Relationships are so complicated, and something that's blatantly unsettling to someone may go unnoticed by another person. Luckily, these people were able to free themselves from frightening partners, but not before uncovering some shocking revelations. The secrets their partners had been keeping showed just how vile they truly were. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I was married to a possible psychopath for four years. People keep asking me how that could happen, especially because I'm a very independent, emotionally intelligent person, and I explain that he is a master liar. He wanted to have a wife, per social requirements, so he did everything in his power to not only woo me, but create a facade of my perfect man before we got married. After we were married, there were plenty of signs, but while we were dating, there was only one incident I could think of that betrayed his true nature.
When we were dating, he told me I wasn't allowed to wear heels, because it made me taller than him. I asked him if me being taller than him bothered him, and he said, 'No, but society views couples with a taller woman in a certain way, and that's not how I want to be viewed.'
I told him that I didn't think it was appropriate for him to tell me what shoes to wear. He then back-tracked and convinced me that his previous statement was a botched attempt at irony, and that of course I could wear what I wanted. We weren't arguing, it was just a regular conversation. We were in a souvenir shop. It doesn't seem like much, but looking back, it's the only clue I got before the marriage that he wasn't who he was pretending to be.
Fast-forward a year and a half later, and we're married. We never argue, because he never seems to take issue with anything. Whenever I take issue with something, he calmly smooth-talks his way out of it by either retracting whatever he did/said entirely or convincing me that it wasn't what I thought it was. But every time this happened, he was all talk and no act. For example, we had an ongoing issue where he insisted on doing the grocery shopping, but consistently never bought a single item that I requested. He never got what I asked, and his reason was always 'I'm not doing it on purpose, I just forgot. I’ll try to remember next time.'
Keep in mind that this guy graduated with a near-perfect GPA, but never studied. He doesn't have a poor memory. I tried going with him, and he would glare at me every time I put something in the cart, and would often remove my items when I wasn't looking. I'm also allergic to onions, so I kept asking him to stop cooking with onions, and every time, he'd say 'Oh, wow, you really are in a lot of pain, aren't you?' but he kept doing it.
Fast-forward 4 years and I tell him that I no longer want to be Mormon and would like to stop going to church. I had no issue with him still going to church. He said stuff like, 'You have good reasons, I understand, I still love you.'
But then two weeks later, he says he wants a divorce and that I need to be out of 'his' apartment by the end of the month, so that he can get remarried as soon as possible. He seemed to think that was sufficient explanation, but I demanded more, which eventually prompted him to say, 'Look, I never loved you. I was just pretending to love you because I assumed you were going to follow the rules.'
At first, I was going to fight to stay in the house for another month or so. I was about to graduate from college and hadn't lined up a job yet, but he changed after breaking up with me. I ended up moving out as soon as I could. Suddenly, he never had expressions on his face or tone in his voice. I remember looking into his eyes a few times and feeling utterly terrified because there was just nothing in there. I even broke my foot at one point. I thought he was home, but after I was crying in pain for 5 minutes without a response, I figured he wasn't. I hopped to my phone and called my sister to take me to the hospital, and while I was waiting, he came into the kitchen. He acted like he didn't know I was there until I said, 'I hurt my foot. You think it's a break or a sprain?'
He looked at my foot, which was slightly misshapen and extremely swollen, and said, 'You’re always hurting yourself,' did this weird laugh-like thing, and then went back into the den, eating his snack. He has never sought psychiatric help. I've asked him if he would please see a therapist before marrying somebody else, and he said he would, but I could tell he was lying."
"I had been dating a woman for 6 months, and we scheduled a trip to Florida together, with our kids. The flight left quite early in the morning, and God help me, I overslept. My son and my bags were packed, and I had overslept. It was a terrible mistake, particularly on our first big trip together. I have always regretted that I did that. I apologized many times, both that day and every time she reminded me of that day for the next 5 years, at least 2–3 times per month.
She called me and woke me from a dead sleep. I picked up and freaked out when I realized the time. I said, 'We’re on our way!' and got my son into the car. I drove to the airport way faster than I should have done with my son in the car, but we made the originally scheduled flight. She was very angry that I had not made the time we had agreed to meet at the airport, fair enough. I more than deserved to hear about her being angry: she had every right to be so. I expected that to fade after we all got on our originally scheduled flight and left on time.
