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Dear Chump Lady, He coulda been a contender

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m still friends with my ex-boyfriend’s cousin. She informs me that Joey’s life has descended into a complete and utter mess. A year and a half later, he’s still with the OM, but that’s really about all he’s doing. He’s 24, unemployed, lives in his grandmother’s attic, dropped out of community college, has no money (OM and Grandma pay for everything), is on fucking food stamps, and pretty much sleeps all day everyday. He doesn’t do shit around his Grandma’s house (Grandma is a 134-year-old diabetic who could use the help), doesn’t clean up his own dog’s dogshit and is basically wasting away his life.

It’s really of no consequence to me what Joey does or doesn’t do with his life at this point; I’ve long since moved on, with a new job and my own place. But I never imagined things would turn out QUITE like this. I never thought he’d bottom out like this. The kid I dated had goals and dreams and ambitions. This Joey…..fuck, you got me! I don’t know what the hell he’s turned into.

Also never imagined that even though I got cheated on, the OM would end up getting played for an even bigger chump, as his dumb, obsessed ass is stuck showering Joey with attention and gifts, rewarding him for being useless. Definitely not a role I ever played when he and I were together!

I’m not sympathetic in the least, but I can’t help but shudder at what he’s become. Getting cheated on and dumped for someone else sucks, but at the very least I was classy enough to wish him well in my head. Sounds like karma had better plans for him.

Even if the cheaters abandon true, loving relationships for something edgier and trashier, aren’t they at least supposed to live something resembling a normal life? In a a year and a half, Joey went from a young, independent professional who was getting job interviews left and right (that I’d help him prep for) to a fucking white trash bottom-feeder.

While I spent my Independence Day feasting on burgers and BBQ Schadenfreude, that shit still fucks with my head. Doesn’t mean I’m still in love with him. And it doesn’t mean I feel sympathy or feel the need to “save” him. The ONLY reason he’s in this place is because of HIS actions and HIS choices.

Personally, I think that sorry-ass motherfucker got exactly what he deserved. He made his bed and seems content to lie in it, even on workdays.

But I’ll say in all honestly that I’m uncomfortably “meh” right now, Ms. CL. What do we do when our cheaters hit rock bottom like this? I gained a life. He squandered his.



Dear Chris,

Yeah, what you are describing is the flip side to the Fear That They’re Going to Be Better Without You. It’s the actually much more common occurrence — Their Life Is Utter Shit Without You. And while Joey deserves it, and his nosedive is completely of his own doing, you’re a chump with feelings. It has to be painful to see someone you once loved behave so self-destructively.

I get that you’re pretty “meh” (but not so meh as to not get Joey reports from his cousin), but I think at some level you still believe in Joey’s potential. In my opinion, the real Joey is the white trash bottom feeder. When he had your ego kibbles to sustain him, all your energies and talents, he could rise to be the sort of person who appeared to have goals and ambitions. But he couldn’t sustain it. He went right back to being the sort of half-assed, predatory human being he’s probably always been. He traded you for a lower quality of kibble feed. He needs propping — from grandma, from the OM, once from you. The guy does not prop himself. Ever.

Once you were freed from kibble slavery — even though you didn’t want to be, he cheated on you — you  took the opportunity to get healthy. And you focused all that love, care, and attention on your own success. And — no surprise — it paid off. Why is that? Because you, at heart, are not half-assed. You actually do have dreams and ambitions — more important, you have a work ethic. You made those things happen for yourself. To get your kibbles, my guess is that Joey had to pretend to be more like you. But he’s not really like you. And over time those cracks started to show.

You asked: Even if the cheaters abandon true, loving relationships for something edgier and trashier, aren’t they at least supposed to live something resembling a normal life? 

Not really. Some are better at fronting, I think. Others are total train wrecks. And a lot of them, it takes years for this shit to catch up with them, because they just go through chump after chump after chump. But pretty soon the sparkle wears off. It gets harder to conceal the crazy, the umpteenth divorce/bankruptcy/career change. Joey is young and he’s tanking pretty spectacularly. I can’t even imagine the sort of fucked up he’ll be at 40 — can you? You dodged a bullet, Chris.

But I totally get loving the potential and wondering why the hell they would throw something so good away. You, for instance. Or Joey’s own talents and opportunities. I think it all comes back to entitlement. Guys like Joey don’t appreciate their gifts — or yours. Life to Joey is probably one series of gifts that he doesn’t believe will ever run out — so he feels free to squander them like so much disposable crap. There’s always more, right? More chumps, more chances.

At Chump Lady, I talk a lot about falling for sparkles. But really, quite worse is falling for potential. You see glimmers of Great Things Yet to Be Realized. Gosh, with just a little elbow grease and concerted effort, we could really make Something Together! Chumps enlist. And guys like Joey — well, they never put forth much effort beyond the initial glimmers. Because frankly, effort gets boring. Effort is… well, EFFORT. It’s a slog. The idea of delayed gratification, or team building, or a meta vision is lost on guys like Joey. He wants a nap NOW, today, this minute… and what’s on Netflix later… and could someone make me a Hot Pocket?

I was watching the movie Capote this weekend with my husband. Great film, if you haven’t seen it, about Truman Capote and the writing of In Cold Blood. Capote narcissistically falls into infatuation with one of the murderers he is profiling for his book. A sociopathic motherfucker who slaughtered a Kansas farm family for $40. But the murderer appears sad, and misunderstood. He writes a diary. And — most tantalizing — he’s a gifted artist. He draws just lovely portraits.

And as you watch the film, you can’t help but wonder What If. Gee, what if this murderer had a nicer childhood? What if he went to art school instead of juvenile detention? What if Capote can reach a deeper understanding about his motivations? And then you remember — oh, that’s right. This is the same guy who blew the heads off four people with a shotgun. He murdered a whole family in cold blood.

That’s who that guy IS — he’s a murderer. A murderer who draws pretty pictures. He had a gift, and he wasted it to be a murderer. That was his choice. And all the pretty pictures and sensitive diaries don’t eclipse his acts of murder.

