Good afternoon everyone!
I am looking for some advice, so all thoughts welcome!
I am in my mid-40s and met a lady of a similar age online 3 weeks ago, and we started talking on the phone almost immediately - we got on pretty well, had a good chat. I left it a couple of days before calling again - she didn't answer the call, but I got a text saying she wasn't up for playing games, that she has two kids, works full time, doesn't have a lot of time or money and as long as I understood that we could keep talking. I replied that I liked her and wanted to see where things go, so we carried on talking.
We met up a few days later, and I was blown away - I got the feeling her first impression wasn't as enthusiastic, but we agreed to a second date a few days later. The next date went really well - so well, she stayed the night at mine (we didn't have s*x)- and then came back the following night (it was her kids weekend with their father)... Over the course of the weekend, she opened up a little about her financial situation and said things were pretty tight for her, mainly because she had been stressing that her mobile bill was due and she might be "cut off" which worried her - so I paid the bill for her (it wasn't a lot and I can afford it)... anyway, she went home on the Sunday and a little later called me to say she'd had a lovely weekend, but her financial situation is pretty tight and she worries she cant give me what I want (she cant afford holidays, to go out anywhere nice etc) - I reassured her that isn't an issue to me, but she went on to tell me her mobile is in her ex's name, he owns the car she drives and house she lives in and she cant afford to move out or get her own car as she cant get credit etc.
Anyway - we met up again last Friday, had a lovely evening but something was up - she told me over the course of the evening that she owes her ex some money and had refused to pay him back so he cut her phone off... I think I get why, but she was very upset.
Yesterday, she called me from her Daughters phone as she was worried I'd "fall out with her" if she didn't call me...
Today, she has called me from work but is now worried her ex is going to take her car back as it runs out the amount she owes him is over £2,000...
I asked her why he would take the car back, and she admitted that before coming on-line and meeting me, she had been talking to her ex about reconciling, which is why he had lent her the money...
So - my questions are:
1. Have I moved too fast in getting this involved?
2. Should I have paid her phone bill ( I was trying to be nice - it wasn't a lot of money to me and I really like this girl)
3. I have a sense there is more to the story with the ex than she is letting on - am I being over-thinky in wondering why when they separated a year ago she still needs his phone, car, house and to borrow money?
4. As she has moved pretty quickly and seems desperate to please me, is this "real" or am I some kind of "distraction" or worse, "walking ATM" (I worry about the ATM bit as she is clearly not financially independent...)
Any thoughts / advice etc. would be greatly appreciated!
It reads to me that a significant part of her motivation in being involved with you is to get financial help from you. It might be all of her motivation, I don't know. It is possible that her involvement with you is a cold hearted project on her part, that she... started you with a small phone bill and I proceeding, as planned, to asking for bigger bills, more money. Sort of hook you, start small and increase.
It is possible that she is not completely cold hearted but yet, her financial motivation is a big and pressing part of her motivation. Being as desperate (if not cold hearted) as she appears to be, reads to me that the cost of you having a relationship with her is to give her money. And more of it. Then some more.
It is possible that she is meeting with other men, for the same purpose. It is possible that her involvement with her ex husband is motivated by the same.
And it is possible that any part of what she tells you at any time is not true.
I think that she is in the main a very genuine and caring person - we get on brilliantly and enjoy each others company.
I do however take your point - it does strike me as odd that she would mention her financial situation so early, and whilst I was happy to pay the phone bill as she seemed very stressed about it, I have subsequently wondered if that was the right "gesture"...
There are some alarm bells ringing as you also rightly say about how financially reliant she is on her ex - but also around how "involved" they still are that he has cancelled her 'phone after lending her quite so much money.
I wonder if I have moved to fast and not really analysed the "truth" of her situation before over commiting...
Hello again, Superfrank8:
Reality, of course, will reveal itself. I hope you are not too emotionally invested at that point to see it for what it is. What happens to intelligent people is that they invest so much time and money into a cause, that it sort of makes sense (in a no-sense way)to continue to invest.
Notice, she may be "a very genuine and caring person" but also financially and otherwise dysfunctional as well as being partly motivated to get money out of you.
Often human motivation is not as clear as this OR that, but both.
What would happen, I wonder, if you tell her of this very concern of yours, the one you shared here. What do you think... if you told her how you feel about her and your concerns, just as you shared here?
I do wonder the same thing - I am however somewhat scared I would lose her, as I feel a very string connection with her and have been alone for a long time...
Keep your eyes open. Don't close your eyes because of that "very strong connection with her" that you feel. I think keeping one's eyes open is the way to go in any relationship and in life otherwise. See what there is to see.
Let's say you see that she genuinely likes you and that she also wants you to give her money time and time again. Maybe you will see that she will not be in any relationship with you unless you give her money. Will that be okay with you? It may be okay with you, and you may afford the arrangement and choose to continue. So continue, but keep your eyes open, know what you are doing, know what is going on.
What will hurt you would be closing your eyes, assuming but not knowing, wishing and hoping for what is not true.
Trust your gut on this one.
If she starts to talk about money change the subject or say”That’s too bad. How are you going to handle that?”
She will soon get the hint that your wallet is not open, at least not this soon.
My advice is just run. Anyone who starts moaning about money problems five minutes after meeting you is suspicious. This is how date site scammers operate. You say you're scared you'll lose her, and believe me, that's exactly how she wants you to feel. Keep your wallet in your pocket and see how long she sticks around. You're being taken for a ride, seriously. Sorry for the horrid heads up, but decent people do not borrow or sponge money from people straight up. They just don't.
I am wary - I am careful with my money, so am a little concerned about her situation - to be honest, I have scaled back what we do when we meet up (this weekend, for example, I have planned for us to go for a walk in a country park and she has offered to cook and us to have dinner / watch a movie at mine)so I am not spending a lot - mainly because I don't want her to feel like I am paying for everything.
I think if I stick like this and don't offer money (for example, I didn't offer her a phone after her ex terminated her contract - she wont explain why he did that suddenly after a year, which seems odd)then we will see. I do think that as she has already told me things are tight (which I don't get for a grown woman with a full time job and an ex who pays for her house and car)then she might just be in a difficult position.
We get on brilliantly, the s** is amazing and she is very keen to spend time with me - so I am a bit worried its all going very fast (we've only known each other since the 25th March and first met 2 April...)
You are welcome. Seventeen days of a relationship then, very new. Get to know her, listen to what she says. Take on the task of getting to know her. She may manage her money poorly. She may be planning to ask you for more. She may not. I don't know. I don't know what she wants, what motivates her. And that is okay for me to not know.
But you should know, so.. get to know what she wants, what motivates her in her beginning relationship with you. I hope you post again, with updates.
It is very new - we started talking on 25th of March, but feels like we have known each other a very long time.
