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Situational Truth

Stephen Colbert coined the awesome word “truthiness” — when referring to politicians who spin their own versions of reality. They seem so sure of themselves, who cares if it’s not the truth? It’s truthy!

Similarly, the food writer Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food” distinguishes between actual food (things “your great-grandmother would recognize as food”) and “food-like substances” such as Hot Pockets, go-gurts, and most public school cafeteria lunches. It’s sort of like food. Heck, it might contain actual bits of real food — but it’s not truly food. Pollan fears we’re losing our ability to distinguish and prefer the fake over the authentic.

I think a lot of cheaters exist in this alternate universe of truthiness and food-like substances. They’re sort of real, but they aren’t really. They look good, but they taste like sawdust. They say the right things — and gosh, they seem totally convincing — but they don’t really mean a word of it. Or they meant it when they said it, but then they walked outside and got distracted by a butterfly and forgot whatever it was they were convinced of a moment ago.

I call this phenomenon “situational truth.”

From a recent letter:

I thought he meant it when he said he wanted to grow old with me. Well even when all this happened, he said he DID mean it at the time. He just knew that might change.

So did he change his mind and forget to tell her? Did he say it because it sounded noble and romantic? Did he have his fingers crossed behind his back? Or was he simply keeping his options open, and shame on her for taking him at his word?

We’ll never know. We’re chumps. Our minds don’t work this way.

I think we all understand what it is to change your mind. To regretfully renege on a former commitment — “I’m sorry, I know I agreed to go dwarf bowling on Thursday night but I forgot I have a PTA meeting.” Situational truth isn’t changing your mind — it’s changing your truth. Instead of reality being a constant, for the “truthy”, the truth is fluid. It can adapt to your ever-changing whims and desires.

Let’s put it in elementary school terms. Suzy has cookies in her lunch. I tell Suzy “You are my BEST friend forever! And you’re invited to my birthday party!” Suzy, moved by this flattery offers me some of her cookies. I eat the cookies. But, alas, I want more cookies. I see Robert. I say “Robert, you are my BEST friend forever! And you’re invited to my birthday party!” Robert gives me his cookies.

Suzy WHO?

Look Suzy was all very fine and great so long as she had cookies. And she might have cookies again, and when that happens, I’m sure Suzy and I will patch things up. Did I believe what I said when I told Suzy she was my best friend? Well, sort of. My vision of a best friend is someone who not only has cookies in their lunch, they give me cookies. So yes, Suzy was absolutely my best friend in that moment. But then she just wasn’t that useful to me after I ate the cookies. I could wait around until tomorrow, when chances are Suzy’s mom might pack more cookies in her lunch — but that proposition is iffy. Right now Robert has cookies! — so best friend allegiances must shift.

We chumps get so hung up on veracity. To us, when you tell someone they are your best friend, you mean it. It takes a lot more than fresh cookies to rock our commitment. We internalize the things we say. We hold Suzy in our hearts. If anyone asks, Suzy is our best friend. We actually invite Suzy to our birthday parties. She is so much more than her cookies.

For the truthy, all truth is situational truth. It’s not a constellation based on the North Star, where the moral compass turns to an affixed point. No, instead the truth is an Australian shepherd puppy. You have a treat for me?! Awesome! Oh, hang on — SQUIRREL! Whoa… OMG! squeaky toy!!! Where were we?

Okay, perhaps that’s not the best analogy because Australian shepherd puppies are not malevolent, they’re just dim-witted. The best practitioners of situational truth are the personality disordered — they manipulate as easily as they breathe. They don’t agree with your version of reality because it’s yours, and withholding consensus on reality fucks with your head. Bonus!

So if you find yourself in the company of one of these wingnuts? Hold on to your cookies, chumps. And don’t invite them to your birthday party.

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.
  • I do believed he loved me I just don’t believe now he knows exactly what love is. How after 23 yrs of devotion he can suddenly “fall in love” with a woman he barely knows who was his girlfriend 30 yrs ago WTF. Brokenheated I move on sadly wiser and very mistrusting. And I am taking all my cookies back and more!

    • I too thought my ex loved me but no, I don’t believe that at all now. After twenty years and who knows how many flings I cannot believe that anyone can love another person while regularly screwing around on them. That’s simply not love. Also, after two decades ex is with final OW, who is decades younger and whom he knew for an entire two months when I found out. They’re still together but it’s apparently not all coming up roses. 🙂

      • It never is, Nord. The grass ISN’T greener – it grows where you water it.

        S10 tells me XH dumped OW after a screaming match over the phone where she demanded to know who he was with when she called the night before and he didn’t answer. Trust issues much? He didn’t like being called a liar and a cheat by the woman he lied and cheated with, so their 7 year relationship is over – as is her ride on his profession coat tails. And people wonder why hooking up with your mentor is a bad idea…

        Karma. Gotta love it!

        • It took seven years? Sheesh. While I’m pretty much meh these days I don’t want to wait that long to have the silly cow out of my life. And funny…my ex was something of a mentor to her as well. He appeared to have done everything she wants to do professionally. She doesn’t realise that a lot of that success was built on my support, back up and general guidance. Now his career is pretty stagnant. And so is hers. 🙂

          • Nord – I put XH through grad school and waited 11 years to have kids. He would not have the career he does if not for me. But, like your XH’s OW, she saw the end result and decided she’d just “step in and take over” from me. Guess I made it look easy. It wasn’t.

            His career took a BIG hit when it came out that he’d left me for her; her career won’t go anywhere without him. Unless she finds some other married prof to bang, that is, which is a distinct possibility. Her reputation proceeds her.

            Yes, seven years. The only reason it lasted that long, IMO, is because they never lived together, and she moved away two years ago to work on her post doc out of state. It’s so much easier to keep the fantasy alive when there’s no pesky real life issues to deal with…

            • I think it’s lasting at the moment because they are both determined to prove that it was all worth it. But from all accounts Ex is pretty bored and sadly this makes him more angry at me….because, you know, it’s somehow my fault this isn’t working out quite the way he wanted.

              • Same here Nord. All my fault.
                I get ” we should never have got married”. I just don’t get that your best friend and all that goes with that, supporting and loving each other through thick and thin, they end up destroying so much and wonder why we just can’t move on with the new order. It’s truly fucked up. She can still look at me and say chainsaw man thought we were separated. So what you are saying for two years he didn’t think there was something strange that you couldn’t be together at nights and he still hasn’t met the boys. I’m dealing with the biggest liar in the history of the world. She or chainsaw man, or me are complete nut cases.
                These nut cases deserve each other. I think it’s called karma but bloody hell I’m having trouble reaching ” meh”

        • “And people wonder why hooking up with your mentor is a bad idea…”

          Yep. It will get you fired too, which your X should have coming in my opinion.

          • In my xh’s case, it got him and his university employer sued, then it got him fired, then it got his government research grants pulled. When all that sparkle was replaced by professional disgrace, the student who inspired it all decided to pursue other opportunities. I don’t know which of them was worse.

    • I agree with Cl on this. I KNOW my XW loved me. In fact I KNOW she still loves me. The problem is that it is situational to her as CL said.

      I had to get beaten up side the head with this small but important little fact several times before it finally stuck. I am not a situational person. I mean what I say and I tend to mean it for the long haul. That is a mismatch that does not and cannot get better over time.

    • Yes, and then it becomes the “Pick My Cookies” dance. You like butterscotch? Okay! I can do butterscotch! Or maybe it’s chocolate chip? What, you don’t like that any more and stop using so much butter? Uh, okay. Look! More cookies! No, you’ll like these cookies — try them! Pleeeease let me give you my cookies. Pay no attention to those other cookies…

      • And you know the funny part? I make the best bloody batch of cookies on earth, bar none. I hate to brag but no one has ever tried this certain kind of cookie I make and NOT had a near orgasm. Not joking…they are that good and still weren’t good enough. 🙂

  • Is lying when you don’t tell the truth or is it when you don’t tell all of the truth? This is an axiom every chump has had to deal with and unfortunately, often.

