Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
For womankind. Share the Red Flags #2(115 Posts)
Time to start a new thread. Original one here
red flags I should have heeded
Hi to those that have not been in this type of relationship and question why women would stay: it's a gradual build up with incidents wrapped up in otherwise normal behaviour until you're sucked and dependent and then the incidents increase. If you have low self esteem and relationship issues due to childhood or other problems, you are programmed to accept poor treatment. Even when you know it's wrong, you can't get the nerve or self esteem together to break free. Like an alcoholic, drug addict or nicotine addict in a way. You cloud yourself in denial because if you looked at it fair and square you know it's terrible and damaging. It takes a long time to be able to give up this destructive "habit". Equally you could say to obese people, "but why don't you just stop eating so much?" We humans are massively complex. That's why!
Yes I agree with you about coming from families with problems already. I had divorced parents (was v young) and sent to boarding school at 6 and honestly feel sometimes as if I have never seen what a 'normal' family is like. I remember going to a friend's for dinner and when it got to 6 thinking how odd that her mum didn't open a bottle and become horrid. It didn't occur to me that mum was an alcoholic until I was 12! It was so normal to me. Much the same I think with the men. I think I always imagine people DO put up with this sort of niggley nastiness. It always starts out as lots of small things, then like dot to dot you get the full picture, albeit too late. It may also be a fear of being alone, as definitely when I was in my 20's I wanted to create a perfect family and start from scratch. Nesting for what I didn't have I suppose. I think the men I have met have seen this pretty early on and taken advantage.
My red flags from two 'same same but different' abusive relationships.
They would make disparaging comments about other people in general, but mainly other women. Language such as 'slags' 'sluts' and referring to women as 'females'
Their emotionally distant fathers and people-pleasing mothers (and being very jealous of their sibling)
Saying mean things to/about me, dressing it up as a 'joke'. I'm still waiting for the punchline
Instead of supporting me in my quest to deal with my baggage via therapy, they shat over the whole idea. Wonder why?
They both liked 'smart women' but ultimately they wanted someone they could talk down to
Laziness. My first ex did nothing around the house. The second was tidy, but often wouldn't bother turning up to his clinics at work (we are both doctors)
Invalidating or minimising my feelings 'telling it like it is'
"I'm only being honest. Other people just bullshit" Erm no, there's delivering honesty in a tactful, kind way and there's being cruel for the sake of it.
Probably loads more to come!
I also think alot of it also due to women's position in society, i.e. not just personal history.
Women are meant to invest more in romantic relationships. This is particularly true if marriage or children come along. If a woman has chosen a drip or nasty or selfish man, well she will have to back out of that investment, lose face, and deal with confused and conflicted feelings ("sleeping with the enemy")
Another - women are taught more not to show anger or walk out or stand up for themselves when they are treated badly. MN is full of threads where you think why didn't you shout at him to F* O** right there and then (or that expression f the f off to the far side and then f off some more) ... but no, the relationship drags on for months/years. I did that for a year with someone.
There are loads more reasons. Lack of self-esteem a major one. Also being manipulated by a clever, changeable, superficial charming personality or someone who shows their appearingly
self-absorbed, self-pitying vulnerable side to reel you in and then ...
Early red flags:
- quick attachment: "I love you" before we were even a couple
- arrogance, superiority, disparaging comments about others, setting himself up as the reference in all things
- displays of violence (wall-punching)
- excusing these as "it's better to get anger out than keep it in." (soon to be replaced by "It's your fault, you made me angry" as relationship progressed.)
Once established in the relationship:
- "forgotten" promises
- ignoring me completely unless he chose to spend time with me
- controlling how the home was run
- destroying possessions, punching holes in walls and doors, in displays of anger
- threatening me with violence, death
- punching own face, threatening suicide
- pinning me against walls to shout in my face
This are from what I know think of as my very lucky escape:
An older guy interested in a teenager (why don't they want someone their own age? BIG flag)
Took the piss out of my height when we first met.
