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How to Escape a Narcissist

I was reading an interesting profile of the Rwandan president Paul Kagame in the Sunday New York Times yesterday, “The Conscience of a Strongman,” which paints a picture of a man who seems to have very little conscience at all, really. Apparently, he’s doing a bang up job of stabilizing Rwanda and manages money well, but then again, he kills journalists and opponents who would say otherwise.

One of his opponents, a former friend now in exile in South Africa, Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived an assassination attempt and had this to say about Kagame.

“After I once wrote a speech for him to give, he said to me: ‘You think because you have a Ph.D. from Canada you are smarter than me? You are a peasant! You go and read the stupid speech!’ And then I would have to say: ‘No sir, you are the president, and in my hands it is a stupid peasant product. But in your hands it is something special.’ That is how we had to flatter and appease him,” Himbara said. “It was crazy.”

Crazy, yes. But an utterly familiar tactic to anyone who has ever lived with a narcissist. The only way to placate one of these freaks is with kibbles. And when a ton of kibbles isn’t enough (I wrote your speech), you have to shovel absurdist kibbles (It is a very special speech that can only be read by a Very Special Person). And even that is not enough. To really do it right, you have to abase yourself (“in my hands it is a stupid peasant product.”)

Anyone recognize that mindfuck? This valuable item you are giving the narcissist, in this case a speech, you cannot speak its value to the narcissist. Only if they accept it, if they put their sparkles on it, does it have any merit. Oh I suppose I will accept your stupid peasant speech if I must. Is this the best you can do?

And what does any of this have to do with infidelity? Every disordered freak uses the same mindfuckery. Substitute speech for reconciliation.

Chump: I am giving you the gift of reconciliation.

Narcissist: It’s not a gift. I am entitled to as many  reconciliations as I desire. Why should I reconcile with you? You are but a peasant. Convince me! Do the pick me dance!

Chump: Well, with me it is but a feeble, peasant reconciliation, but in your hands it could be special. I know you have Very Special Issues that make reconciliation difficult (how hard it is for you to get closure with your affair partner, your insecurity, your brokenness, your FOO issues), but think of how good we are together! What a good partner I’ve been!

Narcissist: You can be replaced, you know. I need more kibbles. Now abase yourself.

Chump: You are a very special, sparkly person! So good looking! So intelligent! So accomplished! I am not worthy. I will examine in therapy all the ways I have failed you. Every way I have contributed to your infidelities.

Of course, leaving a murderous despot is much harder than leaving a run-of -the-mill narcissist, I’ll grant you that. But some of the tactics are similar, like throw them off your trail with over the top kibbles. When you run away, expect they’ll pull some revenge stunt. (For Mr. Himbara, it was a bullet to the chest.) Speak your truth and they’ll malign you, or spin it into a more palatable narrative. (Yes, we have no freedom of press, but the trains run on time.)

So how do you escape a narcissist? In retrospect, they seem so ridiculous. How did you ever drink that Koolaid? Reflecting on my own experience, I realized I needed to do two things — first, I had to free myself mentally, and second, I had to go on the offensive.

Freeing yourself mentally is the hardest step, and until you do that you won’t have the courage to do the second step, of striking out for yourself.

I’ve examined the reasons why people stay stuck with cheaters and I don’t like to lay a lot of blame on chumps. You tend to have a lot of sunk costs — children, mortgages, history. The sparkles were sparkly, you fell for them, you committed, I get it. But if you were married to a truly disordered person — a narcissist, sociopath, borderline, Cluster B — whatever you want to call them, I hate to say this, but some of this is on you. (I include myself here, I’m the original chump).

The punishment of choosing badly is completely disproportionate to the crime of being a chump, of course. No one deserves this shit. But to ensure that you fix that picker, it’s helpful to examine why you tolerated the intolerable. The book I recommend up in the Amazon box “Why Is It Always About You” is useful on that score. What was it in your background that groomed you for this shit? When did you learn to make your needs so small? Why was a lopsided relationship acceptable to you?

Did you like the reflected glory? Do you only feel worthy if you’re of use? Do you not value your gifts unless the narcissist gives you their seal of approval?

Healthy people don’t do the “pick me” dance. Healthy people walk away. You don’t appreciate my gifts? I’ll go elsewhere. Chumps chase.

When you start valuing yourself and start seeing the narcissist for the toxic bucket of slop they really are, you begin to emancipate. I deserve better. I’d rather be alone than put up with another moment of this shit. When you start recognizing manipulation and untangling it from hopium — you’re on your way to escape.

How to escape? Lay low and then sucker punch ’em.

Narcissists are really very vulnerable people because they don’t have a good grip on reality. They truly think they’re better than you. Smarter. More clever. And of course, far more deserving. So long as you’re still shoveling kibbles at them (however insincerely), they think all is right in their universe. This makes them vulnerable to the sucker punch.

You are but an extension of them. And the narcissist would never punch him or herself in the gut! So when you suddenly act with agency, you have the upper hand. Why? Because the narcissist will ALWAYS underestimate you.

Gather your evidence, collect your financial documents, plan your escape route and lawyer up. If you mediate, or try to come to some consensus, they will assume they can snow you, make it come out in their favor. It always worked before. But when you find a true advocate, a pit bull, who will fight for your interests? They are enraged. And frightened. (This comes out as rage.) They’ve lost control.

When a narcissist loses control, they try to gain the upper hand again. They may try to charm you, and if that fails, they’ll bully. It’s all about control. This is why it is so important to master the first step — freeing yourself mentally. A narcissist cannot manipulate you if you don’t give them access to the inside of your head. That’s why no contact is essential.

It’s not just that the narcissist underestimates you — it’s that they have grown very used to YOU underestimating YOURSELF. How will you ever live without them? Who are you really without their sparkles? You may doubt you can do it on your own. You may cling to some holographic image of What You Thought Your Life Would Be. Don’t underestimate yourself. You’re going to do just fine on the other side of this shit — immensely better really. Do not falter. Hit them hard, hit them fast, and run the hell away.

“You think you are smarter than me? You are a peasant!”

Yes, you are smarter. Way smarter than to tolerate another second of abuse.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “Speak your truth and they’ll malign you, or spin it into a more palatable narrative.”

    Oh how true this is! My ex wife spent an enormous amount of time and energy doing just this. She was absolutely obsessed with managing the narrative and winning the image war. She never rested from it.

    It is unnerving to witness how natural duplicity is to these people. It is their default way of operating in the world — fascinating and very sad.

    • My ex portrays his serial cheating as ‘exaggerated’ by me. Because apparently what I read and discovered was not what I read and discovered. Fortunately the only people buying it are final OW and his family. And really, what in fuck do I care what they think, you know?

      • My wife calls my description of her affairs (plural): “Your version of the truth” — the subtext being that facts that I can actually support with hard evidence are merely fevered dreams that I conjured up in my disturbed mind. However, when I ask her what her version of the truth (i.e., the ‘correct’ version) is she has never once ventured a reply.

        I would almost feel sorry for these kinds of people if their actions didn’t cause so much anguish and turmoil to innocent people (like our 4 young children).

        • I have experienced the same with my STBX. I am the crazy one who is exaggerating what happened: “it wasn’t THAT bad.” Yes, in fact you did have SEVERAL affairs (not only while married to me but also your first wife as it turns out) and yes, that would qualify you as a “serial cheater.” I also often get the “I’m not the man you think I am/portray me to be. It’s very sad to me that you think of me that way.” I’m not sure if saying that is more mind-fucking or is he SERIOUSLY that delusional? It doesn’t help that (like many of our cheaters) everyone else thinks he is simply amazing, thereby proving even more that I am just the Monster Bitch Wife…siiighh..pooor him. Do they really think we made all of this up for fun?!?! Cause the aftermath of chumpitude (including several thousands on therapy, divorce, name change, anti-depressants, moving, etc etc) sure ain’t fun.

          • We once had a very bizarre conversation. When I pointed out that the majority of her relationships had involved infidelity (I did not know this until long after we were together), she actually sat down and diagrammed all her relationships and what occurred. She triumphantly pointed out that of her 16 adult relationships, ONLY 7 had involved infidelity. She was proud that the majority did not and felt that proved I was wrong! Technically I was as it was not the majority, but she failed to see why I was still not won over to her side. It was one of the most F*CKED UP experiences I have ever had!

          • It is totally mind f*ckery. Maybe less delusional, than flat out wired wrong somewhere and not caring. They really think they are all that and a bag of chips. And that their opinion is the only one that matters.

            But they also *love* power over others and power over other’s realities. A cheater’s personal reality can already be whatever they want, whenever they want – so that’s just a given. But being an uber boss of other people’s realities, and having them dance to your whims? Wow. For them, it’s Mega cake. I think it is the biggest reason they do what they do.

            • You are right, this really gets to the heart of the matter.

              They are all about controlling other people while they do as they please.

              The narcissist will groom their non into believing that theirs is special, sexually exclusive relationship. The non has rescue fantasies.

              The non believes, despite regular inane fights, disappearances, and silent treatment, that the N is loyal to them. Such is the cognitive dissonance.

              Malignant narcissists are serial cheaters. They crave attention, they don’t care, and they get by with lies upon lies.

              The partner is naively unaware that they are, to the N, little more than a rather pathetic and gullible member of the narcissist’s sexual harem. Disposable on a whim. The partner’s behavior is immaterial and has no bearing on the narcissist’s innate hunger for attention from new partners. The N sleeps around shamelessly and has their non believing otherwise. The non is brainwashed and deluded.

              Dancing to their whims, yes indeed.

          • They are pathological liars. They apparently simply will not stop, ever, even to the bitter end.

            To deny having committed a travesty WHEN THEY KNOW DARN WELL WHAT THEY DID is simply their way of insulting and trying to mind fuck their victims.

            • Yes. A classic from him was when he referenced the shows I watch (e.g., Mad Men, Scandal, Revenge, Sons of Anarchy, etc) when trying to make an argument defending his elite point of view:

              Him: “You know, I’m like the characters on your shows. I think like them.”
              Me : “…………..I know.”

              Since then I have used the metaphor that we are like Laura Ingalls being married to Don Draper.

              • Ok, now, wait,….seriously? Omg I’m laughing out loud here, Singed. He’s like the characters in your shows because…..he’s a liar? Famous? Handsome? An outlaw? A chain smoker??

                Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up Singed… I mean Half-Pint….hahahahahahahaha

              • Not that I am anywhere near as cool as Half-Pint. But she had no idea people like Don actually existed…in real life…and that they are PROUD of it!

                I know, Kelly. Probably all of it. His “performance” as a womanizing, manipulative, lying, ego maniac is truly applause worthy. But yet, I am just a simple country girl who can’t understand the complexity of what it is to be: Don.

              • Ugh… we were watching Mad Men when he was into his A (unbeknownst to me at that point), and I commented on how Don Draper was a letch and that I found his cheating on Betty (at that point in the show) to be the lowest of the low. I should have known what he was up to when he said, “Well, Betty is a bitch.”

                Oh, wow. Guess I was one too, huh? ‘Cause that means that cheating is a-okay then!

              • Laura Ingalls married to Don Draper – LOL! Yep – you do all the backbreaking work while he smiles and flirts and acts all debonair. Love it!

          • yes, singed. He’s SERIOUSLY delusional and has a PHD in mindfuckery. However, I guarantee that not EVERYONE thinks he’s so amazing. They fuck over their APs and other people, too. All people are objects to a narc. If they are of use to him, he’s nice to them and if he perceives any slight, even if its all in his delusional brain, its off with their heads.

            and he won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. After all… he’s not a bad person. THEY are bad and deserve to be punished so that they will learn a lesson. He’s totally fucked up and he just plain sucks.

          • After D-day #2, I made my serial cheating wasband go to Sexaholics Anonymous. He brought home the “white book.” He started reading it and told me that some of it applied to him… but then, after the 6th week, he said…” I’m not nearly as bad as those ‘other men.’ I mean, I’m not a pedophile (jerking off to 100s of photos of your 16 year old niece on FB is close enough for me)… I don’t go to strip clubs or have lap dances…

            This is like saying that someone who drinks 12 beers a day isn’t an alcoholic because he doesn’t drink wine, vodka or whiskey. Sure. let’s take away the beer then, and see what happens?

            So, he stopped going. He stopped going to therapy. Why? He got everything he needed from six weeks of that and that was to be “validated.”

          • Singed, you make a good point: do the few people who buy what my ex is selling think I just conjured all this crap up in my head? To what end? I mean, I know I’m a clever gal and all but what he got up to really does fall into the ‘you can’t make this shit up’ category.

            • Laurel and Nord
              …SO true…and it’s never ending…the car he MADE me give up my reliable not so good looking car up for is dying…and it being such a small town I knew almost immediately that the whore I got the anonymous letter about has full blown AIDS. He called me today for the first time in months…I guess he just got the good news. I didn’t answer – I’ve been getting tested since DDay…and I’m OK but if anything he’s probably mad that I’m telling people. F- Him, this is not a soap opera…it’s destroying peoples lives + putting them in danger….but like they say “It’s not that bad”- right?

            • My crackpot denied a picture of him and his ex girlfriend from 20 years ago on the beach together in June of 2016. Said I was crazy it was obviously her brother. Worse he posted this on Facebook and the guys he works with said he should divorce my crazy ass. How could other people fall for that. I know what my husband of 20 years looks like. He was in a bathing suit so his body was there for all to see. Not to mention I found it posted to her brothers facebook page under a false name. I said of it was her brother why would she need to hide it under a fake name? No answer for that. I found so much shit but he then said she stole his identity. I can’t believe the lengths he goes to in order to carry on the lie and try to hide who he really is; a pathological liar. How I didn’t see this is beyond me. Even passed a lie detector and that’s when I realized he truly feels no remorse. He feels he is not wrong but believe me I found hundreds of pieces of evidence that he’s been having a long term affair with his ex girlfriend. He didn’t want her when he was with her but destroyed our family for the piece of shit. The only bad thing is in the end he didn’t leave. No that would have been a blessing. They pick people like us because our kindness doesn’t allow us to believe people can be that cold and selfish and manipulative. Evil truly evil. He doesn’t even seem to mind that I can no longer stand him.

            • Oh don’t you know your “projecting” yeah I’m the guilty one and I’m projecting my guilt by accusing him. That’s what his friends say. Yeah I have worked from home in isolation for 4 years but my health doesn’t allow me to work outside the home anymore. The worse situation for me because then he had full control. Still had family locator on all of us unbeknownst to us so he could make sure he wasn’t running into us while he was with his gf. Disgusting people they truly are. My kids adore him and most people don’t believe him capable because he cleverly professes his undying love for me and is very vocal about it. People think he’s so sweet when he’s really a heartless monster. I think I was in a full state of shock for a year after DD day.

