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Dear Chump Lady, How do I know what kind of person he is?

Dear Chump Lady,

How do you know if someone is a horrible fucking person or maybe you’re just upset because he’s betrayed you? Where do you draw the line between he’s wronged me and he has no redeeming qualities? What’s the tipping point on the scale to convince you that yes, he’s a waste of space and maybe it’s not just you and your broken heart prejudice?

I struggle daily with how much should I hate my husband. He’s cheated on me, lied to me, filed divorce papers without even telling me, lied to our children and caused them so much pain and confusion. But then I think, well, isn’t this normal for divorce? There always has to be some animosity, this is why you’re getting a divorce, maybe I can let go of some of the hate. But what’s the limit on the bullshit that you’ll tolerate because you might just be crying sour grapes because he’s divorcing you?

He’s had an affair for a year and a half. Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

My husband’s mother has a tumor and he wouldn’t call her to ask about her diagnosis because he ‘knew she would only want to ask about the kids and how they are doing with him moving out’. Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

He refused to answer a text from one of his oldest friends because ‘he didn’t know what to say to him’ about our separation. He couldn’t face telling this friend what the circumstances are. Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

He’s seen his children for one hour in the past twelve days. He’s never called or texted them or asked me how they are doing. Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

Our daughter’s birthday is tomorrow but he stopped answering my texts about what time to meet at the restaurant when I asked him if there was any progress with his lawyer.  Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

He had a profile on Adult Friend Finder and exchanged nude photos with countless women. Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

He’s responded to various Craigslists ads soliciting sex with photos of his face and his genitals (from his personal email account which clearly has his name in it). Does that make him a horrible person or is it just my warped filter?

I know I’m always going to think the worst of him now but I’m having a hard time reconciling what’s normal divorce behavior and what’s ‘how can this person even live with himself’ behavior? Can you ever be an impartial jury to the spouse that ripped your heart out?


Dear Kay,

No. I don’t think you can be impartial. Of course your experience with someone ripping your heart out is always going to cloud your experience of that person. Now, the pain will fade. You will get to “meh” about it — but yeah, you’re always going to remember that litany of shitty deeds and weigh his character accordingly.

It says good things about you that you want to gut check your judgment — do I have this person wrong? Have I unfairly maligned him or jumped to some conclusion? Very decent and chumpy of you. You have an ability that a lot of shitty people do not have — introspection. You can self reflect and question your judgments of others. Unfortunately, it’s those very decent qualities that often get chumps played for… well… chumps.

If you keep giving someone the benefit of the doubt, or seeing good qualities with scant evidence (aka “spackle”), or putting your thumb on the scale when measuring good deeds over toxic acts — a manipulative person is going to take notice of this. They will file you away as useful. Someone they can go back to and, with the right amount of spin, can get something from. Even if that something is just a good opinion of them (but usually they want more than that.)

But here’s the thing Kay, you don’t have to be impartial. You’re not God on judgment day weighing his soul. You only have to know what kind of person YOU are. That’s it. It’s either okay with Kay to stay married with a man who cheated on her for a year and a half or it is not. It’s either okay for Kay to associate with someone who won’t call his mother when she has a tumor or it isn’t. Kay will tolerate neutrality about a man who won’t speak to his children, or she will not.

You get to judge him for YOU. If he were anyone else, you could just avoid him and go totally no contact. That’s a simple judgment — enough bad shit adds up to Someone I Don’t Ever Want to Be Around. But it sounds like you still have children to raise together, so you have to negotiate this relationship still. So understandably, you want to know What Kind of Person you are dealing with.

There is a bunch of crap out there, especially in divorce literature that not “judging” is a virtue. Ooh… I wouldn’t want to be “judgmental.” It’s a harsh word. So unforgiving. Taken to its extreme, you get those people who want to be friends with their cheating exes and the affair partner. But I would posit that we judge people every day — and rightly so for our own survival. You want to stay safe? You JUDGE. You trust your gut.

Does that guy across the street look a little shady? You pick up your pace and walk toward the lighted sidewalk.  Was your doctor rude to you and misdiagnosis your illness? You shop for another doctor. Did you go out to eat and get food poisoning? You don’t go back to that restaurant ever again.

Sensible people do not tell you to not be judgmental in those situations. Oh Kay, so you had to have your stomach pumped? Maybe it’s your warped filter about botulism.

So why do we think that infidelity and abandonment are different sorts of injury? What could be more grievous than such an intimate betrayal? Of COURSE you judge him!

It’s natural after someone “guts” you to be hypervigilant around them. Sure, they may have other fine, sparkly qualities, but you have to be on alert to not fall for that. It’s better for your personal sense of safety to judge this man and avoid him as much as possible. You cannot be confused on the matter or you will get hurt.

So many chumps do not listen to their guts. They convince themselves that, gee, they had this person wrong perhaps. They hold out hope. They may even judge them — but not act on that judgment, and stay enmeshed, or doing the “pick me” dance. You have to keep co-parenting with this guy? My advice to you is to have the lowest expectations of him possible. Do not expect him to do the decent thing, and you will not be broadsided when he does not. Expect him to be horrible and be relieved when he is not. Do your best not to malign him to the kids, and let his character reveal itself to them over time. (They’ll figure it out.)

Yes, people are a mix of good and bad. Ariel Castro is supposedly the third-best Latin bass player in Cleveland. You just need to know what ratio is okay for you. If you think he’s horrible? Kay, he’s HORRIBLE.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • The “judge not” bit from the Christian literature hangs a lot of people up. My ex uses it like a smokescreen just like the ink cloud from a squid. “Keep your judgments to yourself” he says when I call him out on some shitty behavior.

    It also says “you will know them by their fruits” I told him I was a damn fruit inspector and his fruit is rotten.

      • lol, I hear ya, but I’m a very advanced and experienced fruit inspector. At my level, it’s called discernment and not judgment. We need to get ahold of the difference.

        Of course, it’s really quite easy — you just look for the fruit with the squid ink all over it.

