Within five minutes of meeting Stan (not his real name), I was head over heels for him. He was ten years my senior and had that confidence that can come with an age advantage and, as I later decided, a narcissistic personality disorder. The kind of confidence that was like a sucker punch to the face, blinding me to all his faults that were lurking in the periphery.
We met through online dating. Our first date was over coffee, and it went so well that we went right on to dinner. Throughout dinner he filled me with all the compliments that this simple girl from Iowa had always longed to hear: "You are such a beautiful woman," "You're so smart... I'm not surprised you were an honor student," "I love how you hold your neck at an angle when you laugh like that." Before we parted, he wrapped his arm around my waist and gave me a kiss that made my feet melt. I stumbled back to my car. I was smitten.
From the second date to the second month of our relationship we had a passionate romance. I stayed in his house at least two nights a week, sometimes three. Weekend mornings were long and lazy, days filled with fun and adventure and nights filled with passion. But my gut kept screaming at me about something, and I didn't know what it was until I asked him what he wanted out of life. That's when he laid it all out.
"I've got to be honest with you," he said. "If you think I'm ever going to marry you, I'm not. I know that you don't have a weight problem, but obesity runs in your family, and I wouldn't want that for my children. Also, your income level is not attractive at all. My ex-wife was making six figures, and I won't even consider marrying someone who doesn't make at least that much."
Instead of laughing in his face and leaving without looking back, I asked if he was breaking up with me. "No, we can still hang out until I find someone else." The worst part is, I stayed with this man for a while longer. For the next six weeks I cried every night and pretended every day at work that I wasn't in a major depression. I would see him on occasion, and he would tell me about the other women he was dating. I figured he wasn't being dishonest so it didn't really matter that he was seeing other people -- as if honesty made this situation okay.
Eventually he found a girl who wore a size six, made six figures, and enjoyed hearing him talk about himself as much as I did in the beginning. It took months for the sting of it all to leave me. In the end, I wasn't mad at him. I was mad at myself. I let him treat me that way. I was so desperate for affection and human interaction that I let him treat me like crap just to get some semblance of either. With that realization, I made a promise to myself to never allow someone to treat me like that again. That was three years ago, and I've kept my promise.
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