Before I met him, I’d never had much luck with men and for someone in their early thirties, was inexperienced – both sexually and in terms of relationships. I'd been shy and always seem to have unrequited feelings. I’m slim and generally considered quite attractive, but had very crooked teeth until 4/5 years ago and though they now look great after lots of painful orthodontic work, I suppose I have, until recently, lacked confidence.
I now work in a library and archive and met this man when he came to study as part of his Masters degree two years ago. He was with us for two weeks and somehow we ended up alone one afternoon and got chatting. He asked me out and being shy / unused to such advances I said I was busy. He persisted and we finally went out for lunch the last day of his visit. It was nice, we sat outside, chatted, he hugged me and wanted to see me later. Sure enough, when I was back on duty on the Reading Room, he reappeared and though I declined his invitation to go out that night (I was a little freaked out by his enthusiasm and scared of what he might expect), as we hugged goodbye, we ended up gazing at each other and kissing, then making out in a quiet stairway. This sort of thing didn’t happen to me – a gorgeous actor from the USA being so taken with me!! I joined FB to connect with him and we started writing to each other. He disappeared for a while, but then sent me a little play scene he had written. At this point he added me as a FB friend and I discovered to my horror that he was married and had been for less than a year. I was in bits as I already had feelings for him. I decided that in a way, we were just writing as friends and that it wasn’t the same as having an affair in person – that if his marriage were to end, it wouldn’t be because of a penfriend. I said nothing and then he asked if I knew he was married, and hoped I did and just wasn’t ‘making and issue of it’. I explained that this was not the sort of thing I would normally do and it said a lot about how I felt that I did want us to continue. He said how he had felt this strange and unsought after connection to me etc. and it wasn’t the sort of thing he did either.
Over time, he gradually revealed his fetish. He wanted to be fat and have a girl tease him about it. We were getting closer and he’d be so sweet and call me pet names and send me little messages saying he missed me. I revealed how inexperienced I was and he was lovely about it. In a way, it was as though we both had things we were a little embarrassed about and it felt good to be so open with each other. I’d never talked online before, but signed up to messenger. I was so naïve I never even realised this was ‘code’ for cyber sex when he talked about ‘chatting’. I did enjoy these chats, though I look back and it almost feels like I was groomed as he would even tell me what he wanted me to say. As I didn’t have the internet at home, I went to great lengths to be in coffee shops at the right time in the hope that he would be around. Obviously this led to a situation where he was getting more pleasure out of it than me, but I suppose for me, always the serious, sensible one, it was quite a thrill thinking how I was turning this man on. He was sweet and did little things like sending me a great angry song with my boss’s name in it when she was trying to make me redundant. He got me to write him stories and I wrote him several 7000 word stories over the course of the relationship – romantic stories about us, but involving his fetish. One weird thing was the time he said that a chapter he’d asked me to write was a “ a bit off”. The cheek!!!
He would always insist things were fine, but somehow I could tell they weren’t. He then revealed that his marriage was in a bad way and he wasn’t sure if they’d continue and that his wife was semi-hospitalised with an eating disorder. I suppose his continued need for me should have told me that they had problems, but he had never mentioned any of this before. He asked that we leave thing while he made a real effort to sort his marriage out and while I was in pieces, I respected that. At this point (thinking it was an end of it) I wrote and told him that though it was of no relevance, I loved him, just wanted him to be happy and would say goodbye forever if he was able to work things out. He said that he had strong feelings for me, that I was clever, funny, attractive,sweet, but that being married he hadnt’ taken the thought process any further. I always thought it bad that he told her everything about kissing me etc. – it seemed unnecessary to be that honest. He then revealed chatting to other girls online, which made me feel even more awful. He reassured me I wasn’t like them, but in hindsight I was so naïve.
We wrote occasionally and he moved out to stay in a flat. I tried my utmost to put my feelings aside and be there to listen to him and try to help him out and just be there as a friend. He cut me off at one point, but then popped up again, oblivious to how this had made me feel.
When I was on holiday in a different part of the USA a few months later, he rang me up in my hotel as a surprise. , which made my day. He was having therapy – both for his marriage and alone, for his fetish. It seemed unlikely things would work out with his wife and he poured out a lot on the phone. He also told me how his fetish had come about, experiences he’d had, all kinds of immensely personal things. He even seemed to be asking hypothetically where things were going, would I consider moving to the USA etc. It seemed like one day we might really be together. We had phone sex, though I now realise it was a lot of me turning him on and him saying very little about what he’d like to do to me. It had been the same online, to the point where only twice did he actually talk about having sex with me, the rest of the time it was all about me teasing him. By this time, I realised that I wasn’t putting it on, I really do like chubbier men, so it seemed like the one thing I’d worried might be a problem, wouldn’t be.
