Book Review: Manslations

On the weekend, just for fun, I picked up one of those “relationship” books at the library (why would I spend good money on these books when I can borrow them for free?).

This book, Manslations by Jeff Mac was actually kind of funny. Very easy to read with some good tips and insights. Personally, I don’t like generalisations, and this book basically boiled all men down to a few dot points. I may be wrong, but I believe human beings, including men, are a little more complicated and nuanced than that. Still, I’ll take the information on board and accept that Jeff probably knows a bit more about the male mind than I do (as he is male and has such a mind and I am not and do not). Some of the information I already knew, and some was new.

One section in particular caught my attention.

On page 179, Jeff explains about the Anger Smokescreen, and I immediately thought of M (read his story here). Jeff tells a story of a woman who caught her man cheating and when she confronted him, he started getting angry at her. Jeff writes:

You catch him doing something wrong; you have all the evidence; and yet he flips out as if you’re the one being outrageous. He’s banking on you not being confident enough to defend your point in the face of furious anger.

See? EXACTLY like M when I confronted him. I did not continue to engage him with the anger, so no doubt in M’s mind he ‘beat’ me in that argument, but who gives a shit? I let it go because I saw him for what he was and knew he wasn’t worth another word – he would never have admitted wrong and no doubt would only have continued to try to make ME feel bad for what HE did. Arse.

If you are single and baffled by male behaviour, I do recommend this book. It reiterates points in other books like He’s Just Not Into You, but give it a shot, anyway. Let me know if any part stood out for you.

The Story of M

So, I’ve realised I haven’t actually told you the story of M the narcissist, even though I’ve said I would. It was a long time ago, now, but he was one of the worst assholes EVER.

I got lonely and drunk one night recently and googled him. Why would I do that? It’s like the ONE rule you must NEVER break as a single person – NEVER EVER EVER EVER google an ex when you are drunk and lonely because without exception, they will be married with a child on the way.

Which sucks, especially since he was basically cheating on his girlfriend/future wife with me and lying about it.

So here’s the story of M. It’s long, so I hope you stick with me.

Of course I met him online. At first I wasn’t even going to accept his contact request because my gut told me M was a little full of himself and it wouldn’t work out well. He’s in a performance industry and I figured anyone in that sort of profession had to be at least a little egotistical.
I did accept his request, though, and we chatted and hit it off instantly – yeah, I know how that sounds, but it’s true. Having a connection when chatting online is really hard, and very rare, but we did. After a few conversations, we decided to meet for lunch. We had a lot in common, including an interest in politics (it was his major). The lunch went very well; he said it was a pleasure meeting me and would like to see me again.
I’d heard that before and was sceptical, so it was a pleasant surprise when we did, in fact, keep in touch.

He had recently invested in his own business and invited me over to his new premises one afternoon. He was doing a few renovations on it, so I helped him out with them and we talked non-stop, about everything – our past, travelling, sex, careers, tattoos, family, relationships, and politics. It was one of those absolutely perfect first dates that you didn’t want to end.
I told him I’d been in a serious relationship a few years ago which had ended because the guy had lied and cheated on me and told M how sick I was of meeting assholes online – I told him a story about chatting to a guy who ended up being married, even though he had “single” on his profile. M said he was deleting his profile because he wasn’t meeting anyone who was worth it. He was quick to add that I was different – I was smart and hot and fit. Of course I was flattered, but it takes more than that to quiet the cynic in me. I asked him (only half joking) if he was married or seeing anyone and he responded with an emphatic “No!”

He invited me back to his place for dinner, saying he’d cook for me. How could I pass it up? He re-heated pasta, which I thought was a cute interpretation of “cooking for me”.
While watching a movie, we started kissing and things heated up. I asked what he expected and he said “Nothing. Anything.” I told him I wasn’t going to sleep with him on the first date, and he accepted that. We still fooled around a little. It was hard not to give in (hey, I’m human), but instinct won out – that cynical whisper didn’t completely trust him yet. I’m sure a lot of you out there would know exactly what I’m talking about.

