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Dear Chump Lady, Why do cheaters feel the need to punish?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’ve been separated about 8 months from my STBX cheater. We were married for 7 years when he began having an affair with his ho-worker. I went through the hell of false reconciliation several times and I finally said enough was enough, because I just couldn’t buy his bullshit anymore, and I just plain realized I CAN DO BETTER!

Prior to his affair, he was verbally abusive, threatened me physically, threw things (usually my stuff), and drank constantly — but poor baby blamed it on PTSD so I felt sorry for him. Fast forward to today — I’m Meh or pretty close and happy as a clam to have dropped his NPD abusive ass like yesterday’s trash. He’s in lala land with his ho-worker (who was cheating on her husband as well, a real winner). I’ve gone as no contact as I can with a 4 year old son and I’m trying to move on with my life.

But my question is: Why do cheaters feel the need to punish the chump?

I just want this loser out of my life. I’ve already got primary custody of our son, so I’m a happy camper. We have nothing as far as assets because he was also a spendaholic. So what does he do?

Drags me into court for child support and alimony, so I can’t file for an uncontested divorce. He sends payments late. Blames me for his bills. Screams at me when I pick up my son about how this is all my fault and i’m stealing all his money. He agreed not to introduce our son to the ho-worker until 6 months after the divorce, only to find out my kid’s already met her several time and had a sleepover at her house. Takes him out of state without my permission. Drinks in front of our son. He’s living with the ho-worker but refuses to admit it so we can update the custody agreement. All of which is violating court orders. And of course because he’s father of the year, he asked our 4 year old to lie about everything, (which thankfully he didn’t). It’s all very “you’re not the boss of me!”

Thank God I’m an attorney and I have a good friend doing all my representation pro bono, while he has to pay top dollar while I let the justice system make him it’s bitch (karma!)

But why??? Why the hate emails telling me how shitty I am, how terrible a wife I was, how it’s all my fault and — my favorite — his claim that if I walked into a church I’d burst into flames. I get the gas lighting and blame shifting during the affair, but what the hell is he getting out of it now? Why not just go off an live happily ever after with his girlfriend and leave me the hell alone? WTF?!!!

ChumpyLawyer

Dear ChumpyLawyer,

Why does he feel the need to punish? Because he’s a special kind of fucked up, that’s why. Not all cheaters do this — just the really toxic ones. Some cheaters are content to chase the sparkly rainbow to their next adventure and leave you alone, figuring they’ve exhausted your kibble supply. The “punishment” in that situation is being left with a great big mess of a former life to clean up, grieving and wondering why.

But you get a twofer! You get all THAT punishment, plus the continuing punishment of his abuse and obstructionism! Aren’t you a lucky girl?

So, what’s the point? Control. Divorced, together — doesn’t matter. If he’s an abuser, he still wants to control you. Go buy the “Why Does He Do That?” book by Lundy Bancroft (in the Amazon box to your right). It’s the best resource out there for explaining this kind of toxic asshole. Essentially, he feels entitled to punishing you. He derives a sense of purpose and power out of controlling you.

But you went and made it much more difficult for him. You divorced his ass! So, he’s going to have to settle for obstructionism, and if I were to guess, triangulating with your son. (Save for the therapy bills now). As I’ve said here before, breeding with a fucktard is the gift that keeps on giving.

Why else does he punish you? Projection. He’s the doer of dark deeds who should burst into flames, but he’d rather go on believing he’s a splendid person whose been hard done by life’s circumstance. So — presto! change-o! he projects his misdeeds on to you. Someone has to take the blame for what a shitty person he is. You get that honor.

Also, I’m convinced part of this cheater dynamic of demonizing the chump is keeping the sparks alive with the affair partner. They so badly need the “pick me” dance, the triangulation, the big, bad meanie who is thwarting their Twu Wuv. So long as you have to engage with him in any way, like say a protracted legal battle, you’re the common enemy he and the OW can unite around. He can idolized the OW, because he’s devaluing you. (Oh, her turn will come, don’t worry.) This is why no contact, and taking the emotion out of all communication is so important. Don’t feed the beast.

Of course, he can manufacture drama, and he’s doing a really good job of that. But you’re doing all the right things. You’re hitting him back hard legally. You’re imposing consequences. He might learn that the cost of fucking with you is too high. Never let up, ChumpyLawyer. He needs to feel the boot of the law on his neck. Second thing in your favor is that he’s found a new victim, the OW to abuse. He’s going to have to direct his rage and control there, because you’re out of reach.

The good news is you’re away from him. And while your son has to see him, you are the sane parent, modeling good things. You get to build a happy, abuser-free life. Interacting with him over your son — I won’t lie — it’s going to be a challenging next 14 years. Don’t expect him to cooperate or co-parent, or otherwise act like a grown up. But best you’ve learned this now, instead of getting broadsided and hurt that he’s not cooperating. You know what he is, and you know how to deal with him — you document it, and you leave it to the legal system, and you get on with your life.

He’s a bully. I’m sorry he’s still trying to fuck with you. But he messed with the wrong woman. Don’t ever let him forget it.

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.
  • ChumpLawyer, this abuse abates over time. It’s all about control, as CL said, and right now, your STBXH’s is slipping through his fingers. He doesn’t like it – and he’s taking it out on you.

    My XH said some pretty vile things during our divorce, too, words I still have trouble believing ever came out of his mouth. But we’ve been divorced for two years now, OW is history, and he’s discovered those other pastures aren’t nearly as green as they looked. He’s now on the outside looking in at a family who doesn’t need him, and he knows he has no one to blame but himself.

    Give it time, and keep on doing what you’re doing: keeping him at arm’s length while you reinforce legal boundaries. Perhaps one day he’ll straighten up and act like a man for your son – but don’t count on it.

    Best wishes!

  • Cl’s right. Take the emotion out of it. Don’t respond to his nasty emails. It just feeds the fire, for him and you. Remember that he *wants* a reaction out of you. Negative attention is better than no attention from you. Plus, if you react, it shows that you still care enough to respond and he still has some power over you. Whatever you do, don’t give him that satisfaction, and don’t act crazy, it will just fuel his stories. Don’t let him push your buttons.

    My STBX had the “you’re not the boss of me!” syndrome, too. That’s why he was such a shitty person to live with, and also why he felt entitled to cheat in the first place. So remember that. The leopard won’t change his spots anytime soon. You just have to get out of harm’s way.