Her financial situation concerns me a little, but that shouldn't ruin things - what worries me more is her financial dependence on her ex still after 12 months +... I may be overthinking, but she still lives in a house they jointly own, drives a car he provides and even had her phone in his name... she tells me they talk a lot but it is always arguing, but even that makes me think there are unresolved issues there that she may not have addressed (not just financially)
She also told me her children are her priority, but she seems able to see me much more frequently than she initially indicated - should this be a worry?
Reads to me that you feel emotionally attached to her and you worry that she is still emotionally attached to her ex husband, am I correct?
Regarding your last line, are you worried that she does not have her children as her priority or is it something else that worries you (last line)?
Yes - I feel emotionally invested (perhaps even a little attached) already, which is very quick I know - and I am not normally the type to do that, which is a nice but scary feeling - I am a bit carried away, I know, but at my age and with few responsibilities (my children are away at college) I feel ok with that.
I hadn't thought of it in terms of an emotional connection with her ex, but I guess that if she is so financially tied after over a year then perhaps there is more to it, especially as she regularly tells me that she doesn't understand why she is always so angry with him - her own words "no-one else has ever created such a fire in me"... I may be overthinking that, but personally I always think it is impossible to be angry at people you don't care about or for reasons you don't care about. I think there is more emotion than she lets on for sure.
With regards to the last line - when we first started speaking, she was very clear that she works full time, the childrens father works out of country all week, so has the children every other weekend and therefore she could only see me every other weekend as they are her priority and she has limited family support to have the kids during the week etc. I was fine with that, but when we first met I said that I would like to see her more often, but would see how things went and go from there. Following this, she has been able to see me on 3 separate week nights and a Friday night, having left her children with their grandfather. this worries me a little, as I think she is prioritising me over her children, which whilst it is flattering I fear may impact them (they are 8 and 11)- it stikes me that as we only met 3 weeks ago, this is already a big investment of time in me and contra-indicative of her prioty in the kids.
Apologies for the essay, but I think the more information I share the more people can help.
I read your recent post and the ones preceding it. A summary: soon after you started talking with her she texted you that "she wasn't up for playing games, that she has two kids, works full time, doesn't have a lot of time or money", she wanted you to understand this, she indicated to you. Second date she stayed the night in your place, returned the following night. She told you that first weekend with you that her financial situation was tight. You paid a mobile phone bill for her. Later she called you and told you that she is worried that she can't give you what you want because of her tight financial situation: holidays, entertainment. She also told you that her mobile phone is on her ex husband's name, that her car is owned by him and that she can't get credit and therefore cannot own a car or afford to move out.
A week later or so, on a date, she told you that she owes her ex money, refused to pay him back, and he cut off her phone. Later she told you that she is worried that her ex was going to take her car back because she owes him money.
She also shared with you that before she made herself available to date online, she talked to her ex about reconciling, which is why he lent her that money she now owes him.
She told you that she and her ex argue a lot and that "no-one else has ever created such a fire in me".
My understanding, at this point: she doesn't read to me at all like a cold hearted manipulator, one after your money and going about a plan to separate you from your money. She reads to me like an overwhelmed, stressed out mother of two who is working full time, argues a lot with the ex, depends on him financially because of some poor financial management on her part, I am guessing. This poor financial management causes her distress and results from her distress otherwise. She is, again, overwhelmed.
Reads to me that she likes you, finds comfort in your company and that is why she has seen you as often as she did lately. She needs to relax and she finds relaxation with you.
I don't think she is planning anything much, that she is somewhat drowning in distress. I suppose your concern for her children's well being is valid because having a distressed, overwhelmed mother is not a good thing for children.
I don't thing she is planning on separating me from my money, I just think that there are some concerns about her motives - or at lest how ready she is for a relationship.
I find it odd to have told me she cant spend much time with me because of her kids, then suddenly she is able to find time.
I don't know why she is so reliant on her ex - that says to me that she has used him (or that he is way too nice, or has tried to financially control her) but I don't know enough about it. All I know is that when my ex and I separated, we were not still arguing over a year later, I didn't rely on her financially (or she I, despite some poor decisions on her part)
I agree she finds relaxtion with me - but again, is this just a distraction from issues she wont resolve? What happens when the issues don't go away and the relaxtion is not enough?
I am very cautious having met a lady before this one who was very similar and after a few months of me paying for everything decided to go back to her ex, whom she had all the same issues with as this one.
I do very much worry about her children - we were together from Friday noght until this morning, and she only spoke to her children for maybe 15 minutes all weekend - this worries me most.
Sir, your best bet is to counter act this behavior.
When she asks for money just say "I really don't have that type of money" but offer other solutions. Offer über and rental cars, even car pooling. Don't immediantly pay for things for her, if she's afraid of her husband tell her to go get an apartment and room with someone. And if she really worried for her life let her sleep on your couch. Inform police if anything gets violent.
And it's okay that you offered to pay the bill, your a good hearted guy who just wanted to help someone in need. But invest time into her before money. Take her to cheaper dates like the park and to a lake of beach for a picnic, just go sightseeing, do simple and inexpensive things and see how she responds. You don't want to become the sugar daddy. If she really likes you she'll enjoy these things just as much as a fancy date.
Hello again, Superfrank8:
Her children are 8 and 11. She stayed with you Friday night through Monday morning, three separate week nights before that, and in all that time spent with you, her children stayed with their grandfather, correct?
She told you earlier that her children are her priority and that is why she couldn't spend more time with you. But then she did spend a lot of time with you.
You worry about her being a trustworthy person, whether she is trustworthy or not beyond the issue of money. Does she mean what she says and says what she means.
Yes, I see. I couldn't be in a relationship without this kind of trust. A person cannot be exact all the time, so some inconsistencies are understandable simply because we are not computers. But significant inconsistencies indicating either dishonesty and/or mental instability lead to a very valid concern, would if I was in your shoes.
I hope you get to know her more, keep your eyes open to see what is. I hope you post again with further understanding.
Hello Again Newlife 12345
Her children were with their father this past weekend (Friday to Sunday) - before that, they were with her father (their Grandfather) on two weekend nights that they were "with her" and on two week nights also now.
In 4 weeks, we have spent 4 nights together when her Children were with her father, and 4 nights when they were with their father - so roughly double the amount of time she said she was available.
She has also met me for dinner halfway between our homes on two other occasions when the children have been with her father (I pad on both occasions)
So yes, having said her children were her priority and she couldn't spend a lot of time with me as a result, she has then spent a lot of time with me over the last 4 weeks.
I have a couple of trust issues on the basis of the above, but also as I have said before I also question the nature of her relationship with her ex - for someone that constantly says he causes her stress and anger, she is very reliant on him and spends a lot of time talking to him - this weekend however, she mentioned they have not spoken in nearly a week and she wonders "what he's up to now" (as in she worries what he will do next after cancelling her phone and wanting to take her car back)...
