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Dear Chump Lady, He fooled me, he fooled my daughter

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serial_cheater_sharkDear Chump Lady,

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.

Chump Mom

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.

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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.
  • “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.””

    Chilling but too true. Who wants to believe someone they welcomed into the family is actually traumatizing their own flesh and blood by cheating on them? Who wants to believe that cheating is not a controllable behavior from the faithful spouse’s end–i.e. you can’t control someone else? That means we’re all vulnerable, and people exist who WILL exploit that vulnerability for their own selfish ends. Scary thought. It is another version of being reminded our our mortality and finitude. Most people run from that realization to their own detriment for the reality never changes.

  • Big hugs to your daughter. Now she knows to look at actions, not words. Sheesh. That took me 22 years. Funny, Chump Mom, when I was reading your story, the name that came to mind was ‘Oscar Pistorius’. Your girl got lucky, tell her from us. She doesn’t believe it now, but she got lucky.

    • No one will ever convince me Oscar Pistorius didn’t get away with murder – I am dumbfounded there was any other verdict. It boils down to who would you expect to be in the bathroom if you wake on a night and find your partner is not in bed with you? Wouldn’t you at least call out ‘is that you in the bathroom’? before you started strafing the room? 10 months is an insult and beyond comprehension. A stark example of how these monsters are so convincing and manipulative that a jury bought the spackle pot. 🙁

      • He didn’t convince a jury. He only had to convince the judge in South African court. She’s a very impressive person who’s handed down stiff sentences before in domestic abuse. I also think it’s a travesty of justice. My guess is that a) given the crime rate in SA there was some reasonable doubt that he believed in home invasion (I would’ve thought the testimony of the neighbors about screaming would override that) and b) She believed his puke-in-a-bucket “remorse.”

        The verdict is inexplicable to me.

        • Gosh – I can’t believe I missed there wasn’t a jury! I believe Pistorius has a new victim (girlfriend) to help him deal with his ‘remorse’ when he’s under house arrest next year. Dear God, I’m just getting over the trauma of being taken in by a fucktard – it’s over a year since the final break but I can’t even think about getting close to someone else. Guess Pistorius’s remorse and trauma can’t be that great if he’s making cooing noises with someone else so quickly – or am I just a hard-bitten cynic? And what a slap in the face for Riva’s family and friends?

          • South Africa is pretty disgusted and cynical, but apparently the prosecution made a mistake on going for [first degree] murder, and then failing to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he KNEW it was her in the bathroom. Had they gone for dolus eventualis (2nd degree) he would have been sentenced for murder and got 20 years. There IS going to be an appeal, they are furious… There was a very good article by a British journalist called Alison Pearson who notes that the judge thought that Reeva being frightened of him and his anger ‘was normal for a relationship’. Also, that his previous girlfriend had been terrified that he was going to shoot her. People who know people say that it was well known in sporting circles that he was extremely aggressive, out of control and to watch out around him…
            So, that is two girlfriends who were frightened of him, and he had two previous assault incidents. I don’t know how many men I have been in contact with, but not one (that is Dat’s territory) has ever given me the idea that they might shoot me. And this guy had two.
            But, watching that trial you saw personality disorder in its full glory. Not even the State can made a PD person take responsibility or dent their teflon defences.

            • My ex never gave me the idea that he might shoot me until he had the gun in his hand. That’s why abusers get to that point, the abused person always believes the abuser loves them and would not really hurt them. Until it happens. Usually when the abused gets to the point of leaving, the loss of control causes the abuser to escalate from rage or a smack to further violence. that is when women usually get killed, trying to leave.

            • “Teflon defences” is a wonderful way to describe the highly defended personality structures of NPD people. Surprising that the seasoned judge overlooking Pistorius’s trial would not have seen through his antics. Whoever did the psych evaluation on Pistorius was also bamboozled by him. I guess you need to live with a NP disordered person to experience the horrifying fallout of their sick personality.

