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Dear Chump Lady, I’m a chump in the making

Dear Chump Lady,

First I’d like to say that I’ve found reading your website to be very helpful. I’m not actually a chump. I’m a woman, almost 23 years old and I’ve never even been in a serious relationship, or any relationship. But I think that I am in real danger of becoming a future chump.

I notice myself doing things that seem common to chumps; I have an extremely strong sense of empathy, which in turn makes me a pro at spackling. I’m also a people-pleaser and put my needs and emotions second. Maybe you’re wondering why I’m doing these things if I’m not even in a relationship… well let me explain.

I have this friend that I’ve known for most of my life. We went through school together. We started becoming good friends in 8th grade and continued to be friends all through high school. But then after high school we didn’t talk much, just the occasional text (texting still being our primary method of talking).

But then about a year and a half ago, out of the blue, he started texting me all the time, daily. I didn’t find this odd at the time because I was just glad to talk to him again. He was pretty much my only friend by the end of high school… the other few friends I had had abandoned me, and in the years after graduation I hadn’t made a single new friend. But anyways, as we talked he confided that he was in the same boat, his friends from high school had more or less stopped talking to him and he hadn’t made any notable new ones.

He is pretty much the only man I have ever been close to, and over time I have developed romantic feelings for him, but I’m wondering now if some of those feelings were born out of pity. He is a lonely person, his mom has been emotionally abusive to him all his life, and like me he’s never been in a serious relationship. He can go on and on about how alone he is, about how he’ll never “find someone.” I always argue back that he will, that we’re still young and that there’s plenty of time to meet someone, all the while never letting on that I have feelings for him. Since he brings this topic of loneliness up on a regular basis, and always argues against my encouragements, I realize I must be nothing more than a kibble dispenser to him. But it’s like I can’t help it, I know how much it hurts to be alone, and since I’m his friend I don’t want that for him.

There are all the other little things too that I’ve attempted to bury with spackle. For example, he objectifies women quite a bit. He’ll randomly describe some woman to me, what physical features of hers he does or doesn’t like. It could be anyone – someone in his class, a clerk at a store, it doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t figure out why he does this. Another example, he’ll all but ignore me if he finds someone else to talk to or hang out with… a lot of the time I feel like I’m just a convenience for when he’s bored.

I know I’ve made him sound like a bad person, but the chump part of me wants to defend him and say that he’s not. We truly do have engaging conversations a lot of the time, and we know each other well. But lately it feels like it just isn’t worth it, that I’ve cried too much over how insensitive he can be, not just towards my romantic feelings, but towards our friendship. Again, the chump in me wants to say, “It’s not his fault, he was never socialized well. His parents were rarely there and he never had many good friends, etc.”

So, finally getting to the part where I ask your advice, I guess it’s a two-part question: since I can recognize myself doing a lot of classic chump things, how can I stop myself? My empathy and compassion compel me to want to help and be there for this person, but it’s obvious that I’m having to sacrifice my own emotional well-being for that.

And not just for this guy, but what about the future? I’m so scared of becoming a chump someday. Second part of my question: what should I do about this person? Could I continue to talk to him and be friends if I can control my chump impulses, or would it be better to cut him out of my life entirely? To do the latter would take every ounce of strength I have as I am someone who is absolutely terrified of confrontation. But at the same time I am sick of feeling like this person doesn’t respect me at all. I am sick of my mood being determined by what he says to me. I am sick of feeling depressed for days about him, all the while wondering if he even cares.

I really look forward to hearing your and your chump brigade’s objective thoughts on my predicament.


Chump in the Making

Dear CITM,

I think you’ve earned your chump star with this guy, even if you aren’t in a physical relationship with him.

Let me ask — do you WANT a relationship with a guy who objectifies other women and tells you about it? A guy who blows you off when someone else comes along? A guy whose art of kibble procurement is self pity? I’m so lonely. I’ll never find anyone. Woe!

That, my friend, is a mindfuck. He knows perfectly well he has a willing chump with you. The Friend Who Is Always There For Him. This schtick reminds me of that scene in Monty Python’s Spamalot where King Arthur sings “I’m All Alone” even though he’s got his faithful servant by his side (and is later joined by an entire chorus). It’s a send up of narcissism. Here have a laugh:

Just like King Arthur, your friend is communicating with his alone complaints that you aren’t in his class. He’s perfectly aware of your interest — you’re always available for him.  But he enjoys the sense of superiority. Who YOU? That’s so preposterous so he describes himself as All Alone. But hey, you’re welcome to chase him. That’s kibbles. Or compare yourself to the sorts of women he does enjoy, which you know about because he tells you about it. As long as you’re willing to feel inferior, he’ll have a “relationship” with you. But hide behind that house plant when someone more worthy of his attention comes along, okay?

This guy is NOT your friend. That’s your first lesson in how not to be a chump. Figure out what friends look like. When you’ve mastered friendship, then you can move on to intimate relationships. But let’s beef up our friend skills first, okay?

