Ten years ago, I tried to get back into the dating pool after being unceremoniously kicked to the curb by my Narcissist. I was new to dating, having been in my abusive relationship for almost a decade and I realized very quickly that I had a lot to learn.
I had an epiphany one night after one of my dates, even though I had no interest in seeing him again I found myself very concerned and preoccupied with whether or not he liked me and wanted a second date.
A few months later, I thought I had gotten much smarter and I created a list of things that I was looking for in my potential mates. They were things like appearance, jobs, did they own their own home… and I started seeking out people who claimed to have those things.
The next thing I knew, I was involved with a guy with a great body, a great car and who claimed he made six figures. I soon found out that he had a terrible temper, he’d never been married, had nothing nice to say about the women in his life and at thirty-seven, he still lived with his parents.
Back then if there was chemistry and they liked me, I jumped right in. A lot has changed over the years, especially my qualifying process. I sat down recently with someone I greatly admire for her self-assuredness, and we discussed what she looks for and what makes her head for the exits. You can find some of her wisdom in my blog Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Is it Possible?
Me: When you meet someone do you have a qualifying process?
G: I definitely categorize them very quickly. Do they have a job? Have they ever been married? What’s their living situation like?
If they don’t have a job I pass immediately. I’m not interested in supporting anyone. If they’ve never been married – that tells me they have some kind of relationship issue. Either they’re commitment-phobes, emotionally unavailable or they just have problems that keep them from establishing a lasting relationship. If they’re living at home that tells me they can’t take care of themselves and I’ve already got kids, so no thanks.
Me: What are some other things you look for?
G: Do they own their own home? That’s huge for me. It tells me that they are responsible. That they can pay their own bills and take care of themselves. I don’t want to be somebody’s mommy. If they’re a renter they’re out. That may seem harsh for some people, but at this age, I want someone who’s got their shit together.
If he changes jobs a lot – he’s out. Even though I don’t want to be part of someone’s baby mama drama, the fact that he has been married before and that he has kids tells me that at least he had the faith to take a chance. If he doesn’t live near his kids, I’d question that too.
How long did they wait after their divorce to start dating again? Why did it end? Is their house or car messy? Can they clean up after themselves?
I scrutinize everything. If they say they don’t drink I’d wonder why. Are they a recovering alcoholic? I’m not interested in taking that gamble. If they aren’t currently not driving they’re out.
You can tell a lot about a person’s dating profile too. If they post a stupid picture they’re out. If they post they went to the school of hard knocks, I’m not interested. I’ll look at how they dress and what they’re doing. Do they brag a lot in their profile? That tells me they’re insecure. Can they keep up a conversation? If they can’t formulate a sentence I’m not interested.
Me: What is most important to you now?
G: Is he emotionally available? Though you’re not going to pick that up right away. Are they financially stable? Are they emotionally stable? Can I trust them? These are the things that stand out to me the most.
Me: What do you do if a guy takes too long to get back to you?
G: It’s definitely a flag. If he takes too long, I just delete and move on. I’m not interested in games and I don’t give a lot of chances.
Me: Do you worry about cutting someone off too quickly? Do you ever regret being so hasty?
G: No. If I cut them off it’s because they gave me a reason and I don’t second guess it.
Me: Do you have a checklist?
G: My process is more like a system of gates. There are some aspects of a person that aren’t going to reveal themselves right away, so it’s more like, okay you got through this gate, now there’s this criteria. They may get through the first five, but gate six will stay closed until I have some more information.
I look out for everything, every reaction, how they handle every situation. Everything is a test. How do they treat the waiter? How do they speak about their ex? How are they with their phone. Is it constantly going off? Are they getting back to me in a reasonable time frame? All of these things are important.
Choosing a partner is the most important investment you’re ever going to make so you need to take your time and you need to be sure. I’m perfectly happy by myself so as the saying goes, ‘I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty fantastic to change that.’
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Does he rent? He’s out. If he doesn’t drink…don’t take a gamble, he could have problems. Wow…well, no wonder I don’t date, because I don’t drink…don’t have a problem, just choose not to, and I rent. I don’t want to own a home, I enjoy being able to go somewhere for a month or two and not have to worry about the weeds, or someone breaking in, or the trash being taken out or HOA causing issues. I live in a nice apartment downtown in the city and love it. But, those would be red flags. And not forgiving ones. I guess it’s no wonder that men are afraid to date women at my age. Sheesh…I don’t want to have a man judge me that harsh either, and that’s only TWO of the criteria she had that I wouldn’t pass…there are others there, with very valid reasons why I chose the alternative.