  • Yep, my ex has been vile for two long years. It’s finally calming down because I simply do not deal with him but it took me a bit too long to figure that out. Now, I can’t imagine what it would take to get me to react, which means he’s falling apart again because he can’t find reasons to be pissed at me.

    Ignore the git, it will go away, with minor flareups every so often.

    • Well, you guys say that, and I want to be optimistic for ChumpyLawyer, but my first ex sued me for a decade. He seems to have stopped, but I attribute that to moving 1700 miles away and son’s a teenager now. There are people who are intent on punishing and obsessing. I wish it weren’t so, but some of them are mentally ill or otherwise unstable, or just vindictive, controlling assholes. The kind that wind up on the evening news having killed their former girlfriends. The Washington D.C. sniper was such a person — his ex-wife got full custody years ago, and he wanted to kill random people, so he wasn’t suspected when he killed her.

      Okay, EXTREME case, but my point is, some assholes get secondary gain out of harassment after the divorce is over. They’re really disordered and fucked up, but they exist.

      I hope CL just has a run of the mill asshole. Advice is still the same — impose consequences! Keep the legal system involved.

      • A very good friend of mine had her ex sue her over 10 years too. It was awful to watch her be dragged back into court all the time. She stood her ground and in the end he lost, but what a price to pay for her peace of mind in trying to rebuild a peaceful life! Thank God my ex is the runaway kind. He just disappeared, and I didn’t go looking for him. Sometimes I long for more explanation, or resolution, but going no contact is so much better than dealing with a punishing ex. My heart goes out to anyone who has to deal with this kind of dysfunction.

        • CL is right on, it is all about control.

          Ex tried to drag the divorce out (even tho I had a PO), so I filed for abuse, adultery and desertion. I put every vile and disgusting thing he’d done right in the filing because I knew it would freak him out, god forbid his GF saw it, and I had in there that she was going to be deposed. I had to put really humiliating shit in that document but I did it because I knew I had to pull out all the stops to get that divorce finalized. He emailed me the filing would “ruin him”. No shit, he was living off the GF with no job and drunk all the time, if she saw that shit she would kick him. I thought he’d settle fast, nope. He continued to drag things until I lucked out with the divorce judge. When ex didn’t respond to my filing the judge put him up on contempt charges, at that time ex was on probation for two DUIs. 2 days after he got served for contempt and just 3 weeks before the court date, I got my signed settlement.

          I renewed my protective order this spring because even after a year and a half he was still trying to find ways to contact me without going to jail. He was trying to get back in my life and that scares me. I found out at that time that his GF had put a protective order on him, BUT, yet again he did not get arrested for domestic abuse. How two women in neighboring jurisdictions call 911 within 1.5 years of each other on the same asshole and he doesn’t go to jail is beyond my comprehension. I reported every single PO violation – and he called me vindictive for doing it. Because of course it was my fault he violated the order. He never served a single day in jail for the violations, that is not how it is supposed to work. If I’d had kids I would have disappeared, the justice system is too broken to keep kids safe from an abuser.

        • Lyn – it took me a few years to realize that my xh gave me a gift when he moved on so quickly with such detachment it was downright shocking.
          The anguish was overwhelming – Not only was I trying to process that he had cheated our entire 31 years together & the life I knew was one big monstrous lie, but he moved on as if those years never existed. It was like rubbing salt in my wounds at the time,
          Now I see it as a gift – I am free of him & his lies entirely.

          • Hi Lynn, your story is simiar to mine. But mine is 26.5 years…. these men are something else. I know God wanted me to see the kind of person I was with…. his mask finally fell off !

      • While there certainly ARE extreme cases – a woman was shot and killed at the courthouse during a custody hearing in our town earlier this year – I hear more stories about vindictive behavior lasting only a few months during the divorce process. My XH’s lasted about a year.

        I’m so sorry your’s didn’t… 🙁

        • Thanks Red, I am actually very lucky, abusive ex is afraid to go to jail so the PO works for me. Many abusers are not afraid of jail and the PO is useless, in fact it can enrage an abuser and make things worse because it is his “victim” attempting to take all of his control away.

    • I love this line “Let Jesus forgive him, it’s not your responsibility.”

      Reminds me of the song “Look it Up” 🙂

      • During the loooooooooong goodbye in which I engaged in a sort of pick-me dance while not really understanding WTF was going on in his head (before Dday), I asked his forgiveness for my sharp tongue (he always had it coming). His response? “I’m not Jesus”. No shit, really?

              • WOW my EX’s Mistress#2 told me that they used to say WWED? Intead of WWJD? and now I’ve seen stuff on FB where a friend suggested to the new-wife (mistress #4 or 5) to by him “Robes for Water Walking” for his birthday because he is so Jesus-like and walks on water……………I wish I was making this stuff up.

  • “…while he has to pay top dollar while I let the justice system make him it’s bitch (karma!)”

    Yes, let the justice system do its thing and stay NC. I’m an attorney too, got my friend the family law attorney to do my divorce, my ex went pro so against me AND my divorce attorney–gotta love it. Of course mine wanted no parts of me or our kids; yours is the gift that keeps on giving! Let the system slowly crush him if that’s what he insists on. The stupider he is, the worse it’ll be for him in the long run.

    🙂

    • Mine has sued me pro se as well. Does anything say “I’m a wing nut” louder than representing yourself? (Unless you’re an attorney.) Mine has filed appeals pro se as well. I got sued pro se once, for full custody, when he owed me a couple thousand in back child support. CraaaZy. I’m sorry about your ex Kelly. I hope he stays NC for everyone’s sanity.

      • Does anything say “I’m a wing nut” louder than representing yourself?

        LOL: My cheater wife is suing her (former?) fuckbuddy, who’s representing himself.

      • My ex was a personal trainer, along with his regular job (this is back when he HAD a regular job, believe it or not, he was quite successful for many years). He was having two simultaneous affairs with married coworkers in the exercise club, threesomes and orgies with other members, he took off all his clothes on a run in a public park with a male member of the club, he sent photos of his dick to a female member in the group, he was blackmailing another married guy in the group he had a threesome with, and that is just the stuff I know about. Despite all that, he wanted to sue the exercise club for sexual harassment! I kept trying to explain to him that HE was the one who was a harasser, but he never did see that. Total wing nut.