Flashy 'romantic' gestures, love notes etc - we'd only just met. It was totally over the top in a creepy way.
Sent dirty texts. Was very open about being sexually curious and 'some people don't like that' this was the day after we met.
A girl who'd been to school with him went out of her way to let me know that no one had liked him at school.
Continually contacting me even when I didn't respond.
Thank fuck he left the country for a year very soon after we met, I think he forgot about me a bit, though he still tries to find/contact me regularly. Have also heard that he has been vile to other women (and men)
Irrational jealousy is a big one for me. If you have been for ONE drink with a man, he has no right to give you grief for saying ooh, he's attractive or for having a laugh with another bloke. He doesn't ever have this right really but the flags will be there early on. As will the accusations of infidelity.
Does anyone else get the questioning "how many guys flirted with you then?" "Did your driving instructor try it on with you?" "Who's chatted you up?"
NO-ONE!! NO!! NONE!! Aargh.
My completely unheeded red flags from my current, effectively defunct, marriage... in fact some were such blatant 'get out now' signals I don't know why it's taken me this long to do anything about it:
Criticism of how I acted when out with him and his friends - attempts to make me behave differently from how I am - comments like 'I wish you wouldn't act like that when we're out. They won't like you'.
Huge anger issues - possessions destroyed, holes punched in doors and walls, physical violence towards me, quite often screaming at me to the point where I was a collapsed sobbing heap on the floor, then screaming at me some more. And it was always my fault for making him angry. 'I don't get angry like this with other people, so it must be you'...
Massive overreaction at perceived slights, and constant twisting of what I've said to make it sound as though I'm being critical or nasty when I'm not.
Control issues - I was, until I finally put my foot down after nearly 10 years, expected to go to bed at the same time as him, expected only to watch on TV things that interested him. Even if he was doing something else.
Constant putdowns, telling me I'm being selfish for attempting to pursue the career I trained for.
Would do 'favours' for me (just normal household stuff, like the dishes), then hit the roof if I didn't appear sufficiently grateful.
Constant changing of the rules, to set me up for another session of being screamed at, but it's ok, it was my fault because I didn't do things the way he wanted me to. Which was a way I was unaware of, because he'd only just made it up.
And... his mother has treated me appallingly throughout the whole of our relationship... that has always been 'my fault'.
Oh, yeah, and he said he loved me within days of the relationship starting. I should have run then.
God... what have I been doing...
Any man who can make you feel you are loosing your mind. They can be as changeable as they like, but you aren't allowed to let it bother you. They must have complete control. I nursed my ex when he went through a cosmetic leg operation while I was heavily pg (he chose the dates to coincide so he got more sympathy from taxi drivers/MW's who he dominated talks with) and got moaned at that it wasn't really looking after him as I only made him 3 bacon sarnies. No idea that me waddling upstairs to wash him/tighten his leg brace/help him up/wash his clothes/cook all of his meals and run about getting books and pain relief for him while he stayed in my house rent free, could possibly have been a bit difficult. Before that he had a cosmetic shoulder op - something in that too - he was scared of getting old and wanted to be super fit all of the time, presumably to attract 'better' women than me! His image is very important to him. He kept our pregnancy a complete secret from his job and even his mum thought we were just going out for months after I was pregnant. Secrecy was huge because he didn't want his image to be damaged in case it spoilt other options.
Should add that he has never ever allowed a pic of his DD on his FB wall or even mentioned her on there. Even when he was at the birth and got pics of him holding her. He was the first to touch her. Most of his 'friends' are unaware she even exists!
"Invalidating or minimising my feelings 'telling it like it is'
"I'm only being honest. Other people just bullshit" Erm no, there's delivering honesty in a tactful, kind way and there's being cruel for the sake of it."