Oh man. Wish I knew then what i know now. This must be the most hurtful relationship/break up i have ever experienced. It all happened so fast. About 4 months from beginning to end. We “found” eachother. Body massages, Bubble baths with lavendar oil. Meals served to me in bed. Adoration towards me, and i returned it. I had a serious medical problem and he took care of me through that. His texts! My heart! Love. How many people get to have perfect mates? How fortunate we were! All the while there was something not right. I felt it. I expressed my insecurities and he loved me up, hugged me up. Always said the right thing and i disappeared back into fantasy land and bubble baths together! It seemed easier to live there than reality did at the time. By month 2 i had been telling my neighbor, now bff, our daily life. She saved me. Gently pointed out discrepancies. Begged me not to sell my house i purchased 18 months prior. He proposed twice. We were moving to the Western states where i lived for over 35 years. He told me IT’S OUR TURN. I had been looking for answers that might explain some of his “off” attitudes about life and behaviors when i stumbled across personality disorders and eventually narcicism. Every single trait was him. To the extreme. Textbook narc snd i was his textbook victim. I Bought it and funded it, too. Blank checks all the way around. Vulnerable at that time. He kept me that way, too. He used everything he gathered, information. My home. Deeply personal things.
Financially, physically, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually the one thing i still held onto tight. It was all i had left. And my angel neighbor who kept one of my feet in reality. Her and i were becoming close friends and allies. Her 40+ year marriage had been a bumpy road. I was gathering my own information about this guy. I was a maniac on a mission. Hitting search engines like inmates.com and
Truthfinders.com, a bunch of them. Wouldnt recommend more than 1 because they all have the same info AND SAME MISSING INFO. It gave me a peek at his 20 some years of his constant movement, relationships, the various con jobs across the country. Legal issues. I saw how evasive he’d been with lies and a speck of truth here and there but not in the right places. What a trip. I was ready for him to go a short time before his EXIT plan. I kept my research to myself. It was the end of a lengthy silent treatment and i told him i couldnt live this way. His inability to share himself, regardless of why… Wouldnt work for me. I knew what i wanted and needed in a relationship. I wasn’t settling for half of him. We had had this discussion at least 3 times by now. My openness and his being this private guy who doesnt share, never has, but had shared more with me than anyone. Ever. That morning i told him yes. You’ve been telling me that and i believed we were meeting somewhere in the middle. Clearly he had changed his mind about that. Pointed out that it was ok. Lets stop pretending, be honest with ourselves and eachother. Dont drag it out any longer, causing heartache and confusion and that it wasn’t good for him either to be with a partner he was uncomfortable sharing lifes ups and downs with. I had a 17 year marriage and a couple satisfying relationships. I knew what a good relationship looked like and this is not it. He lost it. Yelling, waving his arms around, his whole body wss shivering. Face all crazy and distorted. Those blue eyes were red like a demon. I wss trying to change him! All he had done for me, all his efforts, pointed out the things he does to show me he loves me…. (nothing wss done, promises broken, the lying, deception, the scam he created and lived,) its huge. How he could keep everything straight was beyond me. Of course, he couldnt do it for any length of time. Of course he couldnt share what was going on with him when i checked in every couple days with a You ok? Seems like you are having a rough time right now. I hope you are talking to some one… He hadnt attacked me physically but i saw it coming that morning and went in my room to breathe. Went back and told him i think it would be a good idea if he took off for a couple hours. Omg. He turned that into I threw him out, never come back blah blah blah. A few hours later he came in my house, told me he was doing what i said, moving and 5 minutes later his buddy pulled up in front of my house, and he wss gone. The aftermath SUCKED bad. That was the end of January. Im still picking up the pieces. Our agreement on him paying utilities as soon as he got money left me with 3 months overdue and disconnect notices. Conveniently his $ would be here Jan. 31st. It was the 28th. Im realizing that the really hard part is over. Being in it for 4 months was torture. Now im here. I visit these websites where knowledgeable people are really helping people like me. Educated and spiritual and encouraging, and im still learning about these broken, twisted and i believe they’re sadistic people. Most days are good. Im on a new journey. There is a path and its waaay lighter, that hanging darkness is gone, have real love from family and new chosen family and friends. It still hurts. Still SMH. Told myself a couple days ago that since the whole thing wasn’t real, untrue, fake… Then these hurt feelings are a lie too. How can i have any real feelings as a result of a made up, fabricated existence that was not real, dammit! So there it is. Im exhausted. Hungry. Tired. Thank you evetyone for your honesty and for putting yourselves out here. And i appreciate the space given here for survivors to share and hear others. Ive never been good at being the victim. Those ones thrive on it. Must be miserable at some level. Not me! Not today. *deep sigh*
To me what you wrote depicts a very insecure person who is not ready for a relationship. Too much of the scrutiny, too many gates. And what does she offer to them? If it’s a constant assessment in search for reasons to *not* choose, what healthy person would accept that? And she seems to be happy just being single, which is perfectly fine of course.