He scheduled a ‘phone date’ so we could really talk and I was so excited. When he rang though he sounded ‘wrong’ from the start and it turned out his estranged wife had phoned and asked him to come back. He said things like he wished it was a year from then etc. and he could fast forward and see where he’d be at. After a day of tears and many long emails we decided to take a break. I spent the rest of my holiday crying. I sent him a story for his birthday, but he didn’t reply. When prompted he thanked me and said lovely things, but that nothing had changed.
We then had a misunderstanding and he sent me an unpleasant email saying I must have nothing in my life if I’d give it up to move abroad to be with him, that we had been incredibly close and intimate and shared our inner selves, then that I didn’t really know him, I just thought I did. It was a real roller-coaster as several times he’d told me they were to divorce (and he seemed to be telling me straight after telling his family, as though I were the next most important person), then changed his mind. He seemed to have no idea the effect it was having, even though he’d heard me crying down the phone.
We ended up writing again. By this point he had filed for divorce and moved to live with family. There were worrying incidences where he’d get angry/frustrated and flounce off if I had internet problems. But he’d apologise and I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. By this point it seemed he was always making excuses about being busy. These had seemed valid when he was still studying and married, but now less so. I was visiting friends in the USA about 6 months after my previous visit and his marriage ending and vaguely mentioned I might be visiting his city. He was thrilled and seemed very happy. It was like a dream come true. We did have a cringy conversation about sex, where I wanted to confirm that with all the fetish stuff, we would actually have sex and he said “Yes, by that point I’d be so excited, we’d have to finish the transaction”. Not entirely reassuring – he knew that having wanted to wait for the right man, this would be my first time and for me this meant the world – being with the man I loved after not seeing him for a year and a half and never daring to hope this would happen.
We met up and after fooling around in my room for a bit, had a dream-like afternoon as he showed me his city. We sat in the park, hugged and kissed , saw skywriters, ate ice cream, saw the sun set. It was like being in a film. Back in my room, he said he wouldn’t stay as he was tired after a religious fast the day before, but we lay there, gazing at each other and talked. He apologised for all the mixed messages and it seemed like all my dreams were coming true. The fact that he’d spent all afternoon talking about his failed marriage, ex-wife, even pointing out the jewellers he’d got her ring from, I naively saw as him confiding in me. Even more awfully, he pointed out a ‘dungeon’ he had visited. I was shocked and asked how I could ever live up to a woman like that, but he said, they hadn’t had sex and besides, he couldn’t walk in the park and do stuff we did with someone like that. It hardly did wonders for my confidence though! We kissed and both seemed so happy I suddenly felt like for the first time ever, the man I loved, loved me too and it was amazing. It was odd as he seemed to be exactly who I thought he was and it was like we were instantly at ease with each other.
When I next saw him though, there was an inexplicable sadness. He referred to himself as my ‘friend and tour guide’, yet the next minute we were hugging and kissing again. We talked and talked and I thought the weird atmosphere was just as I was already dreading leaving at the end of the week. As I hugged him to say goodbye, I was running my hands over his body and he stopped and said “Are you ok, you’re breathing kind of fast”. I explained that he just excited me , but he told me not to get so worked up in public. I was certainly not doing anything outrageous. On the first day he’d done a cartwheel in the park and told me how his ex had been really worried about appearances and had once told him off for playing with her dog in the park and running round looking silly. Another incident later in the week also suggested he didn’t have quite the “I don’t care what they think” attitude he’d suggested.
We had a nice lunch the next day and there was so much eye contact, hand holding, little compliments I was ecstatic. Then the next day, I suggested he could stay over (thinking he’d been being a gentleman). He texted to say he didn’t think we should count on that and would discuss it later. Cue tearful evening as he says he doesn’t feel right about us, not sure if it is us or the fact he isn’t over his marriage and doesn’t want to take things further. Some implicit criticism of our conversation the day before – we’d been talking about childhood TV programmes etc. and he said it was all very nice,but… He’d been the one to start that. I cried in his arms and he held me and was very sweet. We still went out for dinner and then stood holding each other in the street for ages. He sent me a play he’d written about a man going through a divorce and it had me in tears reading it, to think that this was how he felt. He seemed so grateful for me understanding that I thought that if nothing else, I could try to be a true friend and help him through this and that this could at least be one way of expressing my love and preventing it all from being totally pointless. He told me he didn’t know where he’d be in six months and it wasn’t fair to ask me to wait as he couldn’t know if he’d ever feel differently. The next day I managed to stop crying for the duration of our meal and then we lay on my bed in each others arms before saying goodbye. The way he kissed me and looked back made it seem like he did care in some way.
