Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader whom we’ll call “Marguerite.”
Hi Donna. I have recently read your book Love Fraud and am now reading Red Flags of Love Fraud, both of which I found were excellent. I feel I am recovering from being in a relationship with a narcissist, although I feel blessed that things did not progress from the love bombing stage, which was exactly as you describe in your second book.
Showering me with attention
It was a very intense period of showering me with a huge amount of attention, adoration and admiration, and I now believe telling me the things I wanted to hear. I’m ashamed to say I was already married when I met him, and at the time wanted to leave my current relationship. I believe this left me vulnerable and gave the narcissist a way in — he was going to help me leave and support me in any way I needed and wanted.
He also told me that I was capable of great things in my career. My confidence has never been great and I am very passionate regarding my career, and he seemed to open so many doors, making me believe anything was possible — maybe it is, but I now see it was a ploy to get me to take that leap from my marriage.
Wanted to leave my marriage
It was such a suffocating time — I wanted to leave my marriage and for a time I thought I wanted to be with the narcissist, but I knew I did not want to jump straight in to another relationship — especially as this would destroy my current husband. My husband knew about the other man in my life and that I wanted to leave him, but I cared for him a lot and couldn’t do it.
It was also so hard to end things with the narcissist, which I tried to do again and again, but he moved house to be closer to me (divorced his wife — he said the relationship was dead), and I felt he had given up so much. In the end I felt so trapped.
Started working with me
He even started working at the same organisation as me, so he was there all the time. He changed the office around frequently, put pictures up on the walls and often left flowers for me. This was my work place, and although I was grateful, I felt so trapped and found I couldn’t say no.
When he was not there, I realised how nice the space was, even though we were still emailing several times a day — I couldn’t not reply. I knew in my heart something was wrong, but I felt completely paralysed and continued with the relationship, even though I was having to hide things from the world, and even though I knew I did not want to be with him.
Also the guilt I felt on having an affair was crippling. I am certainly not saying I’m not partly to blame — of course I must hold some of the responsibility for it — in the beginning all the attention felt wonderful and I didn’t feel so alone.
I realise, however, that the times I did try to end it (and there were many), I was left with a feeling of letting him down and that he was angry with me — in a way I felt I owed it to him to be with him. He always said there was no agenda, and even if we did not end up together then it wouldn’t matter — what mattered was that I was happy. I realise now that this is not true.
I did end up ending the relationship for good and I received an awful email from him, which I believe left me feeling quite traumatised for some time — I felt it made me out to be a monster that I had strung him a long the whole time and never had any intentions to leave my husband and be with him. He said I deliberately hurt him so as to make myself feel better and for my own need for power and control, which I know wasn’t the case.
He also said that I asked him to come live nearer, which I did not. I remember well that when he said he was coming I felt it was not a good idea, but I said it was his decision and that I would not stop him from coming if he wanted to, so he has twisted things a great deal and I am now able to see how I could’ve got sucked in by wanting to defend myself and wanting to apologise.
I sometimes wonder however if maybe I’m completely to blame for the whole thing happening and that he is right with a lot of what he says — it’s hard to believe that he (someone so apparently giving) would have this other side to him.
I now see that he’s used just about everything in that email that he knew would hurt me the most. I realise all those hundreds of emails he sent in the beginning were part of the grooming process and were to find out everything about me, to get what he wanted. I feel so very lucky that I have managed to escape from this and did not commit to him — I dread to think what would have happened.
I read your story and others and my heart goes out to you all for all you have gone through — I’m so sorry you had to endure all you did. I’m so glad you have survived it and come out the other end a much stronger person and that you have turned things round so much and are now helping so many people.
Marriage is saved
There is so much more I could say about this, but I’ll stop here. My marriage is saved I’m happy to say — my husband has changed through this experience for the better and so have I.
Not living with this burden has been immense — I feel lighter and my head feels so much clearer and I can now breathe again. I realise what I’ve got and I am so lucky to have a husband who is honest, decent and a good man. I have so much respect for him for standing by me and accepting me for all I’ve put us both through.
Thank you for the chance to share some of my experience.