This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  SunshineRainflower 2 months ago.

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  • #111074
     SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve had another unnerving experience with a man I meant recently and thought it would help me to write about it on here and get your opinions. I left my abusive ex several years ago, he wasn’t the first abusive man I’d been involved with unfortunately and at that time realised I had issues with boundaries and recognising abusive, manipulative people. I’ve done a lot of work on this reading books, watching youtube series, talking to counsellors, writing out deal breakers and red flags, journaling, self care etc but It often feels like I’m learning a second language and I’m still having to learn this stuff every day.

    So I met this man recently, he lives nearby and I bumped into him on a walk. He has a hobby that I’d noticed before and I complimented him on it as it’s also a hobby I have. I thought he’d say ‘oh thanks!’ and that would be it but he was instantly really friendly, with a big grin on his face and we ended up talking for an hour. He kept asking me things about myself, continuing the conversation when I felt maybe I should go home. He gave me some supplies related to the hobby which were quite generous in cost which surprised me but delighted me especially as I’ve never met anyone else locally with this hobby. When I moved to go home he asked me what I was doing now, smiling. I found the intensity of his stare, his big grin, the glint in his eye, all the questions and him asking me what I was doing really surprising partly because I knew he was younger than me, and also a bit overwhelming and intense, as I’d expected a two second conversation with him and didn’t expect all this attention. He asked me my age and I told him, I asked him his age and he told me laughing (there was a bigger age gap than I think both of us realised). It felt like he was establishing that we could date, because I’d only ever ask a man his age if I was interested in dating him, I wouldn’t ask new friends their age as it is irrelevant and seems a bit rude.

    We exchanged details and he messaged me online later on that day a really nice message. I replied and we ended up chatting for a few days. I definitely felt flattered by all of his flirting when we met but felt it was weird with the age gap and in one of his early messages he said we could be (hobby) friends so I thought he must just see me as a friend which felt a bit disappointing for but also fine and sensible given the age gap.

    Anyway, I stopped replying for a few days because I was worried I was starting to like him. I finally replied as I felt guilty ignoring him and he replied immediately saying he was just about to message me. After that point we started messaging multiple times per day, having deep conversations about our hobbies, music, philosophy, our families etc. He kept asking me questions about myself and would give long thoughtful replies, and he always replied quickly. He asked if I wanted company on a walk and asked if I’d show him how to do something related to a hobby. I was a bit taken aback but agreed saying when I’d had chance to do ABC (I’m keeping this as vague as possible so as not to be identifying!). A few days later he suggested we meet up and do our other shared hobby. I was delighted because I really wanted to do this so agreed, although it would have involved going round to his house which I then worried was maybe a bad idea since although he lived very locally, we’d only just met. He took time out of his day to prepare this hobby saying how much he was looking forward to working on it with me. I started to think he must like me because why message me so much if he didn’t, and also by how much he’d flirted with me outside and seemed interested, and by his suggestions of us meeting up. I felt like I’d maintained boundaries with him at first but had gradually relaxed them because he seemed to like and he seemed like a nice, interesting man who I also thought was attractive and had felt sparks and chemistry on that first meeting.

    We continued chatting and our conversations would go on for hours into the night. He said he’d been lonely and hadn’t really connected with anyone for a while, and that it was great to meet someone with the shared hobbies, that we had a lot of similarities and seemed on a similar wavelength, that he enjoyed chatting to me and that he had rarely ever had such in depth conversations with anyone before. He suggested in future we go to such and such event so overall he asked me to do three activities with him, all within the first week of meeting. He said that it would be easier to do the hobby using a piece of equipment that just happened to be in his bedroom, but ‘of course we don’t have to use that’ which I felt was him trying to get me to say ‘oh it’s fine of course we can sit in your bedroom, it’s no problem.’ He actually mentioned his bedroom about three times, once saying how he’d decorated it, another in relation to the hobby, and a third time in reference to something else so I started to feel a bit like he was trying to get me into his bedroom? If I encouraged him to do something, he would instead suggest we do them together and acted kind of helpless a few times saying he didn’t know how to do it and asking if I’d teach him. When our age gap turned up he said we weren’t too different in age, and that he’d thought I looked younger, and that it wasn’t important. On the other hand, he had initially called me a friend, and apart from saying I looked like a famous actress he didn’t say anything much flirty in the messages so I felt confused a lot about how he saw me and what he wanted.