I am now a little nervous that he isn't the bad guy she makes out - after lending her money etc, and provising the car etc, I wonder if she has remained emotionally involved or at worst has taken advantage of the fact he has, and has levereaged the children to get what she wants from him?
She seems very keen to spend time with me, to make herself available and spend time with me - but at the same time is reluctant to let me come to her home (she says it is in disrepair) and has all the money issues.
My gut says all is not as it seems, but Iam reluctant to push at this stage as, quite frankly, I have been aloe for a while and her company is great. However, I don't want to hurt or get hurt if below the superficial attraction we are not compatible in our values etc.
Notice this, in your original post you wrote: "she cant afford to move out or get her own car as she cant get credit etc." and that is why her ex owns the place where she lives, the car she drives and the mobile phone she uses.
Doesn't it mean (let me know if there is another possible explanation that I am not seeing at this moment) that her ex husband (they are divorced, correct?) has good credit, a good credit that makes it possible for him to own a home, a car and a mobile home? And doesn't it mean that her bad credit is based on her choices after their divorce?
If she made bad financial choices during their marriage, as his wife, his credit would be bad too. And so, she has made irresponsible financial choices as a divorced woman, leading her to rely on him, the responsible one?
I do wonder then, about her responsibility, or lack of, in other areas as well.
Four weeks and you have not visited or seen her house? That seems odd.
Sure she and husband are truely separated?
In any case, just enjoy and don’t get too involved- financially or emotionally.
Can you do that?
Hi NewLife 12345
Her ex (they were not married) does have a good job - however, she has told me now that she made bad decisions when they were together, which lead to him having to take a job away from home. There is over £40k of debt that she has (apparently joint loans he agreed to) and his job is at risk because she has run up firther debts, including mortgage arrears (she told me that she had been paying it form his maintenance payments, but she missed a couple and he is now not speaking to her as she has left him to pay these...) This strikes me as using behaviour and a blatant lack of respect for him and control of herself.
She is now concerned that if he loses his job (as a result of the situation she has created) she will lose her home and car... I'm a bit concerned that this should not be her immediate focus and she should be doing more to help him resolve the situation for the sake of their children?
There seems to me to be a lot of "its not my fault" with her...
I think I am already emotionally involved.
No - she tells me her house is in a poor state and she doesn't want me to see it, also she doesn't want someone to know where her kids live until she is sure about me... but she has spent a lot of time at my place.
Reads to me that at best you have gotten involved with a dysfunctional woman, one who is not financially responsible, for one.
With "a lot of 'its not my fault' with her", I suppose it is a matter of time before it is your fault.
Some men wouldn't mind any of this for as long as they have fun with the woman, but you seem to care about who the woman is, who is the woman you are spending time with. Is she a good mother or a neglectful one, one who is responsible or irresponsible and so forth. I like it that you care to know who she is.
I know - but I think this one will work out despite my reservations
"this one will work out", by this one you mean, this relationship, I understand. If so, I hope it does work out for you. And for her. Post again any time you'd like.
Yes, I mean this relationship.
So... this weekend she came over on Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, leaving her children with their grandfather again...
What is your concern specifically, regarding her spending the weekend with you again, leaving her children with their grandfather?
Is it a concern for the well being of her children being apart from her, a concern for her character (contradicting herself, perhaps not being honest), something else?
It is a question of her character (after all, she said initially they were her priority) and her contradicting herself - I also question her perspective, as she initially said that "quality time" with her children at weekends is important to her - coiming to me at 4PM on Saturday and leaving at 12 on Sunday doesn't leave a lot of "quality time" for her children.
It makes me question her motivitations.
She said her children are her priority yet she leaves them repeatedly with their grandfather so to spend time with you. Every time she chooses to spend a lot of time with you, her priority is indeed spending time with you, not with her children. That is clear.
When you wonder about her motivation, what do you mean (is it the financial thing?)
By wondering about motivation, I wonder what drives her in our relationship - we have only known each other 5 weeks, and alreadsy she is putting time with me ahead of time with her children.
She says she has them "all the time" (i.e. all week nights) but I know this is not entirely accurate as she collects them from childcare at 6PM as she has already referred to a "lack of quality time" with them during the week.
Also, we speak most evenings while her children are still awake.
I know I am again overthinking, but at the same time as a father myself (my children are grown and have left home)something feels "off" that she is spending so little time with her children during the week then giving up weekend time with them also - it makes me wonder if I am an "escape" from a reality she isn't dealing with (the money situation must be stressful, working full time, raising kids on her own etc.)
I think it is time to ask her what she meant when she told you early on that "she wasn't up for playing games"- what did she mean by games and what is it that she is up for?
After all, the two of you may have this in common, not being up to playing games, depending on what she meant by it.
I am unsure on asking her questions - she seems to avoid big topics.
I will think it over and address some of my concerns this weekend - we have a long weekend together (3 days) so I am sure we will cover some ground.
You wrote that she seems to avoid big topics. Most people perhaps avoid big topics because of the distress involved. So her avoiding big topics does not surprise me. To increase your chances of getting answers to what concerns you, ask perhaps in a gentle way, ask a small question that will feel easier for her to answer, less threatening. Looking forward to read more from you.
I think you have caught her in some lies. The fact that she has an excuse why you can't visit her at her home; "her house is in poor shape", doesn't want you to know where she actually lives, spends a lot of time at your home, should be RED FLAGS!! Maybe I missed this, have you guys had sex yet? I suggest you SLOW way way down. You're being manipulated and it seems you're willing to ignore this because the conversation is great.
I would not loan or give her any money. Demand to know where she lives, why she spends so little with her children, ask to see her Drivers License, in other words really find out who you're dealing with...Go with your gut..
If I were you I would not trust her, she's looking for money anywhere she can get it. Beware.
So - yes, we have had sex. The first time she came to see me for a "date" she stayed over (no sex) on the Friday night, then had to go home to feed her dogs but came back on the Saturday night until the Sunday evening, when he had sex for the first time - that ws 5 weeks ago now.
She hasn't asked fro money, but I do pay for most things when we are together.
She was at mine all weekend - arrived on Friday, went back this morning. She had to go home a couple of times to feed her dogs (as there was no-one else to look after them) but other than that we were together the whole weekend - and she is coming over again at the weekend.
I think you are right - there are some inconsistencies in what she tells me... notably, she doesn't call her children very often, maybe a couple of times a day for a couple of minutes?
I'm not sure it would be ok to demand to see where she lives or to see her driving licence, but I do see what you mean - the house thing is bugging me a little, as she practically lives at mine every other weekend and I don't know where she lives...
Wehave known each other 6 weeks and she is already very comfortable in my home, I like having her around but she doesn't "feel" like a girlfriend, if that makes sense - its almost as if she feels we have been together a very long time, which I am ok with but I feel that perhaps her expectation of where this will go is already quite advanced?
(Sorry to cut in, Skinnygirl.)
