Timelines (or What I Could Have Seen, Had I Been Looking For It)

My N contacted me from a dating site where I thought I was defunct.  Apparently their server burped and my profile got reactivated, so I must have showed up as “new.”

I told my N that I was not interested in dating, thanked him for his email and thought that would be an end to it.  No dice.  He emails back that he’d really like a chance to get to know me.  I email back and suggest he read my new profile where I state that since the dating site insists my profile be there, I am not available for dating, and that I’m unavailable because I’m finding that too many of the men I’m meeting have issues I don’t want to deal with.

My N read it, and emailed back that he was “so sorry I’d been hurt so badly.”  Huh?  I didn’t say I’d been hurt.  I said I was finding too many men with issues I didn’t want to deal with.   CLUE!  N people read what they want to read, not what is there.  

N was so charming about it, that I fell.  Here was a totally sensitive, caring and compassionate man.

N and I emailed for two weeks before he asked for my number.  CLUE! N people will not give you anything unless they feel they can benefit from doing so.  He didn’t offer HIS number because he wasn’t sure he’d benefit.  So he asked for mine.  Courteous men, on dating sites, do not ask a woman for a phone number.  They offer theirs. 

N called me and we talked for two hours.  I’m not stupid.  I’m rather well-educated and have a pretty good handle on behavioral disorders.  I’ve even had a few of my own.  Yet, when N told me about his breakup with his previous girlfriend and then said he’d had his dating profile open the entire time he was “dating” her (for six years), it didn’t dawn on me that his response to my query about that being dishonest was:  “oh she knew.  her’s was open, too.”  CLUE!  N people will stay in a relationship with a mirror that is less than satisfactory to them because they are, by and large, unable to be alone with themselves.  They will also be constantly looking for a shiny clean new mirror if their current one seems a bit dirty.  

When I asked N about his marriage, he said his ex-wife had been “diagnosed” with a specific and rare behavioral disorder, started talking about how crazy she was and then stopped, abruptly, saying it upset him too much to talk about it because it wasn’t a positive and upbeat subject.  CLUE:  N people are secretive.  They don’t engage in full disclosure unless there is some benefit to themselves.  They are dishonest, closed, and any further revelation regarding this N’s marriage might have made him appear flawed, and he doesn’t believe himself to be flawed.  

We meet, N is charming, witty, compassionate, understanding, and says he felt like I was a “friend seasoned by years of acquaintance.”  Barf.

Our first real date, N takes me to a lovely little restaurant and orders a LOT of food.  Attentive, charming, etc.  Then, about halfway through the meal he says:  “This is a treat. It’s not something I do often.”  CLUE! N people can be either extremely parsimonious or totally irresponsible about their money.  Rarely is there an in-between.  N’s comment translated to:  “Don’t expect this again, because I’m only doing this to impress you.” N people NEED others to be impressed with them.  they NEED adulation. 

Our third meeting, second real date, he invites me to dinner at his home.  He has custody of a teen son.  I wouldn’t do that, if I were a custodial parent.  But then, I’m fairly normal.  CLUE!  N people have no concept of what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior, nor do they care.  They cannot love, and bringing a brand new woman into his teen’s life, after the teen has been through such an acrimonious divorce, had to go to a special school for therapy, etc., was of no consequence to my N.  He didn’t care.  He actually said to me:  “It’s about me.  My dating is about me, not (name of son).”  Whoa!

I arrived and the first thing N did was offer me a beer.  Home-brewed of course, so it’s “lower” alcohol content.  He pulls a pint glass out of the cabinet and says “this is for you, we need to watch how much you consume.”  The glass had measurement marks on it.  CLUE! N people have to control everything, and sometimes right down to how much you eat, drink, breathe, etc.  They must feel they are in control of you at all times. 

N made a point of telling me during one conversation that even though he drank daily, he drank only a pint, if that.  Liar, liar, pants on fire. He was toasted and happy when I arrived, and during the course of the evening, he drank four pints like they were water.  He was on his fifth when I left.

Fourth encounter, third real date:  You guess it – at N’s house.  Same scenario.  I’d offered to bring steaks and was going to marinate them the way I normally do.  He suggested a brine was all that was needed.  It was a very strong suggestion.  I’d never marinated in a brine.  So I asked him how much water to how much salt.  His reply was “some to some and if you’re using sea salt, some to more.”  Yeah, okay.  Whatever.

I arrive  with steaks, marinating in brine.  He grills them, and they are a bit salty, but not too salty.  He “compliments” me on the quality of the meat and then proceeds to tell me:  “next time use less salt.”  CLUE!  N people can’t offer a compliment without a criticism.  A normal person would have been too polite to comment on it at the time and perhaps brought it up later. Not an N person.  

Okay fifth encounter, last official date with this person.  Again, same scenario only son is not there.  I won’t bore you with the details, but there was a lot of physical affection on his part, but which was instantly withdrawn when I reciprocated.  There was a lot of passive-aggressive criticism regarding my ability to do something I hadn’t done in 43 years.  There was a constant flow of “humorous” criticism of my ability to do this thing all the way back to his house.  Do I need to provide the clue?  Nah, didn’t think I did.

See – I thought his abuse started somewhere farther down the line. I thought it started when I voiced a concern about how he’d spoken to me over the phone.  It didn’t.  It started with the first email exchange.  And do you know what?  It took me writing this post to understand that.

The very first email exchange.

I am not a stupid woman.  N’s happen to be very adept at acquiring new mirrors.  They know all the right things to do and say to obfuscate their motives.

How will we know if we’re involved with an N?  We won’t until we are involved, and hopefully we’ll see the signs well before we get too invested.  I was lucky.  I only had 3 months of this – but look at the damage only 3 months had done!  I can’t imagine the horror of my life if I hadn’t started to truly see him at the two month mark.  And it still took me another month to decide I didn’t want him.  I don’t want him. I want the damned illusion, only I want it to be real, with an emotionally healthy man.

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