    I was feeling really overwhelmed and exhausted by the constant messaging, and kept waking up early feeling weird about it all, and a bit troubled by the initial grin and glint in his eye that reminded me of my ex. Eventually I decided that he must be interested by his behaviour, but I felt that maybe I was being played in some way and thought he was trying to trick me into going round so that I’d have sex with him. What kept bugging me was that he’d said he’d been lonely and hadn’t connected with many people, but I’d seen a woman enter his house not that long ago. He said he’d been single for such and such a time, but I’m pretty sure I’d seen this woman go round quite recently. It was really awkward but I brought it up because I was really worried about being ‘played.’ He went funny with me, said it must have been his ex. Started laughing and said he had to go to bed as it was late (whereas the previous night we’d chatted really late, so the sudden abrupt change seemed odd). The next day he sent me a message saying that he was taken aback because he only saw me as a friend, and felt like I’d got the wrong idea and wanted much more from him?

    It felt absolutely mortifying to receive that message, and I’m still in two minds about it. On the one hand, I’m open to the possibility that my own attraction to him made me assume that he liked me back, and read more into his messages and suggestions of meeting up. On the other hand, he had been really full on a flirty when we met, very charming, with a big grin and a glint in his eye, asking me all about myself, asking me what I was doing next. All of the late night messages, replying really quickly, the long chats about all different subjects, downplaying our age difference, the suggestions of meeting up including saying we could go to this event together, asking if I wanted to go round to his house. If he really wanted to just be friends, why was he doing all of this? What younger man targets an older woman to instantly become best friends inviting her round to his house like that and suggesting all sorts of activities to do together, messaging her late into the night? In all my years of life I’ve never met anyone who treated me like this who just wanted to be friends. Men who aren’t interested make it pretty clear by basically not being there, they don’t message me constantly and ask to meet up, or flirt with me and ask me loads of questions about myself. I was asked out on a date by a man a similar age to him recently so it’s not like I’m ancient and super unattractive or anything!

    The whole experience has left me feeling rather old and foolish as well as unattractive. I can see that whatever his intentions, the whole thing was problematic and I should have kept maintaining my boundaries from then start (I tried to by suggesting he do things by himself rather than with me for example). But I got caught up in the attention, charm and flattery as well as the shared hobbies and what felt like chemistry and an instant connection. I’m not ‘old’ but I can see how as I get older I will have to be cautious about good looking younger men trying to charm me because a lot of these men are con artists who want to use older women in some way.

    If he did genuinely feel really lonely and just wanted to be my friend, I feel terrible for assuming it was more, and very embarrassed. But his behaviour really confused me a lot.

    I feel glad that I ended whatever it was so soon and went with my gut that something about it was strange, but also disappointed that I got involved at all after everything I’ve been through with my abusive ex.

    Anyway thanks for reading all of that and any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • #111102
     Lifebegins 
    Participant

    Hi SunshineRainflower,

    I think you dodged a bullet with this guy. In my opinion, he was very full on in a very short time frame so I don’t think you should feel bad that you thought he was interested in you as more than a friend. It was a reasonable assumption.
    And the fact you say you were feeling uncomfortable. Probably your gut instinct warning you off xx

  • #111105
     SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    Thank you Lifebegins. I’ve been thinking he was basically just seeing what he could get, being deliberately ambiguous in both flirting but then not flirting. Each day I kept thinking he’s interested/he’s not interested and it was confusing. I think his intention was to make me think he liked me to see what he could get before turning round and saying I’d got the wrong idea.
    I’m so glad I never got involved with him more than messaging after our initial meeting, I think it would have been a bad experience. I felt a few times that he was laughing at me, which is what my ex used to do. If he genuinely wanted to be my friend he wouldn’t have acted funny when I asked him about the woman, and he also would have not laughed at me nor abandoned the friendship once I got suspicious about him.

