Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, I was okay… until he got a new boyfriend

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

Dear Chump Lady,

I was in a relationship with another guy for just under two years. I know that already makes this completely different to the stories here where cheating destroys marriages of many years, but for some reason I feel torn up about it all the same.

Looking back I can see some of the signs – he asked to be exclusive very quickly, he was always somewhat distant, he tended to come round to my house based on his schedule (he only had a single bed at his so we rarely went), and I never felt like a huge priority. Understandably we are only young (mid 20s) so I accepted that this is life at this age and it would be needy to ask for more.

He also occasionally made comments like “When we’re broken up in the future and with different partners, if we bumped into each other we could still hook up” or “When we’re older we could bring younger people into our relationship for sex – sex with old people just doesn’t do anything for me”. And so on. He always promised these things were just jokes, and they didn’t happen often enough for them to be this huge issue, just enough to keep me off balance.

Anyway so one day I just decided I really didn’t like this guy and told him I need some space for a few days to think things over. I came back after that week, apologized and said I would want to try to make things work. Well a few weeks later he was exceptionally distant from me, and I ended up checking his phone to find arrangements to meet up with someone online for sex. I could see he had not gone through with it from the texts but immediately challenged him. He said he was still hurting from when I left briefly a few weeks before. Around this time he also told me of a difficult story of abuse that happened when he was younger which he thought about all the time and had sort risky, violent sex in the past to deal with it.

Basically I took him back for about a month and desperately tried to make it work. This, the guy who I couldn’t even stand two weeks ago, and now had shown he could cheat, well I spackled the freaking hell out of him. Sun shone out his backside and I convinced myself he just needed to be loved. I tried to majorly untangle him, understand that he couldn’t help doing the things he did, that’s just all he’s ever known. Needless to say his online behaviour didn’t improve and I found out predated way back to when we first got together.

Eventually one night he went on a website, knowing I would know, and when I confronted him told me it was because he knew I was still keeping tabs on him. This galvanized me to break up with him. I found it really difficult in the few months after that but gradually came to deal with it.

This was until I found out he has a new boyfriend after a year of singledom. Now I’m terrified he’s a better person in a better relationship, that I partly caused him finally going ahead with cheating after leaving him for a few days, that I missed out and this new guy (who I think is more attractive than me) is going to reap the better relationship. I unfortuantely checked his old online accounts and they’ve either been deleted or inactive for 2 weeks. It makes me wonder that he could do it for this guy but not me.

Finally I guess I’m just broken up about it because in my head we had a nice relationship together. His charming dazzling personality has still got me fantasizing he was perfect. It’s also likely he never physically cheated on me (though probably because he just never had the chance) and reading some of the stories on here he just doesn’t seem as bad as a lot of guys (unicorn syndrome). Now he’s with the new guy I can’t help but think he’s got rid of his difficulties and I missed out, why else would he be risking a new relationship when he knows what happened with me. I think I’m mostly in love with a fairy tale now, it’s been so long there’s very little reality left.

James

Dear James,

Your ex isn’t perfect. He’s a run of the mill cheater, who found a new chump. Be grateful you’re not his hypotenuse any more.

You’re just going through all the chump motions, romanticizing the old relationship, second guessing yourself, and wondering if he’s going to be better for someone else. Stop it. You’re making this about you. It’s not about you. It’s about your ex — he sucks. You want to know why you’re making it about you? Because thinking that you did Something Wrong is a lot less scary than imagining that there are soulless people out there who can just cheat on you without a care. If it was something you did, by God, you could FIX that and ensure that you never get fucked over again! And the whole terrible story would have some meaning.

James, the story does have meaning — some people suck. Trust that they suck. Learn to be discerning, figure out what YOUR values are, and decide what you will and will not put up with in a relationship.

Ask yourself, if you were so awful and unloveable — why was he cheating from the start (as you discovered)? How could you compel him to cheat before your relationship was even established? You dumped him because you (rightly!) sensed something was very wrong. And then he used THAT as a pretext to cheat…. except he’d ALWAYS been cheating on you.

That’s what these wing nuts do. Don’t accept that!

Pay attention to when you “feel off balance.” Those “hypothetical” scenarios he was running by you, were to groom you for chumpdom. To gage your reaction to his infidelities, to see if you’d stick around, if you would spackle for him, or if you’d call him out on his shit. Normal people don’t “joke” like that. Their values align with their actions — and their sense of humor. They don’t play games of Let’s Pretend I Find You Hideous As You Age or Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Cheat on Our Future Partners!

Oh, and the sex abuse story? Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not true — but it’s one of the three channels of manipulators — rage, charm, and self-pity. I like to have violent high risk sex… (uh, warning! That’s probably what he’s been up to online!) but you can’t be upset with me (risking your health) because I have a Very Sad Story. That’s the self-pity move. That’s the play for you to feel sorry for him so your anger at him will evaporate before it hits target.

He’s a mindfuck. And please get yourself tested for STDs, ASAP.

Another lesson — don’t date the vague guys. James, if a guy is into you — he’s into you. He’s available. If he’s temporarily not available, he says “Oh, Tuesday’s out, but how does Friday look?” He makes an EFFORT.

Oh, wouldn’t it be crushing if he’s making that kind of effort for the next guy? He’s not. He didn’t get a character transplant. New guy is getting sparkles (or “narkles” as we call them here too). Once he’s hooked, your ex will start with the “jokes” and the mindfuckery. And he deleted all his old accounts, because he has new accounts. Stop online stalking him — just take what you’ve learned forward. Be thankful you’re not like our stories here. You’re a young guy who learned a painful lesson and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you to find someone worthy of you.

That guy wasn’t worthy of you, James. He’s a cheating piece of shit. For you and for the next guy.

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

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.
  • Bravo James – so proud of you because you have more insight in your early 20s than I have in my 40s. I started dating my STBX when I was in my early 30s and he also would say things like “If we don’t work out I’ll just take our child and go”….talking if we were to have children, I always thought it was a funky thing to say but never thought it seriously because quite frankly I didn’t think people actually thought a thought like that.

    Anyway, 14 years later he walked out, just as he kind of said he would, he had to “break up with me before I broke up with him”, his words, it wasn’t because of me, but he couldn’t stand to be rejected, so he had to reject, all the time making up this story in his head.

    We never did have any children, but, when he left, no joke, when I wasn’t home, he stole our dog. So….he did do what he said he was going to do.

    James – it’s not all so different, it’s not all the same, it’s not all different,each and every situation is similar and different.

    Best to you.

    • I’d like to chime in on the cruel jokes. I really think that’s a huge red flag that is easy to miss because it’s just so bizarre. “Quite frankly I didn’t think people actually thought a thought like that” -exactly. Who would take those comments seriously? Then 15 or 20 years later you find yourself saying, “Holy crap, that sicko wasn’t kidding.” Mine used to joke that he paid $75 for me (wedding license) and he’d just return me and get a newer model if he ever needed to. Well, guess what? Turns out he likes to pay for women and now that we’re over 40, he’s into 25 year olds again. That “joke” always gave me that off balance feeling because of how and when he used it. Anyway, that’s some good info. to have going forward and trying to pick someone else, in my opinion.

        • Mine used to play the “if we weren’t together” game. He’d say: “If you left me, do you think I could still go to your parent’s house for the holidays?” He loved how me and my family cooked. When he left me for his whore, he stole my recipes for holiday food and his other favorites…I guess his whore can bake him a pumpkin cake now.

