Dear Chump Lady,
I’m in the middle of divorcing a serial cheater. Huge narcissist. I am living in the family home. STBX is living 3 miles away. Haven’t seen his cheating face since February. In the past month, I have received 7 text messages telling me why I need to install a security system here. We live in a very safe area (think Father of the Bride house) and have our own neighborhood patrol car driving the quiet streets 24/7. We’ve lived here for 25 years and never once discussed a security system. Now he’s doing the full court press for one. Says he will pay for 100% of it himself.
Something’s up. I can’t figure it out. There is for sure an ulterior motive. He couldn’t give a crap about my safety. Court papers allow him to retrieve things from time to time with my permission. (I leave before he comes.) So he has occasional access. He’s already freaking about the lawyer fees, so why would he be willing to spend $1500-2000 with no benefit to him? He wouldn’t. Can you solve?
That is weird. If he’s truly a serial cheating narcissist, you can be sure something is up — and concern for your well-being is not it.
I could try and untangle his motivations (and I’ll indulge in that in a moment), but the big question here is — do YOU want a security system? No? Okay, then. It’s settled.
You’re divorcing him, which means whatever bee is in his bonnet is HIS problem, not yours. You don’t have to do anything about his sudden mania for security systems. Delete his texts and stay no contact.
A lot of narcissists have a hard time letting go of kibbles, so they devise various pathetic ways to retain kibbles. Creating a non-issue issue is one way to do that. It doesn’t seem like a play for kibbles, no! He’s just concerned about your welfare! Deny him kibbles, and that makes YOU the bad guy. Can’t you see how much he cares about your safety?
As I was divorcing mine, he used to fish for all manner of things. Do you have my book on West Virginia logging? Do you have my fountain pen? Did you take my grill brush? Stupid questions like this leave the door open for more contact — and future exchanges. (Here, take your damn grill brush.) More contact and future exchanges = kibbles. Maybe you’ll fall for the sparkles again, maybe you can be “friends,” maybe he can eat cake!
It may be that your ex would be willing to pay $2,000 for cake — and access to his former home. After all, he paid for the security system, surely you’ll let him know the codes to the security system. Or he’ll just work that out with the installer, put his name on the contract, thank you very much. Right now he gets his things via the lawyers, but how much nicer if he could come and go without them.
I don’t think he’s worried about your safety, and feeling guilty that there is no longer a man in the house. (I’m sure he was just fine with you rolling the trashcans to the curb. Didn’t offer help with that one, did he?) I think he thinks YOU are worried about those things… that you’re afraid to be on your own alone in the house, and he’s playing on that fear. Or taking a stab at it. If he can find your fears, he can manipulate outcomes.
Don’t let him. Change the locks on the house immediately, and don’t give him a key. If you get a security system, you pay for it, you sign the contract, and only YOU have access to the security codes. IMO, your biggest security threat is him. Take whatever measures you feel necessary to shut him out and stay no contact. A big German shepherd with a scary bark is a lot cheaper than a security system, and much more companionable than your ex-husband, I’m sure.