It’s a difficult situation for all involved. I know that many people have had positive interactions with Dirk Manning and have benefited from their associations with him. Others have had a very different experience, myself included. You can add my name to the list of people taken in by his lies and subjected to his emotional manipulations.
I traveled hundreds of miles over and over again, spent thousands of dollars going to see him and spending time with him. Why? I believed him when he told me that I was special and that he had feelings for me.
The trouble is, his in-person and online behaviors were inconsistent. Sure, some of the things he said and did were amazing. At cons he made time for me, despite there being many claims on his attention. We had dinner together, often just the two of us. I felt really good about the potential for us. Other times communication was hit ‘n’ miss. He didn’t read my messages; I wouldn’t hear from him for days or weeks. The next time we were together, though, we were right back to being close (or so it seemed).
That’s not how you treat a friend, never mind someone you profess to have feelings for. Still, it was enough to keep me on the hook for years.
Over time the inconsistencies really messed with my head. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. My experience with Dirk made that exponentially worse. I felt hopeless. I felt stupid. I isolated myself. I engaged in self destructive behaviors. I had suicidal ideations. I seriously considered ending my own life because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore.
And then, quite unexpectedly, I got independent confirmation of the existence of his wife. I came to realize that he’d lied to me about his name, where he lived, everything. I was floored. But it was the wake up call I needed.
I had to get away from the situation. I stopped going to conventions. I stopped engaging with him on social media. Then he tagged me and 40+ other women in his “Do better” post. You know, the one where he said he respects and values us all so much? That was the last straw for me. I cut all ties.
Hearing the stories that other women have shared publicly and privately, I think that I’ve had a lucky escape. Sure, it cost me time, money, my ability to trust people, and my self esteem. It nearly cost me much more.
I still wonder why he strung me along for so long. Was I was just another sucker to watch his table at conventions, buy his books, and support his Kickstarter campaigns? Maybe the fact that I traveled to see him was an ego stroke. I don’t know. I doubt I’ll ever know the truth.
I urge the women who are in his life today to be cautious. If he’s told you that he loves you or that he has feelings for you, please look at the bigger picture. Look at all of his other behaviors. Do not ignore or excuse the red flags. It will cost you too.
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POSTSCRIPT EDIT: I’ve heard from several others who have had experiences with this man too. Some have shared their stories publicly.