You say your high school friends abandoned you, and you didn’t make any more. That’s on you, kid. Ditch the low self esteem and go BE a friend. Find a new tribe. Take that RISK. It’s so much better than dealing from the bargain bin of humanity and waiting for a text from some loser.

What interests you? What makes you happy? If you’re a people pleaser, why not volunteer somewhere, help out some folks in need who could use it? Find a deserving audience for your people pleasing tendencies. Make some new friends, be of use to a good cause.

And chuck the codependence. Chumps think they can only have relationships if they prove themselves to be of Value. And we secretly want pay back for all we give. I’ll do X, Y, and Z for you — but then you’ll be my friend, right?

Wrong approach. Invest in yourself and find the things that make you happy. Be good at some things. And ATTRACT people honestly. And be attracted to others honestly — I love the way you write, the way you handled that jerk at work, the way you do back flips off the diving board. Learn to compliment people sincerely and value other people’s gifts. Not out of a sense of pleasing them, but out of a sense of true admiration and appreciation of their talents.

Surround yourself with people who do the same for you. You don’t have any special talents? Then develop some. Throw yourself into THAT for a year or so. Forget dating. Get lost in your own awesomeness for awhile.

All good relationships are based in reciprocity, not suffocating need. You can’t just GIVE (although we chumps are most comfortable in that power seat), you have to take. You need to accept graciously. Chumps have a hard time taking when their self esteem is in the shitter. But good people want to give, and you don’t want to shoo them away with your flinty independence. In a weird way, as much as chumps crave intimacy, we do things to make sure we don’t get it. We sign up for lop-sided relationships, because narcissists (who love lop-sidedness) make us feel so essential. Chumps are awesome kibble dispensers. You’ll spend so much time lobbing kibbles, you forget yourself.

You matter too. Hold out for reciprocity. Surround yourself with people who share your values, who get you.

Where do you find these people? Best place to look is those places where you like to be. Art classes, theatre troupes, political campaigns, college classes, hiking clubs, fitness centers. Wherever your best self is, your friends are there.

And CITM, consider some therapy too. Work out why friendship and intimacy has been hard. You’re young — now’s the time to go experiment in life. Fuck up and learn from it. Don’t sit on the sidelines, don’t miss out. You won’t be 23 forever.

Best news is, you’re so aware and on top of things. Most of us here learned our chump lessons in middle age. You’re way ahead of the curve. So take heart, chumpdom is not a permanent condition. Go gain that life.

Oh, and you can start by dumping that guy. You don’t owe him any explanation. He’s a jerk. Quit answering his texts. Shoe’s on the other foot now — you’ve got better things to do.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I had something like this happen to me. Guy from high school, “I’m so lonely”, “don’t worry you’ll find someone, you’re an attractive guy”, blah blah blah. My guy led me on for a bit, then began to be very up front about just wanting to sleep with me. I played along via text for awhile, sent some sexy (clothed!) pics of myself at his prompting, and little by little he treated me like I was dispensable. I was getting fed up, but was still available every time he wanted to talk. Then one day he texted something insulting and I confronted him about it, kind of jokingly, and he tried to say it was a typo! I stopped talking to him right then and there. It was funny then how he began to pursue me! He kept texting and I would answer hours later or not at all. It gave me a glimpse at what he must have felt while I was the pursuer. I’m a little embarrassed to say that, in order to even the score, I treated him the way he treated me. I even had him send pics of himself to me. I’m not proud of that part, but it did make me feel a little less humiliated. I haven’t heard from him in months, and it’s probably because I never responded to his last text.

  • Wow, first post (unless I get jumped while writing)!

    Anyway, CL is right, do what you can to find people who will reciprocate the good that you have. In my former marriage I don’t really think that was the case for me. There was a lot of criticism and mental abuse that I just took because I thought I was supposed to, since I thought sometimes you have to take someone else’s crap when you are married. Then I got hit with the ultimate abuse when I found out about her affair.

    Best of luck.

  • I just want to add that it’s nobody’s business to tell you that you HAVE to answer your phone or return a text. You have a busy life and sometimes you just can’t make your cellphone a priority. I went through this with my ex. He used my cell like a ball and chain. I was in BIG trouble if I didn’t answer in the first couple of rings. I’ve had to retrain my brain to realize that it was not in my contract that I would answer every call/text. It’s very freeing now to just look at my phone every few hours, rather than carry it with me everywhere and fear that maybe I’ve forgotten to turn on the ringer or am not receiving texts because of bad reception.

    • That’s absolutely true as well. You don’t have to answer him. That’s where YOUR power lies. You can decide that you’re done with his garbage and the way he expects you to just pick up the phone when he feels like asking you for pics or wants to use you as a kibble dispenser. He keeps doing it because he knows you’ll pick up. So don’t do it. See how he reacts. If he freaks out on you, there you go. You have your answer.