    Anyone on this blog might have written your piece today, but not one of us could have written it better.

    • we call it the sin of ommision, it’s not a lie if you don’t ask. BUT it is over little things. If asked the truth and the whole truth should be told.

    • The best advice regarding ‘integrity’ I have ever read was, believe it or not, written in an employee handbook for a major corporation:

      Berkshire-Hathaway’s ‘rule of thumb’ for employee conduct:

      “…I want employees to ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear the next day on the front page of their local paper – to be read by their spouses, children and friends – with the reporting done by an informed and critical reporter.”

      http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/govern/ethics.pdf

  • This perfectly describes XH!

    While I believe he was devoted to me for the first 20 years of our marriage, he tended to change hobbies A LOT. Baseball, karate, orchids, woodworking – he’d give 100% for short spurts of time, like 2 or 3 years. Then he’d burn out, throw all the associated stuff in the basement, and move on to the next thing.

    Eventually, it went from hobbies to people. When OW came along, the kids and I were thrown in the proverbial basement. Now that she’s gone, he’s moved on to the next thing. I’ve seen the pattern for 30 years, yet it still astounds me.

    I’m with Janet: I’m taking my cookies back and will hard-pressed to ever share again…

    • Red,
      Mine was the same way… All the different hobbies. Paintball, golfing, rc airplances, mountain biking, shooting, etc…. And the expenses behind them. Very little left for me and the kids. Lesson learned on my part.I used to joke with him that when was he going to do that to me?? Well, I got my answer……

      • Casey – isn’t that the truth?! Except you were smarter than me – it never crossed my mind I’d be replaced. Total chumpdom.

        As for the expense – thousands and THOUSANDS of dollars spend on stuff that’s now just sitting around collecting dust. Yet when I wanted to do something, I was made to feel like it was an imposition – especially if it involved him watching the kids.

        Hindsight’s always 20/20.

          • Yep. Work twice as much for a fraction of the resources and made to feel bad for taking any at all.

            No kibbles OR cookies for me. Just crumbs off the table…

        • Red,
          Well, I never thought that I would be replaced. I had so much faith in our marriage but I would tease him about it.

          And the minimal things that I wished to do were exactely like you said – such an imposition.. How dare I ask that we all spend the day together doing something I would like to do even though we do that for him all the time!!! I handled the finances so I would see that there was not much left for me but you know, that was okay because he was such a hard worker (scewing his coworker after their midnight ride alongs on the sheriff’s department)
          If you still have that stuff sitting around – how about selling it? Ebay, Craigslist, etc. Just this weekend, I cleaned the basement and have a TON of stuff to get rid of, granted a lot of it is old toys that the kids have outgrown but still. No reason why you cannot purge and benefit from it. Hugs to you!

    • Wow! Sounds like we have a pattern emerging here. My H is the same way: always on to the next thing/project/hobby. While he is involved, he is completely into it. Once he looses interest or it gets too hard – the off he goes in search of the next ‘greatest thing’.

      I don’t know why I thought he wouldn’t do the same with me. I have lost count of the number of women he has been through in the past year. Some of them he even claimed he loved – yeah, right!

      I gave that man 14 years worth of cookies – and I am a very good baker. Now I know I wasn’t the only baker in town! In the future, I plan to only share my cookies with people who are willing to share theirs.

      • Maimai – it’s all new and exciting once they get out of a long term relationship. They’re FREE! They can do whatever (or whomever) they want! They’re the man!

        But family, friends, and children aren’t like old sports equipment; you can’t just pull them out of the basement and dust them off when you’re ready to play again. That’s the problem XH is having. He’s ready to “play ball” again with his daughters, but they refuse. It’s been interesting to watch him NOT get his way…

      • One sign of NPD that I’ve seen in men: Hobbyholism.

        They become hobbyholics. Sometimes serial hobbyholics. Very weird.

        Many guys are Geeks. Me included, but the hobbyholics take it to a new level, and then the “immerse and then dump” syndrome sometimes gets taken over into other areas of life, as we all know.

        Chump Son

      • I see so much that describes my ex to a T, here, but I wasn’t clicking on the hobby-switching stuff. Then I realized that the same PATTERN applies, even if not the same behaviour.

        My ex doesn’t have hobbies – he’s WAY too boring for that. (Bored too, but we all know it’s the woman-of-the-monent’s job to provide interest and excitement, right?)

        But he was exactly like this with work and education. He’d get a new job, be super-excited and dedicated and work really hard and do well. Then after a year or less, the whining would begin; his boss is such an idiot, the people at work are all annoying idiots, the company sucks …. Within another year or two, he’d quit/get laid off/find something better, and start again. In the meantime, he was constantly learning new stuff, taking courses, getting certifications, and eventually an MBA, so that he could move on to new and better jobs …..

        And I supported him through all of this! All the times he worked tons of overtime to do well at a new job, all the times he couldn’t care for his kids because he was studying for a certification exam, all the times was unemployed between jobs or contracts, and I was paying the bills without complaining, three years of evenings and weekends to get his MBA …

        I should have realized I’d get the same treatment! Now that I look back, it was only my determination and my constantly-renewed provision of cookies and kibbles that kept the guy around as long as it did.

        He’s been w/the OW for a year and a half now, and the shine has clearly worn off there (2 attempts at convincing me to reconcile over the past 8 months, and lots of whining to the kids about how he’s lonely and unhappy), he’s super fed up w/the job that sent him out of town (providing the opportunity to screw around w/the delusion that he wouldn’t get caught) … Nothing has changed. He really does suck, big time.

  • “Okay, perhaps that’s not the best analogy because Australian shepherd puppies are not malevolent, they’re just dim-witted.”

    Actually, I think the Aussie Shepherd reference was pretty dead-on! After all, you make constant reference to “ego kibbles,” and who knows kibbles better than dogs? :-p

  • I think in a lot of cases they actually believed it when they said it, they were driven by those bonding hormones we all have in the early days. For some it’s an intense high that just doesn’t last through the crap life throws at us, for others, like a chump like me, it was slow steady burn. From what I’ve read on infidelity ( everything I could find for about two years) a lot of people routinely think about divorce off and on, some in good marriages even dream about it*, but unless provided with a viable option (OM/OW) they stick around. Personally the whole thing disgusts me.

    *http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/08/26/o.divorce.dreams/

    • I don’t buy the “viable option” excuse. Everybody has options (unless you are the elephant man or something).

      I do think people doubt their marriage, their career choices, decision to have children and so on at times. That’s normal. What is less normal is ditching the empathy and acting on those impulses.

      Hey, sorry kids, I am sending you into foster care because you make too much noise and leave your toys out.

      Hey sorry boss, I went out and got a new job because you were in a bad mood yesterday, but if you treat me better I might come back.

      Hey…

      • It’s not an excuse, it’s what happens in the mind of these people, they tend to look at the greener grass for quite a while considering their options, sometimes for years. When there is no option, many go back into “for better or worse” mode. The world is full of marriages where one sticks around for the lifestyle it provides, because it is their best current option. The article link I provided pretty much sums it up.

        • In what now is an obvious red flag, xH used to opine that “divorce’s dirty little secret” was that you got to have time to yourself, away from the kids, “at least every other week.”

          Then, toward the end of the marriage, he gazed over the river at the new luxury condos and proclaimed that he was thinking of buying one, and proceeded to describe how he would display his bikes, etc. I thought he was being characteristically foolish and brushed it off (we were already in way over our heads with another of his fantasy properties at the coast). I didn’t realize he was, and had been for years, preparing for his next life without his family in it.

          • I missed a lot of those signs too. I thought I married a down to earth family man, and it turned out his was just biding his time until he could afford all those things the men with the really big dicks have. Big House, Big Truck, hot young wife with Big Boobs, trips to Exotic Places (written off for the business)

            I just found out from an ex-secretary that the Bimbo New Wife got a boob job after she had the kid. That’s true love for you.