    • I just googled Oscar Pistorius and read about the case. I thought the name sounded familiar, he was the amputee track star in the Olympics. As humans, it is so easy to believe that if someone is successful in one area of life, that they are a good person. This just now reminded me of the shock waves that went through the Nation when Tiger Woods’ cheating escapades came out. It is easy to think that if someone overcomes a disability or has the tenacity to stick with and become successful in a sport, that they inherently carry other good qualities as well. It is so easy to be taken in by charm and sparkles that you can’t see the other aspects of a persons personality.
      In the case of my daughter, the boyfriend really schmoozed up me and my family. We just thought that he must be so genuine if he is spending all this time with us and getting to know our family and her siblings. That must mean his love is real. His actions (the ones we knew about anyway) really backed up his words. The problem is that there was a whole nother side (with different actions) that we knew nothing about. Once those actions were discovered, it was so hard to reconcile the two different versions of the person we knew. There must be some explaination. And the one that NEVER pops to mind is that the person you are dealing with is a psychopath! It was just something I wasn’t very familiar with at all. So you believe the other explanations. He is afraid of his intense feelings, his love is so overwhelming it’s frightening, blah blah.
      Looking back, it seems so silly and ridiculous! Yeah, you love her SO MUCH that you are FUCKING three other girls. But honestly, it didn’t seem at all ridiculous at the time. It’s like this person puts you under some sort of spell and you just believe everything they say even though it’s crazy. And like CL says, its kind of a spell you don’t want to break out of because everything was so good and so perfect before with the love bombing it doesn’t seem possible.
      This is one of the things that I think is so painful is just realizing that everything you thought was true was the exact opposite of what you thought.

  • “- she learned this shit EARLY”.

    I agree wholeheartedly with CL on this one. I’m sure she is terribly hurt and confused now but she has learned the signs of what to avoid in future relationships at her young age and that will pay off for her in the long run.

    My parents had 3 daughters and my dad always said that someday he would have 3 sons to go with them. My oldest sister never married because she’s likely a sociopath herself who we have nothing to do with anymore and quite frankly it’s much better that way. My dad didn’t like my middle sister’s first husband at all and guess what – he cheated on her while she was pregnant! She dumped him and is now happily married. Me? My dad LOVED my STBX and told him he was the son he never had. My dad was always a good judge of character but he was fooled by this one just like I was. If my dad were alive today and knew what my STBX has done, well, I’m not sure my STBX would be alive. Part of me wishes my dad was here to take care of me and part of me is glad he’s not so he’s not disappointed and hurt like I am.

  • I think what is most shocking and really scary is that these disordered people are so good at deceiving, they can even chump a mom into becoming their accomplice against the best interests of her own daughter. But thank you ChumpMom for owning up to your part in this and for learning also to “fix your picker” for the sake of your daughter. Lesson learned and you can both recover together and help her with the NC, because he will be back, for sure. Don´t open the door for him, ever again…

  • “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.”

    That is the lesson, we all have spackled. When I suspected my ex of cheating 13 years before D-Day, I went to my mother, sisters and a couple of friends. But my ex had already played the game so well that they all convinced me I was, well, a little crazy, to suspect such a wonderful man and jeopardize my young family. Fast forward almost 13 years later… and I caught him cheating on me with the same women I suspected he was with all that time ago.

    You saved your daughter a lifetime of wasted years being used and abused by a grifter. Godspeed to you and your daughter, she is about to start a wonderful, sociopath free life.

    • Kellyone ….I can so relate to what you said, about 10 years Into our relationship I thought my husband was having an affair just by his actions and behaviors but I couldn’t find any evidence? I talked to a few friends and family members and they told me “no way your crazy he loves you too much” so of course I thought it was just me? And now years later here we are again I saw the same actions and behaviors and I knew what was going on and wasn’t going to be called the crazy one this time! I should have left him the first time I regret it so bad now… But I listened to everyone else and had that small bit of doubt. But he got caught this time I played it much better this time! I have just recently filed for divorce and just so ready to be rid of him! He is making life so hard on me trying to so sorry and all remorseful?? And I honestly can’t tell if it’s real or not but that’s a risk I’m not ready to take! I’m so thankful to all of you and this website….because with the way he is manipulating me now I would have probably stayed!

