How I Overcame My Obsession For Dating Womanizers

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I was a fool for players, womanizers, and narcissists. I couldn't get enough of their charm, swagger, and self-confidence. When I was the focus of a modern-day Don Draper, I felt smarter, funnier, and more attractive. I didn't know that their kind of attention was destructive.

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I had to learn the painful way that no matter how spectacular these types of men are, and how fantastic being with them feels, they will ultimately break your heart and kill your spirit.

They can't help it—it's what they're wired to do. They're born liars and cheaters. The saddest thing of all is that they lack empathy which makes it easier for them to hurt other people in the process of getting what they want. And what they want is to feel better about their own emotionally lacking lives without ever having to change.

Whatever you want to call them, the differences are small; a narcissist isn't necessarily a player or a womanizer, but womanizers and players are almost always narcissists. Both players and womanizers have sex with a lot of women—only a player doesn't pretend he's monogamous.

He's proud that he's not leading anyone on, and yet he still feels the need to lie. All of them mess with your head even if they aren't messing with your body, and none of them will take responsibility for their actions.

Don't hate the player, womanizer, or narcissist. Hate how scarily good they are at their game.

I had my first experience with a player when I was in 6th grade. Marc, our class' womanizer (or 'girl-izer' since we were still pre-teens) finally set his sights on me at a graduation dance held on our school's playground. This was after he had gone through all the other girls in our class.

I had been crushing on him forever but didn't want to be just a number on his get-with-list, even if he wrote it in a #2 pencil. Dancing on the asphalt in the glare of the afternoon sun was weird enough, but when Marc admitted that he liked me best, I panicked and ran away from him as fast as I could.

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If only at that time I had placed a restraining order on myself, forcing me to stay 100 yards away from any and all user losers. 

I would have saved myself a lot of pain and frustration. But no, it would take me years to finally get played out.

In high school, I almost slept with an older neighbor who ended up being a predator. When he shared with me visuals of all the underage girls he had been with, I was naturally creeped out. I didn't want to be on his long list of conquests, nor did I want to be the victim of statutory rape. I didn't know much, but I could tell that not only was he a womanizer, but he was also a narcissist and sociopath as well.

You'd think I would have continued to run in the opposite direction of all players/womanizers/narcissists but no. My first sexual encounter was with an actor and a notorious manwh*re.  After the deed, he went into a detailed account of every woman that he had slept with. Not the kindest way to make it a night I'd never forget.

A few years later, still in college, I was friends with another major player. I didn't sleep with him, I just watched as he used—students, faculty, visiting theater professionals—anyone who could help his career. He confided in me making me feel like an accomplice to his shady behavior. I didn't just know where he hid the bodies, I handed him the shovel.

I thought I had learned my lesson and was more careful, looking for all the signs of a womanizer before getting involved with another one. Then I met the man who would be the most damaging to me.

Did he have a reputation for using women? No. Did he move fast? Well kind of, but that was just because when you know it, you know it, and we both knew it.

Was he super romantic? Yes, but that was more than okay with me. Did he seem too good to be true? Sure, but sometimes you have to take a chance in love. I didn't realize that one of his greatest skills was his ability to lie and pretend to be who any woman might want him to be.

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I will spare you the gory details, but like so many other women, I thought I had met a wonderful good-looking man who seemed to return my affection. We weren't together long when he dumped me. I found out post-break-up, that he had been sleeping with hundreds (yep not exaggerating for shock value) of women. He had used me to feel better about himself. Once he did, he didn't need me any longer.

The worst part was that I ignored some very obvious clues. I had caught him in lies but was able to convince myself that everybody lies on occasion. When he would confuse me with someone else, I thought he just had memory issues, which wasn't the case. He couldn't keep track of all the women he was doing. We didn't have a real relationship, he just enjoyed having me affirm his supposed greatness.

If you are keeping track, I've been involved with a grade school player, an old dirt predator/womanizer/sociopath, a womanizer/narcissist, another womanizer/narcissist, and lastly a pathological womanizer/narcissist. Can I pick them or what?

How did I end the cycle of getting played, used, and emotionally abused?

I focused all the love and infatuation that I had for the users on myself. Men, like the ones I dated, tend to prey on people with shaky self-images and those who feel lonely or vulnerable. I got in touch with my authentic self and learned to love who I was inside and out. I didn't require anyone else to make me feel special. I made my needs a priority and looked for a partner who would honor them.

No one can play you if you absolutely refuse to get played.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and astrology lover. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day.