We settled down and focused back on the movie and he seemed withdrawn. He didn’t kiss me again, or touch me when he walked me to my car. I mentally rose an eyebrow. If he was going to sulk over not getting laid when that was never on the table, then I had been right not to sleep with him. We’d see what happened in the future…

About a week later, he hadn’t gotten in touch, so I called him. I said I’d had a great time, but understood he was busy (we’d talked about it – he had a performance competition coming up overseas). I asked him straight out if he wanted to see me again, or just leave it. He said he DEFINITELY wanted to see me again, but was under a lot of stress and pressure with the competition. I told him I understood, and I really did. I didn’t hear from him again, but just before he left for the comp, I messaged him and wished him luck.

Yes, there were red lights here, but at the time I also saw traits I find very attractive. The first date (except for the end) was like something out of a movie. You don’t get that kind of instant connection with just anyone and I didn’t want to listen to my instinct saying let it go. I didn’t know the depths of his assholery.

He messaged me when he got back to tell me how the meeting had gone (he’d won). I invited him to come around to my place sometime to celebrate.

He did. We talked for hours, about the competition (I asked him, teasingly, how many women he’d slept with at the meet. He said, “None”. I didn’t totally believe him), about our past relationships and about us. We knew there was chemistry. He said he liked me, he was interested in me, was attracted to me, but he just didn’t have time for a full relationship between jobs and comps. His actual words were, “The thought of adding a relationship to what I’ve already got going on gives me a nervous breakdown”. Again, I told him I understood and that I appreciated him being honest with me.
We made out, but it didn’t go any further (although it was hard – pun intended). You could almost literally see the sparks between us, but I knew it wasn’t right. He told me (while laying on top of me and looking into my eyes) that until he saw me again, all he would have was his hand for company (he shook it for emphasis).
When he had to leave we just stood in the middle of the room hugging for a while. He said he’d never met someone he could talk to so easily and he would definitely be calling me when he wanted some decent conversation and a friend. He was going to Mexico for another performance meet in two weeks and said he’d see me when he got back.

We became Facebook friends and continued chatting after he got home that night, but after that he didn’t talk much. I had a million doubts about him. I decided that I’d give him until he got back from Mexico and then tell him it wasn’t working. I wasn’t going to let the apparent chemistry distract me from the fact that I couldn’t envision things working out romantically, or ever introducing him to friends or family. We could still be friends, but our conversation would be about politics, not positions.

When I thought of him, the song “Beware of the Dog” came to mind.

A few days later, I saw a message posted on his FB wall “Hola! I can’t wait to meet you when you come over. You make G__ so happy. I am so happy for you two!” Being the nosey detective that I am, I researched his friends list and found this “G”. I thought I’d sit on the discovery for a bit to see if it was as suspicious as it sounded, and didn’t say anything to M.
The next time I logged on, the message was gone, and he’d blocked me from seeing his friends list. Yep. He was going to Mexico and he was making someone happy. Present tense.

The day before he left, I texted, “Good luck with your competition in Mexico”. He replied, “Thanks! It’s just a performance and a holiday.”

A few days later, I saw a few pics of him at a party with his arms around a fake bleach blonde with a fake tan. Her captions included “Mi amore!” (Spanish for ‘My love’ in a deep sense of the word) and “My Man! <3".

I was furious. That day I’d been listening to Carrie Underwood and came across her song “Before He Cheats” (it was around the time it was first released, as it happened. Perfect timing!) I posted the first stanza on my wall: “Right about now he’s probably slow dancing with a bleach-blonde tramp and she’s probably getting frisky”.

I posted it, then thought better of it and changed the settings so that only one friend could see it.
The next time I logged on M had fully blocked me. I had a feeling it was because of my post, but A) I didn’t really care if he’d seen it, and B) I wasn’t sure how he could have seen it, since it was blocked to all but one person. Still, I knew it was childish, and took the post down, albeit too late, I suppose.
Although M had blocked me, I could still see HER wall (no privacy settings) and what I saw gutted me. The black and white ‘professional’ photos of them half naked on a bed, and the selfie of them spooning on what was obviously her bed with the caption “my one and only” especially hurt.