      • somuchhurt I remember this as well. About 8 years into our marriage, with two young children, my ex went out for work again for a few drinks, he had been doing that a lot. I rang him at about 11 that night to ask if he wanted me to come and pick him up. Got told he wasn’t ready to come home. He never came home. Ended up staying at a female colleagues place the night. Finally heard from him at 11 the next day saying I’m alive. I was so upset. Rang my mother to talk to her about it and was told that I was acting like a jealous wife and to stop making something out of nothing.

        • Jode70 how are things with you now? I know I haven’t listened to anyone this time although most everyone has told me to leave his ass this time because so much of the truth has come to light and I would hate to discover what hasn’t come out because it’s bad enough now!

  • As painful as this is for your daughter she has learned something most of us wish we could have learned decades ago. Yes, it’s sad to lose some of your innocence that way, but in the end she’ll pick a better partner. I do urge you to have her see an individual counselor to make sure she’s working on her self esteem issues, and how not to go out and look for another “sparkling” guy like her ex.

    Most of us here feel that cheating is a form of terrible emotional abuse and when we hear about it, we want the innocent victim to know. I’m glad you kept up the snooping and told her. Good luck to you both and good riddance to that cheater.

  • “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.”

    THIS ^^^^ right there in a nut shell… I personally will never compromise myself ever again for someone else and never again will I accept a shitty behavior, any disrespect in any way ever again. The lesson learned..

    • I agree, nicolette14. Life’s way too short to even begin to contemplate being in a “burning building” all over again. Got out of that one. No way I’m going back.

  • Chump Mom, I am so glad your daughter and your family were saved from a disastrous alternative ending. I really do. My family, too, was chumped my by ex. They thought he was perfect. I spackled and didn’t tell them of his two previous affairs because I didn’t want to taint his otherwise perfect image. That’s on me. I enabled that. They are still really sad that he turned out to be a serial cheater because he was “nice” in all other ways. I will never know the depths of my ex’s deception and I don’t care to know now. He sucked over two decades ago, and I’m sure he still sucks today. Years down the road, I am pretty sure your daughter will hear something about his ex and heave a very huge sign of relief.

  • This letter really resonated with me. I met my ex when we were both in college, and my parents loved him. I had all kinds of major red flags (drinking, lying, sneaking around, insane rages that he blamed on me) as well as a subtle feeling that he was manipulating my friends and family so that I would have no one on my side. It was just a feeling, though, and everyone made it clear that I was SO LUCKY to have him. They were bamboozled, too. It made the trap I was in even more insidious. I didn’t dare share my suspicions and misgivings with other people — in part because I didn’t want to believe the truth myself, and in part because I was sure that I’d be told I was an ungrateful crazy person.

    I got sick. A serious diagnosis that scared the hell out of me at 23. And my parents acted like he was Jesus Christ for sticking around, not dumping me for an illness that I didn’t control.

    Fast forward another decade or so. We get married, buy a house — things seem ok on the surface. And then all of the crazy comes pouring out, but only for me. He had a creepy ability to change personalities to please company. But I knew him for what he was now: A liar. A cheater. A master manipulator. A selfish person who did not truly care about anyone but himself. But who would believe me, I thought?

    Then I left. Got away, got some distance. I’m still healing. But one interesting note: I feel GREAT now. The chronic illness that had plagued me for more than a decade seems to have completely subsided. I’m 40 and in the best health of my adult life. Interesting coincidence.

    We need to change the way we tell our sons and daughters — and ourselves about what love is supposed to be. It’s so much more important to learn to trust your gut than it is to be endlessly giving to a person who is just not right. You don’t owe them your life.

    • This letter and your post resonated very deeply with me too LilyBart.

      My STBX would rally family and friend opinion to my disfavor. He would subtly criticize me and make fun of me at gatherings–trying to show how I contradicted myself and making himself into the cool, knowing, rational one. My family thought he was such a “great guy” that they advised me to go with mediation rather than hire a lawyer initially–even when I told them of his affair and lying.