Joey is a user, a slacker, and a cheater. All those choices blot out his glorious potential. His choices say essential things about his character  — and tell us far more about him than his dreams do. Cheaters want us so badly to believe in their ideal selves and pay no attention to the evidence of their actual selves.

I think you’re still a bit caught up with Joey’s ideal self — who he could of been. Instead, remember who he really is — a guy who mooches off a disabled old lady and can’t be bothered to pick up dog shit. That’s the prize OM got. You escaped and life got better for you. That’s all the evidence you need, Chris. Keep trusting that he sucks.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Joey sounds much like my ex husband. Mine is in his late 40’s, was married to me for 20 years and we have a son. During the marriage, ex had an excellent career, we had a beautiful home, we had what ex claimed was a good marriage and the ex had all sorts of goals and ambitions. Of course, my ex did cheat with basically any man that would stay still long enough, and several married women as well.

    Three years later, the ex:
    quit his career to become an actor/author/motivational speaker/dancer/singer. Not ONE of those panned out, in fact, absolute DISASTER
    his house foreclosed and he was evicted by bank
    he filed bankruptcy
    he moved into his sister’s spare bedroom
    sister threw him out, now he lives in his dad’s spare bedroom
    he lived off unemployment for 1.5 years, even that has run out
    he mooches off everyone he can
    his son has no respect for him
    his old friends think he is insane

    Despite all that, he considers himself incredibly inspirational, because he is “following his dreams.” Sometimes these disordered are SO MESSED UP, you just have to fall to your knees and thank God you are free of them. My ex is an absolute train wreck. Mind-bogglingly disordered, a diagnosed NPD and a horrible, wicked man.

    Chris, forget about Joey. He’s a loser. A bum. CL is absolutely right. Most likely, it was YOU keeping him afloat, and now he is showing his true colors.

  • Meh, at 24… there’s still a window of opportunity for him to turn his life around, but… it’s not your problem, and it stopped being your problem when he failed to value you (and apparently so many other things… including his dog if he isn’t picking up the dog crap).

    What can you do?

    You ever read Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”?

    Here, let me edit the opening sentence so that it applies to your case:

    “As Chris’ Ex awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic slimey leech”.

    In Kafka’s story, though, the main character is transformed into a giant insect (I always imagine a roach), and what makes the story so odd is how little his character is actually changed by this over-night transformation.

    I think that pretty much sums things up.

    • Just have to say I love Kafka and I adore that story. I too think he woke up as a roach…like so many of our exes. 🙂

      • Mine is more of a blood-sucking, Lyme disease-carrying tick. The kids and I finally got him out, but the damage to our system is going to take years to heal.

        • I actually had Lyme-disease once. I was riding my mountain bike through Fahnestock State Park (downstate NY), and apparently I should have checked myself better for tiny ticks.

          I went undiagnosed for a couple of weeks, but then they put me on Doxycycline, and that knocked it out, but the after-affects continued for about a year, and what really turned that around is I just got off my behind and started improving my fitness, and presto… all the arthritis, lethargy, etc vanished. Within a year of deciding to become more fit despite my condition, I was probably in the best condition in my entire life.

          Moral of this story? You can be better than you ever were despite a nasty “blood-sucking, Lyme disease-carrying tick”, but you have to start by getting up and deciding you are going to do better all on your own.

  • “But really, quite worse is falling for potential. You see glimmers of Great Things Yet to Be Realized. Gosh, with just a little elbow grease and concerted effort, we could really make Something Together! Chumps enlist.”

    That is exactly what I did. I saw that he was smart, talented, came from a great background (stable, normal family life)– what more could any gal want?

    Except that I was The Prop. Captain Needy projected what I wanted to see, mirroring my values and beliefs. In reality, he is weak and empty. And I know that to be true because instead of dumping the OW and getting his shit together during the divorce process, he re-established his ego kibble supply and kept her waiting in the wings until I was out of there.

    I think that XWH and the Wifetress have become chumps. Our D was final a month ago, and guess what? They got married today. I’m sure that they see ALL kinds of potential in each other while they are both shining blindingly in Super Sparkle Mode to prove that Their Love is Here To Stay. I’m sure that they’ve both vowed to be better in every way with each other because, don’t forget, the Ashley Madison power couple has A PLAN.

    They are reformed, newly baptized with their sins washed away. That cheating? Well, that’s because their old, horrid spouses drove them to it. They didn’t have PLANS with those old spouses. They’re going to do everything right this time!

    Dear XWH and Wifetress: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Enjoy propping each other’s sorry asses up. Maybe Joey and his grandma will have some room in the attic and some extra Hot Pockets when reality finally hits you. Oh, and I take it back– you’re not decent enough to be called chumps. You’re just assholes.

    • Dear Moving On: OUCH!! Being The Prop is exhausting, unrewarding work. Be glad you got fired from that crappy dinner theater production. Also, you will be standing tall when the Karma Bus runs up and over Mr and Mrs Madison. Stay Strong. Hugs, nmc

    • MO — marriage to his Ashley Madison fuckbuddy is just toooOooooo Jerry Springer. What do they say when people ask them how they met?! What can marriage mean to people like that? This isn’t going to end well. But I promise by the time it implodes from the weight of its own absurdity, you’re going to be so “moved on” and meh, you won’t care.

      Well, okay, maybe a little. Permission to laugh with righteous schadenfreude when one or the other invariably cheats.

      • MovingOn, This is one story I’d love to know the ending to. I would have a hard time staying disinterested. Hope you can find a way to do that. Crazy!

        • Preya, I will definitely check in if everything falls apart. I know I appreciate hearing about when sparkly couples implode on those days when I feel alone and feel like the cheaters have it all (even when my rational self tells me they don’t). I predict that they’ll drag things out for about five years or so because they need to prove their love to the world, but I’ll be very surprised if they stay together longer than that. My prediction is kind– most of my friends and family give it a year!

