In the commments following my article How Female Competitiveness Ruins Male Finances, two of you asked about my first marriage, and how I even ended up getting married in the first place. This is the context:
Have you ever considered writing a post regarding what led you to choosing this woman initially? No pressure of course. I do think it could be quite instructive, but I get how that might make you uncomfortable.
Manuel S replied:
One of the greatest mysteries in life, and a question that pops up from time to time here.
I think it was the first time he ever mentioned being married, one user asked him how it came to happen that such legendary pussy slayer settled down, and he answered that he found a remarkable woman. My guess is that she fooled him during the dating phase and showed her true colors once married, on top of being a 9/10 or so in looks.
When looking back at episodes in your life, people tend to construe stories to make sense of their actions and their experiences. This kind of narrative construction only happens in hindsight. There is also the problem that when looking back, the most recent experiences tend to overshadow other impressions. In psychology, this is called “recency bias”. However, if your wife or girlfriend really was as horrible as she turned out to be, you probably would not have stuck around for so long or possibly even have entered a relationship in the first place.
Now that enough time has passed, let me describe in some detail how I interpret the story of my first marriage and the run up to it. First and foremost, there is a biographical detail that I have hinted at a few times. In 2009/2010 I was indeed getting laid a lot. However, my life did otherwise not go particularly well. I got by because my family sent me money every month. It was not an enormous amount but enough to keep me from having to look for any random job, something quite a few people in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis had to do. Not me, though. I even told managers in interviews that the working conditions they describe are not appealing, and left. (In London, I applied to a few jobs, got a surprising number of interviews, and sometimes didn’t even bother to proceed. The reason was that I wanted to get out of that city. Then I moved to Berlin and just didn’t want to do anything for a while.)
Now, put yourself in the shoes of someone who was an overachiever all his life who was suddenly not doing anything productive anymore. At first it’s great. If you’re a smart guy, you won’t ever get bored as there is always another book to read or another rabbit hole to go down in on the Internet. Yet, what started to get to me was that the women I met were normally fun at first but quickly turned out to be rather shallow creatures. The average PUA guru may not know about this, but every Chad is probably familiar with the feeling of having women around who are eager to meet up and you just can’t be bothered. This is a rather strange experience because people were telling me how much they envied me and all I thought was that if they were in the same situation as me, they probably would have grown frustrated a lot sooner.
It is also the case that having a bunch of women around who come and go adds a lot of chaos to your life. In fact, I could not have lived that lifestyle with a steady job anyway. Now that I did not work, had written one or two books, and a natural death was still a long way off, I needed something else to do. I had to find purpose again; on top, having a bit more money was also on my mind. Because women were such a distraction, I decided to stop racking up notches. My reasoning was that if multiple women make your life chaotic, then having one steady woman may lead to stability. This was true to some extent, actually, at least in the beginning.
The underlying theme is that I was looking for stability. Had I met my now ex-wife a few months or possibly just a few weeks before I had grown dissatisfied with my life, I don’t think I would have looked for any long-term potential that may not even really have been there anyway. Yet, it would be too simplistic to explain me looking for a long-term relationship by thinking of a dude in a boat who is lost at sea and looking for any anchor at all. That would be catnip for a psychologist but reality was a bit more complicated. Also, I do not think that my first marriage was a waste of time. To spell it out: I did achieve my goal of establishing myself. I got what I wanted. In fact, I achieved more than I had planned and I’m quite content with my station in life.
Besides my particular circumstances, the key factor in my first marriage was of course that particular woman herself. Objectively speaking, she was very good-looking. While she never purused any modeling, she got approached quite often about certain deals. For instance, the private gym she worked out at had a larger-than-life poster of her in training gear in the foyer, about eight feet tall, which was done by a professional photographer. She doesn’t have much of a business sense, so to her the deal of getting a free gym membership for a year (or was it just reduced?) sounded great. It was their first low-ball offer so she got paid in that (and in narcissistic supply). There were other such stories, but that was the most striking one.
