Narcissists are takers

The Narcissist’s Theft by Swindle

| Narcissists are Takers who Extract more than Supply | June 2018 |

When it became clear that keeping my mom’s house wasn’t a viable option, Tina tried steering me away from using a realtor to sell the house. She said her parents had sold their old house in Eagan themselves and saved considerably on commissions. At first, Tina was talking about savings for “us,” but that evolved into her wanting to act as the agent and get the commission that would otherwise go to a professional realtor.

At the same time, she was becoming less reliable. Things I’d ask her to take care of while I was at work weren’t getting done and she was disappearing, sometimes for days at a time, when she’d agreed to be around to let people into the house. She wanted to get paid big bucks to be a turnkey, but couldn’t even be there when I needed the key turned.

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I had realtors come over to look at the house and estimate an initial listing price. I had flippers look at it. I was collecting a lot of data and many options. While Tina had convinced herself that the house was worth at least Two-hundred-thousand, professionals were estimating it between $150,000 and $175,000, assuming certain critical flaws were corrected, first.

Tina wasn’t satisfied with the first realtor, so I brought in another for a second opinion. When that was essentially the same, Tina balked.

She’d been talking about how her Dad had shut her mom out of the family financial decisions and didn’t want to be in a marriage like that. She insisted that I be transparent with her about finances, which I was, but eventually, I realized those discussions were actually aimed at manipulating me into letting Tina (and her mother) make decisions about the sale and distribution of proceeds from my Mom’s house.

At the time, I was doing everything I could to include Tina and consider her viewpoints, so after she balked at the second realtor, I called up a third whom I was acquainted with.

In the end, I’d had four different realtors, a couple flippers and an appraiser over and Tina still wasn’t satisfied, because none of them matched her imaginings. Tina had never owned property, never bought or sold a house.  She didn’t have a checking account or credit card and the only reason she had an insured automobile is because I gave her one and paid for it’s upkeep. By the age of 30, she’d never lived on her own, never paid bills and didn’t even manage her own medical appointments, but she insisted that she knew the value of the house over all the professionals I consulted and she had the right strategy for selling it. She wanted me to pay her $12,000 to take care of it.

I asked her if she knew how to go about clearing a house title or the legal paperwork needed to go from offer to purchase agreement to title transfer. She did not. I asked her if she knew about truth in housing disclosures and other local requirements for selling a house. Again, she did not.

Seeing that I wasn’t going to pay her to sell the house for me, she changed tactics and began hinting that perhaps she should be entitled to a share of the house. She was badmouthing my brothers who were sporadically coming to help me get the house ready for sale. “I’ve done more than either of your brothers have,” she’d often say. She didn’t seem to realize that although the couple weeks she’d helped me get some things in order were appreciated, they didn’t really amount to the years my brothers had contributed to helping my mom and being her loving sons. It was a simple fact that she wasn’t one of my mother’s heirs. My mom didn’t even like Tina and hadn’t been happy at all that I was seeing her again after I managed to kick the bottle.

As far as I was concerned, whatever I managed to get out of the house was going to benefit Tina, too.

If settling the estate added $40,000 to my bank account, that was a fairly significant boost to help Tina and I start our new life together, but she didn’t seem interested in “ours.” Instead, she seemed increasingly more fixated on what could be hers.

I’d humored Tina as far as I could. In the end, I had a duty to my mom and to my brothers to divide the estate equitably among her heirs and I had to dismiss Tina’s more fanciful notions in favor of expert advise and expediency.

That did not go over well. Tina would pepper her suggestions with platitudes like “of course, it’s not my place to say how you should handle your mom’s estate,” and “of course, it’s ultimately between you and your brothers,” but she didn’t mean it. When I finally ended up selling the house to my dad for $150,000 over Tina’s objections, and without giving her the chance to try to sell it herself and earn that big, imagined commission, it caused a narcissistic injury. Covert retaliation and devaluation began.

At one point, she asked me if I was drinking again and triangulated with her mom, saying it was Maura who suggested it after overhearing Tina and I arguing about the house. That was rich. Tina was drunk, high or (usually) both every day and increasingly irrational. She implied that perhaps I wasn’t strong enough to be her husband, because I was committed to distributing Mom’s estate fairly with my brothers. She said that indicated I wouldn’t be able to take care of our finances, because I was “too good.”

Narcissists are envious thieves.  I believe they don’t understand genuine love and relationships but covet some of the advantages they see other people derive from them. They may not even believe anyone is capable of an honest, loving relationship. They may think everyone is manipulating and taking advantage of everyone else and so feel justified when they use deceit to take what they want from their partners and hangers-on.