  • Roy was ALWAYS downgrading women, of course I was the exception. He NEVER looked at me like a trashy, fat, ugly, stupid woman. No, never! I wish I could kick my own ass sometimes.
    Does any one on here watch trash tv, um, I mean reality tv, Vanderpump Rules? Kristen and Tom? It’s like watching 99% of our lives playing out.
    Chump in the making… KNOWING you are setting yourself up BEFORE it happens is AWESOME. Huge! You are being tested and trained. Absolutely dump his ass, go no contact. His issues aren’t your problem, let him be lonely. He can get comfort from his mom, that is what moms are for. Plus, she raised him, let her fix him.
    Therapy, mostly self esteem issue, and you will be good. Don’t let yourself become one of us. Going all the way into Chumpness sucks huge donkey dick.

  • CITM- You are ahead of the curve in recognizing chump tendencies. Thank God for the internet and CL for taking it mainstream. CL you need a radio show.
    I had an inkling myself early on that my people-pleasing ways and low self-esteem would get me in trouble, so I practiced avoidance of certain situations where I felt I could be taken advantage of because I was bad at saying “no.” And, hey, who wants to be hurt and rejected? It made me popular in the workplace for being a “team player.” However, avoidance was a bad strategy and left me without certain essential people skills. I should have taken my hits early on and learned, rather than hook up with a narcissistic, philandering, kibble-eater who approached ME (I was so flattered…ugh!)
    Now, I understand the issues that got me there, many years later. My father was a narcissistic philanderer, my mother used it as an excuse to drink (I understand, but it still hurt as a child) and I was the middle child trying to make it right. I could dance on eggshells like nobody’s business! I took that into adulthood and marinated myself in the thinking that I was successful in keeping the family together, such as it was…. Stupid, backward thinking.
    Heed CL. It sounds like you are at least half-way to already fixing your picker.

  • CITM, I am so glad you found your way here, and I am glad that you are able to see the chump patterns in yourself at your young age. I think you know what you need to do next. End this friendship and don’t look back.

    Friendship should not make you feel used, depressed, or disrespected. Your “friend” is showing you who he is. He will not change. He will not suddenly wake up one day and have real empathy for you. He may, of course, make a big but short-lived show of caring for you if and when you cut him out of your life. But I think you are one step ahead of him, will see it coming, and consider it further evidence of the emotional games he plays.

    • Oh, and another thing. My XH had a mean mommy too. After 21 years together, my love still could not fix it. Poor 44 year old baby.

  • Why does anyone think that interactions via text qualify as a relationship of value? If someone keeps you at arms length, by interacting with you primarily through text, there’s something seriously wrong. The same applies to “relationships” that are conducted via email, Facebook, etc.

    I am stunned at the number of people (usually women) who think that some dude who texts them is really into them.
    Um, that’s just not so. Lose the loser!

  • CITM,

    Chump Son here.

    Chump tendencies do not just apply to infidelity. They can apply to all relationships, to parents, to friends, to folks at work, etc. You are obviously a hugely self-aware person and an excellent writer. Follow up on CL’s suggestions. Therapy would be good. It can take a while to find the right therapist. And developing some interests, joining some groups. Start taking French classes at the local library at night or cooking classes. Or start Tae Kwon Do, or whatever. You’ll make friends and find folks who respect boundaries. Actually, I’d recommend you join a group of budding writers. In any case, there’s a big world out there and there’s plenty of good in it. Lay into it with determination, optimism and realism, and you’ll do just fine.

  • Great advice, not only from CL, but from other people.


    Lots of things raise red flags for me. First, your relationship is texting-only. Unless he lives in the same town, go spend some time googling him and check him out on Facebook. I say this because a lot of predatory people will be involved in relationships, but then set up emotional affairs via texting.

    Second, if your relationship is texting-only and he lives in the same town, that’s just wrong. Instead of texting, you should be doing things together. The thing is, texting shows you only a small part of the total package. Anything else merely extrapolation, and that leads to creating a fantasy. Don’t get romantically involved with a fantasy.

    Please note that it’s entirely possible that your romantic feelings are the byproduct of being young and not getting any sex. A battery-operated boyfriend will take care of that.

    Third, a texting-only relationship allows for a lot of image control. That he makes comments that bother you is a big red flag. You do NOT want to spackle over this. My STBX is subject to rages. Early on, he raged over an African American who unwittingly cut him off in traffic. Yep, STBX used the “n” word. I was really pissed off and told him I didn’t care how angry he was, a racist comment was a racist comment. Then I spackled, telling myself that his parents were uneducated southerners who would use the n-word because that’s what was in use when they were growing up. However, STBX is losing his temper more often these days. The female consultant he doesn’t like is a bitch cunt. The men are all gay-boy faggots. He made a racial slur about a Puerto Rican. Notice a trend?