Her anger did not fade. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day, except to start yelling at me again. She accused me of 'standing her up' multiple times in front of both of our children, even though I had made the flight, and apologized at least 20 times. How is it possible to stand someone up, and still be there at the same time? In every interaction we had that day, through her body language, slamming things, or through words, she made it clear to anyone in a 10-foot radius how angry she was with me. Had I behaved that way toward a woman in an airport, I’d have been arrested and jailed.
When we got to the connecting airport before our final destination, her son realized that he didn’t have a boarding pass for our final flight. His mother was so fully in the grips of her rage that I told him not to tell her. I took his packet silently, went to CS, and got him a new boarding pass. This kid had just met me, but he knew his mom well enough to have me, a relative stranger, handle his boarding pass situation while Mom was raging.
The raging continued when we got to our final destination. After 12+ hours of this, I was done. I scheduled a cab for the next morning. We went to bed without speaking. She slept in what would have been our room, and I slept on couch cushions that I put on the tiled floor of the time-share’s kitchen. The rage-dam finally broke at 2 in the morning. She came out to where I was sleeping and actually spoke to me in a normal tone of voice for the first time in 20 hours. 'I’m sorry. Please come to bed.'
While the story above is weird enough, what I didn't mention was what she was saying during the harangues throughout the day. Mostly she kept yelling at me that my being late was some kind of covert message to her that I had doubts about the relationship. Being late (even though I was genuinely apologetic and embarrassed) was the hallmark of my not really caring for her, and was my way of telling her that without words. It was mind-blowing. I had no idea what to say to those accusations as they were not true, and I had no frame of reference or empathy for someone who would operate that way. I am an imperfect guy with many of my own problems. I am not someone who resorts to manipulation or passive aggressive behavior to get what I want. What I learned later was that she was projecting; she assumed that I would operate that way because that's how she operates. It took me 5 years to figure that out.
To make a long story short: that occurrence of day-long rage was not an isolated incident. After 20+ hours of raging and silent treatment, I should have kept my cab appointment and left, never looking back. It took me 5 years to realize my error, five stolen and wasted years of gaslighting, triangulation, and isolating me from friends and family. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to trust again."
"I met, let’s call him 'Jay', at the gym. He was a trainer. Some people would already stop me here and tell me to retract, but I didn’t want to assume. He was the perfect amount of timid and confident. His smile and attitude got you feeling comfortable in an instant. He would always stare at me when I 'tried' working out. Even when he was training other women, he would sneak a glimpse at me every now and then. My friend called him stalker freaky, but nonetheless I enjoyed his attention, and I kept coming back just to see him.
Lets fast-forward a little bit to when we quit the body-language reading and actually started talking. I went out of my way and actually said hello, and later on we became workout buddies. The first weird thing hit me. He asked me how old I thought he was. This little guessing game had no definite answer that day. It prompted me to want to know more about him. I asked around and looked on social media. Couldn’t find the guy.
We started going out more, spending alone time together. One of the first things he told me when we started getting closer and more intimate was, 'I bet you’ll turn crazy for me in just a month or two.'
Little did I know I was already turning.
On one of our first dates, he caught me off guard. He showed me a picture of him holding a little boy. He said, 'Look, that’s my son.'
I said, 'Oh…really?'
I did not want to react too much in any particular way. All of a sudden he says, 'Oh no I’m kidding, that’s my nephew.'
I sigh in relief, but he follows with, 'or is it?'
This was a little irritating, but I trusted him when he said his final answer was no, it wasn’t his son. I let that one go, no biggie. One night in particular I remember vividly. He had been upset at me the night before about something small. He ignored me for the whole day until we met up at his house. He lay to his side on the bed, casually looking through his phone. I asked him if he was still upset. I repeated myself, while now tugging on his arm saying, 'Hey, pay attention to me, I’m talking to you.'
While still staring at his phone, he let out a light-hearted laugh and said, 'You think I’m happy? You think you make me happy? I already got everything I wanted from you. At this time, I’m just telling you things you wanna hear, to make you fall in love. When really what I want to say now is the kind of stuff that’ll make you want to hurt yourself.'
I broke down and cried because I had opened up to him about self-harm in previous years. I did not take this lightly. He then said, 'AH I’m joking! Ha ha,' then buried his head in the pillow laughing. He then shot up with a serious face and said, 'Oh no I’m not.'