  • #111115
     YellowBird 
    Participant

    Hi there, here are my thoughts…
    Something I’ve learned about myself is that my “radar” for detecting abusers/manipulators/men that are trouble, is a bit off. I’ve several times over my life chosen men like this, despite many hundreds of hours therapy, books, talks, conversation with other abused people, journalling & telling myself what to look out for/avoid.
    I’ve learned to listen to the littlest voice that says that “maybe, possibly this person isn’t all that I hope they are”. Like you, I’ve noticed stuff that had me doubting.
    When you say: ‘I was feeling really overwhelmed and exhausted by the constant messaging, and kept waking up early feeling weird about it all, and a bit troubled by the initial grin and glint in his eye that reminded me of my ex.’ I could have written these exact words many times, too.
    Why do I keep getting it wrong/giving him one more chance?: I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I doubt my own instincts. I’ve put in all this work on myself, surely I would have learned by now. I just want to love someone and be loved back. People aren’t all bad.
    Maybe you’d agree with some of my reasons, maybe not. But I’m trying to learn to listen to my smallest little voice, as soon as she starts telling me her doubts. I may proceed, with much caution. Or I may just politely and completely remove myself from the interaction and stay away.
    I hope this helps…

  • #111119
     Wants To Help 
    Participant

    My take on this is that the guy was attracted to you as an older woman/cougar and was putting the feelers out to see if you were up for some no strings attached sex. He’s likely to be in a relationship, hence him getting all edgy and twitchy when you confronted him about the woman you saw going to his house, so if that’s the case he’s a player and not someone to be trusted. He was definitely flirting with you, don’t think you misunderstood that, but he was waiting for you to give something back too.

    Take the experience as a compliment, you’re clearly an attractive woman, and if you were up for some NSA sex with a fit younger guy then you can certainly pull it off. I know a single guy in his 30’s who is interested in older women for the sexual experience but not a relationship. He’s sent me a few flirty messages, but I know what he’s up to (detail removed by Moderator) Even though I’m old enough to be his mum I have to admit, it does boost the ego a bit to know I could if I wanted to…

  • #111126
     SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    Ah thanks ladies I have been feeling so foolish, down and humiliated by this experience and felt silly sharing about it on here but I’m glad I did because the insight of other women is always so invaluable, especially women who have experienced abusive/manipulative men like I have.

    Wants to Help your comment about the cougar made me laugh, that was my impression I got from him from the start that he was definitely interested in me, although at that point I hadn’t figured out it was only sex he wanted. Because we had shared hobbies, instantly seemed to click, got on well and seemed to have a mutual attraction I thought he was interested in dating initially, and that’s what let my guard down, but over time I started to feel suspicious and think he was just after sex. For him to then turn around around and say he only saw me as a friend was awful because it made me question my own ability to read signals as well as making me feel old, ugly, stupid and rejected. Like most women, I’ve got adept at reading signals from men after one too many uncomfortable experiences where men became sleazy towards me (such as male colleagues). I learnt to pick up early signs of interest so that I could make it very clear I wasn’t interested because I don’t like men asking me out when I’m not interested, it’s awkward and cringe worthy. Same with dating, I’ve been on dates with men who clearly weren’t interested in me and it saved me heartache by ending those attachments early rather than fooling myself that someone liked me when they didn’t.

