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Dear Chump Lady, I’m so mad at myself

Dear Chump Lady,

I have read and re-read your posts innumerable times since I discovered your website. I just got out of a 9-month relationship. He was a wolf in sheep skin. He is a charmer, environmentalist, social entrepreneur…a do-gooder in society.

I met him soon after his divorce came through, I was the ‘special’ one he chose to bare his soul to, I couldn’t wait to feed my co-dependence and make his life perfect and happy. I made him the center of my universe, shopped for him, sorted his house, his maid, cooked for him, hosted parties with him. He was scared to commit, so I gave him all the space. He was running an organization, so had a lot of stress; I stopped demanding as that stressed him out. He lay the boundaries and I complied.

Then began the slow degrading of my self-esteem. He picked faults in me, my tendency to run from problems, to not be confrontational. I took each input and studied, absorbed and took it as an input from someone who loves me and wants me to grow as a person. Except each input broke my confidence, made me question myself at every level. He was so righteous, did the right things, said the rights things, was a good person who knew better than me. Rode his high-horse on the moral high-ground. I took it all at face value.

I found out through his best friend, maid, read a chat by chance and learned of his infidelity. I could not believe it. So everytime, he fought with me or pushed me away, he was making room to screw other women. I told him I knew, he denied it all, asked for proof, tried every emotion in the book and then when I finally told him, he got defensive and without an explanation or an apology he just vanished.

After his pleading and then me spilling the beans, I got a few defensive messages, I finally broke my silence and sent him a long email. I am reeling under the shock of the lies and the projections. He came off as a saint and it’s so hard to accept that the same man would do this to me. He has been so deceitful the entire time we have been together. I am in so much pain and there is so much anger. All I want to do is hurt him, make him feel the pain that he caused me. He has already moved on, already has 2-3 women he is not connected to, who are “special” and listening to his vows and the sob story of what a hard and dificult life he leads. My anger is turning inwards and destroying me. All I can think of is the time I never stood-up and took all his shit, I allowed him to question me my sanity, my weakness and I assumed it was all for my good.

Chump Lady, please help me…I need to navigate through this mess and I just can’t seem to do it. I am tired of complaining, I am tired of crying, I am sick of this feeling and unfairness of this whole thing.

I know the anger is towards me as well, for having been so stupid, for not listening to the warning signs, to all the people who warned me about him. I really thought he was goodie-two shoes, with whom infidelity would never be an issue and he was a liar at every level.

Karishma

Dear Karishma,

I’m sorry you got suckered, but hey, it was a bad 9-month investment. You got some major life lessons at a bargain rate. Many of us chumps learn these hard lessons after years, with sunk costs like marriage, children, and mortgages.

You wrote: All I can think of is the time I never stood-up and took all his shit, I allowed him to question me, my sanity, my weakness and I assumed it was all for my good.

He’s gone. It’s time to stop questioning your sanity and feeling weak. This crap is finite. You learn from it (painfully) and then you reclaim your life. Don’t give him more mental real estate to hurt you now that he’s out of your life. Take a good, unvarnished look at the situation and yourself, draw those painful lessons, and then let go and heave a sign of relief.

You got taken in by a man who pretended to be someone he wasn’t. Join the chump club! You liked the sparkly goodness that he projected, you miss being the consort to the Import Moral Leader. You spackled over his obvious faults, until you couldn’t any more. You’re mad at yourself. I get it.

So let me give you the Cliff’s Notes on What Not To Do in the future, okay? So you can put this sorry chapter behind you.

1. A good relationship is not like joining a cult, okay? It doesn’t require that you sublimate all sense of self and worship someone unquestioningly. There was no reason to serve him. Look! I’ll make myself indispensable and you’ll see my worth! Karishma, you HAVE WORTH. You don’t need to prove yourself so utterly to someone to make them love you. You needn’t shop for them and sort out their maid service. You’re a grown up, you have a life. He’s a grown up, he has a life. When you willingly took on that role as handmaiden to the Important Person you signaled to him that you were a chump who could be taken advantage of.