Now, I don’t just blame him for my hurt: All up, we knew each other for just over 2 months. I knew I’d let the “connection” and sexual attraction carry me away and though I was cautious and untrusting, I’d opened part of my heart to him. The fact my instincts were right and I didn’t listen almost hurt more than his betrayal. (This is what it is like to be both a romantic hopeful and a jaded cynic. The hopeful side is desperately trying not to let you give in the to cynical side, even though the cynic is right most of the time).

The situation was confusing. I know the adage “if he’s not calling, he’s just not into you”, but I made up excuses for him. And besides, all that adage does is give men an excuse to be inconsiderate assholes.

However, no matter what I did “wrong”, nothing gave him the right to play me, to lie to me, to jerk me around. He (deliberately?) fucked with my feelings.
He KNEW how much I liked him. He KNEW how much I hated lying assholes. I TOLD him how much I appreciated his honesty. I asked him straight out (a few times, in different ways) if he was involved with anyone else and he said NO every time.

He had plenty of opportunities to tell me the truth. He didn’t have to come around to my place. He didn’t have to tell me how much he liked me. He could have just messaged, “I’m sorry, I’m seeing someone else.” Or he could have told me on our first date. (Things with him and G had OBVIOUSLY been going on for some time).
Better yet, he could have had it on his online dating profile in the first place (more than a few guys write profiles with “I’m attached but looking for something on the side”. At least with these guys you know where you stand).

This “G” wasn’t just a random someone he was sleeping with on holiday – that wouldn’t have bothered me so much; after all, M and I were never officially “Together”. What bothered and hurt so much was the fact that they were obviously in a fairly intense relationship, that they were when he and I were talking, and that he lied to me about his situation. I was communicating with him under false impressions, and he knew it.

I knew when he was getting back from Mexico. I was a bit of a mess. I was dreaming about using my skills from combat classes to beat him up (in one especially satisfying scenario, I threw him through the plate-glass window at his job). I dreamt about putting up signs with his face on it, Samantha Jones-style.

I finally decided to confront him. I didn’t sleep the night before, so it was probably not the best thing to do. But anyway… This is how it went down:

After a few deep breaths I walked into his work, saw him at his desk and greeted him with an enthusiastic “Asshole!!” and a big smile.
His expression changed immediately, and I wish I had a picture of it! I sat down opposite him. He said, tersely, “What?” Well, he obviously knew what, because he continued, “Not here. At my frikin work!?!? It’s not appropriate.”
No, it probably wasn’t, but I’d already considered this and retorted, “No, what YOU did was not appropriate!,” stabbing the table with my finger for emphasis. My heart was pounding. The sight of him infuriated me.
“I have a thousand things to do since I got back. You are on my list,” he said.
Yeah, right. He wasn’t calling me before he went to Mexico, but he wanted me to believe that he was going to call me after he blocked me on FB? I called, “Bullshit!”
He said “Let’s go outside”. At this point I had the feeling I’d gotten into something I wish I hadn’t, but it was too late and I was determined to see it through.
Once outside I turned and faced him, “Why did you lie?”
“I didn’t. I told you I didn’t know what was going on and couldn’t commit to a relationship.”
“No, you said ‘the thought of adding a relationship to what I’ve got going on gives me a nervous breakdown’. You said you weren’t seeing anyone. How did you think I felt seeing that picture of you with your arms around some chick with her caption ‘Mi amore’.”
“That’s just a Mexican thing: ‘mi amore’ means ‘my friend’. She means nothing.”
OMG, I thought, dumbfounded. I was literally speechless. Did he think I didn’t know basic Spanish? And did she know she meant nothing?
“And you block me on FB?”
“You put up a post about me dancing with a slut? I was furious. You insult my friend – it’s not cool,” He said. Yeah, I knew it was a bit childish. I still couldn’t work out how he’d seen it, but he obviously accepted it was about him, even though I’d only posted song lyrics and did not specifically mention anyone.
“How about talking to me before blocking me?”
“I was mad.”
I scoffed and said again, “How do you think I felt seeing those pictures of you?”
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” [Ha! Yeah, right, I thought]. “I didn’t sleep with you. I didn’t want to lead you on or do the wrong thing. You are an amazing girl. But I didn’t know what was going on up here and in here,” he tapped his head and heart.
I saw he couldn’t think of anyone but himself. I also realised he didn’t know I’d seen more than just the pictures of the party. I had a split second to make the decision whether or not to reveal I knew more than he thought. I decided to let it go – he would never get it. Even now he was still trying to lie and manipulate – giving me lines – You are amazing – I didn’t want to lead you on – I tried to do the right thing – I was going to call…. I. I. I. Bull. Bull. Bull.