      After I told my family and friends everything–all the relentless emotional abuse, affair–probably more than one, drinking and driving—they have been very supportive, but it did feel like I was under siege. I was the object of his PR campaign to have the people in our lives view him as the strong, intelligent, rational, charming, personable, ethical and honest spouse and me as someone who contradicts themselves and can’t get it together. That is how he manipulated everyone in my life.

      I am so glad to be out of that deathly dynamic. I feel I am getting whole again.

      I have learned is that people who live honestly and respect others do not try to make themselves the “chosen one” or the “golden boy” or the “most beloved.” Honest people know they have faults and are human just like everyone else. They do not see relationships as competitions where they put others down to raise themselves up–and charm everyone.

      CL your insight about how we train our daughters to feel lucky to have a “good man” in our lives, no matter how we feel around this man, and to spin all abuse as understandable is what keeps girls and women down. We learn from an early age that we are only lucky to have a man look at us with interest. When I initially told my mother about the affair she said, “is he still seeing her?” Meaning that he is such a “great guy” that if he were not still seeing her, I should consider staying (!) I was shocked. Bad wisdom from an otherwise kind person.

      I am so grateful for this forum.

    • Lilybart, this resonated with me big time “We get married, buy a house — things seem ok on the surface. And then all of the crazy comes pouring out, but only for me.” I did spackle, but! I lived with my ex for several years and when I look back here’s what I see. He convinced me to put his name on my house and I caught him cheating shortly afterward. Then he did all the right shit and treated me well. UNTIL, he convinced me to marry him – once we were married he changed, not super fast but cycled up for sure. Shortly after the marriage is when he cut me off from sex and his rages became more frequent, other nasty behavior surfaced. I truly believe the marriage was his goal, so he would be set for life, a way to trap me. I had no family by the time he went full monty but he did convince my best friends he was the rational calm one, for a while anyway.

  • Dear Chump Mom,

    I am so sorry you, your family, and of course, your daughter have had this terrible experience with one of these monsters. I totally understand when you say he was so convincing. It is beyond amazing that they can stand there, look you in the eye and manipulate you so cruelly and shamelessly. I think when you confronted him he re the facebook account he must have had to think very fast – he couldn’t possibly lose face with you, so look at how quickly he latched onto an excuse to play you with? He loved your daughter too much! Of course, now that you know you were played (and now that you know you spackled his answer) you can see how ludicrous that excuse was – love doesn’t behave like that! The trouble is, you, like us all, did the kind, compassionate thing – you figured everyone makes mistakes, we all at some time make the wrong choices because of our fears, you cut him some slack because, up until that point, he’d behaved in front of you and your family, like a person who had earned that leeway. Had you the experience in your life, you might have started to wonder about why your daughter was not happy in her life, but I suspect you’d had no cause to wonder about whether he was the cause of this, that maybe he was the reason why she was showing classic symptoms of someone being emotionally abused. Unless you’d come across this sort of behaviour before, why would you question if this apparently lovely man was the cause of your daughters’ unhappiness? It wouldn’t have made sense to question, unless your daughter was telling you about him. If she was, well, you’ve learned something harsh we’ve all had to learn; charm doesn’t always mean good 🙁

    One of the many things that ‘The Great I Am’ hurt me with when I discovered he was a lying, cheating charmer, is that he too took in my entire family. They all believed in him. My mum and dad loved and admired him deeply (he carried on sexting even when in my parents company). It upsets me greatly that I brought this man into their lives, only to have access to breaking their hearts too – and he has broken their hearts – whatsmore, because he was my second husband, I’d taken it very slowly before I introduced him to them because I’d felt bad about them being broken-hearted about losing my first husband as their son / friend. I’d told ‘The Great I Am’ about this – he didn’t care one bit. I discovered his affair started 6 months after we married and lasting for 18 months, but now, having joined up the dots, my gut tells me he was cheating throughout our 14 year relationship – who knows how many? Doesn’t matter, I trust my gut now – it has never let me down. Chump Mom, your gut didn’t let you down either – despite you wanting to believe in him, your gut had you check his phone – I am so glad to hear you did and so glad you trusted your gut.