      • It’s all part of the grooming/chumpification process. XW made a lot of “jokes” of that nature, too. They really are all the same.

        • Mine did this, too. Odd little things, like “when we break up,” or “when we get sick of each other.” I thought it was weird, and it did always make me slightly unsettled, but of course – I spackled.

          He also did this one weird little thing that I forgot about until just now. You know that Tom Petty song “You Got Lucky?” Where the hook line is “You got lucky, babe…when I found you?” He would always turn that song up when it came on, reach over and squeeze my hand and grin while he sang along. I hated it, but he was always “just joking, come on, lighten up.” I thought it was cocky and arrogant, but I didn’t imagine anyone could really THINK that.

          But no way. He really believed that I was lucky to be with him. He saw himself as a big prize.

          Hi, Narcissist. Meet Chump. That song is totally verboten anywhere near me now.

          • Wow, I was seeing my cheater/psychopath when this particular Tom Petty song was out, too . We were visiting someone and the video came on, and he made some bizarre comment. I can’t remember what he said but it was something really odd. Definitely to the effect of how “lucky” anyone with him was . He truly was a narcissist/ psychopath.

            • My ex made this “joke” too. He’d say, “You’ve done well for yourself, haven’t you?” Referring to my incredible luck at being with him, of course. Then hed laugh at how clever he was. Too bad I didn’t realize sooner that he was serious the whole time. Blech.

        • My STBX joked before we were married “I’d expect you to leave me if I cheat.” I found it weird and didn’t respond – that comment came out of the blue and not in context to anything else we had been discussing. Later I thought maybe he was warning ME (not to cheat), but now I think he was testing me to see if I could be a potential chump. Can these narcs really plan that far ahead? He’s the one who was so intent on getting married (I still don’t get why… since he cheated while a newlywed).

      • My WAW and MIL used to always joke that “you marry the first one for love and the second one for money” and then they used to laugh and laugh. It always rubbed me the wrong way but I never spoke up. MIL was a whore cheater too. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far.

      • Now I’m paranoid. If he steals the dog, I really will kill him. You heard it here first, folks.

        Also, as long as I’m logged in: The cruel weird comments are just another bizarre example of the shit they teach us to put up with. I think back on some of the same sort of stuff my XH said, and I wonder, “How would I react if a complete stranger or even a new date said that to me?” Obviously, most of the time, I would’ve either called them on their shit and say, “Well, that’s an obnoxious thing to say,” or would at least have thought, “No more dates with THAT guy!” But because it comes from someone we (codependently) love, that makes it OK? Don’t be a doormat.

        • You are so right. My husband for many years would make awful comments to me about my body and about my weight. They were so nasty that they would take my breath away and I would not say anything out of shock. The moment would pass and I would not bring it up again for fear of what else he would say. In retrospect those comments, rare though they were, had a tremendous negative impact on our marriage. Today he has apologized repeatedly and says now that it was his anticipatory anxiety of what might happen that led him to make those remarks, but I have not forgotten them nor has he regained my trust on those issues.

          • It goes to the theory that you can hear 99 out of 100 compliments, but it is the one criticism that will play on a loop in your head.

    • Yes, always take “jokes” seriously. I ignored a “joke” about how if he was married for too long, he would simply get himself a younger woman. I was feeling really warm and fuzzy before he said it, so when he dropped this oddball in my lap, I let it roll right off because I didn’t want it to ruin the moment. I now know it’s better to feel a small letdown now than a crushing blow later.

      • My charming exH once tried to ‘sell’ me to an Australian tourist for 10 Euros whilst we were on holiday with friends.
        Everyone laughed except me. He walked 6 months later.

  • Hi James, I am so sorry you are going through this. I would like to add that I think that another reason chumps sometimes feel that the cheater is so wonderful and that they aren’t as worthy can come from the chump’s own FOO issues. I grew up with a sociopathic dad (literally – he and his wife ended up in prison for years for a horrific crime) and a mom who blamed and criticized me chronically. I grew up feeling like there was something deeply wrong with me and it made me willing to accept a lot of crap behavior and blame myself for it (just like my mom did). It took several years of therapy to let go of that gut feeling that when someone treated me shittily, it was because there was something wrong with ME. It was a relief to let it go, although I still work to stay mindful of it. You might want to examine why you are blaming yourself for this guy’s shitty behavior and why you are feeling so inadequate and comparing yourself to the new boyfriend. It might just be that you are reeling from your EA’s mindfuck still, but I get the feeling you are also beating yourself up over this. And you sound like a great guy. Your ex is an asshole and these guys only get worse over time.

  • James, if I only had a nickle for every time my cheater’s online accounts went away…

    Based on feelings that things weren’t right (trust those instincts!), I did a search on Match about 10 months into dating my cheater, only to find his profile online and “active within 24 hours” in the city where he owns a vacation property. Guess what? He’d been there often recently.

    When I called him on it, he swore up and down that it was some mistake (!!), that he’d ‘parked’ his profile there when he inactivated it after we started dating, “Match must have made a mistake, I DID NOT make my profile public!”

    Interestingly, he was the first one to (supposedly) take down his dating profile when we started seeing each other, something I took as a good sign that he was committing to me. Truth is, he moved it, assuming I’d never in a million years look for it in that place.

    You know what they say about assuming…

    Fast forward another year, and all the signs were there, just no proof. I don’t know why it took me so long to look for a profile again. I can only attribute it to Chump Spackle–the suspicion that does not want to be known as truth. Finally, I did what I thought was the unthinkable, and secretly looked at his phone, only to find a string of emails from Match. An on-going conversation. I searched for his username on Match. No go. Then I searched on his basic parameters, in places he might be active. Bingo. He was online again, with a new screen name, and an edited profile bio.

    Truth is, he’d probably been on and off dating sites the whole time. Later, in doing a Google search on his screen names, I found other profiles on other sites, some indicating he’d been active during the time we were dating. My guess is that he would put up a profile, lay his hooks into some other unsuspecting Chump like me, and take his profile down, knowing she’d notice and feel like he was committing to the relationship. Once he felt it was safe to do so, he’d put it back up, knowing she’d probably never look for it. Likewise, his Facebook profile went from fully visible to not being able to see his timeline, to gone. He claimed he had no use for it; now I know he was probably worried that I and his other Chumps might question all his new lady friend requests, or worry that some woman might post something personal on his timeline.

    Just trust he sucks, and stop believing he wasn’t physically cheating. These assholes get off on the thrill of not getting caught as much as the sex. He hasn’t miraculously become a better person, James, that just doesn’t happen. He’s just posted a variation on his sparkly narrative. Besides, if there’s a chance you see how *wonderful* he is, you might just come around and Kibble him…

    Narc cheaters are all about their public persona. They’re completely invested in what you and others think about them. The only way to combat that is to not give them the satisfaction of knowing you think about them at all.

  • James,
    I’ve seen this movie. Only diff is it’s the heterosexual version. But the M.O. of the boyfriend; exactly the same. I met him after ending my 25 yr marriage to Cheater. He asked for exclusivity about 1.5 mos in. I wasnt sure but we had so much in common & although he had walls & some red flags, I was all about fresh starts and not judging someone by their pasts. Fast forward 2 yrs…I have just ended it for the 5th or 6th time (7 or 8 maybe, lost track). Although we spent almost all our time together he just couldnt seem to shake those pesky ‘friends’ texting / sexting. As much as he ‘tried’ they just ‘wouldnt leave him alone’. Funny how the other guys I’d dated had no problem respecting my new relationship, though.
    I got an errant text or two that made me think he’d managed a meeting or two in his rare spare time, but couldnt prove it.
    I did enough snooping to see that every time we got in a little spat he put his online profile back up, and even discovered he was getting new text buddies while he was texting me. So much for the ‘old friends’ excuse.