        • FWIW, I read that article, and I couldn’t help thinking “Her poor husband. He probably has no idea that she really has no empathy whatsoever”.

          • One of the ways to see what’s about to happen, often quite ways off, is to look at their FB page…From the images and posts you’d think they were single. I’ve just noticed this lately, as I’ve been doing a lot of charity/fundraising events, so I get “friended” by a lot of the women involved in running them. From viewing their FB pages there is often little evidence they are even married.

            • Agreed, Mike. My STBX never posted about me on fb or allowed himself to be tagged. I found out the women he was unfaithful with were NOT in his friends list, so this way, he could post about me to appease me and our families by making it visible to “friends only.” What’s sick is that he’s told these other women he can’t be friends with them on there because it’s “too painful.” They buy it because he’s so good at manipulating…it’s sick what these cheaters can justify in their minds.

              • At least you knew about the Facebook page. My stbx told me that he hated Facebook. Turned out he had one for years. He just blocked me, his family, and everyone who knew both of us. It was for his other life.

              • The OW had lunch with a common friend of my wasband and he was visibly upset. (He did not know I had his emails and knew about this.) OW could not understand why he would be concerned that she had lunch with their friend. Duh.

                Another time, another common friend of ow and my was band sent wasbund am e-mail in which he said, “…and of course our friend in Colorado.” This touched off paranoia personified, as he thought ow had said something to this mutual fried about their relationship. He went into a panic. Emailed ow asking if she had said anything.

                This man who said he loved ow sure was dead set on no one knowing else anything about it.

            • On the other hand, facing being single after 35 years, I realized I will have to stop referring to we, our etc., especially on fb. As I am self employed, i gain new social and business friends a couple of times a week, so my circle who know both of us or know of my wasband, is steadily shrinking. I find it so difficult to remember to say I met so and so instead of we met, or my home is, rather than we live etc. It cuts so thin when one’s aloness is right there in black and white.

        • I think that describes my ex. Once he found the right vehicle that would actually provide him with a partner (Ashley Madison), then all bets were off. He probably NEVER got a bite in real life, and I imagine that if he ever registered for any dating sites, he wasn’t getting hits. He had to go somewhere more depraved and shifty in order to find someone as pathetic and desperate as he was. But honestly, I think he would have just stuck it out with me if, like you said, an “option” hadn’t presented itself.

        • “The world is full of marriages where one sticks around for the lifestyle it provides, because it is their best current option.”

          I can think of no other reason why my wife stays in our marriage. Drives me crazy.

        • I think this is part of what happened with my XW. I just get hired to my first full-time job in several years, and almost immediately she has am emotional affair with someone, makes me do the pick me dance for 7 months, and then leaves me for a second man who was her AP. She would have left me much sooner if she had the chance.

      • My ex thinks one should never doubt the relationship and if one does then it means there is something wrong with the relationship. He was shocked when I told him that there were times I would look at him and think ‘who are you’ or ‘why did I marry you’. To him that was abnormal…to me it was normal after 20 years and countless life events. I considered the fact that those questions were always easily answered a good sign that I had a healthy attitude towards him and my marriage. Sure, he drove me nuts sometimes and there were moments when I would have given my eyeteeth to be single again but that, to me, is par for the course in a long relationship that changes from young lusty lovers to parents to middle aged couple with mortgage, etc. Change brings questions and evaluation.

  • This is too funny that you wrote this today CL! I was having a similar convoersation with my friend.

    I was saying that I truly do believe he meant what he said in that moment, but then another moment came along and he felt something else that deleted the truth he felt in the moment before.

    Its almost as if they cannot connect different situations and know that feelings do not change because something new happens. “We are getting along great, I love you so much, lets get married…. We are fighting, I dont think I am happy anymore and I need to find what makes me happy, and this is why I didnt marry you”. These two comments could come out of his mouth within 1 week of eachother.

    I suppose this is why I “didnt understand him”, he didnt make sense. He used to say I didnt listen to him. My response would be,” but you said…” he would then say “yes last week/an hour ago! Things have changed since then! You listen to what you want! I just now said…!” But then other times he would complain because I would ask if him if things changed and he would say “I dont change my mind that much, why di I have to keep repeating myself! Its the same!”

    Talking about truthiness, this reminds me of one particular time. We were at the house and he had his friend and his gf over. They were talking about issues they were having about balancing school, their own dreams and eachother. (The ex and I always looked like we had it all together so we were asked how we balanced everything). He told them that they needed to give and take. For instance, (this is what he Said mind you) Kristie and I took turns. While she went to school, I put it on hold to be able to work and get us this house. Now that she is done, Ill start going to school again and she will help more with the house. We wanted to be able to have the life we talked about and it was a give and take to make it happen. I actually remember saying out loud, ” awe I didnt even realize we did that. That sounds really good! I dont remember talking about it but wow youre right that is what we did and made it work”. He smiled at me and gave me a kiss. Later that night I was thinking about the conversation and thought to myself, ” wait, thats not how it happened… we used to fight because I thought he should still be in school and put the house on hold til he could finish… in fact, he cheated on me because I wasnt be “supportive” of his decision. His story sounded so much better than what I rememeber.” He has a way of spinning anything to make it sound good but I do think he believed it.

    • You’ve nailed my ex perfectly, Kristina! He’s always been like this; whatever he’s feeling RIGHT THIS MINUTE is the absolute reality, and has no connection to how he might have felt in the past or might feel in the future. And whatever he’s feeling is so clearly the reality, that it is everybody else’s reality, too. So if he’s hungry, we all need to eat now, but if he’s not, the kids should wait for the dinner (and not be a pain about it, because they’re not hungry either, right?). He can’t even remember that he WILL be hungry later, and buy groceries or start cooking a meal that takes a little longer. He only thinks to do those things when he’s actually hungry.

      So if he was mad at me, he had ZERO recollection of the fact that most of the time he liked me, enjoyed being with me, and loved me. He was enraged, and justified to do or say the meanest things. Then when he calmed down and was OK w/me again, it would be absurd for me to be upset by those things he had said or done – he was OK, so obviously everything was OK, right?

      And whatever he was thinking at a given moment was the truth, for that moment, and he’s completely bewildered that people don’t like it that his words don’t align with his actions, or that his good intentions don’t get carried through.

      It’s a level of emotional immaturity that is almost unbelievable; it certainly took me years to figure out. And the guy is in his mid-40s! It isn’t going to get any better ….

      • Mood that can change:
        Today I feel like Chinese food. Yesterday I wanted Steak. Tomorrow I will crave Italian.

        I’m not in the mood for sex. I’m not in the mood but I can be persuaded. I’m in the mood, let’s do it.

        Yesterday I believed this philosophy, but recently I have begun to examine it more closely and may change my position in the future after serious thought and open discussion.

        Can’t change:
        Yesterday I loved you. Today I love him. Tomorrow I will love this other guy.

        I want to spend time with my family. Only I can spend time with the kids – you get lost. I never wanted a family anyway, you tricked me into it.

        Yesterday I fully supported abortion – how dare you interfere with a woman’s right to choose! Today I condemn it utterly – murderers! Tomorrow depends on how I feel when I wake up.

        Change your mind about what to wear? Fine. Change your mind about your morals or beliefs? Not so fine.

        • “he’s completely bewildered that people don’t like it that his words don’t align with his actions, or that his good intentions don’t get carried through. ”

          Weird thing about my ex is that on a day to day basis he was easy going (well, I callit not giving a shit but to each its own). If you met him he was this easy-going, relaxed, handsome guy, with a great personality. At home, he never really gave me a hard time about anything except when it came to his emotions or his actions. I would point out that he did not follow through with things and apparently I made him feel like shit about himself.