Healthy relationships have reciprocity. You do for him. He does for you. The currency of reciprocity is not sparkles. I’ll do your shopping and you let me associate with your fabulousness! No. Good people want to return the favor. They take honest pleasure in doing for you. You want relationships that are reciprocal, not lopsided.

When you accept lopsided, you’re saying to the other person that you have a handicap, that you have to work especially hard to be lovable. It’s a sad kind of control chumps do — love as currency exchange (narcissists love a lopsided exchange rate). No, love is a gift. We don’t earn it. We have to be good partners, absolutely, but people who love us grace us with their love. They see the worth in us. They don’t make us jump through flaming hoops to prove it.

2. The early days are the honeymoon. It’s not enough for him to tell you you’re special. He has to treat you special. Not making time for you, tearing you down, belittling you — this isn’t romance, Karishma. Courtship is as good as it gets — this is when someone is putting forward their best self to win you. If the best he’s got is manage my dust bunnies and I’m working late? Fuck him.

3. Don’t put someone else in charge of your sense of worth. You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul (to borrow from Invictus). Don’t give your identity to another person. It’s natural to care what the people closest to us think of us. When you love someone, you have a tremendous power to hurt them with your words and your unflattering assessments. It’s hard to hear criticism. But loving people do this lovingly. They bolster as well as critique. And hopefully the ratio is 10:1 bolstering over criticizing.

Here’s a bolster/critique conversation I might have with my husband — who has the real (and acknowledged) flaw of dressing like an unkempt teenager instead of a 50-year-old lawyer.

You’re such a handsome man, and you look so great in a pressed shirt. Blue really suits you! I think at age 50, you have to stop shopping at Old Navy and wearing t-shirts and camo shorts to work. I know you want to be comfortable, so can we look at some comfortable options that are a bit more… um, age appropriate? I mean, you’re really fortunate that people think you’re much younger than you are, but I think at 50 you need the gravitas that comes with wearing a button-down shirt, okay?

Another term for this is the Oreo critique. Nice thing. Critical thing. Nice thing. All in a cookie sandwich. The chocolate wafers help the harsh go down.

I’m also couching my language with “I think” statements. It’s just me. This is my opinion. I’m not pronouncing the gospel.

Mr. Moral there just told you who you were. Full stop. No wonder you’re mad. This is a common tactic with abusive people. He needs to put you in your place, define you, tell you your ample deficiencies, and then cloak it in righteousness — this is for your Own Good. So it’s hard to feel defensive, because you feel guilty for not accepting the criticism (or the “joke”) in the spirit it was “intended” — your self improvement.

When you have a strong sense of who you are, you can weigh other’s criticisms fairly. It won’t hurt you to admit your flaws. And you can bite back if you think the criticism goes too far. But if you’re in a lopsided investment — when you look to others too much to validate you — you take abuse to heart. Yes, that is who I am. I am who you tell me I am.

Know yourself. Know your worth. That’s the best protection we have against being abused. Some idiots might try it, but if you know your worth, you aren’t going to sit around and take it for very long.

4. Never write a long letter to someone who doesn’t give a shit. Common chump mistake. Sending a long, imploring letter is just feeding kibbles to the narcissist. He will ignore the substance of what you said and only see centrality. If you must write it — spew it out and put it in a folder. Send it to a friend. Send it here. But don’t send it to the person who doesn’t give a shit. A letter will not make him give a shit. Letters are not magic.

5. When other people tell you who someone is — believe them. Sounds like you had a lot of warnings that he sucked, and more than one verification that he was cheating. Believe those people, believe the evidence. Let go of who you hoped he was, and how it felt to be associated with one so sparkly. People tend not to have bad reputations unless they’ve earned them.

6. He’s going to chump other people. That’s who he is. Pay no attention to whomever he’s directing his sales pitch to now. That’s not your problem. If you fear they’re going to get some of his precious attention, you’re not trusting that he sucks. He sucks, Karishma, he SUCKS.

Please be kind to yourself and work through this broken heart. You were given a precious opportunity to get these lessons understood without a deeper investment. That’s a gift, Karishma. When you internalize that, you’ll stop being mad at yourself.

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.
  • Watch out for the charmers. Sparkly charm, glib wittiness and “I’m so funny and the life of a party” are huge red flags, something I learned very painfully after a 20 year marriage to such a man.