        I’m very fortunate to have as a good friend the (sarcasm coming) Official Rebuker from my church. She didn’t buy into any of his BS and pulled me away from several gaslights.

  • Wow, this is a great post. I also struggled for so long (and sometimes still do) with the question of, “Is he a lying, cheating POS” or “Was he really mostly an okay guy and just acted like a jerk due to divorce.”

    CL, you are so right. What’s important is ME, not the diagnosed NPD monster I was married to. Forget how despicable he is, what matters is the kind of person GLAD chooses to associate with. And no question about it, a lying, cheating, con man, gay-but-hides-behind-women-he-cheats-on-with-men, unemployed by choice to not pay child support, mooching loser with delusions of grandeur is NOT the kind of person I wish to spend time with.

    Only a chump could spackle the way I did for so many years. I mean, it took SERIOUS spackle to cover the flaws in my ex and stick around for more abuse. Now I’m out of there and why even bother to question anymore. I don’t need to feel bad about judging him as a horrible excuse of a human being. He deserves that judgement. He earned it.

    It’s crazy how difficult it is to really let go of the spackle can, though. It’s like my mind just cannot entirely absorb the reality of how bad he was, and still has to white wash the reality. This is one of the hardest things for me to deal with.

    • You can say the same things about alcoholics or drug users. Are they addicts because they were always narcissistic and didn’t care? Or do they only display narcissistic traits because of their addiction. Did he/she become an alcoholic because he/she was always a jerk? Or is he/she acting like a jerk because of the drugs?

      Egg, chicken. Chicken, egg.

      That’s the skein of fuckupedness.

      What’s important is not why, but getting out. It doesn’t matter what type of person he is. What matters is making sure that you and your kids are protected.

  • Nothing more judgmental than someone calling you “judgmental.” I nine-piece mindf*ck rolled up into one little word. Amazing. Also a comment calculated to end conversations. Specifically, conversations about the fucked up stuff done by the cheater and how it’s affected others. It’s thrown around by people who don’t want to have to deal with that sh*t, like the cheater, the cheater’s family, “friends” who lack the moral substance to say what’s right and what’s wrong, marriage therapists who want to continue billing for hopeless couples counseling. I said adios to the whole lot of ’em and haven’t regretted it once.

    Part of taking back your power is regaining the power to name things. Part of taking back your power from a cheater is to name him as a cheater, and name the moral implications of that horrible behavior (“horrible parent,” “disgraceful son or daughter,” “selfish asshole,” etc.).

    One of greatest lessons of this site, I think, it is that words have power. Don’t be afraid to use yours!

  • Well, he has shown you who he is. He is someone who cheated on you repeatedly, and lied about it. He didn’t inquire about his mom’s cancer because it was inconvenient to have a conversation. He is kind of a shitty dad on other matters (bday, etc.). These are all *facts*. You are not judging, you are noticing facts. So give yourself a break. (It is healthy to see the facts. If you denied the facts, you would be spackling.)

    As far as whether he is a horrible person or not, that depends on your own definition of horrible. Is he a horrible husband? I would say a resounding YES. Is he a horrible person in general, overall? It’s hard to say, because some people compartmentalize their horribleness and only show it to select people. He certainly showed it to you. I hope for your sake that he isn’t totally horrible because he is still going to be in your kids’ lives.

  • A good friend of mine puts it “So, if I came to you and told you I’d loan you $100,000 and you have to pay 50% interest, should you say “OK!” Hell, no?! You say Fuck that! Judgement is what keeps us all from driving off cliffs and turning when we see a mother fucking cliff!” I turned. I turned when I saw my husband is a mother fucking cliff.

    • Tallula, my ex actually told some people that when he decided to abandon his entire life to follow his “dream and destiny” of becoming an actor, if I had really loved him, I would have stayed with him and “followed him off the cliff if he crashed and burned.” LOL, guess I just didn’t love him that much!

      Yep, mofu cliff, that’s my ex. But I’m not going over the edge.

    • Love the analogy Tallula, way better than mine. I jumped in the well and I couldn’t find the bottom, I kept getting in deeper and deeper and then shit! I realized it was a septic tank without a bottom so I crawled out. Once I rinsed myself off I could smell it a mile away and I won’t fall in that well again.

  • Mine did some things that I thought were “off” over the years.


    Not speaking to his family (Mom and brothers – his Mom for over 20 years!)

    No contact with his kids – 2 seperate Mom’s. the oldest daughter didn’t even know she had a brother

    Not paying Child Support

    The “Rift” he had with an old boss, that taught him everything he knows now (he gave him his trade as an electrician….etc.)

    But he had such GOOD reasons for all of this, it really WAS all his thier fault!

    And then he did it to me – and had been for 12 years, and I still doubt my thinking he’s a “horrible person”. And I think the big reasons are that I loved him, and it would mean I was so wrong in judging people, I really trusted him, and it makes me feel guilty, even if I didn’t help him hurt anyone intentionally and it makes me feel really bad about ME for picking him and bringing him into MY family and friends lives….i feel guilt for “my” part in it. 🙁

    • Toni, I think most of us feel the same way you do. If we loved a person, and he was “horrible”, what kind of judgement does that make us having? What kind of colors did we paint him with to make him all shiny and pretty? I think the thing is that people like us, the Spackle Nation, is that we are hopeful, and have huge hearts that see sweetness where there is none. Because people cannot possibly be so horrible, so mean, so hateful. Especially people we have chosen to love. Instead of beating myself up for loving a man who has no love in his soul by virtue of his words, acts or deeds, I choose to look at my 20 years with him as a long lesson in exactly what I do not want in any relationship I may develop with anyone from now on. Because of him, I know exactly what I want and will not compromise to get it! The x did me a huge favor. He taught me a valuable lesson. the turd…

      • Thanks Cindy,
        I recently started therapy and had to see 2 therapists initially because of a med thing.
        You said ghe same thing they did, I was “hopeful” throughout the relationship.
        Another thing I KNOW is true, no matter how I feel right now is that he gave me a gift, because there is a reason I ended up with someone like that and I need to learn to take care of ME. All I can say is I’m sure gonna try!

