Red Flag Reflections: What Were Yours?

In my new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle”, I went back and shared my initial meeting with Seth and our courtship. I shared how I was wooed by his charm (thoughtful cards, poems, letters, flowers and more). I also created something called, “Red Flag Reflections” which were the obvious warnings that I chose to ignore. The red flags were there but I looked the other way.

Part of this journey (for me) has been about owning and accepting my part in my relationship with Seth. I am also committed to learning from it and growing as a result of it. While we ALL have threads of narcissism running through our veins- I can now identify what is healthy narcissism and what isn’t. I know when to lace up my shoes and run like the wind.

Here is one such “Red Flag Reflection” which was annoying and bothersome in the beginning but it became a huge issue throughout our relationship. It was also something that bothered me about Seth’s family. Anyone who met them would be left with the impression that they were kind, compassionate and yet behind closed doors they were critical and condescending.

We first stopped at a grocery store where Seth and his brother spent hundreds of dollars on food and alcohol before proceeding to Walmart, where they bought nearly everything under the sun. They seemed to be highly entertained by making rude comments about the customers in Walmart. It bothered me greatly but I pushed it aside.

  • Red Flag Reflection: The fine art of ridiculing others is usually left on the elementary school playground. It is highly disturbing when grown men seem to take such pleasure in it. Over time, this became a very contentious issue in our relationship.

What were your top three “Red Flag Reflections”? I think that the path to healing (and ensuring that you don’t make the same mistake twice) involves a lot of reflection and ownership of your part of the problem. While it bothered me greatly that Seth often made fun of people, it took me many months before I spoke up.

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To purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle”, click here. You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive while divorcing a narcissist or co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and to begin healing. 



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  1. Melissa

    When we were dating people who I have been close to for many years were now “bad influences” and not good friends for me. Like he knew after never meeting them! Should have known. Thank you for your blog. You have helped me so much!

  2. Tara

    I spent several years with someone who probably wouldn’t be diagnosed as a narcissist, but there were many ways he fit the bill. In general, he didn’t think about others. He didn’t consider his audience when he spoke and I often cringed when he spoke so thoughtlessly and I tried to smooth things over and cover up for him. I always dismissed it as one if his quirks, but I’ve learned better.

    Thank you for challenging others to reflect and accept responsibility. This is an important topic to bring awareness to.

  3. A

    He told me in a love letter in response to something that had happened to me to “trust no one.” This is because HE is untrustworthy and because it was the beginning stages of alienating others. But, I didn’t get it at the time. Still have the 1995 letter and it gives me chills.

  4. D

    When he called his mother “woman” the first time, I should have ran. When he moved into my house and started demanding everything be changed, painted and/or moved around, I should have ran. When he demanded that anything that belonged to or reminded him of my family be put up in the attic, I should have ran. When I finally caught on to him changing his mask to fit the crowd he was with, I should have ran. But the one that haunts me the most was in the very beginning, when I told my mother that he asked me out on a date and she asked me if I was going to go, I said, “Oh no, no, I won’t go out with him, there’s something wrong in his eyes.”. So what did I do? I let him con his way in and convince me that it was all in my imagination.

  5. Leigh Anne

    My three biggest red flags:

    When his phone was turned off due to non-payment of his bill, he screamed and threw the phone through a wall of my rental home.

    When he found out I was pregnant, he started choking me every single time he wanted to be “intimate.”

    When my mother came out to help me care for my newborn son, X pinned her against a door frame screaming at her from an inch away that she was a horrible woman and should stay out of my life.

    These things all happened before he tried to kill me while I held my infant son. I should have known that they were red flags to how bad things would get, but each incident seemed like it was so extreme already. I honestly didn’t think that real people would behave so badly. I was young and oh so naive. I never considered that I was not dealing with a normal person.

  6. That reflection is so perfect and so accurate. I’m sure many readers were nodding their head. My ex is so judgmental of others. He finds the rest of the world (other than him) so ridiculous. He makes fun of everyone that seems unworthy of his time, which is just about everyone. From their style, to their speech, to their opinion.
    Even recently, he sent me a text with his opinion about our boys’ soccer coach. He didn’t like his attitude in the group text that he sent to the team. I just ignored it. I mean, really, this man that volunteers his time and sends out reminders about game times OFFENDS you? You can “already tell” that he’s going to be a d__k from a text with just a few words?

  7. Jennifer

    I should have seen it with my ex also.