        • Alyosha, I get the ‘your version of the truth’ along with ‘that’s your opinion’, like it’s my opinion that I read all his emails to various women talking about fucking them. It’s pretty funny when I think about it now but there was a time when it drove me insane.

          Basically he’s saying that it’s not all that bad but even though it’s not all that bad he doesn’t really want to talk about it and certainly doesn’t want people to now about it and yep, he’ll portray me as one crazy mofo because I dareth to speaketh the truth.

          What a git.

          • I remember when she found out that I told my parents about her boyfriend. She literally lost her mind. She was as enraged as I’ve ever seen her. She could barely talk and ended up spluttering to me: “you’re untrustworthy.”

            No shit. As if I had some sick obligation to keep her affairs secret. Unfreakingbelievable. Like I said, I could almost feel sorry for them if their selfish bs didn’t devastate others.

            • My ex lied, cheated, deceived me and our kids. Then promised that would never happen again. Then seven years later, guess what? It happened again. But in a recent e-mail about financial issues relating to the kids, he said, apparently very sincerely, that he was very surprised at my attitide; “it’s as if you don’t trust me’.

              Now why on earth would I not trust his perfect self?????

              • I was told recently I had ‘trust issues’. By the ex. Yep, I don’t trust you one bit, idiot, because you lied to me for years. Sheesh. Imagine that, I have trust issues after discovering I was married to a serial cheater.

              • That’s what helped me with no contact. It occurred to me that the lying was pathological – he was constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. I began to clearly understand that any time he opened his mouth and it wasn’t to put food into it, he was preparing to tell lie, telling a lie or had just finished telling a lie. Who needs to talk to someone if all you’re going to hear is a lie? I ceased expecting him to tell the truth.

                Why would I continue to argue with someone who is clearly delusional or living their own private version of the twilight zone? What I find amusing is how much of a snit he got into if anyone lied to him. I’ve spent almost 30 years living with the crazy and believing I was the one who was crazy. Letting that go was one of my first major steps on the road to recovery.

              • Mine called me a couple of months after I changed the locks to tell me the main OW that he had moved in with had “LIED TO HIM!!!!!” No irony, no humor, just begging for sympathy – I didn’t even respond as much as I wanted to, that his whole life with ME was a lie, he wouldn’t even have gotten it. He still thought he was my center of the universe. They are decidedly sick!

    • Alyosha, towards the end, when I really was starting to free myself mentally, I said to my husband:

      ‘Your ability to lie is terrifying’.

      He said:

      ‘I know’.

      • Patsy,

        I had a similar moment where the mask slipped. My wife finally admitted that the trip she said she’d taken to visit an old college friend in Oregon was really a cover story for a Vegas hookup with someone she met on the Internet. I said (with gross understatement), “You really have a problem telling the truth.” And she said with no emotion whatsoever, “I know.” One of the few moments of honesty during the last few months of that marriage.

        • Similar thing happened with me. I said to my wife: “You know you really have a hard time with empathy.” And she replied: “I know.”

            • When my son and I were upset after my ex left, we each tried to express at different times our feelings to him. When this would happen, my ex would say in the most robotic, emotionless voice, “I understand.” It was like he knew that saying “I understand” was a proper response and he hoped by using it we would shut up. It actually worked, because after a while I stopped having any communication with him at all.

              • I hate the “I understand” answers. As if they are all knowing and forgiving and full of compassion.

                When I texted my STBX and told him it was time he moved out, his response “I understand”.

        • That cold, dead fish-eye stare when serial cheaters speak the truth for just a handful of seconds is a true brush with otherworldly creepiness. Sometimes the story that makes the most sense is that I married one of the Pod People.

          • One of the best descriptions I’ve seen of this. It is totally stunning. I usually couldn’t even react or get useful words out when stbx did this, because my brain couldn’t accept truth of the cold heartless shark that had just materialized where the person I loved used to be.

            • Yes, I had never seen behind the mask until D-Day, when I found out what he really was. Then the loving, adoring facade fell away and I saw this monster sitting on the couch in our living room staring at me with cold dead eyes. I was so scared I ran upstairs and got sick.

              • The same here. Twenty years of marriage, and I had never seen the demon inside. Shortly after dday, I told him I had been a good wife for 20 years and didn’t deserve to be treated this way. All of a sudden, his face completely changed. His eyes turned dark and cold, his face seemed to change, it was like a demon replaced my husband. He stood there with such hatred on his face, then spoke in a voice as cold as ice, a tone I had never heard before, “Oh, yeah, you were such a great wife and I was such a terrible husband, right. The marriage was just a business deal that’s over with now.”

                I was so shocked at the total change in his appearance I just backed away without saying anything. I truly believe he is a demon and that was the very first time I saw his real self. He let his mask slip just a few times more after that, unleashing the ice-cold, hate-filled demon that lives inside his brain. I’ll never forget how his face changed into someone unrecognizable.

              • My goodness, Glad, you just gave me chills. I had always believed there was “good” in everyone, at least until that day. But since D-Day, and the revelations in the weeks and months that followed, I have come to realize that evil walks the earth, and that I had been living with stone cold monster unbeknownst to me for 25 years. It is terrifying and life altering when you look into the face of someone you loved and who you thought loved you, and see a demon looking out.

              • It is enough to stun you for sure. During my wife’s last affair, I found out that after going through enormous emotional anguish and thousands of dollars and dozens and dozens of hours in MC that she was contacting the OM again. I new the time she was going to call him and I actually walked in on her with the phone in her hand and said “why?” Why would you contact him again knowing how much pain it would cause me?” The mask dropped, she looked at me with expressionless eyes and said in a matter-of-fact-voice: “Because I want to.”

                That was it. Then she dialed the number. I can’t explain how sometimes you instantly know certain things right down to your bones but at that instant, I knew that I just witnessed the REAL her, and that the 10 years we spent together creating a life and raising 4 kids was nothing but a long con.

                I stood there stunned like a clubbed fish for several moments and then had to leave the house.

                God what a horrible memory….

                This site is very therapeutic. Thank you so much CL!

              • Yes and it is hard for anyone who has not experienced this to understand. My ex husbands mask came off and I used that term myself without knowing that this is the term used by others. He actually bared his teeth at me and after a year of escalating devaluation and manipulation I ran and never came back and went complete no contact and only saw him at Court. I still have nightmares and it has been 3 years now. How could someone I loved and thought loved me could stare at me with dead cold eyes and malice and calmly say to me that ” I should have known what he was.” Didn’t know then but now I do. My soul still runs cold when I picture that experience or try to make sense of it. Your short description says it all – you went upstairs and vomited. I was hospitalised with a breakdown. As he said “it would have been cheaper to pay for a prostitute, cook and cleaner than marry me”. Took my hard earned efforts financially over 9 years in total – 4 of them married and discarded me in the most demeaning way a man could to a woman. I no longer feel sorrry for him – I saw the devil and yes, evil does exist even though the person may be termed as suffering from a “personality disorder”.

          • Me too Nomar,
            When I confronted him right after DDay wit rapid fire questions he had a very hard time answering because he had nothing “prepared” so he just told the truth…in a cold robotic voice with dead eyes and no emotion or inflection in his voice. Really, really surreal and scary. Who WAS he ???? All those years I was living with a empty shell?

  • Yeah, Ex pulled a nutty on me today. I won’t go into the gory details but it seems my lawyer filing an appeal on the alimony decision sent him into a rage and he’s been nuts all day. I simply said, when he rang, that I did not have time to speak and hung up (I actually didn’t) and answered one of his zillion emails calmly and clearly and then ignored him. His head is most likely exploding as I type this. If only I could be there to see that happen. 🙂

      • Nord, I relate to you so much and hope his head did explode! Hard to believe you were chumped after reading your posts here. You are one tough cookie and I wouldn’t want to be your ex! LOL – For me is there is one word and one word only that describes all of them both male and female………..CREEP! There is nothing lower or more pathetic than this type of being and their perfect partner is a mannequin. They truly are bottom feeders. I can’t believe now looking back that I ever wasted a moment of me on one. I completely understand the initial pain, confusion, unreality of the reality but getting to the other side is a huge aha moment followed by a big WTF was I thinking? It becomes funny at the point when you see them for what they really are. Here is wishing that moment for all of you, it will come if it hasn’t already, I promise. When it does you will smile from ear to ear and laugh and realize, THANK GOD THEY AREN’T MY PROBLEM ANYMORE!

        • I look back as well and can’t believe I was so blind and dumb and didn’t see what apparently was right under my nose for so long. Well, lessons learnt and off I go in to a bigger, better, brighter future.

          I’m incredibly lucky, though. I have some seriously great friends – some close, some who weren’t so close – who have absolutely rallied to not just be there for me but to help me put my career back together. I stopped to think about it today when a woman I used to work with years ago got in touch, had heard what had happened, and had a bit of work to throw my way. This was fantastic, right? Of course it was. But then she went several steps further, doing several other things that will help me a great deal.

          So that was fantastic and I worked my ass off all day. And then? Another woman I know casually dropped by after havig lunch in my neighbourhood and made an important introduction to someone in my field that she had lunch with.

          This is why I know I’ll survive and why dipshit ex will never be happy like I am: I have fantastic people in my life who really step up for me. You want to know why they do? Because I’ve always been a good, kind friend and a generous one with my time, etc. And now it’s coming back to me.

          So live well, chumps! We’re all going to be not just fine but amazing. it may take time but live well, be good to people and don’t let this shit get you down.

          • And when you’re good to people, they are good back!!! You are reaping the fruits of who you are, Nord, just as all those narcs are reaping their own ‘rewards’. Ah, karma, gotta love it!

        • Thank you Deborah. Your words of encouragement and hope for that moment. I believe my moment is arriving – unfortunately not in a splash of cold water, but more like the unfolding of a gift wrapped in several layers.

  • “When a narcissist loses control, they try to gain the upper hand again. They may try to charm you, and if that fails, they’ll bully. It’s all about control. This is why it is so important to master the first step — freeing yourself mentally.”

    This is so, so true, but my wasband isn’t the classic narc, but of the passive-aggressive variety. He will charm, sure. He’s a natural; but then instead of bullying, he’ll render me invisible and hurt me emotionally. This is his means of control and its insidiously sadistic. For instance, not allowing me to pay my respects to my deceased mother in law, or letting his family do the dirty work and bully me with no repercussions to them.

    “hey, I don’t know what goes on between you and my family [that you just met.”]

    My wasband isn’t sparkly. I have known these types. Very charismatic. And my was is not without his charms, sure. He’s very, very fucking funny; dark, sick, twisted sense of humor that we shared. He truly is very, very nice, very helpful, erudite, but not showy in the slightest. No, in fact he would embarrass me by dressing like a vagrant, needing a hair-cut like 3 months ago and in some obvious need of some serious dental work; and then, the scabby, green, weeping eczema… (see, I will make myself so unattractive that she won’t WANT to come anywhere near me!) He saw after a time, that I was making a nice chunka change in my business, so now, he didn’t have to either work at all, or if he did, was satisfied with a low paying (for our area) job. Never mind, that we were constantly in enormous debt because of the “extras” like music lessons, band camp, COLLEGE, medical bills— oh, and giving money to his parents (especially his equally nice, but insolvent father) that WE didn’t have. We NEVER went on vacation unless it was to see our first born at band camp or his family in Canada. But, he would use all of these things that nobody married to him would tolerate to say… “see, she doesn’t accept me as I am…But fat, homely, Lupus-ridden Sarah, (and many others) who’s willing to spread her legs for me on skype thinks I walk on water… because I do…just because I’m such a wonderful person.”

    He wouldn’t even touch me. I’d ask him to rub my back and he’d be asleep 10 seconds later and I’m not exaggerating. (all that jerking off to porn is so exhausting!)

    I wish that I had left him after he left his cyber sex open on my laptop seven years ago, but I just couldn’t see a way out… and I guess a part of me couldn’t believe what was really going on. They never tell you even the half of it. I tried. I really did and then everything went to hell even though I was seeing a therapist. (the rapist?) :/

    And for me, that has been the worst part of it. That he doesn’t even think enough of me, to be honest; that lying straight to my face, even mocking me when I questioned… For me, it was this— not the actual cheating that hurt me more than anything. He told other women what was going on. He had some other women he used as confidantes. Oh, Michalcunt, you’re the ONLY ONE who knows the entire story… (in an email).

    Passive-personality disorder shares some commonality with NPD in that we are rendered as objects. They lack empathy and its not that they do not empathize with say, a sick animal, or starving children in Africa, but when it comes to intimate relationships—no. nothing. They ARE disordered freaks. But, you cannot make a blind man see the difference between orange and purple.

    My place was to be toyed with and abused, but in a way that nobody but me could see. That way, he could let his family think that I must’ve done something to him to make him go outside his marriage looking for “love.” That’s what his aunt told me, AFTER I asked her for help about a year and a half ago. And I adored that woman! not anymore, though.

    My husband HAD love… but that’s not what he was looking for… He was looking for constant, constant affirmation of his manhood, while at the same time, withholding it from the wife who loved him dearly. He was looking for it from everyone who wasn’t me.

    My issue is… not so much in fixing the picker. I was with this dude for 27 years and we have been through hell and back together, with our kids and other life experiences. My issue is in learning how to trust–anyone. Some of these guys are incredibly good con artists. :/

    • I feel your pain. My ex is somewhat similar. What annoyed me most after discovering all the women was that he was telling them all about how he felt about his marriage (not great) while trying to get into their pants. I was blissfully unaware and making plans for the future while he was chasing anything with a pulse, including – but not limited to – final OW. So gross, especially when he was trying to get one girl to fall in love with him while keeping final OW on the back burner.

      He’s kind of scary, actually, when I think about it.

    • My STBX is also a passive-aggressive covert narcissist (and I mean, really, covert narcissist isn’t already bad enough without passive-aggressive on top of that toxic stew?). I recognize the behavior that you describe Laurel – the charm and then the covering with a cloak of invisibility. If not for the eczema, I would think my STBX and yours could be the same person or at least twins, separated at birth. The ability to show (or mimic) care and concern for others, but not the person who is showing them the most consistent love and support is also something that is clearly recognizable. It is totally crazy-making.

      I am sending you a hug today because I know just thinking about what pigs from hell these people are makes you want to scream, set them on fire and toast marshmallows over the fire.

      • Laurel, you have written for a lot of us, thank you.