    Karishma, thank God you got out after nine months, and don’t beat yourself up for falling for a cheating con artist. These people are everywhere and they are very GOOD at fooling others into buying their particular brand of bullshit. They practice their game from childhood, they are not encumbered by pesky little things like guilt, conscience, remorse, empathy or care like the rest of us and they truly enjoy using and abusing others. If a disordered cheater sets his/her sights on you, it’s very, very easy to fall into their net, especially if you do not know the signs. Heck, even if you DO know what to watch for, you can still be fooled. This is because some of them are incredibly skilled at playing the game.

    Learn your lesson, block this man in every way possible, and move on. Keep your eyes open next time you start liking a guy, and if you see signs of disorder, get out. Don’t do second chances, don’t give benefit of the doubt, don’t think you can “change him” or he just needs to be “understood.” The disordered count on their prey doing those things, and they use that opportunity to further ensnare you.

    Good luck to you! I know how much it hurts, but CL is right. He’s disordered, he’s going to move on and hurt others. Focus on yourself and on moving on. He is no longer your problem, than God for that.

    • Karishma, ditto what Glad says–I know it’s hard, but thank goodness you are out, move on with your life which means AWAY from the psychopath/narcissist. Let him go con someone else, but don’t get into a war you can’t win (revenge), we cannot beat them at their own game. As Glad points out, they don’t have to deal with trivialities like conscience, compassion, integrity or truth. (((Hugs)))

  • Great advice, as always, CL.

    I was recently in a conversation with a friend about marriages. I mentioned that I was briefly married after college (to a nice person; we were just not compatible/not right time/had too much baggage) for 18 months. I said this to my friend with some embarrassment, as if it were silly to be married such a short time. My friend replied, “Dave, don’t apologize. I was married one time before, too, for 16 years…..” And my friend had two kids with this first marriage. We have both been married again, very happily, me for 24 years and him for over ten years. As he said to me of his second marriage, “I had not idea it could be like this,” (this good).

    Moral of the story? If it isn’t going to work, the quicker it ends, the better. You got a lifetime of lessons in nine months. Yes, it hurts like hell and it feels embarrassing, but your picker just got refined, your defensive radar got amped up, your instincts about people got sharpened. This is a lifelong gift. You have also reached out to a supportive community. You see the world differently now, perhaps less idealistically but much more realistically. That is so vital to how you will live your own life and what you will share with others. In a way, you got a shit sandwich, but, if you learn from the experience, this can become a bad experience that keeps on giving you good things, good friends, good information, a fount for good advice…..

    The second thing I wanted to say is that sometimes really NPD people can be doing genuinely good things in other contexts. We Chumps have to watch out for that wonderful brain surgeon, that preacher, that politician who may, in fact, be doing something that is demanding and is good in another context, but who may not be a good person deep down and who, above all, may not be good for us. I suspect the guy you talk about rationalizes his bad behavior because his NGO is feeding the hungry, or some such activity. I applaud the good he does, but I would not want my daughter to marry him. I suspect his motivations for doing good (to-self-aggrandize?) Even so, I’m happy he does do good. But let’s not confuse this with him being good at intimate relationships or at any kind of relationship. He sounds like he’s Batman on a serial search for a “Robin” or an “Alfred,” and that whomever he finds will wind up coming in second place to his career/his crusade. Again, this is an issue for refined radar. It’s wonderful when we meet someone who is beautiful, talented, a big success. That person may be great for us. But the person may not be. If their success becomes a reason that they neglect us or we neglect ourselves — (“Quiet kids!!!! Quiet down!!!!! Your father is operating tomorrow….” and so the whole house has to go funeral-dead because of Dad’s status as some great healer…..) — then we gotta start worrying/asking questions/wondering what’s going on.

    You are darned lucky be rid of this guy. Luckier still not to have had children with him/owned houses with him/invested more years with him/put him through grad school, etc. In fact, you sound to me to be pretty damned self-assured and smart to have caught on to him as quickly as you did. Take pride in that and move on!