    He used the ‘I did it because I knew you’d snoop — it was for you excuse too. Reminded me so much of y XH scrambling to explain why he’d hidden his viagra from me. They’d really rather we think they do this stuff to stab us in the heart than admit their real intentions. To a degree I understand wanting to make a person jealous,& even ‘window shopping’ a bit, but initiating contact with others prospects….umm, NO.
    Mark my words, James, he was doing this all along & it had nothing to do with your taking a little ‘space’. This is WHO HE IS & will continue to be no matter who he’s with.
    My xbf told me many times what a profound impact I’d had on his life & how much he wanted to leave his old one behind. I’d told him many times I wouldn’t ask him to change but that there were things that just weren’t working for me. He’d acknowledge them & say he knew, & that HE wanted to change. I actually believe he wanted to, but just wasn’t capable. It’s too ingrained. He’d be great for a month or two then the old habits would return.

    One glaring problem was that when I was upset & wanted to talk his defensive nature prohibited him from showing me compassion or comfort. It was only after I’d walked away & reality hit that he’d realize what an ass he’d been and say/do all the right things to Chump me back again. My Pain only mattered when it became His Loss.

    So, what have I learned? That a person’s past does matter, because people don’t change.
    I was over my XH & refused any more chumpage after Dday. I entered the relationship with xbf knowing he had walls & by his own admission was ‘fucked up’ . Truthfully I had felt he was Mr. Right Now, but it didnt stop me getting way too deeply attached & hopeful. His talk of marriage ( I said no) & living together (the first night of which he got a bunch of nude pics from his phone harem – so I left the next day), that talk may have had some real sincerity behind it, or it may have been pure chumpage – but it sucked me in more.
    I HATE the idea that he might finally get it right with someone else, that I was the training wheels for success. But – Bahahaha! Yeah, right! I often wonder if there’s another gal out there who looked at me that same way. If so, it’s only because I hung in far too long. My money says it’ll be the same with your xbf & his new chump.
    I’m immersing myself in the wisdom of Chump Nation after coming to the realization that despite being a strong woman, I give too many chances & that has to stop. The first time I walked away from this guy should have been the last.

    • I think it’s possible, sometimes, that we meet someone and things don’t work because of timing. So we leave or things just drift away and then a year or two or ten later, we meet again and this time, things just click in a healthy way. But truly I think that is rare for adults. When we leave, we should just leave, until time passes and we have some reason to think that the situation is different. But once we have that “He/she just needs someone to understand” moment or the “I am the one to help him change for good” moment, we should know we are walking on a road to nowhere. Which, of course, I have done several times.

      • I said something similar about timing to my dad when in the throws of anguish. He told me with firmness “there is no such thing as timing, when it’s right it’s right”. Basically throwing a BS flag on that play.

        Made me think long and hard. He’s so right.

    • I am not getting involved with any narcs, dickheads, psycho’s, sociopaths, cluster B’s (cluster (b) fuckers) until I am sure I can recognize them before they recognize me. I have done this twice… the red flags are always there. It is sort of like they took a class in High School or middle school, entitled how to be a Cluster B Fucker without getting caught. The patterns, when you recognise them, are so similar.
      So now I play a game called ‘Spot the Cluster Fucker’. I do it every where I go. I look for the red flags in everyone I meet, men and women. When I see just one red flag, man I start looking for others seriously. Quite frankly one red flag is enough for me these days. No more of, ‘Oh they are just having a bad day’ or ‘Oh if I got to know them better, I would see their better side’ or Don’t be so judgmental or turn the other cheek or all that other shit I was taught.

      I am now fully in Maya Angelou’s camp. ‘When a person shows you who they are the first time, believe them.’ First step is to see the red flags, second step not feel like a bad person for thinking ill of them, and third, how to get away from them gracefully, think leaping like a gazelle away from a cheetah or like a hobbit hauling ass.

      I am now looking at everyone with new eyes. A ‘friend’ I have known for a long time… realized, man, she is self absorbed and always has been, off the list. A man, on fb, who was the high school hero and is always pontificating about life and his wisdom, but now has fallen madly, deeply in love with this woman he has known for a very short time as documented on fb. He is definitely on the Cluster (b) Fucker list.

      So that is my game… It will take me a few years I think to master this art after many years of training to take this shit… but I am on my way… and stay out of my way too.

      • Great post! And your Hobbit analogy really makes sense, chumps being Hobbits. Not sparkly, hardworking, loyal, good people.

        My X thinks he and his ‘precious’ MOW can join the elves – but arrogance and cruelty alone does not make you an elf! We know what they really are!

        And really, elves are really not all that! I know I keep dreaming of an elf to sweep me away, this time forgood. But real love, happiness and goodness should be sought among the Hobbits.

        • perhaps maximum mind-heart fuckery… only did my cheating X (years 22-24) think he was a hobbit, i really thought he was too.. and it has taken ‘no contact’ form the spell to finally be broken. He really was gollub (sp). And OW was his Rrrrrrring.

      • You are mighty, ringin! I’ve also started playing that game every where I go: Spot the Shithead (and sometimes also the obvious chumpy type they are with).
        Indeed, it will take time to master it. At only 7 months from DDay with divorce not yet final, I am super twitchy and trust few, but it feels good to start looking at the world with healthy skepticism and also to notice genuine qualities in people.

      • ringinonmyownbell,
        Perhaps you might list your “red flags” for a Cluster B Fucker. I married the female version (BPD, Narcissism with a good dose of Delusional Jealousy). I now can see that some the signs were there (many we’re cunningly and deceitfully hidden) but I didn’t have a clue. I always thought that our relationship would somehow always be different to her others, but of course it wasn’t.

    • Omg ChumptyDumpty!!!! Mine was exactly like yours. 20 year marriage followed by psycho narc bf. ++Past matters, people don’t change their character!!! So true.

      So many things you said hit home. The flood of naked pics when he was moving in… Fishing for new girls with every spat and these girls became his new Facebook “friends”… The phone harem for sexy pics, flirting and of course many secret flings. Never introducing me to female friends. The multiple Breakups.

      And How dare I ask where these girls came from he would rage, call me insecure, crazy, a stalker — he said he would never question my FB friends (mine were family mostly and they didn’t suddenly appear in batches of bikini selfies lol). Oooh the spackle I used! Of course these girls were never innocent friends. I was the perfect chump cake.

      And the jokes… “I totally banged her” “just kidding I only said that because you just keep questioning.” Or one of my many favorites, “if you don’t stop questioning me I am going to cheat. I’ll show you!” Yes, I’d find months later when were so happy together that he did cheat. Mindfuckery. To keep me off balance and in the cruelest manner he was always just kidding.

      In the beginning he would say he really is not a bad person, he loved me more then any other girlfriend he ever had and he wanted to change. This was just to Hoover me in. Set me up for more cake. And bill paying.

      His character never changes. He just gets more blatant and cruel. He sucks.