    Everything about this guy’s behaviour screamed ‘interested’ to me so it feels like he’s gaslighting me saying that no apparently all of that was just because he wanted to be my instant super intense best friend. Gaslighting is so horrible because it makes us doubt everything we’ve ever known, doubt our instincts, our memory, our ability to read signals, to interpret things and read between the lines. If a man I’ve just met is flirting with me, messaging me a lot and asking if I want to meet up 1-1 and do activities together and go to events all within a few weeks of meeting, I’m definitely going to think he’s interested. I’d never in a million years act like that towards someone I had no interest in because who does that? Why bother? It really messes with your head and leaves you feeling bad about yourself.

    YellowBird I totally agree, I sometimes feel like a foreigner in a strange land who has to really listen and tune into new people because what’s obvious to others isn’t initially obvious to me. I have several times got carried away with flattery and charm when others could clearly see the guy was a scoundrel. I think I just feel so flattered and the attention they give me is like a high, I mean it literally gives a dopamine high and makes me feel dizzy. I’ve realised that no matter how many times people tell me I’m attractive etc, I always feel not good enough somehow, and insecure, so men who turn up and are super keen are like a drug for me. I have been working on self care, self acceptance, self love etc since my ex but it’s clear I’m still not there yet and have some weaknesses around flattering, charming men rather than seeing through their nonsense and getting my self esteem from myself.

    It has been quite a good test for me to see where I am in terms of my healing. To be honest part of why I feel low is that I’m a bit horrified with how quickly I got sucked in, and unfortunately I told him quite a lot of personal stuff because I found him easy to talk to and initially thought he seemed like a really nice, interesting person. I know that I shouldn’t overshare with new people but for some reason I made that mistake again this time and I need to deal with that and prepare to protect my boundaries and personal information better the next time I meet anyone (including friends).

    Like a lot of people this whole lockdown situation has been bad for me because I initially lost my volunteer job and a hobby group and was put into enforced isolation for months. The day I met him I’d been out to do one of the things I used to enjoy and it was closed and I was feeling sad and frustrated that so many of the things I used to enjoy have now been taken away from me, that I have hardly anything going on in my life anymore and hardly anyone to do activities with, and I can’t just join a new hobby group/volunteering because most things are just not happening anymore. I was so happy to stumble across someone who seemed nice locally with shared hobbies I was delighted to have him in my life, including just as a friend. It all seemed so positive at first, sigh.

    In short, I’m lonely and unhappy and very worried about the future and he turned up seemingly able to offer me solutions to this. Now that he’s gone I’m back to where I was, just feeling even more lonely and a bit more foolish than before.

    I know that although a good partner is great, the solution to my problems isn’t a man. I know this but I sometimes forget it, because when an attractive man turns up it’s difficult to not want to jump into a romance. But, I’ve realised I use romance as an escape. What I really need is to make my life as best as I can. I’ve been feeling so low about how to do that with all these restrictions and sometimes it’s difficult to not despair.

    But I won’t give up, I’m a survivor and I will one day thrive again. He’s done me a favour actually because I’ve woken up from that spell of infatuation and I can think clearly again, and will start taking baby steps again towards improving my life.

    One other thing I wanted to share before I forget was, I remember when I met him I felt a lot of sparks, like instant chemistry. I’d not felt that since my ex. Before I always used to think spark = good but I remember reading somewhere from a woman with a history of abusive relationships who said she’s learnt to run in the other direction when she feels a spark now, because it means they are similar to your primary abuser. I thought this was sad but it stayed with me and I actually remembered it with him, I thought ‘doesn’t the fact that I felt all this chemistry actually mean he’s probably not good for me?’ I think the woman who said this was called Pia Mellody if anyone wants to look her up, she’s an author and speaker on codependency and love addiction and I’ve found her talks helpful, she has a good one on youtube about self esteem.

    I also read a good quotation that said ‘a player is like a firework, and a good man is like a fireplace!’ It made me laugh and I thought how true that is.