Turnip, you have just described my brother, and his attitude to all of his married sisters, including me. My recent return to the area he lives in, and my unwillingness to accept such tactless and rude behaviour, has got me labelled by him as 'a bit mad".
His favourite conversation is how straight talking he is, and not a bull shit artist, apparently unlike so many others. He has no idea that he is blunt, ignorant, and has a lot of views on issues which dont concern him. He doesnt also realise that his views about people are judgmental, right wing in reality, and neanderthal. He also gets very nasty with anyone who rebuffs his view that he has the right to try to control the lives of others.
Jane you are very right in what you say. That's the other driver for this type of predicament. Also society expecting us to wait until we are asked before we get something, rather than feeling we have the right to go out there and better our lives. Additionally the "romance" scenario that is fed to the world (but particularly damages women and girls) by authors, Hollywood etc, of strong silent difficult types, of true love not being a smooth path, of being rescued from a situation instead of getting yourself out. However big and independent we become as adult women, there's that ideal that's been sewn into our subconscious from day one.
That's tough Tourch - my friend's ex was like that he went away to University and left her with the baby (flag!) And didn't tell any of his new friends about his DS, didn't take any pictures for his room etc.
He ended up being violent as well as ea and financially abusive. Thankfully she got out and is doing well now.
I remember he used to be quite rude about her being stupid and useless (she's not at all) in front of us all. We were all quite young and I thought it was just banter type joking. She would walk away if she was upset and he would always go to 'talk to her' and make her come back and she would come back... I don't know how to describe it, not stroppy at all, more like she didn't want to he there but she knew she had to act like she did and be genuinely convincing or he would be angry.
When their DS was a few days old a mutual friend went to visit, baby had reflux and cried a lot, vomited everywhere etc. My friends were trying to sort out the baby when he yelled at them to 'make the baby be quiet'
When she left and the abuse came out I realised how many things about his behaviour I had normalized - it must have been even tougher for her to be going through worse than we saw and feeling like it wasn't that bad because none of us (friends/family) pointed out how shit he was being.
It is so important to listen to all of these niggles though. I think so many women are scared of being a single mum. I have had surprising stigma, surprising to me at any rate, and I think women feel they have somehow become an outcast if they get out and choose this route. I can only say how much stronger it has made me, happier in general which affects my mothering and am slowly rebuilding myself so that I can set a good role model for my daughter. I will do my best to insure she listens to her heart and isn't afraid to run if alarm bells ring.
A good metaphor is probably that there is a big theory that if only many women listened to their 'inner voice' and ran when walking alone and feel scared, a lot less rapes may happen. We are given this instinct for a reason.
I've finally read through the entirety of that other thread and come up with a few more.
Used to use words like Paki and Chink. Also nigger if he could get away with it. Used to say that black people call each other niggers so why can't white people. He did stop doing it in front of me when I made it very clear I hated it, but only afters hours of haranguing me about why he should be allowed to. Thinks all Muslims should 'f**k off home'.
Used to say that he was a victim of racism growing up in Leicester (which I can believe, it's not just white people who are racist) so that meant he could be racist back to them.
Called me a Proddy Dog once (he is Catholic, I am Protestant) in front of his MOTHER who was shocked. He was joking, of course.
I write erotica, among other genres and when I was starting out and had my first story accepted by a publisher, I innocently told him all about it. He went ballistic and FORBADE me. Said if I continued it would be the end of our marriage. I agreed for a quiet life, but continued to do it in secret. This has been the root of many many arguments as he eventually found out by dint of snooping on my computer. He says it is as bad as if I had started working as a porn star or a prostitute.
Says he is embarrassed and ashamed by me. Sometimes by my behaviour when we are in company and sometimes by my choice of career.
Says he can never tell anyone what I do for a living as he's so mortified and disgusted. I've told him that's ridiculous. I am an author and an editor. He doesn't have to say of what genre. I've also written non-erotica stuff under my real name, so he can always quote that if they ask him what I've written.