    Your daughter has a long road ahead of her to get back her self-confidence and inner peace. Please make sure she knows that the way he behaved is no reflection on her or her worth. She could not have done or been anything more or better, he’d have still behaved that way. She has had a horrible life experience and I hope it won’t be too long before she is able to look back at this terrible episode in her life with contempt for that loser, because loser is what he is.

    BTW – It was chilling that he was keen to get your daughter to move away pretty quickly after you confronted him. This is classic abuser behaviour – isolate – that’s what he was trying to do – get your daughter away from your influence and support. I am so glad that part of his plans never came to fruition, and for that we have to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

    With love and best regards to you, your family and your lovely daughter,

    Jayne x

  • Chump mom…. Don’t feel bad for not seeing what was going on. These kind of people are really good at fooling everyone! My STBXH was great at it….he is a alcohol and drug counselor who taught others right from wrong and always preaching about God and living and doing right! Everyone just thought he was a great man and so did I because he was always so good to me! But when all the truth came out of everything he did that went along with his affair it was just unbelievable of what he was capable of and it sent so many people into shock….I think there are some still in denial about it, they just can’t believe it…he fooled many, many people.

  • Chump Mom, your story is chilling and also familiar. I am SO GLAD your daughter is away from that horrible man, and is young enough to deal with the emotional fallout, then go on to lead a happy life with a decent man. It doesn’t surprise me that you were fooled by the sociopath, he sounds very good at his game.

    Those who have never dealt with a true sociopath/con man really don’t understand how good these people are at fooling others. They are the ultimate actors, and they have an instinctive understanding of human psychology in regards to manipulating people into doing what they want. My ex is a very cunning and skilled con man and sociopath, and has no difficulty at all in getting others to think he is the greatest guy in the world. Unless they get close enough to learn the truth, I doubt many will ever see the real demon behind his Mr Nice Guy mask.

  • Thank you all so much for the love and support on this site! And CL, yes thank you so much for calling it like it is! Everything you said is exactly the truth. It is so weird how you can’t see it all when you are in the situation and then you just feel like such a fool when it is over. I guess that’s what makes us good Chumps to begin with, wanting to believe, to see the best in people. We think that others think and act like we do and so we make excuses for them and believe them when they say they are confused and hurting and that’s why they fucked us over. It is hard to accept that there is another species of “humans” that walk this earth and prey on others.

    I really think that they should teach this stuff in high schools across the country. Young people who are just beginning relationships need to know the red flags to look for. This is just as important, even maybe more so, than traditional schoolwork. This needs to be part of the Common Core curriculum. Maybe that will be my cause to fight for. This is how I will heal and help others.

    Parents too need to be educated about these predators. When I was pregnant I took Lamaze classes and breastfeeding classes. Then came the potty training books and so on. Later, I learned how to help my daughter pick the right major and apply to colleges. Where are the classes that tell you how to protect your children (and yourself) from manipulators? Why couldn’t I see what was happening to HER?! The tears, the withdrawals, the dependency, the walking on eggshells, her self esteem plummeting, the isolation? You’re right, I was so quick to blame HER and think something was wrong with HER. Never realizing that she was responding and reacting to someone MAKING HER CRAZY! Oh, it makes me so angry when I think about it! Someone hurting my baby right under my nose and me paving the way and helping it happen.

    But you are all so right! Thank GOD it only got as far as it did. It could have been so much worse. Hearing all of your stories and the support and love from this website is so comforting and an affirmation of the good people that are in this world. Much love to everyone on this journey of healing and thank you all so much.