        Passive aggressive behaviour is impossible to deal with. I am sure that the old fashioned legal term ‘mental cruelty’ is another description for PA. Affairs are classed as ‘Level 5 (the most pathological) Self-Depreciation ‘Getting back at you is worth the pain’), the ultimate in PA (destroying yourself in order to hurt someone you are angry with) and bringing about your own rejection and alienation (J Long).

        My H was furious that I was inconveniencing him so much with my pain, and ‘withdrew’ to the point that he couldn’t even look at me, let alone talk or even hold my hand.

        Oh, and he got back in touch with OW.

          • I can’t look at him or don’t want to. I have not looked him in the eye for a long, long time. I think for me it is because I have zero respect for him. I look right through him as though he is a ghost. I think that pisses him off more that I won’t even look at him. At this point, I could care less. Looking at him, makes me want to vomit…. A couple more months until the divorce is final. It has been liberating looking back at how everything was about him and his image and it still is. Yeah, not much change there.

            • Interesting Casey,
              I noticed months before D Day that I no longer looked at him and didn’t want to….I wondered at the tome what was wrong with me…

          • Last time I saw mine at my youngest son’s wedding he was scampering around like a crab trying to avoid me and my parents. When I realized how nervous he was I just stared at him to make him even more nervous.

      • Chump P….you are my soulmate! I swear we married the same guy and are going through a lot of the same shit. Pigs from hell indeed.

        • A coworker of mine was describing her divorce to me with her ex…she was constantly telling him she didn’t feel he cared enough. She is a strong women, very strong. So she would stand up for herself. She was always trying to get him “to care”. One day, her MIL said/did something (dont know what) and my coworker was going to give her a peace of her mind and she was explaining to the husband about it. He began begging and pleading with not to do it, not to go after his poor mommy. She said it was then she realized “it’s not that he didnt care at all, it was just he didnt care about me” and she left. 2 days later he was on an nine dating sight.
          So I just keep reminding myself, he just didnt care about me….no wonder I felt so alone all the time. Now I am alone, and I am happier for it.

          • I agree Ashley. I felt so alone in my marriage. Sometimes I felt even lonelier when he was there than when he was gone, which was almost all the time. There’s nothing more lonely than trying to communicate and connect with a person who just doesn’t care. However, now that I AM alone I feel much happier. It was our relationship and the yearning I had to connect with him that made me feel so alone. I do feel a lot less lonely now, even when I’m by myself.

            • Lyn, I could have written your paragraph above. I was so lonely that I was starting to resent ordinary married couples who walked down the street together. Also, I had a quiet inner voice (not literally!) that told me that I was not good enough, that people didn’t like me, that I didn’t deserve what other people have. But now, after over a year of NC with X, I never find myself thinking that way. I never feel “not good enough.”

              I can’t believe that I let that POS get into my head like that. Thank God my sanity has returned.

          • I had a similar insight, Ashley, but about making any effort. The ex was never interested in doing anything for our relationship or me that required any effort on his part. He actually said to me once, early on, that ‘I work so hard at my schooling and my work, why should I have to work at my relationships too?’. (I should have believed him then!) So I spent years putting all MY efforts into the relationship, and trying to convince him to do a LITTLE, at least! When there was a big crisis (after the first affair, after he threatened me physically and I took the kids and went to a shelter) he would make a few efforts – but it actually seemed that he had carefullly calculated how much would be required to keep me from leaving, and did exactly that and no more. Never enough to actually make me happy, of course, or the kids either. Although frankly, that wouldn’t have taken much.

            At the same time, I watched him work so hard at his career! He was already doing a post-doc when I met him. Then shifted into a career only slightly related to his degrees, so worked his ass off to learn that, and become really good at it. Tons of hours at work, tons of reading and learning new things at home. Then all sorts of certifications and specializations. Then an MBA, while working full time (while chump here took the weight of the kids and house, while also working full-time).

            And it finally became clear to me. It’s not that he isn’t capable of making an effort in his relationships (because of all the usual suspects, FOO issues, fucked-uped-ness, etc). It’s that he doesn’t care to. Doesn’t think he should have to, really believes he should receive all this good stuff from these loving people around him, and keep on receiving it indefinitely, even though he’s giving so little. It’s entitlement bigtime, and also, just not caring about me that much. Or the kids, which is the part that kills me!

            It’s not what they do, it’s who they are. And like Lyn, I feel LESS lonely now that I’m actually alone.

    • thanks all. It really helps to know that there are so many who share the same shit sandwich! some are def double stuffed with extra slime on the side!

      I guess we keep trying to wrap our minds around the fact that our spouses, or at least mine, didn’t show this side of themselves, until we were well-hitched. Oh, I knew about his fear of intimacy and marriage. But wasn’t that him just being vulnerable and honest? That’s a good thing, right? So, we both said I do… and we kissed… I think for the last time… I felt him pulling away, but at the time, paid no head to it and yet, obviously 25 years later, never forgot. I adored him. It was the happiest day of my life and he said when I told him, “I hope not!” WTF??? Apparently, it wasn’t the happiest day of his life (there are no happiest days) and he then systematically set out to prove himself right. Self-fulfilling, neurotic prophecy. Marriage became a THING, not US making a beautiful life together. His negativity knew no bounds, but I could live with that. I didn’t like it but I talked to him. Talking about things that were bugging me is deemed as criticism. Telling him that I’ll support him if he were to go back to college at the age of 51 is criticism. So, is suggesting that he go to career counseling or to the doctor to get his skin cancer checked out.

      The other thing I don’t get are women who go and call it an addiction like he can’t help it and if he just gets the help, he can be cured. Addiction, my ass!

      A DICK SHUNNED, perhaps.

      Its a relationship programmed to self-destruct. He promised me that we would always talk and work things out. Seems that was just him doing the big talk. We would beat the odds. right.

      They can’t bear to see us so distraught. On the one hand it makes them feel all-powerful that they have this affect on another human being. As Tracy said, its just another form of kibbles, cake, what have you, albeit a really sick form. On the other, it is a reminder that they can’t bear to admit to themselves, that they are not so nice after-all, but really fucked over another person. And they cannot be THAT person, so we are rendered null and void.

      He would say in the early days… “But Laurel, I’m a good person!”

      oh if you say so, Shithead. You’re supposed to be making amends!

      hahaha! what an effing joke that is!

      OW is never distraught. There’s no “drama.” Our tears are what cheater-losers call “drama.” Their ranting and rages aren’t drama? hmmmm… I don’t know. I just don’t know. OW, however, will never cry. She’ll be endlessly “supportive” for little if anything in return and even in the face of him jumping off a cliff. Hey hot stuff. Go for it! She’s happy to settle for whatever itsy bitsy crumbs she can manage to gather; the kibble run off…

      • “They can’t bear to see us so distraught. On the one hand it makes them feel all-powerful that they have this affect on another human being. As Tracy said, its just another form of kibbles, cake, what have you, albeit a really sick form. On the other, it is a reminder that they can’t bear to admit to themselves, that they are not so nice after-all, but really fucked over another person. And they cannot be THAT person, so we are rendered null and void. ”

        Laurel, I’ve always felt this is why my ex hates me so intensely. His entire mask is built around the image of how wonderful, how caring, how kind and understanding and true he is. Yet his treatment of me is in complete opposition to that image. My very existence must remind him that he is nothing but glitter on a turd, nothing like the Mr Wonderful he is so good at pretending to be on video. He’s a liar, an adulterer, a diagnosed narcissist, a con man. He’s blackmailed and cheated people. I know way too much about his evil, and even that has to be only the tip of the iceberg. But knowing that I see through his facade has to make him angry.

        • Yes Glad, I can tell my ex is very very wary of me. He watches me carefully the few times I have seen him, he is quite cautious. He knows I know who and what he really is. And he does not want any more of the world to know that than I already told after our divorce. It would seriously screw up his business coach, consulting and public speaking business 🙂

          • Kelly, our exes should go into business together. They could spend their days doing motivational speeches about how wonderful they are, and their nights fucking anyone that holds still long enough.

            What a pair of perverted freaks.

            • and they could come outta the closet too! At least your wasband, GIO. He is sooooo gay! and for whatever its worth… I hate your little prick XH intensely. I realize that so much of the pain is tied up in the “investment” of so many years and it gets to me too.

              Rumination. I’m the queen of it… but I try, try, try to see where I want to be and with whom. It worked when I was looking for a place to live. I got in at damned near the bottom of the market in a place I never dreamed I could afford.

              Some women NEVER leave these losers. Oh, they married for better or worse. Better or worse, is if someone gets sick or loses a job. You break our marriage contract and not just once or twice but for years on a daily basis?

              this contract is now rendered null and void!

              bye bye.

              • Well Laurel, it’s interesting you should say that. I do have a theory that my ex is a closet homosexual. Also he has always been attracted to larger less feminine looking women–I believed I was not his “type” when we started dating (over 27 years ago). And his known AP’s are extremely manly and just unattractive, one is out bisexual and the other also looks like a man too though she had a husband (who he left for my ex) and 2 teenage sons.

              • My STBX has a dysfunctional workplace, and that’s even after I filter out most of the due to his particular brand of negativism. However, I’ve noticed an increased use of “gay” in a pejorative sense. While it would not be unusual for him to make bigoted remarks in the midst of a rage, that kind of rage would occur maybe once every few years. Now, though, the remarks are frequent enough that I wonder if he’s concerned about his own sexuality.

                Certainly his being gay would explain some aspects of our marriage, but he’d probably have a fit if he heard me say that! 😆

              • My STBX makes hateful “gay” comments, too…..maybe he has some undealt-with inner issues……but no, in his case, I think he just likes to hate on people and put them down. He rants against gays, any minority you can think of, women, poor & disadvantaged, religious, political, you name it. He just likes to put people down. Ugh.

          • YES. STBX hates me for finding out–I am Enemy #1. And he is being VERY nice to me during the separation process, I am sure so that I will keep everything he’s done quiet. As I’ve done for YEARS. Once the divorce is final, no more.

      • Laurel, I had that ‘if I talked about things that were bugging me it was deemed as criticism’ thing as well. Ex would get very pissy if I pressed a point and respond with ‘oh right, you’re just saying I*m crap’. And I would spend far too much time trying to explain that no, I wasn’t saying he was crap – I was saying that I wanted to address this one particular thing.

        And yep, he tells the kids that he and final OW never argue. Except they do, and they do it in front of the kids sometimes. And it’s all drama, with her storming away in a snit and him running after her ‘baby, baby, we can work it out’ and her falling for it.

        When I first heard this stuff from the kids early on it was like a stab in my heart. Then I remembered that playing out early in our relationship, when things would not feel right and I’d get annoyed and we’d argue. He’d get all panicky and I thought it was because he loved me so much and was freaking out at the thought of losing me. But that wasn’t it. He was freaking out at the thought of being alone and/or losing his main source of kibbles. Seeing it now, in my middle age, I again come back to almost feeling sorry for final OW, because she’s around the same age I was when I met him and she’s being mind fucked six ways to Tuesday, just like I was.

        • Nord, I had that same experience trying to bring up issues to discuss with my ex. It was exhausting and never seemed to go anywhere productive.

          • Exhausting and frustrating. That’s the only way I can describe those discussions/arguments. It got the point where I realise now that I would not bring things up simply because it was like banging my head against a brick wall. I rarely got anywhere and it was an exercise in frustration. Or else he would realise I was more than a little annoyed and agree with whatever I was saying but still go along his merry way not addressing anything with real action.

            Bloody hell, looking back I could kick myself.

    • The thing that most scares me is that I recognise ex in this post and ALL the replies but I still wonder am I really the narcissist? Did I do this to him? I am so relieved he is gone, just like I knew I would be. That’s why I have been trying for ears to get him to go. Life is so much better. I don’t recognise those narc qualities in me now, but I do wonder.

      • If you were narc you wouldn’t be wondering, you would know that you were just fine and you just need to find the right person to blame for your problems.

  • CL, you have hit it on the head. I did exactly that with my ex. After I learned of his decades-long affairs and group sex, I kicked him out, and despite his claiming daily up to that point that he adored me, he never looked back or asked to reconcile. I never had the chance to do the pick-me dance, he couldn’t care less! I realized then that he had a very serious personality disorder, that he was probably a narcissist or a sociopath, and that I needed to become a source of “supply” again if I was going to be able to manage him in any way in the divorce. I earned so much more money than he did, that I could have owed thousands of dollars a month in spousal support alone (for up to 2 years) despite his rampant cheating and betrayals.

    So I researched articles on “how to manipulate a narcissist,” and spoke to a colleague who had extensive experience with a narcissist physician. I would literally type out emails or quote lines to my ex that the articles or my colleague suggested (i.e. “you are the only one who can help me with…..”, “you looked so good yesterday when you picked up your golf clubs….” and he lapped it up. It was both frightening and astonishing. I realized that if I was sweet and weak and grovel-ly, he rolled right over. So I shoveled kibbles at him while we negotiated the property settlement agreement. I’d alternate dependent weakness and adoration (“If you could…sob sob… just help me through this…gasp…. I don’t understand it like you do and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it without you….”) with veiled threats like: “If you do get alimony, I’ll just go crazy and I’m afraid I won’t be able to work!! SOB SOB”

    It was actually terrifying. I am an attorney myself and the idiot fell for it. VOMIT. He didn’t even get his own attorney (he thinks he is that smart), and I negotiated directly with him rather than through my attorney (so I could continue to act less-intelligent and avoid threatening him). I got him to waive alimony, and leave me with most of my money and property. Once the divorce went through, I went NC.

    It’s been a year since that time. My ex and I recently had to have contact over sale of a jointly-owned vacation home. Out of the blue, he said in a voice that was somewhat hushed and surprised: “You’ve really been handling the divorce well Kelly….” Yeah asshole, I’ve moved on, remortgaged the home, kicked ass at work, supported our 3 kids single-handedly since they won’t speak to you, started dating and got engaged to a wonderful new man, and no longer even take the time to deal with you. Blah, go away. He still tries to throw sparkles, and sometimes I think I see a unicorn (not of reconciliation but just of a “friendly” relationship), and then I see this article and it reminds me to BACK AWAY FROM THE NARCISSIST.

    Thanks CL!!

    But thank you for this timely post, because he’s been throwing a few sparkles my way again due to contact we had to have over the sale of a vacation home….and somehow I was getting drawn back in….maybe he isn’t so bad a guy, maybe we can be friendly…..NOT! Really, it seem like any other “addiction,” even after you kick it and you know you’ve kicked it, and years go by, you see the sparkles and think, “maybe it isn’t really that bad just to _____[fill in the blank]–i.e. talk to him, share information about the kids, be friends…..” And then you remember,

    • Kelly, your monster reminds me a lot of mine, especially with the extreme deviant lifestyle and perversion.

