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Dear Chump Lady, Why do cheaters cry? And why do we fall for it?

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so_sorryDear Chump Lady,

Why on earth do chumps (or any of us who have found ourselves in a skein of fuckedupedness of any relational sort) fall for cheaters’ crocodile tears?  Just today I was reading on an infidelity site about how a guy was listening to his wife (justify) explain her actions in the affair as happening when she was in a “dark place”  — as in, an “out of body” experience. Then she turned on the waterworks in front of him as a sort of exclamation point to the whole: “please believe me and stop hassling me about why I did this…” thing. In his response he said: “She cried, so it obviously was pretty deep.” Likewise, I have seen elsewhere women describing their partners as sobbing over something to do with the relationship and these women say: “I mean, he must be serious…if he cries.”  Or, “we had a profound moment today in our reconciliation journey, he literally sobbed and he just doesn’t normally do that.”

I mean, okay, call me totally out of the stone ages, but first off, if somebody sits and cries to me after he’s cheated on me, well, forget it.  Total fail.  These weepers just make me cringe.  Cry, of course, watching “Field of Dreams” or if your dog dies, or you’re at a wedding, or if a parent is ill or a child or whatever.  Sure, absolutely.  But cry because you cheated and got caught?  Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Why on earth do we code tears as something sentimental and profound and not just another tool in the box of manipulation techniques that these jerks bring to bear?  Or am I wrong?  Is there a moment when there are real tears that mean something other than the tears of a 8-year-old throwing a tantrum so as to get his way?

I will look forward to your insight!

Kristina

Dear Kristina

Well, for most people — the non-disordered — tears are something “sentimental and profound.” The mistake chumps make in believing tears is the same mistake chumps make when believing lies — you’re seeing the world through your moral lens, and not theirs. You know that you wouldn’t cry unless you felt deeply ashamed, or moved, or frightened by loss. It’s quite unimaginable from your experience (unless you are a toddler) that you would cry to manipulate an outcome.

I don’t know about you, but when I cry it’s unbidden. I’ve lost control of my emotions. I just blub. I could no easier cry on command than I could lose 20 lbs eating Christmas cookies.

“She cried, so it obviously was pretty deep” is an example of a chump viewing the Rorschach test and seeing what he wants to see — depth. And crying is often a sign that someone is deeply moved, so it’s not exactly a stupid guess.

Problem is, most cheaters are usually crying for themselves and not for the chump. That’s our mistake — seeing remorse where there is really self pity. It is usually pretty obvious over time. Cheaters say things like “This is so hard for me!” or “I don’t want to lose my family!” They tend to focus on how this infidelity shit affects them — as if it was a toxic cloud that just unfairly settled over them and not the direct result of their actions.

The more artful among them pay lip service to how they’ve hurt you, but they usually cannot sustain it. My ex used to say he was sorry, do these operatic scenes of weeping and remorse and begging for another chance. But if I asked him later, how are you sorry? What do you think of? What triggers regret? He couldn’t answer. He got angry and defensive. Whereas, consider, if you’ve ever given offense to someone you love and you’re sorry, to summon it up should make you feel sad and ashamed, mortified even. You could remember those feelings because THEY ARE THERE. It took me forever to clue into the fact that my ex simply didn’t have any remorse to draw on because it wasn’t there. Really blew my mind. I fell for the tears over and over.

Now, I would add, I’m sure there are cheaters who do regret what they did, and cry and feel shitty about it. Hard to know what percentage of those tears are for themselves, at being found out, or having done it at all, or the loss of the affair partner, and what percentage of those tears are for you and your pain. I tend to think that if you’re as narcissistic as to cheat on someone, you’d have to be pretty emotionally disconnected from your chump. To suddenly get a rush of empathy seems unlikely. That’s why consequences are so important, drawing boundaries. Cheaters tend not to connect the dots until the pain is theirs.

Why do chumps fall for weepers? Because we want to believe that remorse exists. The quest for justice and understanding is so, so strong in the beginning, it does make you vulnerable to manipulation. Chumps want to believe that they MATTER. Tears are evidence that, gosh, we matter! There is drama and emotion and we assume it is for us. Cheating is a clear demonstration that we didn’t matter to the cheater, so when discovery happens, we assume (or hope) that okay, NOW they get it! Now I matter to them! Because I am so devastated.

It’s telling how much cheaters pay attention to your tears, how comforting and present they are. So much of the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say are lines like “Stop your crying! It’s abusing me!” or “The problem is not what I did, it is your emotional reaction to it.” As I say here, cheating is about entitlement thinking. If they hate your tears, but expect you to be moved by theirs? Yessir, you are not in reconciliation. No unicorn for you.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I had a champion cryer. He was good enough to say “I’m so ashamed of how I hurt you” while he blubbered about how much he loved me, which of course was his way of reminding me that he had a power over me. He could hurt me.

    It all came to a very clear point when I was the one crying, as CL said. I was finally broken down and sitting on the floor of my room (I had already moved to a separate bedroom but was unable to leave completely for legal reasons) sobbing. He stood behind me and checked his voice mail, then actually MADE A CALL.

    I never cried in front of him again. He lost his power.

    Fucker. He can’t hurt me anymore, but he can sure as hell till make me mad.

  • I guess I was lucky, because I got very few tears during my two-week attempt at reconciliation. One big outburst (say, 30 seconds?) when she contemplated “becoming a cheater AGAIN!” (narcissists HATE the idea of other people looking down on them). Also one welling up of the eyes when she described how I should be satisfied she would never cheat again because it hurt so much to have to lose such a good person from her life. And, yes, she was referring to the OM here. And as CL suggests, this was simply a cheater feeling sorry for . . . herself.