Steve Harvey sums it up nicely with, “you (women) are the prize.” I agree. He talks about men naturally being the pursuers–and I agree with that. I can’t count the number of women I see actively pursuing men that have no interest in them. A man is going to pursue a woman if he likes her and wants to get to know her. (At that point, and another Steve Harvey-ism, “dating is for gathering data” – totally agree!) As women, our pursuit should be living interesting lives– pursuing things (causes, sports, etc) that we are passionate about. Then, if the right person comes along, wonderful! And, if not, life is full!
Dana,you hit the nail on the head. I like Steve Harvey,too. I’ve had my ups and downs in relationships but one thing I’ve done is let men pursue me and I open myself up to learning what a PROPER pursuit should look like. He’s nice,he works,he doesn’t appear to be abusive nor a serial killer,has his own…,that was my old criteria and while the aforementioned are important,there is a heck of a lot of vetting to be done.
Also,I love R.C. Blakes on YouTube and his Queenology series and The Father Daughter series and books.He also just published a book,Kingology that speaks to men.You may want to check him out.Here’s a link.
I love your information…so GREAT. I do have one comment. I have never been married, I am known as the run away bride. I have gone to counseling and realize my problems stem from 5 men (4 uncles, my dad) all died by the time I was 7-13. I found this made a tremendous impact on me..I use to run when a guy would fall in love…to protect myself. I say this..maybe , if a man has never been married…give him a chance to explain self…if he knows why…then maybe open…
Also, what best Dating sites would you encourage. I keep running across so many scammmers.
I’ve long liked this one… “If I cut you out of my life, chances are you handed me the scissors”
There are scammers on all of the sites. Hence the interview and gate system. Just as you’re learning about the other individual you’re learning even more about yourself in the process.
With such HIGH demands, there is one thing missing: What is she offering in return? Those are the things
she doesn’t mention. I understand her wariness about not wanting to get involved with a deadbeat, but she reminds me of a female friend stating to me all the requirements she wanted in a man, then I asked her: Once you find that Man, what about You will make him want to stay with you? Her answer was, she hadn’t thought of that. She felt she was a given.
And, for me, in this context, that sentiment would screen YOU out. The question was not what she looked for in a “relationship” but what she looked for in a guy she’d CONSIDER having a relationship with, e.g. “dating.” That said, the “rents” answer and even the financial stability makes me assessment both strike me as “conditional” situations. That is, if he can find and afford a place to rent, his credit-worthiness is sound. And, if like some of the most wonderful men in my own family, he happens to have a job that includes housing — such as state and federal jobs that require living “on campus” of a facility they manage — then, that’s no red flag. As for being either married or in a enduring long term relationship, that would be for men 35 and older because up until that age, the early phase of some careers may be too all-consuming to allow for the focus maintain a relationship requires. (For example, a federal military or law enforcement who are on-call constantly and literally not in control of their own schedules.) What I consider the hallmarks are 1) genuine sense of humor and 2) compassion. If this is a guy who helps the old lady with her groceries or stops to greet and speak with the guy in a wheel chair — I’m interested. That said, I watch for signs of superficial “compassion,” too. Like a well-liked guy in the local community who “teased” his own employees with mean-spirited names that picked on a weakness, such as “fat-ass!” (Really!) (That guy turned out to be a cold-hearted sociopath.)