Waging war on his enemies had been Sokolov's habit and his profession for a long time, but being chivalrous to everyone else was simply a basic tenet of having your shit together as a human and as a man.
One of the problems, hanging out with me, is that I can turn any topic into a toxic horror story. I've lost two girlfriends and a job by reading an ingredients label out loud, with annotations, at the wrong time.
Richard's ex-girlfriends were long gone, but their voices followed him all the time and spoke to him, like Muses or Furies. It was like having seven superegos arranged in a firing squad before a single beleaguered id, making sure he didn't enjoy that last cigarette.