  • Wanted to add something from my experience. I started dating a new guy two months ago. It’s obviously way too soon to know if it is going to last, and too soon to know for certain if he is in some way disordered, but so far, so good. Here are some of the differences between this new relationship, and my nightmarish marriage of 20 years to a disordered monster.

    New guy is not sparkly, does not insist on being in the spotlight, does not go out of his way for attention.
    New guy genuinely listens to me and to other people. He’s not just waiting to talk about himself.
    New guy has hobbies and interests of his own. He does not insist I spend all my time with him, he is fine if I have things I need to do. He does not monopolize my time but is very happy when we are together.
    New guy is affectionate, loves to touch me and kiss, but was willing to wait until I was ready for sex. He did not push me, passive-aggressively threaten me or coerce me into intimacy before I was ready.
    New guy genuinely seems to like me as a person. He is not overly gushy, does not love bomb me or make over-the-top declarations of affection/love. But he pays attention to what I say, he remembers things I tell him, he is interested in hearing about my day/life.
    New guy is comfortable to be with. I do not feel nervous, do not feel like I have to walk on eggshells, do not feel in any way belittled, “less than” or like I am expected to serve him, care for him or worship him.
    New guy is stable, has an actual, long-term job, is very close with his children, provides for his family and thinks about his future.

    He is not perfect, and I do not know if we will be together long term. But unlike my marriage, there are no screaming red flags, and my gut is not shouting at me to watch out. I think that is something chumps often ignore or deny. Listen to your gut. It will rarely steer you wrong, but your heart and your head often will.

  • Hi Karishma,
    I totally relate to your situation because I too was in a relationship with a lifetime “serial cheater” and self proclaimed “Sex additct” for just shy of a year and left in mid January of 2013.

    He told me who he was and because he said he didn’t want to “fuck up” our relationship and I told him up front what I needed from him to make our relationship work and that included honesty and if he felt he was going down a “slipper slope” and even if he “cheated” he had to tell me.

    Well of course he didn’t tell me and I found the hard way, saw a Craiglist Casual Encounter ad opened in a tab on his computer when I asked if I could check my netflix account on his computer while he was on the phone. SURPRISE!

    Yep he fooled me good and it was a very hard learned lesson and I was angry as hell at both himself and myself for a while. Being a sport when I have been grossly taken advantage of and feeling like a fool knowing I was openly fooled is not one of my strong points!

    Two days after I saw the ad on his computer, I packed up all of his stuff in my apt. with his set of apt. keys he gave me fairly early on in the relationship and went to his place for dinner, sat through dinner and told him it was over and I can’t do this. His reply, “I didn’t see this coming”. He shrunk in size before my eyes and his eyes were blank and black, it was like no soul was there, it scared the crap out of me and he just looked at me and looked down.

    He proceeded over the next three months to drunk text me, send me a crazy letter via regular mail, attacked people who knew me that he ran into asking how I was and that he missed me. Telling them that he thought our relationship could have been saved. What an asshole.

    So I sent him an email entitled “You are a Total Asshole”. It made me feel better but fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. I even went as far as telling him I wanted to have a dinner with him 3 months after leaving him to put this behind us and that since he still felt he had more to say to me, I was giving him that opportunity one last time and I had no intention of ever getting back together with him. Well that dinner was a big mistake, it set back my healing by three months, but I got to see the depth of his insanity. He cried at the dinner table and stopped in a second as I just stared at him because the tears were obviously not real. He quickly changed topics and shut off the water faucets and asked what I had done since our break up for fun, WTF? He then proceeded to tell me that he was seeing someone who liked him but he was emotionally unavailable for her. So I said, wow I feel sorry for her and I told him you weren’t ever emotionally avail. in any relationship you had including your previous marriage. So he said no, you were different, so I laughed in reply to that utter lie.

    Then when dinner was over, he asked if we could share a cab and I was in shock and like an idiot said yes and in the cab, he leaned over and inhaled my neck. What a freak and creep! He always liked the way a smelled and that didn’t register until the next day in my head about why he did that because it was such a sick and psycho thing to do, it was like the movie, Silence of the Lambs when Anthony Hopkins did that famous scene about Fava Beans. When he got out I told him to make sure he never contacted me again and he thanked me for the dinner and told me it made him feel much better.