Good that you're conducting safety-checks. But not if you're going to refuse to take any warnings or advice on-board, or too slowly to prove useful.
I'm with Skinnygirl, Susiedqq and all those others whose polite warnings to run-run-run are falling on deaf ears. So here's both barrels:
Coercing and Rushing the Relationship (via emotional manipulation)
1. She agreed to start talking on the phone almost immediately (FYI, most ladies normally like to email for a week or two to ensure you're no axe murderer or just plain Odd'un).
2. The conversation was nice, but nevertheless, you behaved befittingly in deciding not to overdo it for so early in the Mere Daters game (Tick!). She responded to that appropriateness as if it were the opposite (Cross), including, coerced you into upping your ante by emotionally blackmailing you - basically 'if you leave it that long between calls, that makes you a game player, i.e. a PLAYER' (Giant Cross). Obviously the 'only way' to avoid this unflattering labelling as comes loaded with various other unwanted implications is to cease the so-called-by-her, negatively characteristic behaviour. Which, you do.
(They're good, aren't they, eh?)
These classic, textbook, Red Flag behaviours are called Rushing Intimacy/The Relationship and Coercive Control.
3. Also note that when you did make your phone-date follow-up call, she refused to pick up (why's that, then?), implying in that text message that you were to blame. What was so hard about, say, picking up and waiting for an opportune moment in the conversation to say something - something *encouraging*? For example, "By the way, don't think you have to follow protocol by spacing out your calls, if you don't want to. I feel we made a strong enough connection to forego that usual etiquette"? Instead you got RESENTFUL PETULANCE. Already, she's giving you consequences for infractions of her warped rules. (Puppy Training, anyone?)
Red Flags: False & Overblown Entitlement, Resentment, Punishing/Sulking ("Silent Treatment"
and Withholding, Blame-Shifting.
4. She told you she didn't have time for games, what with having 2 kids. She's gone to contradict this fully as a now-pervasive pattern.
(Pervasive Pattern is the key term in all of this, by the way.)
Red Flags: Lying and Using The Kids as Pawns (/Objects).
5. She didn't stop there. Despite it had NOTHING TO DO WITH RATE OF CONTACT, she managed, note, to slip in a violin piece about LACK OF MONEY. At the same time, she's setting conditions. And also Triangulating (bringing in the threat of a third party, this case her ex).
Red Flag: Inappropriately Premature Disclosure/Rushed Intimacy and Control Tactics and Triangulation (enough to test you out).
I'm only at the point of partway through your first post! It's not looking good, is it?
6. Haffink accepted ze (unreassonable) conditions ("Schnell-schnell, Swinehundt!), ze Fuhrer starts Love Bombing.
That shift smacks to me of having identified you as a workable Target. Already she's got you off-healthy-script and onto hers.
Red Flags: Love Bombing and Control/Imposing Her Own World View.
7. I don't care if you didn't have sex. The fact remains, that she, on whom the survival of her two 'gorgeous babies'' wholly relies, despite having only just met you and having no basis for putting hers and effectively their safety in your hands, decides the risk of you turning out to be some axe murderer is for some strange reason worth it. Do you see anything wrong with that? I do.
Here's a little tip for future reference: Any animal you first meet that isn't scared of you - be automatically scared of IT.
But anyway, staying over but not doing the necessaries is, Dangling The Carrot.
Red Flag: False Enticement/The Lure.
8. Now she overly prematurely opens up about her financial situ-... YOU'RE A STRANGER, FRANK, IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Why is it she wants it to be your business? Well, we find out soon enough, don't we...
Red Flag: The Set Up.
9. She LETS you - a perfect stranger - pay off one of - repeat, ONE OF - her debts. The debt you wouldn't ordinarily AND SHOULDN'T have known about. There is more than one way to ask or demand. She knows it; now so do you.
Red Flag: The Sting (Financial Exploitation Parte Un).
10. Next, she uses the cosy weekend as leverage, suggesting that the woman be Tarzan and the man, Jane, and, that she can't is somehow a problem worthy of mention. Really, it's just to pave the way for you to feel you'll have to be the one to foot the bill for absolutely everything or there won't be any dates. Again, there was no need to mention this. But it gave her the opportunity to once again get in the fact of Poor Wickle Financially Strapped Her.
If she thought the woman had to be minted or just solvent to date then what was debt-ridden she doing, going onto the dating market? (That's called a Gotcha.)
11. And she doesn't contain her 'warning' to just dating, either. She also slips in the seed of thought, called, HOLIDAYS. And another: MOVING OUT. (Moving out to move to where - your place? Watch that space....oh, wait, you already are...and my, isn't SHE acting like she lives there already! You're calling it, acting comfortable.) And - CAR.
Getting comfortable in your home when YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW FOR A FACT WHERE SHE LIVES! And nor can you contact her, she has to contact you!
How do you chase back a (cough!) loan if you can't contact the person nor have any idea where they live? (Are we thinking ahead yet?)
12. She immediately puts a dampener on the date, shows you why the bad atmosphere...the onus is then on you, IF you want the date to be a pleasant experience, to listen to her mention YET AGAIN how unfortunate, disadvantaged, AND IN NEED OF (mostly financial) RESCUE SHE IS.
She'd got your number spot-on, hadn't she, Mr Rescuer. And yet - not quite. Because you (Tick!) find yourself secretly empathising and agreeing with *his* course of action. Repeat: secretly, inwardly.
Red Flag: Self-Censoring.
Listen, if I took a personal loan off of someone in my social circle (which I wouldn't), it wouldn't be the person who had the power to cut off my communications lifeline aka phone ("uh-duh-uh-duh-uh-duuuh"
, not unless I knew for sure I could pay them back on-time and in full. Were I that sure - I'd expect a Yes from my bank. Same for you, I presume? There again, I wouldn't be asking my fresh ex to loan me money in the first place, not if he were perp to my victim like she's been so keen to make out. Be honest - as someone's victim, you'd rather stick needles in your eyes than ask them for any favours.
Red Flag: Botal Tollocks (
13. Next we're back to (ha-ha!) 'she Tarzan'. Apparently, you'll ditch her if she doesn't climb your hair to the top of your tower, Rapunzee-wunzie.
What a crock. It was part of Love-Bombing (too much contact and attention for the lack of tenure = secretly a checking-up-on you, the Golden Goose, exercise).
14. She "has to" use her daughter's phone. Now you're convinced, eh. But how convenient that this now means she can contact you whenever she wants, but you can't. And to complain about that inequity would seem unreasonable.
How on earth did she think she'd be capable of dating and then conducting a relationship with her phone about to be effectively confiscated, even just potentially at that point? (Gotcha.)
Answer: Control and keeping you at bay unless she's ready for you. Is that so you won't interrupt her at some inconvenient or game-blowing, romantic moment with someone(s) else and/or leave a revealing thus scuppering message/trace of yourself for some other man to find?