  • I really struggled with the whole “judge not lest ye be judged,” till a pastor explained to me that refers to hypocrisy.

    The bible does not say, never use your God-given intelligence. It says if you put your wife in the morgue, don’t pass judgment on someone who sent their wife to Urgent Care. If you set your “secretary” up in a Park Ave suite, don’t pass judgment on a guy who cheated for 3 weeks and has spent 2 years working to re-build his wife’s trust.

    According to my pastor, God does not give anyone things He doesn’t intend them to use–like intelligence. There’s even a spiritual gift called discernment, which is defined as “perception”.

    Only an idiot would tell a man or woman holding busted ribs they shouldn’t pass “judgment”. For the record, some of Andy’s friends are idiots. I remember thinking to myself, “exactly when is a person supposed to pass judgment? Your first trip to the morgue?”

    People who get knee-flex defensive are generally thinking about themselves, not the person they are talking to–or about.

  • I started reading this letter and about 1/2 way through I was like “oh no this is not going through a divorce, this guy is just bad!” I keep thinking I am giving my husband the benefit of a doubt but if he was doing 1/2 the things this guy is doing no no no this just is not the norm or if it is than I am lucky my jerk of a husband is just being a f…khead!

  • Yep, these type of worries are what makes us chumps/awesome people. It honestly upsets us to think that someone else could be horrible. Or even “just” bad. I think especially when that someone is the person we devoted our lives to.

    I remember how I kept trying to “fix” my husband. I hoped he would read self-help books, seek therapy, etc., to learn from this experience and become a better person. As I was trying to do, I might add. I, in no way, think I’m perfect, of course. Even as we were filing for divorce and there was no hope for us anymore, I STILL wanted him to become a better person. It hurt me to think he was the empty shell of a person that my therapist was basically saying he was. At some point later I also got all hung up on his motivations for guilt tripping/manipulating me during the divorce process. It bothered me that I didn’t know if he pulled his shit on purpose or if he was just a blissfully ignorant manipulator. Now I know that I will never really know his motivations and they don’t really matter anyway. Either way, I was being hurt and manipulated.

    I guess I don’t think he is a HORRIBLE person. But he does suck in many ways. I would never want a relationship with him and I hope to God our children don’t pick up any of his selfish bullshit personality. Honestly, I think it will take me a long while (if ever) to see any good traits in him again. For now, his shitty actions have blinded me to any good side he might have.

    • I still sometimes hope my ex will become a better person, learn from this, be a better dad, learn to co parent, tone down the rage and weird accusations…and then he proves he is exactly the same, if not worse. This huge wakeup call has simply made him circle his wagons of insanity closer around him because he will not deal with what he really is. Hell, the man told me yesterday that I am blind – as in I didn’t read what I read in emails and other communication with various women. I simply started laughing and ended the conversation. What a dink.

  • Chump Son Here,

    Kay, I have a fifteen year old daughter. Great kid. Now, if in ten or fifteen years, she writes me your letter, I’m going to react as a Dad (and as a Chump, though I was chumped on by my father; long story, back there in other posts). So, I’m going to react as a Chump Dad. (BTW, I’m a pushover most of the time for my two teens, and they are great kids, but that’s another story.)

    Kay, get rid of this bum. Dump him.

    You are dumping him for you and for your kids. He certainly doesn’t seem to want to be married or to be a father. He sounds like an overgrown teenager (sending icky pics to women over the Internet? Weird). Now, if you want to be civil to him and let him know that he can see his kids when he’d like, that’s fine. But you aren’t levying some final judgement on this guy. St. Peter gets to do that. You are just protecting yourself and getting your kids away from a toxic guy and starting out on the Road to Meh, that Zen-place where we chumps: A) accept that the world has some pretty crappy people in it and: B) that we can’t save those crappy people, we can only go under with them (or have them push us under while they swim on).

    We are not substance abuse counselors, psychologists, counselors, etc. We are people, mostly parents with a responsibility to our kids. The best we can do is say, “I think you need help,” and to move on. This is a bitter, sad truth that chumps, who want to be saviors, all have difficultly accepting. And remember, manipulative people are NEVER going to be all bad all the time. What’s the point in being all bad all the time? Then you lose your ability to manipulate.

    My Dad-gut says dump this guy. I also think you need to let yourself dislike/hate him. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s a stage on the Road to Meh, a way-station. You are angry and you have a right to be. (Now, don’t hurt him or anything, but let yourself be angry.)

    You know, CL, I think some Chumps, and I’d put my former self in this category (and I still have some of this) can be infected with a kind of savior-narcissism. We think we can save folks who are blighted, complex, suffering from their childhoods/their previous marriages, etc. Anyone who leads off a relationship with you with a sob story is, in my book, VERY suspect. If a person tells you, “I had a tough upbringing, but I can put that in the past,” that’s hopeful. If they are still blaming parents and especially ex-spouses, be darned careful! They are trying to get sympathy and they haven’t resolved the issues. Anyway, Chumps are great people. Don’t get me wrong. But when we think we can “save” someone else (and when that someone leads off with their sob story), then we have to be very careful. Or as we say in CL-speak: Be. Very. Careful.

    Anyway, again Kay, speaking as a Dad, if my daughter wrote me your note, I’d say she have every right to be mad and that the guy’s actions were basically telling her how (un)ready he was to be a husband and a father. Don’t deny him the right to see his kids, but don’t go out of your way. You should be documenting everything you observe, particularly his disappearing act and his leaving his kids hanging for long period. Hang in there. You will do just fine.

