He’s financially controlling … with his parents’ money.

The twisted parent-child relationship my ex-husband had with his parents was a burning red flag that I unfortunately ignored.  When I met him he had his “own place” (subletting from his now-ex-brother-in-law), but basically had all his meals and laundry done at mommy and daddy’s house. On top of that they gave him wads of cash whenever he wanted.

The strange thing was that my ex treated his parents like children, constantly harping and criticizing them for everything. He even tried to take control of their finances, constantly lecturing them on how they should be spending their time, money and essentially their lives. Our six-year marriage was not a happy one; he eventually became physically, verbally and financially abusive.

A year ago I took our daughter, the dog and as much stuff as I could fit in the car and left him. By the time the divorce was final, lawyers paid and the property divided, he was left with about $6,000 out of about $80,000 his parents gave him. And yes, the gifted money was considered a “marital asset.”

He’s a self-serving control freak.

I’ve been dating this guy for three years, and in the beginning it was fantastic. He clicked with my two-year-old son fantastically and doted on me constantly. He had been married twice before (BRF #1), and the divorces, from what he told me, had not been pretty. Things were perfect for about six months. Then he started to get controlling. First it was my friends. He wasn’t cool with most of them and informed me that if I didn’t drop them, I’d have to drop him (BRF#2). He especially disliked that I still chatted with some of my exes. He said he never talked to any of his exes except the ones he had kids with, and he didn’t want me to keep in any contact with mine. Then it was my hobbies. He wasn’t cool with my modeling. He didn’t want other men looking at me “that way” (BRF#3). I was also informed that if I wanted to stay with him, I could no longer frequent the places I used to hang out all the time because “your stupid friends hang there” or “I don’t want to run into any of your exes, I’ll end up punching them in the face” (BRF#4).

Then it really started getting rough when he and my parents started fighting. He claimed they were using my son as a weapon to break us up (BRF#5) and that they were horrible people. His temper started flaring a lot more (BRF#6) and he started complaining to me about how I never held up “my end of the bargain” like this relationship was a business deal rather than two people in love (BRF#7). It’s too the point where we fight every day, and, of course, everything is MY fault. And if I don’t want to have sex because I’m pissed at him for bitching at me, he says, “lots of women would love to be in your shoes” (BRF#8).

I’ve tried to leave him a few times, and each time he’s called/emailed/IM’ed/Facebook messaged all my friends and relatives to find out where I was and to request that they tell me he “can’t live without me” (BRF#9). He also left me emails and messages upwards of 20 times a day either pleading with me to come back or threatening me to come back (BRF#….oh hell, I’m done counting at this point). Of course, each time I went back, because I love him and because I thought he’d change. I know all these red flags are waving vigorously in my face, but I haven’t found the nerve to permanently leave. I keep hoping we’ll finally get that happily ever after.

He keeps his exes on a tight string.

I have known my boyfriend for over a year and a half, but we’ve only been together for the past five months. When we first met I was very reluctant to give him a chance, so we mostly “talked” off and on. When things didn’t work out with the guy I had been seeing, I decided to give him a shot once again. When I called him, he said he was so excited I was ready to be in a relationship with him after waiting so long, but there was a catch. He was talking to his ex-girlfriend at the time and said he wasn’t going to give her up until he knew I was sincere. So about a week later I went to his birthday party, at which he got so drunk that he passed out and I watched another girl kiss him while he was unconscious. I told myself I would never trust him again, and then a couple of days later he told me that he loved me. It has now been five months, and I love him, but we fight over the most insignificant things. He doesn’t want me to hang out with his friends because they all like me a “little too much” and I sense a lack of trust. I want to believe that things will work with him, but I can’t get past the things he says and does, especially when he brings up his ex-girlfriends, saying he gave them up to be with me.

He’s not ready to talk.

So, I’ve been dating this guy for almost seven months. He’s my first love. Everything seemed to be going fine. A few weeks ago I spent the entire weekend sleeping over at his house. The following Monday and Tuesday he sent me texts like usual, but I decided to call him back instead of responding via text. He didn’t answer. I figured he was a busy man and I didn’t sweat it.

That was until two more days went by and I hadn’t heard back from him at all. Previously, he woke me up every morning with a text and put me to sleep every night talking on the phone, so I started to go a little crazy from not hearing from him. Four days later he finally answered, telling me he would call me back later. He never did. I couldn’t figure it out—everything seemed to be great, we never argued—so for him to just stop talking to me all of a sudden seemed strange.

I decided to go surprise him at his showroom. Upon seeing me, he told me to get a chair and sit. No hello, no kisses on the check, just sit. I waited around four hours for him to finish working and when he finally did we went out to dinner and hardly spoke. The only thing he told me was that he needed to do a lot of thinking, and that he was thinking of the healthiest thing for our relationship. I told him that if he wanted to, just break up with me, but he said he didn’t want to do anything he would regret later.

That same week I went to his house (on a Friday). When I got there I saw the look of frustration in his eyes. He said that he wasn’t ready to talk and that he would tell me where to meet him when he thought it was time to have a conversation regarding our relationship. After that I decided I was done trying to talk to him and stopped returning his texts.

He would continue to send me messages to see how I was doing or where I was at and, after about three weeks, he asked if I wanted to have dinner that evening. I accepted. Then, when I called him to let him know I was ready, and to ask where I should meet him, he told me, “Hey, I have an emergency. Sorry.” I felt humiliated. It’s now been a month and I still have no idea what is going on or why he suddenly stopped talking to me. I’m willing to listen when he’s ready to talk, but I don’t know when that will be. I’m thinking there’s another woman involved, but why would he have just broken up with me instead of keeping me waiting around to talk?

He’s manipulative.

My sister was getting evicted from her apartment and I went over to help pack up her things. I ended up spending the night. At two in the morning, my phone rang and it was a guy I didn’t know asking for my sister. When I said she was sleeping, he proceeded to hit on me and told me he wanted to meet up. Despite the fact that I was ignoring him, he kept calling the next day and rest of the week to hit on me. I finally gave in and said I’d meet up with him since he lived around the corner. I took my sis with me (she’d never actually met him in person) and when we got there and asked for him, the guy who answered the door said he wasn’t home. I thought this was weird since I had just spoken to him. After a few minutes of conversation, the guy at the door revealed that he was the man we were looking for. He was totally messing with my head and trying to feel me out and look me over before deciding if I was good enough for him. Despite this big red flag, I actually ended up dating him, only to learn several other flags this guy flew.

He tells you he’s kind of a creep.

During the first week of dating this guy he told me how he likes to manipulate girls into sleeping with him — especially virgins because they’re “so easy.” A little later in our relationship he tells me that he’s a sociopath and regales me with stories of how he manipulates everyone around him. Both of those times I just laugh and think he’s joking.

Fast-forward seven years: We’ve decided to break up and just be friends (no anger or hard feelings on either end). Then, I find out he’d been cheating on me the entire time and he had a two-year-old child. And I had no clue.