  • #111134
     Wants To Help 
    Participant

    It’s sometimes difficult to gauge a person right at the beginning of ‘something’. I say ‘something’ because no one really knows what it is at the start, is it someone being friendly and chatty, is it someone who is single and trying to establish if you are single too because they like you, is it someone who definitely wants to get to know you better? The fact that you didn’t meet this guy on a dating site to start with meant that the first meeting and chat you had with him was entirely by chance on a walk. So it’s highly unlikely that either of you knew if the other was single, available, looking to date, interested in meeting someone for a relationship or what?! You made a chance comment regarding his hobby and expected no more than a ‘thank you’, so clearly, your intention was not to chat him up, but he then got in to a conversation with you and things unfolded from there. So the fact that by the end of this conversation you ended up exchanging numbers meant there was an attraction there on both sides, which then led in to dating each other… by text!

    You said his first message was really nice and you chatted for a few days. So you both exchanged some information, which people do on dates, and as the days went on it got a bit more flirty, so he was interested. But did the actual question get asked by either of you “Are you single?” or did that feel a bit too taboo and presumptuous to ask outright? So this is where the lines get a bit blurred, no one quite wants to put out there what they are really thinking, wanting or hoping for, and everything gets skirted around a bit. Then you drop the bombshell that you’ve seen the woman go to his house, he’s been caught out, back pedals out of likely embarrassment, and then tries to turn it in to he only wanted to be friends. You now feel foolish, but don’t be. Put it down to a ‘dating’ experience that didn’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up over it, you’ve done nothing wrong.

    Getting back in to dating is a whole new ball game – and there are rules to it! My dating bible is a book called ‘It’s Just A Date’ by Greg Behrendt. It’s written in a comedic way but it is spot on. I follow the rules of dating it sets out and you really get to understand the game. I’ve never got past date 4 with anyone – and it doesn’t recommend sex until date 7! By following the rules of dating, I’ve not got in to the old mistakes I used to make by having sex with someone too soon and then thinking we were compatible because the sex was good. By date 4 you really start to feel whether you have some compatibility with someone or not, or, whether those sparks of attraction are still there that you felt on date 1 or 2. I’ve had men get bored of me by date 4 because I won’t have sex yet, they think I’m not interested in them, but that’s ok with me, because I don’t want to meet someone who wants sex quickly. If he’s not prepared to wait a month or so then I’m not going to lose any sleep over him and think he might be “the one that got away.” Likewise, I’ve met up with men who I initially really fancied, but by date 3 or 4 I’ve found out that we don’t really have anything in common – and here’s the difficult bit. It’s how we handle this that makes us wonder if someone is a player, gaslighting or an abuser.

    I still can’t bring myself to tell a man that I’m no longer interested in him because of x, y or z after date 3 or 4 because I don’t know him well enough to know how he will take rejection and how my reasons will affect his mental health or self confidence, so I just do what I now know is ‘grey rock’. I don’t answer texts quickly, and if I do I’ll be non committal with something, less interested, and hope he gets the message I’m not interested! Us women talk about ‘grey rock’ on here and recommend it with our abusers, so I guess in some way, if it’s okay for us to do it then it is okay for a guy to do it too if he’s no longer interested – and we need to learn to read these signs. It doesn’t mean he’s an abuser, or he’s gaslighted us. It means he’s no longer that in to us.

    Some years ago I learned about the ‘two text rule’ and I follow that too. So in the early days of dating/meeting someone, if you send them a text and they don’t reply it’s no big deal. If later in the day or the next day you send another one and they don’t reply, then take the hint – send no more. It’s highly unlikely he’s lost his phone / had it stolen / is in a coma in hospital and unable to respond.

    I have developed a really thick skin now when it comes to meeting men. I’m not easily flattered, I’m very sceptical of their intentions, I’m in no rush to move things quicker than the pace I’m ready for. I’ve not been hurt or had my heart broken for a long time. I’ve not been in an abusive relationship since I left my abuser over a decade ago. I know this might not be the outlook for everyone, but it works for me.

