My Dday was 2mos ago and I immediately went into IC after separating and iniating NC with my X. I saw three therapists for about 3 weeks before settling on one that could help me-- but ALL of them identified that my X had been mirroring me... For 10 years! I've been working very hard (2 x a week) on figuring out the red flags, and this is what I've figured out so far (maybe it will help you):
(1) trust your instincts.
Mine were spot on. He asked me to marry him early on. I didn't start planning the wedding for another 10 years. Why? Something inside of me was at best not in a rush, at worst just wasn't sure about him. But he seemed so perfect. I thought I had to be crazy. Any woman would kill to be with someone who shares so many interests, is so kind, loves me so much. I was rationalizing. Listen to that inner voice because your subconscious has identified something that your conscious mind can't see through the "static" of everyday life.
(2) how do you resolve conflict
I'm realizing now that he either just went with the flow to avoid conflict (resulting in him harboring resentments) or he just flat out ignored fixing things that hurt me when it didn't suit him. There were examples big and small-- but the worst was when I was being sexually harassed by a man in the graduate dorm in which we lived and when I asked him to do something about it (he was the RA), he was afraid to rock the boat nd did nothing. For many things in our life together, he would listen to me but ultimately ignored me. Finally I would start to feel like i was nagging and give up. Bad all around.
When we met I was busy with my career and had come out of a major relationship. I valued his friendship but didn't want more. He pulled out all the stops to "win" me. On one hand, that was flattering and romantic. On the other hand, he clearly wasn't respecting my needs, my boundaries or our friendship. He basically blackmailed me into dating him by threatening to take his friendship away. Red flags all over the place about his boundaries and respect for others.
(4) family background
No one in his immediate family was free of a diagnosed mental illness. I told myself not to discriminate against someone because of their family. But when the chips were down, that was his model of behavior, if not his makeup. You can't fight nature/nurture for him. Only he can do that.
He only had a handful of his own. Most of our friends were mine first or ones that I brought into the relationship. The friends he introduced me to we're generally pretty creepy and they pretty much all fell out of our lives early on. The only other friend he made in 10 years.. he cheated with. And he had the nerve to tell me I "isolated" him in the relationship. His friends are a reflection of him. If he doesn't have any, that should tell you something about him.
He rarely took initiative to introduce me to things that interested him. I was the one planning outings, trips, adventures, new experiences. Pay attention to what he brings to the table. I can see now that he pirated my interests in baseball, old movies, certain comedians, TV shows, animals, cultural figures, etc. He liked football and Arrested Development... The latter being particularly appropriate . Now he loves what she loves. A chameleon for sure. If your similarities seem to good to be true, maybe they are!
(7) moral compass
He seemed like he was such a good, ethical man. Strong. It made DDay so much more difficult to comprehend. I can remember just muttering to myself over and over "but I admired you so much!"... I couldn't believe it. But when I think back to it, I think he instilled that impression in me because he acted so high and mighty when it came to others, but never really held himself accountable. There's the sexual harassment thing I mentioned above. He never really respected due dates at work. Behind the scenes he was sarcastic and cruel in his descriptions of others. He professed to care so much about human rights, but never volunteered help or services anywhere. You had to remind him to call friends or family when they were in need. I got a shovel for Valentine's Day once and he loudly ate candy during The Passion of the Christ (okay, not morals, but let's call that a lack of empathy/sensitivity). Watch his actions and see if they match his words and claims.
If it wasn't "rational" he wasn't interested. Having a problem with a girlfriend? He'd listen to me but really had no advice. Said something in a tone that was hurtful? Well, he didn't mean it in a mean way, so it doesn't count. That colleague at work he called out in a mass email who got upset? She's just emotional and incompetent, he shouldn't need to temper his words or apologize. If you have to explain to him how to feel like a human and have a normal, human response when he has affected those around him, that could be a bad sign. He should care without a road map.
These are just some initial thoughts. Apologies for making it so me centered-- but maybe others might see some of their own experiences in here.
Also, like some of you, I met him at 21 and was with him for over a decade. We didn't and don't have a lot of experience with dating and so maybe it isn't a case of our "picker" being broken, it just didn't have a chance to mature. We shouldn't feel bad about ourselves for that.
And last word of advice that I'm planning to implement: I'm going to listen to my friends when they say they aren't sure about the next guy. I'm not saying I'm going to let them dictate-- but my closets friends told me early on that they thought I was settling and/or he was holding me back. It takes courage for your friends to tell you something like that. Don't be insulted or afraid to explore why they feel a certain way about your partner. If they are wrong, it could strengthen your friendship and relationship to talk about it. If they are hitting on some truth, it might be smart to keep their observations in your back pocket the next time your gut tells you something...