    Hard to imagine that I wasn’t bowled over by that reassurance, no?

    And the rest of the sobby scoreboard in my case:
    Tears shed for me? Uh, none.
    For our two sons? Zip.
    For the other man’s wife? That would be, again, none.
    For his two small children? Zero.
    For my parents and family, who considered her one of their own? Null set.
    For her family? Nothing.
    Tears for her own sacred vows and failed character? Nada.

    Not surprising in hindsight then that I discovered a new and ongoing affair that forced me to file for divorce the same day.

    To all you chumps who don’t have it as easy as I did, and are having to deal with waterworks, I’d suggest you consider tears just so many wet words. And as CL often advises, discount a cheater’s words and focus on WHAT THEY DO. Words (and tears) mean nothing if the cheater won’t willingly and thankfully do the heavy lifting of EARNING forgiveness, which can take many years.

  • Hi All – sorry about the LONG Post to come but!!! Lets just take a look-see OK?

    Apropos of the post just put up:

    See the email my X (notice, no more NAMES!! because it could have been sent by any generic mindfuck cheater shithead…) sent me just after he sat me down in a restaurant and gave me the full story. After, he brought me home (I tried to find a way to walk out of the restaurant but couldn’t exactly manage it) and then he wanted me to give him a hug – big hug!!, sincere hug (REALLY!!??? REALLY??!! YOU WANT ME TO HUG YOU!!??….LIKE NOW??!! ) He said he was like “97% sure that this was the relationship he actually wanted” WTFever that meant – I was completely numb, “gobsmacked” as you say. I spent the next 6 or 7 hours crying at my friend’s house – I was inconsolable in a way I can’t remember being in literally more than a decade. Then when I got home at around 11:30 pm – after my friend had to scrap me up off the floor and pour me in the car to take me home, I get this email. Its all about how sensitive the X is feeling now – just so thin skinned and OMG WEEPY!!! like never, EVER before in his LIFE, God how could I have ever fallen for this shit? Total drama queen hi jinks. I did think it was about me but, as you say, it never was – it was all about him and his feelings. There was absolutely no connection at all to the pain he had caused me. How could I have been so stupid. Well, actually I do understand how I could have been so stupid….. I desperately wanted to believe. I can still tap into that desperation. I just didn’t know.

    “Today will be a wonderful day”, “Today will be a wonderful day” “Today will be a wonderful day”…….

    He’s basically the caricature of a cheater. Just amazing that there’s a blueprint and here it is.

    Erika

    From: Cake eater shitheel X
    Subject: Please read this Sweetheart
    To: Erika
    Date: Monday, October 1, 2012, 9:02 PM

    I’m writing this with the dread of you deleting it as soon as you see the sender. But I’m undeterred. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried (prior to this year) since I was about twelve. All of those times involved either euthanizing dogs or mutilating my own fingers. (Okay, sometimes doctors mutilated them for me.) The floodgates seem to have opened in 2012.

    You said something about love has trouble competing with being “in Love”. I both love you and am still very much in love with you. The prospect of not having you in my life is really beyond my emotional comprehension right now. I was mowing the lawn awhile ago and was thinking how much my day lights up when I see your name show up on my phone.

    I’m sorry for this perfect storm that diverted my attention from you. There is no excuse, so I won’t endeavor to cobble one together. I just want
    you to know that I’m so very sorry (which, as you said, doesn’t hold a whole shitload of water) and I would love to be back in your life as your partner. I don’t think I can endure another twenty year separation.

    I want you with your cats, and your hips, and your non-sequitors, and the alarming quantity of drugs you throw back every night (which causes me perpetual angst about which of your organs will throw in the towel first.)

    Think about this (if you’re even reading this) and let me know. There is no time-table. I will be as patient as necessary – but please keep in mind, it’s not a competition. (twenty-one years would so one up me, but might be extreme.)

    I came so close to breaking down at the restaurant today. You would have thought I would have taken that as a sign that maybe I was going down the wrong path. Why do women even date men?

    You were being so kind today, talking about my
    rather rough year and my Mom being with me, and me needing some wiggle room – and I was thinking (at least a chunk of me), just shut the fuck up and let this thing lie. But I just couldn’t do it. It’s a weird human trait that if you’ve wronged someone you suddenly have this burning desire to let them know about it. It’s rather counter-intuitive, but I guess the thought of becoming comfortable with any sort of betrayal is a slippery slope.

    If I don’t hear from you, I’ll take that as sufficient response. I’ll get your DVD’s back to you, and your desk, and your beautiful stones if you want them back (which would further break my heart).

    If this is insurmountable for you I get it, and I have no reason to question your decision. Regardless, I still love you, and you are the most important person in my life right now.

    X

    Isn’t this just the shit??

    • Erika,

      I have never seen anything like that in my life. I mean, this man is really off. I think you should feel very blessed for dodging this bullet.

      What a manipulative nightmare of a person. He obviously thinks he’s very clever. Thing is, I get the idea he enjoys the sound of his own voice, and he is not a very good writer, actually. Far too prosaic. I mean, I prefer prose to poetry, but good prose, you know?

      Sheesh.

      The thing that was just the worst of it was him very subtly putting you down, making remarks that really mean: “no one will want you the way you are, you better take me back…” (which is a typically controlling thing to do) but that he dressed up as “I want you with your cats and hips and …. the alarming amount of drugs you take each night.” What the hell?

      He is a bad man. So good that you have him figured out and are staying away from him. Keep that up.