    Chump Mom

    • Chump Mom, in my country, there was a truly terrible murder in 2008 (I just Googled the date, and weirdly, it was the day before my darling boy fucked my old friend for the first time!) A beautiful, intelligent young woman, was stabbed 216 times in her childhood bedroom – and he cut her nipples off, and defaced her dead, naked body with scissors – by her ex-boyfriend, in her mother and father’s own home, as she was packing to leave to another city to start an exciting new career the next day. Her mother was in the house, opened the door to him, as he said he had a farewell gift for her. Sophie invited him in. Her poor mother heard it all and couldn’t save her only daughter. It was truly the most horrific thing. Her name was Sophie Elliott, and her mother, Lesley, has fought tirelessly ever since to educate young women (and the rest of us) about emotional abuse. They now do teach this stuff in high schools here, thanks to Lesley, and the defense of provocation was revoked due to this case, where we tried to argue she drove him to it. The Elliotts also had some clues about his character, but kind of ignored them, you know, “none of us are perfect.” Your situation triggered some terrible memories about this horrifying case. With the Oscar P case and this, thank God you caught this guy out, and can have a dialogue about it all to learn and love each other harder than ever x.

  • This ability to fool family and friends, his, mine, is one of the things that has consistently bothered me after learning his true nature. It was such a contradiction from what was on the surface. And, as the divorce proceedings went on, more and more lies were told, sometimes not for any apparent benefit. Lying for the sake of lying. (Side note – he used to travel a lot and always complained about the airlines. His joke – Know how you can tell when airlines’ employees are lying to you? Their lips are moving! How’s that for irony.) As a result of all the B.S. he pulled during the proceedings, I kept seeing more of the layers pulled back and I kept getting hit over the head with just how much of a liar and manipulator he was. In looking back since d-day I think about telling certain friends and family members, many of whom were wonderful, but a little part of me was wondering whether even they doubted me. This is because they would look at me sort of quizzically and say how he fooled all of them, he was so nice, etc. I feel like there are so many people that will never know the truth, will always see him as this nice, sweet guy. I, in turn, feel like it is becoming more and more apparent that the frightening reality is he is inherently evil. Chump Mom, you and your daughter dodged a bullet. Help your daughter understand her worth and that she deserves better.

    • That’s funny. “Wanna know how I can tell XYZ is lying? His/her lips are moving,” was one of my cheater’s favorite sayings, too. Never known anyone who lied as much as he did.

    • Hi Nina,
      I know exactly how you feel. There are some days where I lean heavily on CL and trusting that they suck, and it takes all my strength to remind myself that he’s NOT the image/person I had thought he was. That I am worthwhile.
      I’m still reeling from constantly getting hit over the head on a daily basis as each layer was peeled back after he walked, all the lies, and like you, so many where told for no apparent reason. I discovered he had spent years lying to friends/family about me and my kids, spinning tales of how hateful, unfriendly and cold we were, while on the other hand he would come home and tell me that these same friends don’t really like me, didn’t want to do things with me, and some even hated me – how he always had to defend us to them. I finally understand why I had this uncomfortable sense when I was around them. Why I, like chump moms daughter had reached a point where I had retreated and barely spoke to anyone. He had made a long list of reasons for why I was such a waste of space, and one of them? That I refused to spend time with his friends.
      The manipulation, the evil it takes for someone to do that to another, especially a person you married, and he didn’t reserve it just for me, he did it to his kids too. Recently his AP chased me down on a four lane road, tried to run me into oncoming traffic ( Had a car in front and behind in my lane) flipping me the finger, then laughed blew me a kiss and drove away. Soon after, he broke into my house, stole the ashes of my kids dog that they grew up with, and his (bar/restaurant) customers/friends still buy the image of what a wonderful husband and father he was for the 30 years we were together, and they KNOW he cheated on me with his AP/waitress employee while I was battling cancer. He is a master at projecting the image he wants people to see.
      Trust me Chump Mom, as hard as things are now for both of you and your whole family, you saved your daughter, you saved your family. She will find the love and happiness she deserves because of this.

  • My STBX was (is) one of those people you will NEVER EVER think live a double life. I have an analitical brain and yet I was completely chumped for 20 years. 3 years ago, he told me (the press release, not the truth) of his many hook ups over the last decade. I was completely and utterly stumped. And chumped. It took me three years to reconcile this vile cheating man with my loving caring soft spoken husband. But i trust now that he sucks.

    He wrote me a text yesterday ( to which I did not reply) “The regret will be a scar on my face for the rest of my life” i am assuming he means the regret of losing CAKE. the loss of cake is devastating.