    Now, STBX will tell you that he’s not really racist or sexist. Oh no. It’s just that when he gets mad, he has little moments. Yeah, sure. These moments tell me who he really is and remind me that I told myself 17 years ago that I would not marry a man who flew into such rages. He stopped when he started a particular course of blood pressure meds, but now those meds don’t work, so he’s on a different combination, and lo! the rages are back. So are the racist, sexist, and homophobic epithets.

    Moral of the story. When your “friend” lets those comments slip, pay big attention. He’s showing you who he really is.

    So yes, it’s time to cut off contact with your “friend” and find some real friends.

    If you have any religious beliefs, then start participating in your faith community. They’re always in need of volunteers, and people will be nice to you. If you have activities you like, then join a local club. I’ve had two friends meet their spouses through a local clogging club (clogging is a type of country dance). I want to find grown-ups to play table-top games with, and I might want to join the local hulu-hoop club. Or take a class. Learn photography, martial arts, water colors, acting, etc. You’ll have fun and meet people.

    And find a therapist. You seem to think that you need to settle for this guy because he’s better than nothing. Wrong. Having no one is better than having the wrong person. We’re all chumps here, and we can attest to that! Therapy will help you learn to be happy with you. The happier you are in your own skin, the happier people will be when they’re around you. 🙂

  • Roy sent me a text yesterday about the “fucken” child support. I texted back that I was pretty sure he meant “fuckin OR FUCKING” lmao
    These assholes do not change, CITM. They get worse the more control they have. They destroy you from the inside out.
    I am kind of in-between ages on the social media/texting thing. Didn’t grow up with it but was young enough to grab on to it. No matter what, if a guy or girl uses electronic communication as a primary contact tool, s/he has issues w intimacy. RUN!!!!!

    • Someone whose major interactions with you consist solely of electronic contacts may not have an issue with intimacy. They may be appropriately intimate with others. They might just be using you. Keeping you in a pocket. They are out living life with other people but they keep you in the back pocket. Texting, emailing, Facebooking. It’s easy for a naive person to think that counts for something, but it doesn’t. The bottom line is, is someone really values you, they will want to spend time with you, in person.

  • CITM, your friend at best sounds like he has seriously impaired social skills. At worst, he’s a predator. Either way, the relationship leaves you unfulfilled and questioning yourself. You already know deep inside that you are better off without this guy in your life.

    Look for classes, MeetUp groups, church/temple activities, local theater or hiking groups or whatever else interests you. You’ll meet like-minded people there. Volunteering is another way to get out there, feel good, do good and meet people.

    You are right that a deep-seated need to please others can lead to chumpdom, although not always. But it’s good that you are aware of this early. Look into therapy if possible to help develop strong boundaries.

    Good luck to you! I wish I’d been as wise as you back when I was 23. That’s when I was just starting to date my ex. Don’t make my mistake and settle for disorder just because you are afraid you’ll never meet anyone else.

  • EMDR Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This is a therapeutic process that is used to helping people correct the automatic responses we have that are programed and driven by our primitive or reptilian brain. The primitive brain functions automatically to insure our survival and does not respond to logic. It acts automatically to keep us safe and alive. Many behaviors that we have where we know better on an intelligent logical level yet we find we continually act in-congruently with what we know to be logically true are caused by these automatic responses. I am certain that these primitive automatic responses’, that we are most often unconscious of, are a big aspect of what makes a person vulnerable to being a chump.
    I am so grateful that I found this process and was able to use it very successfully. I did a year and a half of EMDR therapy along with my IC. It has altered how I experience and respond in relationships. It has also helped me in business and in many other areas of my life. I was able to remove and reprocess old beliefs and behaviors that made me behave like a chump even though I knew better on an intelligent level.
    Here is one small example of how EMDR literally helped me stop allowing myself to be a chump.
    At the end of my marriage to my sex addicted husband, several things happened that clearly demonstrate how my automatic survival mechanism would kick in and prevent me from taking right action.
    The summer before I ask my husband to leave there were several incidence where I would state to him that I knew he was lying to me. I would insist that he stop lying and I would try to reason with him that he needed to tell me the truth. He did not respond to this well. I had gained enough proof to make it difficult for him to continue to lie but not enough to call him out completely. When I would insist and try to reason with him he would get progressively more arrogant and angry. The more I pushed the more his passive aggression would turn into aggressive aggression. On two or three occasions that summer he became so panicked and enraged that he would directly spit at me with great arrogance and contempt. When this would happen it would shock me and I would have the weirdest response. I would stop asking him for anything, all these fear based beliefs would come up within and I would go into what I now know was survival mode. These inner beliefs that were connected to the safety of my children and myself and our survival would take me over. This was actually a very automatic and unconscious response in me. If someone had ask me then if I would ever allow my husband to spit at me I would have said “no, of course not’.