Do you even know FOR A FACT that this woman is truly divorced? You sure she and her husband aren't a scamming duo?
Not saying they are, but - you wouldn't have the faintest, would you? All you know is what she has chosen to tell you and already she's proven (ref the doting mother act) to be a bare-faced liar and hypocrite.
15. Now, suddenly, the onus-seed of bailing her out is planted. To the tune of a whopping £2000.
This was when you sat up sharp and came here.
But, she feels so cocky over you at this point, that she's perfectly okay with letting slip ("flashing" - see below) the fact that she knowingly, shamelessly duped her ex into giving her money that she obviously had no intention of paying back. (Again - eyes/stick needles).
How CRUEL to do that to your ex!
Red Flag: Sadism via Lack of Empathy.
Testing You Out....ready for the second set-up. You now know she needs £2k. And a car. And will expect A HOLIDAY, no less! *You* won't want to be 'the only car', doing all the running around, never able to have a party drink, etc., etc., will you. So, when that becomes too much of a pain - what will you - no doubt, with a little help from her - do about it?
She's also Mirroring you (go google) when she tells you her kids are her priority. No, Frank. That's YOUR quality! You can see what hers is in that regard - IN-MOTION.
In fact, back to this seeming letting-slip: this is what Narcissistic Sociopaths, both male and female do. ("Cluster B" Personality Disordereds type Malignant Narcissistic, be they straight, sociopathic or psychopathic - i.e. emotional vampire -v- thickie, hot-headed, impulsive psycho -v- cold, calculating, cruel, sadistic psycho - belong to an Equal Opportunities personality disorder). So smug and superior and pleased with and at themselves are they, that, if you, like all the "trusting fools" before you (er..just trusting, actually), are seen to be falling for their act, they like to "flash" at you, usually within the first 3 months... which is to see if you notice and do anything about it (like run in the opposite direction as fast as your legs can carry you). If for whatever reason you DON'T, you've proven (in their eyes) to be the perfect sap or needy one, and the love-bombing, trust-forcing, etc. campaign shift up a few giant gears.
I would not, at even this early point of your story, fall off my chair if you were to return to this thread in however many weeks, saying - you lent her the £2k, she paid it back almost immediately - whether monetarily or with supposed increase in love and attention - then either repeated the exercise *or* just jumped straight to asking or hinting for a significantly larger amount that you then never get back because she then went and disappeared off the face of the planet, Amen.
I could be wrong, but she bears all the hallmarks - *copiously* - again, in only your very first post. My opinion is, this is not a relationship, it's a crime currently in progress. One simply conducted small-scale in the romantic rather than commercial domain.
And you're thinking  it's better than no female company;  you can handle it; (and  she's amazing or very accommodating in bed...I'm betting).
Just because you seem to get on brilliantly with someone and enjoy their company, quote/unquote - that has NOTHING to do with whether they're a nice or even halfway-decent person. That, Frank, is in the *actions* as well as *failures to act* (within the frameworks of context, timing, sustainment and development/progress). Whereas hers are overly inappropriate, manipulative, over-intimate/boundary-smashing, all geared towards gaining too much control and power compared to your own (already non-existent) portion.
It's *not* 'just odd' that she'd mention her financial situation so incredibly early on - and, what's worse, repeatedly(!). It's a classic textbook behavioural Red Flag of the Titanic variety as marks her as Narcissistic, yes, but of the Antisocial Personality Disorder variety. That's obviously just my personal, educated opinion, but...put it this way: so extreme and distinctive is their behaviour that even a well-read schoolchild could diagnose! And it's like they're all acting from the same or uncannily similar script.
What most lay people don't know, is that being an habitual witness and oft-dependent recipient of such dysfunctional, outright Narcissistically Exploitative behaviour is, over time, ruinous to your mental health and thereafter - if you refused to remove yourself - your bodily health (ME, Fibromyalgia, Allergies, Joint Problems, Gut Problems, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart-Attack...). Even more so when they're a romantic sociopath/psychopath. And always, always your financial health - either in a Hit 'n Run stylee or over whatever lengthier period if they can tell you'll give juice for years/decades (in which case, the females usually WHOOPS! get pregnant all too quickly in order to get their hooks in especially deeply).
However, REALLY, all you needed to know in terms of whether this relationship should be pursued or not, was this:
Were she, then you wouldn't have felt it so necessary in the first place to have come onto a public forum to ask someone-anyone for feedback to your copious concerns - BER-BOM, case closed! Certainly in even the most minor of terms of whether this woman was right for you or not. Please think about that because that is a giant Red Victim-Target-Centred Flag.
From now on, what with it so obviously being in good working order, you need to remember or realise on the level where it counts, that you're not insane and can therefore trust your instincts. So if it feels iffy, wrong, confusing, discombobulating, disquieting, etc. - that's because it is. Hence those associative feelings. (Ain't rocket science, eh? Ah. But it IS when your thinking is compromised by over-attraction, needfulness - e.g. starved for too long of affection, etc. - uncertainty and confusion/lack of any frame of reference, post-traumatic self-doubt and de-stabilization, Alice In Wonderland sensation : whoosh! - "WTF?!", etc.)
Non judgmental question: Are you perhaps trying to engage people here so as to transfer that post-divorcal need for company and connectivity away from her? Perfectly understandable, if so...quite clever, actually. But - are you? Just say so. Because if it keeps you away from her I'm sure we'd ALL be willing to sit and chat/discuss some more!
Just be honest and say so. Most people here have been in your position or worse. And we don't mind, that's one of the things we're here for! It's us putting our Rescuer bent where it'll more guarantee-ably prove productive.
RSvP, mon in-peril cheri. Because, really and truly, this situation is no laughing matter. FYI, it's deemed worse to be a male victim/target of a female sociopath than vice-versa. Because - you know full well how some men can be utter "beep-beeps", but as a man you simply aren't geared to expect a woman to be capable of being that much of a heartless, Bafta-award-winning actor-shyster. So it's more of a shock and challenge to your world view. And the nightmare doesn't end with the ending of the fauxlationship, either, oh no. They're 'the gift that keeps on giving' (which, fyi, is the reason why you come across certain people who seem unable to just get over it and move on, seem obsessed. You don't get over it, because this isn't a normal relationship; you have to wait until it gets over you). Plus "The female of the specie is more deadly than the male" (- Rudyard Kipling). Hence why many more male targets/victims than women end up committing post-traumatised suicide.