          I remember when the OW first came into the picture, before I found out she was pregnant, we were fighting about him coming back and I was telling him that he never completely followa through with anything. I told him that he has not committed to one thing his entire life: not a hobby, not a relationship, hell he had 6 different cars by the time we were 23! He just bought a new one now too. He had the house for only 2 years before he stopped making payments and sold it.

          Well, now he has a baby on the way with this pathetic thing (who apparently is”just like him”, you know, not talking about emotions, manipulative when it benefits her, etc) and now he cannot not commit. I suppose that is when he proposed to her 3 months after knowing her… to prove that he can, to get the pat on the back that hes “doing the right thing”, and “for the lifestyle it provides, because it is their best current option.”

          I cant help but want karma to be a hot dish in this situation. I hate that I know they have happy moments together. They look so well put together on the outside and its frustrating (even though he says differently, but who knows what the true truth is)

          • Oh btw, this is a 24 year old guy that was recruited by Princeton to apply right out of college (he apparently did not go because of me [rolls eyes]), in 8th grade took the SATs and got a 1460 out of 1600. Amazing at math. He just started community college again. When we were together he would say hes going to go back, would for a while, not do the work, drop out or fail, etc. If you pushed him to do it he would say he didnt have the money, even though I found out that his job would pay for it, and get mad that you kept pressuring him. He also said it was too hard to take 3 stinking classes and work full time. Mind you I took 6 classes, did an internship for 25-30 hours a week and worked part time and graduated a semester early with a BA in Business and a Minor in Psych in just to be done with it with a 3.6. He said hes going to take it seriously now that he has a son to take care of and he is going to get his life in order for him.

  • CL, your article today really hit me today.. Finally at the end of D and actually starting to feel okay with my new singlehood at last, the thought has struck me a lot lately that I outlived my usefulness to my gold-digging ex-wife. Her new conquest, an MD who was incidentally, her boss, brought a bigger, shinier bag of cookies to the party and there was no way my simple homemade fare was going to stand up to the gourmet brand he offered her. That he was a drug addict who got fired and that she got fired along with him was hardly reason to stop, the struggle only confirmed her resolve that they deserved to be with each other. Her rewriting of our martial history to my former in-laws, my step-children and some of our former friends, I see now (thanks to you) are her “truthiness”…after all her new relationship was “meant to be”. Her moral compass is seriously skewed and her sensed of entitlement is such that she truly believes that she deserve to claim for her own another woman’s husband, and three other unfortunate children’s father. She now spends her time posting Facebook fiction about her new “family”, and their new careers, while in truth they have had to move to a backwater town in the middle of nowhere. She has dragged my step-daughter from her school and friends to an imaginary unicorn life with her still very married affair partner.
    Thanks to you and your blog, I finally see that I am lucky to be rid of such a character disordered person and yes, I am actually “gaining a life”!

    • So sorry for what you and your family have had to go through, leftinva, your ex sounds abominable. And Tracy, this post today is so right on, and such an important thing for us chumps to understand. During false reconciliation, my ex told me, “I’m so madly in love with you. But the next day he refused to go to marriage counseling. When I said, “but yesterday you were so madly in love with me, dont you want to fix this??! He responded, “well that was how I felt then.” Yeah. Yesterday. Anyway, I guess I think that we chumps probably learned at a young age not to be irresponsible with others’ emotions. I was always told that you don’t say something unless you really mean it. Hence, with boyfriends, Id always wait to say I love you until I really meant it, not just if I felt a surge of fleeting emotion. The cheaters, on the other hand, just don’t care enough. They aren’t responsible, least of all with others’ feelings. Your ex and the OM obviously seem to fit this, Left. Sad that they can’t even be responsible for the kids’ emotional health. You are indeed so much better off now!

      • I struggle with this flip-flopping too. Which little speech from their heart do you believe? Now that we’re selling our family home, and the reality has hit him, he’s being nicer to me every day. Where was that for the last four years? Actually, for the last 32! He was always bitchy, domineering, and unhelpful (of course along with the classic love-bombing to keep me on the hook!). His AP had cookies he really loved – parties, friends over ALL the time, booze flowing. Now that I’m leaving, and I finally told him yesterday that I’m moving to CA, he only wants me, he’s crying, it’s pretty awful. I told him- work on yourself, get help for your alcoholism, get back to work (or go in rehab), and we’ll see in a year if we could talk. He didn’t exactly like that, because he’d have to do something, and I told him I need all my energy to heal myself from emotional abuse (and cheating)! Thank God for a good therapist and CL and the Chumpettes! I think I’m doing the right thing for me.

        • ARe you my twin? I could have written your paragraph myself. We are also selling the family home, and STBX is just now acting like he gets it. But I don’t believe a word. It’s all an act. Everything he says is a lie. He has been acting out a role for over 3 decades. Costume change: Now he is Fred McMurray and wants his family back. And that will last until… he doesn’t.
          Power to the Pattys.

          • Ha, yeah I had to change my name to PattyToo, because you posted and I guessed you were here first! Maybe we’re dopplegangers!
            These guys, I think they just can’t appreciate, til we are walking right out the door. Hope everything works out for you, just the way you want it to. Best of luck!

            • I have a friend who used to say, about a difficult boyfriend (who she eventually gave up on): he loves the back of me.

              • Yes, that’s good, and apparently true! I read once – secret to happiness, want what you have! I feel that that’s how I’ve lived my life, I was contented with my imperfect husband, sons, and lifestyle. Basically happy til he blew it to smithereens! Cheater-types either want what they can’t have (like their friends wife, or a slut across the street, or an x who’s leaving them), or devalue what they do have ( like their devoted wife).
                Now that I’m moving 900 miles away, he really, really wants me. Too bad!

        • What is it with these guys? They want the single life and they want the family life. Never mind the hooking up with other women I couldn’t convince my STBXH that it wasn’t normal for a 40 year old with a family and a career to go out to the bar on work nights to hang out with loser friends every week. Single life or Family life. Pick one.

    • I feel sorry for your step daughter. She’s stuck with a mother and an affair partner that have zero integrity, or morals.

    • A married drug-addicted doctor? Oh yeah, that’s a real cookie trade up…

      I feel terrible for your step-daughter. I hope you’re allowed to remain in her life. She could use a steady influence.

      • CL and VA….I’m trying to piece together a couple of different posts on VA’s situation. What I’m arriving at is that it’s far from over for VA and his stepdaughters. They are going to find their voice and go with the parent (or, step parent, in this case) who gives them the greatest love and stability. With the XILs feeling the same way as you do, the kids not happy….well…just buy some Doritos, have some Mac n Cheese ready and expect them to come to you. I pray I’m right – for the sake of all involved. Your ex is deplorable.

  • You have a way with words CL. I puzzle to understand behavior and you help me see it so simply. You are indeed gifted – not only with words, but also with insight – you recognize and understand the “others” that walk among us, who seem programmed to destroy us. You have touched me this day and provided me with a valuable defense weapon of understanding. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • This is a great post.

    My STBX would say to me, “I’m working on being a better husband and father.” However, truth was he was also fucking his side piece. Or this favourite, “I’ll spend the rest of my life making this up to you.” The truth was, “No, I’m ok with doing this. If I come home make sure YOU get therapy.” Seriously, it’s what people DO that matters. Watch behaviour. This was a lesson I had to learn over and over.

    So so slippery are these cheaters. Now when we communicate I get everything in writing via email or text.

    I have to say though the further I go NC, the less I’m subjected to truthiness and the more I just let his actions and those consequences speak for themselves. There is no way you can win with a person whose version of the truth changes daily. Even in therapy sessions I now warn the therapist (we use for our daughter), “What he says here may be his intention now, but when he walks out the room, that may change.”

    And it proves correct.

    • Very similar situation here, thensome. (aren’t they all so similar??!!)

      I believe that mine didn’t mean any of the kind, empathic things he said (e.g., “I love you and will do anything to keep our family together,” “I’ll never forgive myself for what I did to us”). The nasty stuff? Yep, that’s the real him – angry and cruel.