    Not sure how relevant all this is to your initial post, I’ve just got carried away with typing here, but it’s worth getting the ‘It’s Just A Date’ book anyway. It’ll make you laugh and you’ll learn what to look out for and how to play by the ‘rules’ lol

  • #111333
     Camel 
    Participant

    Hi Sunshine

    Don’t feel foolish. There’s nothing wrong with feeling flattered. And frankly, no harm done, especially as he didn’t manage to get you into his newly decorated bedroom 🙂

    I read his intentions a bit differently from the younger man after a no-strings jump with a cougar. I don’t think he would have tried so hard for zero reward.

    I’m absolutely not saying this is how it was – I’m a product of my own experiences. However, I read it as someone you barely knew laying the groundwork for control.

    Love bombing – the intensity and frequency of contact.

    Persuading you to reveal what makes you tick – your interests, tastes in music, views on philosophy, whatever. Then reflecting these back to you so you saw someone ‘on the same wavelength’ with ‘a lot of similarities.’

    Push-pull – talking for hours, then stopping contact. Punishing you with no contact if you question him. Making you feel guilty for not contacting this man you’d met in the street.

    You knew from the very first meeting that he was showing you a false image. You saw all the red flags. You’re good at this! If anything, question what happened that persuaded you to give him your contact details. Why it is you felt you couldn’t get away from that first meeting. Why it is you didn’t simply ignore his first message. What swept you along despite all your misgivings.

    I agree that you dodged a bullet. Abusive or not, manipulative all the same. (In my opinion anyway…)

  • #111346
     SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    Wow Camel thanks so much for writing that. It’s funny because over the past few days I’ve started to come to the same conclusion as you, and have the uneasy feeling that this man is worse than just ‘a player,’ I think that like my ex, he is probably a psychopath.

    I know that word gets overused, but I only use it for one of my exes, plus a female colleague I met a few years ago. Both my ex and the female colleague had a remarkable amount of similarities, but I got drawn in by both because the platonic nature of the colleague relationship meant I failed to recognise the same behaviour in my ex when I met him. It’s only in hindsight I can see how they both behaved in a very similar way, and I even remember joking to the colleague that it was like she was targeting me to date me even though we were both straight. But that’s exactly what it was like – an intense, very fast moving, instant friendship that started off with her idealising me (love bombing, charm and rushed attachment) and was seemingly ‘incredibly similar’ (mirroring) and by the end she was criticising me, mocking me, laughing at me, gaslighting me and then she stalked me for at least two years when I went no contact, contacting me on different social media accounts, calls to my house, emails etc. I remember being quite scared of her and knew I had to go full no contact because I considered her to be frightening and unhinged with a complete lack of empathy from the things she said and how she’d treated me and other people.

    I realised this recent guy was very similar:

    – An instant feeling of a ‘connection’ and like I’d ‘clicked’ with someone and that we ‘just got on so well’ (which I’m now realising was him using immense charm on me as well as mirroring)

    – Because of the above plus me finding him attractive, I let my guard down fairly quickly. I actually felt like I was in a sort of trance. I’ve heard people mention this before, it’s almost like they hypnotise us, and that is exactly how I felt. I came inside after meeting him and lay on the floor, feeling completely dizzy, that my brain had been highjacked and like I’d ‘fallen in love.’ And that feeling never left until I started to wise up to what was happening. As soon as I wised up, it’s like the trance just dissolved and I just didn’t trust him anymore. I smelt a rat and it felt very similar to when I started to get suspicious about my ex. The difference this time was that I knew I would never put myself through that again where I’d believe a man over myself, so I went with my gut this time and called him out and knew my intuition would be right, even though he’d never admit it.

    – I remember thinking I felt like I’d lost my mind and needed to put up boundaries with him, because I noticed that he was trying to manipulate me early on with the ‘I’m not very good at that, maybe you could help me’ poor me comments. But I felt really drawn to him like a magnet and also felt guilty not replying, because he’d sent me a double message when I ignored him the first time. Plus he was younger, and said he just wanted to be friends, so I felt sorry for him – which is a classic sign you’ve met a psychopath, because the number one thing they try to invoke is pity!!!