And by the way: feeling so strongly about someone so incredibly soon, especially where you're loaded with doubts and reservations...during a period in which she's supposed to be putting her very *best* foot forward(!) prior to relaxing it back a few degrees(!!)... yet still seeing the ugger... despite you *do* see the flags... is the original Number 1 Very Early Red Flag (along with Love Bombing). Normal healthy partners don't rush intimacy or allow it to be rushed because there's too much at stake FOR THEM AS WELL AS YOU. Just go google 'early red flags of sociopathic girlfriend' or some such, you'll see. You'll need to stipulate 'early' because most sites bang on about what the fauxlationship is like once well and truly hooked...which is when the lethal fun 'n games behind closed doors only, begin (google Trauma Bonding, Stockholm Syndrome, Intermittent Reinforcement, Gaslighting, The Silent Treatment). Right now, she's simply seeing how keen and pliable you are; testing your boundaries by dipping her litmuses; getting off on flashing at you (including flouting her motherly dotage impressions); cleverly, subtly, passively holding her hand out for donations as hinges around your male need to Take Care Of and Be Useful (and Have Steady Female Company At Last).
I mean - 'SOME alarm bells'? Frank - very first post and I went deaf!
I personally wouldn't proceed, even with caution and scaling back. Look how ALREADY you correctly sense that if you don't give her money or abide by her will over yours, you'd lose her. Think about that.
...You FEEL this is the case, and enough to type it, because - what now? Because it exists and you're sensing it.
There's literally only one way to 'win' against a Sociopath or even come out intact and able to function. And that's Walk Away. You cannot battle against someone who lacks empathy because for them, nothing is off-limits/taboo...so you come to the battlefield with one arm and one leg missing. PS: the ability to Walk Away gets deliberately, purposefully, always subtly eroded shockingly early on. (Run, Forrest, Run!)
Let me know or go google before you try ending it...assuming you do. You have to know how, whereby they don't start stalking and harassing you or worse.
If you decide you can handle it (er...no-one can, and literally any human with well-working empathy is a target - there aren't really any Doormats these days, just Challenges), for god's sake start to keep a daily diary to refer back to for keeping you grounded and non-gaslight-able, combined with reading up on the topic (adjusting the gender where necessary - there are more male AsPDs than female), as much as humanly possible. You can use this thread if you want. But delete it from your history each time and use a unique and uncharacteristic-for-you password.
Oh - and ref the experts' saying, "Anything you say to a Narcissist/Cluster B *will* be taken down and later used against you": Be vewy qwuiet,...she's hunting wabbits. Cease giving any meaningful information about yourself and your past, especially any data that could be used against you as a weapon or leverage tool.
Second-to-Lastly for now, but not leastly: the reason, Frank, that you felt you'd known her for a very long time despite having effectively only just met her is because she reminds you of someone you either grew up with and/or dated multiple times but with different faces. Thus feels strangely comfortable and familiar. Maybe it's they (merely with a different face) you now feel an urge to study?
Here's the lastly:
A straight-up, serious question:
Frank, do you love your kids enough that you'd die for them?
This girl thinks too much about money. I made this conclusion, because the money is in your question are very common.
Hello Soulmate, moderator:
I find your post above interesting. You mentioned something in it that lead me to think that you might be a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, have certification of such and/ or in practice as such, is it so?
Wow - thank you so much! That has really given me a lot to think about...
Things have progressed a little - she could not see me this past weekend (her ex was away and her Dad couldn't look after the kids) but we are going away for my birthday at the weekend (I'm paying - which I now regret a little based on all you said) so will see how things go - we get along so well, but I am now going to be even more cautious than before.
"Non judgmental question: Are you perhaps trying to engage people here so as to transfer that post-divorcal need for company and connectivity away from her? Perfectly understandable, if so...quite clever, actually. But - are you? Just say so. Because if it keeps you away from her I'm sure we'd ALL be willing to sit and chat/discuss some more!"
Yes - I think I may be. My break up with my ex wife hurt - a lot - it took me almost 18 months to get over, and she was very manipulative and kept pulling me back in only to run off with another internet "match" when we started to make positive (in my mind) progress - relationhsips she would rub in my face and ask my advice on...
Yes, sorry, Frank - I've probably bombarded you, which is because I have so little time to play poster these days (albeit I ensure to make time where I've engaged someone who needs my particular brand of help/assistance/journey accompanying). So I have to stuff as much into one post as possible. It'll take a while to sink in, I imagine. That's okay. As you say, you intend from here on in to proceed with the utmost of caution so that's the main and only sensible thing.
Time is your friend when it comes to dating (learn from the mistakes you made with the ex-missus). Take things SLOWLY. Any fit, healthy, READY person who's in it for the long-term won't mind that, in fact they'll respect and admire it (and probably find it very refreshing as well as indicative of your honourable intentions).
Understand: there is a world of difference between [a] you feeling like OFFERING, as a gentleman will do, to pay (- good and healthy because it's how the male demonstrates his hunter-provider skills for when his mate is waylaid with kiddies and can only berry-pick etc., as per our primitive 'dating' wiring/programming, still very much up and running in spite of any conscious, man-made customs and Isms) and  her expecting it and making hints or demands or even dictats over it. Which was it?
There's also a difference between the latter plus 'that's that!', or the latter plus her being keen to 'compensate' you or meeting *your* needs in other ways. Reciprocity is the key; doesn't need to be like for like.
Home-cooked meal; picnic in a park; backing out of a plan to let you enjoy a spontaneous "lads night out",... anything at all that shows she's desperate to do something nice or helpful *for you* in order to redress the Love Credits imbalance between your respective Love Banks.
News for you, Frank: it takes more than 18 months to get over a marriage, particularly with a manipulator. So the truth is, you still are getting over it all (not just her - the era, etc.). And that makes you vulnerable. Even more vulnerable if she was of this bent, too. (Listen, with these guys, even just *wanting a relationship* becomes a 'vulnerability' they can home in on as a crux for manipulation!).
I think what you meant was, 18 months to start to feel more normal and functional again (albeit, deadened) - correct?
Takes 2-5 years to complete the entire grieving path to FullRecoveryville where awaits enlightenment (unless you're Chinese - they say 10).
Clearly she committed serial adultery, and then kept you warm and waiting as a romantic back-up plan (highly selfish, unempathetic and cruel!), but was your ex-wife manipulative all through the marriage as well, bar the Honeymoon period - or just during and since the separation/divorce?
Anita, as a very long-term member I can't possibly divulge any personal information about myself on here, sorry, neither as confirmation nor denial - merely, "No comment". But welcome to the forum.
PS Frank - my end 'serious question' wasn't rhetorical. Could you answer it, please, as an exercise?
* Hello again, Soulmate:
Thank you for your answer and for the welcome.
Hi Soulmate - thank you again.
In response to your parting question...
My ex and I started very quickly - we met at work, had a date and after the second spent most nights together. She fell pregnant very quickly, which we were both ecstatic about. We moved into a house which was a little over our ability to afford, and that's when the problems started... She was not great with money (neither was I, but marginally better) and soon enough we couldn't afford the house and our debt... so I had to take a higher paid job, which meant I was away a lot...