      I think he parrotted what he thought was the right thing to say – the thing that would make him look like the man he SHOULD be, but isn’t. I frequently – throughout the marriage, before I knew of the serial cheating – called him a robot. He laughed when others laughed (and always louder), he repeated the opinions he heard on talk radio (with more “passion”), he was always “performing” for a reaction from the crowd…No authenticity in his opinions, actions or words. Not only was his remorse Genuine Imitation Naughahyde (LOVED that one, CL!), but his entire being is.

        • Patty, I just discovered it’s possible to laugh as chills run down your spine.

          Seriously, given mine’s serial-level track record, they really could be the same guy. He travels so who knows???!!! If they *were* the same guy, we could have hours of laughs sharing stories about how he leaves skid marks on the bath towels (skid marks on underwear? I’ll see you and raise you one!”) and snot on the shower walls. FUN!

          I know it’s not really fun and it sucks beyond all comprehension. Trying to bring a little levity to the discussion.

  • With mine, it was that he would only admit to the ACTUAL truth when it made him look good. If it didn’t, which it almost never did, he would spin it until it did. Or just make up a completely new one.

    I remember when he said to me “We broke up because I was unhappy. I didn’t cheat on you. We were broken up for several months when I started dating her. You just can’t accept the truth.”

    HA! The first sentence of that? Well, news to me. I was unaware of that. I was under the impression that I was “the only person he ever really loved” interesting how THAT changed. The second sentence? That’s the completely made-up part. He DID cheat on me. Having sex with someone who isn’t your girlfriend while LIVING IN HER PARENT’S HOUSE is cheating. The third sentence? That’s the spin. We were not “broken up for several months.” He had been talking to this girl for a while and I didn’t find out about their little “romance” until they’d been together for a month. He wasn’t living in my parent’s house with me anymore, but he was still texting me and telling me he “loved” me and wanted me to be happy and he even promised to go see a movie with me that we had been waiting for. Oh, and there was that one thing…what was it…oh yeah, he was still saying I could call him my boyfriend. How could I forget THAT!

    That’s not “broken up for several months.”

    I told my therapist I was going to at the time about all this and she looked at me and said “Yes. That is cheating. He was telling you all this, leading you in one direction with your relationship, while setting up a whole other relationship behind your back. That’s cheating on you.”

    Of course, knowing everything I know now, it doesn’t really matter if that one particular girl was real cheating or not. He had been having multiple affair partners behind my back for pretty much the whole relationship anyway.

    And he told me that I couldn’t accept the truth. Huh.

    Which one? The one he invented to make me look crazy to his dumb little friends? Yah, no. I will never “accept” that made up “truth.”

  • Thanks Bud, me too. My oldest stepdaughter started college last fall so she has luckily been removed from the crazy situation the youngest is stuck with. Unfortunately, I have learned that my youngest is paying the price, she is clearly unhappy with her new town and school. Not only is she facing life without her sis for the first time, she is having to do it in a strange surrounding, that is a lot to handle for a fifteen year old. The kids always pay, and that sucks. I am sure my ex is one of those who say “children are resilient” or some such crap to justify her actions, when the truth is she has blown up their lives as well as her own. I want the karma bus to hit, and hard, its just difficult to envision it doing so without the kids suffering the brunt of it as collateral damage. All for cookies.

    • She is a selfish pig, poor children, leftinva I am so sorry you and they are going thought this.

      That is a tough age and a tough situation for any child, let alone a 15- year old. Hopefully you can keep some contact with her and be a bit of sane in the crazy-world she is forced to inhabit right now.

      • That’s were I’m glad both of my kids are with me full time, at least they have one parent who is always there for them. In some cases going full NC really is the only way to go, you get to the point after a couple of years you no longer even care about the Karma bus’s arrival

      • Oh yes, I got that too, Bud! “I didn’t leave the children, I only left you”.

        Yes, Darling, I am sure they will heartily agree.

        • Mine actually used the word betrayed. Don’t the realize they completely altered the kids future and their sense of family? They are so narrow minded when it comes to that. Now the kids don’t want to stay at her place.

          • Mine told me he loved the kids more than anything in the world but he didn’t love me any more. It still blows my mind he could pitch me out like a worn out doll.

          • My STBX kept saying that since the kids were adults (there is only one who is past 30, the youngest just turned 21) and that they would understand and be fine. He keeps trying to force Reverend Ho-Bag on them and they keep telling him they want nothing to do with her – she’s the OW. He appears confused (he’s not, but it doesn’t fit with how he wrote the script) and then continues to try to push her on them and they keep resisting. Of course, she keeps forcing the issue because she is also a full blown narc.

            I don’t say a word, even though I would like to scream at him that they’re ADULTS and they KNOW she’s the OW and that’s not okay with them. I wish I could slap him hard enough that it would re-order his brain and engage his “get a clue.”

            • He doesn’t care that she’s the OW. There is nothing immoral whatsoever about what he did, because he has no morals. So he probably IS confused. And she probably keeps preaching bullshit spiritual schtick to him, so he’s doubly confused. She plays the role of pious righteous soul mate (they ALL do it, whether quoting the Dalai Lama or how much Jesus forgives them, whatever) and then it’s hopeless.

              Why wouldn’t they want to meet her? She’s wonderful and magical and rainbows come out her ass.

              • “There is nothing immoral whatsoever about what he did, because he has no morals”

                Oooooo, Stephanie…I LIKE this!!!

              • OMG Stephanie!!

                LOLOLOLOL!!! That is so spot on!! His “morals” are ALL situational (and apparently hers are as well) and she does believe that rainbows come out of her ass – and so does he!

                My thinking is just not that convoluted and my morals are not situational. They are two flaming turds from Satan’s ass.

              • This sounds familiar. Your comment and the others in this thread reminded me that shortly after everything happened, I had told him that I found his actions and OW’s actions to be immoral, especially because it is not the first time she has gotten involved with men in long-term relationships and broken them up. He told me that he saw nothing immoral about it. It was just how he felt. And he said that he thought I was being extremely judgmental and that maybe I would be less judgmental one day when I found myself in the same situation.

              • After his first affair 7 years previously, then after the 2nd one and my kicking him out, the narc ex kept trying to tell me that affairs were ‘normal’ and ‘just something that happened in relationships’. I would try to explain to him why they were WRONG – the dishonesty, hurting me and the kids, even hurting the OW (first one was convinced he was going to leave me for her, and was fired because of all the chaos their affair caused at work, second one I imagine was lied to as well, that we were already ‘all but separated’).

                He would respond that I was into some kind of religious thing about ‘sin’. some ridiculous bourgeois idea of correct behaviour according to some archaic rules. This made my head spin; we’re both atheists, and I’ve never even had a thought like that, never mind expressed one. I would try to re-focus on what his lying cheating ways resulted in, the impact on himself and others of not being a trustworthy person ….

                He really really really doesn’t get it. “There is nothing immoral whatsoever about what he did, because he has no morals.” That’s the only possible explanation.

                Oh, but he counts on all the people around him having morals, behaving honestly, etc. Gotta have that!

  • thanks for the kind words, CL and everyone. Unfortunately my relationship with my stepdaughters seems to have ended with the divorce. My ex inlaws seem greatly troubled by this (as am I), but like me are powerless to change that. Sorry to go off on a rant today. I have been reading this blog for nearly 18 months and todays post just got me revved up so much I decided to post for the first time. It seems I was a super great guy to marry while she was a nurse working her way towards a masters and her NP certification. Once she became an NP, only a doctor would do. She went fishing in the doctor pond and caught one allright…a bottom feeder. Not once has she faulted me or blamed me for anything, she simply traded me in and expects me and everyone else to understand that this is what she has always wanted and deserved (makes perfect sense, right?) I will be amazed about what happened till the day I die, but I am happy, finally, due in large part to the posters of Chump Nation.