          • I think the statistics support that things won’t last. Most marriages to the AP do not survive–I think I came across a 75% divorce rated for people who married their APs. I know that I will be actively cheering on STBX to marry his AP. It’ll be the worst thing he could do to himself, and I think he deserves it!

            Interestingly enough, I think both OW and I both see STBX in terms of his potential. We’re just looking at different potential. I saw a man with a lot of intellectual and creative potential. She sees a man with a lot of income potential. I suspect he’ll live up to neither.

            • Final OW, being very young and just starting out in Ex’s field, seems to think she’s going to ride his coattails to success, not realising he’s screwed up his career the last few years. I kind of wish they stay together because Ex will be miserable. But then again I don’t want to deal with final OW for the rest of my life. Tough call, really.

          • MovingOn– My ex cheated on me for 17 years of our 25 year marriage with his fuck-buddies, two “best friends” he worked with, sometimes group sex (I refer to them as his girlfriend and a half when I’m feeling kind). Anyhow, as soon as I caught him (D-Day was 15 months ago), he admitted he was NEVER going to tell me and just thought “we’d always be together.” Within weeks of me throwing him out of the house, however, my ex told me that he loved the first fuck-buddy more than me and was going to marry her. She promptly left her husband and two teenage sons, telling them that “you can’t help who you love,” that she and my ex were the “loves of each others’ lives,” and that they would marry the minute their respective divorces were final. My divorce was final in September 2012, the fuck-buddy’s in March 2013. My ex is a super-sparkly NPD/ASPD and she is histrionic, so it’s a match made in heaven. Following D-Day and right through to the present, my ex began (continued?) to “cheat” on her with other women he picked up in bars, but she refuses to believe it. They are still not married, but I predict it will happen if and when my ex needs the money. Pieces of dog poop is the only way to describe them…..will keep you all advised……..

            • They definitely sound like they deserve each other. Water seeks its own level. Disturbed x disturbed = disturbed squared…. I’m sure that will lead to happily ever after.

    • I’ve heard this saying many times, and I think it is completely true:

      “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a job opening.”

    • That is awful!!!!! I love when people have their “sins washed away” and now they are all of a sudden better than everyone else and everything they did before doesnt count. Ugh!

      I wish I could say that the OW is gross but in reality she seems liek she has her crap together:
      31 (not sure if thats a pro or not but he has always been attracted to older women)
      Therapist going for her PhD
      Owns a house
      Sister and sister’s bf live with her to help pay mortgage
      Not very attractive
      having a baby w someone she has known for 2 months and is roughly a month pregnant
      Not affectionate
      never wanted kids
      dry and tends to call him an asshole or a dick “jokingly” (stuff like “youre a dick you can leave now and smiles and walks away)
      right after my ex told her he was going to try and get back with me she told him she was pregnant

      I know there is a longer Con list but I cant figure out what is more important.
      Point is Id love if she was some gross lady but she does have her shit together in some areas. I know he said he doesnt love her but do you think the fact that she is semi-decent this would give them a better shot at working out?

      • Kristini L:

        With respect to ” do you think the fact that she is semi-decent this would give them a better shot at working out?”, the answer is no.

        First, the cheater doesn’t care about semi-decent people. Hey, we Chumps are semi-decent, and they didn’t care about us!

        Second, that the AP has her shit together in some aspects of her life is entirely within the parameters of NPDs/BPDs/plain old assholes. The sparkly facade is very useful in certain business situations, so while some cheaters, like Chris’s ex, are sponging off of their aging relatives, others are quite capable of professional success. This is because It’s All About Them. They sparkle. They charm the right people. They bask in the spotlight. All of that is wonderful ego-kibble.

        Once the Ex and the AP are together, then they’ll have to go beyond the sparkles for the relationship to work. That, however, take effort, and it means sacrificing the kind of ego kibbles they’re so used to getting!

        • I do know that he says that they are way too much alike and she calls him an asshole and he calls her abrasive, but they never yell, they just walk away from eachother.

          As much as he is Independent, he is codependent on the kibbles. She supposedly very unaffectionate and does her own thing most of the time.

          I cant help but hope that they do NOT work out after what I went through. He is still contacting me and says he knows he wont be with her forever because it is not a loving relationship and he cant spend the rest of his life like this. God I hope hes telling the truth and perhaps it could be bad if youre too much a like?

          • IMO no one who cheats (whether married themselves or with a married cheater or both) has any of their shit together. If they really did, they wouldn’t settle for a POS cheater.

          • Kristina- I hope you’re out there dating, you can do better! He most probably can’t spend the rest of his life with anyone. Please try to find someone else to be with, it seems like you are waiting, and following their thing from the sidelines- go start your own game with someone deeper than this player! Sorry, I can tell you love him, but he’s just toying with you.

      • Sounds to me like he’s been suckered into being a sperm donor for a woman who knows how to go about getting what she wants and getting other people to pitch in.

        Sit back and watch. Let’s see how *he* likes being used…..

        • I hope so!!!

          I know she is wanting him to stick around because she brings up buying him stuff and saying if they get married she wants to put his name on the house. She definitely didnt want kids before so I dont know why she wants one now???

          He works on her house for her and stuff like that which pisses me off because they are just starting this new life, even though he says that he does not love her and its not about staying with her, its about staying for the baby. He says they he knows it wouldnt work out because they are a bad match and too much alike. I honestly hope that’s the truth!!

          • I don’t understand baby fever myself but I know some women get it. Then they look around for a suitable babydaddy (controllable with kibbles, flattered that you want to have their baby, etc.)

            Babies have become the ultimate ego extension. Child abuse to my way of thinking.

            Real life isn’t like that. That woozy infatuation high amped up by pregnancy hormones fades REAL FAST once the baby arrives. Don’t you dare take him back even if he comes crawling, which he will.

            • Real life is being on the hook for 18 years of child support payments and not getting any of the benefits of being married (for a guy). He’s so screwed.