      • Kristina – yeah, I never really put that together – I’m sure it all came about because he did some pro/con list between her and me, even tho I thought we were actually in a committed relationship (silly me) where my hips were listed as a “con” – being a professional dancer definitely has its down side when you get into your upper fifties…. (God, it that me?? Alas – beats the alternative)

    • What’s so creepy? Who among us hasn’t penned a heart-felt love letter filled with talk of euthanizing dogs, self-mutilation, mowing the lawn, drug abuse, returning borrowed DVDs, and “a whole shitload of water.”

      Quite a Romeo, this one. Amazing you can resist his powers.

      [snort]

      • What do you mean, Nomar? That’s real life, man. It is gritty and ugly, but it is real!! Hahaha.

        Seriously, Nomar, you had me howling laughing here. I really needed the giggle!

    • Erika, I never got really romantic tales about self-mutilation (tee hee!), but I got lots of crocodile tears and this email a year ago (along with several others) that STBX sent me. I never responded to it, which “angered” him since he was trying to “reach out” to me. You know, validate his self-image of “the nice guy” instead of admitting that he was a douchebag who slept with a warm body he met on the internet and didn’t even use a condom?

      To: MovingOn
      From: STBX
      Date: 12/31/11

      Dear MovingOn,

      I just wanted to wish you a happy new year. I know I was responsible for making 2011 the worst year of your life. I am sorry for all of the pain and hurt that I have inflicted on you and everyone else. I will make 2012 as good a year as I can for you. I hope we can move forward and be the best friends and parents for our kids as we can be. I promise to do everything I can in that effort. So my wish for 2012 is happiness for you. Although you may not believe me (or may not care anymore), I do still love you –and I will always love you. Thank you for everything you have given me in our life together.

      Love,

      STBX

      Best friends!?!? HA HA HA! Fortunately, at that point in time, I saw his email for what it was– nothing but an attempt to make himself feel better and to appear humane. That’s also why he blubbered from time to time, I think. It screamed, “Look at me! I’m hurt, too! See how thoughtful and caring I am!” I have always said that if STBX felt sorry about anything, it’s that he

      a. got caught.
      b. found out that he didn’t have a spouse who would rugsweep his behavior and let him cake eat.
      c. realized how much of his precious money he’d have to give me in the settlement and for CS.
      d. realized his mommy would likely disapprove of his behavior.

      Yep, crocodile tears, no question about it.

      • OMG – how can this be??? Seriously, they are all operating from the same script – its just SO WEIRD how they’re like all the same – blueprints of each other. I’m still amazed, perhaps I will be forever. Thank you for putting in the whole email….. I was beginning to feel a little self-conscious – but their words say it best……

    • Do you know what this reminds me of? This reminds me of a letter my alcoholic uncle, Saul, sent his wife, my Aunt Nancy, when she was in the process of divorcing him. She was an enabler who covered up for him for nearly a decade, it must be admitted, but after their youngest graduated she decided she had enough and gave him the boot.

      Saul talked about how much he loved her, how hard he was working to be a better person, how he could understand how she felt, but that they should put their energy into working the problems out instead of ruining the good thing they had over hurt feelings. He was devastated over their separation and any role he might have played in the problems their marriage had. Saul was hoping she would take the time to talk to him about what she felt and so they could come to an understanding. Aunt Nancy was smart enough to refuse to reply save through her lawyer, so he wrote to their children.

      He said how hurt he was, how he never could have imagined living a life without her, how instead of working with him she had decided to “take the easy way out,” but he would be there for her if she needed him despite it all. The devil must have taken her because he (the devil) saw she was a “good Christian woman.” But if Nancy was ever willing he would forgive her for the wrong she had done him. This from a man who had not been able to work for years because of his alcohol addiction and whose oldest son had to quit college to work because his father had, unknown to his wife, dipped into the boy’s college fund for booze money.

      Both letters give lip service to “understanding the pain I’ve put you through” but circle back to “me, me, me.” Yes you feel bad, I understand, now reward me for saying that by coming back and doing all the work to maintain my lifestyle. It’s like they’re trying so hard to mimic empathy, but can’t quite get it.

  • Oh, and, he wrote me another email, within 24 hours, essentially demanding to know whether or not I’d read his previous email and what I thought and felt about it – because, you know, it would mean A LOT to him to know that I’d read it.

    WTFever.

  • “It’s a weird human trait that if you’ve wronged someone you suddenly have this burning desire to let them know about it.”

    What a crap artist!

    • Yeah, that sentence was really funny… maybe a weird human characteristic FOR YOU!!! but usually not for the rest of us sane ones.

  • Thanks for responding to this CL! I love the cartoon, and thank god you used a woman! Hahaha. The HuffPo “man club” will be happy to see a woman in the role of cheater. Haha. 🙂 Fair and balanced, and not in a FoxNews way!!

    Wow. I really appreciate your insight. I hadn’t, somehow, thought of it in terms of projection, but that’s right, isn’t it? People put themselves into the shoes of the person who is having an emotional outburst and we understand it in a way that makes sense to us. I’m good at identifying projection when there is angry response or nasty comments, but when someone buys into the weeping willow act, I hadn’t thought that they were believing it because they know why they cry and they were assuming that was why the cheater was crying. And that really does make sense.

    I love the tip about: “watch and see how they respond when the bs is crying??” I would guess that is also a matter of projection. So, if they really aren’t penitent, when they see their betrayed spouse cheating, they assume the BS is crying for the same reason the cheater would cry (i.e. manipulation/deflection), and they code it as intentional manipulation (hence: “stop that crying…”). This is a huge lightbulb for me!

    • Me too, when you put it that way! That really explains why they hate to see you cry — they assume you are manipulating them. No one would cry because they actually… care.

      • Right? Or because they are really sad and in need of actual human contact and understanding/comforting.