      I gave him yet another last chance and I deeply regret I did it. He seems set to fly into a dazzling new career with successful contacts and beautiful younger more successful girls. It is hard to swallow when he lived off me rent free and I paid the lions share of all our entertainment and expenses for so long. That part stings bad. But I know his next gf will soon discover this Adonis is no prize.

      He cheats because he is damaged beyond repair. Not me and not the next girl.

  • James,

    You may not feel this way yet, but please be proud of yourself. In your 20’s, you have the gut instinct and wisdom many of us wish we had. Bravo to you for recognizing a problem early on. Don’t beat yourself up for second guessing and going back – learn from it. You are mighty.

    The thing that jumped out at me from your post was where you said this guy made you INTENTIONALLY feel “off balance”. That’s a HUGE red flag. I had a great counselor who talked about “lies we tell ourselves” – one of the big ones we chumps tell ourselves is that we don’t deserve the good, healthy type of love. So fight that lie and think of the real, healthy people in your life that love you – do they intentionally make you feel “off balance”? Would they ever go out of your way to make you insecure or fearful? NO, they want you to feel cozy, safe, confident, and loved. KNOW that that is how love feels, and don’t settle for less, ever again. You’ve got this 🙂

  • James,

    My X would say things like, “When you finally leave me…” when we were married and if I’d say anything about the comment, he’d claim he was just joking. Well, I finally did leave him because I found out he was cheating, which makes me wonder if he was cheating the entire time (he knew cheating was the dealbreaker for me.) That’s the kind of mindfuck cheating does to you, you question everything about your past.

    As for the new BF, I will bet you he’s on the “good behavior” now with him, but it won’t last long. Thanks to Facebook, I got treated to a photo of X and his latest in a long line of Schmoopies giving her a present that I always asked for every year and he never would get me. That hurt. And then I really thought about it – he did nice things for me when we were first dating too. And then once I was hooked it stopped. Just like he’s father of the year and does all sorts of fun activities with the kids and the new Schmoopie for a while when he’s trying to be impressive, and then it trails off and eventually stops. And then Schmoopie is gone, to be replaced with a new one later.

    His old accounts have only been inactive for 2 weeks. Just wait, it’ll be back on again sooner or later, OR he’s already got new ones.

  • James, having nobody in your life is way better than being in a relationship with a narc and where you are intermittingly valued. My ex had tons of red flags and one of them was his “sparkly” exterior. But I always felt something was missing, mine kept me interested by blowing hot then cold. I liked his aloofness until I realized I had wasted twenty+ years with a guy who was basically a zombie. Looks human, acts human, but is dead. Sure my ex did some things well, had a great job, was well liked in our community, a mediocre father, but he did not ever get better where our relationship was concerned. I always had the feeling he had something else going….People loved him! So I ignored my gut, and made plenty of excuses for behavior that was selfish. Pay attention to actions, James. They are a great testament to who a person is. He was on when he needed attention. My kids and I would often go out to dinner with him and he would spend the entire time talking to the wait staff. He was like this everywhere he went. It was like waiting for the better person to show up. He could never celebrate our triumphs either. Life was all about him. James, these are warning signs. My ex actually hooked up with his racquetball partner and dumped his family, when he did I realized I had been spackling for years. Who Does This?!?! Disordered Narcs. There is no depth to these people. They will not miraculously become better people in their next relationship either because they never change. They are shallow train wrecks, James. And don’t you deserve better?

    • Drew, I just want to say….you rock. And that I think even Wonder Woman would be taken in by a sparkly narc in a shiny modern package the first time. I wish my ovaries came with narcdar but I think it’s something that is only acquired with experience, especially for the crafty ones like our exes. Here’s to developing our own lassos of truth!

      • Yes, Innocent, I agree. My ex was sparkly. All those boys who threw themselves at me didn’t stand a chance next to believe a lot of us here fell in love fairly early on in our lives, high school/college, so late adolescence. 🙂 and so what were we thinking?!? I was way too young to have settled and now warn my kids to know themselves first, to date as many people as possible, and to also pay attention to their gut. There were certain things about him that I adored but other things that left me questioning his character even while dating. Hell I think my ex fell in love with the sex. Not me. Lol. I knew too what I wanted while he did not. I think the family became too much of a burden for him…poor thing. To this day I don’t think he knows what he wants. My 91 year old aunt married five times and kicked them all to the curb when they started to tell her what to do (she said it often began the day they married!); she also told me, “I always went for the bad boy and never the guy next door…. That’s where I went wrong.” Such is life!

      • If it makes you feel any better I did all the right stuff, knew myself and waited till my thirties to commit. I didn’t know I was going for the bad boy. I thought I was getting Mr Great Dad family man who made dinner and did laundry. Older narcs use their cute kids or supposedly crazy ex wives for hooks and sympathy. It’s my ex’s mo. He even mentions his 50 percent custody when he’s trolling the internet. Part grooming/part hard working single dad con. This man has not once asked to see a picture of or ask how his six month old son is that he’s never seen. More kids was something he brought up early in the relationship. And swore that he would never let a kid of his be out of his life.So yeah, they’re not flashy bad boys, they’re flashy fake family men. His current girlfriend…..a woman with two kids of her own. Single mom in her forties finds attractive amazing single dad? Bet she thinks she won the lottery. I guarantee he’s playing surogate dad too. Now I watch out for anyone who looks to be to good to be true. I do think it’s great to maybe wait a bit to marry. But I know some happily married couples…heck, a lot of happily married couples who married young too. So really, it’d be awesome if there was narc repellent.

        • Wow, This chump’s name. It’s heartbreaking to think someone who can’t even acknowledge his own child is posturing online as a 50% parent. He’s a douche, and you are awesome.

  • “When a man tells you who he is, believe him”. This guy made jokes (?) about bringing other people into the relationship. If what you wanted was a permanent, stable relationship in which you feel loved and secure, then his sarcasm alone was a red flag. I know people make flip comments at times, but if he loved you he wouldn’t say things to hurt your feelings. He in particular sounds very immature.

    And, after all, your gut was telling you something when you temporarily took a break. Whenever your gut is wrenched, then something is wrong, and your emotions are just masking it and stopping you from making painful decisions.

    He sounds really flaky. You can do much better than that. His poor choices have nothing to do with the quality of you as a person and partner. You have principles that you need to keep faithful to, and keep searching for the right partner.

    At your reasonably young age, a lot of guys are still sowing their oats and enjoying the choices out there. Soon you will find your contemporaries start to shift to wanting more stability. At least there’s no societal pressure on you to ‘pair up’ so try to enjoy gaining experience…and yes, doing that does involve pain sometimes.

    Despite all the pain of two divorces and numerous flaky relationships, I can honestly say that now in my 50’s I’m happier than I’ve ever been. That pain has a lot to do with my being able to appreciate the good things in life now.

  • Stand your ground and remain strong, James. Deep down you trust that he sucks and we are here to reinforce that sentiment for you. Sounds like you have a sensible head on your shoulders. Move forward, don’t look back and be happy that you recognized this guy for what he is before and did something about it immediately. Be proud of that!!

  • James, I dated a guy who acted exactly like this in my teens/early 20s. Too bad you can’t get in a time machine and see him in the future. It goes like this: this guy was a turd at 17, and now 40 years later (he just turned 58) surprisingly, he is STILL a turd. I think he cheated on every woman he was ever with.

    • Amen. Mine started in my early 20’s and went on for 10 years. Now I’ve gotten out and it’s been 4 years, and he’s still doing the same thing to the women who let him. It’s hard to think they may have changed for someone else, but like Chump Lady said, they didn’t. The new chump is in for the same thing that happened to you, and probably worse because these narcs get more manipulative with time – make no mistake.