        He never hired an attorney during our divorce. He stalled on everything required by my attorney, would email ME to ask questions, would call MY attorney, and finally signed a settlement agreement the night before our court date. Then he never bothered to do anything in the agreement anyway, which I know was his plan all along. Since he is unemployed for 3.5 years now, has no home and no assets, there isn’t really anything much that can be done. I have a case with the state child support agency, but they flat-out told me that they aren’t really going to do anything.

        • Oh HAHAAHAHAHA- he is at least good for a laugh! Suing the gym? That one brain cell in his head is going to die of loneliness!

      • Ex is still laying low, Tracy, over 1 1/2 years since D-Day and very quick divorce. I call him a “hero-sociopath”- he is supremely disinterested in all of us but pretends he is magnanimous and wishes me well, which is fine with me…I realize what a blessing it has been compared to ChumpLawyer and so many of our other Chumps. Ex is finally planning meet our two older children (24 year old son and 20 year old daughter) at a restaurant for dinner over Thanksgiving break, first time they will see each other in all of that time. Youngest son, 14, does not want to see his father and I am leaving it up to him. Despite all of this, my kids are doing well and I am getting re-married next summer–I chalk a lot of our ability to heal up to the easy NC since ex just went AWOL post D-day. Thank goodness for small blessings.

        I personally find all pro se parties to be nuts, but that is just my experience as an attorney 🙂

    • Mine represented himself pro se in his first divorce. He’s planning on doing it again in this one.

      Kelly- I will never understand those who are not interested in their children. When I first met my STBX he was the one who mentioned having more kids (he had two from his first marriage). He also stated he would NEVER let someone walk away with one of his children. Fast forward to now and he has no interest in being involved in our child’s life. Even though I feel super lucky not to have to co-parent with him I’m still astounded sometimes by his lack of character.

      • Same here Kat, very similar story. Ex wanted the kids, I was the career person; ex even wanted to have our 3rd child, years after he had started the affairs and group sex I know about (don’t even want to ask WHY he would want to have another child at that point). He acted like he always thought he was the more loving, responsible, invested and adoring spouse, and appeared to be at least physically present for our children. Then I catch him, he walks out, and he NEVER looks back. Saved me that pesky difficulty of co-parenting with him, but as you say, it is utterly astounding. My ex walked with almost nothing from the home, not even all his clothes and personal possessions–I eventually threw them away! I think he imagined his next life with his AP’s would be so wonderful- he assured me he was re-marrying one of them once they both were divorced.

        I’m pretty NC, but turns out from what I (un-mehly) have gathered, that his AP’s are gone (after 17 years of affairs), he is not married, AP’s are no longer working with him in his consulting business, he is living alone in an apartment, he has NO family whatsoever, and picks up random women in bars.

        It is without a doubt the most astonishing thing I could have imagined if someone had suggested he could be this way a year, a month, or a day before D-Day. I would never have believed them and called them a damn liar. Apparently, these guys were always hiding behind their mask. My sons in particular pray they do not share any bit of his lack of integrity.

  • “They so badly need the “pick me” dance, the triangulation, the big, bad meanie who is thwarting their Twu Wuv.”

    Laugh out loud funny!! 🙂

    • It’s funny but very true. I haven’t argued with ex in a dog’s age. He rang one night about something stupid and tried to rage at me and I simply said ‘if it’s important send and email. i will not listen to you scream’ and hung up. He tried it 4 or 5 more times, but I simply walked away from it. If I see him I politely nod, I only answer emails if they’re important and even then it’s brief. I just don’t want anything to do with him and I will not be part of one of his fucked up triangles.

  • I’m on the other side of his fucked up abuse, even post divorce and post HIS remarriage to skank. But, for a long time, I had to endure the same shit….long, tedious emails berating me for every single thing…all the while he’s ensconced in his new sparkly life. I was like you “Why?”….He’s the one who cheated, abused, always found endless fault with me….and now he has new wife and I”M STILL THE BAD GUY?

    I agree fully with CL that they needed ME to be the common rallying point. Once I went completely cold turkey with him having any access to me at all….he stopped. Now she gets to have ALL of his ass – all of it.

    PARALLEL PARENTING saved me. I NEVER deal with him unless its the most basic text. I just stopped. Unfortunately, this sadness makes it fall on our 14 year old daughter who truly is in between. But its better to not continue with the abuse he kept spewing at me, that caused me more never-ending distress. Once I stopped acting like ‘co-parenting’ was really an option (as he continued to spew abuse my way), I gave him NO ROPE whatsoever. I can now sanely parent my daughter. Parallel Parenting assumes you do it your way, he does it his way, and you almost never interact. This has worked for me to get him out of my life for good….for the most part.

    Put down the rope. Finish your legal issues so you can move on, and move him out…Life will start to become more sane once this is over.

    • Same boat, Missy! Parallel parenting does work, if the kid is ols enough.

      He now takes it out on my 14 year old, who has chosen to move thousands of miles away, with me. Final straw for DD was how he reacted when she asked him for permission (dual citizen). I have not told her I think he is NPD, but she has his number. CL is right, it is continuing the power trip by other means.

  • Chump Lady, What about a husband who dotes on you even after he left you for another woman? What the hell is that? He is giving me everything and paying me alimony going above a beyond with taking care of things in the yard and repairs on the house while at the same time posting things on the OW Facebook profile knowing I might see it (because I can’t help but look at her page). Yes, I know I shouldn’t, but can’t help it. Just a note. We have no kids and were married 21 years. He has been gone a year. He cheated for over a year before I found out. He cooked for me, cleaned and spoiled me all the while screwing someone behind my back. I am really screwed up emotionally over this. I can’t seem to get better. I don’t see him by the way.

    • Cake. He’s hoping to soften you up. They do nothing without an agenda.

      Even if you somehow avoid him while he does yard work and repairs, he knows that when you see the work you think of him. Find someone else to do the yard work and repair. He shouldn’t have access to you or your home after the divorce.

      He wants you to believe that he’s really not a bad guy.

      Don’t look at the Facebook page. It’s all a campaign to stay under your skin. It’s working. No wonder you can’t seem to get better.

      I promise you if you go completely no contact, which includes no Facebook spying and no favors (allowing him to come over and mark his territory), it will get better.