        I have to be careful about this, though. I have been manipulated quite well by my mother who was a strategic crier. She would only cry when she’d lost control of me (I now realize) and then it was always clearly my fault and I was hurting her deeply, but she would never let me comfort her. The only way I could make it better was if I capitulated and did what she wanted me to do. If I didn’t, I was a bad daughter and hateful person. As a result, I kept my sadness hidden, because I knew hers was so manipulative and I never wanted anyone to think I was crying to get attention. So I have this tendency to view weeping through that lens, like it is all mean to get one’s way.

        Interesting that we can always learn more about ourselves through conversations with others…

    • My STBX spared me the weepiness .

      He did however respond weirdly to my tears.

      His words, were “Oh stop that.”

  • After, he brought me home (I tried to find a way to walk out of the restaurant but couldn’t exactly manage it) and then he wanted me to give him a hug – big hug!!, sincere hug (REALLY!!??? REALLY??!! YOU WANT ME TO HUG YOU!!??….LIKE NOW??!! )

    The X asked me to hug him as I was looking through an itemised telephone bill which had showed that he was ringing a particular number over 40 times a day including my birthday. He’d put an official label to it i.e. work – it turned out that it was an OW (student). He spun a tale about work and being expected to jump to attention at all times (rubbish!) To my regret, I did hug him but said that I was really conflicted!

    So freaking clear now!

  • He so clearly loves the flow of his own prose.

    This had nothing to do with you, Erika. He wanted to know if you were as dazzled by his written masterpiece as he felt sure you should be.

    He’s creepy. He gives me the creeps.

    • “He’s creepy. He gives me the creeps.”

      Stephanie, you totally hit the nail on the head.

      Erika, that man is creeptastic. And I normally stay away from the PD diagnoses, but he sure does sound awfully much like a NPD. As in malignant, maybe. What a scary guy.

      • Good question Kristina, about the crying thing – something about the big strong guy, everybody’s “normal/nice” guy….. crying, CRYING??? And to everyone, yeah, I tried comforting him as well – and as to your comment Kristina and the “strategic” crying… even tho its not exactly about cheaters – I have a little thing in my head, when someone is crying out of pain, I feel this emotional affinity and pain with them, it makes me want to cry too, my heart goes out to them… BUT, when someone is crying “strategically” to manipulate me? It leaves me completely cold, I feel almost contemptuous of them – I think its an inner radar that can ferret out the difference. If someone is crying and I feel cold and indifferent, I think that usually means that the energy of the crying is wrong and I’m suspicious of it. It just leaves me cold….. I always visit my own reaction to it – check out my own feelings……

        Now back to the cheater tears, I think that its such a confusing experience because they ARE in pain! My X was in REAL PAIN and any normal person’s empathetic response to that would be to share their pain, to feel it with them of course, the caveat being that its so fucked up, not the kind of pain deserving of any empathy – but in that moment, when this person you care about is in such pain, its so difficult to access the screwed up logic of it all…. the natural impulse is to comfort the pain of someone you love. They use your best impulses against you – it is truly dark.

        And don’t get me started on the kinds of physical problems HE had – lets just say that I was expected to fit into HIS life – he would never really be part of my community – my cute little house, my darling cats and inner city life…..

        I still can’t believe I let myself get here – no way no how.

        And you guys are great! I don’t mean to overwhelm all the comments, but, I just can’t believe how right on each subsequent posting is – I’m awe-struck – you guys are all so smart! I feel so stupid at times, a chump’s chump. Seriously, its like a recipe. And yes, he did love to marvel at his own cleverness ALL the time – as well as his normal/nice guy sensitivity – what a crock.

  • I, more or less, stopped crying. He was pretty heartless by the end. It was all about him.

    I wonder if we make excuses when we read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” types of books which seem to say that men seek solutions and action and we seek emotional connection.

    When I search for explanations, my dear sister says that I married too young (23). It does take a while to know what you are dealing with.

    • I married at 23 as well. I definitely think that I should have waited longer. I thought that my STBX had it together, but in reality, he’s nothing more than a pampered, spoiled brat who is still extremely immature.

      • Yeah, my X’s family gave him a bunch of land (acres) on which he built this giant house just when his kids would really be moving out – a house that he couldn’t and still can’t afford and never bothered to finish – he just like walked away from it – good thing that the new AP will help him get financing and health insurance – but, they probably will have to get married for that – I never actually told him what I was really worth…. for just that reason – he just sort of munches around the edges of being an adult – and he was given so much and he still managed to fuck it up – he’s basically a spoiled brat as well – so people just tell him how clever he is….. but, nothing like money problems to bring people closer.

  • Let’s see, he cried and I actually tried to comfort him. Then I cried and he told me to stop. Three days later when I told him he had to move out he asked me for a hug. I looked at him and walked away. I only cried one more time in front of him, when I was absolutely terrified of the future (I’e been a stay at home mum) and had just come home from dinner with a friend. He was in the home watching the kids and when I walked in he was screaming at one of the kids to ‘just get over it’. This was maybe two months after I kicked him out. Major fight going on between him and the kid, with my child sobbing his heart out, my other one crying in bed and STBX turning around and blaming it on me, who had just walked through the door.

    I cried that night because I could not believe how he continued to treat our children. Never again in front of him because that night I knew he was a total shit.

  • I think I might be getting it! I’ve puzzled over how my exh could watch, stone-faced, while I sobbed in frustration when he masterfully misdirected and obfuscated every conflict. I didn’t understand how he could look at me tight-lipped when I wept over his betrayals. The most I got about crying over the betrayals was being told to stop playing the victim and that it was getting boring.
    He either thought I was manipulating him or he didn’t like that it was about me.
    Another layer pulled off to reveal the dark side of him.