      After Dday, when ex dumped me in a coffee shop, he also never sparkled or asked for reconciliation or the pick-me dance. He went straight into viciously attacking me or ignoring me completely. Until six months later, literally the night before I went back to school to train for a new career (I’d been a SAHM for ten years at that point.) I got a few texts from him about how he’d missed me, been thinking of me, blah blah blah. And just like that, I was back with him.

      Friends warned me he just wanted to get out of paying support, and was looking for me to get a new job and support him. I didn’t want to believe, because at first, he was so convincing. But the signs were there from the beginning. He immediately started pressuring me to move back into the family home, he was constantly blaming me for his having to pay support and he was continually harassing me for moving out to an apartment. He told me he’d forgiven himself and if I didn’t forgive him, there was nothing to work on. The veiled threats, covert abuse and manipulation were constant. Looking back, it is so obvious my friends were right. It was a complete con game. His only goal was getting me back to financially support him and keep the bank from foreclosing the house while he pursued his “dreams.”

      After I finally got strong enough to walk away, he never once tried to sparkle me back, never again suggested reconciliation, never tried the pick me dance. It immediately went back to him mostly ignoring me, occasionally throwing a zinger my way to hurt me. And of course, to him screwing me over financially in every way possible. And that’s how it’s stayed for the past couple years.

      • Yes Glad, I know it’s better he never looked back over his shoulder, because chumpy me would have tried too. (((Hugs)))

    • Kelly, that’s a pretty amazing escape story. You’d think the narc could sense your phoniness, and yet you realize exactly how desperate they are for kibbles, how much they believe their own narrative about themselves (of course I’m wonderful, of course I’m indispensable).

      I did a slight variation on your escape. I had my 4th DDay (it was after he signed a postnup, go figure) and I knew I had to escape. But every time I’d mention ending it honestly, in therapy or wherever, he would fly into a rage. At home, a scary, drunken rage. I wasn’t putting myself or my kid through that, so I faked it — the whole time I was plotting my departure, I did the marriage counseling, I tried to play the part of the unicorn reconciler (wasn’t such a stretch, I’d done it after the previous DDays), I pretended I wasn’t going anywhere.

      The stress nearly killed me. I started grinding my teeth in my sleep, I broke out in weird rashes. It really was an insight into how these people are wired wrong — I did the “double life” for 4 months and the anxiety it provoked was disabling.

      Anywho, I bought a house on the sly. Financed it through a friend with my promised divorce settlement. Made excel spreadsheets of everything I owned. Had long to do lists. Got inspections, walk throughs, everything, without him knowing. Got my neighbors to be look outs — rented a van, got movers and friends — and one morning I moved out on him in under 4 hours. Cleaned out a 3500 square foot house, shut off the utilities, shut off his cell phone, changed my numbers, informed my employer not to take his calls.

      He didn’t know what hit him.

      • Awesome escape CL! Mine was not nearly as scary.

        At some points, it seemed so ludicrous that the person I was married to for 25 years would believe I was that weak and needy. My colleague helping me with the plan actually said after looking at a draft of one of my weak, cloying and adoring emails: “well I guess we’ll know as soon as you hit the send button whether he is a narcissist, who else could think you’d talk to him like that after what he did? Doesn’t he know you at all?”

        Of course, he fell for it. He didn’t know me at all. Because it was always all about him.

        The biggest difficulty was tapping into that weak and needy part of me. It was exhausting and demoralizing to pretend not to be angry, pretend he was my hero. There were days where I almost fell dr my own hype and had to remind myself of the end-game.

        We chumps rock 🙂

        • Thanks for sharing, Kelly.

          I am fed up with dealing with my STBX. I am not convinced he’s a narc, but he does have narc traits. For example, it needs to be about him AND everything he says must be right–even aligned with his perspective on why it’s right. If I try to flatter him by telling him it’s right because it not only is right from his perspective, but covers another perspective, he gets really angry because, you know, I’m tearing him down. Go figure.

          He makes much more than I do, and while one attorney said that based on this, she thought I could get 60%, other attorneys have not been so hopeful, so while the one attorney is probably the best in her pay rate class (the best attorney deals only in “high profile” cases with over $1M in assets), it seems to me the best bet is to get him to sign off on a more favorable deal than he might otherwise do.

          And that means manipulating him–especially since OW has been divorced twice and will likely give him “advice,” the thought of which has made every attorney I’ve spoken with roll her eyes. I have to make the settlement look and sound much better than it is, and offer a “compromise” that will also look and sound better,

          Your post is helpful in showing how this might be done, and for that, I’m grateful.

    • I don’t know how you did it Kelly. I tried before to fake it, and I just couldn’t do it. “Lay low and then sucker punch ‘em.” That’s been my plan, but I really need to use some of your tactics to get him to let down his guard. I think I will write down some of those phrases and try using them. I can’t imagine he will be so stupid not to recognize the insincerity, but probably that will be more credible to him than the fact that he doesn’t sparkle any more.

      • There are seriously articles I found on line, and an excerpt from a book by Sam Vakin on Malignant Narcissism I found on line. I channeled real hurt and real pain, it was there too, and I think it helped. But it’s hard to keep up, and sometimes I slipped and got nasty (and then wanted to kick myself). Then is abjectly apologize telling him it was just so HARD. Good luck !

    • Kelly, I seriously hope Chump Lady commissions you to write a ‘helpful’ article. For those of us chumps who need SERIOUS advice on how to divorce a narcissist.

      • I tried some of those tactics but they didn’t work. He saw it as weakness and amped up the attempts to screw me over. So I got tough, ignored his ranting and rages as best I could (first time in 20 years he raged or ranted) and just carry on. He can kiss my sweet ass and no way can I bring myself to try to appease him. I just get on with it and let him stew.

      • I am reading (Amazon chump am I) Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissitic Personality Disorder. It’s got a lot of specific advice, though a lot of it I have already gotten here, thank you ChumpNation! It’s mainly about dealing with the courts and lawyers and all that mess when you have a freak telling lies and blaming you and doing anything to win.

        I am very interested in Kelly’s experience with using kibbles to manipulate her narc. I tried one, just sent a text “I really need your help…” GAG I will see where google gets me on this topic.

        • My ex was so “cool,” no rage. He wanted to be seen as the good guy he had pretended to be all along. After I met with my lawyer and she told me how much I would have to pay in alimony, I literally had to sit there and think what I could have that he would still want. And I came up with adoration. But some, like Nord experienced, just get egged on by your supposed weakness. See how the test goes, take it a step at a time, but remember that anything in writing can be used in court (or a custody proceeding) in the future.

          • Yes, I am treading veeerrryyy carefully. I will be especially cautious not to say anything that he could use in the custody fight. I don’t need a whole lot from him, just one small thing before I throw the sucker punch. I could never sustain this through a whole divorce process.

        • Oh, I tried with the ‘I need your help, please don’t leave us financially devastated. We need you’ thing. All it did was pump him up and make him more determined to ‘win’. Because how dare I expect him to live up to his word, you know? I felt horrible writing that email but I did it to try to save me and hte kids. I’ll never forgive him for treating me not wanting to be homeless like I was greedy.

          • One of the few times I saw my ex after he left was when I drove over and gave a speech about why it was his duty to support me. I pointed out that I’d always supported him, had never cheated or lied to him, and that I’d sacrificed most of my own career aspirations to support his. It was hard but the best thing I ever did. He doubled the amount he was initially offering. Still, it made me sick to stand there and be adversaries with a person who was supposed to be on my side. At that time I was still reeling from the betrayal and having trouble accepting who he really was.

  • While chumps have a lot of “sunk costs” in a marriage, the flip side is that they give the cheater more control in continuing to wreck lives…thousands spent on affairs (as mentioned in this site), they can up and leave anytime while you sparkle. It does seem that staying puts a chump in a more precarious situation. Chumps may not see “how they can leave”, but the cheater can make that happen for chumps in more chaotic ways.
    Stay strong.

  • “It’s not just that the narcissist underestimates you — it’s that they have grown very used to YOU underestimating YOURSELF.”

    This is a huge struggle for me. The NPD I was married to required constant praise and adoration. He also loved his double life. He is so intensely sparkly, so “kind” so “giving” so “thoughtful, caring and wonderful.” He has always been surrounded by a circle of admirers. As his wife, I was lonely and ignored, way down his list of priorities. I am ashamed at how easy it was for him to fool me, how much contempt he obviously felt for me (and still does.) But I stuck around for 20 years because I really thought I couldn’t make it on my own.

    Obviously I AM making it without him, and it is a relief to no longer be embarrassed by his craziness, a relief to not have to praise his insanity, a relief to not have to spackle. But at the same time, I am still underestimating MYSELF and have become my own worst enemy.

    It’s been such a struggle to recover from the two decades of mindfuckery. Reading here is a big help.

    • Oh GIO,

      His words are certainly kind, (blech) but blot all else out but his eyes and you will see a very dark and disturbed soul. very clear. For the unaware, he comes off as super nice, but something is a bit off, but they can’t put their finger on it and so they dismiss it as maybe they are just imagining something. His antics are beyond absurd. There’s nothing original, cute about him. There is no substance, whatsoever. He’s nothing more than a cartoon cutout. I do not find him in the least bit attractive. But I would rather not waste any more energy on that loser. He is you know… a total cretin!

      GOOD RIDDANCE!

      and I am in the same camp as one who stayed years too long thinking that there was no way out. Hell, we didn’t have enough money to make it TOGETHER, how on earth, could I support myself and not live in some cold water flat with roaches and mice?

      Please do not underestimate your glorious power! don’t buy into his shit!!! You’s one terrific badassed momma and don’t you forget it! big ((((hugs))))

  • Wow! Timing chumplady! My STBX has been so ‘sparkly’ these last few weeks – we’ve even had tears, he doesnt want a divorce he misses me and the children… and yea, i admit i was starting to think a little – more that i was enjoying the idea that the OW didnt know the conversations hed been trying to engage me in (hey, he even bought some condoms the other day – in case i wanted to ‘reconnect’ with him) but yesterday (after you kindly emailed me the link to a previous post) i very firmly asked him to leave as soon as he’d dropped off the children and clarified that we would never (in the wors of Taylor Swift) ever, get back together. I could almost see the walls coming up – “i didnt really want you back anyway – its the children i miss”, “OW said we should try again so i could be sure its her i really want – now i know it is” The worst part then was when i suggested he was a bully, he laughed at me and said that if i thought that I was crazy and maybe he should speak to his solicitor about having the children taken away from me because i was obviously mentally unstable 🙁

    ‘When a narcissist loses control, they try to gain the upper hand again. They may try to charm you, and if that fails, they’ll bully.’

    I feel like ive set myself back a few months with his ‘sparkles’ but im determined to regain NC and some control for myself – and noone is taking my children.

    • The only attempt my ex made to get back together after I find out about his 9 month affair with his married hs “love of his life” was when he was packing his stuff and said, “if I promised never to see her again …” To which I responded, “you can’t promise that. This has been going on over 20 years [them, on and off, resulting in him cheating on a wife, a fiance, and numerous gfs]. You can’t make that promise.” He immediately retracted with “well, she’s going to leave her husband for me.” I told him I’d believe it when I saw it.

      Fyi, he is on to his next victim, poor single mom with three kids, one that hates him. But who knows when the whore will pop back in. It is, afterall, inevitable. Or, as he signed his emails to the whore: AF (Always & Forever). Yes, they are in their 40s. Long live high school!

      But once he knew there was going to be no pick me dance … I think I hurt his feelings. 🙂

      • NMChump — you just described my ex to a T. The 20 year long affair, throughout other relationships. (Of course there were others too.) I’d say it was him, but his OW was single. He also targets single mothers to date.

        Scary there is more than one of them out there. Eek.

        • Yep. I remember reading that on one of your first blog posts I read and thought the same thing (still catching up!). No, the whore is definitely married. I have suspicions that her teenager daughter is actually my ex’s, but the boy is definitely the husband’s. They’ve been doing this dance since she was 14, him 16. Sick.

          But I think the main thing that draws him to her (because it ain’t her looks!) is the fact that he really can be himself with her. He can’t tell anyone else he’s a cheater because he knows no one will be with him. So he hides it, but he can’t stand it, it eats him up, and then … miracle! The Whore Who Knows All shows up and he can be honest, finally, with someone.

          One of the emails between them that I found and that still reverberates in my memory includes: “You know my history of cheating.”

          Yeah, thanks for filling ME in. Asshole.

    • Oh this, scared mummy, I’ve been there during false R. We had a very good visit (he had his own apartment at that time). It was day before July 4th and since we had laughed and cried and seemed to connect I asked him to go with me for fireworks next day. He gave a long story about going to a cookout with people I would never enjoy being around (AA bikers). He confirmed multiple times that day he was no longer seeing the OW. Next day my intuition in the form of my Dad’s voice says “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter, he’s lying to you”, one of my Dad’s fav expressions. So I drove to the OW’s house and there was his car, he told one nugget of truth – they did go to a cookout. This was the 4th time I found he’d lied about not seeing her any longer and that’s when I did the divorce thing, I was done being hurt.

      You know what he said when I told him we were divorcing, that was the final lie that broke us? “I said I had not seen her, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to see her”. Mindfuckery, fucker.

  • I did this pick me dance. Practically begging him to dump the other woman who he said meant nothing to him but who he is now in a relationship with. I wish I had the strength to just walk away – have had enough self respect. I am still so hurt with the feeling he chose her and not me. He totally cut me off after promising so sincerely to always be there for me and my daughter. I am so consumed with hurt it is agonizing at times. I keep wondering how he could have done something like this and then just turned around and felt no remorse after seeming to love me so much… I can’t seem to come to terms with it.

    • All very common feelings, GTGOT. It’s a few things, one — he was pulling away while he was in his affair, disconnecting, and enjoying all the happy brain chemicals of new “love.” He never informed you it was over, because he was feasting on cake. You’re catching up. The other part of it is, if he’s a narcissist, he never really connected that deeply to begin with. You filled that in for him. These folks have no there there. He was operating at a shallow level, so he can disengage without too much trouble. Everyone is interchangeable for kibbles. It hurts, I know. ((hugs))

      • That is so brilliant, Tracy and I never thought about it in that way. We fill in the blanks. We do. There was never any “there there.” Oh, maybe if I begged— hey, you, the one who’s supposed to be my rock when the earth is crumbling beneath my feet. I need you.

        whudiusay? (eyes bearly open)

        I NEED YOU!

        whufor?