    • Jackass did something to Wife #1 that, in the words of one of his relatives, “ruined her life.” Wife #2 (herself a narcissist cheater and con artist) got so done with him that she took the child and left while he was out of town and a decade later, still has not remarried. Girlfriend in his 20s: He got mad at her and dumped her on a road and didn’t go back. He kicked the MOW to the curb after I caught them. He has miles of debris in his life and I have no doubt that the next one will go through the same love-bombing followed by cheating and being discarded in the cruelest way possible. They don’t change.

    • Not just a turd… a turd that has been adding to his turdage for 30 years… BIG AWFUL TURD… they don’t get better as they age…the get worse.

  • Bottom line is that he isn’t a better person for the new guy than he was for you. It’s all a show. You’ve seen behind that curtain and you know it for the farce that it is.
    Believe that!

  • James,
    See this as a sign of good luck. You are young and you just got a chance to learn a HUGE lesson about relationships and disordered people. Summarized, here is what I have learned (a bit too late)
    1. Trust that if someone you are in a relationship says weird-disordered stuff it is TRUE…and take them seriously on that (if they say they like sex with dogs (nuns, trees, etc…) and you are NOT that, believe them and ask yourself if that bothers you). It will be their internal excuse to cheat on you because they warned you and you didn´t say anything about it.
    2. Follow your instinct! If your gut says something is wrong, believe it! If it feels like he is lying, he is! We are all energetically wired to detect these things. The problem is chumps turn off our detection system because we have faith in fellow humans and can´t believe others would do to us what we would never consider doing.
    3. No second chances! If a red flag shows up, dump him immediately and move on…don´t feel sorry for him, don´t feel you can change him, don´t waste your precious heart on people who are not available or emotionally compatible with you. Run at the first sign of a non-negotiable. People do not change (much) and if they do, it is because they have done a lot of really, really hard work on themselves…but you are not special enough to change anyone. Spend time on healing yourself not on others (unless it is your profession!)
    4. Remember that if you are with someone who does not respect and appreciate you, and hurts you purposely, you are giving him the space of someone who will. The world is overpopulated. There will be someone out there that will love you honestly but you have to clear the space of the cheaters and losers first.

    Best of luck and thank the stars that you are refining your picker early in life!

    • Great advice. If someone cheats on you it is saying something about them, not you. It’s saying that they don’t care enough about you not to hurt you. Forgiving a cheater and hoping for a good relationship seldom works. It’s signalling that something is very wrong with them and how they regard you. If it’s going to be fixed at all it will require intensive work, not a few words of apology. That’s too easy.

  • Hi James,

    Chump Lady and Chump Nation have your back! I can’t add much to the already good advice here-trust that he sucks, and the new guy might seem like he is in Wonderland with your ex, but he is just the latest mark! Bravo for self-awareness. I won’t say being a middle aged Chump is harder, this isn’t a pain contest!

    You got played, and that sucks, but you recognized it. And remember that Mr Sparkles wanted something good from you-love, integrity, support, and you still have those things to offer to someone who will appreciate and honor them.

    BIG hugs, and love to Chump Nation!

    x-Meh.

  • History will always repeat itself. Always. If it wasn’t you, it would have been someone else. This type of personality, a NARC, does this in every relationship. Chews them up and spits them out. And it is all one big mind fuck.

    What he did in your relationship had nothing to do with you. It says everything about him. This relationship, I’m sure, dictates what will be acceptable and won’t be acceptable with/in the next relationship you are in.

    I think you deserve a hell of a lot better. Don’t you???

  • James, let it go. Seriously, let it go. This guy isn’t worth another moment of your time. He’s a dirtbag who, despite the fact that you say you thought you had something good together, appears to have always treated you terribly.

    You can trust me on this, because I speak from bitter experience: he is different with the new boyfriend – just not for the reasons you think. He isn’t suddenly a better person and his horrible, abusive behavior had zero to do with you. He is different with new boyfriend because he has to be or they’d never become dependent on him. He does whatever his sociopathic spidey sense tells him he needs to do to deceive new guy into thinking they are perfect for each other. I was floored when I saw my STBXH take up with the tramp and suddenly become interested in things he’d previously mocked. His entire lifestyle changed. Drastically. It took a while for me to understand why the shift? He had to become like her, love the things she loves, in order to convince her that they have some kind of amazing bond. See how perfect they are for each other? It’s like no one has ever understood her/him like this before. OMG, we like all of the same things and have so much fun together. It’s an illusion, James. Straight from the narc’s “How to Subjugate Your Next Victim: Step One” rule book.

    I was where you are a while back. Convinced – as he wanted me to be – that it was my fault he was a lying, ratbag cheater because I was such a terrible partner and once he was with the right woman it would all be different. But I was privy to something (through no fault or action of my own) that showed me what it’s really like between them and it isn’t pretty. In fact, he is treating her worse in some ways than he did me. Sure, the public face is of delirious happiness – see, he’s FINALLY happy now that he is free of the marriage that caused him so much pain. Really? Because their relationship appears to be that of really messed up thirteen year olds, full of uneccessary drama, insecurity, jealousy, manipulation, and verbal/emotional abuse. Oh yeah, sorry I don’t have that any more!

    Move along, fix your picker (as we say here at Chump Nation), and figure out why you ever thought it was a good relationship in the first place. You deserve better. He deserves to be forgotten.

    Best of luck and congratulations on getting wise to this stuff in your 20’s. Took me decades. 🙂

    • A to the men. I’m also interested to know what info you chanced upon that showed you what things are really like between your cheater X and his schmoopie. Not being puerile here–just, the more demystifying that happens about how great Round 2 is, the better.

  • Wow, I never anticipated such an overwhelming reaction and level of support! I can’t come close to expressing how much everyone’s comment here means, and of course CL’s perfect summary of the truth is so good I think I’ll print it out and put it on the wall. Not just for this relationship, but as a reminder for a hopefully long future.

    There’s such a horrible tendency when you get so mired in the vast details of your own world of chump, and the rose tinted glasses that expand the nice and shrink the bad, that when you read other stories you veer into the world of ‘well mine didn’t do that, or that, or that, maybe he isn’t so bad’. It’s just another strategy to avoid facing the reality of the truly horrible things that did happen to me, and seeing it down in writing in my own words, underlined by all the world of support here, is fantastic. Until now it was just my poor mum whose ear I talked off with my cyclical doubts, she’s been heroic but the fresh perspectives that are just as caring remind me how many great people there are in the world. I’m trying to picture the ex writing on a place like this to support someone else in a hard time and it makes me laugh. Hard. That’s a good reminder too and a cursor pointing at the kind of person I should try to be (though not to self pitying cheats or ‘hurt people that hurt others’).

    Whether or not he has had that risky operation to remove his Cheat Organ and had a Monogamy Spleen transplanted in for this new guy shouldn’t matter (though you all make me see there are considerably more likely things in the world), he treated me terribly and that’s that.

    • Yeay, James, very happy to hear that. One more thing. Mr Shiny Cheaterpants may be sparkly now, but just wait. I haven’t seen or heard from mine for decades, but through some twist of fate I found out that I work with his first cousin a couple of years ago. Through her facebook page I saw some photos of him, and he is NASTY. outside finally matches the inside. Old, bloated, bad haircut, gold chain, nascar jacket wearing old guy at the club. I literally felt ill that I ever had anything to do with him.

