Dear Chump Lady,
What happens when cheaters get chumped? I realize the curiosity I feel about this perhaps falls significantly short of “meh,” LOL. I don’t actually wish this on my own cheater. For what it’s worth, it’s a more general question about Cheating Types. I am curious about it more from a psychology point of view — what happens when a NPD-spectrum person finds him/herself in the chump role?
Also for the record, I’m not suggesting cheating as a chump-revenge thing — I’m thinking of the cheater’s future relationships. I’m fairly confident my ex’s serial cheating will continue, but conceivably the new partner could beat him to the punch.
So the question is — can you cheat a cheater? No. In the words of the great philosopher Muddy Waters, “You can’t spend what you ain’t got, you can’t lose something you ain’t never had.” To be well and truly chumped, you have give wholly of yourself. Narcissists don’t invest themselves to the degree that a chump does. They don’t commit. Narcissists lack empathy, and without empathy you cannot have intimacy. There’s just not a lot of heart to give. Narcissists withhold, they hedge their bets, or they “love” very superficially. They love what you can do for them, how many kibbles you provide, how associating with you reflects back on them. That’s a different sort of connection than love. In fact it isn’t connection at all, it’s association.
You can never be more than a narcissist’s associate, because the narcissist’s true love object is him or herself.
Now we could debate, all are cheaters clinical narcissists, but your question is for folks on the NPD spectrum — the empathically impaired. (I would argue that to cheat on your spouse for any length of time makes you empathically impaired, but I’m not a shrink. That’s just my opinion — cheating is a narcissistic act.)
So can you cheat such a person? Do they feel the pain of betrayal? Yes, I think they do feel betrayed, but that’s very different than a broken heart over a love affair. Narcissists feel betrayed when you spend an afternoon with your mother, or when you receive a promotion, or someone pays you a compliment — they perceive all of this as kibble theft. How COULD you? Don’t you know all the kibbles are for THEM? Kibbles are precious! And you are unworthy and undeserving of kibbles. If you must receive kibbles, that glory must reflect back on them and be a net kibble gain.
Narcissist keenly feel the loss of narcissistic supply. And when cheated on, I think that is how they see it — someone has stolen something of value from them — a kibble source. They may feel this rightly (someone actually cheated on them), or they may feel it wrongly (you divorced and have a new boyfriend, how dare you?!) They rage and wallow in self pity. But do they connect the dots? I cheated… and now I have been cheated on. Karma is a bitch. I deserve such punishment…
No, I think connecting the dots is rare. And if they feign such insight, it’s usually to come back to you as Plan B. Oh my fuckbuddy threw me over! How could I have been such a fool! Are you free for dinner?
I also think that if they connect those dots… geez, my life sucks now since I lost my chump… they’re not going to give you the satisfaction of knowing that. Narcissists don’t like to lose face. They take great comfort in their superiority. They’re going to dress this shit up — oh, breaking up with the fuckbuddy was their idea. It was all part of the master plan. There’s a more fabulous future ahead, and aren’t you jealous? The base setting for narcissists is I’m Better Than You.
If you need any further example of how narcissists are impervious to humiliation, look at politics. Did Weiner withdraw from the race? Did Mark Sanford stay home and take up needlepoint? No. These people are shameless.
You have to have a heart to break a heart. You can’t spend what you ain’t got. You can’t lose something you ain’t never had.