    • The inlaws are also causualties as well in many cases, mine were mortified, my FIL is like the older brother I never had. My kids are the only grandchildren they will ever have and they are stuck trying to schedule a separate Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Birthdays etc… to avoid unpleasantness. The fact that the OM’s are sometimes just an economic calculation does add to the pain, because it makes you question if what had was ever really ‘Real”.

      • Mike, I did lots of things with my FIL too. Fishing trips, Hunting. Thanksgiving was always at their cabin. For the last how many years we as a family went to their place to watch Sunday football. My boys are now at the age where they really like and understand the game so it was even more fun now. Now that’s most likely done.

      • My fil is 81 and our boys are his only grandchildren (he lost a son from a previous marriage in a swimming accident) — when this all gets to the end (and I can’t believe it won’t), it will be very, very hard on him. But, as it turns out, he’s also a serial cheater who made my late mil’s life hell. What a world of sadness.

    • you are welcome to rant here any time leftinva, sometimes it helps to be able to not only write it down, but also to share it with others who will understand. If you can’t rant at Chump Nation, where could you rant? 🙂

    • Wow, chump guys are awesome sons-in-law!

      My xH, the cheating coward, was HORRIBLE to my father. It was always so tense and unbearable to be under one roof with my xH and my father. My father can be overbearing, but he means well. xH would always disappear to take a nap or otherwise ignore my father, or sneer at him. My father tried so hard to engage my xH and xH always rebuffed him.

      Thank God that’s over.

      • Is that a pattern? My cheating wife began to hate my parents and everything they did. Now in the beginning she thought they were great. But I think that was because my Mom always praised her. Now my parents are in their 70’s, devout old school Catholics and can be a bit much. Plus my Dad is no doubt O.D.D. But that’s who they are, whatever they do, works for them as they have been married over 50 years.

  • For my ex, there is only his truthiness, there is no real truth at all. By this point, his entire life is mostly fantasy in his head that he spins into glittering bullshit on Facebook. He’s literally now moving from friend’s couch to friend’s couch every few weeks, while proclaiming how successful he is at following his dreams.

    I do believe he WANTED to love me when we got married. But I also believe he knew he did NOT love me, and was basically using me as a cover for his gayness and as a useful maid and nanny.

    It’s the familiar story: through our entire marriage, he told me he loved me, that I was his best friend, that he would never want to leave or divorce. That lasted right up until Dday, when it all changed to how he had never loved me, never should have married me, we had nothing in common and he had been miserable practically from our wedding day. Lord only knows what he tells people about our marriage now, probably that I was the abusive cheater.

    The problem with spending decades with a disordered person is truthiness starts to seem real. Now I struggle to trust anyone, and cannot imagine a relationship with a man where I could actually believe what he said.

    • Feeling cynical today. The stories are all so similar. Are our (ex)spouses the norm? Is this just how entitled adults act? Am I naive for expecting honesty and faithfullness? Are you really a wing nut if this behavior – lying and cheating- WORKS so well? What percentage of adults do this??

      • Breathe
        that is what struck me the most about this site and others on infidelity. I thought I was stuck in this once in a life time drama and then found out these guys are all reading from the same script!

        There was nothing new under the sun that multiple people hadn’t experienced. It started to get predictable, you could tell him what he was going to say next just by reading all the examples here.

        I read on another site that promoted infidility (can you believe this; imoral is doesn’t even say it) where this one woman was thinking she would have an affair but read everyone stories on the ‘pro’ site and realized she would not be unique and interesting, she would just be following down a tried and true path of destructino by what she read from the ‘pro’ group. Same script, same lies, same crap.

        I never would have recognized it without the clear concise way that CL spells it out. My eyes have been opened, I appreciate the humor of it, and now I can deal so much better. I hope the same for you.

  • What’s with the hobbies? Seriously?

    I don’t know how you stop loving someone. I mean, I know I wasn’t the greatest wife.

    But even now, I wonder: WTH happened?

    I don’t mean that as self-pity. It’s more bewilderment, and a bit of grief.

      • No, I mean: motorbiking (3 British and Italian superbikes). Sailing (the boat sits in the yard) . Fly fishing (top of the range stuff that sits in the cupboard). Hunting (a collection of rifles that have never fired a shot). Sports car collecting (which sit on the drive now he’s gone)

        I am talking about collecting and then abandoning things that literally cost so much money, and put us into debt.

        I don’t find it that funny.

        • I don’t know I have an answer for your particular question, but I doubt it is directly related to your relationship going South.

          Since cheating was involved, I would venture integrity was an issue, and since you bring up debt, then maybe he wasn’t future-positive (not a good planner?). I have no idea.

          I have 8 guitars. Had them 20+ years. Haven’t played them in a long time. Part of the reason I haven’t played them in a while is that I got married, but… I kind of outgrew them too. I may get rid of a couple (or maybe not).

          I have two mountain bikes: one for me, and one for anybody who might want to ride with me. I have had those since 1998 🙂 I don’t ride much anymore because I spend more time hiking than riding (few riding partners around here) and I managed to damage the roof rack by leaving a bike on when I pulled in the garage (yes, like on that commercial).

          I have a new computer. Just built that. It was a divorce gift to myself. Pretty happy with it. I may get a gimble and a camera to take on rides/hikes to make a mini ride-hike movie. Might be the only movie I ever make, and it may be totally uninteresting. Who knows? I’m curious about the process and am thinking about figuring it out.

          I don’t do and never did any of this on credit. They don’t necessarily go together. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much with any hoby while married either because ALL OF MY TIME was demanded by a needy person with emotional (and possible mental health) issues who had low integrity.

          In short, I think equating hobbies with real issues (like integrity and handling of money) is a spurious correlation.

          It would say the same thing to a man complaining about his wife knitting, scrapbooking, shopping for nothing in particular or collecting pine cone elves for that matter 🙂 I just don’t think hobbies are the real issue… even if he’s gone doing them non-stop (then the issue is he is avoiding you).

          In short, I think hobbies are the shiney objects that distract some women from seeing the real problem: he has integrity issues, he doesn’t handle money well, etc. Why? I don’t know, but you could google mens’ forums to find men complaining about women complaining about hobbies.

          • Hey! Don’t be dissing the pinecone elves! A pinecone elf collection is a sign of refined discernment!

            I also think the hobby thing is a red herring. My ex had numerous “hobbies”, but then so does my father. I think the difference is, for my ex, it was not actually about *doing* the hobbies so much as the superficial cache that went with the hobbies. Oh, you own a BMW motorcycle. Oh, you have that kind of fly fishing rod. He was all about acquisition, and he was terrible with money. He earned a very good salary, and he couldn’t live within his means. All his crap gathered dust and he had at least three of everything (three motorcycles, three bikes, three kayaks, etc.) The integrity issue was — narcissism (see me with my bright shiny toys! Aren’t you jealous?), consumerism, and bad financial management.

            My dad, OTOH, is just a geek. He has ham radio and wood working. No one attracts the ladies with their ham radio gear.

            My husband is amused by my pinecone elf obsession, if a bit put out that “Elfadelphia” is growing beyond the top of the piano expanse. It’s now time for a sister city — “Elf Paso.” I’m taking names, if you have any clever elf/city puns.

            • I don’t think folks here are saying that the issue is the hobbies. I think they are saying that the issue is this pattern of becoming obsessed with something (in this case, a hobby) for a short period of time, and then losing interest in it and replacing it with another, seemingly sparklier one. Of course, everyone picks up and drops interests, but I think this obsessive habit of jumping-in with all fours, “love-bombing,” if you will, and then dropping whatever it is can be a pattern of approaching life that can carry over to other things, such as, say, people/ chumps. For my part, my ex didn’t do this with hobbies, but he did do it with jobs. He’d start something new, give it his all, impress everyone, and then slowly burn out and start slacking off, inevitably getting fired or laid off within a couple years. His longest job in his 20+ year career was just 3 years. When he left me, he said that cutting and running and starting over was how he rolled. Even sounded kind of proud of himself, sickly enough…

        • 2 motorcycles, one in pieces, new truck, new car, 2 boats a travel trailer and enough rifles to start a militia. Last week he says I need an ATV. WTF

            • Or, even cleaner transaction, have your attny add their value up, let him have ALL OF IT, and you get compensation in money, if there’s accounts, or a house to be sold, etc. I asked for a Jaguar in the settlement, and now it’s a pain to sell it!