    • yes, I got told I was ‘playing the victim’ and I was ‘manipulative’ by telling teh truth and reaching out to everyone and anyone for support. Yes, asshole, god forbid I should need people to help me through finding out you cheated on me for years. I was supposed to just ‘get over it’ in days or weeks. I’m not even joking. At one point we had a huge fight on the phone and he said, ‘it’s been four months, why are you dwelling on this?’ and it struck me: he desperately wanted me to get over it because me continuing to be in pain meant that he was seeing teh fallout from his actions. Incredible.

      he hates me now, by teh way, because I have been pretty open about just how much he cheated. He’s embarrassed. Not that he did it, but that people know. What a dickwad, eh?

      • Nord, I don’t think my X has seen this site – and I’m sure (if he hasn’t) he doing the “I’ll always love her (Erika) but this was something that “just happened” and I wasn’t looking for it blah blah blah” like little boy lost. In fact, I bet he’s using my existence to probably keep the OW, now the W, uncertain of things – I’m sure it comes up and he’s using it. I honestly don’t know what his reaction would be if he saw all this posted here…. like whole emails, I imagine his response would be to get offended that I didn’t keep private things private *snort* to say nothing of the obvious…..

        Unlike many of you I have the luxury of never having to see or speak to this man or any of his circle ever again in my life. There’s absolutely no reason our lives would intersect and if he has tried to contact me, at least by email, or phone, I wouldn’t know because I blocked everything and email blocking does not give delivery failure notifications to either side. That was the only way I could think of to create a predictable environment for myself and I didn’t care what he might have to say because, in the name of being a “good” guy, he became so ugly and toxic. I can just walk away and never look back. Too bad because some of his friends I really liked but, such is life.

      • How can these people be so much alike?! They think they are so unusual and better than the rest of the world, but they are remarkably the same as each other. I wonder what they do if they met.

        I was told to get over it too-as if it was nothing to find out that he’d been sneaking around my back fucking anything he could and gambling away tens of thousands of dollars for 15 years. When I’d cry over the discovery, he’d told me the cruelest jab he thought he could give me—“You are so boring!” You know, when you are traveling around the world, staying in fancy hotels, flying in your mistress to keep you company and your wife who is working and taking care of the house can seem rather dull. You probably don’t have empathy if you can say things like that.

        Mine refused to turn over financial records (I’d been naive enough to agree to separate finances when we married.) and tried to intimidate me with threats of running up legal fees. He gave in when his attorney told him he must. He then admitted shame. It was all there– gambling, porn, thousands sent to women in Eastern Europe, airline tickets purchased for women and on and on…and it was my fault because he was so unhappy because I was emotionally withdrawn.

        Thanks for your comments, Nord. Painful as it all still is, your words gave me comfort and strength.

        • Oh hey Duped – love the sleeping kitty – such an iconic pose – why is it that all cats are posers at heart?? Just makes you want to kiss their little noses right off their face – just PUNISH them with affection. You know!!??

        • You’re boring, I’m apparently vulgar. Why? Because I pointed out he was banging someone young enough to be our daughter…or nanny (we’ve had nannies older, actually) and yes, that naught f bomb sullied the great love. Whatever dude, you’re the one who was planning another hookup with another woman while cheating on me with OW. THAT’S vulgar, telling OW you love her, telling me you love me, and arranging a booty call with some old fling while on a business trip.

          The man has issues.

    • Yes, and you’re not supposed to tell anyone what the cheater has done. I was supposed to keep a stiff upper lip and put out some kind of generic “we’re no longer happy and the divorce is a mutual decision” crap statement. He got really pissed off when I told my family and friends, and they wanted nothing to do with him anymore. How dare I tell the truth about his lies!??!

      • Yeah, he’s told everyone that we “split up” – his daughter wrote me an email….. but acknowledged that it might be “rubbing salt in the wound” – I wonder who he told the truth too – I know he was talking to people about “it not being something he planned on, but, you know, it happened…..blah blah” sorry don’t mean to keep repeating myself – I’m just still so stunned that he sold it and they bought it!! “Just happened” WTFever…. it’s not like they all aren’t MARRIED! – Aspects of it are still surreal to me – makes me wonder what parts of my own life I’m not owning….. I’ve got such a great example in front of me…..

        • Erika, I remain astounded at how some people have lapped up his stories and bought them hook, line, and sinker. Andhow they enable him by making excuses as to why he ‘had’ to do this.

          I consider them just as messed up as him.

      • Oh, you told the truth as well, moving on? I didn’t at first, until my therapist and a good friend said ‘fuck that, start living your truth and stop going along with his lies’. Then I went a bit scorched earth about it and told a lot of people about all the affairs but oddly, that helped me get some distance. Seeing the shock on people’s faces told me that no, I’m not crazy, no I didn’t overreact to finding out about all the affairs, no, it’s not ok to get blown at a party, no, being bored/not getting enough attention/feeling like sex had gotten humdrum are not excuses to repeatedly cheating.

        It’s when I realised these are HIS issues, he’s fucked up, he’s just a liar and a cheat and he played me very, very well.

        So he remains furious that I ‘ruined his reputation’ (hahaahha…nope, bub, you ruined it yourself) and that I tell people the truth instead of going along with ‘the marriage was crumbling’. Now he tells the kids ‘when I left your mother she was pissed’. They look at him and say ‘but she’s the one who threw you out’…and I realise he is engaging in yet more re-writes. Now it’s that he left me, not that I told him to leave.

        Incredible.