    There is nothing mean and judgmental about deciding that a restaurant, a particular doctor or dentist, or a partner is not right for you and your kids. That’s not final judgment. It’s just good street smarts for life. And, again, beware of folks who lead off with their stories of suffering. Such stories can be irresistible to Chumps who are a bit too into the savior thing. If you want to save people, volunteer to work in a soup kitchen. But to do that, you need the support of a strong, functional relationship at home. So build that home base so that you really can go out and help others in the proportions and manageable levels that busy lives permit.

    Chump Son

    • Savior-narcissism. I think you nailed it, I suffer from that. And I cried a little to read ‘he doesn’t seem to want to be married or be a father’. You’re not the first person to say that, but my heart breaks for my kids. How can he not want to be with them 24/7?

      What a chump I am, we are better off without him.

      • CL, Kay and All,

        There is something really tough about us Chumps trying not to hate. Here’s a chumped person, working hard to take care of the kids, and then telling her (or him)-self not to get too mad, not to get too angry. Now, I don’t think anger can become all-consuming or last forever. But, hell yes, you can get angry about someone who ignores their own children, who isn’t transparent, etc. etc. Way up above, Chumpalicious discusses religion. You know, the forgiveness angle depends on what you focus on. There is much about “turning the other cheek” in the New Testament. But the Old Testament is not afraid to render judgment. Think Moses and all those drowning Egyptians. Think Sodom and Gomorrah. So judgment isn’t wrong. It’s just recognizing limits and being self-protective.

        It is really hard to see how cold some folks can be. They can just hit someone with a car and just drive away. They can marry, conceive children and then just walk off. I’m NOT saying that no one has a right to change. But changing and being open about it and being at least somewhat apologetic (like making sure to take care of the kids) would seem normal. Ripping out the kids old rooms to make space for a new master bedroom for you and the new partner speaks volumes about the values narcs hold. Their chief value is themselves.

        Anyway, Kay, you sound like a good person, and things will get better. The Road to Meh seems like a long march, but when you get there, when you get to that place where you can see a partial person for what he is (some sparkle, heavy spackle needs) and just be bored with it, it’s good. In a way, we have to surrender an idealistic view of things and trade it for a grimmer, more realistic one, but developing that radar, that sight is good for us and for our kids.

        You are not a chump. You are a Champ. Hang in there.

  • Thanks, I needed to see this tonight. I found out last week that I have a kidney stone. Never had one before, certainly never wanted one. It’s more painful than childbirth. My husband (who no longer lives with us) hasn’t checked on me in four days. (Nope, not even a happy mother’s day text.) Thank God my mother could just move in with me and take care of my 6-year old and 9-year old kids. I can’t even get off the couch. I keep thinking that my husband must be embarrassed over what he’s done and that’s why he’s not contacting me. There I go again, being all chumpy. I will stop that.

    You’re right , CL, if I think he’s horrible, he’s horrible and that’s all that matters.

    • Hey Kay,

      I felt your pain (literally) on the kidney stone issue.

      I developed gallstones after childbirth, and about a year after our daughter was born, I eventually had my gallbladder removed, which resulted in changing a life-long change to my eating habits. (While I was gearing up for this and raising a newborn, Andy was trolling the internet for girlfriends.)

      I realize kidneys cannot actually be removed, so I can’t even imagine the frustration. I at least had a “once the surgery is over” to look forward to.

      I found ibuprofen and heating pads or ice packs (as desired) to be at least as helpful as any of the “home remedies” everyone tried to tell me about.

      Feel better, Kay 🙂

      And rest assured, you have every right to make decisions for you and your kids.

    • Ugh. Kidney stones are horrifically painful. My STBX had one over 10 years ago. At least it was small enough that they could reach up there and pull it out. I hope that yours are as easily accessible. I remember when my mom had one when I was a very young child (younger than age 5). My father had to pick her up physically to take her to hospital. Thankfully it passed, but she said it hurt worse than anything, with the possible exception of shingles, though shingles pain was completely different in nature.

      Yes, during illness is when you need support–not necessarily for you, though it’s nice to know that someone is there for you–but more for the household. Someone to make the kids their lunch, to fix supper for the family. That someone shouldn’t be you, but if you’re the single mom or dad, it’s all you.

      I hope that you’re documenting all of this. It sounds as if your STBX is forfeiting his custody rights. Talk to your lawyer about this. If he’s so disinterested in the kids, he doesn’t have to see them. He will, however, have to support them. 🙂

  • I was told by a close friend, expect the worst, and if they do something good…it was BY ACCIDENT!!!

    • I love that.

      I eventually came to the realization, I could tell when Andy was lying because his mouth was moving.

    • Yes, my husband was the same way. Actually, when he would do something kind, I was nervous because it either meant that he was about to do something bad OR he was going to remind me of his good deed for weeks, bragging about how good he is and how lucky I am to be his wife. Ugh. I dreaded his good deeds because the fallout was not worth it.

      • You are so right DuckLinerUpper, the fallout of their “pretend” caring sucks big time. It took divorce for me to realize that it was all an act, which usually meant something bad was about to happen, and now I am very aware of others trying to “impress me”. Maybe one day I will meet someone who actually really cares, until then I have learned to not be ignorant of such leeches. 🙂 Loving my life and taking care of me 🙂

  • Often, if they do something good, there was a calculating element to it. They do it saying, “Look, see! I’m really good….”

    We can do better than rationed goodness. Real goodness is consistent, and it’s either there (consistently) or it isn’t (in which case it’s not dependable, but a lure).

    • Oh, I know a massive cake eater who is consistently “good.” He dotes on his wife… in public as well as private (it would appear.) He leaves her romantic messages on fakebook… tells the world how lucky he is…

      yes, indeed. very lucky. He found a patsy of the highest co-dependent order. However, she truly believes that her kool aid is a fine cabernet.

  • A very good post today with some very good responses that have my eyes tearing up and my heart aching. I know I need to achieve Meh status but I am not there yet. Reading a earlier CL’s post “Dear Chump Lady, Is “Meh” forgiveness?” she gives her definition of Meh.

