March 26, 2008


Part One: Three Stages of Healing 

Part Two: 

It might be hypocritical for me to write about Getting-a-Partner when I’ve barely stuck my big toe in the water. My first priority was being a partner-to-myself. Seems to me that until a girl becomes her own best friend, it’s not very wise to be looking for her ‘other half’ elsewhere.

But I’m a good listener to all my brave, rejected friends who are still hoping to find a partner to love for the rest of their days. Yea, I’m also kinda annoying because I constantly remind them that this time, they’d best be certain a ‘special someone’ has the capacity to love them back.

Maybe none of us can know whether or not our commitment will be returned with reciprocal fidelity; but unless we're strong enough to accept a reality we don’t want to see, we’re better off sticking with topiaries and kitty cats. At least our nurturing skills are returned with delicate toe nibbles rather than losing a chunk of our hide. Besides, I can talk sweetly to my ivy plant and he doesn’t yell back. That’s a healthy-enough relationship for any woman post narc.

Towards the end of my divorce a few years ago, I succumbed to social pressure suggesting I cast my rod in the sea of abundance because there were plenty of fish for the takin'. The average person seems to think that because a divorced woman has suffered a blow to her ego, the anti-dote to her flagging self-esteem is to Get-A-New-Relationship. Friends say that as soon as we realize we are lovable exactly the way we are, we’ll quit blubbering over unrequited love and they won’t have to stock up on Kleenex.

Eventually, even I, a love jaded woman, yielded to common wisdom and attended a singles dance for people over thirty. Not that I figured there’d be much chance of a fifty-something female finding the man of her dreams, but I thought, “O what the hell…might be good for my soul to have some guy google my vast bosom of motherly affection."

Sometimes folk wisdom merits a critical think update.

I kept a handy dandy checklist in a mental pocket. A little something-something someone had written on a message board in cyberspace. She advised new anglers on deep sea expeditions to make sure the Game Fish met ‘keeper criteria’ by asking three things:

Does he have a job?
Does he have a car?
Does he have a house?

If he has a job, but doesn’t have a car, that’s her problem. If he doesn't have a car, a house or a job, that’s a social problem. If he has a house but doesn’t have a job or a car, he’ll be shacked up in her place shortorder quick. This is about as basic as it gets. Don’t accept a date from any fella who doesn’t meet the first three things a girl must check off her list before getting serious.

So I show up at this huge recreation room swimming with waltzing clingfish, a few obvious sharks and a small school of groupers, grunions and grunts: all them scanning the other half of the room for delicate widows, minnows and tuna. I take a seat on the closest chair to the refreshment table and begin growing moss on my underused dancing shoes. But I’m happy to tell y’all that I didn’t take it personally because there were plenty of cakes and cookies to sooth my crappie feelings.

The first prize catch gliding towards me was a white-haired guy with a walker.

The second catch of the day was a odd-looking man with foamy saliva dribbling from the corners of his mouth. “Don’t worry,” my savvy neighbor whispered to me. “He’s harmless. It’s just his meds.”

Who am I to criticize anyone responsible enough to take medication? After all, my family keeps a crystal bowl of Prozac in the center of our kitchen table.

The first thing he said while spinning me in circles was, Do you own your house?”

I’m figuring he wasn’t asking me that because he’d been reading narcissism forums. Most likely, he was looking for a place he could call his castle. I used the best crankbait in my tackle box to lure the fella closer and find out for sure. I answered, “O sure! I have my own house. And it’s paid for.”

“Paid for?” he queried. “Lucky you. Then casually drifting along he asked, "Is that house of yours in a nice neighborhood?" 

“O, it's a really nice neighborhood. One of the best in the city!” He’s definitely interested now. 

“Do you get spousal support, too?”

“O, yes!” I offered. “More than one woman will ever spend in her lifetime.”

Now of course I’m dropping little white flies but when we’re trolling for sea bass, it’s no time to bait hooks with worms.