He did this again and again and again. I ran for the door, and he proceeded to kiss me, with my heart racing, and my body numb.
I don’t know how I ever let that one go, but for sure I never forgot about it. These jokes became more and more prevalent. He started joking about other girls, how his ex was still after him, how he cheated on me already. Testing the waters is what my friends described it. I just laughed it off. He said, 'I would never do anything like that, I love you too much.'
Mind you, this is about a few months into our relationship now. You truly start to go insane after a while especially when he the jokes seem very detailed. I remember one in particular when he joked about being interested in a thicker woman with two kids and long, dark brown hair. He was very vulgar and nasty about it. We would call each other every night, but sometimes I’d hear weird moaning sounds, very faintly. Or he would cut off, and the call would go mute. I shouldn’t have put up with it. I never felt secure with a man who fantasized about other women more than he did me.
He would often say, 'I have to act single when I’m at the gym. I make bonus and commission, so I have to make sure I make a lot of money.'
It bothered me because he didn’t have to put it that way. Even the necklace he got for us on our anniversary, he wore it backwards when talking to a client, just so she couldn’t see.
I later found his explicit conversations with a woman WHO HAD TWO KIDS. She sent him pictures, and he asked for them EVEN WHEN I WAS HOME WITH HIM. I was devastated, because he would even tease me about my body. I felt even more insecure. No wonder he was always over protective over his phone. He always joked how I couldn’t touch it. There it is again. JOKED.
No, these are not jokes. Jokes always have some kind of truth buried in it. People can argue that he didn’t cheat by doing this, but this kind of behavior will make you lose your mind. He would say things like, 'You’re psycho. Why are you so crazy? What’s in that stupid little head of yours that makes you think these things. You’re creating this picture in your head, a picture that doesn’t exist.'
Please, if you are caught in a situation like this. GET OUT, NOW."
"I met a guy online earlier this year, let’s call him 'Fred'. Fred and I chatted for a week or so online before we arranged to go on our first date: drinks at a nice bar. Everything was going really well, Fred was good-looking, and he even arrived on time! He didn’t drink though, which was fine, I could deal with that. It’s what happened later that was a bit odd and concerning.
About half an hour into our date, Fred asked me how old I thought he was. I was a bit confused and said, 'Um aren’t you 32?'
Now I’d been under the assumption Fred was 32 years old, as that's what was online, and he’d made no mention in his profile that it was otherwise. Fred looked to be in his 30s. Turns out Fred was 40. I was pretty shocked he’d lied, but Fred quickly explained himself. He said, 'I put my age lower online because I look younger, and if I keep it at 40 I don’t get as many dates. But I look young so I think it is okay.'
BUT WHY 32 AND NOT 39 FRED? NO IT’S NOT OKAY. Anyway, guess what I did? I ignored that he’d blatantly tricked me and lied about his age to get me on a date. He was just so charming. But the age thing was a HUGE red flag, and a harbinger for what was to come. Because Fred was a narcissist.
Stupid me agreed to a second date with him a few days later, this time a dinner date. During said dinner date, a second big red flag popped up, namely that Fred enjoyed talking about himself ALL THE TIME. He also confessed he had difficulty getting along with other people, because they were jealous of how smart he was. Was that the third red flag? Despite all the nonsense Fred spun, and despite how often he talked about himself, I agreed to a third date.
The day after the second date, the fourth red flag happened. Fred sent me a message at 11 a.m. Three hours later at 2 p.m., he sent me another text, telling me he was, 'Extremely concerned I hadn’t replied back and please tell me if I was okay and not dying.'
I told him, 'Um, I’m fine. I’m at work, at a meeting. Very busy.'
On the third date, I ended up meeting Fred’s friends. And what did he do? He introduced me as his girlfriend! That’s red flag five. We’d only been on three dates over not even two weeks. Since when were we dating officially? How had this even happened? In between our dates I’d been out on other Tinder dates with other (more normal) guys.
So after that third date, I realized it was probably time to cut Fred loose. I sent Fred a text message the next day, 'Wishing him well and good luck for the future, but that I didn’t see one with him.'