              • That would honestly make me the happiest person in the world!! 🙂 I know thats mean but its true.
                I mean Im not a relationship expert but I think its bad that she says that shes too strong for him (He’ll tell her no, its that youre too abrasive), and she says hes condescending and an asshole (which he says is rude).

                What I find interesting is that when shes upset she just walks away from him and calls him a dick or an asshole (which she says is normal; want normal for me) which is something he used to do now he hates it. He said it would bother him more but he doesnt care about her so it doesnt get to him. I honestly hope that it doesnt work and Ill get to see!!After all the misery I went through finding this out, its time for them to get it back with their own hands (I do think hes getting it already because hes so miserable but I hope it comes back to her too)!!

              • Sometimes two assholes can go into orbit around each other. It’s not a pretty sight.

              • That would be amazing Chumpalicious!

                I do admit, part of me would want him to come crawling back just so I can see that They are not better off than me and all of that would have been for nothing. Im doubtful it will happen now that there is a baby and he has always wanted one (even though weare only 24). So if I cant get that Im just hoping he hasnt changed enought to not cheat on her! Id like both 🙂

              • If he comes crawling back to you it will be to chump you into helping out with the child support and babysitting some other woman’s kid during visitations. Don’t fall for it. No man is worth having if you have to clean up his messes for him.

                The ultimate “I WIN” (karmically speaking) in that instance is to say…..”mmmmmmm — no.”

                You should probably cut the cord with him and go no contact. He’s prepping you as a fallback position (If it doesn’t work out I can always go back to Kristina……)

          • Kristina L–You might want to get into some therapy and also go NC with this guy. Right now, he has a lot of your emotional real estate. It’s a major shit sandwich to watch the two of them from the sidelines. You’ll be better able to focus on you and yours if you go as much NC as you can. You’ll get to “meh” so much faster.

            I know I’m not yet divorced from my cheater, but my life is happier now that STBX got all paranoid and changed his passwords. He’s convinced that “they” are out to get him on the work front, and at least one of his social networking accounts had been compromised, so instead of guessing it’s some script kiddie in Russia or Asia, he has grandiose delusions that work is suddenly interested in his social media accounts, even though he doesn’t ever access social media from any of his work machines, nor has he ever done so.

            Anyway, while I could hack his passwords, I find I’m more productive and happier if I don’t know exactly what’s going on. I can trust simply that he sucks. That’s all I need to know now. I think some much-needed therapy will help support me through the divorce process, and I can get to “meh” eventually. I have a LOT of rage with respect to the betrayal, and I’m afraid if I knew more, I’d lose it.

      • Kristina
        From the bottom of my heart. Please, love yourself more than this man. This man is using and abusing you. He is not your friend. He is setting you up to be the next OW. He does not care what is happening to you. You want to watch him fail, you want her to fail. You will be the one that is taken down. Talking to him is poison. Here’s the best advice I have read on this site, not that the rest of it is less than gold standard, but you really need to commit this to memory. If you don’t, you will watch your life implode on this mans manipulation:

        Stephanie wrote this on 6/2/13. take care and good luck.

        How to go no contact:

        Remember the golden rule: (s)he doesn’t give a SHIT about you, nor what you think or feel. So spare yourself the humiliation of sharing that with the WAP. (They do not care. You’re pissing into the wind.)

        So catch yourself. It’s really hard, but it’s good exercise. Never share your thoughts or opinions or feelings. Never ask for theirs–their opinions do not matter, and they’re not in your best interests, anyway.

        Practice non-engagement. Do not let them suck you in. They will provoke with the most outrageous statements. Observe that–also note how they talk endlessly about themselves, unless they are blaming you for something. It is really quite fascinating, actually. Once I understood the pattern, it was actually very interesting to observe how closely he stuck to the script–”Oh, my life is so hard, the kids never want to see me, oh!” He would sweep all his transgressions under the rug as if to say, “Enough about my responsibility, what about making me happy?”

        It’s sad, really, because your best friend is no longer there for you. Know it. Stop hoping (s)he will care. (S)he does not. Act like it.

        Remember that they usually do not want to share child rearing with you. If they did, they’d be at home. They’re not at home. So stop telling them about that cute thing that Junior or Fluffy did this afternoon. They don’t care. And even if they do, sharing about the children/pets is an intimate act. It sets up an expectation in your mind that you share intimacy with the cheater WAP. You don’t. They don’t care.

        Invite them to enjoy the life they chose when they deliberately sacrificed a life with you. Do this by being silent. You’re not their friend, you don’t do chores for them any more. They chose that. Being nice will not make you seem like a better choice for them. They don’t care for you. They cheated on you. They enjoyed it.

        So shut the door on them.

        Keep a journal, on e-mail if you want to. I wrote a list of all the ways he was shitty to me and I edited it regularly. I also wrote a list of ways he was shitty in general and edited that, too. I wrote a list of all my worst fears–that has been fun to look back on, actually, as I realize that one by one, I have knocked out almost all of my fears. You can also outline a plan for each of those fears.

        If you must communicated, do it by e-mail or text. Save the e-mail or text in a draft, and sleep on it. Your first and third drafts are likely terrible and 90% could be edited out. Don’t e-mail on an emotional knee-jerk. (I did it, I regretted it every single time, and I got better.) Get a friend with a big red pen to edit that shit down to two or three sentences, none of which contain a feeling. CL has good advice on that in this column. Just stick to the facts, not your opinions, not your reactions.

        (This may make them crazy. And that is awesome. However, your goal is to stop caring how they feel, because they don’t care about you.)

        Only give NECESSARY facts, ask only NECESSARY questions. With a bit of practice, you will get stronger, just like any other exercise.

        Know the peace in not getting your hopes up, only to have them smashed again and again. Know the peace in gaining strength when you cut out the cancer, when you pull off the parasite. Know the power there is in silence–actually it is quite maddening. You know it, because their silence is suffocating. Fight back by putting up a wall. Take back your mystery–besides, you have some growing to do, and they don’t need to witness any of it while it is still tender and green.