      I didn’t get better until I did that–and stuck to it.

    • Maria, my STBX is that way too. I think their personality disorder depends on having a “good” woman to provide for while having forbidden sex with “bad” women. It’s too tangled up to ever try to unravel. Tracy said four words that are my mantra, “Trust that he sucks”. Every good thing he did for “us” gave him license to screw his ho-workers. Here’s what’s true: He didn’t ask you if it was OK to have sex with someone else for a year. you didn’t get to vote. I don’t care how “generous” my shithead, screwed up in the head, emotionally stunted beautiful loser is – he will never be able to give me what I really wanted. And as long as I entertain that “longing”, I will suffer and so will you, I too gained weight after D-day rather than lost it. I think it’s because I was so addicted to the “comfort” of being with my ex, that I substituted food to self-medicate. But I think I’m about ready to change. I try to keep in mind that all of the lovingkindness that I thought was so wonderful was an empty boy pretending to be me. I’m the one with all of those great qualities he mirrored, and I would bet it’s the same for you. (((((Hug)))))

  • I also want to add that I have developed a eating disorder since this happened. I am a binge eater and I’m not that overweight (yet). I feel good while I am eating, but then feel disgusted when I am done because I binge eat. For example, instead of eating one ice cream sandwich, I will eat 4 in one sitting. Sometimes I will just eat a half of loaf of bread in one sitting. The other night I ate 4 cheese sandwiches. WTF? So, my eating habits are terrible. It’s like I am trying to kill myself in some way by doing this.

    • Maria, maybe you could write to CL with your situation so she can respond in full.

      I hope you have a good therapist to help you through this, mine was a life saver.

      • I second the suggestions both to write CL and to get a good therapist. Dollars to doughnuts that the mindfuck from the Ex and the eating disorder are related in some way. That relationship isn’t something this blog deals with, but the therapist can. Get one that’s experienced in infidelity and who isn’t plugged into the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Your Ex sounds like a bit of a controlling nutjob. Your therapist needs to call it like it is.

    • Maria, it isn’t you, it’s him. But the abuse has affected you. Find a really good therapist to help you deal with the eating disorder before it gets out of hand.

    • Maria,

      I agree that you may want to get a good therapist for the eating problem. Most of us had the opposite. (I threw up anything but liquids and lost 30 pounds in a month back in the earliest days. Took to drinking high protein-low carb shakes to attempt to keep healthy.)

      As for all of his attentiveness, I suspect you are still being too passive about setting boundaries. Going no-contact is NOT to punish the cheater; it is for the peace of mind of the betrayed spouse.

      Unless you think he will use it against you in custody proceedings (consult an attorney please!) and you are forced to suck it up and endure until custody is determined, the best thing to do is to shun him to the greatest extent possible while working on you. You are the injured party. You are the one who needs to heal.

      I tend to be of the school that IF he is truly remorseful, wants to work on his character and to change into a decent man, that if you go through with the divorce, he will move heaven and earth for a good-long-time to WIN YOU back. At the least he will develop a hell of a lot more respect for you due to you ability to stick to your guns about the consequences of anyone cheating on you.

      Good luck, honey, is IS so hard; but I guarantee that it gets better and better as you solidify your self-respect and begin putting the pieces of your life back together.

    • I’m sorry for your situation Maria. Danette may have it right. Basically your ex is maintaining a “relationship” with you. It feels like shit because the power balance is so uneven. What he’s doing is just as cruel and effed up as cheating on you to begin with. You deserve to be completely free from this guy and you can’t do that until the door is closed on both sides. It’s actually a subtle abuse that’s continuing. That would kill my confidence and make me want to binge eat too. Also, in times of stress or low mood we can end up craving more carbs because they help with increasing production of serotonin in our brains. It’s not the best coping method but there is a body/brain chemistry connection behind it.

  • My ex is another one of the crazies who feels the need to punish me, though slowly over time the abusive texts have dwindled to every few months. I know that he hates me because I know the truth about how horrible he is, and that enrages him. It’s also typical of the disordered to feel rage when the power balance shifts, and my divorcing him certainly shifted the balance. He blames me for every bad thing HE ever did, also a typical trait of the disordered. I consider my ex quite dangerous, as he is very delusional and imbalanced. I have absolutely no contact with him beyond very infrequent text messages regarding our son, but he still sends me zingers every few months to hurt me. I’ve written here about the text I got from him in August, saying that he “should have added LOL” after all his wedding vows. There have been many messages like that over the past few years, many different attempts to hurt me, some quite bizarre.

  • This post is just so timely. My lovely piece of Baboon Shit, a/k/a my STBX is very random in making contact. I know as much as anyone can know (without being a mental health professional) that he is truly a covert NPD, as the description/criteria fits him almost perfectly. His Reverend Ho-Bag appears to be overt NPD. I’ve often thought that when they cannot be sparkly enough on their own, he attempts to triangulate me into their disordered mix to spice up their interaction. His contacting me doesn’t make any sense otherwise. As long as I can be the bad guy/interloper, it is easier for them to maintain the intensity that they need and it keeps him from focusing all of his abuse upon her. It also allows him to control her by attempting to make me appear to be a threat to their true lurrve.

    He doesn’t contact me about issues for which he should contact me – anything that pertains to our emancipated, but still dependent, children. And the contact always appears to occur prior to or subsequent to some rancid-assed behavior on his part to which I don’t respond. I believe it may be the non-response that is confusing to him and causing him to contact me. He is not controlling my behavior and reactions as he has done in the past. He can’t get me spinning out of control, rending my clothing, pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth. CL, your comment about “he’s a special kind of fucked up,” should be made into a t-shirt for Mr. Abuser Demon Dog Turd from Hell.

    I have looked on in amazement as he has sent me texts claiming to be rethinking his entire view of the universe, understanding some of the things I have tried to explain to him in the past that would make him a better person, etc., and he will then turn around and engage in petty, vile and mean-spirited behavior that in the past would have either ignited my anger or brought me to tears.

    The most telling thing that I have read, outside of Lundy Bancroft’s book, is an admonishment on someone’s website which stated, “Stop thinking that a narcissist’s actions are personal about you. Stop taking it personally. It’s not about you. It’s about them. You are not even a person to them. You were never anything other than a source of narcissistic supply.” It is like a mantra I have learned to repeat to myself in order to remain centered and in control. It is such a difficult concept for people who have normal feelings and thoughts to grasp, but it is truly the foundation of the behavior.

