this. He has changed all of his plans just to be with me. He must be my soul mate, this is destiny.’
A week later Sarah drove him to the airport where he went home to his normal life.
She says she felt a wave of relief wash over her because she finally had her own life back after a few weeks of chaos and wouldn’t have to share her space.
The mum hopes to use her voice to help other women avoid ‘seven years of hell’
‘This should have been another big red flag for me, but I didn’t know better, so I just ignored it.’
Weeks later the man revealed he was selling his house and moving to be closer to her because he ‘couldn’t bear being apart’.
Four months after their first date he rocked up on her doorstep with a single suitcase and ‘promised to find his own place’, but never left.
‘He would complain that everything was too far away from me or not to his style,’ she said. ‘I felt bad for him because he had uprooted his whole life for me so I invited him to stay with me. After all we were in love.’
Two months later he proposed and despite an awful gut feeling which told Sarah it was ‘too soon’ she said yes.
‘He got down on his knee in front of a whole lot of people after taking me on a holiday and I was too embarrassed to say no, I didn’t want to upset him,’ she said.
After the engagement party her partner’s shine started to wear off and she began to see ‘the real him’.
‘I remember one day he pulled up next to an elderly man at the traffic lights and just started abusing him, saying terrible, ageist stuff.
‘That was so alarming for me and when I brought it up he shrugged it off. I remember thinking his reaction scared me, it just wasn’t normal. The old man hadn’t done anything wrong.’
This behaviour toward transient people, those who would likely never see the couple again, continued.
‘He would throw rubbish under his car instead of walking ten metres to the bin because it ‘wasn’t his problem’. ‘But these are small things so you don’t notice their true impact at the time,’ she said.
Then he started to take swipes at Sarah, using her vulnerabilities to attack her in subtle ways everyday.
‘By this time he knew enough about me to know what would hurt the most.’
‘We would be having a normal couple argument about the dishes and he would weave in that I was getting fat or had bad teeth or a sh*t personality or that I wasn’t good at my job.
‘He would tell me my family and friends didn’t like me. And these little swipes would bruise. They would stay with me long after the fight had ended.’
STOCK IMAGE: Sarah said her ex-partner moved quickly and ‘swept her off her feet’ before slowly making her believe she needed him to survive
Sarah said when she spoke about the fights with her family they didn’t understand why she was so upset because she was unable to articulate what had happened.
‘They would be confused because I was devastated after a fight about the laundry,’ she said.
‘But it wasn’t about the laundry. It was about the self doubt and the hours wondering if I should work harder at the gym or get my teeth fixed to keep this man happy.
‘I wish I had known that fights that end with you picking apart yourself about your appearance or personality instead of thinking about the issue you were fighting about was a huge red flag.’
Sarah wanted to end the relationship but the man had became planted in her life, was living rent-free in her apartment and would cry every time she made him leave.
‘To hear a man cry is awful, I would end up being so upset and tell him that I loved him and that he could stay because we would work it out.’
Another red flag appeared after Sarah spoke to her family and friends about her partner and his hurtful, manipulative behaviour.
‘Narcissists hate to be seen, so when he realised I had complained about him he berated me about talking behind his back and destroying his image,’ she said.
‘He decided he didn’t like them any more and would avoid being near them. He would tell me they were no good or that they were fake and didn’t love me.’
This lead to her becoming disconnected from her nearest and dearest.
‘It is exactly what he wanted because then I lost my support system,’ she said. It would hurt my brain to relay fight no one could fully understand the depth of my sadness frustration.’
When Sarah became pregnant she was thrilled but confused after her gut instinct was to leave her partner to protect the baby.
She realised then that she had been ignoring too many red flags and was in trouble.
The man who told her he loved her and once spent hours telling her she was wonderful and buying her lavish gifts now pushed her around.
His nice words became criticisms, he was detached emotionally, got physical and would abuse her financially.
‘I knew he wouldn’t do anything in front of anyone because his fear was that his charismatic persona and charming false face would be seen through.
‘So I made sure I had someone with me when I kicked him out the final time. And every time I spoke to him or he picked things up after that I made sure I wasn’t alone.’
That made all the difference.
‘He smiled, said okay, and gave me back my keys. There were no crocodile tears or drama,’ she said.
Now four years on her child is ‘older than the relationship’ which went for three years.
But her ex still has ‘his claws in her’ she claims that he ‘refuses to let go’.
‘He has been dragging things through court in slow motion so that he can have an excuse to communicate with me. Because of this the trauma won’t stop. Not only that but it is a fresh wound every time. Every email he sends calling me stupid or a bad mother or ugly,’ she said.
‘It has been seven years of absolute hell.’
Sarah would love to take it all back, to scream at her younger self to see the early red flags but for one thing – her child.
‘If I take it all back then I wouldn’t have my baby. So instead I want other women to know the signs so they can avoid being trapped like I was. Like I am.’
Sarah says people who are living with a narcissist and are struggling with being able to escape should make sure they do everything in company.
She says their nature makes it impossible for them to be awful in company because their power relies on them being seen as the hero and their victim as crazy.
‘It was such a relief being able to open up to my loved ones about everything. When I finally left they were all on my side because the veil had been lifted.
‘The scariest thing about this abuse is that there are few outward signs. If a man punched you in the face you would have a black eye and your friends would demand that you leave.
‘Narcissist’s are clever because they leave bigger bruises but they are all on the inside.’
‘The more I know about this personality disorder the more makes sense. They move fast so that when they slip up and show themselves it is too late.’
Women experiencing domestic violence can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Men can call Mensline on 1300 789 978.
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