    Bottom line, it took me months more to recover after that dinner and blocking him on Facebook and removing him from my phone and emails, etc.. If I could do over again, I would have stayed no contact from the day I ended it and that same day I went home and un friended him from facebook and blocked him. Then I unblocked him and after that dinner, I blocked him again permanently.

    Now I am grateful he is out of my life and reached meh a couple of months ago. Sometimes I still have short fits of anger over allowing that relationship to happen and not protecting myself from the pain and trauma caused. But I went into therapy a week after I broke up at the wise suggestion from a firend, just to have help sorting through all of the emotions caused by the trauma that I didn’t know how to process since I never experienced crazy like that and I went immed. to my gyno to get tested for every STD and followed up again with all tests 6 months later. Thankfully they all came back negative, all I could think of while awaiting my test results the first time was going to his office and squeezing his neck so tight that I would suffocate him with my hands. Therapy was for 2 months and helped tremendously.

    That is when I found this website which has been invaluable to my recovery as well in helping me understand what I had just been through and that there is light on the other side.

    I thank goodness that it only lasted a short time and I got away without a marriage, kids or moving in together, etc… He kept wanting to move in together and something just said to me wait four seasons (a full year) to see if this is someone I want to move in with.

    He is a really bad guy, his son who is now 23 doesn’t speak with him, his daughter speaks with him but clearly has no respect for him and his ex wife of 11 years can’t stand him and has since remarried. I spackled alot in that short relationship and did feel sorry for him but always thought how strange it was that his son wouldn’t speak with him because as I told him only something really really horrible would stop a child from speaking to a parent. He never gave me any really clear answers to that question.

    So, my point and advise to you is that although the relationship was just under a year, it then took me another 8-9 months to recover so a total of approx. 2 years was lost to a very sick and toxic relationship.

    Compared to 25+ years of many here with children, divorce and the exra bonus of still having to be in touch with the x due to children etc…

    I had it easy as do you! Cherish that and be grateful for that. Now I know I have my own back like never before and something like this is almost 100% guaranteed to never happen to me again. I am very careful when dating now and know immed. to see red flags for exactly that and to run not walk once they appear.

    Most of all, I have fallen in love with myself and know my value like never before. It has helped me in so many aspects of my life, with friends, family and at work as well. My boundaries are firm now.

    Please go easy on yourself, you made mistake because you fell in love with the wrong person. Look at why that happened and fix it so it doesn’t happen again. My mistake was spackling what I didn’t fully understand and not ending the relationship sooner but I accept that it happened for the length of time and the way it happened as that is how I really learned from it about myself. I now trust myself to be my very best friend and my friends who helped me through this I love.

    So cry, get angry, be sad and go easy on yourself and feel whatever you are feeling so you can get through to the other side and get on with your life and please be grateful it didn’t last longer at least you know you haven’t lost a lot more time from your valuable life.

    Best,
    Deborah

  • Please excuse the many typos! Also, I forgot to add that 5 months after my break up the stress caused my thyroid to grow very large and very quickly and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and had to have my entire thyroid removed. I am fine now but that was the price my body paid from the stress and trauma this abusive relationship caused.

    So please stay no contact and learn from your very valuable lesson and all of the valuable lessons learned by everyone here and take CL and all of the other very wise and strong chumps here who have survived this crap for various lengths of time and investments both monetarily and emotionally and with children!

    You and I are by far the luckier ones.

  • Tracy, awesome post. I wished I read this 23 years ago. Before I comment further, congratulations on one of Blabber’s top 100 bloggers on relationships for 2013! You rock. Thank you so much for helping us all find sanity, clarity and each other.

    Karishma, please don’t be too hard on yourself. This was a lesson you needed to learn. Embrace it. You acknowledge your co-dependent self in your letter. You were given a gift to look into that so future relationships that truly matter will be healthier. You may not see it as a gift right now, but trust me, it is. No one is perfect. Every single one of us has lessons to learn. The most important thing is that we learn so we don’t have to learn it again. I didn’t learn until I did. Listen to Tracy and all the Chumps here. Your pain is as real as the rest of ours. Here’s to a new, stronger Karishma who knows she has so much worth she doesn’t have to prove it to anyone.