    We get confused because we’re rational and normal and insane behavior does not make sense to us. That’s a good thing. Ignoring them as much as possible makes them crazy and truly is better than engaging them on any level. That just pulls us into the crazy and I, for one, am simply trying to stay out of the crazy. That is for his Reverend Ho-Bag to enjoy. Since they are both lunatics, I recognize that God does have a sense of humor.

    • Yes, Princess, a comment on this site quite a while ago really stuck with me: that we as the chumps “never factored,” that it was always about the cheating NPD’s, and that while that seems horrifying at first, once we accept this it really is freeing. It was never about us.

      To them, we are a malfunctioning appliance–annoying, inconvenient, sometimes something they kick, other time something they think they can get a little more mileage out of– but never ever a beloved human being.

      • So true for me, Kelly. I used to tell my sister that I felt like an appliance in the house, especially when the kids were little, that the only time anyone noticed me was when I wasn’t working. I knew other women who felt this way; my mother felt this way, and I suspect so did my grandmother. I just thought it was normal.

        It occurs to me that part of the reason STBX is so angry and contemptuous now that I’ve filed for divorce is that appliances aren’t supposed to do that. Appliances are supposed to just keep working, and when they break you discard them (or even if they aren’t broken, but are not the latest model, you just get them hauled away). And appliances are not supposed to want anything, or demand anything – they aren’t supposed to want spousal support or half the proceeds from the house or half the business, even if their name is on the paperwork as a partner or co-owner.

        Appliances also are available all the time, and don’t go NC. Damn I’m glad I found this site to reinforce that concept. While I still have my sleepless nights, not interacting with the bastard unless I absolutely must, and then as minimally as possible, has given me much, much better days. And time and space to realize that I am, indeed, a beloved human being!

        • Exactly, exRM- we are rebellious appliances! Yay us!

          I found this site after my divorce was final, but cycling through trying to be friends and then hating my ex, thinking I had to forgive and then knowing I couldn’t, keeping in contact w ex yet feeling like crap when I did, still being nice after everything he did hoping it would curry his favor and other times telling him how much he sucked. I was like a yo-yo. Then once I found CL it all became clear, I was doing the pick me dance, I needed to go NC, I don’t have to forgive, none of this is my fault, there were other people out there that this happened to. And then I regained my sanity and myself, and never looked back. 🙂

          • Kelly – I could have written exactly what you wrote here – my experience exactly. I was a yo-yo too. I felt I HAD to forgive him and I HAD to be nice. Once I found this site, my healing took place.
            I don’t look back.

            I love the idea of us being likened to rebellious appliances!! – I can almost see CL’s cartoon.

        • You hit the nail on the head and this is pretty much exactly what I think is going on with crazy STBX. I was the goddamn toaster he used until he found a newer model and how DARE I complain.
          Never mind the fact that I paid all the bills for years while he drank and sat around and couldn’t manage to do a load of laundry. In fact thats entirely the point- it was my DUTY and PURPOSE to apply for jobs for him, take care of our child, work, fill out his college applications (because of course he never finished). And when he finally got a job by fraudulently getting a job through the Wounded Warriors program? Of course it makes sense to dump me for someone who “respects him”.
          LOL!
          I still remember the day I told him I didn’t need proof he was still cheating- my intuition was enough for me, and I was done, and he said “Your intuition is why we’re getting divorced”. He’ll NEVER recognize HE is the reason for the end of our (shitty) marriage.

          Honestly, I just thank goodness I recognize him for the pile of steaming garbage he is and am free from having to deal with his crazy on a daily basis. As far as i’m concerned they deserve each other and hopefully they leave the rest of humanity alone. I feel no pain from losing that dead weight.

          Viva la Meh!!!!

  • Chumpy Lawyer,

    CL is right, as always. I’ll add an observation, since I, too, have seen this “Betrayer Wants Vengeance” syndrome. (Vengeance for what? After all, the NPD is doing this to YOU [and to your child]).

    Why? Seems weird that the person who committed the wrong is mad at the Chump.

    Because you blew their cover.

    You ruined their timetable.

    You see, this is not about free love. Heck, that’s out there. Folks can easily hook up myriad ways with partners. The Internet offers plenty of possibilities. Instead, the NPDs want the unique attention and tension that comes from maintaining a double life, the image of respectability and the fun conspiracy of something on the side. For the person with more than one partner, h/she can keep both sides on pins and needles — what CL calls cake — and enjoy the middle position. No real commitments and all fun! And on the NPD’s time table! Better still!

    And then you had to go and ruin it. You ruined it. (Think of a bratty kids crying noise in teh background.) Your ex had it all. He could vent his negativity on you and save up his niceness for the OW. He could live a double life. If some of his friends found out — assuming he scrapes those friends from the same pond scum that produced him — maybe he gets still more kibbles because they are jealous. If other folks aren’t sure, then he’s still the respectable family man. This is the ultimate position, the two-lane highway and he gets to drive in both lanes, AND it keeps up tension with the side dish. He’s not committed. She’s got to still try to woo him. He gets to sit on his throne and watch not one, but TWO, pick-me belly dancers! For a person as special as he is, that’s great. It’s also — in his mind — what he needs/deserves.

    And you ruined it. You just RUINED it. You blew his timing. You destroyed the clandestine element that made the affair fun (and that kept the OW on her toes and at arm’s length.) You made him do things he didn’t want to. He got caught. He had to worry. He had to hire a lawyer. You. Just. Ruined. It.

    You are so mean!

    These people are very primitive, very childlike, and sometimes mean. Think a two year old who doesn’t get what s/he wants. But most two year olds grow up. These folks didn’t.

    So Chumpy Lawyer, you did the right thing for yourself and for your child when you monkey-wrenched Mr. NPD’s plans. From here on, handle him firmly and without emotion. Let the law work things out. Keep it mechanical and keep communications minimal. He’ll probably lose interest at some point. As you fade in signficance, his negativity will find new targets, most likely the new person he’s with.

    Great work on your part!