        My brother just died…

        whuuu? u want me to come to Wisconsin? I dunno…

        pleeeease, I need you. (for the 3rd time)

        by then, he got it and started making plane reservations. My brother was only 38, was a dead ringer for Tom Selleck, a marathon runner, and had just attended his 20th high school reunion positively glowing with health and vitality.

        not really.

        Wednesday, it’ll be 26 years… yeah, it was 9.11 but in 1987. He died suddenly from an attack of atrial fibrillation. He was alone and his heart stopped. He was such a kick-ass man! He would’ve come and punched Fucktard’s fucking lights out! I mean he would’ve fucking killed him.

        • Geez Laurel, that sadly brings me back to one of my many cosmic questions, this one being– why does God allow our fucktards to live, yet good, loving people who ACTUALLY HAVE A SOUL die every day?? I just don’t get it. I am so sorry you lost your brother that way 🙁

      • Gottogetoverthis, I feel your pain. I practically groveled at my ex’s feet trying to get him to remember how I was the one who encouraged him through school, supported him in his PH.D., his career, spent many many nights alone while he traveled around on business and worked and raised the kids pretty much by myself, especially when they were little. He heard none of it. It was like I was nothing more than a floor rug, he was tired of me because he’d known me so long. At least that’s what I read in his diary. I think the hardest thing to understand is they don’t have feelings like we do. They act like they have feelings to get what they want, but they don’t really feel the same way you do. When I realized that it helped me to let go. There was never anything he could say which would satisfy me because I couldn’t even conceive of doing something like that to him. Hang in there because it will get better. You will have a good life again without him in it.

        • Ex told me on dday that there was ‘too much baggage’ and he ‘needed a clean slate’ and wanted to ‘rebuild after knowing me his whole adult life’ and ‘wanted to see if there was something better for the 2nd half of his life’. Etc. etc. etc.

          Basically he saw no value in anything we had built over 20 years, the ups and downs, the struggles and the great times: none of it meant anything. And the best part? When I freaked right the fuck out? He said I was destroying all the memories by being angry.

          • I forgot to add that what he was saying was that all the chaos and drama of the divorce was essentially my fault for not just saying it was perfectly ok for him to have had numerous affairs – instead me being absolutely devastated and furious and slightly crazed to find out what had been going on for years was what made things so difficult.

            You see? It’s always my fault that these things happen. If only I could get that through my thick head, you know?

            • You’re so right, Lyn. I’m a bit old meanie who makes him feel bad by not pretending what happened didn’t happen and that it yes, indeed, it really did destroy all those years of memories. But I didn’t do it, he did. So he can kiss my ass. Hard.

  • Thanks Chump Lady, it hurts and has had me debilitated for almost a year. He called me on my daughters birthday while he was with her and said how much he loved us. Why do they do such horrible things… How do they justify this and how do they say they love you when they are betraying you in such a horrific way. I wouldn’t treat an enemy this way yet alone someone I am intimately involved with. Is their level of respect for us so low? Are they just that selfish?

    • Gottogetoverthis, they really, really are a very different form of human being. Their emotions are so shallow, and they care so very little for anybody else. Their capacity to do things that other people would never even think of, never mind manage to carry off, with a sincere face the whole time, and NO guilt, is really impressive. My ex can twist the facts around so well, that for a long time I wondered if he wasn’t at least partly right, if part of the problem wasn’t how I was perceiving things …. And it’s all the more convincing because a lot of the time, he actually believes his own twisted version of things! It’s all someone else’s fault, always!

      The nice thing is that while initially understanding this comes and goes, we keep slipping back into thinking of them as people like ourselves, eventually our vision becomes clear, the eyes stay open, and we can see them for what they are. Then there is much less pain, and NO temptation to go back, no matter how much charm or poor-sausage-ness they throw our way.

      Trust that they suck!!! And they suck in ways that chumps can’t even imagine, we’re not built the same way.

    • Argh, I can’t believe what I’m reading…
      My ex texted me to say that he had loved me so much and still loves me so much but that I had made it impossible for us to reconcile by being so ‘mental’…
      So sorry for freaking out when I discovered he spent the night in a hotel with a girl from work 6 days after I moved out… 6 DAYS… I’m 5 months pregnant with our 2nd child he he could only wait 6 f’ing days..?! and I’m the unreasonable one?
      Jeez… sorry for ranting but it’s all very fresh and raw and painful – I keep thinking maybe it is me? maybe I’m wrong? maybe he’ll change…
      I am a certified chump. But I’m starting to see the light. thank god for this site!!

  • It feels GOOD to read this post & comments, turns out I’m finally doing it right. Sure as hell took me long enough, tho. It wasn’t until I was pregnant-at 34-that I started waking up. When I imagined myself treating my unborn girl the way my mom treated me, I cried. It stung, in the deepest part of my heart, to picture me giving her the cold shoulder, turning my back on her, the sneers, putdowns, blame, rejection etc. My mom started telling me that “I’m not getting involved, YOU have to work this out with your drunk step dad, u need to learn to get along”. I was 11. Mom like to use platitudes to teach my sister & I about life, apparently the most important lesson was dealing with conflict. So, she trotted out all her little sayings-dont make waves, turn the other cheek, be the bigger person, and, *shudder* “don’t rock the boat” That one still makes me cringe. Not until this year, did it occur to me to question who it was that was doing all the slapping of cheeks. I was never in a single fight, don’t get in any kind of trouble. I was obedient, respectful to a fault, & polite. My teachers complimented my manners. So who was it that I was supposed to offer the other cheek? The only person I had conflict with, that’s who. My drunk, drugged out emotionally abusive step dad. I can at least say that he gave up the drugs, but increased the drinking. There was never any physical abuse, but he could be a real bastard. I was trained to roll over, taught to never defend myself, & above all, it was always my fault. And I believed that. Completely. I never had a chance. So when I met the person who’d ruin my life, at 19, I was ripe for the picking. I would tell people that being with him was like coming home, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why. I just know that I felt…funny, when I said it. All the red flags I ignored-me, who had no problem whatsoever dumping a guy-was totally sucked in. Iseemed to sense that something was wrong, I refused to marry him, thank god, & I actually left twice-I can even say that I didn’t go back willingly-both times I had nowhere else to go, the 2nd time, I lived with my parents, & was kicked out by my step dad, when I was 6 mos pregnant-over a dog.
    So here we are, my daughter & I, she’s 7, & wonderful, & it’s up to me alone to get us out. My eyes are wide open, what I see disgusts me, but I’m facing it & not backing down. He’s a fucking monster, he’s capable of anything, there’s no conscience there at all.
    I’m no longer bothered by the beasts he was screwing, one weighs 400 pounds, one was semiliterate, one runs an illegal daycare, & is so desperate for a man, she actually scared him away. Last night he finally confessed to physically cheating-like I didn’t already know that-he didn’t notice that I didn’t give a shit about the blowjob (cause that’s all that ever happened, in 4 yrs of boinking pigs, he thinks I’m gonna believe that) my only reaction was when he said it happened in our minivan. Fucking ewwww. My kid rides in that van.
    It’s so true they underestimate us, I’m lucky that my little man has to cling to his delusions, & refuses to see the changes in me. In a way, he’s screed himself, I told him that visitation will only be allowed in my home, he will not take her anywhere, & his relatives are not allowed. Don’t like it? Take me to court. I dare u. I also know that he’s been slandering me to everyone we know, all along, I can’t count the number of people who hate me, but I CAN count the freaks who have crawled out from under their rocks to attack me, always by text-of course I’ve saved every one. There have been 4 now, the 1st was one of our very best friends. The last was my SIL, luckily for me, she chose the wrong thing to accuse me with-she “knows I need rehab” cause she’s “seen the behaviors with her own eyes”. Funny, cause I’m clean, I don’t even drink. Also funny, her only son is serving a 12 yr sentence for meth & heroin related crimes, 2 of her 3 daughters are meth heads, & she herself is a pill popping wino. Which was very clear in her texts, the woman is out of her head. She’s 65, BTW. 🙂 At this point, I’m perfectly happy to be hated by his family, it’s released me from having to see any of them, I’m free to attend my own family gatherings, finally, (it’s always a scandal if someone is late or misses their functions, they then have to tear that person apart, for being selfish, uncaring, etc.)
    OK, this post is waaayy long, but damn it’s good to unload, I can’t wait to get health ins & get back into counseling. I’m on my way. Chump Lady, I thank u for this site, & for the wisdom & logic I see here. I’m a huge lover of logic, it’s my strongest defense, now that I’m allowing it back into my life.

  • Post is so true and great timing. Ex contacted me asking to stay overnight next week as he needs to be in town that week (lives in another city). WTF does he think? That after all that has happened, it is still OK for him to ask if he can stay and I am just going to go “suuure, come on in, do you want me to cook you dinner? iron your shirt?”

    No way. Obviously some part of me is a nice chump who, for a second, thought “mmm, don’t want to, but you need a place to stay! I can’t leave you on the street!” Fuck him. Hotels exist for a reason.

    • Yeah, mine emailed after he left and asked if he could open a credit card in my name because I had a better rating and could get a lower interest rate. WTF? He seemed genuinely surprised that I said NO.

      • After 17 year-long affairs with two co-workers who I thought were family friends (the affairs included unprotected group sex and other atrocities), marital assets and our children’s’ college funds spent on expensive gifts for and travel with the AP’s, etc., my ex kindly sent me a coupon for his grocery store reward points which would have allowed 20 cents off a gallon, suggesting I use them since he could not due to his upcoming business trip with the AP’s. Wasn’t that thoughtful?

        I laughed till I cried…. (Don’t judge me, I wasn’t at Meh yet, that was not that long after D-Day :). )

        • OMG, Kelly, I really think we were married to the same freak! My ex sent me a text not too long after divorce telling me that he was still using the grocery rewards card associated with my name to “help me out.” Gee, thanks, freak! It would be a LOT more helpful if he just paid the child support he agreed to pay.

          Of course, this is the same guy who sent me a text not that long ago saying he had concluded Cream of Wheat gave him gas, so he was sending me a half-used box, since he knew I liked that cereal. And he did send it home with our son. Just what I always wanted! I threw it in the trash, I was afraid to eat it in case he’d poisoned it.

        • I don’t think anyone could or should judge you Kelly. They’re horrendous people. I worked my. Butt off 12-14 hour days at times trying to secure a full time position with the bank I now work for. I could never understand why there was never any money. Both of us had great salaries. I didn’t know I was working to finance his hotel rooms and trips with her while me and our kids sat home constantly blamed for spending all the money. He told me son we couldn’t afford college so my son just started slacking off in 8th grade until he talked my son into the Marine corp. He now has the audacity to seek sympathy because his son is away. All the money he stole for himself and his whore. She didn’t work, her husband moved into their basement so was still supporting her and my husband was entertaining her and wining and dining her. I couldn’t figure out why my husband was angry all the time. He has a job where he works 24 hour shifts so he would tell me he was working 24/36 hour shifts and OT but was really taking her to nearby states for weekend trusts. They had themselves a great ole time while me and my kids put up with his miserable ass. I hate this man and I don’t hate anybody. Moreover he just lies about it all despite all the evidence, even pictures, pre paid phones, emails, he lies about it all. Just hoping karma pays him back because he can’t get away with this can he?

  • “Because the narcissist will ALWAYS underestimate you.”

    That is so, so true. I don’t know if my XWH is truly a narcissist… he definitely acts entitled, and I honestly think that he has bipolar disorder. But… he was very accustomed to having me go along with whatever, letting him run things the way that he wanted them run. I don’t think that he liked that I returned to work (though it was all about the security of our family), and that was the first inkling from me that I wasn’t going to go along with what he wanted. Fast forward a year later when he has the A, and I think that he expected me to let him run the legal separation proceedings. He was shocked when I insisted on hiring my own attorney and when I stood up for myself during mediation. He was further shocked when he attempted to kick me off of his health insurance, violating our legal agreement, and my lawyer pushed right back, stating that he would NOT push me off but would pay the COBRA coverage.

    I don’t know what XWH is, nor do I care. But he expected me to be a marshmallow and was taken aback when I was a tiger. Push them back, folks. Don’t let them make you into s’mores.

  • Dearest Chump Lady – each one of your pieces is more perfect than the one previous. Moral of this story – “Never push a loyal person to the point where they don’t give a damn.”
    We chumps really do have to disengage and put our own oxygen masks on first. : )

  • The day I said to myself “I would rather live in my car and eat canned soup than spend another day with this a.hole” was the day my freedom began.

  • My great escape…

    After 2 years of the BS, I house sat for my best friend for 2 weeks while he and his wife were in Europe. I came to the conclusion that I had to be an asshole to stay in that marriage. When I got back I looked for apartments, openned my own checking account, and was told by my attorney that she would be obligated to pay all bills and mortgage except shared debt if I left. Prior to that I had us ope a HELOC to pay for the bathroom remodel that her last boyfriend did. This became another mortgage she had to pay.

    I sat down with her and told her I had time to think. We can’t go on like this. I want you to pack your shit and get the fuck out by Friday. She cried and said she wouldn’t leave. Legally you can’t force someone to leave if their on the deed. So I said I would leave. This forced her to file for divorce, which made things easier because although she talked of divorce she never moved forward on it.

  • GREAT piece, CL! It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about my situation even though I escaped my narcissist over a year ago.

    This excerpt really stands out: “Narcissists are really very vulnerable people because they don’t have a good grip on reality. They truly think they’re better than you. Smarter. More clever. And of course, far more deserving.”

    When I think back to “divorce,” besides my ex’s lying, cheating, manipulating and sense of entitlement, what really gets me is how CLEVER he thought he was. Almost like he formulated a plan in his head whereby he’d get rid of me (literally…I was left homeless), make it official with the OM, and then pass off his new relationship as “….Something that like totally randomly happened AFTER Chris and I broke up!” Thus, neither I nor his family would ever know the truth.

    Of course, that all blew up in his face the SAME NIGHT we broke up (Ex fed me the “It’s not you, it’s me” speech…only for the OM to blow up his phone a few hours later while the phone was laying in plain view…I knew instantly that he cheated on me). Of course I went right into denial and pick-me dancing, but in all it took me about 45 seconds to figure everything out.

    Kinda crazy that he thought he’d put one over on everybody. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that while cheaters feel entitled to cheat, they feel not EVERYONE is entitled to know about it. That’s probably a great source of my ex’s continuing mangling of his own life. Loss of cake, loss of purpose and a Chris Breakup Narrative he put considerable mental manpower into constructing…only for it to explode in his face.