  • Krarishma

    Sparkly people are delighted when they believe you still want them despite all the crap they put you through. The more you pine, the greater their delusion that you just can’t get over them. Going no contact and following CL’s advice is key. I come here daily to read and re-read the advice and sharing because I understand how crazy making this is and I need support from people who get it.

    This man sounds like a lot of the cheaters here. Mine worked long hours and was hugely successful in his career. He was seen by everyone as a “nice guy”, shy and kind. He didn’t sparkle in the typical fashion but in the relationship his needs we’re a priority. If he wanted something he got it and I made sure that the home, etc was cared for so that it didn’t bother him. Over time most of my needs we’re not considered. If he wanted to stay out late, he did. If he wanted to drink too much, he did. If he wanted to buy something, he went and got it.

    If I wanted him to come home, I was controlling. If I wanted to buy something he’d say ,”don’t spend too much.” If I wanted to travel somewhere, he wasn’t interested. Eventually he took over my life and I became a shell. I didn’t know what to think and I became depressed. I thought if I made him happy, eventually he’d make me happy. If he threw a few “kibbles of love” I’d eat them up and think that really he wasn’t soooo bad. And I stayed.

    We were together 25 years.

    Then I discovered his affair and I asked for a divorce. I knew that he would never love me, at least not enough.

    We share a child and that’s hellish. I do my best to go no contact but there are times when I see him. ( very rarely ). I hate seeing him because he too moved on very quickly with a younger woman with small children of her own. Less than 2 months post separation they were all introduced to each other and pretending to be a “happy” family. It’s devastating. They go to Holiday parties together and he’s told me that our child will just have to deal with ” sharing” him.

    My point is that you were very smart to get out after 9 months. I wish I had left my marriage much sooner. I can’t say that I even know what a healthy relationship looks like. But I know what a unhealthy one does now. You were in one. In time you will be able to see this more clearly. He would never and I mean never have made you happy. Trust that YOU can make yourself happy. Do that one day at a time. Don’t look back, he’s not.

    Keep moving away. Good, honest people are out there. You don’t need to ponder and pine for sparkly unicorn shit.

    • thensome, your experience sounds similar to mine. Ex was very successful, a workaholic, self-focused. I used to tell people he wasn’t selfish, but he was definitely self-focused. He did what he pleased and there was little emotional reciprocity. We met when I was was 16 and were married 31 years, so I didn’t have a lot of experience with different types of relationships. When I look back on how many times he accused me of being controlling as a way of controlling ME, it makes me nuts.

      • Lyn, thensome, I had the same type of husband. Not sparkly, didn’t love-bomb me, worked a lot, but was seen as the “nice” introverted type. But he is a spoiled brat who had to have all the expensive toys, and left little emotional reciprocity for me. I was with him since I was 18 so I didn’t have any relationships to compare, and I thought since he wasn’t abusing me, so that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

        Until I found out the affair, and realized he was abusing me all along. Crazy how things change in an instant.

    • This is really scary. This is how my husband was for the first 5 years of marriage. We had kids really early in the relationship n he pretty much did what he wanted. I tried everything I could to get him to understand that unless he participated there was no marriage. I received words n no action. Worst of all, the OW was my MIL who told him to “watch out for himself”, “buy what u want not what she wants” etc. I left with my kids n months later we reconciled but recently I realized that I’m still spackling. It’s been 7 years n I’m a single parent in a marriage with a faithful husband who does not “want to deal with me”. He has rectified earlier behavior with newer more PA ones. SUCKS!!!

  • Karishma, the fact he left quickly and immediately tells me that you enforced your boundaries pretty well once you realized what an asshole he was and how he was manipulating you. Go YOU! It might help to read “Gift of Fear” and “Why Does He do That?” if you need validation.

    And a favorite of mine, “You Think That You Are So Special”, a rant that may resonate with you: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/manipulator/special.shtml

    Least I forget, the “Martyr Man” rant, a few characteristics may be familiar: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/manipulator/martyr.shtml

    I am so glad you had the strength to get out fast. Jedi hugs coming at you if you want them.