        Keep yourself too busy for the WAP. Make your own plans, fix up your space the way YOU want it (this is HUGE), dream your own dreams, make some new friends, reconnect with family and friends.

        You can do this. It is life-changing. It is awesome. It will make you stronger in the rest of your life, too.

        I’m so much prouder of myself now.

        • denvergirl, I kept a copy of this post from Stephanie too, it’s incredible in so many ways including how and why to go and stay no contact. Yes Kristina, it is awesome advice, advice that I also needed to hear again today. Thanks!

          • Yes! and every time I think “he needs me he is so pitiful” I think…. “I need myself more”. And frankly I’m thinking it will pay off so much more in the end.

            Thanks all for the great advice on this site. I’m so glad not to be alone in this fight for myself. I hope now for the possible, not the impossible.

            • Thanks denvergirl that was an awesome post 🙂

              It’s so hard to go no contact because of all of the time and energy I put into that relationship to only just watch it be given to someone else. I have gotten better though so i am trying 🙂 I know I shouldn’t ate about what is going on with them but I do. It is painful to think that he will be all happy with this womn that he’s known for two months when I tried so hard for 7 years. I know he said he’s not but I always fear that he is and think why does he and her get happiness after this horrible situation? Why do they get to work out and possibly be happy?

              • Kristina, you know WAY too much about the various goings-on in your ex’s relationship with his cheat partner. The fact that you’re able to reprint their interactions verbatim shows that you’re still very much attached to him and hanging on his every word.

                If he’s contacting you and revealing all of these intimate details about his trainwreck of a “relationship,” then he clearly has an ulterior motive of trying to keep you on the hook. And injecting you with hopium.

                You need to get as far away from him as possible. The fact that some other woman is pregnant with HIS kid is as big of a tap on the shoulder from the Universe as you’ll ever get.

                I get the attachment because this is all so new and fresh (and shocking), but you’re only hurting yourself more. Sounds like you’re snacking on Schadenfreude, but for the wrong reasons. You should be relishing in the fact that this man-child knocked up some stranger and in less than 8 months he’s going to have a screaming newborn to tend to, not to mention the fact that he’ll be on the hook for child support payments for the next 18 years.

                Instead you seem to be relishing at every hint of dissonance that your ex is reporting back to you about his relationship; any sign that he’s going to get this affair out of his system and come back to you.

                Lose that fantasy. Like me, you were in love with a man-child. I know you’re heartbroken and absolutely DEVASTATED, as you have every right to be. But let me read you two other rights:

                1) You have the right to be in a true, loving and COMMITTED relationship with an actual grown-up.

                2) You have the right to run FAR the fuck away from him. Far, far away.

                Please, Kristina. Take it from a guy. I know the mentality. Guys like this are eternally damaged and downright self-serving manipulative beasts.

                I don’t know the circumstances of the AP’s pregnancy, whether it was 16 & Pregnant-esque carelessness or a simple “oops!”. But you seem to be implying that a (figurative) broken condom is the only thing that’s keeping you and your ex apart.

                No, Kristina. What’s keeping you two apart is your ex’s downright piggish behavior. The accidental pregnancy isn’t the problem. His cheating is the problem. And even if the pregnancy test came back negative or it turned out not to be his kid, that doesn’t change the fact that he ran around on you and probably would continue to do so.

                Go NC and get far away from your ex. His problems are his problems now. You need to go eminent domain on his ass and reclaim YOUR mental and emotional real estate.

              • Chris, you are a totally stand up guy to write on your *own thread* and help someone else out. Kudos. And Kristina? I agree with absofuckinglutely everything Chris said.

              • Sorry its taken me a while to respond.

                About that Tuesday CL…. It was a Wednesday for me, the one that just past actually. I know Im not completely to “meh” but I feel like I know enough about their relationship and about his disorder (thanks to this site and everyone that participates) to know that its really not me and they will have a life of misery with eachother so why worry about it? You cant start a family that fast without haveing any foundation. My main concern was she was going to get everything I worked for, but the reality is she is going to get everything he is and vice versa and that is where the karma lies. I have”Invite(ed) them to enjoy the life they chose when they deliberately sacrificed a life with you.” Like Chris said, “Guys like this are eternally damaged and downright self-serving manipulative beasts. ”

                I have accepted that this is who he is, regardless of who he is with, which makes it much easier.

                From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all of your support. Im going to print some of the posts and make a collage on my fridge to remind me when I am weak. This is a new start for me so I decided to travel (something I never did because I was always scared he would cheat when I was gone). In two weeks Im going to Colorado and then its back home for Miami’s Spa Month!!

                I know that Im sure this feeling is going to fade a little but I thank all of you for getting me to this point!! Lets keep working 🙂

  • Chump Lady is spot on as usual: we are the ones who do the hard work, the heavy lifting, we put all sorts of energy into our cheaters so help them reach their potential. But then we get exhausted and can’t give that full 150% to them at some point and those pesky needs of our own starts clammering for attention and what do our cheaters do? They go find someone else to help them ‘reach their potential/feed their neediness’.

    Here’s the deal: my therapist, who is brilliant, pointed out to me early on (right in front of Ex) that all that energy I’d been using up on Ex would be better used on myself. That is was time to let him sink or swim and to stop trying to save his sorry ass and instead save my own. I believe she said something like (can’t remember clearly as this was early trauma days and I still was focused on Ex): you managed to get him so far with all those brains and all that energy of yours – imagine what your life will be like when you focus all of that on yourself. Don’t you deserve to be supported and believed in as well? He’s not going to do so you need to do it for yourself.

    Well, it took me a long time to see that, because I was so conditioned after 20 years to focus on him and his needs and what he wanted and what would make him happy but eventually I started to turn my awesome powers on me. And you know what’s happening? My life is slowly, slowly coming together, I have some really wonderful people around me – new friends and old. My relationships with my family, which were neglected for so long, are stronger. Ihave the respect of the people I work with (most of them, anyway – there’s always a few bad apples. 🙂 ). Ex is floundering. Life is just so darn tough for him and naturally this is somehow my fault for not disappearing out of his life and for demanding he live up to his obligations to me and the kids (mostly financial) after me being a SAHM for a long time.

