In the final year of University someone I'd barely noticed in previous years (except for a derogatory comment he had made about women that had infuriated me at the time) became the beginning, middle and end of my existence. It turned out that this yob with a naff haircut and a big nose (tall with unusually interesting features I grant you) was extremely clever. As our groups merged I bore witness to his abilities. He communicated well and confidently, and seemed knowledgeable in the topics he discussed. I have to say I was impressed and I felt that I had met someone who had the ability to achieve great things - I hadn't had that feeling before, I felt validated in my belief that such people existed.
Now I could sit here and tell you everything that went on between us for two years, explain everything I said and did, everything he said and did and how it felt but I'm not going to. I'm only going to explain what happened at the end. After a few months I fell in love with him but he didn't love me. He insisted we could be friends so I tried in the hope his feelings toward me would change or that I would accept we would just be friends. 98% of our "friendship" took place in the world of zeros and ones (namely the Internet).
As time passed the strain of my "friendship" with him, the pressure of my job and studies became all too much for me. I went to the University Counsellor for a couple of sessions to get things off my chest. I discussed my feelings but I didn't talk too much about him except for me telling her my hopes, that he wanted to be friends and he was great. I was an emotional wreck, ready to quit everything. I don't know how I finished the course but I did and somehow I managed to gradate top of my class (I still have nightmares that it isn't true).
After University I carried on with the "friendship" but nothing changed as I worked harder and harder at trying to move things along to the next stage. I went to my Doctor and told him I needed help. He referred me to a Counsellor to whom I explained everything that had been going on and what was said between us. I tried to give a balanced view because he wasn't there to represent himself and I didn't want her judging him unfairly. I told her of all his talents, how I and other people viewed him with a mixture of awe and sometimes distaste and what little effort I felt he made for the friends he had gone to University with. I explained everything I had done wrong, everything I had said to make things difficult for him with regards to my emotional state having describing my feelings, the pressure I was under and that I thought about death even though I assured him I would never commit suicide. I told her of his taste for alcohol, smoking, and women. I also pointed out that he seemed to prefer to associate with people who had a much lower intellect than himself and why I thought it would be hard for him to be with me as I was clearly not attractive.
She asked me about my life at home and I explained what it was like living in my house. At no point did she judge me. She suggested I read a book called "Women Who Love Too Much". It was an eye opener. I read about women who time after time invested in men who did not love them and that the reasons for it were usually abuse or lack of emotional sustenance in childhood. That these women appeared to be recreating their relationships with their parents with the men in their lives. Here was my life with the men I had loved, without the sex.
She explained that I seemed to be in a Codependent relationship where he would come to me in need after a night of drinking or as a distraction from his world and I was happy to facilitate that need in the hopes that something would happen between us. She thought I needed to move out of home (I certainly was old enough) and needed to discover myself, that I should rethink this "friendship" and what I got out of it. She also tried to suggest there may be an underlying reason why he couldn't love me and with this my allocated number of sessions was over.
I was frightened by what I learned and looked at our "friendship" outside of my rose tinted glasses. I came to the conclusion that in order for me to have a chance I had to leave him. It was the last thing I wanted to do but I told him I couldn't cope with it anymore, that he could get whatever he wanted from me from a million other sources and get it better, that I wanted him to leave me alone. This worked for a few months but I missed him too much and I went back. I wasn't happy with my lack of self respect - over several months nothing changed except that contact seemed to be a little less frequent.
One day I decided enough was enough and I needed to know where I stood - even though it should have been obvious. I purposefully pushed him for more offering myself to him and giving him the option to cut me loose. He told me where I stood, that he had a girlfriend which he thought he'd already told me about, he saw me as the type of friend that he would "say hello to in a pub" and out of loyalty to her he could not spend physical time with me. That he wasn't known for "being good to his women". To begin with I was extremely angry but this subsided as I listened to what he had to say, I still "loved" him and even though I was hurt I tried not to be too harsh on him. I told him I thought he was worthwhile and she was a lucky girl. I needed time to think because I wasn't sure what I was going to do.
That night I sent him an email explaining that I was ok (which I wasn't) and not to worry for me. In a round about way I told him he was a liar and that his girlfriend wasn't the real reason he didn't spend time with me. He didn't reply. I wasn't sure if he was ignoring me or if he hadn't been online to read it (which was unlikely but possible).
To make things worse I had already agreed to replace him at his place of work in less than two weeks. I knew this wasn't a good idea but I was in no fit state to decide what I was going to do so I let myself be guided by my friends. I took the job because it was the only offer I'd had of IT related work, so much for the demand for IT graduates. Inside I knew I wanted to go back to him and accept whatever he offered but I now knew I couldn't do it again without being sure I could just be his friend, which was unlikely. In addition there was his girlfriend to consider. I'd learnt my lesson, I couldn't openly give him love now he was "off the market", it wasn't my place and to be honest if I'd have know about her I wouldn't have gone back to him when I did.
A few days later I was playing a computer game he had introduced me to on a server that belonged to a clan he was a member of - I'd checked he wasn't playing first. The game was violent and I didn't really like it but when he first showed it to me part of me wanted to become skilled in it so I could beat him at it (clearly my competitive nature and payback for hurting my feelings) - now that was true more than ever. I hadn't noticed it before but there was a link to a web site for the clan on the screen. I decided to take a look.