    When he hit me because he thought I was lying to him about where I had been. I had gone to a few stores and ended up backtracking. There were extra miles on our car. That’s why e thought I was lying about where I ws that day.

    Second was when my mother and stepfather would visit. They are both in recovery but he would get bombed when they would visit, this chased them away.

    Last one? We invited friends over for dinner early on in our relationship and when my roomie showed up with her boyfriend, my ex mooned her. He had never met her.

    The things that make you go hmmmmmm…

  8. KariJo

    I could write a book on them but the one I cant believe I ignored….he was making out with my maid of honor in the limo after our wedding, with everyone there! I still dont understand why I didnt walk away right then and there! Or at least why my other friends didnt drag me away.

  9. The biggest one for me was definetly his sense of “humor”. It bothered me from the very beginning of our relationship, his condescending jokes about most people and derogatory jokes about women. Big red flag for me now!

  10. Z

    The emotional abuse. When I told him his words or actions were hurtful, he (as I know understand) played dumb and had me explain in detail why his behaviors were hurtful (we’re talking obvious situations). Then did the same thing, or a variation, again and again. This was constant. Given that this was my first relationship and that I was (and am!) honest to a fault, I believed that he was not getting it and kept explaining things over and over, and he kept using the knowledge over and over. Narcissists really do prey on those who are trusting. If words and actions clash (his did big time), I now know to pay close attention.

    My second lesson was to trust my gut. I knew something was off (I told him early on that I felt he was hiding something which turned out to be true) but I rationalized away that I was being overly picky, etc. Head over heart. I now make sure I listen to both equally.

    The third… No sign of guilt. Even over the most blameworthy behavior of his. Ever.

    One more – no apparent ability to feel happy for others, including his family. Every time I succeeded (promotion, for example), I was ignored and given the silent treatment.

  11. Meg E.

    I kick myself now for not recognizing and understanding all the warning signs that were there from the very beginning.

    1. When he discussed his past, EVERYTHING negative he ever experienced was someone else’s fault. At no point did I ever hear him take responsibility for the part he played in things. He went so far as to say it was my fault that he got behind the wheel intoxicated and was arrested for DUI later in the evening. I would later learn that the term for this behavior is called “blame-shifting” and it’s pervasive among abusers. Blame-shifting is a huge red flag that should never be ignored.

    2. During a conversation over after-work drinks he told me that during college he had confronted his best friend’s wife about her infidelity in the front yard of their home. He talked about how he had grabbed her by the upper arms, shaken her, and yelled “You’re a whore!” in her face repeatedly in plain sight of neighbors. It never crossed my mind that if he would do that to a woman who wasn’t his wife, what would he do to a woman he was in a domestic relationship with? When I think back on that story I am filled with so much shame…because we weren’t even dating yet and he had given me the only reason I needed to walk away and not give him the time of day ever again.

    3. Any time someone criticized him or poked fun at him, he would respond with an inappropriate level of anger and then turn things around so that it wasn’t that he was doing anything wrong, it was a character flaw in the person who had criticized/made fun of him. Within a few months of our marriage, any time I brought up behavior that I didn’t like in him, he screamed at me and told me that I was “disrespecting” him — he got the focus off of his behavior and turned it around to be a problem with me. The most extreme example of this is when I confronted him after discovering he had been homosexually unfaithful with men he solicited on Craigslist and he said I should have been a better wife. I’m happy to say that I stood up for myself and told him that his decision to have sex with men had absolutely nothing to do with me and he was not going to put any of the blame on me.

    4. While we were dating he was obsessed with money and asked a lot of questions about my savings and the amount of equity in my home. I should have paid close attention to the fact that he lived on credit, had financed 100% of his mortgage, and lived paycheck to paycheck. It wasn’t long in our marriage before he was using finances as a means to threaten me and keep a level of uncertainty present in our relationship.

    These are just some of the big red flags I see now as I look back over the past nine years. It’s hard not to beat myself up mercilessly each time I remember them because this man told me everything I needed to know about him before we ever got involved. The correct response should have been to get as far away from him as possible, yet instead I let him come into my life. I wonder that the day will ever come when I can forgive myself for my poor judgment.

  12. Lily

    while I was in the hospital giving birth he moved all of my furniture out of the house that was mine before I met him and gave personal things of mine away without my permission,.
    when I came home I was shocked when he was upset because he told me that my furniture didnt match the decor of the house. It wasnt like we got new furniture either and the furniture I had was expensive wood dressers and beds as well as sofas and chairs.

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