I am so thankful for your web site and for your frank way of putting things. I thought I was going crazy until I read your web site about how cheaters think and how much they will lie and manipulate to maintain cake. I have an interesting twist on the cheating story that shows you how much of a chump I am! My experience is a little different in that I am the mom of a daughter who was cheated on and emotionally abused. The only problem is, I was completely taken in by the cheater and used as bait to get my daughter to go back to him! My God, if I only knew then what I know now!
My daughter lived at home while going to college and met a boy at her school. He appeared to be perfect at first. He treated her like a queen and quickly managed to win over our family. He played board games with her younger sisters and often sat and talked with my husband and I when he visited. He spent as much time with us as he did with her and so we thought she had found the perfect family man who was honest, respectful and kind. The boyfriend felt like a son to us and my other children would often remark that he was the favorite child! As the relationship progressed, he was often upset with my daughter. But by this point in the relationship, she was acting crazy and hysterical most of the time and we wondered what was wrong with her. We actually sided with him most of the time and tried to get her to see things his way. We wanted to send her to a counselor to deal with her hysteria, paranoia and depression. She stopped hanging out with her girlfriends. She was afraid to do anything without him and needed his constant approval. We wondered what happened to our confident and outgoing daughter? We were so grateful that he was there to help her and be with her through this difficult time.
That is until the day he accidentally left his Facebook account open on our family computer. At first I thought it was my account but I quickly realized otherwise as I sifted through the messages. He was cheating on my daughter with at least 3 other girls! It was all there in the messages – the secret meetings, the plans for when she was out of town, everything. I was in shock! And then I did the unthinkable and unforgivable. I met with him and kept everything a secret from my daughter. I told him what I discovered and showed him the printout of the messages so he couldn’t deny it. Of course, he broke down in big tears and talked about how he was so in love with my daughter that it scared him. He was so afraid of how close they were and the attachment they had that he reached out to other girls so it wouldn’t frighten him so much. He also said that he was so happy that I found out because now for the first time he realized what he truly wanted and he didn’t need to be afraid anymore. Can you believe I bought this bullshit?? He told me that he would spend his life making it up to me and my daughter and we both agreed to keep the secret because it would be too painful for my daughter to bear. WTF was I doing? He was so utterly convincing.
Shortly thereafter, he made plans to transfer schools to another state and he wanted my daughter to follow him out there and he promised he would eventually marry her but that he couldn’t until he finished school. The thought of her moving made me extremely nervous, especially since she didn’t know what I knew. I decided to check his phone when he came over (I learned in passing that his password was the same as my daughters, the day they met). When I had the chance, I looked at his phone and of course he was still talking to the other girls and cheating with them! I couldn’t believe my eyes after everything he said! After he left that night, I sat my daughter down and told her the whole story. The things she told me back that night shocked me to the core. Eventually, I realized that she was a victim of emotional abuse. He was constantly accusing her of cheating on him, would call her a whore, didn’t like her friends and got upset when she hung out with them. He didn’t like what she wore and would suggest outfits for her. He would criticize her relentlessly and say she wasn’t there for him enough and didn’t love him enough and that she was a bad girlfriend. She felt worthless and like she could never please him because she wasn’t good enough. I just couldn’t believe he could treat her this way in private and then spend time at our house like a member of the family.
I can’t believe I was taken in so much by this individual. I feel awful that I couldn’t see what was happening and the changes in my daughter for the worse for having been with him. Even with all of this, it was still a very hard breakup for my daughter (and in fact, for me too). He kept trying to win her (and our family) back over just like he did the day I confronted him about the facebook messages. There were times we both wanted to see the good in him, to believe that he had changed.
After googling “Jeckyl and Hyde personality”, I now know that he had the traits of a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. These folks are truly master manipulators and cheaters! My daughter has been single for awhile now and struggles with letting anyone new into her life and trusting again. He definitely did damage to her confidence and well being but we are all working together as a family to rebuild what has been taken away.
I hope that others that read this letter will be aware of the tactics used by manipulators to keep us chumps so they can have cake. It is a hard, emotional road. Even now, I am sad and miss the person we thought he was. It is hard to accept that that person never existed.
Dear Chump Mom,
Thanks for sharing your letter. It’s illuminating to other chumps to see how disordered wing nuts take in our families as well as ourselves. I’m glad your learning curve was a short one — from the time you busted him, until the time you checked his phone — and you spilled the truth to your daughter.
You asked: WTF was I doing? He was so utterly convincing.
You were spackling. That’s what you were doing. You wanted to believe the mirage of him much more than the evidence that he was a total piece of shit.