You’re probably wondering how I ended up here and why I think he is a Narc. But the thing is that for all we corresponded nicely for a while after that, then it got weird. He sent a cold email about how we’d had the opportunity and he hadn’t wanted to take things further, his future was about finding a partner etc. etc., maybe if we’d lived closer, got to know each other in a more relaxed way it would be different. I called him out on some of the odd bits – like not even telling his family he was meeting a friend from England, the fact he’d apologised for the mixed messages, how it felt for me to get all nervous about my first time – only for it not to happen. He replied that he’d “Royally screwed up”, but couldn’t deal with it right now and disappeared for 6 weeks. When we then spoke online, he coudn’t see he had done anything wrong and was quite unpleasant. He then wrote an email in all of 15 mins after this and told me he was seeing someone else, they were enjoying that and it was a test for me if I could handle that and still wanted to be his friend. That otherwise we shouldn’t talk/ write anymore as it wasn’t doing either of us any good. He was so cold and selfish in his tone that it felt like he was a different person to the sweet man I’d spent a week with. At New Year, I wrote and poured out everything, defending myself against his accusations of me attacking and judging him (I hardly had, what with his marriage, the fetish etc. yet wishing him well. I said that I didn’t recognise him from this cold, selfish message, but that maybe he wasn’t as ok as he thought and that I hoped the man who won me over with his smile in my library was the real him and that I hoped he’d be happy.
He replied and implied we had both made mistakes (not actually apologising, more saying he was sorry if I’d taken things this way). He asked to stay friends and ‘leave the door open’. I fell for it as I truly thought he was still getting over his divorce. He then disappeared for a month or so. Since then, contact has been erratic. He rang me up (international call), but then revealed he was using up skype credit. I melted at the sound of his voice and when he asked me to keep sending little messages, I did. He had his own flat and a new job by this point, but told me by emailing a copy of a smug round robin he’d sent to everyone (though sent personally to me as it had no one else’s email in it). I sent a new flat card, but it was some 3 weeks before I got a brief thank-you. We talked online, but he seemed determined to turn things round to the fetish. I had made it clear early on in the year, that friends meant friends and that much as it might be tempting in the instant, I couldn’t talk to him this way as I loved him. Sickeningly, the first time this happened, he did this whole “I’m only seeing someone, it’s not serious”. I pointed out that to her it might be and that this wasn’t right. I really thought we could be actual friends.It hurt that he didn't even reply to my "Happy Passover" message or write back when I told him of big events at work.
Just as I thought we’d drifted apart, he started talking to me online 2 months ago. He didn’t seem to remember stuff I’d mentioned in the 3 emails he’d failed to reply to, but when challenged apologised and said he just couldn’t keep up as work wouldn’t let him do personal emails and he had 50 emails in his in box. We did talk for quite a while about his work, mine, holidays etc. He had the cheek to say that if I do a layover on my next trip, he’d welcome another visit! I turned it round and said, well if ever your’e in England… Then it got weird. I ask if he is happy and he says “Sort of, but I’m still alone”. I mention that I thought he was seeing someone, but he says it didn’t last. I already had my suspicions, but this is where I started to feel even more sure he was a Narc:
Me”I don’t want to go there, but that made me feel pretty awful, so soon after you said you didn’t want any more with me and that you weren’t over your wife”
I then reassure him a bit and suggest he concentrate on what he has achieved in his new life at some length. He then ‘mis-remembers’ and suggests his dating someone else was 4 months after my visit and therefore not SO soon. I point out that it was only 8 weeks. I tried to explain why this made me feel bad after being there for him through all the ups and downs, but also trying to say it is in the past now. That it is sad as it meant a lot to me, that week, but he obviously had so much going on, he doesn’ t even remember. He then lost it with me saying ‘Jeez’ and ‘Jesus’ and ‘Oy ‘ and telling me It is my least attractive quality that I look for problems where they least exist (the sort of thing he used to say about his ex wife).