    I saw him recently and heard more about him recently. He’s putting on weight again, final OW is glued to his side, scared to death and staring out at everyone like a deer in the headlights, is family doesn’t think much of her, the kids don’t think much of him, his job is becoming more and more deadend after years of being on the upswing (thanks NOrd for all the advice, support, guidance and propping up!) and generally he is not a happy guy.

    And you know what? He still wants to argue with me, he tries to tell me he’s a changed man, he tries to rip me down with snotty emails that attack my character and he accuses me of all the things he is.

    In the end, Chris, it’s hard to let go of the caring and the need to understand but forget about the loser. He is responsible for himself and his choices. He wants to bottom feed? Let him. Go live your life well and when you do hear about him just laugh to yourself and pat yourself on the back for the lucky escape.

    Sorry for the ramble! Just woke up and had a dream about Ex – feel so glad I didn’t wake up to him next to me. 🙂

      • My shrink is brilliant. She has saved me and kept me on course so many times, particularly early on when I was a complete and total basket case. Talk about traumatised! But she talked me through it, helped me focus, helped me deal and accept the truth about the life I had been living. I adore her.

        • “Well, it took me a long time to see that, because I was so conditioned after 20 years to focus on him and his needs and what he wanted and what would make him happy”.

          I can definitely relate. But here’s the difference: what if my cheater was ambitious my himself? What if he was doing things for me too(really depended on the mood he was in)? Now generally the things he did for me were more manual than anyhting (wash the car, pick something up, paint the house, etc.). He definitely wasnt the lazy type, I think just emotionally.

          Everyone seems to have thier partner as lazy… but mine wasnt. Does that mean the situation was different?

          • Kristina, mine was an underachiever, never achieved nearly what he claimed, but he is so sparkly that he still fools lots of people including himself. He appears to “work hard” at his business coach and public speaking business (he is good at looking like he is working hard but getting very little done), but he never in the end quite gets to where he pretends he is. I think he is beyond NPD and into the sociopath realm. He just simply does not care that he is alone in the world having been rejected by even his own children. He is happy now with absolutely NO family, and having only his fuckbuddies, and (very) few business associates or friends. He has himself, that’s all he needs.

          • Kristina – It just means that your cheater was high-functioning in other areas.

            Often, though, the cheating is a symptom of entitement, which is shown in other aspects of life (being lazy, etc.)….but not always.

          • Kristina,
            My narc sounds very much like yours. I think they call them ‘cerebral narcissists.’ He was overly ambitious, a workaholic, and his main goals in life (or source of kibbles) was wealth, prestiege, social connections, material possessions and awards. He is very successful and I backed him all the way. He did support me to stay at home to raise our kids( which I will always be grateful for) however he also made it very difficult for me to work outside of the home as well. I did at first, but found it very difficult to hold down a full time job, look after the kids( he helped a bit but not much), look after the home, and keep up the level of entertaining and socializing which he has always needed. I was absolutely exhausted.
            Yes, I understand what you mean, because he has all the success and I’m just a SAHM. I look like the lazy or entitled one, and yet I KNOW how hard I worked on the home front and it was no picnic. I took over all his jobs in the end to help support him in his work and I got very little recognition for all that I did. However, I’ll never regret that decision because I gave my kids one sane parent who was there all the time for them, while he was always ‘working’ or ‘travelling.’ I will never get an award for the work I did, but I’m sure that it will pay off in the relationship with my kids. They are my ‘legacy’ while his business is his. So, in answer to your question, a narcissist is still a narcissist however some are underachievers and others are overachievers. They both traffic in kibbles and it’s always all about them.

          • Kristina L, my ex wasn’t lazy either – for studying or work. Super hard working. And would do certain things around the house that he didn’t mind or liked the result of; would clean the kitchen and do the floors, . Nothing else, though. Left probably 80% of the parenting to me, not by anything obvious, but just by making it so unpleasant when I wanted him to do more, or by letting things fall, so I’d have to take up the slack.

            In his case, it wasn’t generalized laziness, it was entitlement all the way. He wanted to do what he wanted to do, what he was interested in, which was mostly his career. Got multiple degrees (the last one because of my support), certifications, etc, worked lots of overtime. Fairly successful in his field, although probably not as much as one might expect, because of his abrasive personality. He was starting to make good money when he decided, in the great expression someone used here ‘to follow his dick out of the family’.

            As far as his work is concerned, he’ll probably continue to do fine, maybe even better than before because he has very few parenting responsibilities and can slough them off on me whenever he feels like it. Better for me; the more money he makes, the less I have to worry about things like paying for the kids’ braces and university!

            But he STILL has no friends of his own (our mutual friends won’t have anything to do with him), in his extended family only his parents will still speak to him, and the OW sounds like a bit of a loser. He’s gradually wrecking the relationship w/his kids that I educated, coached and bullied him into making better for so many years.

            Not every narc cheater is a total loser; some are only partial losers. But the biggest loserdom of all is entirely theirs; relationships, love, family, friendships.

            • Totally agree, Karen. That was my scenario as well with the exception that he has many friends and loves to party and socialize but if you look deeper those relationships are very surface and a huge source of his kibbles.

              • So what you had, Moving on, is a more competent narcissist!

                Still all hollow in the end.

            • “In his case, it wasn’t generalized laziness, it was entitlement all the way. He wanted to do what he wanted to do, what he was interested in, which was mostly his career. Got multiple degrees (the last one because of my support), certifications, etc, worked lots of overtime. Fairly successful in his field, although probably not as much as one might expect, because of his abrasive personality.”

              YES! You nailed it– that’s my XWH exactly!