    “Meh” is saying — you don’t have power over me any more. You don’t fill my head or my heart. I don’t react to your provocations. You didn’t destroy me. I have risen above this pain and I am rebuilding my life. I am indifferent to your existence.

    I know I’m not there because my cheating wife is in my head and thoughts most of my waking hours. I feel destroyed, I don’t hate her, I hate what she did, but I don’t hate her yet. Makes me wonder how long it will take for me to reach Meh status or if I ever will. It’s been 6 months since D-Day.

    Just not a good day for me today.

    • Sorry I forgot to add what I originally set out to write before my thoughts got sidetracked. Kay your filter is just fine. What he did is wrong wrong wrong. What he did/does shows you the true kind of person he is and those actions are not those of a good person. Your Gut judgment is most likely telling you that. You are to good for him.

      • Bud, 6 months isn’t a long time at this rodeo. I’m about 19 months out and I still think about this a lot. But the way I think about it is different. I can laugh at his idiocy and I feel so much less pain. At six months I was still surgically attached to a wine bottle. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you will have truly walked away, mentally and physically. It just takes – yep, here it comes – time. And effort. Clean out people who aren’t good for you from your life and make room for better people. I had a hard time doing that but once I did I moved forward more quickly. I think it’s because I had knew people to get to know and to incorporate with old friends. It’s been an amazing experience and I am beyond grateful for all the people I have in my life who show me all the time how much they care about me and how much they just plain like me. I’ve needed that because for a long time my ex made me feel not so great about myself in weird, insidious little ways. I see it now in a way I couldn’t see it then and it’s really helped me change my habits of thinking and being and thus have attracted some pretty amazing people into my life. Deep breathes, slow but steady…you will get there. Loads of hugs to you.

        • I realize that 6 months is a short time. Now that Summer is here, the sun is shining and baseball season for my boys is underway my mood is way better. Having a D-Day is never good but to have it right before winter starts and the Christmas season made the past 6 months even worse.

            • My ex NPD husband first dumped me on Dec 15, 2009. We were sitting in a coffee shop together having a nice midday break. He announced he didn’t want to be married anymore rather out of the blue. Moved out the next morning, and sent out a mass text message to everyone we knew announcing that we had separated. I had stacks of gifts for him wrapped and waiting for Christmas. A friggin’ nightmare. To this day, Christmas lights trigger a bad feeling inside.

              I was stupid enough to “reconcile” with him six months later. Soon realized that was a disaster, but stuck it out for eight months. We’ve been divorced for a little over a year now, but I still struggle to recover from the twenty year nightmare.

    • My cheating husband occupies my mind and thoughts daily as well. It is draining. I hope to someday achieve “meh.” I think I will always hate what he did. Because getting cheated on sucks. Having your spouse abadndon you and your kids for OW sucks. Personally, I’m okay with always hating what he did. For the sake of our kids, I do hope to someday get to “meh” about *him*.

      I look at the positive – in a way I’m grateful that he cheated. Because that was what woke me up to how bad his behavoir was. It pulled me out of my denial, spackling ways and let me see exactly how unkind he is, even on a daily basis. So for, that I’m thankful, and I think it will help me get to “meh”.

    • Hi Bud, just wanted to send you some ((hugs)) and some info that might help.

      It takes TIME to get over this stuff, it really truly is devastating. 2 years seems to be a good amount for most people, to really feel ‘normal’ and like yourself again after the end of an important relationship. But what you should start to find over the coming year is that your distress starts to become less consistent; you spend less time feeling really awful, and more feeling almost normal. You have more periods when you can concentrate on other things. The grief, anger, pain and longing hit in waves, but the waves start to feel less intense and to pass a little faster.

      What I find helps the most is to not try to avoid or deny those waves. When I have a moment to myself, I stop and let myself feel that wave to the deepest, wettest, coldest, most miserable point it seems to want to go to. I do that by writing about what I’m feeling, calling a friend to rage or cry on their shoulder, reading something I really identify w/on the web, or just remembering a good or awful moment. If I do these things, the negative emotions become very intense, but then pass much more quickly.

      (PS; I’ve found melotonin a GREAT help for sleep, and plain old Tylenol or Advil help when the emotional pain, that ache in the chest or the gut, is hanging around too long. For the brain, physical and emotional pain work the same, so the meds help. I started using these because I decided that my ex didn’t deserve for me to lose sleep over him.)

      If you don’t find you’re starting to feel ‘less terrible’ with time, then you might want to consider talking to a counsellor or therapist. What we’ve been through, w/the infidelity, lying, and often our lives turned upside down, is pretty traumatic. And it’s very helpful to figure out our role in this, and where that came from in our lives.

      It’s been almost exactly a year since I found out about my ex’s second infidelity. Last week, for the first time in that whole year, I woke up and neither he nor the mess he’s left behind were the first thoughts in my mind. YAY! Progress! I will make it to ‘meh’, and so will you!

      • Thanks Karen I have been able to sleep just fine that past few month. It’s just that last night and this morning it hit hard as we are in the separation process and the kids are most likely going to want to go with their cheating Mom. I refused to leave the house.

    • I’m so sorry for your pain, Bud. What I have found has helped me the most may actually seem counter-intuitive… but when I feel loving towards my fucktard, I am at my happiest. Our marriage is kaput, but we have two children and he’s a good father and he loves to fix things around my place. I need the help and if we have dinner together, its also alright. I am not in love with him, but I can still allow myself to feel loving instead of hateful. Hate reaps even more hate. Negativity and sadness.

      I don’t expect ANYTHING from him and realize that he’s impaired. Think of your wife as impaired. It truly helps. And its true! She has massive issues and unfortunately, she is not capable of being the kind of woman that you need and deserve.

      The hardest part is accepting that who they are is not who we thought they were. Part of them, might be, but part of them is definitely not. They hid it really well. They might’ve even hidden it from themselves.

      Meh is actually loving. That doesn’t mean or imply that what she did was in anyway okay or that she didn’t hurt you deeply, or that you have to stay married to such a creature. When you can find that place that loves her despite her impairment and expects nothing– absolutely nothing in return… then, and only then is when one will find peace.