    • Hi James.

      I think one of the hardest hurdles for chumps to overcome is, as CL, stopping untangling the skein and trying to figure out what is wrong with HIM, or what HE was doing, or whether HE is still doing it now. It isn’t about him, it’s about YOU. When he was with you, he treated you terribly. You lost respect for him and trust in him, and those things are extremely hard to repair and restore. Your relationship with him is over because of what he did.

      It’s normal to feel curious/mildly jealous about what he’s doing now, but it really doesn’t matter now what he does or who he’s with, or how he is with that person. He messed it up with you. Chances are he won’t change and will mess it up again with someone else, but you’ll never really know and it doesn’t matter anyway. He messed it up with you, it can’t be fixed, and that’s that.

      I used to struggle with this because after I ended it with STBXH, and even through NC with me, he has been seeing a sex addiction therapist twice weekly for the last several months (I know this because he’s on my insurance and I get the bills). This could be interpreted as evidence that despite my completely ending the relationship, he is still making efforts to change and improve himself. That could be very enticing, to think that he is trying hard to change and maybe now he is “fixed” and all shiny and new for a new partner. Kind of like what you’re wondering now.

      Ultimately, though, I decided that it didn’t matter. I actually got to a place where I am glad he is at least making an effort to change his life, and hope it continues, but I don’t really care much. I myself would never feel safe, loved, or comfortable with someone who displayed the level of betrayal, disrespect, and disorder that he did when he was married to me. So if he meets someone else and is the perfect husband later, well, I guess I hope he has a good life.

      But it’s not going to be with me, because no one gets to treat me like that ever again.

      • DF, I feel the same about never feeling “safe, loved, or comfortable with someone who displayed the level of betrayal, disrespect, and disorder that he did…”

        The mere idea that they were capable of inflicting that sort of harm and suffering is everything. We have to turn and go and not look back.

      • Amen to that. I have finally reached meh! I once thought death would be better than the pain and now there isn’t any pain. I feel very safe, loved and comfortable all by myself. It is a good place to be.

      • I agree, even IF they change, the relationship is over. The kind of damage they do can not be undone. I’m just not that big of a person.

        I felt some measure of relief when I accepted that. For a long time I sat around, hoping maybe someday he’d come to his senses, thus prolonging my own agony. I could move on when I realized it didn’t make a damn bit of difference….it was over regardless of what he might possibly do “someday”. I could never get past the betrayal. Never.

        • Very helpful way of thinking, Defying. It feels relieving because it really does not matter if they DO change in some way—what they did cannot be undone or redefined. Deception is the end for me. Investing in their not changing keeps one attached. He played with my mind and life, made my life a sick-fest, invited a pack of heinas to feast upon me and my child, I became suicidal, found out and left. To me he is shit that I will leave out to decompose until the memory is all in my words–enough to help and create better boundaries. That is all. He can become Mother Teresa for all I care.

          • Yes! I guess because I never really fully invested in the xbf I was kind of ok with jumping off & on the ride. But as more time went by I thought ‘how much time do I want to give if this is going nowhere’? I was transitioning from newly divorced & dating, to thinking in terms of a more solid, trusting relationship with a future. Xbf could say thats what he wanted til the cows come home. I doubted he could come thru. Yet gave him chance after chance to prove it.

            After one breakup over the phone/texting thing, & hearing his pitch on how he’d ‘fix it this time’, I told him hey that sounds great & how it shouldve been all along. But by coming back I’m just teaching you how to treat me. Like you know you can screw up, lose me for a few wks & then get me back again & I don’t want this cycle.

            Ultimately I chumpily agreed and after a few good months we went round on the rollercoaster yet again. A few days after coming back I saw a text come thru on his phone from one of his harem: “Haven’t heard from you. I guess she (meaning me) must have come back. You were right, it was about two weeks”

            YEP. There it was. I guess there was a little comfort in knowing he cared enough about me to hope aloud to these ‘friends’ that I’d come back. But that was pretty fleeting when it was followed up with “why wouldn’t she want you? You’re a good guy & great in bed”.

            Gah! So yeah, taught him how to treat me. I spackled for awhile because I knew I wasn’t ready for something real. He was fun, hot & sparkly & if he hadn’t been the one to ask for exclusive I’d have been ok with just ‘dating’..even told him that several times. I guess he just wanted his cake but didnt want me to have any.
            At this point I believe there’s an addiction component but it’s no longer my problem.

      • Oh man DG, that’s an extra mindfuck…attending counseling. Mine went to counseling and a few meetings until he realized there was Absolutely No Kibbles from me anymore. I was three months pregnant, moved to another state and went nc even if he said something decent in email. A switch flipped and there was “nothing wrong with him” and it was all my fault. This is after him volunteering the info about sex addiction, not me diagnosing or accusing. One wonders if he’ll quit the counseling when he really truly “gets” that you’re done with him. Not that it matters. Good for you for moving beyond it. The real question here is…does he still have an iPhone? I don’t believe sex addicts can be cured. At best they can pretend to be almost human. Sorry if any of that was triggering. With distance and the kibble machine unplugged, smashed, covered in cement and put on a rocket to be flown into the sun, I see my ex for what he is, an evil puppet master. And counseling was just part of pulling strings.

        • Totally agreed that sex addicts cannot be cured. Don’t even get me started on iPhones. In my case, his iPhone *was* the OW.

    • James,
      It’s great that you are able to see the humorous side of things… “Monogamy Spleen” … perfect analogy. Being able to chuckle a bit about what you put up with is half the battle to meh. Respect and love yourself first and foremost. Love your mum for being there for you. And don’t ever let some scumbag treat you badly.

      Some of us out here see our own sons suffering similar heartbreak but we don’t have the privilege of helping them out because they don’t share their thoughts with us. It’s healthy that you are able to confide in your family.

      Chump Nation are the most amazing group of people and CL is our fearless leader! We are the family that a lot of folks don’t have to turn to.

    • Hi James,

      Will he be sparkly for the next guy? Sure. Until the next guy gets a glimpse of who he really is. A wise, experienced shrink once told me — once you see behind the mask, they don’t sparkle again for you. (Not unless they need something off you.) But seriously, they see you as flawed kibbles and they move on.

      After you experience a narc, sparkles should seriously turn you off. Beware the whole charm offensive. Quirky charm is fine. Self deprecation. Humor. Verbal wit. I’m talking narkles — disordered CHARM. You’ll sniff it out next time. Avoid.

    • And, after all, your gut was telling you something when you temporarily took a break. Whenever your gut is wrenched, then something is wrong, and your emotions are just masking it and stopping you from making painful decisions.

      James I’ve been in two relationships where I felt kind of foggy. Depression ensued later. Both times the other person turned to be disordered freaks that cheated. Didn’t have internet back in my day so I didn’t have an explanation for it. Now I do. Next time I won’t spend time thinking or wondering if it’s just me. I will RUN RUN RUN!! Yes, please keep coming back here to learn. BIG INTERNET HUG!!

  • I don’t have anything against Nascar but that leather jacket on this guy was just hideous. You could tell he thought he looked goooood, lol. As always.

  • James….I think we’ve all had the thought..’What if they are a better person with the new guy/girl?’ I know I sure did. I actually said those words to Mr. Cheaterpants. I said ‘How come you can be a good man to her and you couldn’t be a good man to me?’ Which was a total joke because even after he left me for her he was still after me. Makes no sense, does it?