Looks-wise she was a solid 9. She was a reasonably tall blue-eyed blonde in excellent good physical shape, and certainly a head-turner. I’d say that in a typical club, she’d be among the top 5 or top 10 hottest girls. Even in exclusive clubs that are packed with models, you may still not ignore her because she’d still give you a nice smile and pay attention to what you say. The latter was indeed something I found most fascinating — no, not that she paid attention. Instead, she had excellent social skills and was able to make people feel welcome, even if she had nothing at all in common with them. For instance, if she bumped into some frumpy looking chick who could lose a few pounds, she’d casually chat with her and for instance drop that the color of that (butt ugly) dress looked really good on her and the other person would believe it was sincere. She was simply able to make people feel good about themselves. (Article continues below.)
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Of course you can now quip and say that the reason she was well-liked was that she was good-looking. This was certainly a very important part. She could have been very stand-offish and people would still have gathered around her. That may very well have been the case. Yet, she had a personality that made people really like her. She was approachable and if a dude came up to her she found gross, she’d still get out of the situation without hurting his ego much. Basically, she could put on a persona that treats people generally well. I think she would have been excellent in fields like PR, event management or possibly even sales instead of the field she ended up going into, but that’s a different story.
Looks, personality, and my life circumstances got me into this relationship. The post could end here as it answers the question I wanted to answer. However, I wanted to add that there was a lot more to it. My ex-wife was a raging narcissist. She got on and off meds seemingly at random. I don’t want to diagnose her, but presumably the entire cluster B of personality disorders fits her. This only slowly emerged, though. I mentioned that she put on a facade. If you only interacted with her briefly, you may cynically remark that she can’t be authentic, but I don’t think many of you would have done so. Instead, you would have smiled inwardly and possibly even outwardly and thought that it was nice to meet a young, friendly, good-looking woman. I’d say there is a non-zero chance that you’d have read something into any however brief interaction with her, stalked her on social media, and sent her a contact request (the number of messages and unanswered friend requests she had on Facebook, which was the dominant platform back then, was surreal).
Her personality defects only came out if you spent more time with her. She could hold up fine for days. Then her facade would crack. She’d be a nasty bitch for a few minutes, and then go back to being her old, cheerful self. However, because the positive interactions outweighed the negative ones so extremely, you just shrugged off those brief episodes instead of viewing them as the red flags they are. As anyone who ever dealt with a bipolar woman or a raging narcissist knows, though, the nasty side is the authentic one and the cheerful, charismatic facade is fake. As your long-term relationship with such a woman progresses, you’ll get to see less and less of the facade and more and more of the reprehensible monster hiding underneath. The psychological rollercoaster such women put you on can have addictive qualities to some men because you’re essentially waiting for the next random great episode. You can read reports of guys online who tell you that all their suffering is “so worth it” because of the blissful moments they have with their significant other, not realizing that they are on the road to perdition.
The irony of my first marriage or, more precisely, the entire long-term relationship, was that I entered it partly because I wanted stability. I got this to some extent, but that was partly only in my head. Yet, as the relationship progressed, that woman became mentally more and more unstable. She would have plunged me back into chaos, and much greater chaos at that. She certainly attempted it, and had I been a much weaker man, I’d now be ruined. Yet, I managed to get off that sinking boat. A good metaphor for this relationship are “donut blocks” in the Super Mario games. These blocks have the property that they float in the air and when you jump onto them, they remain still for just a little bit before they drop down, commonly into a bottomless pit, which leads to you losing one of many lives; in the real world, though, you only have one life. I managed to jump from one donut block (slaying in Berlin) to another donut block that I thought was a solid block (first marriage).
Life with a deranged woman can literally kill you, so I’m glad I got out alive. This is not an exaggeration. She once did try to kill me, and also repeatedly threatened to kill or poison me. Here is what happened: I was sitting in her kitchen. She got her crazy eyes, hastily reached for the mortar and pestle, and threw the heavy mortar at me, presumably trying to hit me in the head from behind. This thing was made of solid, and very heavy stone. Thankfully she completely botched the murder attempt. Anyway, the moral of the story is: stay clear off narcissists, and whenever you wonder why I see red flags where some of you may not see any, it’s because I used to live with a woman who was incredibly charismatic, highly manipulative, and genuinely crazy, and it took me a while to figure out the latter two.
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