I ask myself this question many times in the last couple of years.
Do we ever learn?
The problem with learning about relationships, is, you will never have the same happen again, but it will be different so you may not recognise it, you may not realise.
Its something my dad once said and of the few things, he was right about this.
My second wife, is, a narcissist, I know now without a doubt.
I have studied this trait and looked back at all the things that happened and how I struggled.
Why did I struggle first of all?
I am an empathic person, probably like many of you. We want to take care of people, we want to trust people we expect to be treated like we would treat others. We expect people are being as open and trustworthy as we are. We all have autonomy that also needs recognising, a narcissist will not.
It became obvious my last wife was non of these things.
She fed off my trust, in a way my insecurity. She always made sure she was one step ahead. She always had planned what was going to happen in our life before I did. When I made any plans she made sure she quashed them so she could do what she had planned, so many examples of this.
I thought we had a future mapped out, this involved finances, property etc.
I did not realise what she had going on in her head.
Our plans were not the same.
She was obviously manipulating me into a position of being unable to survive on my own, so that, she could be totally in control and know that I could not possibly leave because I would be homeless, pennyless and job less.
Even to the point that she told me my son could no longer visit and I should pack my bags. She then resorted to months of woe is me because I left and she never intended me to leave, she never intended 'me' to end our marriage, even though she divorced me.
She blamed me for so much and as ever with a narcissist, she was guilty of being every one of those things.
So, how could I have foreseen any of this, how could I have shaped my future differently?
There is no answer to that. There is, but when you are in love, anything you try to do to secure your future may stand out and be seen to be counter productive to the relationship.
However that may only apply to a narcissist?
From the start maybe two people should be able to be completely be open and honest. I never knew her finances, how much money she had, she used to accuse me of spending when I had an amazon package arrive, for lets say £30 when she was spending thousands, each month. That I never knew about until I saw bank statements years later.
How much I was led and deceived.
I would be interested in any insights into this because having been through this process and even after we split and divorced she refused me to recover my books, my kids keep sakes, photos etc, that is all about control and I had to satisfy myself I would let go, that I wouldn't let her control me any more.
She had passwords etc of mine I was unaware of, she checked my facebook and messenger account and read all the messages I sent friends etc.
She was truly a toxic person, investigated for fraud, she could have gone to prison, this amounted to what was probably £10's of thousands over the years....
I never knew.
So how do you start up a relationship with someone later in life and should you know eventually each others finances?
Whats the thin line between knowing everything, because when you split up your whole life is open to corruption?
As an empathic person in this kind or relationship, you put up with a lot, because you think it will get better, you think it will be ok.
But heres the thing, the narcissist is just making sure they secure every foothold, it will never end, they will constantly evaluate you and control you and close every door you try to open.
The only advise I can give you is, I have found out that these toxic people will test you during the first few dates. They may not be so aware, but it is their desire to find another source, so they will test your resolve, how far they can push you in certain situations, they may be arrogant sometimes and see what your response is, if its favourable and you lets things go, they will be attracted to you and start to real you in.
Good luck next time.
I too was married to a narcissist. For 20 years. Looking back, I realise I ignored early red flags... my biggest mistake. I ignored my gut feelings because I was besotted with him .. my ‘soul mate’! Years of abuse later, I couldn’t recognise myself.. cognitive dissonance set in ... depression, anxiety. Years of gaslighting made me lose all sense of reality and really doubted my own sanity. But as an empath, I knew .. I knew when he lied, when he cheated, when he re wrote the narrative.
And so, a year ago... BINGO! Found out about his affair .. had ALL the evidence .... and guess what! DENIED DENIED DENIED!
Now in the midst of the most acrimonious divorce ever. He is relentless in his abuse, even from afar.
But I am stronger now, I will win 💕
Denial seems to be their only source of defence, it really is. If you know the truth, then the denial is your best way of starting to heal.
Regardless of your anxiety and hurt, I hope that, that helped you in overcoming. Because it was not you that wrong, it was not you that was so absorbed in manipulating.
You will win and when you are free, you will feel so much better, think about what he has to go forward with.