    – I also think that having been single for several years and having healed a lot, my heart is tentatively open to love again, and so I thought ‘well why don’t you give this a chance’ trying to be open minded, which made me much less cautious than I’d usually be.

    I am so so so so SO glad I listened to my gut this time. It was so difficult, because I was enjoying talking to him and he was promising me all sorts of things. Unfortunately I did tell him quite a bit about myself such as things I liked to do ( a big regret now, and it shows that although I’m doing well in my healing, I’m still not fully there yet), and he’d then suggest we do all the activities I enjoyed, all within the first week of meeting! He suggested several future events too.

    It all sounded great, BUT, due to the millions of hours I’ve spent watching youtube videos about narcissists, psychopaths, manipulators and abusers as well as the books and blog pots I’ve read on this topic, I found my brain go ‘hang on, that’s future faking’ (a term from a great highly recommended dating blog called Baggage Reclaim) and ‘hang on, he was really charming, that’s a red flag’ and ‘Hmm, he seems to be trying to manipulate me into going to his bedroom’ and ‘ This is all moving very fast, and whether ti’s romance or friendship, no normal relationship moves this fast.’

    So basically, all that time digesting that info is worth it!! So please anyone reading this in a similar situation to me feeling from abuse, do it too, because it will help you learn all of the red flags and they’ll pop up in your head the next time you meet a manipulator. I’m so glad about this because I used to worry I was wasting time reading this stuff and that I’d still get drawn in again, but clearly it gt into my subconscious and this time it was there, like an armour, and it pulled me out of the trance before I got too involved.

    Another strange thing is what happened to my body. I became depressed, anxious, drained, I felt envious, and exhausted, and I couldn’t think of anything but him 24/7. My productivity plummeted, I missed three commitments as I was so tired, and I wasted hours not being able to concentrate, plus hours messaging him. I started waking up early, and felt sick. I thought ‘hang on, this is how it felt at the end with my ex’ and starred to connect that it was being around this person that had this very negative effect on my mind, body and soul, something that took me months to figure out with my ex by which time a lot of harm had been done. So always listen to your body and how it’s reacting around someone. If you feel very drained and sleepy, that’s a sign.

    Finally, there was this small voice in my head that pointed out that it was not exactly a great idea to go round to this strange man’s house after just meeting, even though he was. neighbour. I found this entranced part of me wanting to make excuses like ‘with all these lockdowns how else will you ever meet anyone’ and ‘well he’s just a neighbour and he seems lovely’ and ‘you can’t blame all men for the sins of your ex!’ and ‘well it’s only to do the hobby’ etc etc. But I couldn’t shake the feeling it wasn’t a good idea, so thankfully I delayed it and then never went, phew.

    By the end I recognised the gaslighting too – for example when I asked a couple of questions, I could sense he didn’t like them and he’d then pretend to not understand what I’d asked. I then rephrased it and he answered in a weirdly defensive way. This is a textbook sign that you’re talking to a bad character and to get well away, as it’s them trying to teach you not to ask them certain questions so you end up treading on eggshells. It’s them indicating that you are to believe the narrative they sell you, and not ask awkward questions.

    I clearly am still a bit vulnerable to these sorts of people, and I’ve been thinking about that recently. My vulnerabilities are:

    – I’m lonely
    – I lack local friends to meet up with
    – I’m codependent
    – I’m probably a bit of a love addict where I love romance as an escape from my problems
    – I’m unhappy with where I am in life especially in terms of my career and my friendships
    – I lost a lot of my social activities with the lockdown and I’m not sure they’ll ever return so that has lead me to feeling depressed and at times despairing about the future because how can I make fiends and have a full life if it’s illegal to do social activities and there are no groups running

    In short, he felt like a shortcut to a lot of my problems, and combined with his good looks, charm, shared hobbies and local location I found myself thinking ‘wow how lucky is this that you met him!’ Thank goodness the sensible part of me that watched all those videos was there to pull me back to reality and to safety. What helped me tune into myself was daily walks and daily journaling. It meant I couldn’t escape my doubts. I promised myself after my ex that if I dated again I would journal, and I can’t recommend this highly enough. It was so helpful this time.