    Cheaters hate accountability but I think what they hate even more is the inability to control the message. I don’t know what mechanism narcissists have that make them such overzealous PR people, but goddamn as soon as the truth spread like wildfire my ex unleashed a torrent of anger on me!

    He had to blame SOMEBODY, I guess….

    • I agree that they hate people knowing what they did. Ex remains enraged about my lawyer putting some of his affairs into the court filings. Seriously. I got emails saying stuff like ‘why don’t you tell it to the judge. Oh, wait, you did. Fuck you, Nord’. Because apparently I was supposed to keep all this a secret and pretend that the ‘marriage crumbled’. Well, it did crumble. It crumbled around his wandering dong, which was seen by god knows how many women. When I think about that it seriously grosses me out. All those women, knowing that I and the kids existed, were fucking him and flirting with him and acting like all this was perfectly normal.

      One of the things that pissed him off the most was me telling some of the affair partners that they weren’t the only one. Apparently a few of them thought they were ‘special’ and that his random hook ups with him and endless flirty and sexy texting meant that while he was married he couldn’t quite resist them on a regular basis. Guess it hurt his image with the slag brigade.

      • Yeah Nord, what’s with you and the TRUTH anyway? What’s scary is mine never admitted he was having an affair, even though it was in black and white in his diary. I seriously think he believed his own lies because he’d been telling them for so long.

  • I am going through a phase now where I am having difficulty freeing my mind of all of this. I am angry. STBX is adored and drooled over right now as his career (that I supported and made possible) is taking off and he’s becoming even more well known in the community. AP’s are coming out of the woodwork to support him (as they all think they are his One True Love) unlike me, his Mean Frigid Wife. He has always argued that he can be “friends” with his (alleged “ex”) mistresses and he cannot understand why I couldn’t just get over that. What angers me is that he doesn’t understand/acknowledge that he chose meaningless “friendships” with these APs in order to feed his ego rather than choosing to protect his wife’s emotional well-being and save his marriage. These ego kibbles were really worth more than me?? After everything I have done for him?? I know I must get to a place where I can let go of this anger…free my mind…it’s just so hard when they treat us with such disregard!

    I find such strength from you all. Thank you.

    • Singed, these guys “sparkle,” they’re like a really really addictive drug, and they have their little coterie of camp followers–they keep sources of narcissistic supply and alternate supply lined up for just such an occasion.

      But here’s the thing (and I’m gonna quote Chump Lady, and it’s a quote I still have to tell myself repeatedly at times even 1 1/2 years past D-Day):

      TRUST THAT HE SUCKS

    • Oh singed, I so relate to what you are saying!! Same with my ex. I used to think “he just doesn’t know how to draw boundaries with his female coworkers to protect our relationship.” It was a shock when I finally realized he DID know how, he just didn’t want to.

      • Exactly, Lyn. And how DARE we suggest such a thing! Thanks for the reminder, Kelly (must trust they suck, must trust they suck, must trust they suck).

    • This hits home with me so much – all these girls fawning on him… He says its all them, they’ve got the wrong idea, what can he possibly do about it??
      I don’t know how much further it has ever gone (I can’t bare to think about it) but ultimately if he won’t put the appropriate distance between himself and these female coworkers that he should to make me feel ok then what’s the point right? He just doesn’t care about my feelings…
      His fragile little ego needs them so much, it’s ultimately lost him his family – me and his kids – who actually loved him…
      What. A. Chump. I. Have. Been.

    • Ever thought of boxing/kick-boxing? Seriously.
      I did that the other day with my personal trainer and it was amazing. I wish I thought about it years ago when all this shit happened. It was one of the most therapeutic sessions I have EVER had – beat most of the counselling I ever did.
      I felt amazing afterwards, free, tuckered out and empowered.

      • Oops, that was meant for Singed (when you said you were so angry) – although being angry is a good thing too – keeps us focussed on what we need to do. I was angry for a long time.
        The funniest thing though, is how angry he is at/with me. He still can’t look at me, even acknowledge me. How dare I leave him and lawyer up when he filed for divorce 4 months after separation as he wanted to get engaged to his new GF. I should have rolled over and played dead, how inconvenient and inconsiderate of me!
        The boxing left me feeling naturally high for days on end. Can’t wait to do it again.

        • I should hasten to add that I just hit into the guy’s gloves – he showed me a proper, strong stance, jabs, uppercuts, right hooks, etc and calls out which move to make – while he encourages me to put “my all” into it. Very tiring and very satisfying.

  • Oh, and mine was truly confused as to why I couldn’t be his friend the very next day. He even said “I don’t hate YOU…” yeah, a**hole. I didn’t lie to you and cheat on you and make you feel so crazy and depressed you wanted to jump out a window either!

    • Yeah, mine was that way, too, in the days after dday, he thought he could still keep keys to the house and come over whenever he pleased. Now, he is confused as to why my dad seems “a little distant.” I want to tell him that he screwed me over (literally) and my dad naturally has some feelings about that…..so yes, he may be a little distant. Consequences.

      • Two weeks after DDay, and one week after I informed him I was leaving, (and he said he’d leave instead, easier on the kids), my ex wanted to come on a family vacation to my sister’s place at the lake. I had to inform him that he wasn’t welcome on a vacation w/me, and he might especially want to avoid the lake house, as my brother-in-law has guns there and would be very tempted to use them on him. He was all shocked and appalled! Why wouldn’t I want him around? Why would anybody be mad at him?

        Really, so reality-impaired! Anything so they don’t have to feel bad about themselves, even for a few minutes.

      • My ex had his own consulting business in which he worked with his two AP’s, and my brother! After D-Day, my ex was surprised that my brother did not want to work with him any longer. He saw nothing awkward about it.

        • mine wanted to come over for Christmas to my parents!!!! Can you believe it?
          told me he thought that they wouldn’t mind and it would be great for our kids to have family together, ha ha ha…

  • Great article, as always CL. It’s not an easy thing to do: leave your spouse. I struggled for almost 3 years (post Dday) before I packed up and left my cheating wife. And this was her 3rd affair that I’m aware of.

    But I just knew I had to do it. I planned it for 5 months. I had a lawyer in place. Arranged alternative accommodation and chose the day after my birthday. My birthday is a huge trigger for me ( yes, she chose to screw OM on my birthday instead of holidaying with me and the kids), so I planned my escape for that time too.

    Typing this makes me realize what assholes all of our cheating spouses are. There is not a single ounce of regret in my decision to leave. I’ve read so much on forums for the last 3 years, and not once have I ever read someone say ” I really regret leaving my cheating spouse”.

    • “I’ve read so much on forums for the last 3 years, and not once have I ever read someone say ‘ I really regret leaving my cheating spouse’ ”

      So true, Kraft!

  • CL,

    I think you need to start passing out those flyers which will exhort people to come to you for a psychic reading. Either that, or you’ve been lurking outside my window or listening in on my therapy sessions. After more than two months of no contact, my STBX has started texting me as if we had a little dust up and I left home to spend a few days at a hotel to cool off. Suddenly I’m just so damn interesting and alluring. I think not Skippy!

    I was discussing it with my therapist who said, “You have suddenly become a prize to be won. The OW is chasing him and you are rejecting him. Reeling you back in would be the ultimate prize for him.” Sure, until I’m not.

    That pretty much sums up this entire elephant shit and vomit casserole called a relationship in which I have been involved for the past 28 years. Love as a zero sum game, where someone is a winner and someone is a loser. Not two people who care about each other, supporting each other, loving each other and raising a family, looking forward to growing old together. Never that. One of the partners in the relationship, without consulting or notifying the other, decided to turn the relationship into a cage match, a fight to the death where anything goes and someone has to be left for dead.

    I can so relate to Laurel’s statement about how much she loved her husband. I thought the only thing that kept my STBX from walking on water was that he didn’t have big enough feet. Now, I’m glad he can’t in case I need to drown him.

    He is currently posing as the man I fell in love with. Apparently Dr. Jekyll has forgotten that Mr. Hyde has been out conducting a scorched earth policy and throwing raccoon shit at me and passersby. Unfortunately, Dr. Jekyll’s twinkling and sparkling has not been able to remove the burn residue and stench of raccoon shit that Mr. Hyde has left behind.

    • Oh my Princess, you do have a great perspective and witty way with words! (Don’t try to say that three times fast). I have to admit I would’ve loved my ex to even pretend to want me back, at least for the sheer revenge factor on my part, but alas he did not. Nonetheless, I am now 1 1/2 years post D-Day and recently engaged to a wonderful (non-sparkly) man. I just told him tonight that one of the most stunning things, for me at least, is to find that he and I are on the same team. Because at some point, somewhere during my 25 year marriage, my ex decided we were opponents in some sort of secret war.

      But you got this Princess…. 🙂

      • Funny about the war/opposing sides/cage match analogies. Ex said to me at one point after dday that our marriage ‘was always a competition, about racking up points’. I was just ‘huh?’. I never saw it that way and thought it was an incredibly bizarre thing to say. But I really think he saw it like that. And still does. It’s mind boggling.

    • What you’ve said here, about love being a zero sum game, a cage match, a fight to the death, is so completely right. I’ve been struggling, trying to find the right words to describe the relationship, how it was never husband & wife, or a guy & his girl, in our case, but was more sadist/toy, or monster/prey. Nothing has fit, evil comes close, but he’s more cunning than intelligent, somehow the word evil seems to be too good for him. (That doesn’t feel like it makes any sense, but that’s where my head is, right now, I’m still reeling, a little.) You’ve clarified the whole situation perfectly.

        • I can understand, totally, hurting over that, seems like us chumps get to go thru our own special brand of grief. I wont miss HIM, one bit, it’s the quarter century of my life that’s been lost, for me that’s more than half of my life. We get to face the fact that what we believed was the love we always hoped for, was nothing but a ruse, perpetrated by an actor who was only seeking a means to an end. While I was wasting my precious little energy, & frustrating the hell out of myself, trying to express to him the magnitude of what he’d done, he was busy calculating a damage control plan, as always. (I told him once it would have been better if he’d just killed me outright, because he’d instead murdered my life, basically imprisoning me in hell for 20 yrs, for HIS crimes) Now he has a counseled who asks if I’m willing to save this
          relationship, & I’m asking “what relationship? You mean this sadism party he’s throwing, where he shits on me every waking minute, denies it happened, then blames me for it, before telling me it was for my own good? It goes like this: “I never did/said that, but when I did, it was your fault, & I did it to help you, honey”
          Obviously I’m still in the angry stage, I’m still waking up & seeing the reality. I read a post here from someone who received a coupon for a grocery store gas discount from her ex, to help her out, it said, & she laughed til she cried. I can’t wait for that moment. And I’m happy to hear that you are almost there. Well done. 🙂

          • The thing that bugs me is that I could have spent 20 years building a life with someone worthy, someone who would have actually loved me and seen life through with me. But nope, I picked the guy who kept me around for kibbles until they ran out and he found a new supply – all while he was screwing other women behind my back for years. Pisses me off, to be honest.

            • Nord, that is exactly the thing that I cannot get over and perhaps never will, and it is the thing that rears its head even yet when I least expect it, causing me fury and bitterness, and sometimes still even sorrow– the squandering of MY life. Bastards.

            • Oh, yes. I’m with you, there. I’m SERIOUSLY pissed right now, cause it could conceivably take me a year to get my daughter & I out of this. My mom’s house is (probably) open if things got too screwed up here, but I don’t want to live there unless I have no choice. I don’t see it being much better there than it is here, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog. And once we do finally get out on our own, I’ll be starting all over, basically from the point I was at when I met him at 19. We have every reason/right to be pissed, because these guys essentially have stolen decades of our lives. They have no right to the things they take from us-I gave up working, friends, college, (after doing so well for 2 yrs, I was so heavily mind fucked I finally caved & dropped out) They take our self-esteem, freedom, minds, hearts & souls. This monster has crushed my soul, my life is in utter shambles, & I hate the fact that he had to push me this hard to make me wake up. I will never forgive him, not for a second, I told him that not only will I not forgive him for the things he’s done for the last 4 yrs, I also thought back thru our entire 22 year history & took back forgiveness for the majority of the rest of it. When I’m finally away from him, I’ll be able to release the sheer hatred I have for him, but never the contempt, disgust, and…….loathing, maybe. There’s a word out there, to describe the greasy stomach feel, I actually have an image in my mind, sorta like 3 day old roadkill in very hot weather. The only good thing that came out of it is my kiddo, my 7 yo daughter. She’s so much like me, physically & intellectually, but, she will NOT end up like me. The nastier he gets, the closer she & I get. But oh how I hate seeing him treat her the way he’s treated me. He’s pushing her away, she’s smart enough to know he does things that are entirely inappropriate, & she also has no doubt that I’m there for her. Even if I was the spiteful type who’d turn my child against the other parent, (I’m not, she’s the love of my life, not a pawn to be used, that’s HIS forte), I wouldn’t have to do a thing. He’s doing a fine job of it all by himself. Narcissists see kids as kibble thieves, & he’s a textbook case.
              Don’t blame yourself for picking the pig, that’s not what happened. More like he descended on you, like a damn vulture, but one hiding in a perfect man mask. You did nothing wrong. I’d much rather be me, even with my wrecked life, than one of THEM.

              • So true, so true… my life is in freefall and yet… at least I’m not him.
                He blames our daughter for ruining our relationship because she ‘steals all my attention’ from him and therefore how can I blame him for looking for affection elsewhere.
                She’s 2 FFS… she needs my attention!! (and trust me, he still gets plenty…)
                Frustratingly I am yet to get to hate – I’m still at sad and hurt and confounded by it all… I’m still at ‘surely he can’t be as bad as I think he is’… I’m still at – maybe he’ll realise what he’s lost and change so we can all be together…
                Deep down I know he won’t but I can’t help hoping 🙁

              • He asks how u can blame him? Easy. He didn’t accidentally put his wiener there. And saying a 2 yo is “stealing” attention is very telling. And shitty.
                Don’t feel bad if u don’t hate him, it just means you’re made of much better stuff than he deserves. He claims u made him lie, & that YOU broke up the family. What passes for logic in those wormy little brains, it still blows me away. Drives me nuts how they benefit twice from every act of abuse-they shit on us, then blame/punish us for it. Double the fun. And they’re never responsible for any of it. Even tho you wish he’d change, it sounds like you escaped. Good for you. Really, I think you’re doing everything right.