          • I think you need to get out of the mode of:
            1. Competition with the other woman
            2. That there are only periods of time, when he is erratic…for whatever reasons
            3. That he is a cheater, but somehow different or better than most of the bitter chump lot.

  • Like Nord, I put XH first for more than 20 years. His schooling, his career, his needs. All he ever had to do was get up and go to work. I did all the housekeeping, child care, laundry, bookkeeping – heck, I’d even go get spending money from the ATM and tuck in his wallet. He was the “absent-minded professor,” and I was “the woman behind the throne.”

    But when I got exhausted from doing all of that AND running my own business, he felt entitled to go seek attention elsewhere because I was “neglecting” him. It never crossed his mind that if he had helped me out a bit, I would have had more time for him; no, he just got annoyed that my Super Woman cape was starting to get worn and my giving 150% just wasn’t enough. He deserved more. And he deserved to spend all his money on himself instead of his “lazy” wife and annoying kids.

    Fast forward 3 years and not only does have LESS money than when we were married (alimony, child support, lawyer’s bills, higher taxes), he also has to run his own household and pay his own bills. His daughters hate him, his FOO is ashamed of him, and his colleagues snicker about him behind his back.

    Meanwhile, I starting pouring all the energy I’d been wasting on him into my own career, and am now further along in 3 years than he’s gotten in 30. By this time next year, I’ll be living the lifestyle he promised me when we were dating – the one he promised, I worked for, but he never delivered – and I’ll have done it by myself, without him.

    So Chris, CL’s right – I understand your heartache at your ex squandering his potential. But it was his decision to fire his support team. Now, he’s living with the fallout and depression from that decision. Will he recover? Maybe – he’s still young. But in the end, the only person you can control is yourself. You may have been a positive influence, but when he put someone else before you, he forfeited your mentorship.

    Consequence #624 of cheating….

    • Yep, all ex had to do was go to work, even when I was still working and developing my career. Once I set that aside so he could fully focus on his career it still wasn’t enough. And golly, I started to feel a bit useless and needed some support and understanding while I tried to figure my way towards finding something fulfilling in this new role. Nope, he wasn’t up to it. He just cheated and cheated and cheated. Yuck…when I think about it now it just grosses me out.

    • “heck, I’d even go get spending money from the ATM and tuck in his wallet”

      This made me laugh; the ex e-mailed me this weekend because he’d run out of the cheques he took from here when he left, and needed some to give for his rent. For the 14 years we were together he never had to order a cheque book, or keep tabs on when we were running out, or keep track of what needed paying and how.

      And he was all pissed because the only one left here (other than for MY accounts) was from a line of credit we had agreed not to use any more, and I didn’t want him to use it!

      Such idiots; they really didn’t know when they had it good.

      • Since the divorce I’ve moved, put the oldest in high school, dealt with kids being sick (physical therapy, concussion, Epstein Barr Virus), had a pet put down, had major car repair issues, etc. – all without his help. Yet XH couldn’t handle getting a health form filled out for son to go to summer camp.

        Looking back at our marriage, it boiled down to one thing: if he wanted to do something, he did; if he didn’t, he left it to me. Dishes, trash, gardening, laundry – I cleaned up after him every bit as much as I did the kids.

        When I dropped off son at his house not long ago and had to step over the garden hose – which he’d tossed in the yard like he always does – I started to coil it into a circle under the spigot – just like I always do – and had to remind myself to put it down and walk away. Not my problem anymore.

        No, KarenE – they had NO IDEA how good they had it. If I had some nice guy doing a FRACTION for me what I did for XH, I’d feel like a frickin’ princess…

        • Yes Red, I have not seen my ex in a very long time. but when I did he always acted sad and pitiful and I found myself asking if he felt alright, was he sick….wtf?? It comes out before I even realize it so now I stay as NC as I can (our kids do not want to see him and he is off with numerous AP’s so NC is fairly easy). It’s amazing how ingrained our caring and nurturing is, even after the horrible things they have done and continue to do.

  • Chris – I echo CL.

    You probably propped him up more than you even realized. On big things and little things. I’m willing to bet that part of your surprise as to his downward spiral is because you didn’t realize how much energy and propping you were giving him. Because us chumps tend to give and give, and not keep score. But when you really look it, you’ve probably given a LOT. For someone like your ex who needs lots of propping, it becomes obvious when those props you gave him are now taken away (due to your ex’s own doing, btw, by him cheating!).

    CL is right about the *effort*. Effort is work! Not much fun to do actual work, when you’d rather be watching Netflix marathons all weekend. So the work doesn’t get done, and if there’s no-one to pick up the slack (such as YOU), then it becomes obvious that someone has been mooching.

    Are you questioning your judgement in choosing such a man, who would downward spiral in such a fashion after you left? I get that. But don’t let it worry you too much. He is young, and will probably rally. Get excited about something and then find a new chump. Look sparkly for awhile. But eventually the cycle will be repeated again, likely.

    In my case, I saw potential in my ex. I saw “glimmers of Great Things Yet to Be Realized.” But in the end, it still would take at least *some* effort from him to make those glimmers grow up to be actual worth. All the propping I did would not hold up my blame-shifting, responsibility-dodging, cheater. You can’t do it all by yourself, especially if they insist on cheating.