    I love her (my intuition) and I love me, for doing that for myself.

  • #111350
     Camel 
    Participant

    Hi Sunshine

    I’m glad I haven’t offended you. It would be so easy to write off every relationship before it got started, cautious as we are.

    I think that you recognised this man as a manipulator within seconds of speaking to him. You talked about his grin and his eyes. There’s something really plastic about a manipulator’s mannerisms. I’ve read about the n********t’s ‘weird laugh’ and I know what they mean without being able to explain it. It’s not just about how inappropriate or how loud or how forced it can be. There’s something almost malevolent about it. I think the same can be said about the eyes and the smile.

    You identified these weird traits straight away but you overrode your sixth sense. That’s because you’re healing and have optimism, which is fantastic. It’s hard to know when it’s safe to let your guard down. I would think that intuition is your closest ally.

    You’ve been so honest about how you reacted to him after one brief meeting, believing yourself to have fallen in love. We live in a culture that puts great store in the enduring nature of love at first sight so I can see how easy it would be to get swept along. The reality though is that such an extreme response is abnormal in an otherwise grounded woman. We might say you were bewitched. To use a less flattering phrase, you were tricked.

    All power to you for keeping your inner voice on low volume whilst seeing where things went. I don’t think you should feel embarrassed or that you’ve taken a backwards step. You’ve emerged wiser without compromise x

  • #111383
     SunshineRainflower 
    Participant

    No I wasn’t offended at all, I’m glad I shared it on here as it was a really unnerving, confusing experience especially with him turning around at the end and basically telling me I’d imagined his interest in me after everything he did and how flirty he’d been. It was horrible because it made me question everything I’d learnt about men, about flirting, and dating, and boundaries and relationships on top of also feeling rather foolish, old and humiliated, which I can’t help thinking is exactly how he wanted me to feel. I thought if this man just wanted to be friends, how on earth do men act if they are asking me out on dates and wanting to be more than friends because I thought that’s exactly what he was doing.

    Yes, I’ve noticed they have this weird unnerving smile, that is actually them laughing at us whilst pretending to be smiling with us if that makes sense. I remember once I showed something to my ex and he got this weird fake smile on his face and looked like he was laughing at me, whereas when I gave this same thing to other people to look at they wouldn’t have a big grin on their face nor would I feel they were laughing at me, they’d look at it with interest and respect and ask me thoughtful questions about it.

    I noticed the exact same weird fake smile/hidden laughing at me with this guy when I gave him an object to look at. He then made a comment that seemed sort of a compliment but was actually a put down, something these types of people always do and it often catches us off guard until we process it later. They hate us being good at anything, or being happy and joyous so they always try to sow seeds of doubt, make us question ourselves, and try to ruin things we enjoy.

    I don’t think I did actually override my sixth sense, because initially I didn’t actually recognise the big grin etc as a red flag, I thought it was flattering. But once I clocked the red flags I then tuned in and went with my gut. It just took a few days for it to click that I was seeing red flags which I think is often the case, it’s why we date as it’s difficult to get a feel of someone from just a short encounter although it can give us some big clues which are helpful.

    I definitely didn’t enjoy the feeling this time, it made me feel so confused and disorientated and I really wanted my energy and concentration back. Thankfully as soon as I figured him out that dizzy feeling evaporated and it was like I woke from a trance, a spell, like you say I was bewitched. It has been a really good reminder of what not to look for in a partner, a reminder of red flags, and a reminder of the kind of feeling I don’t want to get around someone.

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