    As our situation continued and as I got closer to figuring it all out I also started therapy. My therapist realized that I was an intelligent sensible woman that was being traumatized by my husband’s behaviors. We started EMDR immediately to touch into the old programed responses’ and beliefs that caused me to tolerate this. I went home after this initial 2 hour EMDR session with her. The next day a situation arose again where I directly challenge my husband’s lies and violations. . I suggest that he do a polygraph and show him a therapist in the area that could help us with getting to the bottom of what was really going on here. Again he tried to manipulate and intimidate me into submission and when I refused and continued to insist that something would be done about this he hurked up a large ball of spit and he hurled it directly towards my face again with unbelievable contempt. My experience of this was very different this time. It was like an amazing witnessing light of clarity was in the room with us that is how powerful this new experience was. I watched and clearly witnessed the ridiculousness of what was happening as it was happening. I saw it for exactly what it was. Instead of having the same old automatic unconscious reaction where I would retreat in fear I was able to stay clear and keenly aware of how absolutely un- acceptable this was. I literally almost laughed at him that he really thought he could do this. I did not flinch, I was not confused. I looked him directly in the eyes and told him in a very calm matter of fact and firm manner that this was absolutely unacceptable, that he was not allowed to spit at me for any reason ever and I insisted that he get out right then and there and he did. As it turns out even though we did attempt a year of couples SA therapy and other reconciliation based things he has never been allowed back into what is now my house again.
    EMDR has proven to be a valuable tool for de-chumping myself. I was able to remove many of the old programs that made me susceptible to being chumped in the first place.

  • This sounds exactly like someone I knew. I’ve mentioned him a few times, but not really in great detail. Now’s the time I guess.

    Like you, I knew this guy from high school. We were best friends up until the end of junior year when we started a relationship that lasted through the end of senior year. The end of that relationship was …”messy” to put it nicely. He was pulling away, his friend was telling him I was “crazy,” and he decided that the attention of other girls was more important to him and he was not shy on telling me about it.

    So several months go by and I’m slowly and surely moving on. I get a new boyfriend (heh…who happened to end up being the ex that chumped me…) and I’ve assumed things will be ok since he’s got a new girlfriend and we’re at the point where we can try to be friends.

    Well, not really. But not because of residual feelings. Because of his issues that were getting really bad. He was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, a diagnosis that needed to happen a LONG time ago (but he’s the oldest of 5 kids, two of which have severe mental and physical disabilities, so his needs fell completely by the wayside) and he starts cycling through girls like packs of gum. Every week or two he had a new one. I decided to pull back from that shit.

    Then he gets this girl that he actually hung onto for a while. But that wasn’t a good thing considering he cheated on her pretty much all the time. Which of course kicked her into high-gear relationship police, pick-me-dance, constant monitoring of his every move. And I mean EVERY move. She scared off a lot of his friends with her policing. Now, don’t get me wrong, being chumped sucks (obviously I’ve been there) but this girl dug her claws in deeper and deeper in with every single Dday. She was at the point where she would facebook message all his female friends telling them that if they really cared about him, they would leave him alone and back off. Regardless of whether or not they had actually done ANYTHING.

    I was one of those girls. I did not sleep with him. He did not cheat on her with me. I had absolutely no intention of trying to re-engage in a relationship with him. Nonewhatsoever. But still, every time he dared send me even a single text message, she was on his ass, telling him talking to me wasn’t allowed and then telling me I needed to leave him alone. They came into my work once, and she wouldn’t allow him to buy any of the shirts I suggested. (She threatened to with hold sex if he bought something I showed him) and then told him he wasn’t allowed to shop there anymore.

    I’d finally had enough of this bullshit and told him completely off. I was sick of being ditched every time his girlfriend freaked out. That if she distrusts him that much and he can’t keep it in his pants, then they need to break up because both of them are miserable, and I was sick of being accused of trying to steal him when I wasn’t. Then I stopped talking to him.

    But in March of last year, a mutual friend of ours unexpectedly died of pneumonia going septic. It was a huge shock. I’d been close to her all through high school and after. He’d known her as well, and I wasn’t sure if he’d heard the news, so I just shot him a short message saying “I don’t know if you were aware, but Michelle died yesterday and her funeral is this Thursday.” So he messages me back, saying we should meet up.

    We did, and he tells me all this stuff about how he finally ditched the girl, that he’s working on being a better person, how he’s held down the same job for 3 years, and how he’s turning things around, sticking to his meds and improving his life. Sounded grand to me. I thought again, hey, maybe we can actually be friends now. The day of the funeral, my fiance couldn’t be there because he had a mandatory prior arrangement that he was absolutely unable to avoid. That morning, this guy texts me and asks if I need a ride to the funeral. I did. So we drove there. He bought me coffee and lunch before the service, because he knew I was a lot closer to our friend than he was, and he knew I was having a very difficult time dealing. He sat with me through the service and told me that he knew I could be strong, for Michelle.