  • Funny, the crying routine is exactly what happend anytime I talked about her actions. My loving ass fell for it every time. “I can’t stop my face pouring.” Hmm well how about stop cheating, I will stop talking about because it will not exist and then you will never have to cry. Wait one better, I’m done and I don’t have to talk about it or live this non productive drama bullshit! I only wish I would have found this site a year ago and it would have saved at least five gallons of tears.

  • For those with NPD, they have their own reality. They think that others are like them. They can certainly turn on emotions (tears, rage, you name it), but they don’t feel these things very deeply. That’s why they can make others cry so easily and not be bothered. Because they project their shallow-emotional reality onto others. But they are good at crying (or raging) and are quite disappointed/insulted when you don’t respond to their shallow attempts at expressing feelings they don’t have.

    That last thought is a bit convoluted, but I think that’s the idea. The bottom line is that these folks exist in their own feedback loop. Leave them there and get away.

    • I think rage is the one true emotion they feel, and it usually comes when they realise they’ve been seriously rumbled and that you’re not going to keep your mouth shut. Then they are ENRAGED because they’re exposed and that great image they’ve been hiding behind is about to come crashing down. Again, it’s all about them.

      • I didn’t understand why there was so much anger directed at me. I can now “smile” at the hubris of the Rsole when we were on the separation track. He was alternately making life impossible and then switching over to thinking he was a sex god. Wandering about naked, thinking that if I saw his body somehow I would fall apart with lust. I didn’t. It was enough not to throw up! I remember guarding my response and just switching off.

      • I think that rage is linked to a loss of control. That’s honestly why I referenced the 8 year old in my initial question. Those tears aren’t out of sadness, or empathy, or realizing that they have hurt someone. They cry like children cry, when they are not getting what they want, and what they think they need. They cry and moan in order to restore order so that they are again the center of attention.

        That, for me, is the reason that the forum on SI where they allow the cheaters to do their thing is ridiculous. It is just another way for narcissists to receive supply. They really don’t care if it is positive or negative attention. Attention is attention. And I think you’ll notice, when the heat really is on, the waywards who are there (most of them as a condition of “R” ) and who are having to really answer for things, well, they just go quiet. Until something goes on at home again, and the BS needs more proof of their remorse, and they do a quick check in to get kibbles from the forum and from the BS for being such a “good” wayward. *eyes*

        I think that at the end of the day, it is all tied to their inability to self-sustain. Even if they are not malignant narcissists, they are ego driven and depend on external validation. And that’s what all their rage and tears and everything else is about. Weak. It is all just so darn weak.

        • A tiny (getting smaller) part of me feels sorry for him, even though I know he is poison to me, which is why I need to keep away. I can’t understand that mind set at all. Why would you want to be like that? You can only pretend to care about others. Manipulate others with your fake emotions and scorn any sincerity.

  • Lightbulb moment!

    The reason they can stare at us stone-faced as we fall apart in front of them, and snarl at us to “get over it” is because they truly are sociopathic, perhaps narcissistic in many cases. They truly do not have the same feelings and emotions as we do. They only care about themselves, and not very well.

    As someone here (one of you guys?) said, they’re wired differently than we are. It doesn’t make sense to try to make sense of them. Best to just move on.

    • Stephanie,
      Isn’t that the truth? Why is it so hard to do sometimes…. to stop trying to psycho-analyze them (OW as well)? I catch myself doing it just sort of absent mindedly – all the things I’d say if he was actually listening.

      I think it was Kristina who said “step away from the crazy” – but it takes such a long time to internalize that its crazy! I still have serious moments of pain fog. I’m still only about 50/50 most of the time….. but, definitely better than it was, say 30 days ago. 68ish days of NC and counting. See, still counting, that’s how close it still is.

      • What ever you do, don’t beat yourself up for caring, or for taking your time to “get over it.” It does take time, and everyone here is here because there is still some element of pain even in the “meh.”

        But, what comfort there is in knowing you’re facing the right direction, getting on with the hard work that it takes to recover.

        Thank God you have feelings. Real feelings, not the fake ones that cheaters wear.

        Stay strong. Your ex is creepy in his shallow unfeelingness. Creepy!

        • That’s really nice of you Stephanie – its hard for me to recognize that he never really had any interest in me, that I’m dealing mostly with my own projections at this point. I don’t want to think that there will be pain long term around this but I guess its kind of inevitable – it won’t be front and center, but damn, it feels like a long way to fall. I’m grateful to you guys that I’m not doing it alone.

    • The MC said he was cold when I cried, because he didn’t like confronting his sleazy behavior and the pain it cost.

      But I am not buying that because he had plenty of empathy and concern for the OW as he begged me not to ruin her life by contacting her husband.

      What an Assbutt, I mean seriously, she ruined my marriage, why would I care. She definitely made all the first moves, I saw the emails and texts.

  • I’m not much of a crier but the night he asked for a divorce and told me he was going to marry his facebookfuck I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing. He came in the room where I was sleeping and kept telling me to stop I just couldn’t really. He started crying and then threw up.

    • I totally understand this Janet – one of my worst fears is that my X will find a way to tell me, because, you know, he’s such a caring sensitive guy, that he’s marrying his AP – and he thought I should know…… and that’s just in my head. Its one of the reasons I completely cut him off – I can still be hurt and he has completely disconnected from anything that might be considered decent or empathetic when it comes to “explaining” things to me. His sense of right and wrong turned completely upside down with respect to me.

      I can only imagine what it would be like to receive news like that…… God, fucking Facebook man – it is the cause of so much pain for any number of people I know. It’s just too easy. Well, that, and banging the neighbor(s). Yes, that is plural.

      • Erika, your creepy ex is REALLY SUPER condescending.

        I will be happy for you when you can laugh at the idea that he thinks he’s smarter than you are.

        Tuh-huh!