    Chump Son

    p.s. Here is a good article on this topic that I’ve recommended before. The Case Examples are interesting. http://www.alanrappoport.com/pdf/Co-Narcissism%20Article.pdf

    • David, you just explained my ex to a T. He honestly believes I ruined his life by finding out he was a serial cheater and making no bones about why we were getting divorced to pretty much anyone who asked. I didn’t give gory details, except to friends, but I certainly wasn’t going to lie about the sudden demise of my marriage.

      • Crap, hit submit before finishing!

        Anyway, ex remains furious and oftentimes verbally abusive because, as you said, I screwed it all up for him. If he gets caught cheating again he’s fucked in everyone’s eyes, so he has to behave. But I imagine it’s killing him, which makes me laugh. And it’s why he still tries to create drama with me and the kids. I don’t get involved and I’m teaching the kids to not do that as well. He’d triangulate and kitten if it would bring him some extra drama and kibbles.

        • Nord,

          He fits the type. These characters hate it when their little schemes get revealed. It just ruins all the fun, the intrigue, their control over timing, etc. That’s why they react with rage. Well, the joke’s on them.

          Light kills bacteria.

        • Fits my xh to a Tee too. He was furious with me when I left. How dare I ruin his fun. He had it all and I simply ruined his life.
          He was even more furious (if that was possible) when I retained a lawyer when he served me with divorce papers. How. Dare I.

          I guess I should have just rolled over and played dead – but I didn’t play the game according to his rules.I hired a lawye. He was so angry he was spitting. He hired a lawyer, then fired her & told me he expected me to fire mine. He said it was costing money.
          He represented himself & hates me because the judge awarded me spousal support.
          His anger & hatred hasn’t changed. I’m apparently the “bad” one.

          • Mine was furious…I mean ENRAGED…that I dared to take him to court to get alimony. In court he was a seething ball of rage. My lawyer noticed it and said there was something seriously wrong with him to be this fucking angry. She had never seen anything like it in 20+ years. He lied through his teeth in court and I didn’t get what I wanted but we’re still going after him. If I get a decent salary coming in I’m giving up and letting it go, simply because I do not want to deal with him.

    • “He gets to sit on his throne and watch not one, but TWO, pick-me belly dancers!” Wow that is it! They really think the deserve that!! Assh**
      Mine has been doing a amazing character assassination campaign.
      In the end I wanted to believe I did not care, so I change my cel number (all the texts and the calls where getting to me) and block his mail (the things he said!) And I must admit I feel much much better, is like he is disappearing little by little.
      I am very lucky we did not have kids.
      I really admired you chumps, just having to let that little window open for your kids, you guys are the strong ones.

    • “Instead, the NPDs want the unique attention and tension that comes from maintaining a double life, the image of respectability and the fun conspiracy of something on the side”

      That’s exactly it, David.

      • Thanks for the kind comments.

        There’s something else here that I thought of.

        I know of the case of a high paid professional who left his wife and three children. Honestly, it’s good the marriage ended, good for his ex especially and his kids, but he has also done everything he can to turn this into a “scorched earth” ending. “Why?” you wonder. Why? After all, he got what he wanted, a new marriage, a new life. So why the hostility?

        I think some of it is simple greed. He has moved on and he can’t share. But I think there’s another side to it.

        Destroying the evidence.

        Here was a man who ostensibly dedicated himself to his family. And, like many NPD fathers, he did dedicate time to his children, particularly to his first-born son. One Chump danger is looking at Dad teaching little Ralphie, Jr. tennis (Dad’s favorite sport) and thinking, “Oh, Big Ralph is difficult, but he’s such a good father! Isn’t that sweet!” One thing about NPD types, they can be Don Juans in courtship and good fathers TO LITTLE KIDS. Why? Because they see kids as clones. Once Ralphie, Jr. actually becoems complicated, gets pimples, becomes an amnesiac adolescent, has other interest, then the NPD loses interest. But, I digress…..

        So, these NPD Dads throw themselves into trying to be the perfect father, want to have the perfect family. But they often don’t want to do the dirty work. Teach Ralphie how to serve? And it’s Dad’s favorite sport? Fine. He’ll put in hours. But when it comes to the mundane, difficult stuff…. They are not so interested.

        Then when the kids grow up, become more demanding, argue back (Imagine!) and when Dad has found someone else, then the whole thing changes for them. They want to change. They can’t admit that they screwed up, that they started a job (raising a family) that they don’t have the adequate emotional resources to finish. They can’t admit to their mistake, to having courted a woman and convinced her to marry, to having sired multiple children, to having laid down this whole life….. They are miserable and, since they can’t be wrong, they have to…

        …destroy the evidence.

        Like a crook, they have to eliminate (in their minds) the evidence of their past life. They can’t even admit that maybe some things were good about that life. It’s a question of being so immature that they can’t even break up peacefully, decently, on reasonable terms. It’s necessary to condemn the past because they can’t face the contradiction in themselves. After all, they set up this previous life, didn’t they?

        Now, I’m writing from the case I observed: NPD man with Chump spouse. But I’m sure the genders can be reversed. My point is that these NPD abandoners can’t face their own stupidity. They are too fragile for that. Can’t face the fact that, well, it didn’t work out. So they try to destroy that which reveals their own lack of follow-through with the families that they created.

        I think that’s the existential reason that some of these abandoner-exes can’t just happily move on. Even though they are seemingly getting all they wanted. This, in addition to the above, which is the end of the pick-me belly dancing duet, explains their hostility toward their former spouses, kids, families.

        • “They can’t admit that they screwed up, that they started a job (raising a family) that they don’t have the adequate emotional resources to finish.”

          Wow David, you sure get this stuff! Incredible insight.

          • Thanks. Sadly, as Chump Son, I experienced the side of NPD-narcissism from a kid’s perspective. As an adult, I had a ringside seat to an NPD abandoning his family. The abandonment wasn’t all that bad. His wife deserved far better. But then I watched him go into napalm/scorched earth mode and wondered about it. Here was a guy who had once been obsessed with having the perfect family and now he seemed to want to do all he could to scorch them over. I think it’s this idea that, once the NPD decides to leave, they can’t stand evidence that something they started didn’t turn out well. So they do the blame game and try to pretend that it was all a horror. Since they are constantly looking into an imaginary mirror (they are in a feedback loop with their own self-image), they try to ruin what went before. That, I guess, makes them feel like what they did was necessary/had to happen/was just a matter of new and necessary needs that couldn’t be met, etc. Everything but the fact that they were the ones who couldn’t hack marriage and family life, who couldn’t even separate and divorce nicely. It’s the ultimate little loser with a flamethrower. But, in the end, the Chump parents are the ones who come through for the kids and, getting to Meh, realize that they are better off without these turkeys.