But Fred didn’t take our devastating break up well. He went full on stalker/psycho and began calling and texting and sending me letters for months and months and months, like a mad man. He even turned up at my house once, knocking on my door, trying to convince me why I should be dating him. It was scary. I should have cut Fred loose on the first date when he’d lied about his age. I should have told him straight away that it was not okay and I wanted nothing to do with him. Last week I saw Fred online. He’d tweaked his name slightly to Fredrick and he was 31 now, not 32 or 39 or 40.
I quickly blocked him."
"I started seeing this guy in college. I'll call him Ben. We'd been friends in high school, went to senior prom together, but didn't start dating until college. He went to the university in the middle of the city and I went to a private university on the outskirts of the city. They were about a 15-minute bus ride away from one another.
So Ben and I start hanging out all the time. We snuggle, have long movie nights, he sometimes sleeps over. The thing about Ben that plays into this story was that he came from money. A LOT OF MONEY. His parents were paying for his entire college experience out-of-pocket. He was forced to volunteer one hour a week at the library for class. I had no financial support. I had to maintain grades for scholarships, take out loans, and I had 2 campus jobs.
After a few months, he wanted to start doing more things. Weekends away, obscure art shows, etc. The thing was, he wanted each of us to pay our own way. At this point, I didn't really have any spare money. And I had two jobs to schedule around. My friends thought that perhaps I was a moron and not actually in a relationship at all, since everything was Dutch and somehow we only did the things he wanted to do.
Being young, I asked him one night if he considered us boyfriend and girlfriend, and he said absolutely! I called in sick to my more profitable job and attended my first art show, an Andy Warhol nightmare that cost $60 to get in. That was my food budget, but I wanted to be a good girlfriend. And he wanted to go away to some vineyard next. This would have involved gas money and a place to stay. Finally, I just had to tell him that I couldn't afford these excursions.
He was outraged. He said it was clear that I was only dating him for his money. And that it wasn't his job to 'take care of me or show me a good time.'
It was dramatic. I realized that our entire relationship had been a series of tests. What was I willing to do to make him happy? How much was I literally willing to pay? It's worth noting that due to our schools both being in the city, we had access to all the local museums for free, but he complained they weren't good enough. He told me to call him when I was ready to apologize. I really hope he's not still waiting by the phone. It's been like 11 years."
"My father was a good dresser. Taste was important to him. He told me that if I ever wanted to intimidate a man, stare at his shoes. It was a good way to create insecurity. So I meet this guy, and he had on a very good pair of shoes. I immediately assign all good qualities to his character. And he was very cute. We started seeing each other. The alarm bells should have started ringing on Day 1. I conveniently ignored those bells, because he was just wickedly hot. He lied to me almost immediately. It was a very stupid lie. He said he had to leave to get home by 11:00 pm, to tuck his daughter into bed.
'How old is your daughter?' I ask.
'Five,' he says.
RED FLAG. Too late a bedtime for a five-year-old. Maybe it’s a New York thing, these late bedtimes, I thought. The good lucks still blinded me. He very quickly moves in with me. So many red flags ensued. I come home and there’s some guy I don’t know in my apartment with him. He says he’s a friend, and lets him use our laundry downstairs. There was a feeling in my gut. I wake up in the middle of the night. This man is in the kitchen. I can hear he’s got a burner lit, on the stove. He snaps at me to go back to sleep. It’s just weird. Like I caught him in the act. The next day, I find myself looking at a spray of blood on my bathroom wall. How did this get there? I decide to just wash the wall, and not to wonder about how mysterious bloodstains appear out of nowhere.
A little while later, I’m having dinner with friends in the neighborhood. Someone refers to my boyfriend and his girlfriend, except the girlfriend isn’t me. I mention this. The table goes silent. One woman pulls me aside and says something is going on. When I confront him, he says they’re just friends. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?
I go away for Easter for a few days. When I come home, there’s a Diet Coke in the fridge. Neither of us drink Diet Coke. At this point, I am on the cusp of a genuine nervous breakdown. I can’t figure anything out. I talk to him. He says he has feelings for both of us, but again, nothing has happened. I do not understand. I do not want to understand. It feels so, so pitiful, to tell this story and realize I had exactly zero sense of self-worth.
I go to my best friend’s house. She tells me I must connect internally with something of my own. Something that has nothing to do with him.
She also tells me she’s in charge of me right now because I’m incapable of the job.