    Two days after the funeral, I texted him to see if he wanted to hang out with my fiance and I and he tells me the biggest load of bullshit ever. That in order to “work on himself” and “prove to his new girlfriend that he’s REALLY an ex cheater” he’s going to stop talking to me. Quote, “Sorry homie” and then stonewalled me completely for about a month before popping back up to say hello as if nothing had happened. When I asked him wtf that was about, he gave me some shit about how it takes time and effort to build trust in a relationship and bring it to more than what friends have, that he’d stonewalled about 19 other people to prove to his new girlfriend (whom he’d only been with for like, 2 months) that he can do it For Her and he was just going to do things with only her for a while and blah, blah. And that he knew that I would be a friend when he “came back.”

    I haven’t spoken to him since that. I told him if he wants to be an ex cheater, then just stop cheating. He doesn’t have to make grand sparkly gestures of cutting off friends or sequestering his activities to exclusively her. He just needs to stop sticking his dick in people that are not his girlfriend. I told him you could chain yourself to a damn wall inside a house and that still wouldn’t matter because you’d only be not tempted to cheat during the time you were chained to said wall. That his girlfriend already has more than what friends have by virtue of BEING HIS GIRLFRIEND. And relationships should have trust and mutuality from the get-go. I was not one of his OW. I was not going to be treated like I was. And I sure as hell was not going to be left to sit around and wait for him to decide to grace me with his presence in my life.

    This guy doesn’t truly want to be my friend. Despite what he says. He’s only a friend when he’s either single, or in the very beginning of a new relationship. At all other points, he just wants me to wait around for him and be available at his leisure. I’m disposable to him as long as he has someone to bang. And doing that to me two days after our friend died was a REALLY shitty time to do it. I had already lost a friend permanently, I didn’t need another one to willingly be a dick and disappear. He has the ability to make me feel like he cares, and then subsequently step on my neck if he thinks it will make him look better to whatever girl he has at the time.

    I cut him off. I’m not going to wait with baited breath for him to decide to be my friend. It isn’t worth it. And neither is this guy.

  • Wow, CL –

    Really thought-provoking paragraph right there in the middle. I’d never really thought of the action of giving as putting you in the power position before. It’s actually pretty counterintuitive, because you are also being taken advantage of by the narcissist… but I guess it is still a position of power to us because I know I do feel vulnerable taking things or asking for help. Although sometimes I think I also do that because I don’t want to have to “owe” them either. Is that just me being selfish? Or is that just because I’m used to my ex where he would definitely keep score and I’m afraid they’ll turn immediately around and ask me for something ridiculous.

    Also that stuff about intimacy… wanting it but also making sure we don’t get it by our relationship choice. Yikes, and probably true. That book about “Stop Caretaking the ….” you recommend also talks about how we tend to “merge” with our narcissist and we confuse that merging into one to BEING intimacy, but it isn’t. Instead it is just molding yourself to what they want you to be and wanting what they want.

    Anyway, definitely food for thought. Thanks.

    • Per “owing” people — I think that’s a reaction to being with a narcissist, someone with a score card. Because they don’t give freely, you’re afraid to take. There’s going to be a price to pay! Per givers being the power seat, givers usually have their shit together. They have energy and resources to give. In my experience, takers in the big scheme of things are weak. They need to use others to prop up their image. They’re the bosses that take credit for your work, or steal ideas. They need kibbles to survive. Chumps are pretty kick ass. We survive on very little really, we’re make do.

      But that needing to be needed thing… it attracts the wrong sort. Reciprocity is where it’s at.

      • “They need others to prop up their image.”

        That’s exactly the case with the guy I was talking about. He bolstered his “ex-cheater” image on the shoulders of 20 of his friends, including me, instead of actually taking a genuine initiative and keeping it in his pants. What was the point of him cutting off people whom he didn’t actually cheat with? Image. Making him look good. The big “I’m making this sacrifice for YOU” gesture.

        If he’d really been sincere, he’d just have cut off the people he cheated with.

        Same thing with a lot of the exes of Chump Nation members here. The sparkly gestures of “Look how good I am.” The “Sinister Ministers,” the charity donators, the “Uncle Dads,” none of them actually did anything REAL to make their image better. Just relied on others to make them look good.

    • I remember explaining long ago to my STBX that he needed to be able both to give and take, and that sometimes he needed to be able to accept what’s freely given. Most of the time, he operates by a scorecard. He wants to “give,” but his giving has a price tag on it. Many times he’ll give so that others are in his debt. This is a modus operandi, I think, when it comes to finding an AP. I know only of the one OW, but I have often noticed through the years that STBX likes to show largesse toward women in weaker economic situations. “Giving” makes him feel more important, as if he’s a good person.

      Other times he’ll “give” because he sees himself as repaying the other person. This has led to some very weird household economics. For example, I’ll know that his early morning barber shop appointment leads into breakfast with OW. The breakfast place is across the road from a butcher’s shop. He’ll call me from the butcher’s shop to see if I want anything, or he’ll come home with shopping surprises from the butcher’s–generally overpriced and identical in quality to what I’d get in the grocery store. I think in his mind date with OW = chicken sausages for wife. Often, I can see that he’s trying to spend the same amount (OW’s breakfast cost $12 so we get $12 in sausages and bacon).