            Anyway, thanks again. CL is a hero for creating this space.

  • By the way, mine acted like a lunatic once the attorneys got involved. Fuckface apparently forgot I worked as a paralegal, so with the paid attorney I retained, there were three others working with me behind the scenes. Not to mention I have him by two graduate degrees and can outsmart him under the table. So he got all Martin Burney* when he figured out I had him by the balls.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHs7vujRTk4

    • Yes, Dr., as one of my attorney-friends said, “Wait a minute, [ex] knows who you are, your connections as a litigation attorney, your divorce attorney’s reputation and skill in family law, and he is REPRESENTING HIMSELF?”

      These guys aren’t brain surgeons–no offense to brain surgeons everywhere.

      • No, BUT, they think they are, I can remember many times my ex saying shit like: “I could be a better lawyer in three weeks than that guy” or pick a profession, the only thing stopping him was what I wonder?

        • You know Dr., I had an epiphany (on a plane, on a Tuesday, not that long ago)– I realized ex was not all that, that I carried him, that he was a loser, that I was way above him, that (apart from the cheating which I did not know about) I should have dropped-kicked his ass out long ago because he sucked as a father and husband, that I made the money, was the sane loving involved parent, the person who kept the family together, etc. My ex literally did skulk out, nowhere to be found, because I think he already knew what I have come to realize in the year and a half since D-Day–he is a pitiful mewling fool, the punch line of a joke. Once I realized this, I hit full-blown Meh. What utter losers. You will do so much better without him and ding someone so much better for you and your son in the future.

  • He knows at some level that he did something very bad, and the only way he can justify it is if he makes you the bad guy. But wait, you didn’t do anything wrong? Immaterial, they will invent stuff. Anything. You have to become The Enemy in their mind. All’s fair in attacking The Enemy.

    The worst thing you can do is give them meh and show them that their mindgames are useless.

  • I finally filed for divorce when I realized my future ex, despite affair and stating he no longer wanted to be married, would never step up to actuall do the work involved. Months of ME working through the process all he had to do was sit back on cruise control. He could never make the move himself to leave even though he got out so he won – he got me to do all the dirty work. Should be good right? No he takes everything out on me. Has even apologized sayign he knows he takes everythign out on me because it’s easier. There is no earthly reason for him to put the knife in and turn it. I’m doing everything! I finally realized it’s a control thing and that he can’t stand that he has nothing to pin on me, blame me for so he just starts stupid shit with me. It’s been a real struggle to not always engage and react. Sloooowly I get better at it.

    • My situation exactly. 1 1/2 yrs ago my H asked for a divorce so he could marry his old girlfriend he reconnected with on facebook. I told him to see a lawyer, was willing to mediate (not anymore) I saw a lawyer, got my ducks lined up. He kept procrastinating giving different reasons and now no reason at all. He continues to text and talk daily to OW although they have not had any physical contact I know of in almost 1 yr. ( and only live 100 miles apart you go figure) he has stopped screaming “What part of I want a divorce don’t you understand?” and never mentions it at all. Gets freaked out when I say the name of the OW. in our marriage I have always done the heavy lifting and the leg work only to get it thrown back in my face that I am trying to wear the pants in the family. And now when I mention leaving I get “You always planned to do this” WTF. I know your resentment I didn’t ask for a divorce why now do I have to be the one to initiate it?

      • For the love of God, Janet, why are you still dancing this dance with him? Who cares what his motivations are, and if he wants to divorce you. Do YOU want this marriage? Is this ACCEPTABLE to you? That he texts his OW every day? Are you denying him a divorce so you won’t be the bad guy? Quit this fucked up enmeshed thing you’re doing with him — take care of YOU. It’s like you’re stuck in resentment. ACT for yourself! Why are you still in this marriage? Seriously, what’s in it for you? He’s sick? What’s your plan for getting out? Don’t be a martyr. This is your life. Hire him a caregiver — why are you devoted years to this person?

  • 2 years out, and I’ve figured out the flare-ups are timed with the writing of the checks. Pisses him off. It’s been so much better since I don’t try to reason or discuss with him at all. It’s no fun for him if he can’t get a rise out of me. These articles have helped me SO MUCH in dealing with the craziness. CL is so right.

  • I started to post this before and my computer freaked out on me, so I hope it’s not double posting.

    If you’re trying to keep your cool, 2 things really help;

    – set up a special e-mail account just for him to contact you, and only accept contact through it. Tell him this is your new account, not to use any old ones (or to text unless it is a huge emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately). Then if he e-mails to your old account, DON’T EVEN READ IT. Have a standard reply to copy-paste, asking him to redirect that mail to the new account. If he persists in using the old account, tell him that you will no longer be using the account, and COMPLETELY IGNORE anything he sends you. (LIKE DON’T EVEN OPEN IT, just shift it directly to a folder of his crap, so you’re documenting, documenting, documenting.) If he texts and there’s neither an emergency room visit for your kid nor a sudden cancellation or change of plans involved, ignore it completely.

    Then get a friend to check that e-mail account (once a day is FINE!). If the ex’s message is just ridiculousness, you don’t even get notified. If there is any hard info in there that you either need or need to respond to, they send you that hard info only, and copy-paste your reply to them, into a reply to him.

    (Although if there are any true gems of idiocy in those e-mails, you could always get your friend to send them to you, so you could post them on ‘Stupid Shit Cheaters Say’ and we could all laugh together with you!’

    – Secondly, when you do have contact w/him that riles you up, open a Word doc, write down EVERYTHING you would like to tell him at that moment. Then save and close the doc and go do something else. If you’re still upset or get upset again later, call a friend and vent. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES let him know that you were in the least bit upset.

    Eventually either he will stop bothering you, or his stupidities will stop bothering you, but until then, it’s really important not to ever let him SEE he’s bothered you. It’s all kibbles to him!

  • Why? The same reason 3-year-olds have melt downs when you take a toy away because they were using it to hit other kids. Because they want it, you took it away, and they lack the ability to see actions have consequences. So they’ll try to change your mind and if that doesn’t work at least try to keep the attention and make everyone else miserable too.

