FIVE TRAITS OF (ALMOST) EVERY GUY I EVER DATED. Guest post written by Jennifer Wadsworth



guyI remember being a teenager, watching afternoon talk shows with my mom; Oprah, Sally Jesse
Raphael, you get the idea. They had numerous shows featuring women who were in, or had been in,
abusive relationships. I would sit and think, “I would never allow someone to treat me that way.” “Why
don’t they just leave?” Of course, I was young; I hadn’t had much life experience. It was easy for me to
Now, I am 44 years old, and have been through things that I vowed would “never happen to me”. I
am intelligent, well-spoken, decent looking. I have worked hard and raised three amazing kids on my
own. And, I have been in more than one relationship that was less than fulfilling. They have actually
been the opposite; they have drained my spirit, messed with my self esteem; made me question who I
am as a person.

I was in my early 30’s when I first heard the word narcissist. I had no idea what that term meant,
until I read about it, and realized that these other people were talking about MY life!! I was with a
narcissist. It took numerous lies, deceptions, cover-ups, anxiety, excuses, and a huge reality check on
my part to see what who I had been living with. After 8 years, I finally broke away from that
relationship, only to fall into another one, and another one. None of the subsequent relationships were
as bad as the first, because I saw the signs and removed myself. But, that is one of my downfalls. I am a
very caring, loving person. I tend to see the good in people. I WANT to trust. I give the benefit of the
doubt. I forgive too easily. I want to help, to fix. And, the truth of the matter is, we can not fix anyone
but ourselves. There is a laundry list of traits and behaviors of a narcissist, but I am going to list the
five that have resonated in each of my relationships.

1. THEY LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. At first, it can seem like an attractive
quality. What woman doesn’t want a man who is smart, and worldly? Before long, that facade
fades. They truly believe that they know more than anyone else, including you. They will start
to make comments that may sound like a “suggestion” at first, but before long they are talking
to you like a child. There was a particular Mother’s Day where I was out planting flower seeds
in our flowerbed. The kids were away for the afternoon, to pick out a gift for me. I had the
music on, and I was thoroughly enjoying the warm, sunny day. I had even made little markers
with the name of each flower I planted. I was just about finished, when my ex comes up to me,
and proceeds to complain about how I planted the flowers. I hadn’t planted them in the right
order, according to him. He yelled and made me feel so stupid, that I ended up digging up all
the seeds and replanting them the way HE thought I should. What had started out as a beautiful
day ended up being an exhausting fight for no reason, with me feeling stupid and worthless.

2. THEY FANTASIZE THAT THEY ARE PERFECT. Men like this feel they do no wrong, and
believe me, you will hear about it. They believe they deserve the best of everything. They
believe they are smarter than anyone else. When I think of my ex, I compare him to a peacock.
He loved to puff out his chest and display his feathers. These type of men get easily angered if
anyone challenges them in any way, whether it be a simple conversation, an incident that
happened, the outcome of a board game. My ex was an alcoholic and drug addict; he managed
to hide the drug use from me for awhile. He had been in jail here and there through the years for
a couple of DUIs. He would tell me all about the arrests, and it was always some “crooked” cop
who lied, or someone at the courthouse who didn’t file a paper. Him getting four DUIs was
NEVER his fault. He would land some really good jobs, and after a couple weeks, he wouldn’t
go back. It was always because the employer was a jerk, or they hadn’t listened to him, or some
other lame excuse he could come up with. He never got hired for a lot of jobs because he
walked in there (with a criminal record) expecting to be paid $20 an hour, and not having ever
worked at one place more than six months. This man who claimed to love me and my kids and
wanted to take care of us thought SO much of himself, that really didn’t work for almost the
whole time we were together. I took care of everything.