Time passed, we had another child, and soon enough I felt like a visitor in my home - she would live her life, do what she wanted and when I was home didn't really engage with me... I always had a lot of friends, she had few if any - she lived in self-imposed isolation, wouldn't do anything with me, and resented her perception that while I was away with work I had a wonderful life (I didn't - I wss away from my family working 70+ hour weeks, and feeling very lonely...) so I started to socialise at weekends (she'd go to bed at 9 or 10 after ignoring me all day so I'd go out...)
Over time, I got close to a female friend - nothing happened, but I started to have feelings for this girls, or so I thought... I was very depressed, stressed, and confused so I told my wife how I felt - she understandably went mad at the thing with the other girl, and threw me out... She then begged me to come home (which I wanted) and we tried to sort things out.... We had a great year (or so I thought) and everything seemed so much better... Then one day she told me she had met someone else on-lne and thathad made her realise she had no feelings for me... since then, she has been nothing but hostile, we cant speak without argument, she does what she wants and treats me like utter crap - always only concerned about money and her "journey"...
She refuses to engage, will not talk to me until she wants something and will then be emotionally manipulative and use the kids to blackmail me into doing things (like, for example, getting me to give up my weekend time to have the kids so she can see whatever fella she is dating - not that I mind having the kids - but she will say if I don't have them on "her" weekend then she will take the kids to meet him)
I cnat talk to her, and I hate it - as do my children, since she wont allow me to come to the house (which we co-own so legally she cant) saying that it "stresses the kids out" - they are in fact stressed by the fact she is constantly yelling at me, and my daughter keeps telling me she "just wants her mummy back"
I didn't see it at the time, but she was manipulative throughout the relationship - she would go along with what suited her, but then just do whatever she liked without discussion or compromise.
I now find myself in the position of being over £40k in debt (jointly with the ex) and with her house in negative equity and (I recently found out) in mortgage arrears... her response to this is to say she will go back to working full-time, a decision that my work cant support and she has no child-care options.
So, basically, I am trying to start something new with someone that I care about very much, but who has red flags that remind me of the ex - whilst still, if I am honest, being absolutely torn apart by the loss of the family and my current situation.
I am at a bit of a loss, really - I am still very badly hurt, still grieving, still hopelessly emotionally involved with my ex and sad pretty much every day - except when I am with the new lady, but even then my mind isn't 100% with her.
I have no hope of an improved situation with the ex, and am worried that I am going to ruin this new one by not being able to deal with it.
Franly, as I type this, I realise how pathetic and messed up I am
As an addendum...
My ex is always, always mad at me - she will go from communicative to screaming, name calling and making threats at the drop of a hat... She will then punish me by hanging up and refusing to speak, ignoring me for days then coming back as if nothing happened.
If I do the same - if I get angry, she will tell me she wants nothing more to do with me, or if I stop talking to her she will tell me "she missed talking to me" - only to two days later or even two hours later be back to being abusive.
Over 18 months later, we have no resolution on the home, the children, the finances - she says she wants to "take back control" of her finances and work full-time, but that will make her worse off and she blames me for it...
She refuses mediation, refuses any sort of structured conversation and runs away from it, hiding in what is now the 5th "serious" relationship guys bed - only to then pressure me for time for her relationship or money to support her.
I know - this is ridiculous and I don't know why I am sharing it - but I have no idea why she behaves like that. Ican only think she hates me.
Your ex, and this new woman, are master manipulators. You should be asking yourself why they see you as a soft target, and why you allow it. Your ex treats you like that because he's a bully, and because you allow it. You divorced, and you need to move on. Stop initiating contact, and use a lawyer. Take care of yourself and your kids, and stop worrying about her. She's an adult and you both need to realize you are not responsible for her anymore.
This new woman barely knew you, and immediately played the damsel in distress. And it worked. As long as it works, she'll keep doing it. Just ask her ex, because she's still manipulating him too. It sounds like her troubles aren't just a rough patch, but a pattern of irresponsible behavior. She expects other people to pay her way, because she is very skilled at getting people to feel sorry for her, even though it's her own doing.
If you want to see her, then do that. If you want to know if she's genuine or just using you, then put your wallet away. Buy some food if you want, but don't plan anything she can't afford, and do not pay her bills. Once she stops seeing you as an open wallet, you'll know how she really feels about you.
*she's a bully
No need to complicate things: you are now aware (thanks to the eye opening advice and insight from others) that you are REPEATING behavior with similar- personality women.
As Jim Cary said: “Somebody Stop Me!”
Realize this latest gal is a “transition” lover who is not good for you right now or in the future.
How about attending some counseling sessions with a good therapist who will help you get the skills to demand some respect and closure from the ex and help you select healthy women for you in the future?
Frank, are you still there? I apologise profusely for my absence. It's a bit like that for me, recently, posting-wise but I have a couple of weeks' window if you still want to talk/discuss?
Have you been surfing the net? What have you learnt? Or, indeed, have you sought an NPD-savvy therapist?
Thank you everyone
Soulmate - thank you for checking in.
I apparently haven't learned very much in terms of letting go of relationships (I am still seeing the lady in question) but I have taken some time to get to know some more about me, and have been seeing a counsellor / going through CBT.
I don't feel able to let go of this - which is a major issue, as I have seen lots of the things you spoke about in this lady on several occasions, but then equally I have seen lots of great things. I think she is dealing with some things of her own, so for now have slowed it down - but the flags continue and I am thinking of calling it soon.
I know - I need to deal with this sooner rather than later - I am, it seems, somewhat needy and naïve
Things have, however improved with my ex - having cut all contact save to discuss the children, I am at least no longer being emotionally bullied and can focus some more energy on me.
Hey again Frank,
(Please forgive my patchy attendance; it should get better soon (ish).)
How many sessions have you done so far?
Don't beat yourself about the head. You're in a situation, however long-term (think relay baton, since she's not your first?) and need to reverse out of it, but the reversal is a process. And processes are unfoldings and evolvings over time. Taken in steps.
You have to be ready, or at least prepared, with every step. That or know how to fake it to make it (do by rote).
Information is the fuel for that readiness.
The situation is barbed wire.
To get out of barbed wire, you can't struggle or make ad-hoc moves, let alone sudden ones. You could get ripped to pieces, otherwise. You have to reverse every single movement, go out the same way you went in. Usually slowly and carefully (unless you don't mind losing your favourite shirt).
Let's start with the fact of this woman's good side, to move you a few inches back:
Of COURSE this type has a good side (especially during 'Honeymoon'/Love-Bombing stage). If not, no-one could stand sticking around them long enough TO get hooked! Think about it.
The- sorry, ONE of the troubles with these 'folk' (the ones that don't know what they are or what they do - those that are aware of the misery they're inflicting, enjoying getting a power trip off of it, are a different breed altogether) is that their positive and (when they feel safe enough to increasingly reveal it) negative sides are in too stark a contrast from one another. Jekyll & Hyde. Over time, it does your head in. But in this case, literally.