      You see… one can stay married and be miserable or leave and be miserable. Leaving does not guarantee peace. Love is the only way to heal. At least this is what I believe. With all my heart.

      • Laurel,
        I find that really interesting, I finally talked to him about a month or so after I threw him out about a month or two ago. He apologized (finally) said he coukdn’t believe what a F-ing A-hole he’d been, then we moved on to the business side if the call..then just had a general conversation. 2 things, I didn’t really believe his apology, but I REALLY needed to hear the words, and second I ended the conversation when he started whining about his new “problems”. It made me realize that nothing had changed, he still and always would only care about himself. But I felt alot lighter in my mind…better than I had in weeks! I have an X from years ago (30) that I have a daughter with that I became friends with after a year. I think every situation is different, we just have to be careful!

      • Laural that is a very interesting way to look at it, thank you. She is impaired and what I’m now seeing is her true self. Of course she’ll blame it on mid life crisis or some other unjustifiable crap. But this must be the real her. I’m sure I’m still going through some stage or phase yet. And as I mentioned earlier I don’t hate her. Still quite the opposite. Right now what gets me worked up the most is the thought of the OM being brought into the lives of my 3 kids. This is what drives me crazy.

        • Bud,
          They only have ONE father and that is you. I gather that they have not yet reached their teen years? lol Mine are almost 23 (good God!) and 18 now. I could’ve used a hand (or three) and still can! (but they have neurological issues). Maybe think of it this way. OM has to take all the crap and you can just get the best parts of them.

          Believe me when I tell you that those memories will be some of the most precious ones of their lives. THAT is what they will remember… not the day to day stuff with Mr.-moving-in-on-another-man’s-wife. That’s not much of a man, in my book.

          You can also be there for them when that marriage goes bust, too.

          uh huh… how do I know?

          You see… they couldn’t clean up their shit–FIRST from their first relationships (not even close) and now, its gonna be better elsewhere?


          • You are right that is not much of a man. He’s a whiny weasel of a man. and I use the word “man” very loosely. Look up Piece of Shit and I quite sure you’ll find his photo there.

            Ages are Daughter 18, and two boys 15 and 12. Daughter already knows enough about what really happened. The boys just know that Mom and Dad are having issues. Of course Cheating Wife wants them to know nothing. “They don’t need to know” But I’m not going to lie to them any more. When the time comes they will know only enough as to why Mom is leaving. I will explain it as she made promises to me when we got married that she didn’t and doesn’t want to keep. I am not going to be the bad guy. I know it may appear that way because my wife has been with them their daily life. Being a teacher in their school she has been there for them everyday including the summers. So they are naturally more attached to her.
            However the 18 yr old is independent enough and is chomping at the bit to move onto college. Boys have summer sports to keep them busy for awhile. Just need to get past daughters graduation so we can move forward. All I know right now is that 2013 is going to be full of changes.

            • As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, I don’t think the parents do their kids any favors by covering up the cheating. My STBX is a product of a cheating marriage. His father was transferred to another city when STBX was in his early teens, and for a variety of reasons, his mother wasn’t comfortable in the new area, so returned to the old city with her two boys. Within about 10 years–maybe less–my father in law had met someone else. He never divorced his wife, and the OW mistress was the elephant in the room. Every weekend, he’d come to visit his wife and sons.

              I think that STBX’s mother tried too hard to spackle over their father’s flaws for her sons. Both of them put their father on a pedestal, even though STBX hated his father for what he did to the family. Even after his father died, with an estate that was an absolute mess, his father remains on the pedestal.

              I believe that it would have been better for the parents to have divorced, or at least to have been honest with their children about their arrangement. The children could have developed healthier relationships with their parents. My mother always thought that my in-laws prohibited their children from forming adult relationships with their parents. Both in-laws treated their sons as children, not as grown men, and while their sons chafed under the treatment, both lapsed into the same roles they’d assumed as children.

              I don’t think that it’s necessary for the betrayed spouse to spew venom about the cheating spouse. Rather, it’s important to acknowledge that the logical consequence of cheating is divorce. Maybe cheater mom or cheater dad isn’t a personality disorder. Maybe they’re decent parents to their children, and maybe they get their acts together for a second marriage. All of that is fine. What’s important, though, is that the children learn that cheating has consequences.

              Neither STBX nor his brother learned that lesson.

              • My ex’s family are all cheaters. They know he cheated like crazy with other men, but even that doesn’t phase them. One of his sisters actually said, “Marriages come and go, but family is forever.” Not surprisingly, that sister is a total cheater who treats her husband like dirt.

  • Thanks CL for putting that in perspective. I wasted so much time on this…kept wondering if I was the ‘bad one’ like he said I was. It was all a mindfuck. OF COURSE they are going to lay it all on us. They don’t take responsibility for any wrong doing. I got all sorts of blame:

    “…you didn’t love me like I wanted to be loved”
    “…you withheld your love from me…”
    “…you’re cold…”

    I could go on and on and on…but why waste anyone’s time on that? We all heard similar shit.

    What I discovered was that the person he had ‘become’ was really the person he was ALL ALONG. I had rose colored glasses on and thought he was all that and a bag of chips at the time(MAJOR spackling)… but I learned that was who he WAS. There was no great change…the death of his father, whom he refers to like they had the greatest relationship (NOT), was the event that I think really made him see that if he didn’t own up to who he really was then he would be ‘unhappy’ the rest of his life. Oh, and incidentally, this is the same father that he didn’t speak to for 10 years until we got engaged, and then the ex made a huge production of breaking the silence and speaking to him again because he ‘didn’t want to go into a marriage with a bad relationship with (his) dad”. Such absolute drivel…I swear I am not making this up.

    I also had the mother-in-law from hell. I called her the Dragon-in-law. What a piece of work that one was! Little wonder my ex thought the ENTIRE world revolved around him. His mother made him that way!