I decided to let it go. “I thought we had something. I’m hurt and angry.”
“I’ll call you,” he said.
“No, don’t.” I turned and walked away. I had to, before he saw my tears.

A block later, still crying, I came across two girls outside a coffee shop, a cigarette packet on the table. I’d given up, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I begged, “Could I please bum a smoke?”
I saw that their first instinct was to say no, but they looked up, saw my face, and handed me the packet, saying, “It’s a guy, isn’t it?”
In the world of sisterhood, the effect of an encounter with an Asshole is well-understood.

I couldn’t believe he tried to tell me there was “nothing” with G, but remembered he didn’t know everything I knew. Good thing I could go back and re-look at those pics to confirm that I was actually right, or I may have started wondering if I should have accepted his last offer to call me. (I had to block her, too. It was too tempting to stickybeak, and I was only hurting myself by seeing what they were up to). I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t agree that it was “nothing” and now that they are apparently married and expecting, I guess she never knew about me (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one over the years).

So there you go. The story of M the Narcissist.

The Soundtrack of M

Continuing on the relationship soundtrack theme, the Narcissist I was sort-of-not-really-seeing about a year before J, inspired a soundtrack, too. He was so good at lying that even though he set off a few alarm bells, I believed him.

We’d established that there was mutual interest but he was ‘too busy’ to be in a relationship (he travelled a lot for work). Before one trip, I asked him if he was seeing anyone else and he shook his hand at me and said “until I see you again, this is all I have”. A few days later, his girlfriend tagged him on Facebook in pictures of them spooning on her bed with the caption ‘my love’.

I’ll tell the full story of that another day – it’s a long one.  In the meantime, here’s the Soundtrack of M.

Right about now he’s probably slow-dancing with a bleach-blonde tramp, and she’s probably getting frisky. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood.

Dear narcissus boy, I know you’ve never really apologised for anything, I know you’ve never really taken responsibility… You’ve never been with anyone who doesn’t take your shit, you’ve never been with anyone who dared to call you on it, (I wonder how you’d be if someone were to call you on it). Narcissus – Alanis Morissette. (as it happened, I did call him on it. I’ll tell you that story another time.)

You know how much you want him, you’re tryin’ to be cool about it, you’re tryin’ to be big about it… But he’s just another girl-addict, and if you give it away, you gotta be crazy. Beware of the Dog – Jamelia.

Tell me where, where did you get the nerve to even think that you could play me wrong…. You tried to deny all your actions, for once be a real man, at least give me the proper respect of the truth (I already know you did it). You Thought Wrong – Kelly Clarkson.

You shoot me down, but I won’t fall. Titanium – David Guetta.

You blocked me on Facebook, and now you’re going to die. Internet Friends – Knife Party.

She’s an actress… better known for the things she does on the mattress. Better than Revenge – Taylor Swift.

You say one thing, do another, and argue that’s not what you did. Straightjacket – Alanis Morrisette.

Single he told me? Single, my arse! Cellblock Tango – Chicago (movie cast).

Narcissus

If you’ve never heard this song before, do yourself a favour and listen to it. The lyrics are sensational, and if you’ve ever had experience with a narcissist, the words will make you go “Yes! That’s exactly right!”

This song makes me think of a man I’ll call M, especially the part that says

Dear narcissus boy, I know you’ve never really apologised for anything, I know you’ve never really taken responsibility… You’ve never been with anyone who doesn’t take your shit, you’ve never been with anyone who dared to call you on it, (I wonder how you’d be if someone were to call you on it).

As it happened, I DID call him on it. I’ll tell you that story another day.