“Gee,” he mused. “I think we have a lot in common, probably more than either of us may even realize. May I be so bold as to admit that I felt something familiar when we met? Like meeting an old friend from another time. Another place. Another reality. Maybe we had a sacred contract before we came to this earth school. One can never know for sure.”

Yes. Another reality. Like something out-of-this-world, all right. Like did this man even realize his chin was wet?

The music stopped and I thanked him kindly and returned to my chair, still warm from an hour’s worth of waiting for the first fish to swim along. He walked back to the guy-side of the room and started chumming with his buddies. Before I even knew what had happened, CZ was the most popular woman in the room. These fellas couldn’t keep their hands off me, even if a metal walker separated our hearts from beating as one. 

Now my first time at sea in 1972, I managed to snag a sleeper shark. Even though it took me thirty years to end my struggle by letting go of the rod, I finally managed to set myself free. This time around, the wise Captain is more focused on steering her ship than being validated as a trophy simply because her ship was bought and paid for.

There are Red Flags and Warning Signs helping people discern whether or not they are treading dangerous water and would be better off sailing alone than fishing for compliments. Here’s a few valuable tips for all the people who are brave enough to be dangling poles in the deep, blue sea of available partners:

Start with the first three criteria for Getting-A-Partner . Then, just in case you've hooked a sleeper shark, add the advice of Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door.

"When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. Make the Rule of Three your personal policy.

"One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you're dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. 

"Cut your losses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier now than later, and less costly. Do not give your money, work, secrets, or affection to a three-timer. Your valuable gifts will be wasted." ~Dr. Martha Stout


LoveFraud's Red Flags for sociopaths

Oprah's Red Flags for Abusive Men

Vaknin, Sam. How to Recognize a Narcissist

Heartless Bitches. The Tale of Joe Smooth

Dr. Tracy's Women to Avoid, Part One and Two

Dr. Irene's, The Female Narcissist


  1. I haven't laughed in the almost two weeks since I left. Until I read this! The "bowl of Prozac" just about put me off my chair! Thank you for the inspiration - it was just in time as I was pondering how wonderful it would be to be loved and held. Two years seems like a long time, but you're right. Plus after being in turmoil for the past 32, I know how fast they go. In the meantime, I will be getting to know my new best friend....ME. Plus I will be reaching out to all the friends I had before I put all my eggs in a thorny basket. Turns out they are very happy to visit and comfort me. And now instead of being envious that they were able to get out of their unhealthy relationships, we can celebrate and work through the inevitable pain, together. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Hey, Thank YOU! I am always so relieved when people 'get' my sense of humor! One change to my story, though. The Prozac bowl is now dotted with Cymbalta. LOL

    hugs to you!

  3. "If he has a house but doesn’t have a job or a car, he’ll be shacked up in her place shortorder quick" ....He lived at his Mom' job, no car....and after dating for just four weeks I'd moved him in with me....cos I thought he was the love of my life and wanted to help him achieve all the things he was planning to re. his writing. I spent so much money on things to help him but sensed there was something amiss when he never once uttered the words "Thank You"...luckily I saw sense, but before I could finish with him, he finished with me....he must have sensed the impending rejection. Even though we only dated for a couple of months I went through the mourning process you describe and even believed that maybe it was me who was narcissistic....but then, if I admit I'm one....I'm not.
    My Sister helped me by making a joke of it all.
    "How many narcissists does it take to change a lightbulb?"
    "None. They have no need for lightbulbs.....they ARE the light!"
    I'll not be entering into another relationship for a while, want to get to be my best friend for a while. Thank you for your advice, so glad I happened upon your site, it's an eyeopener for someone who had never dated a narcissist before, armed with your advice, I'm sure it wont happen again. :o)


    1. "I'll not be entering into another relationship for a while, want to get to be my best friend for a while."

      That is MUSIC to my ears, anonymous. Be your own best friend first. You are whole and complete and WoNderful and worthy, exactly as you are.