    Honestly, I think in many ways we are all too good for our fucked up spouses. I believe that they tried, in vain, to be as good as we ARE and finally, their fuckedupedness finally caught up with them. They could no longer hold up the pretense.

    We should consider ourselves lucky that we dodged the bullet in living our ENTIRE lives with these assclowns.

    • Touche’ Valentine!
      My X did that with his Mom (20 yrs NC) and his brother (15 years NC) then he used me to show them how “he’d matured”, and got money from them. Makes me sick to think about it….I thought I was helping bring a family together…

    • Heh…Dragon in law. My MIL is a manipulative asshole and always has been. I managed to deal with her during the marriage but now? Can’t be bothered. She still thinks the sun shines out of her little boy’s ass but also treats him like he’s an imbecile who needs her special, loving guidance. yeah, she’s done a real number on him and while I don’t like to blame parents for their adult kid’s fuck ups my MIL, in my opinion, made him who he is: a selfish, insecure,sparkly guy who always always always thinks of himself and his needs first and foremost. Mind you, MIL was also the OW so cheating is not frowned upon in that family.

      • In that at least I lucked out.

        Both of Andy’s parents are deceased. His father passed before I even met Andy (that didn’t stop Andy from blaming me for his father’s death, during one of his rants) but I seriously doubt Andy’s mother would have approved of his behavior.

        When Linda passed, she cut Andy out of her will entirely, left everything (not that much!) to Radio Flyer Princess, and made it clear in her will I was to be custodian of funds.

        Honestly, by the end of her life I think she loved me more than Andy. I drove over to her home for the last 2 years she was able to live in her home, helped her with her bills, visited with her, met with the two different nurses & aides that came over to her home each week to help her enough that she could stay in her home.

        And she wasn’t even my mother. Even Andy acknowledged that was an act of love he couldn’t argue with–I took care of his dying mother.

        Of course, for Andy, that kind of thing only counts for the thirty seconds it takes to acknowledge it.

        • I did a lot for my inlaws over the years and it meant not one jot when the shit hit the fan. That hurt me an enormous amount. And now my ex, just today, is bitching that I don’t talk to his family. Pfffft…they know how to get in touch with me if they choose to.

  • Here in The Netherlands the media are full for over a week with news (or rather, alas, no news) about two missing boys. Monday a week ago their father – divorced from their mother, NPD by all looks of it – took them on a trip, committed suicide and all clues seem to lead to an act of horrible, horrible pre-meditation to hurt their mother the most. (more: He went out of his way to hide all traces of them, made false trails, left no clues. 🙁

    I bet before they left their mother soothed her instincts with: I once chose to be with him, to have children with him, he couldn’t be all that bad. He could.

    I learned during our false reconciliation that I had trouble viewing my husband for what he is, because I just don’t think and act that way. I have high morals, think of consequences for other people and make the best of what I get. I didn’t realize this until he made a remark about me that was so strange, so unlike me… how could he think I would do that? And then it hit me: he was judging me by his morals, just as I am still judging him by mine. I still think: you couldn’t possibly…

    But he could.

    • Very powerful points, Dutch. Cluster B’s count on the fact that chumps tend to “give the benefit of the doubt” and assume that everyone has a moral compass. The reality is, if they are true NPD or sociopath, they are capable of anything. Most will never commit terrible acts of violence, but that isn’t because of any morality or conscience. That’s only because it either doesn’t interest them or they are slightly more afraid of going to jail than they are excited by the thought of hurting someone.

      I still find myself giving my NPD ex the benefit of the doubt sometimes, thinking, “Oh, he would never do THAT.” But realistically, he is capable of anything. It’s actually quite chilling.

    • I get that stuff, Dutch, where he attributes some weird behaviour to me and I think ‘did you not know me at all during those 20 years?’ and then I remind myself that this is how he thinks and operates and thus projects it on everyone else. BAsically teh opposite of what I did: I projected my way of living and viewing hte world on him and believed it to be true. I’m not a saint, by the way, but I’m a person who is pretty honest and straightforward and try to deal with life with integrity.

    • No worries Bud! We are all here for each other. And since misery loves company hearing stories of others is comforting. Hugs to you.

  • Those poor boys. I keep asking myself if my h is that bad. I know he is horrible, and I don’t want to be with him. But is he horrible enough to hurt our children? I don’t know. Someone close to him told me they were worried that he could do something like that. And I had not told that person how badly he had treated me.
    I keep stalling, feeling like I need to do this or that to be ready before I leave. But really I am paralyzed with fear.

    • Quick, I am in the same boat. Very scared about leaving my STBXH, as his rages scare me and I’m not sure how far he may go when he realizes he is being divorced. I want to protect my children but I’m not sure how. I’m going to hope for the best, but definitely plan for the worst.

      • Get advice on this before you file. Once the State is involved via the court system your options get limited.

        The State has a protective interest in any child registered with a birth certificate (they are future taxpayers) and they take that seriously. My state has a wonderful child custody mediation program staffed with very qualified professionals. I would not be surprised if you could consult with one such person ahead of time on a private basis. Knowing what to expect will help you a lot.

        Be calm and measured during any interview with members of the court system. My ex would rage and pound the table with his demands and his slurs of me — it made their decision easier for them. Plus they interviewed my kids who were not buying into his schtick either. It’s hard to give up the impulse to defend yourself — but you have to. Trust me, they’ve seen it all and they were not fooled.

        This is why I consider the OW as doing me a huge favor. She was (unknown to me) pregnant at the time and that made his options very limited. No future happiness if you’re sitting in jail because you kidnapped your own kids. (I don’t think mine was the kind to harm them, but he sure would have run off to another state with them)

      • I have noticed that your situation has a lot of similarities to mine. I dealt with the rages for so many years. I finally got so angry, and when he started to lash out at the kids I had to do something. I started calling the domestic violence hotline when he exploded on a rage. They weren’t very helpful, but it did get him to stop screaming at me.