              • I’m not anti-gun by any stretch of the imagination. I do hope you take extra caution around someone who has so many AND cheats. IMHO, that is one BAD combo.

    • Basic self-centeredness. Good men put the family first in the budget and their time. They might have hobbies, but not to the extent you describe.

      Sounds like this should go on the list of red flags.

  • It is so funny that you did this post today. I’ve been talking about this for the past couple of months. I don’t know that my STBX has any other kinds of truths beyond situational. His “truths” can change during a conversation if the conversation lasts too long. The more I am able to observe him from a distance, the more I am able to actually see how truly disordered he is. I recognize he is devoid of morals, character or integrity, the very qualities he is constantly telling people he has more of than your average flawed human. Of course, it is because now, after educating myself, I know that he is incapable of recognizing the truth, let only speak it. The truth is whatever his personality-disordered brain tells him it is to justify whatever his feelings are and whatever fucked up from the floor up behavior he is engaging in at the moment. It is when I go for long periods with no contact (the best!) that I actually begin to doubt what I’ve been through. Who wouldn’t? The Twilight Zone was an entertaining show, but come on, who wants that for their life story?

    I’m sure he has told people all kinds of things about the marriage, most of inaccurate or an out and out lie, none of which I would bother to refute, because why? The people who really know me won’t believe it and anyone who believes it doesn’t really know me or wants to believe him.

    I read something once that said “a half truth is a whole lie.” I believe that. A half truth or a lie is not a difference in perception or opinion, it is a total distortion or denial of facts. Used consistently and reptitively, it is abuse. Welcome to my marriage writ large.

    And you’re right Tracy, I don’t have the ability to think like that or even understand how it works. I just accept that it is and try to move on daily. Thank you for this site and thank all you Chumplings for being here so I know I’m not the only one and I’m not the one who’s nuts. 🙂

    • Well said Chump Princess! I could have posted that myself. So true.

      Speaking of Twilight Zone (I posted something on this months ago, but great show–original Rod Serling series), Serling wrote an episode of a dying, sick old man that knew his daughter, his son-in-law and his two grown grandchildren were waiting for him to die so they could inherit his money. He invited them over to witness his death, but requested they must each don a mask until past midnight during Mardi Gras according to their disgusting true selves or they inherit nothing. The daughter (a victim, spineless, weak), the SIL (greedy, selfish, power/money hungry), the granddaughter (vain, uncaring, selfish) and the grandson (a bully, mean. All of them narcissistic, unempathetic, despicable people. They pretended to be concerned for him, but he knew otherwise. His mask was the skeleton face (death). The masks his family wore were gruesome and terrible and each mask represented who they realky were inside. He made each family member wear the mask they were made for.
      Once midnight past they were giddy that he gave his last breath and expired, the money was now theirs! As they took off their masks they realized the unescapable truth: the masks revealed their true selves and their distorted spirit/selves is written now in their faces.
      One of my all time favorite episodes!
      This correlates to cheaters. They pretend to live authentically/truthfully with honesty and integrity, being faithful, loyal, and loving. But that is a farce. In reality they are really pretending to possess good character: in reality they are selfish, unempathetic, telling and living lies, live a double life, and inside they resemble the characters in the story. When they are exposed, the good mask comes off (TZ they put on the mask of who they are) and the real them is terrified that they are found out. Their respectable image they have carefully crafted and they let the chumps be the respectable face for them, crumbles. They go in damage control mode. But whatever narrative they spin does not undo the damage they have done. In the end, it does not matter what they say or do. When someone is that toxic, the best thing is to distance yourself by cutting them loose. Free yourself from this horrible deceit.

        • X cheated, discarded then treated me as though I was dead precisely because I was on to him and his sliding-scale truths. There is nothing worthy or honorable beneath his skeevy, swinging-seventies-mustached mask.

          He now lives off of his parent’s inheritance, unemployment (so he doesn’t have to pay any real child support or health insurance), and bimbo’s divorce settlement money. But he still openly scoffs at people on welfare to his son.

          He orchestrated our oldest son’s move to his new house (the one he has shared with his bimbo and her family nine months before we divorced), and now refuses to help our son with groceries, insurance, books for college, etc. My son is 18 and attends college in the city where they shack up.

          He demands acknowledgement and barks orders at our kids, but is incapable of doing anything for them unless there is something in it for him. He considers his court ordered visitations “options” and spends anywhere between 1-18 (weekend) hours tops with them. Then he gets back to the life he has carved out for himself. Our kids are his hobby now.

          He has no original thought or ambition, and is doing EXACTLY what he did when he was a 28-year old(!) senior college newspaper writer, living in his parent’s house with his mommy cooking and cleaning for him. Only now, he’s 57, writing for a college newspaper, and living in a house still funded by his parents with his bimbo as his new housekeeper. They just painted their loveshack the EXACT same colors that we used for our kitchen 20 years ago. They frequent the same bars, and have the same “college crowd” over on weekends. Yawn. Bimbo has no idea she is only a useful prop in his sequel.

          He calls me delusional (especially when my facts refute his truthiness), but moved in with and attends Sunday Mass with his slut. They receive holy communion and “pray for me.” Bimbo wrote to me to tell me she “understands the pains of divorce, having just gotten out of a 28-year marriage. I want to work with you to help you heal the family.” I wish I was kidding.

          X is a master of projection, half-truths and the use of silence or childish name calling when he can’t get out of his lies. He wears all Twilight Zone masks mentioned above, but will never be enlightened. I wish I could cancel cable.

          • P.S. I also have irrefutable proof that he is a closeted homosexual. I found photos that were hidden in a strongbox that he forgot to take of him. They show him in some clearly non-gay poses with a scantily clad man at Hedonism in Jamaica. He’s kept those photos for over 25 years and probably thought I’d throw out the box when I couldn’t find the key. Wrong!

            I suspected it for years. Sex with him was so demeaning and perfunctory. While it would make a great candid shot for the homecoming issue of his college newspaper, I won’t. I’d like his bimbo to wonder about that truth on her own, just as I did for 20 years.

            Just finally knowing that truth for certain on my own is enough for me.

      • “When someone is that toxic, the best thing is to distance yourself by cutting them loose. Free yourself from this horrible deceit.”

        This has become so glaringly obvious today after an interaction with my STBXH. Please please please tell me their PD issues aren’t genetic.

        • Our daughter (12 years old) is terrified she’ll grow up to be like her dad, because she recognizes that she can be very rude and mean even to the people she loves the most, when she’s angry or just in a bad mood. She has a hard time keeping in her head the love, liking and respect she has for us the rest of the time. And she has a default to negativity, just like him (recent research has even found a gene directly linked to this!)

          But we’re working on her being better about the rudeness and negativity, and I talk to her about keeping her warm, caring and generous heart, and being rigorously honest with others and herself. If she does those things, she’ll be OK, if not always the easiest person to deal with!

          Baron-Cohen has a book

          http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_sabc?url=search-alias%3Daps&pageMinusResults=1&suo=1382464420904#/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=baron%20cohen&sprefix=baron+coh%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Abaron%20cohen

          that has a great discussion of how low empathy CAN (doesn’t have to!!) create evil. And when I see my ex, and his consistently self-centered, entitled behaviour and free use of his ‘truthiness’, I see evil. Not serial-killer evil, just garden-variety evil. And we stay away from people like that.

          • It is incredibly disconcerting really truly seeing that “evil” in someone.