              • Thanks MammaLynn – It’s so good to have encouragement – feels so overwhelming sometimes.
                I just can’t believe how my eyes are opening reading this site. It’s like reading my life…
                Last night I managed finally to text him and be cold and calm and not a begging pathetic mess… it felt like progress. He isn’t capable of change – I’ve seen the coldness and always thought it was a cover for deeper feelings… it isn’t. I’m not even sure he truely loves his kids – how could he?! he says he does but then cancels and cuts short visits.
                How on earth do we learn to spot these monsters before getting reeled in?! I think I might stay single forever after this – not sure I can ever trust again.

              • It might be interesting to see how he reacts if/when you continue with the calm, unemotional manner when you deal with him. He’ll either start to backpedal, & try to suck you back in, or figure he can’t get what he wants from you, & leave you in peace. I always believed there was a heart under all the layers of bastard-there’s not. He’s just a pile of fake personas, roles that he plays for each situation. There’s the helpless, pathetic little boy role, the long-suffering sweetheart with a crappy wife, the angry, shouting dickhead, (nobody outside immediate family sees that one), & the super-dad. There’s more, but, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m betting you’ve seen all of them. Once we give up on being loved by a narcissist, & recognize them for what they are, we begin to free ourselves. And realizing our instincts were right all along, even if we ignored them, is such a relief. I’m so glad you didn’t stick with this guy for decades, too many of us have, I gave him a quarter century, & those years are gone forever. But that’s all he gets, & I won’t spend one second missing him, cause there’s nothing there worth missing. Much respect to you, you’ve freed yourself from a very calculating type of monster, & have your eyes wide open. Well done. 🙂

              • I think you’ve caught on to one of the most important ways to recognize people like this; they sound reasonable, they say reasonable things, but when you watch their actual behaviour, it’s very different. Most can only keep up the facade for a short while. And of course, when the cracks in the facade start to show, there we are w/the bucket of spackle!

                I’m trying to teach my kids to watch whether what people do is consistent w/what they say. And that even if you love them, even if you’re convinced that at some level they love you, if someone is repeatedly disrespectful and hurtful, you have to get away.

  • Chump Son here.

    I haven’t had time to read all these great comments, but CL has brought us back to the essence of the problem for many of us: We are dealing with narcissists. And, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in “The Great Gatsby,” “The rich are different from you and me.” Well, the narcs are different from us Chumps. They kind of feed off us like vampires. And we Chumps project normalcy onto the narcs. The narc looks off into space and we think, “Oh, poor dear Harold. He’s suffering so. He really does feel pain.” And Harold (or Harriet) doesn’t feel that pain. We project it onto them and create a deception for ourselves. Don’t be too tough on yourself, Chumps! These narcs are GOOD ACTORS. They know all the moves. They’ve observed how normal people behave, and they have a nose for finding Chumps who will tolerate them/make excuses for them/clean up after them. And the narcs are smart. They know how to ration normalcy in relationships, how to be nice just long enough to keep a Chump on the hook.

    But…when you really see them. When you really have a true encounter with them, it’s a bit like something out of “The Exorcist.” Suddenly, you see how cold and empty they are, how little they valued you, how little the really care about anything other than themselves, their hobbies and (above all) their image. It’s a rude awakening. Most folks aren’t like this. But there’s some percentage out there that ARE like this. And these folks…. You have to get away from them. They aren’t good for you. (Or, if you decide to stay, then you have to just surrender to some Chump fantasy that things are really OK/that it’s all at least partially your fault, etc. etc.)

    Like some of you, I, too, had that cold dead encounter with the inner life of the narc. When you see how empty they really are, it’s a revelation, an epiphany. It’s painful, but it’s also reality. It’s structural. So, we have to teach our children how to recognize this, so they won’t make the same (sometimes decades-long) chump-mistakes (well intentioned mistakes, but mistakes no less) that we did.

    My own experience with a narc father follows’ CL’s description. He had me on the run until one day when I stood up, and he…wilted. Just wilted. These narcs are not profiles in courage. Part of why they often betray their partners is their desperate search for someone who will, in childlike fashion, admire them. Part of the reason they love little kids (and can’t stand adolescents) is that they desperately want to be ignored. They have many weaknesses, but so long as we handicap ourselves, we are at their mercy. Still, it is amazing how quickly the tables can turn when you learn to see them for the cold, dead little fish they are……..

    Thanks to CL for helping to provide the glasses that help us see.

    Chump Son

  • Oops! Mistake in the above. Last full paragraph. Should say: “…is that they desperately want to be admired…..”

    Sorry!

    Being a true Chump, I regret these mistakes! I should proofread before I post!

  • My narcissistic serial cheating ex-wife recently announced she is engaged to be married. I feel sorry for the new chump but I doubt if I told him the truth about her he woudn’t believe me anyway. She’s putting on her sparkly fireworks show and fiancé has gone blind from the light show.

    When I dropped off the kids Sunday night I asked if she’d told her fiancé about her cheating throughout our entire marriage. She said the fiance doesn’t need to know this as it has nothing to do with him and she’d never cheat on him because he fulfills her unmet needs. (The thing is her unmet needs are as vast as the Grand Canyon.)

    My ex is committed to “forgiving” herself, something she’s been doing her whole life.

    Here is what she wrote on her Facebook to her new fiancé.

    My soul honors your soul.
    I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.
    I honor the light, love, and truth within you, because it’s also within me
    In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one
    …………

    What a piece of work she is.!!!

    • She thinks she’s incredibly soulful and prescient and important. The new guy is a stand-in prop, whom she will tire of in no time. She ascribes a lot of nonsense to him, and he gladly wears it. She will need another dude to fulfill her unmet needs.

      I feel sorry for your kids.

    • Haha, a piece of work indeed! And putting that on fb, for all the world to see. The truth is within her! What a load of shit. Love it. My STBXH constantly posted pictures of himself running races with a big smile on his face. Redamndiculous how much admiration they need. PF, I know you’re glad to be out of that marriage! And I would tell the new chump about the affairs:)

      • Mine always posts pictures of himself smiling widely like he’s on top of the world – hugging his niece whose 5. Like he is the kindest most wonderful human being on earth. His profile pic is him and his female cousin – what a family guy:) One who lied to me on my daughter’s birthday while screwing a low-life co-worker with zero remorse. Not the manipulative liar and cheater he truly is. Its all about them putting on grand image to the world while in reality they are horrific people. Just found out today that his best friend who works at the same bank that he did has been accessing my account. What scumbags. Just the lowest of the low. Makes me sick to think I was ever involved with such a cretin. He and the low-life OW deserve each other. Both mediocre pieces of shit…

        • Haha, my ex’s main AP (whose then-husband had to DNA test their children last year to determine paternity after a 17-year long affair), posts numerous pictures of herself with nieces and nephews on Facebook. Her children will not appear with her. Such a great family gal!

          • My ex’s main AP posted a huge smiling pic of herself. Worse, her husband (who took her ass back) posted a pic of the two of them smiling like they are the happiest couple in the world! It’s too bad he took her back–I think the AP and ex would make a lovely couple. But yes, it’s really all about pretending they have the best, happiest lives, when in reality their lives SUCK as much as they do.

    • Hahaha…I had a similar conversation with ex a bit after dday. He said that cheating on me with her AND other women while telling both me and final OW that he loved us didn’t count as cheating on her because she was still living with her boyfriend. And the fact that while he was making plans for the future with me, plans for the future with her (sort of…stringing her along, basically) and also making plans for various hookups were not really important.

      Funny thing is I let final OW know all of this. She either doesn’t believe it or is spackling like mad and going along with his ‘it wasn’t really cheating on you because you were still living with your boyfriend’. I assume she’s spackling and she’ll end up here in five to ten. Like a long-served prison sentence.

    • What a piece of New Age gibberish. He should be mortified to marry such a person.

      Oh, and those “unmet needs”? They’re an ever moving goal post. He’s not special. He’s her next chump.

    • PF,

      I’ve just been sitting here for about five minutes– slack-jawed. I could comment foaming diarrhea all over this one… but it truly speaks for itself… piece of work, indeed!

      This is just not right. I so sincerely wish that there was a way that he could be privy to the real truth that resides inside her soulless. Ya know… like an anon letter from the wife of a former AP, now living in another state… saw the piece of new age donkey dung on fakebook, and thought perhaps he might want to hear that behind the blinding light and “truth” is nothing but a black hole. Careful… dude… the gravity will suck you in, pulverize you and that will be that.

      BTW… I would do that for you. I mean that. Chumps honor! I realize its not very meh, but I don’t care. One anon letter from out of state (unless we live in the same state.) No follow up, nothing to trace it back to you or me or here. At the very least, it will plant the seed of doubt in his mind… Its only fair! This playing field is so uneven, I’m surprised he hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth! (he will eventually) I certainly would understand if you don’t want to go this route, but if you do, please ask Tracy for my email.

      • Cool of you to offer. Once my divorce is final, I perhaps may consider this. The AP’s husband doesn’t know the extent of his wife’s rampant cheating (and that’s just with my STBX – who knows how many other dicks have been inside her). I feel like he needs to know before he has kids with her.

        But I don’t want to be the one to tell him, because he would assume I’m the crazy ex. You know.

      • Thanks for the offer Laurel

        I’ve spent the last couple of years detoxing from my ex. She’s a piece of work and will never change. She’s a fraud and has her act down to perfection.

        If we didn’t have kids together, I’d spend the rest of my life warning every chump about her.

        Also, she’s too smooth and an anonymous email without hard proof is something she could easily wriggle out of.

        The thing is, she believes her own shit, believes she’d never cheat on her new fiancé.

        The problem with getting rid of a narcissist is that they are free to victimize others and it’s so fucking wrong,

        • no, not an anon email. An anon letter. snail mail. Directly to the fiance. A letter from the wife of one of her ex fuckbuddies. So, in essence on the same plane— not someone with an agenda other than a good deed. It doesn’t matter if the entire thing is made up. Let her fucking try to worm her way out of it. The idea is to put the idea in his head. It would give him pause to figure out why a woman would come forward with this information. Why would anyone do that if it wasn’t true? I would mail it from NYC. Only about 30 million people it could be from. lol

          I know its diabolical… She’s smooth, huh? not really, hun. She’s a dog turd swimming in a pool of sewer sludge. I believe in vindication (which we rarely really get) and its one thing to behave as she has for years and years and another to flagrantly espouse all of that shet on fakebook, like she’s some disciple of the Dalai Lama or something.

          but really, if you change your mind, please contact me and I’ll do it because I really, really don’t understand how a woman can behave like this— and get away with it.

    • That little poem about “My soul honors your soul,” P.F. — it’s a fairly common definition of the Sanskrit word “namaste.” She probably copied it off Pinterest. Man, she so badly wants it to look like her crappy little life is radiantly lit from within, doesn’t she?

  • Love it when they lose control. At the time, it made me cry and I was totally mystified, now I look back and see why I was so depressed. I couldn’t make him happy. Below are 2 emails:
    From me to him: (keep in mind this was the 4th email I sent because he could not give a direct clear answer)

    The prior email stated you received $2114. It did not say what accounts it went into if any. Thank you for the clarification. I still have some questions:

    1) Was a change made to the allotment? Yes or no
    2) If the answer to the above question is yes, please list what the changes to the allotment were?
    3) If the answer is no, please tell me the steps you plan to take to rectify the situation.
    4) Do you need to deal with finance in Riyadh or at home base
    5) What are your intentions? Please list them

    Thank you in advance for keeping me apprised of the situation. I will appreciate it.

    From him to me:

    As I stated in a previous email when I changed the accounts while I was home, the cash went into my solano first account. it was mid month so I set the first allotment a 1410 which you did receive. I had to change the allotment to start covering you for the whole month instead of just half the month, meaning I had to change it to 2820. so to answer your question.
    1. yes, the change was made 4 september so you would receive 1410 mid month instead of 1410 divided by 2 in both paychecks
    2. Riyadh is currently looking into the situation and now 705 is missing and no one knows where it went.
    3. If things are not correct by the next paycheck, I will get you the cash somehow
    4. Riyadh, as I do not belong to DM
    5. I have previously stated my intentions,
    1a, if you need the cash now, let me know and I will get it for you by the weekend.
    1b, NOT TO SCREW YOU! No matter how angry you make me. my lawyer has also said I have the option to pay you a lump sum at the end of this. I do not intend to do this. LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU NEED! and I WILL GET IT DONE!

    Don’t say thank you and I appreciate it when clearly based on your questions (wording and structure), you are not.
    **
    So he isn’t trying to screw me by taking all the money and leaving me with 92k in debt? Uh huh riiiiiight!

    • I love when they go to Caps to make their point. All shouty and angry. Ex does this quite regularly, which is when I ignore because it means he’s about to blow.

  • Thank you for this post and all the comments. Just what I needed today to recover my “Meh.” The narcissist’s thinking is so delusional, and I tried so hard to empathize and understand, until I finally realized it was like arguing with a schizophrenic about whether the voices they heard in their heads were male or female. Crazy-making lies and affairs and energy sappers! I was just narcissistic supply for 35 years. He replaced me, but kept me on the back burner just in case.
    I am not walking or running away. I am skipping away! At a very fast skip.

  • I’ve noticed that my XH can’t have serious conversations face-to-face. The really tough ones always have to be by phone for him. I don’t know why he thinks that gives him the upper hand – maybe he can only be nasty when he can’t see me. Who knows?

    He and I had a rare fight last night. He called me to chew me out about one thing or another, and when I refused to take his bait, he got mad and hung up. About an hour later, he emailed that S 10 had left part of his homework at my house. So I took it over at nearly 10 pm. XH met me at the door, took the book, and said, “Be careful going home.” I just rolled my eyes.

    Jekyll in person, Hyde by phone. He’s done this hundreds of times. Weird.

  • CL, you said “Everyone is interchangeable for kibbles.” How right you are! I realized after my last DDay my ex NEVER called me by my name anymore, hadn’t in so long I could not remember the last time he said or emailed using my actual name. He always called me “hon”. I realized this when I saw all the interaction between him and his OW; you got it, he also called her “hon” and the emails were often exactly like the ones he sent to me for years.

    I must say this again, I really don’t think every cheater is a narcissist/NPD, it seems to be the common assumption. I think most act like they are NPD during this cheating phase because it’s such a selfish act they have to rationalize it and the more they do so the more they believe their own shit. I do think many are mentally ill in some way, entitled and unable to accept responsibility. I know my ex was and still is mentally ill (with alcoholism thrown in). Whether he’s BPD, or NPD or a Sociopath or some mix of them all, I will never know. The literature tells me most people who have these mental illnesses never believe there is anything wrong with them so if they go to therapy it’s usually for manipulative purposes. Even if they admit to depression or something else, they lie to their therapists or if the person they are seeing diagnoses them or even suggests something is wrong beyond depression they stop seeing the therapist.