3. NARCISSISTIC MEN ARE VERY CONTROLLING. Once again, when you first meet
someone like this, they don’t seem controlling. They are very good actors, so at first, you feel
like they are taking care of you; protecting you. This is not the case at all. They are just planting
the seed that will grow into an abusive relationship. It feels good to have someone “care” for
you, and worry about you. That’s love, right? I will tell you, it is the total opposite of love. I
have always been an outgoing person; I can make a friend wherever I go. That changes when
you are in this type of relationship. At first, they seem to like that you have friends and a social
life. But before you know it, you are not going out anymore. You are not talking to your friends
on the phone. You are asking permission to go to Walmart. I was afraid to go to work, because I
would be grilled about who I had talked to. Everything has to be centered around them; THEY
are what is most important now, and they try to make you feel bad for being you.

4. THEY MAKE YOU DOUBT YOURSELF. When you first meet a guy like this, they seem too
good to be true (because they are). They fill you with compliments, and you feel on top of the
world. But, once again, it does not last long. Remember, there is NO ONE more important than
THEM; not even YOU. My most recent ex is the perfect example of this. I live in PA, and he
lived in SC. We got to know each other through phone calls and FaceTime chatting. He made
me feel like the most beautiful woman he had ever met. He told me he loved that I was
independent; he loved my personality and sense of humor. He invited me to SC to visit him; he
wanted me to move down there. I went to see him, and most of the vacation was great. But, I
started to notice that he would make little comments here and there that struck me as odd. We
were talking one evening, and he brought up something that was “bothering him”. He basically
said, “Jenn, I notice when I tell a story about something, you then tell me a story, kind of like
you’re trying to ‘one-up’ me.” I was completely shocked. Call me crazy, but I thought that was
called having a conversation with someone, sharing stories, getting to know each other. Not in
his book. After that, I held myself back from saying too much. I didn’t want to be
“reprimanded” again.

5. THEIR ACTIONS PUT FEAR IN YOU. Not every abusive relationship is physical abuse. So
many of them are verbal and emotional, which are just as painful. Like I said earlier, it never
starts that way, but quietly creeps in, so insidious, that you don’t even realize it until you are in
it. These men “need” you, and you believe that if you love someone, you need to take care of
them. Then, one day you realize that everything you do, you are doing for THEM, There is no
“we”. It can be big things, like paying all the bills, or giving them money. It can be giving up
plans to sit home with them and do nothing, because missing out on a picnic hurts less than
being talked to like shit when you get home. They will rant and rave about housework being
done, but not lift a finger to help. These are just a couple examples of how you start to become
afraid of “waking the sleeping bear”. You begin to feel like you are walking on eggshells; you
second guess everything you do; because, if you can make it through a day with no yelling, or
put downs, you feel like it’s been a good day.

Like I said earlier, there are many traits of a narcissist; I’ve only touched on a few. But, I have
experienced them all. I know any of us who have dated these types of men wish we could have been
spared the heartache. There are moments when I have felt that, but honestly, I am GLAD I went
through it (even though it’s been more than once). If I hadn’t gone through this, I would not know what
to look for. I would love to say that I will never date another man like this. But, I am glad that I can say
that I know the signs, and as soon as I spot any one of them, I can walk away and save myself hurt
down the road. What is most difficult for me is that I tend to trust too quickly; I don’t want to assume
someone is going to be an asshole before getting to know them. But, at this point, I am learning to trust,
but keep my guard up. If something doesn’t feel right, it most likely isn’t. And, although I want to give
men a chance, I will never compromise my happiness and self esteem for anyone.

I hope in sharing a bit of my story, that I can help someone else recognize the signs of a potential narcissist. But, even more than that, for any woman reading this right now who may find herself in a similar situation,please stay strong!

Remember, there is nothing wrong with you! Narcissists look for the good-hearted women; women that are sensitive, that they can manipulate.

This does not mean we are weak, or stupid.  We just need to always be aware, and trust our gut, no matter how “perfect” someone may seem. We all want love, that is human nature. I have learned that although I want to love and be loved, I absolutely need to love myself first, and not settle for the cliché “knight in shining armor”; they usually end up being a narcissist wrapped in tin foil, riding a jackass.

Stay strong ladies! Until next time,