        • Now that I really look at it – God, how could I have missed that – the condescending tone – but still saying barely enough – just in case. God, I feel so stupid – at least I don’t have to do it on stage with HIM as the audience. I stumbled only once, when he called me at work, but, other than that – its been NC and just between me and ALL of you guys. Thanks for the perspective Stephanie. I guess I was feeling more down than I realized today….. funny how it sneaks up on a person – must be the “finally over xmas” exhale.

      • Erika, neighbors plural yeck. Somehow the fact that his facebook fuck is about 200 miles away makes it easier; don’t have to look her in the face (there would be a huge ugly bad word fight and much screaming)

        • It was one of the many reasons I had for seriously hesitating to move out to his house in the “country” so to speak – that it is, and has been for decades, this incestuous little nest of neighbors and (his) family where everybody know everything about everyone and has for like 2 decades and just all these “friends” and neighbors who are still around, who were fuckbuddies. I can’t imagine knowing those kinds of details about the people living around me….. why would I want to – but they’re all so used to it they don’t know anything different. Yuck – these people are just too close. I suppose they’re talking about me now too – not exactly how I would like things – but then again, if life is about gossip, that’s what it is. It’s all so…… neighborly.

  • If my ex announces that he’s marrying the FB fuckbuddy, I will laugh. It will be the stupidest thing, apart from ever fucking her in the first place, that he will ever do. Marrying her will just be more evidence of his failure.

    Here in California, anything he earns from the moment he marries her, will be half hers. And she is worthless.

    • Good point, Stephanie. I figure that it’s only a matter of time before my STBX does something so stupid. STBX will probably feel like he “has” to marry her to prove how right he was to get involved with her and how much he “loves” her. Considering the skanky, depressing lengths he had to go to in order to actually find a partner (nasty, online site), I doubt if he’ll let her go. He can’t find anyone else to fill the void because no one else likely finds him appealing.

      Sheesh, I covered him in about a concrete mixer’s worth of spackle. Ew.

    • My STBX is smart enough to not marry his affair partner.

      He said, he would never marry someone who cheats on their spouse…….WTF, how’s that for sick in complete denial logic.

        • Thanks Nomar.

          I didn’t say that, but I looked at him in a way that he new that is what I was thinking.

          He even said, “I know what your thinking”.

          Well………Yeah. Geez, cheater logic is so illogical.

  • I am fairly certain that when I get things lined up for a divorce, my STBX will cry like a baby. Some of it will be from actual remorse, some of it will be from self-anger at being played, but most of it will come from being caught. You see, if he were truly remorseful, he’d break off the affair. He’s not.

    This entry came at a great time, CL. My STBX and his fuckbuddy started using a different social media outlet for their little discussions, and I have the password to it. Also, it’s one of the few sites in the Internet that actually has zero advanced security settings. And this is their secret communication? So apparently my STBX isn’t attentive enough in the eyes of his fuckbuddy. Of course, he’s been sick since the holidays, but that hasn’t stopped her from bugging him: “I think this will be the year that I die.” Why he takes her premonitions seriously, I have zero clue, but after he responds “lock doors, garage, buy a shotgun,” she tells him “I need a man, not a gun.” Hello, clue by four? This is a few days after she messages him while she’s sitting in a bar, drinking, and reminiscing about the times they worked together, their phone sex, and when he didn’t answer (because he was actually working and doesn’t look at his texts), she observes how disappointing it is that she can’t put the touch on him anymore. If he were sane and read that, he’d realize he’s being mindfucked and hard.

    So yeah, I can see him crying for a lot of reasons, but since he’s getting boatloads of ego kibbles from her, there’s no reason for him to break off.

    The big news is that there’s an opening in my organization that may actually pay me enough to live independently. I’m applying for the job, and if I get it, I’ll be talking to a divorce financial planner.

    I love it that he’ll be crying, wondering what happened to his cake-eating life. I’d love to think of him getting together with his fuckbuddy, who would make his life a living hell.

    • The reason he hasn’t broken off the affair is because she provides ego kibbles. He’s probably like my STBX: can’t bear to be alone so will grab onto whomever is willing to feed his need to be admired and adored. The current OW in my case fits the bill to a T, but he’s not really happy. He just feels sorry for himself because he lost his family, he lost his home and it’s all costing him a fortune. So he rages at me and cries for his poor, put upon self.

      • Nord, I swear we must have been married to the same person. My STBX is still with the OW (his former secretary) because he can’t even fend for himself now. I say former, because the affair was part of a whole series of really shitty life decisions – neglecting to pay office rent or any other obligations a business owner has. In the few months since D-day when I confronted him about the affair, he’s been evicted from the office, he knows he’s not welcome to come back to my house, and the way-too-expensive, brand new car he got to impress OW was recently repo’d. His own family is humiliated and angered by his horrendous behavior (they’ve been on my side through all of this), his long time friends have shunned him, and he’s suffered serious professional fallout due to some other ethical infractions. Dingbat OW obviously lost her job at his office, and now he has no other option but to rely on her minimum-wage job to get by. Yet he calls me after the holidays to whine about how little his parents bought him for Xmas, how he has no money, got drunk and made an ass of himself in front of the relatives, he’s not happy, and he’s “going through the worst period of his life right now.”
        Silly me, I keep forgetting I’m supposed to feel sorry for him! I’m supposed to keep propping him up and making him look good. All those terrible consequences as a direct result of his terrible behavior – it’s just not FAIR. Now, he can’t be bothered to actually make any effort to be honest, trustworthy, or unselfish – but said he’ll “always love me and will always care for me” – so how dare I withhold spackle in his obvious time of need?!
        And dingbat OW is a piece of work, believe me – if she’s providing ego kibbles and praise despite obvious evidence of the train wreck he’s become — christallmighty, that’s pathetic. I admit I was a chump – I fell for the sparkles and didn’t know the depth of his lies – but she KNOWS about this shit and still thinks she’s won a prize? I didn’t know such levels of stupidity even existed before now.