    • “Even if they admit to depression or something else, they lie to their therapists or if the person they are seeing diagnoses them or even suggests something is wrong beyond depression they stop seeing the therapist.”

      My ex actually was diagnosed as NPD years ago during a very brief stint in therapy. During our bogus reconciliation, I insisted he go to therapy and also deal with his raging ADHD. He went to maybe three therapy appointments, kept missing and canceling appointments. When the therapist suggested ex seemed rather manic and something was wrong, ex never went back, saying “the therapist wasn’t on his same spiritual wavelength.”

      • Oh, and my ex would rather forfeit his children than go to counseling. He has not seen our children, ages 24, 20 and 14, in A YEAR AND A HALF, since D-Day. Our children were disgusted after his double life was exposed, and my ex has apparently been too disinterested to really try to overcome their reluctance to see him. He texts them once every 6 months. I have suggested to him repeatedly that he should re-establish a relationship with them, and that his only option to do so at this point appears to be for him to go to counseling to address his own issues, as well as how to approach and re-connect with his children, and maybe even family counseling for them.

        His answer every time I suggest this: “I’ll think about it.” He’s still thinking apparently.

  • Again, I’m not sure that STBX is a narc, but since an affair is narcissistic by nature, it’s good to plan as if he might be a narc.

    I have really ramped up my level of commitment to get out sooner than later. The boxes are bought. I do need a storage facility for transport, but not a large one. I just want the stuff that’s meaningful to me, and to which I have legitimate claim (acquisition prior to marriage). Also, it came to me that I will need to transport myself and dogs to a motel for a few days, so that when I tell him that I know of the affair, and that I’m absolutely broken-hearted, devastated, destroyed (and here I need to learn to cry on command, dammit!), but I know that I have to think of his happiness and how unfair it is to trap him in a marriage he no longer wants, and that really I have to let him go so that he can pursue his happiness. Vomit. Anyway, I’ll need to exit the house at that time.

    Then I will have to negotiate the settlement, hopefully with a minimum of legal involvement, but I will retain a lawyer because I’d be silly not to do so.

    • Might be a good idea to have the conversation in a public place, near where you’ll be staying, w/the dogs w/you. Don’t know about your soon-to-be-ex, but mine could get right tetchy when things didn’t go his way!

    • “(and here I need to learn to cry on command, dammit!),”

      I ran into the bathroom, locked the door and howled as if I was crying my eyes out till I heard him leave. It only took about 10 minutes but I got $900.00 out of it….the things they make us do….

  • Oh, the only reason I didn’t end up loosing more of my shit in the divorce was because ex didn’t lawyer up. He only got advice from a lawyer because he wouldn’t pay her the $5K retainer she required. I remember him telling me long before that he could be a better lawyer by studying for 2 weeks than the one I had…not so much.

    So he never answered my filing and I lucked into a judge that charged him with contempt of court – golden. Golden because he was on probation for his second DUI in a year, so that charge would have gotten him jail time if the court didn’t dismiss it. And so after months of bullshit non-negotiation from him he signed the latest agreement 1 day after being served contempt of court papers.

    • “I remember him telling me long before that he could be a better lawyer by studying for 2 weeks than the one I had…not so much.”

      Funny how their self-centeredness tends to bite them in the end.

    • Same here, DDW and LUD,

      I AM a lawyer myself, but of course hired an experienced divorce attorney to represent me the day before I kicked my ex out. Yet my ex did not get his own attorney. Instead he chose to represent himself. He’s thinks he is just that smart, did not want to pay a $5500 retainer, and was probably not interested in sharing his story with any of my colleagues in the local Bar. So I actually got the proposed property settlement agreement which my lawyer drafted, and I negotiated it directly with my ex (so he continued to feel like the smartest person in the room). All the while, he thought he was manipulating me. We were divorced in 3 months, despite our 25 year marriage and 3 children, and he gave up up oodles of alimony I would have owed him…poor baby…

      A mutual friend at some point wondered in amazement, “I can’t believe he was arrogant or stupid enough to try to represent himself against you AND your lawyer,”

      Yes he was.

  • Best advice EVER.

    We have children together, so I couldn’t go No Contact. However, the day I went “bank content” (i.e. I correspond only by email and write every note as though I’m writing to a bank cancelling a checking account) was the day I declared my independence from his control. His responses are always mean-spirited, self-absorbed, sarcastic and downright nuts. They document a crazy old coot should I ever need to prove his selfishness in court.

    I wish I found your blog two years ago! Thank you. P.S. I still feel this makes an EXCELLENT book, and hope you will be signed by a publisher ASAP.

  • took me years to really disconnect from SBTX’s narc. He would be sooooooo nice and reasonable yada yada, until I disagreed about something – anything. Then he’d launch into a tirade and literally scream about how, “(I) just can’t accept the fact that he’s a changed person and treat him respectfully”. One time during this, “you won’t give me credit for being a better person” screamfest, I just stated (didn’t ask him) that I was confounded why it was so important to him that I thought well of him; I told him that what I thought about him was none of his business and that I could care less what his feelings toward me were. Told him that I would no longer have any conversation with him unless there was an emergency with our kids and that I would no longer speak to him. the lightbulb just went off in the middle of it that I would never ever rationalize with him and I just flatly said it and then hung up the phone. I haven’t had a conversations with him in almost 5 years now.

  • Holy crap. This is my life. Everything I’m reading is my life.
    2 weeks ago I finally found ‘proof’ – just one little receipt but it finally proved the the now-ex BF had been lying about where he was over night. Not on a business trip as claimed, but in a bar not far form home. I don’t know where he stayed that night. I don’t know how many times it’s happened – I suspect many. He swears he has not been unfaithful but, you know… I KNOW. There have been so many little things that didn’t add up – he is so secretive… it has driven me crazy for 4 years – I have at times thought maybe I was crazy… but I’m not. I’m really not.
    As it stands I’m 5 months pregnant and I have begged him, weeping, desperate to stop lying to me and ‘set me free’ cause I feel like I’m being mentally tortured… but he just glazes over – his face literally changes and goes cold and hard and scary. He always says it’s me. I’m paranoid. I’m mental… I make him lie etc etc…
    They are actually a different breed of person and unless you’ve seen one in the flesh, transform, you wouldn’t believe it was possible.
    He’s now turned it all around – I’ve broken up the family. He loved me SO much but I’ve made it impossible for him to be with me etc etc…
    I think even in the circumstances of being pregnant with our second child, that i have had a lucky escape… I didn’t realise there were so many of them around. Terrifying.

  • Hello,
    My husband left me for another woman almost a year ago. Ever since that time he has been cake eating. He constantly sends me mixed signals that hint to the fact that he misse me and our life together. Anyway, we have an agreement that he takes care of the yard for the next 3 to 5 years. Yesterday he mowed the grass and I mentioned to him about cutting down a bush. He brings me the tool for this and says for me to do it and kept telling me that it’s my yard. Now, keep in mind I have 3 acres and it’s a big yard. He left me. I didn’t leave him so WTF? How nervy is it to tell me it’s my yard when he abondon me. What is this freak’s problem? Most the time he has been nice to me this last year, but makes me so angry when he says this to me. What is his issue? I don’t get it. Maybe he thinks I’m coming between him his bimbo. I don’t know.

    • My ex insisted the kids and I stay in the family home, at least for a couple of years. I can’t take care of the yard (bad back) and he knows this, so he agreed to do all the yard work. I have had to frequently remind him of that agreement, because if it were up to him, having agreed to it would be sufficient (‘see what a good guy I am?’), actually DOING it is asking too much!

      All I do is remind him that, AS HE AGREED TO DO, this or that tasks requires doing. If he whines or drags his feet, I again remind him that he agreed to take care of this, suggest that if he cannot do so he could pay someone to do it, and the one time he dragged his feet too much, I reminded him that I am perfectly willing to sell the place (which would make him look really bad to his kids and his mom, who are already plenty pissed about what he’s done) if he won’t take care of the responsibilities he agreed to.

      Treat him like a slightly mentally challenged 4 year old – seems to work around here.

      And don’t waste your emotion getting annoyed or mad. He IS a freak, so he WILL continue to act like a freak. Trust that he sucks!

  • I keep this one in my inbox and I read it everyday. Every day I get more out of it especially the paragraph about what was in my past life that groomed me for this. That’s the part that hit me today.

  • Thank you to all who have commented here, you have blessed me marvelously! I was under the control of a covert/stealth narcissist (unbeknownst to me) for my whole adult life. He kept me in a box, poked holes in condoms, didn’t let me work, have money, not even a drivers license or phone for most of the marriage. I never saw his paychecks, never knew anything about the money. Hell, he even did the grocery shopping. After MANY years of this I pulled away, slept on the sofa for the last 4 years and basically was just a slave. He knew when our daughter graduated and left to college I was leaving, although I had no idea how I was going to make that happen. Well, long story short I ended up going online & met a man. He was wealthy, strong, powerful, famous in his career industry, and promised to save me from my dilemma & give me a life I had only dreamed of. He told me I was the woman God had created for him & that he had been searching for me his whole life. I was still attached to my stealth narc husband so was hesitant to leave, but this man pushed HARD. The day my daughter graduated the new man had me a house rented, fully furnished to the t, a new car, a bank account & money, an American Express platinum card in my name, the whole nine. Within a month of my moving in my new place he started pushing HARD for us to marry, even though he knew I was not ready. I felt he knew what was good for me better than I knew myself. He was smart, worldly, sophisticated, everything I was not. He seemed like the perfect man, my white knight, tender, caring, loving, the sex was awesome, just everything I thought I had ever wanted. So I did it, I married him. Within a few short months after the wedding he made me cut contact with my grown children, took a new job in his industry and moved me 1000 miles away from everything & everyone I had ever loved. Then everything changed. Once we moved, he didn’t add me to any accounts when he switched banks & closed all the old accounts, so once again I walk around broke. Said I was free to pursue my own career & identity but then sabotaged every job I applied for, again, unbeknownst to me. At this point my life is a nightmare. I am only here to serve him. Cooking, cleaning, ironing. The affection ceased, as well as the sex. Now he tells me he is just not an affectionate person & I am thinking wtf, for the first six months I lived in you lap… Nothing made sense until a friend told me to look up “narcissist victim syndrome.” At first I read about it in relation to my ex, but the more I read the more I realized that my present husband is an even worse narc than my ex!! So now I am just absorbing all of this, and trying to figure out how in the hell I am going to get away. This man is overt, ruthless. Not sure yet how to go about it, but any advice would be greatly appreciated. I stumbled across this blog while googling “how to escape a narcissist.” I dunno what to do. I have been controlled by narcs my whole life. I want my life to be my own, man. I am done being controlled, I just dunno what to do. Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Start reaching out-email your grown children, quietly let them know how things are. Contact an organization, like the YWCA community outreach program, they can help with every step.
      http://www.ywca.org/site/c.cuIRJ7NTKrLaG/b.7527667/k.C931/Local_Associations/apps/kb/cs/contactsearch.asp

      Not sure about my links, if it doesn’t work, I started at the local associations page, you can probably find local info online.
      Start packing small, precious things, things that he won’t notice. The important thing is to keep your plans from him, dont let him see that you’re changing.
      The YWCA can assign a caseworker to you, she can recommend anyone that can help, therapists, attorneys, they can advocate for you, even in court, I believe. She can help with housing, even welfare, if that’s what it takes. Which is the only way I’m getting out.
      Once you start with one tiny step, even if its just separating your personal paperwork, or looking around the house to decide what you’ll be taking with you, one little step leads to the next, & I think that by posting here, you’re making the first move. That takes courage, so you’re already on your way. I wish you all the strength & luck in the world.

  • FINALLY! People who understand. I tell people about the things my now-Ex has done, but its hard to describe to them just how terrifying he is. Even my own family, who love and support me, don’t really understand when I break down crying and say “you don’t understand! HE’S EVIL!” — they think I’m exaggerating/being dramatic. It is hard for even me to comprehend, that the cold beast behind the mask that would lash out at me when I slightly offended or inconvenienced him was the actual man that I was in love with, and everything I loved about him was a façade. Not only did he cheat and lie regularly (he constantly needs a new woman worshipping at the throne of his ego) he was totally unapologetic. I have never seen him beg, or cry. I have never heard desperation in his voice. I have never seen him exhibit any signs of being HUMAN! He didn’t even understand the concept of intimacy – he wouldn’t even touch me unless it was for sex, when I asked him to kiss me he said it was “gross”. He didn’t act like it was “gross” when I met him and he was trying to dazzle me. I’m not an unattractive woman, and I’ve always been strong and stubborn and independent (all reasons that my family can’t believe he is so bad, because I stayed with him for so long), yet I let him convince me that his cheating was my fault because, and I quote, sex with me “wasn’t hot”, I didn’t tell him how “sexy” he was often enough, he even snarled at me me once that he was “used to dating ‘hot’ girls, NOT fat midgets” (I’m 5’0 and weigh 102). I can’t believe I put up with this and I REALLY can’t believe that as badly as I want away from him, I still want the man he pretended to be when I fell in love with him. We are in the break up phase now, and he’s back to seeing the same old other women (I refer to them as the B-list, these are all the women that he keeps on strings and calls them up any time he needs supply, and they come running, his plan B for when things got even the slightest bit shaky in our relationship). Every time I go through this (it is definitely a cycle) I KNOW that I don’t want to go back, I don’t even do the pick me dance any more, and yet somehow he knows how to catch me at my weakest and weasel his way back in, and I see hope. “Come on, it wasn’t all bad. We had some good times. I can be better, I am prepared to change now.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. I hate myself for knowing better and doing it anyways, and this time I intend not to. I don’t want to waste any more of my life. I think I need help, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere until I started reading this. So there are people who know. That’s a comfort, and I am sorry for all of your experiences. I saw a quote recently that said “to not have your suffering recognized is an almost unbearable form of violence”. That’s what it was like to be with an NPD. He would look at me as I was falling apart in anguish and despair after catching him cheating, feeling like an elephant was standing on my chest, and he would blame me, and say things like “I don’t know what you’re so upset about – you never ACTED like you loved me that much when we were together and now suddenly you care” as if I was faking my pain to get attention or something, and the years I had spent forgiving him over and over and biting my tongue and degrading myself didn’t count as “love”. What he is looking for isn’t love. It’s constant praise..

  • Ok ok. I just need to print this smd take it to the bathroom wall. Nailed it with caring and honesty. Thank you.

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