I am in an indescribable amount of emotional and mental pain. However, I still have to go walk my dog. I take Arnold, my perfect Boston Terrier, for a walk around the block. We go to the deli downstairs. The guy at the counter tells me, 'While you were gone, he had a girl in your apartment for four days. They ordered toasted cinnamon raisin bagels with butter for breakfast every morning. Delivered.'
I leave with Arnold immediately. He senses a change in me. We walk faster. We have a war to win. I roared into my apartment. I was screaming at my boyfriend in the hall as he tried to escape. I told him he had to leave immediately. All his stuff out of there by that night. Right before he did escape my tirade of wrath, I looked at him and lowered my voice to normal.
'You’re a cruel man, I said. 'Don’t do to her what you did to me. I can take it. She can’t.'
The boyfriend spoke to the other woman on the phone briefly (he of course was moving in with her), and told her he loved her. In front of me. When he was gone I called to have the locks changed. The next few days were horrifying. Fragments of what had happened would drift down, as I’d try to piece it all together as to who he was. He said he was a stockbroker. He was not. He was an active junkie who was staying at the Salvation Army rehab on 46th Street. That explained the blood spray on the bathroom wall, the cooking at 3 a.m., the 11 p.m. curfew. It also explained his good shoes; he had first pick of new clothing donations.
All sense of safety was gone after that. Not because of him, or how he’d behaved. Addiction is a terrible illness. People are forced to do whatever they have to do to avoid getting sick. I don’t have a judgment on him shooting dope in my apartment. I have a judgment on myself for being so blind to my own personal safety and well-being.
I had a very healing talk with the other woman, years later. She of course had been lied to the entire time as well. I’d never felt any animosity toward her. She ended up on a psych ward after he left her.
It’s impossible, in a story this humiliating, to wrap it up nicely and say all is well. I don’t have to worry that I’m not perfect. That I am capable of gargantuan foolishness. I don’t have to go through any of it alone. I am blessed with the best friends in the world. They’ll be there for me when I’m more human than I’d like, and I will be there for them. Most of all, though, I learned this: When faced with the choice of believing a boyfriend or the deli guy? Always the deli guy. You know it."
"I was seeing this guy only for a couple of months at this point. He was head over heals for me. He blindsided me at dinner one day by inviting his parents to meet me. I enjoyed his company and was open to getting to know him, but I like to take things at a slower pace. We were walking around an outdoor market in the city where he was attending college, and a random woman RAN up to me, looking panicked. She pulled me away from him and pleaded with me to stay away from him. I asked who she was and how she knew him. She told me she didn’t know him, but she was a medium and she read peoples auras. She said to stay away from him because his aura was black. I don’t know anything about auras or mediums, or if there was any merit behind what she was saying. So I brushed it off and went about my life.
Shortly after this encounter, I noticed a change in him. He became possessive. Jealous. Aggressive. I remembered what that lady said, and although I’m not superstitious, I am a little cautious, and I ended things with him. That's when stuff got weird. He started calling me at all hours of the night, telling me he was going to kill himself. He showed up at my work. And once he even showed up INSIDE my apartment. Apparently, when he borrowed my car (he ran out one day to grab something from the store and I let him take my car), he COPIED THE KEY TO MY APARTMENT AND DIDNT TELL ME. So, obviously I called the police and he left before they showed up.
I changed my locks and blocked his phone number after that night, and life returned back to normal. I met someone else (my now husband), I was happy.
5 months after I blocked his number, I got a call from a random number and I answered it. It was his mom, asking me if I was going to make it to their house for their son's birthday dinner the upcoming weekend. 'I know my son said you’ve been busy working lots lately and probably couldn’t make it, but we haven’t seen you in almost 6 months and want to surprise him with you being there for his birthday dinner!'
Not only did he not tell his family we weren’t together, but he told them the reason they hadn't seen me around was because I was busy at work! I told her we hadn’t been together for MONTHS, and she was so embarrassed. He called me (from some other phone since his number was blocked) later that evening, and he lost it on me for telling his mom we weren’t together. I asked why he didn’t tell them, and he said, 'Why would I put them through telling them we aren’t together, when it’s inevitable that we are going to end up together?!'
Completely psycho. He had tried a few more times to get ahold of me, until finally he dropped off the face of the earth."