Divorcing a Narcissist: Pretending to be Wealthy

Divorcing a Narcissist: Pretending to be Wealthy

Seth and I pretended to have money.  Lots of it. 

I’ve struggled to understand how it all happened.  In hindsight, I feel naive.  I wanted to believe in him so badly.  I had confidence that he was all of the things that he claimed.  Who was I to question him?  After all, I lived in a small, studio apartment and drove a used car.  Seth had a college degree and he obviously knew what he was doing – he had the cars and home to substantiate that claim.

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money.  My dad was a single parent and he worked his butt off to keep a roof over our heads.   I remember driving to the Seth’s parent’s home for the first time– and being very intimidated.

Seth bragged a lot.  At the time we started dating, he had landed his first job and he was going to be making six-figures.  This world was very new to me.  He was very generous with his money and very flashy– a simple trip to Walmart for a beach towel would end with a $200-300 total…many of the items purchased for me.  He took me shopping in Hollywood for bikinis—no small-town boutique was good enough for his girl.  His running motto in Las Vegas was that if you didn’t blow at least a $1,000 per day then you weren’t doing it right.

Seth paid for everything I paid for nothing.  He refused my attempts to split checks in restaurants and seemed offended that I would even try to pay for something.  He made comments like, “You’ve obviously dated the wrong men.  You’ve dated boys.  What real man would let you pay your way?!”.  I grew accustomed to this lifestyle and I liked it.  This must be chivalry and I had never been privy to this.

We started dating in June of 2000 and by September of 2000, he had bought me a new car.  Yes, a car.  I was moving to the big city with him and he couldn’t imagine “his girl” driving a used vehicle in the big city.  I was in shock.  My family was in shock.  He met my father around that time and asked him to step outside for a few minutes.  He wanted to have a “few words” with my dad– man to man.  He told my dad that he no longer needed to worry about me financially or otherwise.  Seth promised that he would ensure that I had everything I wanted and needed.  We were all sold.  Literally.  Hook, line and sinker.

We moved in together after dating less than four months.  Seth wanted to “start fresh”.  This meant that he didn’t want to bring used furniture, pots, pans, dishes, towels or curtains into our home.  We deserved everything new.  This was the first of many manic shopping sprees however at the time I had no idea the severity of the situation.  To me, it was thrilling.  We got to go out and purchase an entire house of furniture without even worrying about the cost?  This was a whole new world that I could get used to.  We started shopping.  We spent over $5,000 in the first furniture store within 2 hours.  We then went to Bed, Bath & Beyond where we filled his entire Jeep with accessories– it took two trips to the car just to unload everything.  Our house was perfect from top to bottom.  Perfect— just the way he liked things.

I started seeing signs of issues early on.  Within a month or two of being in the Bay Area I started noticing his insomnia.  He would pace back and forth and mumble.  He seemed stressed.  I overheard a phone call to his older brother and he was asking him to transfer money until his next paycheck came.  When I asked about it, I was made to feel inferior.  I was a girl with no college degree– how dare I question him.

Seth had a million excuses– this is just the way the “real world” works.  Transferring money around between family members– that’s what family is for.  There were the other excuses– he was waiting for a work bonus or he just needed to sell that one car which sat in the driveway.  I learned to have faith in him because it was easier than upsetting him.  Upsetting him resulted in him shutting down– void of feelings, void of emotions and void of love.  Upsetting him caused him to withdraw from me and close me out.  He would ignore me.  It left me feeling alone.

By this point, he had convinced me that I needed him.  That I couldn’t live without him.  He also had me convinced that I was extremely lucky that he had chosen me to be in his life.  He was settling for someone who didn’t go to college and who didn’t come from an upper-middle class family.  I was thankful.


Divorcing a Narcissist: Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.

Tina Swithin offers annual retreats, coaching services and more at www.tinaswithin.com 

10 Responses

  1. I know all too well about “pretending to be wealthy”. I could never fathom someone spending money they didn’t have. I figured, if he was buying it, he could certainly afford it and I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I’d come home to a gift wrapped box of $200 designer jeans on the bed “just because”. We’d stay in $300/night suites in expensive hotels and eat out at lavish restaurants. I just went along with it and enjoyed it. Too bad much of what he was doing was put on his credit cards which he was only paying the minimum on each month. He could only keep it up while he had his job and once he lost it the creditors started calling. Just one more way that he was not who he pretended to be at all.

  2. AM- Exactly. I never understood how women could be “conned” but I think you and I both fall into that category which is hard to admit. I’m happy that we are both in better places now.

  3. I was married to the same guy. I have almost the exact same story. I married him after 56 days of knowing him and we were married for 15 years. He finally did me a favor and left me for a woman he started having an affair with [his 4th that I know of] while we were on our second honeymoon in Aruba. I am so happy to not live on a roller coaster anymore.
    His continued legal abuse does make it difficult to completely disentangle myself from him. The abuse is subtle, confusing and legally lethal. I pray for it to stop but the courts do not seem to care about this issue. They never want to hear about the back story and my x’s attorney knows this.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I wish you well.

  4. WOW! I think I also married this man and I am just beginning the process of divorce. Mine wasn’t quite as wealthy but has all the signs and symptoms of a Narcissist. I am enjoying your blog.

  5. I feel so validated reading your blog, Tina. My ex was so emotionally abusive that he actually had me believing that his narcissism was my fault! I have been divorced for almost 3 years now and wonder if this roller coaster will ever end??? He violates every agreement in our divorce decree and goes crazy if I appear happy or show any signs of success. Keep strong, soul sister!

  6. Sarah! I love knowing that I am not alone– I also love when other people realize that THEY are not alone.

    Thank you for writing to me! <3 Tina

  7. ….heads up about your blog from a SoCal friend of mine…so much in common and even my husband can relate as we deal with his Narcissistic X daily! We are weary and struggling dealing with two bitter X’s and ongoing legal nightmares when all we want is peace!
    Thanks for sharing !

  8. Wow, reading this I could just insert my ex’s name in the spots and it would read about 90% the same. I am only just beginning the divorce process & thankfully we have no children. At one stage we had five cars and a motorbike for two adults & more debt than anyone would like to be in. Now he has something like 12 guitars (all at a min of about $1000 each ) plus all the equipment that goes with it (but it is only a hobby not a career) Plus 3 cars and a boat… I too got bought an expensive car for Christmas one year, except I was not allowed to drive it unless I was going somewhere that I would be seen & could then tell people my husband bought it for me… And the lies he tells people about me now are insane! Only thing is he holds an elected position, so if he does not stop telling lies about me, I might just go to the newspapers and tell the truth about him!