  • Chris; you dodged a bullet. And CL is right I think so often we just prop them up. It is easier for them to succeed if we are running interferance, helping, taking care of the mundane details while they concentrate on themselves. And it is sad when we see our “project” (that is what I think I saw my H as) fail long term. But we can’t help it. It might be easier if next time the cousin wants to give you details you just say “Honestly it hurts too much to hear about a person I loved hurting so bad”

  • My ex-NPD was very successful, worked hard, didn’t like to work around the house but would insist we have cleaning and yard done. He was able to begin his own consulting business and made a lot of money. Having come from modest means, I had mixed feelings about spending money and weirdly felt it wasn’t really mine to spend. Naively, I agreed to separate accounts so it became easy for him to spend the money he earned as he wished.
    Eventually, his business began to dry up. It was like he had one good idea and when everybody knew that good idea, he couldn’t come up with anymore. He just kept repackaging it. He also was a cocky SOB and would burn his bridges with clients if he didn’t think he was being treated well. (I must have heard him say this over the phone or telling the story to me a thousand times, “I’ve been doing this for xx years, and I’ve never had a client want me to …” I’d caution him to be nice, you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult. He was offended for a while, but as work slowed down he seemed to listen to me. Eventually, the year before DDay, almost all work had dried up. I’m guessing this is when he began to use prostitutes and hit on women (like his local masseuse) and drinking more. I think his career decline caused him to cope by gambling, drinking to excess when he was traveling and fucking around. Now I don’t think he has any work at all, but visits a certain country for every month or so and stays for a week. It’s like he was never the well educated, successful man he used to be. Now he just visits whores for a week. Reason why I drove him to affairs and whores? I wasn’t emotionally available. Ha! How does the use of prostitutes demonstrate that he really wants an emotional connection with someone?

    • Yes, I always wonder about that ‘you weren’t affectionate enough/emotionally available/whatever enough’ stuff one gets from serial cheaters. I remember saying to Ex shortly after dday: how in hell were we supposed to emotionally connect or anything else when you were putting a hell of a lot of energy into banging other people? Ever thing that if you had put that energy into me we’d be more in love than ever? He seemed perplexed by this.

  • Thank you CL for that devastating analysis and thank you all for your thoughts and comments. I used to be the King of Self-Pity when I looked back at those few years of my life that were squandered. But those don’t even begin to compare to the decade(s) worth of work that some of you have put into your cheating spouses! Never realized how lucky I was to be thrown off the runaway train so early into my “marriage.”

    I sure did dodge a bullet! I never realized how co-dependent he and I were. And it sounds like I’m not alone in having to (second-hand) witness a cheater completely self-destruct. I’m glad CL put this one up for discussion because I think we’re ALL chumps with feelings.

    Things like this can tug at our heart strings and make us want to dust off our Superman/Superwoman capes and swoop in for the Epic Save, complete with several cans of Spackle strapped to our utility belts. Thankfully time and perspective are the best teachers, and you all have taught me a lot in these comments.

    To Janet’s point, hearing all of that about my ex didn’t really hurt me per se (see the reference to BBQ Schadenfreude in my CL letter above). Just threw me for a loop. I was totally prepared to hear that that my ex and the OM put a down payment on a fancy house and were currently vacationing in Tahiti. That’s always what we think, isn’t it? (Doing Better Without Us).

    The reality is that he’s a self-hating, self-destructive mess, not even TRYING to sparkle anymore, because he doesn’t have to! No matter what he does or doesn’t do, OM will shower him with gifts and attention, cater to his every whim, and financially support him.

    THANK GOD that’s not me! I want to date an adult, thanks. And I never realized how much his grown-up decision-making skills depended on me and my presence in his life. Oh well. HIS LOSS!!!

    • Totally his loss, Chris. I don’t think Joey really wants to be saved. He wants others to do for him, and that’s a very different thing. Some people need help, and they take that boost to gain some equilibrium and then advance. Other people, like Joey, they only want their help as kibbles — material reward, encouragement, boosterism. Their can’t be any *expectations* of them, however. No judgement.

      You’re an adult and you deserve an adult partner. Not a man child like Joey!

  • Chris, you’ve hit on my mantra; I want to date an adult! And it has to be someone who has independently shown his adult decision-making skills and values. Now I’m watching what they do, not what they say!

    • I say this all the time ‘I want to meet a grownup’. Ex and I met in our twenties and while I grew up he didn’t (fab therapist pionted this out numerous times). He still wants to be a manchild, someone who is the cool guy. Weirdly, I was always much cooler than him (that sounds braggy but it really is true) and even though I*m now a middle aged grownup I’m still cooler, for lack of a better word. He’s awkward, despite being handsome and funny…he only feels comfortable around people much younger. Anyone his age or grownup seeming makes him clam up and sit uncomfortably. I only see this now and it’s weird because it means all those dinner parties and such were me doing all the work (both making the actual food and keeping the party going) while he sat and flirted with whatever woman was sitting next to him. He never made friends with the men. Ever.

      • Interesting that one of the things that struck me early on with STBX is that he got angry at all the wrong things–a bit like a teenager, who refuses to do the commonsense tasks just because they need to assert themselves. I spackled over this, saying that he was going through his teen rebellion phase late. His parents always treated him as if he were a child, and he’d lived with his mother until he moved across country to be with me. I figured he’d never learned to be his own man, and, like a teenager, he’d grow out of it.

        Now I see he never really did. This is all the “you’re not the boss of me” stuff, and it’s not the response of a fully-functioning adult. He has never learned to negotiate, and because he lacks these skills, I find myself becoming more and more resistant to his suggestions, even if they’re good ones, because he NEVER listens to mine.

  • Most betrayed spouses in the initial days of discovery are shell shocked and most grab books in hope of trying to figure out the cheater , which is ironic when the betrayed spouse extends even more of their mental and emotional energy on the very cheater who’s been sucking them dry for years and years.

    Cheaters are basically simple to decode. My favorite description and quote would be “giant blood sucking vampire squids” by Matt Taibbi when he described Goldman Sachs in the biggest bank and financial bubble in modern times. I think that description is also fitting for NPD cheaters.

    It’s pathetic the majority of betrayed spouses are ones buying books on infidelity and reconciliation. Cheaters don’t need self help books when their chump is doing all the homework.

    Betrayed spouses need a book that decodes cheaters as you have simply and precisely done and puts the emphasis on how to kick that cheater to the curb and reclaim your sanity.

    I wish there’s been a book out there in my situation that had a huge stop sign on the cover and was titled what not to do when you’ve been cheated on.

    CL , you’re a rational and intuitive voice on the f**dupness of cheaters and you’ve decoded them simply with sharp and accurate and often times hilarious ways.

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