They had a message board. I clicked on the first thread that showed his alias as the original author and struck "gold". I discovered that his loyalty to his girlfriend wasn't as strong as he had claimed. There was another woman on the scene that he was considering cheating on his girlfriend for, an older woman from his workplace that he had mentioned to me before and from the descriptions he had used I knew he didn't love her. He explained that his relationship with his girlfriend was "ok" but he didn't see a future in it. The night before he had gone out and got drunk and that this woman who was a "milf" with an "amazing rack" had offered herself to him. He didn't want to miss out on an opportunity and was asking for advice. Some people said "what girlfriend?" (clearly I wasn't the only one in the dark), some said go for it and others said don't. Someone asked him if he had eventually decided to sleep with the woman. He said he hadn't because it would rip out his girlfriends heart and that this other woman would have to be told to leave him alone, that he couldn't remember what he'd said to her, that she disgusted him. He even implied his girlfriend was lucky and should be grateful to the woman because it had made him realise how much he liked her.
At first I couldn't believe what I'd read or the irony of the time frame within which I'd found the post. There on this web site for all the world to see was an admission of his game. His feelings for the women in his life that loved and cared for him, how he played them. How many times had I heard "I don't remember... what did I say... what did I do?... I was joking, anyone can see that... don't take me seriously... Yeah, well I was drunk. "
Clearly this woman who he had described to me as "dim" and said had no chance because she was "pushing forty" was more desirable than I was and worth considering - I was ashamed of myself for what I'd done and how I felt. I was ashamed of him and I felt sorry for his girlfriend, the other woman and myself - it didn't sound like he loved any of us and I meant the least to him because he had chosen to allow these women to be close to him in the real world.
Life became extremely hard as I analysed everything that had happened between us battling my need to speak to him, fight with him and understand him with the need to build a new life for myself. I was also in contact with the older woman (who was in her mid forties and old enough to be his mother) at what was now my place of work. I could certainly see what he liked about her they were clearly on display. I couldn't think straight. I spent my life working, feeling like I was incompetent at my job and would never compare to him, crying, sleeping and praying that I wouldn't wake up in the mornings.
With thanks (bitterly given) to the job I was able to find out more about him. I didn't dig for information it was offered freely. I could hear adoration in the voices of some of the people who told me stories but the stories weren't always pretty. Sometimes it felt like people were trying to talk about him on purpose to get a reaction from me as I refused to speak about him or go out with them when I knew he would be there.
I accidentally saw him twice during this time. The first time I was having a night out with my friends. One of my old classmates started dancing next to me and I was about to say hello when I realised he was talking to someone else. I turned round and there he was dancing behind me with his girlfriend. I had no idea what he was thinking and I didn't want to find out so I left.
As my paranoia grew with regards to how he truly felt about me I cracked and by dubious means I found out his true feelings - I was devastated. If he had showed me these from the start there is no way I would have had him in my life. There were signs of course but I had nothing concrete, just his reassurances that we were ok and his own words of " I do care!... As a friend. " when I challenged that he didn't. Clearly he was a liar and I had been taken in. But now it was too late, he was a big part of my life... what could I do? That night I couldn't find the strength to go to work so I went to a local park to cry things out by the lake and read a self help book. He was out jogging with his friends I didn't see him until it was too late. He ignored me, I ignored him. I was so angry, so hurt.
I went back to my Counsellor. I told her what I had found out, how sick I thought I was to have done what I did to unearth the truth (initially not considering his right to privacy and then finally ignoring it), how paranoid and unsure I had become. I expected her to agree with me, to tell me I needed medication or intensive therapy and I was ready to take it all. I expected her to tell me to leave the job. The words that came out of her mouth shocked me "You're not sick, he is". She told me he sounded very "Narcissistic". I didn't know what that meant; she explained and suggested I do some research. So I did. I started with online resources and with every page I read I saw elements of his personality, I also saw elements of mine. I went back to her and told her what I'd read and my fears for both of us but my main concern was him. I didn't want him to be disordered, I didn't want it to be his life, for his childhood to have been bad but I had to admit there had been so many lights that went on as I had researched. Maybe I'd got it wrong, he could be an extremely nice person and I was just seeing what I wanted to see because he didn't want me. She said it was possible, she didn't know him and that I would never know for sure but from what I had told her she suspected he had problems.
The more I read the more I felt I understood. Funnily enough it took a while to sink in that he wasn't the only one I was reading about in these pages. There in black and white was my father's personality, every facet of it. Memory upon memory fitting nicely alongside each example given by Psychologists, Counsellors and diagnosed Narcissists. My Counsellor felt I was attracted to Narcissistic men as a result of my relationship with my father. She tried to make me see that there was more to me than what they thought, that I was worthwhile and that I needed to do more to discover myself and not be what I thought they wanted from me. She gave me some strategies to cope.
After a few sessions I didn't feel like I was in such a state. She seemed to think I was essentially ok and that I would get through it. We agreed to save some sessions for a later date if I needed them. I knew I shouldn't ask her to tell me what to do but I asked her for her opinion with regards to continuing to be friends with him if I chose to. I expected her to tell me to walk away but I think her words were closer to "Run!" that I should get as far away from him as possible as soon as possible and that I had been lucky so far. She said I should consider myself fortunate that I wasn't his girlfriend - I didn't feel so lucky and I still wasn't sure that I could stop myself going back. Surprisingly she said she thought the job would be beneficial to me, I could get experience and find something else later on.