I’ve told this story here before, and I’m going to tell it again, but years ago I worked as a writer for the Defense Department on a report on sexual assault in the military. They got in a ton of top experts and I had to go to Pentagon briefings on sexual abuse that gave me nightmares for months. But the one that stuck with me was a film they did in the Alabama State Penitentiary. It began looking at communities, like schools and churches, and interviewing the people about “Bob” — a man accused of terrible crimes. Well, no one believed it. They were all going to pray for Bob! How could people say such TERRIBLE things about him? Not Bob! And then it panned to Bob, who shook his head and said things like, “Some people are just going to malign you. We have to forgive them and try to work through this. It’s awful how people can lie.” He was very sympathetic, trying to take the high road. Poor Bob.
Then the camera panned to Bob in a prison uniform laughing. He went to jail for those “lies” he was accused of, and he admitted his crimes on camera, sexually abusing children. Gleefully. The interviewer asks him “How did you fool all these people?” — and Bob does this really creepy smile and says “Oh, that’s easy. They want to believe.”
You find people very invested in believing. Who want to believe BAD. And why wouldn’t they? Isn’t it easier to believe that people make up lies and gossip than it is to believe predators walk among us? That’s much scarier. So we take Bob’s word for it that this is all a big misunderstanding. Those children are lying. Someone put them up to it. They’re disturbed. Bob is innocent.
Your “Bob” preyed on your belief that he loved your daughter. It’s patently ridiculous really. You had shocking EVIDENCE that he did not love your daughter, he was cheating on her with a multitude of other women. But he played you really well. He said he cheated because he loved your daughter TOO MUCH! He was just afraid of this overwhelming love he had for her! So he had to “act out.”
(I wish I could tell you that shit was original. It’s not. Many of us have heard some version of it. Some from freaking therapists.)
But the cognitive dissonance of his “love” and his actions got to you, so you checked his phone. You listened to your gut when you did that. You stopped wanting to believe for that moment, and verified. You put the spackle down.
But ask yourself going forward, and as your daughter gets over this asshole, why you wanted to believe so bad? Why was it acceptable to you that your daughter’s boyfriend be perfect and she be “hysterical”? Why did you want sooooo bad for her to have a Perfect Boyfriend? Don’t fuck this UP! Stop BEING HYSTERICAL or he won’t LOVE YOU! Sends a message that she’s not really worthy of love, she needs to pick me dance to have one as fabulous as him.
When there were tensions in their relationship, maybe the thing to say was “Gee, this relationship doesn’t bring out your best self, Honey. Is everything okay? You seem unhappy.” Or just think, oh well, they’re not a good fit. That’s too bad. There’s someone out there she’s better suited to, she should dump this guy because he seems to bring out changes in her for the worse. Or maybe you could think “She’s fine without a boyfriend. You don’t need a boyfriend to be a complete human.”
Which is very different from — What’s wrong with YOU that you can’t appreciate this Perfect Guy?
Sociopaths are expert manipulators. They do know how to play us. The only defense is to know your values, know your worth, and enforce your boundaries. When you want something soooOooo bad, (my daughter is dating the perfect guy!) it compromises your values. Learn to not Need It That Bad. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t sell your soul (or your daughter) for it.
Tell your daughter there are a multitude of happy endings out there. There are actual nice guys who will hang out and be kind to your family (hey, I’m married to one!) There’s not a national shortage of decent people. Sociopaths are a shitty minority of people.
There’s a great life beyond the confines of having a boyfriend. There’s college and grad school and professional life. There’s travel. There’s good friends. There’s sports and scrap booking and organic gardening. I have no idea what your daughter’s personal bliss looks like, but I can guarantee that it’s not “Bob” shaped. Tell her to go invest in that life for awhile. Go surround herself with good people who DO bring out her best self.
Get her some therapy, if you haven’t already. What she went through is really painful, but OMG, she’s so lucky! I know that sounds warped, but stick with me here — she learned this shit EARLY. With very little in the way of sunk costs. She didn’t marry the sociopath, she didn’t breed with the sociopath, he didn’t steal her 401K, or give her a disease. Chump Nation has paid that cost to learn the painful lessons she’s figuring out YOUNG, with her whole life ahead of her.
And the lesson is — some people SUCK. Some people are disordered wing nuts. Don’t need anyone so bad that you compromise yourself and accept shit behavior. It’s okay to love with your whole heart. The best people do. And when people treat your precious love with contempt and disrespect? TRUST THAT THEY SUCK. The first time. There are better people out there to invest in, you don’t have time for this crap.
Mom, there’s no one here to miss. Thank God every day that sociopath moved away. Your daughter is safe. Give her a big hug from Chump Nation.