N: I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. But I can’t always feel that’s all I do, is hurt your feelings
Me: I’m not, I’m just stating a fact – not criticizing. It’s all water under the bridge now. I just meant that you were not in a good place at that time and so we probably had quite different perspectives – I see that now and I think that’s why we had misunderstandings.
N: Why do you want to be my friend then?
I explain that with IMing he always seems to think I’m criticising when I’m not.
Me: Please don’t insult me
Me: We can’t pretend stuff didn’t happen/ wasn’t’ said, but I’ve moved on and thought we could rekindle our friendship
N: Scarlett, stop! Jesus, you’re making this so awful all of a sudden. What is wrong with you? We were having a perfectly pleasant conversation and you suddenly made it so terrible. I’m sorry if my dating someone seemed a little fast to you, and if it hurt your feelings. But whatever,so two months went by , I met someone, and decided to give it a chance. That’s all! It didn’t really have anything to do with you! And yes, our friendship today is in a fine shape,--our little misunderstanding isn’t going to wreck it or anything. It’s only made worse when you feel the need to call it all out on the carpet with these accusations.
I end up apologising if things came across differently to how I intended (as his anger is frightening me and even when I try to smooth things over, he just gets worse) and even say:
Me: I guess it is just a difference , maybe between men and women. That women like to discuss stuff, clear the air, talk things through to move on, while men prefer not to.
N: Stop that! That’s not true either. To me it seems like you’re dragging out old problems over and over
I explain that it doesn’t need to be like this and in fact we have never discussed this before.
N:I have no interest in ‘laying into you’. I LIKE you. I’m a fan of yours. I enjoy being your friend. I just feel like fairly often , you make these pronouncements about me or us that don’t’ jibe with how I see things. But the way that you say them seems fairly attacky.
He finally calms down a bit. Only to then say:
N: by the way, I hope you appreciate I have not mentioned a single weight-related thing in this conversation.
I suggest we leave that aside and concentrate on getting to know each other as friends
N:If you say so. I thought all this was going fine until five minutes ago.
I later ask what he would like. Cue 6 mins of internet silence before he announces his work is getting busy and he has to go.
I come away from this conversation with my pulse racing, get a strange itchy rash on my hands and am unable to sleep all night as I feel so upset and confused. It is like he is a stranger and it freaks me out. I have read a lot on here and am now pretty sure that he is a Narc as he has such strange reactions to things, it has ALL been about him and he seems able to justify some pretty immoral behaviour and never sees himself as being at fault. Whenever I express myself, he starts turning it back on me. There are other signs too – lack of empathy being the key one and the fact that he wants to keep stringing me along (and probably others too). Also, the fact that his wife ended up in such a bad state and that I have been in a pretty bad way with stress related voice problems,increased migraines, endless bouts of flu in the winter when all this was going on etc.
Two more months go by with a few lame hoover IMs at a time I won’t be online. No apology. No text messages (he had just got a new phone and suggested we text). Then last week he sent a message where it as though he has forgotten our last chat. He says he walked past the hotel where I stayed and smiled as it made him so happy to spend that time with me and hopes that 'despite the tears in the middle', I am still glad I visited. This visit that last time he had forgotten the date of! Nothing specific about what he likes about me. Basically he wants to tell me he is having therapy again for struggling with how his life is and getting over his marriage and the different path his life has taken. He doesn’ t like his job. He likes being fat, but doesn’t. Says it isn’t the same being alone as having someone to share his fetish with and asks me how I am and to write when I can.I just can’t believe his cheek! I offered him everything and he CHOSE to be alone…And now after being a pathetic friend to me and belittling my feelings, wants me to play the agony aunt / shoulder to cry on / online sex chat provider!
I’ve agonised with this as I seem to have this awful inbuilt desire to help and try to make him feel better, but can now see that this is not for me to do. It upsets me too much and he will only carry on lying, disappearing and there will never be more between us. This is the first proper email he has written in 6 months and he hasn’t been there for me. I realise now that quite aside from his nastiness and being a Narc, you have to let people sort out their own problems. He has used me, but the fact that he always seemed to switch back to being nice, or explaining things away sucked me back in. Also I always kept thinking he was just a good person having a hard time. Now I wonder if he will ever find what he is looking for!
This is probably the most incoherent thing I have ever written and I apologise it is so long. It all sounds so sordid and horrible on paper, but for so long I saw him as my first real love. Getting all this out makes it even easier to stay NC and not fall for his "Woe is me" email.