    • Datdamwuf, I had read the “You Think …” a few months ago when you had posted it, and I really thought my ex’s final OW was truly special because this was the most serious affair ever. They moved in together, traveled and led a sparkly life. I was dead wrong. My ex told me he has been miserable and he did look miserable. His problem, not mine but I guess she wasn’t special. Externals really don’t reflect internals. I had a hard time believing in karma in this case, but I guess karma still rules. I haven’t forgotten, too, that karma works both ways. The good you put out there also comes back to you.

  • OMG – my last 20 years – and my last 85 days of when in Sept. he dumped me for someone 20 years younger . . .

    “You’re such a handsome man, and you look so great in a pressed shirt. Blue really suits you! I think at age 50, you have to stop shopping at Old Navy and wearing t-shirts and camo shorts to work. I know you want to be comfortable, so can we look at some comfortable options that are a bit more… um, age appropriate? I mean, you’re really fortunate that people think you’re much younger than you are, but I think at 50 you need the gravitas that comes with wearing a button-down shirt, okay??

    OMG – I have to go back and read everything before this comment – but everything in Chump lady’s reply is OMG for me . . . merry Xmas to me . . .

  • Karishma, don’t beat yourself up! Narcissists are GOOD at what they do, the sparking and charming and making us feel special. And especially when someone IS doing good and important work, or IS especially talented or smart, it’s easy to feel like it’s normal to do that little extra for them, to bend a bit over backward to make their life easier ….

    Just wanted to warn you, though, because I figured out to avoid the sparkly ones pretty early, but got caught up by the ‘poor sausage’ type instead. Instead of charming you, covert narcissists make you feel special because your love can make them happy (finally)! When I met the ex, he had fairly recently moved to the city I was living in, so was lonely (didn’t know he didn’t actually have friends in his previous life, relied on his ex girfriend for a social life, or any interests or activities (ditto relying on girlfriend), didn’t like his work (took years to realize he hates EVERY job after a bit, and especially every boss), and was feeling bereft after the end of a 10 year relationship, in which she’d apparently not been very caring or affectionate (maybe because she wore out from his negativity???). It would take so little to make him happy! HAH! Nothing could ever make him happy, and he’s still miserable a year and a half after I kicked his cheating ass out.

    So watch out for the sad sacks, too!
    http://www.salon.com/2013/08/27/stop_telling_me_youre_a_sensitive_introvert_partner/

  • Karaishma, I’m in the same boat. Lots of anger at myself for letting this happen. Self esteem worn down to a nub during the relationship…..the relationship’s over but there is fallout….still feel like crap and not mentally or emotionally myself at all. I think I need to detox but not sure how.

  • I could have have written your letter, Karishma. Did you just date my ex boyfriend? Seriously. The picking apart of my self esteem as well as magically starting arguments out of thin air so he could carouse with other women is absolutely him or his clone! I was his chump for almost 5 years. It ended 8 years ago, and I still question my sanity when I think about it. I am *so glad* you are free. Stay safe and know IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.

  • I so identify with your letter, but you were lucky to get out quickly. I’m divorcing my selfish and narcissistic husband after 25 years of married “singledom.” He was extremely selfish–golfed and drank to excess and never participated in the raising of the children or housework. I worked full-time, yet did 100% of the homework, doctor’s visits, shopping, dinner preparation, housework…it makes me so angry and sick at myself for what I put up with. I was a vivacious, well-educated woman who is now nothing more than a shell of her former self. I feel defeated. I hate him with every fiber of my being. This site helps me not feel so alone or so stupid.

  • Thank you everyone for sharing and the wonderful advice. I am in a good place today :), its wonderful to get the distance and view the relationship for what it was. beginning to understand how we seek out people to fill to compensate for what we ‘feel’ we lack within. As cliched as it may sound, I know I need to do that for myself.

    He is trying to make his way back into my life, under a garb of friendship. I sense the bubbling anger in his conversations, and the wait for an opportunity to get back at me for standing up and confronting him. I have drawn the boundaries, but I will follow through with no contact, so I am not set back in my endeavor to move forward.

    But in this process of self-observation, I must admit there is a want in me to have him grovel and pine for what he lost 🙁

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