    He left me years ago but I could get him in my bed by noon today if I wanted to. So no, they never change honey.

  • “His charming dazzling personality has still got me fantasizing he was perfect.”

    As soon as I read that, I didn’t really need to read more to know the score (although I did read all of it.) Normal people are very rarely “charming and dazzling.” Disordered people are very, very often charming, dazzling, exciting, life of the party, always on, and “the perfect person you always dreamed of.”

    I’m not saying normal people are boring, or that you have to settle for someone with no pizzazz. But I AM saying that people who are always “on,” people who dazzle and have a circle of admirers… watch out for those people. Nine times out of ten, they are disordered, using their gift for gilding turd with glitter to attract the constant admiration, attention and audience that they require just to feel alive.

    Normal people are stable, reliable and love you for who you are, not who they want you to be to make them feel better about themselves. Normal people don’t fuck with your head, they feel bad if they hurt you and they give real apologies. Normal people do not cheat, do not have stories about their past that don’t add up, and do not punish you for having needs of your own.

    James, I’m impressed that a guy in his 20s was mature enough to get out of a poisonous relationship. Wish I had been as smart when I was your age, but I went ahead and married my ex, a man who waved so many red flags it was like living in Pamplona.

    Other people will more skillfully address the fear that your ex is “better” with someone else, I’ll simply say that no, he is not. He is exactly the same POS that he was with you.

  • I used to hear the weird “joking” comments as well. EVERY time I would react with fear, doubt, panic, or anger he would always say the same thing…”Back away from the ledge! I’m kidding, come on you should know that.” Um, no obviously I don’t know that because I get this horrible feeling every time it happens. The “back away from the ledge” comment used to leave me feeling so confused because I never EVER felt like I was overreacting. I would only question really weird strange thing that normal people just don’t say. I am somewhat relieved to see that is yet another thing these freaks have in common.

    • Ah, gaslighting. Provoke you then insinuate that you have issues. Specifically designed to throw you off balance and teach you self-doubt. Straight out of the playbook.

  • I tell myself and others that I am “charm proof.” The minute someone male or female, of any age, tries to “charm me” or be “charming,” I am reminded of that word’s history in magic–the idea that a charm is something that bypasses your natural self, your natural senses. It’s magic, which in the physical world is illusion. No one can make the Statue of Liberty disappear. If someone is charming, unless that is meant as “having lovely manners,” I take 4 steps back and look carefully. If the new guy is being charmed, well. Enough said.

  • Bravo, James, for seeing your ex for who he is, and stepping away.
    As everyone here said, do not question that. Your exBF has not changed, and will not be better for the next one.

    All of us here know it is tough. Hang in there. You deserve peace and happiness, and it will come.

  • James, Dr. Tara addresses this very topic quite well in the following link.
    We all struggle with it. Even 2 years out I have to slap myself back into reality every once in a while when my inner chump resurfaces and I want to blame myself or go back for ONE MORE CRACK at untangling that skein. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. More than once. But knowledge is power.

    http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/will-my-emotionally-abusive-girlfriend-or-wife-be-different-with-the-new-guy/

  • Yr 2012
    After finding escort sites on his PC while I was retrieving emails
    Me: Are you having an affair?
    Him: No. But I will if things (you)don’t change!!

    The reality was he was already IN a LT affair with a married skank. They were planning their true love departure that year.

    Who the fuck makes these kinds of statements and threat? Fucked up cheating narcs.

    Your former dude is a loser. I’m so happy you are not with him anymore. Don’t dumb yourself down by not speaking up for yourself and not stating what you require from a partner (boundaries based on respect, honesty, trust, integrity..).

  • I once read that people who have complicated unhealthy relationships with let’s say…their mothers (or any other primary type relationship) actually grieve longer and harder when their mothers die than those who have healthy relationships with their moms do. They grieve the loss of what should’ve been or should be. Grieving the loss of something is normal. Grieving the loss of something that should have been (better/healthy/about treating you well) is hard. Plus it’s almost like whatever you invested is still stuck there untill you find something else to invest in (yourself, work, a dog or some other HEALTHY relationship). That guy was like a slot machine. You were smart enough to realize you just kept losing quarters. The new boyfriend may seem like he’s won a jackpot but just remember that longterm the house always wins.

    You sound like a great guy. Just promise me something….sometimes after we get out of a relationship with no returns we put our ALL into the next guy/girl because we are awesome hardworking committed people. Make sure that the next person you do that with is truly worth it. There are usually two kinds of people who get into relationships right after shitty ones….the chumpy I will love you harder kind and the opportunistic I will use the shit out of you kind. Be the third kind….the I took the time to figure out how to love me and more importantly I recognize true decency in someone else. CL and chump nation has put forth those red flags for you to recognize.

    You may not have been married etc…but it’s still painful as hell and I’m sorry you had to go through the mindfuck of being treated that way. Glad you found Chump Lady.

  • It always amazes me how similar cheaters are, whether gay or straight, male or female. This tells me that they are disordered on a deep, basic level, and so are broken beyond repair.

  • Dear James,

    Your letter is very insightful. I too felt compassion and understanding when my ex he told me that his bad treatment was due to his depression, alcoholic mother’s yelling at him and his family’s judgments of everyone. I also suffered from depression and wanted to give him what I sought—gentle affirming love without judgement. The difference was I was not lying to him and running around with other men behind his back or as in my case in front of my face. Good for you for leaving. These folks do not learn and do not change. Look how hard it is for you to change….and you are trying…do you think they who are not trying have a snowballs chance in hell to change?

    Another note on vicious joking that these cheaters are so adept at. I too would sit there in amazement—“Did he just say that?!!” One “joke” my ex told over and over to different married women “friends” including his affair partner in front of me and our child was that he would “adopt” or “protect” their children for different purposes such as: getting into a better school; getting them out of the trouble—you get the idea.

    Boy, did that endear him to them while making me cringe and feel like shit. It was as if I were invisible. When he saw me look ashen later he would say irritably, “Did I do something?” At first I would pretend I was not affected, then admit that I was troubled by what he said, in response he would say “It was only a joke!”

    The final time he did this I cried for two hours. I made up my mind then that I did not want to spend the rest of my life with such a creep. This was months before D-day. When D-day came any affection I had for this schumck was gone.

    Your schmuck has not drained you dry yet. Don’t let it come to that. Go out strong and with knowledge. You want to be with someone you like, that is clear. This guy will only bring you to disgust. Count your blessings, learn from this, weed out the shit when you see it immediately next time and foster energy that attracts someone who will treat you well.

    If you are attracted to shitheads that is something I would look into now. When I was younger, I was always attracted to mean men—not anymore.

    You will do fine. Just stop looking him up. Do anything else instead—Read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. They are awesome. Write about your experience focusing on a particular angle and publish your story, hang out with someone who makes you feel good…..I am rooting for you.

    Once after one of these

  • “Normal people don’t “joke” like that. Their values align with their actions — and their sense of humor.”

    I knew a guy who liked to joke about hitting girls. He was dating my best friend. One night we were all hanging out, and he tells us that he last girlfriend was so melodramatic about being slapped, basically outing himself as an abusive piece of shit. My friend broke up with him. Shortly thereafter, he harmed himself. Fortunately my friend didn’t buy the sob story and refused to take him back. Not long after, he moved away and we never seen or heard from him again. Some people don’t get off that lucky.