  • Just 2 says ago, my H came crying and talking to me about how a colleague at work saw him so sad and said,” u looks like someone has a broken heart.” I commented to my H, who has the broken heart? He replies, I do. I realized right then, he thinks he’s the only one who really hurts. What about all 4 kids, me, our families, our friends?? He is truely a narcissist. Thx to u CL!! I would have never seen he’s BS through the tears.

    • Yeah, someone told me aobut six months ago, that STBX was ‘the saddest looking person they’d ever seen’. They hadn’t met him before and met up with him through a mutual friend. Whatever. He’s sad for himself, nothing else.

  • CL, Thank you so much for this informative and helpful post. I love the idea of asking, “How are you sorry. What do you think of? What triggers regret?” and “Consequences are so important, drawing boundaries. Cheaters tend not to connect the dots until the pain is theirs.”

    Erika and MovingOn, Thank you both for sharing these emails. It helps me to see what other cheaters are actually saying. Erika, I think you didn’t recognize the back-handed criticism because your cheater likely criticized you often and criticism became your new normal with the cheater. You are so precious to share the email and your thoughts with us. Thank you.

  • Cheaters do not cry for the pain they have inflicted. They cryeither for themselves or as a tool of manipulation.

  • It hurts doesn’t it. The knowledge that you have been with a person for god knows how many years and they turn out to be a fucktard.

    Cheating is one thing and incredibly horrible, but when the partner leaves you and your kids for a married OM who then goes to extraordinary lengths to cover up the “relationship” to his wife, while simultaneously flaunting “new GF” family and friends . Yes. He introduced her to mummy and daddy while they all lied to the poor OMW. He Intercepted [my] emails, hid, dodged and dived like some bad bond villain. The Om and ExW painted me as the “emotionally abusive husband” to all our married friends.

    While this was happening It was me who was looking after the kids. It was me who ,after a few weeks, told her to Fuck off. Literally. I was so angry at being lied to and treated like an idiot i told her to get the fuck out of my house.

    She burst into tears. Fog bust? Nope, it was all about her. Even up until a few weeks ago she was trying the holy trinity of cheaters on me. Guilt, sex and tears.

    I am pretty immune now but on the last outburst fully two years after Dday I said.
    ” Look exW . I want you never to speak to me again”

    I had been hoping to maintain some sort of relationship for the sake of ease with school stuff.
    I even went to mediation with her to a very good psyche in an effort to do this.

    At one point in the session of her weeping and the shouting , screaming the psyche having watched me zone out said: ” There is another person in the room you know. He is sitting right there.”

    It made no difference. It was about her loss of family, the loss of her AP, her loss, her pain. Afterwards I said to the psyche that I was going to be selfish and not do any more and she said. ” I’m with you there”

    Look at the number of “I’s” in this. I think I may be a trainee sociopath:)

  • I’ve seen my brother cry in apology while claiming repentance and a young woman accepting the apology night after night. Sometimes there would be a different girl listening to the same words and seeing the same tears and he was just as passionate.

    My brother is an actor. The minute he got off stage the tears disappeared. Cheaters are the same. They can cry and act passionately, but the minute the audience disappears, so do the emotions they pretend to feel. Mind you the difference is in his case everyone knows that it’s all fake. In the case of a cheating spouse only the cheater knows it is all just an act.

  • Unlike most of the responders and the articles you wrote were directed to married ones, my situation is that I am just engaged to a cheater and we have been living together for 4 yrs. now. This is the second time he has cheated. I wish I came across your website on the first time he cheated so I don’t have be ashamed for the second time he did it. He is in a medical profession and has cheated with a technician the first time and this recent on is his partner in the same position as he is assigned now. I wanted to retaliate so he knows that I am not a fool and stupid. I just wanted to stay with him the first time he cheated coz I wanted to see him change….WRONG! This is all my mistake. We bought a house together but under his name coz I thought I could trust him then. Now, after paying things with him, I have nothing in my name. I even bought all the household furnitures and stuff … so I should take them with me right? I will not be in trouble with legal authorities? Since his mom lived with us there’s a lotttt of stress and I know that this is not just an excuse to be cheated on. HE is a CHEATER needing ego kibbles. I just wanted to let him know that I have my power and just make him feel like a loser before I will leave him. ANy suggestions?

    • Have you seen a lawyer? please do. Even though you are not marriedand have not alot in your name I am sure you have some legal recourse. DON”T TIP YOUR HAND UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE!

  • Do you think that when they are initially discovered that they do feel some remorse? That maybe some of those tears are truthful? I knew a man once who was cheating and told me he never felt guilty…but when she found out he fell all over himself to get her to stay. I’ve read that when they see the look on their wife’s face they realize what they have done to her and feel awful. Do you think this is just temporary remorse?

    • I think it would be hard to say whether they feel remorse for getting caught or remorse for actually hurting you or a little bit of both. I know when the truth came out ( it wasn’t so much that I “caught” him but that he finally confessed) I think mine H felt remorse because he hates adultery and he knew I was genuinely hurt but as he likes to say “It was bigger than both of them” However look above your post. That is mine from January! He hasn’t moved out, hasn’t moved on. The OW (in my case lives 200 miles away and is an EA on the cell phone) keeps asking him “Are we ever going to be together?” Does he feel remorse about her? WTF. PS. When the truth came out out I cried he threw up!

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