      • One of the lawyers I spoke with recommended I have an exit plan because even if the spouse has no history of violence, you never know.

        Her recommendations were to get all financial records into a safe deposit box, the kind that it just takes a key to get into. Mail the spare key to a trusted relative or friend, just in case. Keep the other on your person. If you have photos you value, digitize them and store them on the cloud. Use a master password only you know. Put that information in our safety deposit box, too. If you have items to which you have a strong sentimental attachment, put those in the box (jewelry counts). If there are breakables, you might want to rent out a small storage space, but if you’re in a community property state, remember that you can’t hide property this way. Pack all the clothes you’ll need for a couple of days for you and your kids. Plan on staying at an extended-stay motel.

        It may be that you’ll not need any of these precautions, but it’s absolutely imperative that you ask what you can do to protect yourself before you file.

        I plan to take those precautions. STBX is what his family calls “emotional, ” which means he’s prone to lose his temper over really stupid stuff. He’s never struck out at me (I’d file immediately if that happened), but once he smashed a door. Yes, he was sorry about it and thought it was stupid, but that was after the fact. The greater probability is that I will not need these, but it’s better to take them and find out it’s not necessary than not take them and discover they were necessary.

        • Thanks kb. I keep documents and a some personal items at work, along with a journal of some of the worst crap he has done. One person I trust knows what’s there and where the key is, and h can’t get in here. I had to let security here know that he was a risk. I keep clothes at a relatives house nearby and I have several places we can go that he doesn’t know about. Sometimes I think I am overreacting – he has never hit me after all, but I have also never left him.

      • DucklinerUpper, do plan for the worst. My ex raged at me for years too and it was scary but he did not hit. He tipped over when I told him we were divorcing, he attacked me that night. On later date he nearly shot me. If your gut says he’s dangerous, listen to it, I ignored my intuition and nearly paid the final price, don’t make my mistake. Talk to someone at the local shelter or a hotline about how to safeguard your finances and more importantly how to get out safely.

        • quicksilver, you trust your gut too, as my post above says, I ignored my inner voice to my detriment. On average it takes 7 tries to get away from abusers, it’s because of the fear and that they become that person we loved for short periods to maintain control. When you actually leave is the most dangerous time because you are breaking the control your abuser has over you and they can become much more dangerous when that happens.

          • Thanks wuf. He tells me how much he is changing, but I think it’s all a ruse. When he is actually faced with losing everything, I expect him to become desperate. My finances are ok, it’s my kids I worry about.

            Thanks for all the advise here. I am trying to work up the courage again to start looking for help.

  • Skater Girl forwarded this to me. Very good on the effect N-parents have on children:

    I wanted to explain the term “savior-narcissist” that I used above. SN (savior-narcissists) are not mean nasty narcissists. Instead, they are super-nice chumps who believe that they can “save” the other person, the children, the marriage, etc. All us Chumps were, at some point, co-narcissists, that is we enjoyed our brief time in the inner circle of attention that a narc partner or parent gave us during the glory days. (A great article on this is here: Co-narcissists are also chumps.) Our error, as savior-narcissists is to overestimate our power to save. Really, we are just people and we have to learn to have stronger protective boundaries for our sakes and for our children’s.

    Quicksilver and Ducklinerupper have tough situations. I think they should quietly consult experts, social workers and the like, talk quietly to a lawyer, or find a women’s shelter. That last suggestion might be a good place to start. Most of the time, these threatening guys are bluffing, but you can’t take chances with that. Expert help is required to deal with someone potentially violent. However, if you stay with someone like that, the consequences for you and your kids are not good. The kids in particular will internalize that yelling voice of dad’s. It will create bottled up rage, bad feeling (a kind of internal fog horn that blasts you whenever you do something wrong, even years later), and all kinds of other consequences. Find a women’s center, a shelter and get some advice from a pro.

    I don’t know if there are national hot lines for this sort of stuff. Does anyone know of that info?

    • I had started lining up resources, and h sensed that something was up and started confronting me and threatening me. I almost made it to the lawyer, but I chickened out. H sometimes asks me if I have seen a lawyer, and I just can’t lie worth a darn. I almost never do, and after all our years together, he can tell immediately.

      I hate to be making excuses like this. I know that I have to do something, but for now things are relatively peaceful, so I go on waiting for some decisive moment.

      • How confidant are you that your visiting this website isn’t being monitored by him? Do you post from work?

        The controlling also get very paranoid. If you share a computer with him at home you can bet it’s got a keylogger on it.

        At one point my ex went out and bought me and our kids all new phones on a family plan, “so we could all stay in touch easier” We were totally tracked and eavesdropped on. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t pickup on it earlier.

        If someone is spying on you, your relationship is OVER, even if it is peaceful. They have become an observer and not a participant in the relationship. It really bends their mind when their family becomes like a bacterial colony under a microscope.

        Be careful.

        • I only post from work. He is super paranoid, and I have to assume that the computer at home is monitored.
          I know the relationship is over, and I don’t even pretend to have kind feelings towards him any more. But he is counting on my chumpiness to keep supporting him, and to let him keep living in the house with the kids.

  • I think your first sentence sums up the whole post. He IS a horrible person because HE betrayed you. A kind, decent, considerate sorta folk would not. He cheated because he could and doesn’t care about others. Pretty much a horrible person, right there.

  • Dear Quick and Duck,
    I read all good advice worth taking…but one way is to quietly get to understand some of your STBX’s weaknesses and play upon them, to get out…file or whatever. Everyone has some weakness…eg. Chumpalicious shared how OW’s pregnancy coupled with fear of arrest worked in her favour. While planning exit, work on your strengths and your STBX’s weakness (whatever they are)

  • A good way to find out what kind of person you’re dealing with; tell other people honestly about the stuff they’ve done that doesn’t seem right to you.

    When their eyes bug out, then you know.

    When it’s your partner’s family members you are telling, and their eyes bug out too, then you really know.

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