  • James, you dodged a lifetime of misery with that man. Now you know what you will take and what is best left to the trash.

  • James, don’t get stuck on this crap: “Now he’s with the new guy I can’t help but think he’s got rid of his difficulties and I missed out, why else would he be risking a new relationship when he knows what happened with me.”

    My ex moved in with his AP after I got a protective order (needed it, dangerous dude to me). 9 months later his AP took out a protective order on him. Then she took him back and a year later they are not together. People don’t change that quick James, and most don’t ever change unless they realize they have an issue and do therapy with honest intent. Trust that he sucks and trust he’s not any different with the new guy. Wasn’t he lovely with you in the beginning? Of course he was, we may be chumps but no one sticks around if our SO treats us like shit right off the bat. Hell, in my case the covert undermining took years, what a waste. I am so glad you had good boundaries and left the relationship. Do not second guess and think that if only you “helped” him or tried to “fix” him longer he would be awesome. I did that for 17 years and it was not a good idea.

    and side eye the self pity stories he told you, he sounds like a true “martyr man”, these are the most insidious manipulators on the planet. Just say NO to people who fuck you over and make excuses due to their childhood or other problems. I’m willing to bet the internet that he wasn’t in therapy when he told you his ‘heartbreaking’ stories.

    This is from woman/hetero perspective but applies to all relationships and it’s where I got the Martyr Man label for total assholes who control you through pity and manipulation: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/manipulator/martyr.shtml

    and Jedi freakin Hugs James, let it go and get a light saber, it helps 🙂

    • I so love this!! This describes my ex. I do believe he is the other type of NPD–the covert NPD. He’s not sparkly at all. He’s passive-aggressive.

      I’m sure he’s playing the same games with the OW, now, and she is working hard to continue to manipulate him.

      But I’m all, “No trade-backs!” He’s her problem now.

      Ick.

  • I’m so sorry James. I’m sorry that no matter what you’re deal is, you’re subject to the same shit as the rest of us, no matter what your marital status.

    Dude is a douchebag, just like CL said and just be glad you got out before he wasted any more of your life!!!\

    I’m sorry for you for the heart break but wish your partner wasn’t a giant fizzy douchebag.

    Here if you need us, James. Good luck!!!

  • James,

    To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when someone SHOWS you how they are, believe them. This goes for any relationship. I wish I would have listened to Maya along time ago so I wouldn’t have spent 20 years trying to love my husband into something he can never. Shake the dust off your boots, chalk it up as a learning experience and get back to living your life.

    Remember every experience we have we either grow from it or repeat it. Please don’t repeat it.

    Best wishes to you, my dear James.

  • Oh, James!

    I just wanted to chime in and be a voice of support.

    It really is true, what the Chump Lady says, and that is that they suck, and you must trust that they suck–and that you don’t.

    You seem like a really balanced and healthy guy looking for a stable, long-term relationship.

    What has happened to you really, really hurts. It will hopefully be a very valuable lesson at your young age. Many good things will spring from this: you’ll hopefully learn a few of the symptoms of the disordered–and avoid them in the next guy, no matter how cute he is, or how he chooses his words to manipulate. (Don’t date anyone who hurts with words and “is just joking!!” Don’t date anyone with serious emotional baggage–no poor sausages who haven’t grown up, but instead use their pain to gain sympathy. You don’t want to date a damaged guy, you want to date a triumphant guy. You cannot fix someone broken; they have to fix themselves.) You will learn that you are strong and can recover from being hurt–into being someone better. You will learn that there are a lot of good people out there (and here!) You will become wiser, and able to help the next guy or girl who needs your advice–you’ll have earned your stripes as a mentor/teacher. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have escaped a really damaged and damagING companion–you’ll look back with RELIEF! Honestly!

    Guess what? You’re going to look back at your beautifully-worded letter one day (not too long from now) and marvel at it. You will realize with so much clarity that, yes, your ex has a lot of issues and is a very unfortunate soul (albeit soul-less….) You’ll realize just how far you’ve come, how much confidence you’ve gained, and how much stronger and healthier you’ve become. Heck, perhaps by then you’ll have found a partner who is worthy of you.

    Next time, take it slow. Be very, very leery of the next guy’s immediate, urgent need to impress–and your immediate, urgent need to be impressed. Realize that true love takes time to build. You’ll gain joy and love from shared experiences, not what he says about himself verbally. You’ll be impressed by the little things he does with you and for you, because he’s thoughtful and has good values that align with yours. Perhaps he comes from a loving, supportive family who demonstrate and hold him to a high standard of character–you’ll really like that about him. Your love will be built in layers over time.

    James, you’re a good egg. Time to focus on what you love to do, and get to where you’re going in life–exercise your ambitions. You’ll find someone out there who is doing the same, and who suits a good guy like yourself, who is interesting in his own right, like you are.

    Honestly–along the way, it’s going to come out that the ex is NOT different with the new guy. Take it from the rest of us here. Cheaters are cheaters. That’s what they are. They don’t change–not for anyone. They suck, you don’t. It won’t be long before you see it with your own eyes. I personally (I’m sure I speak for most of us here) would LOVE to read a follow-up letter from you about the ex that starts out, “Dear Chump Lady, Well you won’t believe what my ex has done to the next guy. I now see that you are right–he sucks.”

  • James hugs and thank you for sharing here. Mine was a bf too, of three years, not a long term marriage with kids type cheater. Once we are hooked in by these types of people (narcissists/ psychopaths) we are never the same, gender and sexual orientation doesnt matter.

    I have the greatest appreciation for Chumplady and for the Chump Nation for sharing their stories that have helped me. So many stories, even yours, have been similar to mine. Ahh the unsettling jokes, our need to help the person we love despite our suffering in doing so, the gnawing pain thinking they finally changed and are happy with the new upgrade. And for me, the pain is also thinking he forgot all the things we shared together and were crazy special to us, like discovering a wine we loved – now he acts like I don’t exist and these were with someone else. I have to accept that he really sucks and this is simply how he turns a new leaf and unleashes the sparkle on the next victim.

    These people are not normal. They will say they love us and do things we would never do. They will never be truly happy in a relationship. A cheater will always cheat. I blamed myself for far too long, when it was him all along.

  • Good for you, James! Getting yourself free from that cheating, emotionally abusive SOB took a lot of courage and maturity. A word about sad stories. Let’s assume that this guy was sexually abused — it really is true (I’m afraid I can tell you this from experience) that that can lead to an interest in violent, high-risk sex. That doesn’t make it OK to cheat, and it doesn’t mean that the next guy you date who’s experienced abuse is going to cheat. I haven’t.

  • Oh, the reason you are all twisted in your thinking is because of what you said…

    ” I have lied to myself for so many years and I can’t tell fantasy from reality anymore.”

    Only part of it I disagree with, you didn’t lie to you, HE DID.

    All you have had is bells and whistles and lies, a rabbit in a hat, a pecker down the street, hung up phone calls, is it real, did he do that? YES

    He is going to continue until all that is left is a small pebble in your shoe and he may want that also because it is in your shoe.

    When you go to bed at night, say this, I am fine I don’t want that screwnut, I didn’t do anything wrong, he is the twisted one, I am going to sleep well, I do not want it anymore in my life.

    HUGGGGS

  • Hi I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by accident,
    while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Nonetheless I
    am here now and would just like to say kudos for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the
    theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the
    moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal
    more, Please do keep up the great jo.

  • >