Where your more normal, balanced, healthy person can have off days or even (for them) stinking moodies, they do NOT turn into Beelzebub him/herself, replete with absence of any sensitivity through cruelty to downright sadism. The normal person issues a verbal apology and then proves it, having learned another way not to hurt you. Because they have empathy.
BECAUSE they have empathy, they do not 'let rip' over nothing (or pretend-let rip as a way to deliberately bully); they know to contain themselves, as in, always remain respectful and civil, as well as why they ought/must. They know how to behave, basically. And because they have empathy, they do not financially exploit their partner (nor any of the myriad other victimising behaviours characteristic to their disorder type that come under the concept of Power Over).
In short, even if they're dating you or are married to you, with kids - you are not their romantic partner, you are their enemy (that they sh*g and sometimes enjoy the company of). Only no-one told you. Least of all her/him.
I imagine morbid curiosity has got a hold of you, also. I mean - why wouldn't it? It's like nothing you'd ever imagined people could be - right? I mean, this can't be real - surely?! This is MADNESS to think that such people who think and operate this way, actually exist! But beware that temptation because, as you're studying them, you're having to interact with them, and interaction with them basically means a continuation of bullied and exploited. Down, down, down go you and your white coat, clipboard and pen (and/or piece of cheese).
Stick to the net and literature. If you can. Or at least, predominantly.
Keep a distance, in other words. Mentally and emotionally if not physically.
Think of them as androids with bust wiring. That ought to do it. That way you can stop trying to make sense of it or compare it to what you're know, are used to and expect. Because, I'll tell ya, they don't half make your brain struggle if you resist accepting what they are. NOT a nice sensation.
You're not needy and you're not naive. Neither are you co-dependent or an enabler or blah-blah-zzzzz.... One CAN be any of those things but, you don't need to be those things to become those things when in the context of How Things Are In La-La Land. Even Einstein or Socrates would be wrong in La-La Land, not to mention Jesus. In La-La Land your strengths get converted or transformed automatically via exploitation and manipulation into weaknesses. I'm sure in Normal Land, amongst other normals, you're perfectly self-assured, independent and perfectly savvy.
I know you don't have this/that marked inadequacy because the fact you're a target of one PROVES you're a normal, healthy, balanced person. No up-her-own-a*se parasite wants a weak (and non-special) specimen. Not when, like with these boys and girls, they can CHOOSE. They've got a whole extensive menu, mate. It's called Outdoors. Ya get me?
The 'what's wrong with' belongs to them and only them. This is the only relationship on the planet where the normal/victim literally is blameless (because with co-creation removed, neither can responsibility be shared). You could be Brad Pitt crossed with Richard Dawkins crossed with Linford Christie and-and-and..., that wouldn't help you any.
You're not the problem. There's nothing wrong with you. Except for one thing: you're a novice.
Or 'were', I should say.
The most 'being naive' would get you in Normal Land amongst your social circle (assuming they all were Normal & Healthy) would be your nose mischievously flicked because you believed one of them when they playfully pointed to a non-existence smudge on your tie. Oo-er, are you scared? And the most that 'being needy' would get you in Normal Land would be - as soon as practicable - SERVED!
Nothing wrong with you. And that's why you were the tasty, passing morsel that got netted.
(The self-blamers can get on with it, but - the above is a fact.)
So... Your naive-to-a-normal-&-healthy-degree person passes (courtesy of a narc partner) into La-La Land and becomes naive. And appropriately and healthily-needy person becomes needy.
I repeat: in La-La Land, if you so much as want a relationship - that makes you needy. And exploitable and manipulable. Until you become brainwashed into becoming properly needy and naive (and insecure and 'paranoid' and jealous, etc., etc.).
If your pet dog catches a tick on a Sunday afternoon walk through long grass, do you grill the vet over what's wrong and inadequate and dysfunctional with your dog that he attracted a parasite? Or do you blame the long grass?...the fact grass was ever allowed to grow that long? (ooh, bit deep for a Wednesdee evening!).
Do you feel better for having that cleared up?
You *are* letting go of it. But Rome was not let go of in a day.
(Maybe you have *a* weakness - again to a normal but unhelpful degree? Impatience, perhaps? Well, you won't after this.
Hurrah! to your last paragraph. And for proving my point:
You are letting go of it in a Julie Andrew's stylee: starting from the very beginning (or the beginning you can access, even?). It makes sense to practise your 'circus trainer' skills on the ex-missus before tackling the real thing.
Can you see what you're doing now?
Nope, nothing wrong with you!
PS: It is, however, a great shame that we normal people with fully and properly working parts, including the ability to be open and trusting to a functional degree at which bonding can commence, come out of these 'relationships' feeling like we have to permanently turn down those dials now that we've discovered how some people are *not* normal and will use our natures against us in order to dominate, completely control and enslave us (rather than partner us).
Right Qualities (yours), Wrong Recipient (nutjob) (aka morally-corrupt<-->insane, to use the technical definition).
But you don't have to change a thing if you don't want to. And in fact, I wouldn't recommend it or you'll end up a nut too hard for any normal, healthy woman to bother wanting to crack, meaning - back to choosing from the bottom of the barrel you're forced to go! Instead, just self-elevate/enhance.
You can guarantee-ably attract a healthy, lasting partner next time by this time FINISHING YOUR ENTIRE GRIEVING PROCESS, followed by discovering through trial and error, all the surprisingly easy ways to plug those needs gaps yourself (DIY) until you're - gosh, who'd have thought it possible?! - really enjoying being a singleton. From there, waiting to begin, naturally, to grow increasingly dissatisfied with said enjoyable life because it feels (under your awareness) as if one thing is still missing, the cherry on the top... Basically, you're just bored, now, of being single, despite it was fun while it lasted. Voila - ready for your next relationship!
Seriously - here is the ideal relationship entering state: "Don't mind if I do, not that fussed if I don't, but - okay, why not, she seems nice enough and it could be fun?" The person is supposed to SPARK - or 'trigger' if you like - your drive to ask them on a first date...then a second....then a third....and so on and so forth. But before you get to that point - you don't *decide* to 'go find a girlfriend', as if she were a product on a supermarket shelf. You're supposed to bump into someone out-of-the-Blue and be taken completely by surprise. That way, you know it's right and natural - because it was purely down to chemistry, not this/that 'shopping-list item'. Conscious You had nothing to do with it - your feet pulled and your body and mouth followed. Berbom.
Right Qualities. However, tharr be loons in them tharr hills who can somehow make Right Qualities into Wrong (manipulable) Qualities. That's all. Thus, I repeat, you have to either [a] re-proceed with slowness and caution or [b] allow time and sensibleness to automatically make you highly attractive to the normals and ugly to the abnormals. If you do neither and, still susceptible, end up with another secret loon, it's [c] plan and execute your escape at your earliest opportunity.
That's it. That's the menu.
(Just for future ref.)