      So yeah, the middle paragraph hit home for me, too, because it reminded me that I thought long ago that STBX really didn’t understand reciprocity. Can we say spackle?

  • CITM,

    This “friend” doesn’t sound like a good buddy to me. I’m of the mind that anyone who makes you “sad and depressed” isn’t a good person to have in your life. Trust me, I know this through my own experience. When you let someone else control how you feel, that’s a big red flag. You are young, you sound intelligent and insightful – there are kind, good people out there who WANT your company and INCLUDE you. They want to hear your opinion on things, they make time for you, they consider you; these are the people you need to find. You don’t need to turn yourself into a pretzel to find them either. Go out and do the things you love to do and make your own life – the good folks will find you & you’ll find them.

    It’s great that you have a good radar. Trust it. Believe in yourself and trust your gut instincts about people.

    I spackled relationships too. I bought into the idea that I couldn’t do better and waited on an ex that really, at the end of the day, wasn’t special or worthy. It’s like CL says, once you realize how common cheating is and how they all seem to follow the Cheater Handbook, they actually become quite pathetic people.

    So do yourself a favour and dump this character. You can do it!

  • Oh, the “nice guy”. We’ve all had those. Dudes with unmerited high self-esteem who experience frequent blow-backs when they realise that their perception of their own social skills and position are not seen by anybody who actually *has* social skills.

    They’re such nice guys; you know this because they tell you this E’RRY DAMN DAY. Regardless of whether you’ve ever seen them do anything genuinely nice for another person (they might, once or twice, only so people can see them being nice), they are so nice! They think this bland inoffensiveness trumps other personality traits: patience, compassion, generosity, being able to contribute well to conversations, honesty, insightfulness. But they’re nice, and you’d be a bitch to turn down a nice guy.

    I mean sure, they make you feel guilty about their loneliness: why won’t those *bitches* talk to him? Sure, he’s not as nicely dressed or groomed as those shallow jerks other women go for – though it’s not hard to be better groomed than someone who doesn’t wash their hair or shirts – and he’s not as interesting and probably not as good a person objectively, but he has *feelings*, and doesn’t that entitle him to the relationship he wants regardless of the feelings and needs of others?

    You’re a side piece: free therapy. For all those guys will complain about women who string guys along for attention, he only keeps you around to stave off the fears of the future: the lonely, unpunctuated by human interaction, mediocre by his own lack of drive future. He’s too passive-aggressive to actually *make* a move and expects women to do all the emotional heavy-lifting.

    Mine never called to find out how I was going, to wish me happy birthday, to commiserate on sad occasions. He never invited me to his school formal, but was furious to think I might want to invite another person. To choose to go out with him would be noble, pure love: to choose anyone else would be shallow and image-obsessed.

    They say women don’t like “nice guys”. They’re god damn right. We like ’em good and great.

    • Bec,

      THAT was spot on. Especially this part:

      “Oh, the “nice guy”. We’ve all had those. Dudes with unmerited high self-esteem who experience frequent blow-backs when they realise that their perception of their own social skills and position are not seen by anybody who actually *has* social skills.”

      So very true. And the emotional heavy lifting. Good grief that was me.

    • Way to go, bec! Nice post.

      I’d say I still like nice, but nice as you describe is self pitying with a thin veneer of “nice.”

  • CITM,

    First of all, let me congratulate you on your self awareness. The fact that you’re already aware of your chumpy tendencies and have reached out for help is awesome. I wish to God that I had your level of self awareness when I was 23.

    On that note, I beg you to please take Chump Lady’s advice and listen to what the other folks here have to say. I was 24 years old when I met my ex-husband and spent the next 8 years of my life feeding ego kibbles to a sparkly turd who also played the “poor me” game. My divorce became final a few months ago and now at 33 I’m starting all over again. I spent the better part of my youth spackling, rationalizing, and contorting myself to be what he wanted. It took two affairs to get me to finally leave and stand up for myself. I realize that yes I am still young enough to start over and that I’m very fortunate to have not had any children with my ex, but believe me when I tell you that it only gets harder as you get older.

    Like Chump Lady said “Get lost in your own awesomeness for awhile.” This is what your 20’s are for. Don’t waste them. It’s so much easier to make new friends in your 20’s. Everyone is out exploring what life has to offer and almost everyone is single. By the time people get into their 30’s, they’re settling down. After I separated from my ex, I literally had to go out and make new single friends. Why? Because all of my friends are married and having babies! And as happy as I am for them, I have to say that watching them move on with their lives and start families kind of stings.

    Don’t give up on your life for this guy or any guy for that matter (chumps are magnets for narcissistic assholes). He sucks. If the relationship (whether it’s friendship or more) doesn’t make you feel good, then get rid of him. This guy is not your friend. Yes, he has issues. But that’s not your problem. This guy came back into your life to teach you something… well, here it is…Work on being friends with yourself. Fall in love with yourself. Trust yourself. These are the lessons I’m just beginning to learn now. How lucky are you that you get to learn these lessons at 23, not 33, or 43, or 53!