  4. I watch my neighbor going through that, and I'd like to give her this blog to read, but I doubt she'd get it. She is still in the mindset of "gotta' have a man to be whole". As of now, she's on her second "relationship" with her second man-who-is-making-her-house-his-castle. She threw the first one out not too long ago, and moved the second one in shortly thereafter.

    I couldn't blame her exH when he had a fit about the first guy living in the house HE (XH) built and paid for, around THEIR kids, and wanted to take her to court to put a stop to it. *sigh* There is something seriously wrong if a guy our age doesn't have a good-enough job and needs to move in with his girlfriend right away, in direct violation of 2 of the first 3 principles of mate-shopping.

    1. Hello dear Ala! When the message board goes down, my blog stats go up. ha!

      This post was written in 2008. I'm much wiser today and even more dedicated to fishing for fish, not men. But I used to be one of those women who thought she HAD to have a man to complete her life (and maybe keep her safe from other men which is really funny if you think about it: sleeping with a barracuda and thinking you're safe!)

      Your friend's story is so common, we aren't even shocked by it. You're right though---even if you printed out this post and took it to her with a piece of cake, she'd swallow the cake and not the advice. Which is what would REALLY nourish her soul and make her healthy.


  5. *tears* This blog written 5 years ago has helped me so much in the much shorter time it took me to read it yesterday. I'm a young mother - widowed - and for the past year and half couldn't understand what was happening with the man that came along and painted such a beautiful picture which then begin to show water markings from tears. More importantly I couldn't understand why I couldn't break away and STAY AWAY. I now understand him....and also now understand my characteristic and what I need to work on myself. I married young, am very giving, loving, forgiving, and am a woman that loves too much - my gift and my curse. I need, as your reader said above, to become my own best friend, heal, and not be so accepting / make excuses when it doesn't feel right. Love doesn't hurt. What I've gone through wasn't love.

    I apologized to my children for the detachment I know they've felt and time lost battling depression......and also purchased my seeds and pot on yesterday......

    Thank you so much!

    PS: I loved the humor as well......the noodles comparison definitely helped lol

    1. ha! Well, you're giving, loving, forgiving AND beautiful, SweetDST. You are the kind of human being that makes our world go round. Imagine if the whole world were filled with self-centered people! The human species might never have survived.

      I'm sure, just from what you've written, that your children will forgive and they will learn something from the experience, too. Children look to us to show them how to END abusive relationships and protect ourselves (and them) from harm. If we meet another lousy partner, and yes it happens, what we can teach our children is how to GET OUT a second time.

      I had to laugh out loud about your seeds and your pot! ha!!!

      We are ALL learning. You are in the 'thick of it' with the rest of us while we learn about pathology. Nobody knew much of anything about mental illnesses/disorders. And so they stayed and hoped and waited and prayed and stayed and hoped some more. It's a sad thing to think about.

      We can be grateful there's more information about unhealthy relationships today so we can do better by our children and we won't waste our lives on a persoN who cannot change because...well...they like themselves just fine the way they are.


  6. Forgot to mention your the "Mate Shopping Rule". I didn't get a lot of these lessons growing up and while I wish I had these very things years ago I can now do better myself, as well as educate my daughter (thinking of creating a journal from me to her). Crazy that this blog was written on her birthday. She will be 15 this year :-)

    1. Take it as a sign!

      Oh! Don't forget to water your seeds today!

    2. Yes......thank you! Funny update - my friend bought me an actual plant. I asked why and he said because the minute I neglect it it will show. When I brought the plant into my office everyone was admiring it, saying how beautiful it was.... I smiled but inside thought it's just a freaking plant. Took it home and actually forgot about it. I told my friend what had happened and he said "That's the point, you view yourself as you view that plantm and as you grow to take care of and love the plant you will grow to love and take care of you". I was speechless........ This year makes 10 years since my husband passed and now that I look back it couldn't be a better time to finally heal. Spoke with a girlfriend this morning and will be forwarding your information to her as well. :-)


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