            I myself have had issues with empathy in the past but that was always countered by a strong sense of right and wrong. I would never purposefully do something I know would hurt someone because of that. What concerns me and what I worry about for my child is the addictive nature that my STBX has (he’s a sex addict). His own father was an alcoholic cheater and I worry about the genetic component of it.

            I guess all I can do is let my child know about right and wrong, consequences, delayed gratification and model care and compassion. (This experience helped me relearn a compassionate heart.) And honesty. Oh hell yeah! I hate liars.

            • Kat, also talk to them about the genetic component in addictions. Everybody has to be careful about their consumption of anything pleasurable; some people have to be way way way more careful. One of the most important protections for someone w/a big family history of addictions and compulsive behaviours is to avoid the most addicting stuff until fully adult. When we start to drink, smoke, smoke up, shop as entertainment, or gamble while still in adolescence (even regular heavy coffee consumption!), the brain develops w/that ‘cheap pleasure’ as NORMAL, and will have a very hard time without it. If we can get through to 20 or 21 without those cheap pleasures, it’s safer to introduce them, as the brain is close to fully developed, KNOWS normal, and can go back to normal more comfortably.

              Once they’re old enough to understand, talk to your child about addictive substances and behaviours, and help them figure out how you can tell if something is becoming problematic, rather than just a pleasure. Then they can watch themselves, as their lives progress. May not save them from getting into that kind of trouble, but can help them get out of it earlier!

              And encourage the healthy behaviours that provide pleasure without damage; sports and exercise, friendships, hobbies, all carried out in a balanced, non-obsessive way. Lead by example.

              It’s a very very real concern for your kids, and it will take extra care on your and their parts to protect them from this crap.

  • I read about “cognitive dissonance” recently, and it helped explain the cheater’s slipperiness. This article was discussing cognitive dissonance and it’s effect on Walter White’s character change on Breaking Bad. It was eerily fitting to the Jekyll and Hyde experience I had after my 20-yr marriage.
    “Cognitive dissonance” is what happens after a person commits an act (affair) that violates his beliefs. The psychic discomfort or dissonance drives him to change his beliefs or even change his story so that the act will fit his new moral compass. It’s fascinating to read about and I recognize a lot of it in my XH. Although that goes back to CL’s “untangling the skein”…

        • Thanks Dolly. Rage is usually what happens when my stbxh has to come face to face with what he actually is. Lucky for him I’ve moved out of state and that makes it easier for him to maintain that good guy exterior without it slipping. Pretty hard to maintain that part of him that still thinks he’s a normal good guy when he’s confronted with an email response to a M4M NSA blowjob from his email address with a picture of his manjunk. I think I’m the only one in the world who knows that. (Besides his meetup).
          In fact I’m sure he’s got it in his head that I’m what caused the behavior to begin with and that if we’re not together it won’t continue. That’s his truthiness at this point.
          I do understand the part of the article about feeling like I was living outside of what I thought was ok. I kept fighting it and it caused a lot of stress.

            • Lol GIO…I don’t know. I guess I’d believe anything is possible at this point. My D-day was in the end of July but I didn’t find out about that BJ thing until almost Sept. I’d already moved out but that really put all contact to an end. At the time he was crying to me that he didn’t know why he was so effed up and that he was a Sex Addict.

              We have only just recently interacted because we still need to divorce. Now I guess he’s decided that I did something wrong in our relationship and therefor am not perfectly innocent and that his condition is something that doesn’t exist if we’re not together. (Read into that…therefor my fault)

    • Cognitive dissonance also gets chumps. It’s holding onto a unicorn while knowing the cheater is really a lower form of life. I like the description from the article: “like the sound of something shredding at a frequency too high to hear.”

      That’s it exactly

      • Everybody experiences cognitive dissonance, it’s what you do with it that shows your character. When faced with a disparity between what we do and what we know is right, do we;

        a) change the wrong thing we’re doing
        b) change our belief that it’s wrong
        c) lie about what we’re doing, including to ourselves
        d) reduce our dissonance by blaming others for our choices
        e) b, c and d together

        We’ve all seen what the answer is for a narc!

        • Too true. See, some of that sounds a hell of lot like a kid who was allowed to get away with things.

          I can’t even fathom the idea of lying to myself. Thank my Mom for her crazy obsession with honesty.

    • That’s spooky, I just realised that the only thing my XH has sent me since he walked out over 2 yrs ago was a ‘Breaking Bad’ DVD….oh and a bar of chocolate………….

  • I think adultery ought to be a felony. Get a divorce, for crying out loud then you can screw whomever you want. I watched a family member get cheated on and he never completely recovered.

  • So, it was me that sent Chump Lady the letter she quoted. My DDay was about 3.5 months ago, and this is my first time to comment here. I’ve been hanging around here for probably 6 to 8 weeks (I discovered this site from a comment on the Runaway Husbands site), and I wanted to say thank you to Tracy and all of you for your wisdom. I have been reading and absorbing and making lots (and lots) of notes to read and re-read when I need encouragement. And I come here and feel much less alone in this awful process. So, thank you…

  • And I wanted to add that the contrasting approaches to truth (or truthiness) makes sense. My STBXH is the only person I’ve ever dated that I have ever said “I love you” too. I did not want to say it until I really was certain I meant it. And I wanted to be sure, but once I meant it, I meant it for good. Same for deciding to spend our lives together/get married. He was committed about 6 months in (or sooner actually, he jumped in full-force from the beginning), but it took me about another year to reach the same place of being ready to commit to forever. But I guess I have just been hung up on veracity. And he is a situational truth person. It’s funny, that reminds me that he occasionally he would debate one side of an issue with me, and then later on, in a different discussion, I would realize what he was then debating couldn’t really co-exist with what he had been previously debating. I pointed it out and he tried to deny it, but then I just teased him that he liked to debate whatever the opposite viewpoint was, just to play devil’s advocate. But maybe he wasn’t even consciously doing that….maybe he had no strong fixed point of truth, so he just committed to whatever viewpoint suited him in the moment. Which brings up another point…the intense focus on the present moment and inability (unwillingness?) to consider the past or future, because the feelings of the present are SO MUCH MORE overwhelming and undeniable. (But I admit…I am a planner…I will make sacrifices in the present to reach a future goal or to fulfill an obligation.) Anyhow, thank you for the good stuff to mull over…

  • The ex threw a big bag of ‘truthiness’ on our son this past weekend, and it’s driving me NUTS!

    Our kids have been avoiding spending much time w/their dad, and have made it clear they’re angry at his selfish, deceitful and neglectful treatment of them.

    When he got son (almost 14 ys old) alone for a bit on Saturday, the narc asked him why he was angry and distant. Our son told him that he has always felt more connected to me, because I put in most of the time and energy it took to raise them, and that since the separation this has been even more so. The ex started lecturing him about how that wasn’t true, he had always been a very involved father, he’d done so much for and with them …

    Talking about it, I could see our son doing the same thing I did SOOOOOO many times; thinking ‘maybe I’ve misunderstood or misinterpreted what happened, maybe I’m being unfair to him, maybe he’s right ….’.

    I talked to both the kids about this, confirmed my son’s perceptions with clear facts about our past, and clarified that they do not have to justify their positions; they can just say ‘that’s how I feel about it’ and leave it at that. But it KILLS me to see him doing this to two young creatures who once adored him so much.

  • Good for you Neal. The note passing was NOT a “meh” moment, but it was real. I continuously STOP myself from doing the same. I always need validation and proof that what my ex-cheater-husband did was WRONG. I too WAS a hockey mom and can’t IMAGINE the PAIN you must be feeling.
    As a Canadian, I KNOW that the hockey community is so strong and so tight. It is absolutely humiliating what your ex did to you in THIS community. I HOPE you find a new and deserving partner. Hopefully she is involved in hockey. THAT WIILL ROCK!

  • Litmus test for truth & value – “Hold on to your cookies, chumps. And don’t invite them to your birthday party.” Love it!

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