  • I may be wrong about this, but I believe my ex is extremely angry with me because he feels I ruined his life by not being a mommy figure to him, and the fantasy life he left to leave is not what he’d imagined it would be. At all. And that is my fault, too, you know.

  • I just think it’s the personality type. Yesterday H and I are driving when he suddenly turns into a gas station. We weren’t going there and did not need gas. “Where are you going ” said I. “you distracted me he said. WTF I had been sitting quietly listening to him blab about his new ATV. This just one example of his inability to accept blame for even the smallest thing. And then there is the bullying part of this personality type. Yes, you got away. How dare you. Rather than look inwardly at themselves to see how their actions precipitated this they HAVE to blame you. When I tell my H of my plan to leave his statement is “this was always your plan!” HUH yes I have been plotting for 24 yrs to do this and no I am not having an affair and excuse me aren’t YOU the one who said he wanted a divorce. Sorry ranting this AM

    • Who cares WHAT he thinks! Don’t tell him of your plans to leave, he thinks it’s an idle threat because you are STILL THERE taking care of him every day, taking the blame for his mistakes. Don’t talk about what you’re doing to do with him, DO IT.

      You don’t need his permission. Time to start taking care of JANET.

      • Thank you CL I really do need a slap in the face (figueively) (sic) Part of me knows you are right and part of me says “How could I just let him come home to an empty house?” Chum Chump Chump. Plans aside till 2014 (new year new beginnings) only 7 weeks away.

        • I learned the hard way to stop telling him of my plans. Last time I said waht I intended to do it got horribly physical and although he did get physical when I’d press him on WTF was going on before I knew for sure about the affair, that had never happened and we’d been together for 20 years. That was not how we were as people. So after that, I just put my head down and plowed forward and if I needed information from I just say I need this or that and now my divorce should be final by the end of this month. Do not tell of your plans – just do them!

  • Shakespeare nailed this one, by having Hamlet say to Ophelia, “Nymph, in thy orizons be all my sins remembered.”

  • I haven’t received his full punishment yet, which sadly I know is coming. I don’t think it will be when I file, but rather once I find someone else, then I think he’ll freak!

    • How would he ever know you’ve found someone else? Unless you’re in a very small town … in which case I guess everybody knows pretty much everything right away!

  • I just got off the phone with the child support case worker. Mr. Sparkly (aka Captain Marvelous..the nickname I used for him way before CL – how ironic is that?) drives over 200 miles round trip to her office when he makes a rare payment (4 times in 5 1/2 years..). She plays the game with him, tells him how nice it is, and knows that she won’t see him again for months. Predictable now, but pathetic. His payment yesterday keeps the felony charges at bay for a while, so I’m a little less nervous about him freaking out and getting violent. You see, his big concern is “looking bad”. He works with kids for a living, and when I filed for an extension of the 5 year PO, his only concern (not worried about no contact with the kids; he couldn’t care less, thank God), he was worried about ONE thing – he’ll “look bad” to the parents and kids.

    I’m relieved that his career seems to be still going well; lots of sparkles, bored women throwing themselves at him and kibbling, and less time for him to bother us. His website even has quotes from (all women…lol) and kids saying how great he is. As much as I enjoyed the image of him in jail for the holidays, the temporary CPO keeps me from any drunk dials demanding that I tell his friends/family what a great husband/father his is (no shit, he’s done that a bunch of times) and less chance of rage induced violence when the consequences actually happen. They punish us because we figured it out – and no contact is truly a blessing.

  • I must be really, really lucky. I can’t believe all that these people do to their LBSs. Mine just basically told me he was no longer emotionally or physically attracted to me and left. Of course he denied OW, he tells me “I’m not cheating on you” in the most sincere of voices. He kept the mailbox key from me until he was able to get his cell phone and credit card bills re-routed to his PO Box Entire time, never thought he had OW…until…he had me served with divorce papers the day before my birthday as I was walking out of the house to go with my girl pal on a vacation to Australia. He was afraid he would have to wait 12 days before I would sign the waiver of service, so he took matters into his own hands to “protect his interest”. At that moment, I KNEW he had someone else. Didn’t take long to confirm I was right. I’m sure they’re shacked up at her place. We must have had the quickest divorce in history – just over 60 days! No cake eating attempted, just total abandonment…Blamed me for everything, but it has all stopped. He actually told me to refrain from contacting HIM. Oh well, he did me the biggest favor of all. The NC thing has really been a blessing for me, I was getting caught up in that drama…

  • I was amused ( in an ironic way)when Chump Lady said that it would be a difficult for the next fourteen years with your son, if only the cr*p they inflict had a cut off point, if only when kids reached 18 they were able to rid themselves of the burden their f*ckwit fathers have piled on their shoulders. If anything as the children reach maturity, they start to get it in a way they didn’t as protected and sheltered children. I have a 17 year old in counselling and a 21 year old on meds for panic attacks because of the damage the tosser that is unfortunately their father has inflicted on them. It might be because the betrayal is only a few years old but I suspect not.
    Dig in for the long haul, you are going to have to make up for their father’s shortcomings and failings for the rest of your children’s lives, after a while it becomes second nature and you even learn to prepare the ground, as you fore see what is going to happen, the next disappointment or failing.
    It is exhausting but you reap huge rewards in your relationship with your children but it is hard, very hard. The guilt is horrible as you blame yourself for the bad choice you made choosing the person who would father your children, but you just have to remind yourself that you wouldn’t have your children were it not for that bad choice, and you can never regret them.
    There is a hard road ahead but ultimately it gets better, just keep fighting because often in the end your self respect is all you have left and it is essential you preserve that not just for yourself, but for your children. They won’t respect you if you don’t respect yourself, which means you have to fight and keep fighting however much you want to succumb. Don’t, be strong and be proud.

  • Sounds exactly like my ex-husband!! Problem is… he has the powerful job… which I helped him get while I stayed home for 12 years (yes, BIG chump!)… and gives him a dangerous amount of control. Now… he’s gotten the state to audit me… gotten them to put a “hold” on child support… and I’ve still yet to see my half of the 401K. Thanks for your blog. Just what I needed right now… to get me through this hard time. Less than 7 years and counting…

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