Tina knew she found something special in me. I could supply her better than many because I was limited in relationship experience and thus naive and trusting. I was generous, honest and dutiful. I was well equipped to provide sympathy, understanding, validation and care of any kind. I was disinclined to be argumentative and knew how to tiptoe around triggering issues.

Even still, I was never going to be enough for Tina. No one could be. She was always on the lookout for new side and backup suppliers. A visceral fear of abandonment common to all narcissists unrelentingly urged that seeking behavior on. Now I know that I was part of a male harem. I was usually her main source of supply, but she would periodically have to service the other string-along relationships she kept on the side and she’d disappear for a few days here and there. Sometimes, I’d be devalued and discarded for weeks or months while she tended her other sources of supply.

When she and I were together, she didn’t have to worry about much. She didn’t work and had no visible means of supporting herself, but I fell easily into the role of provider. I kept her supplied with cigarettes, whiskey, tofu (and other food that’s actually edible). I always made sure when we’d be apart that she had at least some cash, in case of emergency while I was away. I took her out often and drove her anyplace she needed to go, no matter the distance.

All of that may have seemed like gifts, but in truth, it was all stolen. A theft by swindle. Tina conned me into believing she was something she isn’t and that our relationship was going somewhere it never would or could.

She never extracted large amounts of cash from me, but she was well provided for. I couldn’t account for all the thousands of dollars I spent on her over the years.

Every shot, bottle, pack of smokes, dinner, movie, phone bill paid, every ride to Cold Spring… stolen. She even stole my mom’s bookcase and added insult to injury by giving it to Chris, my former friend who she’d been carrying on an illicit affair with almost since the beginning of our relationship. I suspected some heirlooms from the family cabin that went missing ended up gifted to him as well.

While we were cleaning up my mom’s house, Tina was on the look out for ways to profit. My brother Steven and his wife had left their bicycles in the garage and Tina wanted them. She asked me for Steve’s number and proceeded to pester him about needing to get those bicycles out of the garage, unless he just wanted to give them to Tina, then she’d take care of moving them.

Tina told me that Steve said he didn’t have room for the bicycles and she could just take them. She had me load them into my van on the very next trip to Farmington. Shortly after bringing the bikes, Maura came home with new locking bike chains and secured them to the railing next to the stoop. I never knew the combination to the locks and Tina kept those bikes after we broke up. Eventually, one of them went missing and Tina told the neighbors it was stolen, but I suspect she gave it to one of her sex buddies – maybe Doug, since he reportedly had a suspended drivers license.

In the end, I came to feel that absolutely everything I gave Tina was actually stolen. The Jacket I painted for her, the poems I wrote, the wheat pennies she collected, that I hid around the house for her to stumble upon. The love notes were cozened just as much as the antique jewelry box and the jewelry to put in it.

I wasn’t only robbed financially. She stole my affection. Every kiss, hug, back scratch or massage and every reassuring touch and my sympathetic ear was stolen and undeserved.

Every time I said “I love you” to Tina was, in a way, as bogus as when she’d say “I love you more,” because she conned me into feeling that way. All of her words of endearment were meaningless and mine, misappropriated.

Worst of all, Tina robbed me of a part of myself. Making memories, traditions, evolving our conversational shorthand and inside jokes were wasteful investments in a false future. Once the curtain was ripped away and that false future went up in smoke, a scorched void was left in me where connections with other people used to form.

Of course, it took months or more free of her influence to begin to realize how much she’d taken from me and at the time, I’d felt that we were a team. I still believed I was investing in “our future.”

It was a huge weight off my shoulders when I opted to sell the house to my Dad, who had once, before their divorce, bought it with my mom. I’d consulted my brothers and they agreed with the decision. Dealing with Tina and trying to manage everything about the estate, go to work and then work on home renovations was getting to be too much for my mental health and I was relieved to be done with it.

I paid off the outstanding debts on the house and other bills related to settling the estate and split the rest three ways with my brothers. It was an executive decision. It was a good decision.

I had avoided the realtor fees Tina had seemed so concerned about, but still, Tina was none too happy. She suggested that I’d sold the house while she was out of town at her aunt’s house to spite her.

After my dad had invested another $40,000 in an extensive renovation, he was able to flip the house for a little more than the $200,000 Tina had decided it was worth. In my view, it worked out well for everyone and I was looking forward to building that future with Tina but this was the narcissistic injury that I believe triggered the spiral of events that led to the grand finale discard.

Previous: When Mom Left | Next: TBD

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