Whilst snooping on my computer, he looked at where it saved some old MSN conversations. I didn't even know it saved them anywhere. Read conversations I had had with other men BEFORE I met him. Was furious with me and harangued me over the content of said conversations, one in particular which had got a little saucy. Said he hadn't thought I was that kind of girl and I had dropped in his estimation.
I have Aspergers Syndrome and he refuses to accept it. Says "You could be normal if you tried, you just can't be bothered." Says I blame everything on my Aspergers. Frequently says, "Why can't you just be f**king normal?"
Says it's okay to call me a c**t if I'm being one.
Told me once he hoped I'd die in my sleep.
Uses phrases like "your feminist bullshit".
Sometimes we would finish watching a programme on TV we'd both been watching. He would go up to his office to go on the computer but, before he went, he would flick through the channels and find something he thought I would like to watch. Fair enough, but one time when I changed his choice to something I ACTUALLY wanted to watch, he had a go at me when he came down again and tell me he didn't know why he bothered trying to be nice to me. I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of that, and he never did that again. I think he got it.
I was selfish if I put my children's needs before his.
Wow, pylonic. Hope you got out safely.,,
Mumsnet pretty much saved me too.
These threads are so important.
I wish my friend would read it right now. The red flags in her new relationship are blatant but I haven't managed to get her to see this and she thinks I'm mad
like he has told her
Oh dear Mooncup - it's certainly true of my ex he tried to alienate me from my friends. One friend who has never ever said anything nasty in as many years as I had known her apparently had a massive bitch to him about me posting pics on FB of our DD...(strangely coinciding with his views on the matter ). I believed him for a few days until I got my head straight after confronting her about it and realised that out of the two of them I trusted her more. That was the beginning of his demise in my eyes, so you are doing the right thing.
A lot of people have cited a dysfunctional family life growing up as a key factor in tolerating damaging behavior from a partner. For me, the opposite was true. I was incredibly fortunate to have what would only be described as an idyllic childhood - parents who loved each other, treated each other with respect and maintained a harmonious relationship and a father who wasan excellent role model - moral, hardworking, did his fair share around the house, always bent over backwards to help me achieve my dreams.
Unfortunately during my twenties I had a series of relationships with men who raised so many red flags between them I could open a flag shop!
Now I'm in my mid thirties and I'm with someone amazing, I wrack my brains as to why I put up with such crap for so long.
I've come to the conclusion that because throughout my formative years I was treated kindly unless I had done something wrong, when ex partners treated me badly and told me with such conviction that they were in the right, I would believe that it was my fault and I somehow "deserved" punishment, because no one in their right mind would be so intolerant of me otherwise...I'd also been taught that to love was to forgive, so when someone wronged me I questioned how I would feel if I made a mistake and was subsequently abandoned and always ended up going back to them...
Similarities across all of my destructive relationships where that these men were gregarious, eccentric, thril-seeking and wore their heart on their sleeve. These traits drew me in and emotional attachments were formed quickly, before I knew their real personalities, not just the ones they chose to project.
Perhaps stability wasn't at the top of my list of priorities because I already had that with my family, but as I got older my priorities changed. The man I'm with now is anything but boring, but he also has a stable temperament and I've finally come to realise that I deserve to be loved without having to compromise any aspect of myself.
It makes me so angry to think that I wasted so many precious years on these men - I had so much going for me, but I was blind to the bigger picture!!
I know what you mean Ansk but I would say I've learnt from it...I know when to run for the hills now.
I got Netflix recently and there is a series called Lie To Me, which is a bit like House but with a group of scientists trying to help find guilty traits in characters presented in each episode. It has reminded me a lot of a few men I have known and if anyone has time worth a watch. Classic sign of a man lying is apparently rubbing his nose, as it has erectile tissue in it and itches when they are nervous or lying...!
Thought it worth a mention in case anyone (like me) is interested in picking up clues - like you Parsley, am pretty clued up to many of them already.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.