    I realize that everyone is on a different path in life, but you’re just at the beginning, and that’s awesome. Your job right now is to love yourself and find people who truly love and appreciate you for who you are.

    Good luck to you CITM!


  • I want to add, that maybe there’s a reason why all his friends “abandoned” him after high school.

    Considering the way he treats you, CITM, there might be a very, very good reason why. I’d consider the possibility that he treated other people as emotional sounding boards in true “Nice Guy” fashion until they all got sick of his shit, and he figures that you’re the only one who didn’t, so he’s going to milk it for all it’s worth. Talk it up how “lonely” he is and get emotional reassurance from you, until he finds someone else he thinks he can get something from, and only comes back to you when that fails.

    I’ve known guys like that. They have one friend the keep disconnected from their social circles as a “free therapist” when the other social circle inevitably gets sick of him. They spin it to seem like they are this poor, put-upon figure being targeted by the cruel, cruel world, and You’re The Only One Who Understands, when in reality, they are manipulative and selfish.

    Just..something to think about.

  • CITM, you’re way ahead of the curve! You have a lot to be proud of for being an empathetic, caring person as well as a good writer. You’re going to spare yourself a lot of heartache by recognizing this guy isn’t doing as much for you as you are for him. Focus on yourself now, even though it seems selfish and weird. Learn to really care for yourself and believe that your feelings and desires in a relationship are important. There are lot of good books out there on how to do this. When you are strong enough to love and protect yourself you’ll be a in a much better position to find a reciprocal relationship with a healthy person.

  • Hello everyone, OP here. I just want to say thank you very much Chump Lady for your advice, and thank you everyone for your kind words, I look forward to reading them more in depth. I thought I’d give a quick update – I’ve decided that this person will be out of my life for good. The timing is quite eerie actually… after I submitted my letter a few days ago, I found out from a different friend of mine that the person I describe in my letter has been spreading lies about me, saying I said things that I didn’t… it’s high-school level drama really, not worth going into. I tried to figure out why, as I can’t imagine why he would do this. But then I stopped myself, I gave up. That’s messing with the skein, and I’m tired of wasting my energy on him.

    Looking forward to forgetting all about him. 😀

    I’m also looking forward to taking Chump Lady’s advice trying to get myself out there more. I’ve never been good at making friends, so I thought I had to hold on to anyone who would even talk to me, no matter how terrible of person they are. I think I’m finally getting that I don’t have to put up with that.

    Thanks again to everyone for your support.

    • CITM, that is great that you dump this liar, pseudo friend. Your letter reminded me of how Brene Brown describes the difference between fitting in and belonging.

      “Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.

      Belonging is something else entirely — it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are — love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all.”

      Trying really hard to fit in is actually a barrier to belonging. Follow Tracy’s advice – find your own tribe where you can be you, and they will allow you to be you. Lots of great advice here from other chumps, too. I wish I had your self-awareness when I was 23!

      • Ah, Brené Brown. I am reading Daring Greatly now. I bought it after my ex left me because I figured I would need the encouragement to allow myself to be vulnerable again. It is really good so far…

  • Making friends is hard to do, don’t settle for hanging with an asshole, er excuse me “a nice guy”. I’m not kidding, I’m way older than you, it never got easy but I have made friends along the way, good ones, a couple anyhow. Trust me,

    A friend doesn’t treat you like dirt.

    A friend doesn’t pry your inner secrets out of you and then trash you with them, a friend doesn’t hurt you on purpose.

    A friend makes you feel good, is someone you look forward to hanging with/texting with/talking to. A friend shares your fundamental values.

    A friend is NOT a fixer upper project that you feel obligated to keep fixing even when it makes you feel like shit.

    When a friend says or does something you are offended by and you tell them to stop, a friend will stop. They might slip a bit but they won’t be pissed off when you assert your boundary.

    A friend makes you feel good most of the time.

    I don’t think this guy is a friend, he sounds like a pity me Martyr Man, with a huge dollop of Nice Guy, all of which equals entitlement syndrome.

    CL has given you good advice. I also think you’d get some good vibe from reading over at Captain Awkward’s blog in reference to friendships and boundaries. Try this to start:

    We all need friends, it’s normal and it’s also hard to find friends, you are not the only person who has trouble with the social thing. Don’t settle for a shitty non friend guy because you are lonely.

    If you want to see if he will respect boundaries and fix HIMSELF then go ahead and tell him what bothers you, the things that hurt you. Start slow. First up, call him on the misogynistic comments he makes – how he answers that will tell you all you need to know. I’m betting he will defend himself and blame the bitches…

    • Just saw your post OP, ignore that bit about seeing how he’ll answer boundary setting or whether he talks the same shit about you that he talks to you – he’s shown you who he is and you have done well to say to hell with him. 🙂 Well done!

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