    So, dear Chump Mom, you are for sure not the only person fooled. ((((Hug)))))

    PS… CL, yay for mentioning SCRAPBOOKING! I am a big fan! xoxoxo

  • I can certainly understand how a truly disordered cheater can fool family and friends. But Chump Mom, I think you ought to think about getting a little therapy too, in order to figure out why you were, as you say, quick to blame her for the changes you saw. Once you caught the cheater the second time, you did a great job of confronting your daughter. But that first move when you caught him cheating–to cut your daughter out of the decision making and confront the Cheater yourself should be a red flag about your own boundaries with your daughter. You were pretty deep into her business, checking up on her boyfriend and then, when you found out he was a cheater, not telling her and instead talking to him. One of the things we don’t talk enough about here–although CL brings in up consistently–is how important it is to give people the information they need to make healthy life choices based on actual facts on the ground. Your daughter was staying in an abusive relations–bad enough. That you didn’t notice the abuse–bad enough. But that you found out and didn’t let your daughter know what you knew so she could make her own choice was frankly hard for me to read.

    There is no doubt that the Cheater Boyfriend is the bad guy here. And these types are very good at fooling people. But we should all notice how abusers behave. This guy co-opted his girlfriend’s mother and the whole family, which effectively isolated the daughter and made it more difficult for her (especially as a young girl) to see through the gaslighting and name the abuse for what it was. I think it is very telling that he wanted to move the daughter away because of course he can’t keep the act up too long and in order to maintain the facade, he needed distance. Disordered cheaters don’t just love bomb their romantic targets; they love bomb the family, the friends. It’s important for parents, especially, to discourage the “too much too fast” and to notice how a young person changes as a relationship progresses. The urge to merge the new boyfriends and girlfriends into one big happy family can do young people serious harm, as they may be reluctant to end relationships with good people that aren’t suited to be their life partners and in cases like this one, may actually stay with an abuser because the family “loves” that person. This was a fabulous letter for those Chumps whose parents may STILL think it is the Chump’s fault that the spouse cheated and lied.

    • Yes, I had the same reaction. It’s great that Chumpmom came to see this guy for who he is eventually. But stepping in and confronting him herself was crossing some major boundaries, and sends the message that her daughter is not strong and capable of managing her own relationships. The truth is, the daughter’s “crazy” reaction to abuse was not crazy at all.

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      I totally agree with this. How high and might we feel when we can accuse others needing some “professional help.”

      I have encountered as well too much meddling in my romantic relationships by my family. The solution that I have found is (when I was single) to only date men who were not interested in getting chummy with my family. Had my second husband demonstrated that propensity, he would have been history.

      Chump Mother, you really need to come to terms with the real reasons /motivations that you got so involved with your daughter’s relationship with this cad. Did you need to validate your attractiveness / relevance to the younger generation / members of the male population. Did you somehow start to believe negative things about your daughter….maybe she is petty, selfish, greedy, did not follow the script that you wanted her to and so, you planned “to show her.”

      I had the same problems with my family getting too chummy with 2 men — to my disadvantage– that I was dating almost 20 years apart. I had to come to terms with the fact that my sister ( 3 years older) saw herself in competition with me. I didn’t follow the script: “I didn’t act right.” “I didn’t behave myself.” And when one guy went psycho on me after 6 months of dating, my parents, older brother and sister and brother in law befriended him. So of course, this guy knew my every move around the city. And my sister had no problem telling me that “she knew things about me….”

      These days I have better boundaries. If my husband had gotten chummy with my family, we would have stopped dating. If any of my friends, even after my having introduced them to my family, ever decide to get chummy with a family member, they would be history to me as well.

      I have decided that my family members have no proper boundaries, certainly none that respect me and I need to excise the growing tumor BEFORE it becomes a problem for me. I don’t play these games with my family members nor with other friends of mine. I am experienced enough now to know that “these arrangements” end in tears as Chump Mother’s situation has demonstrated.

      A piece of wisdom that I have coined for myself is that “the fewer roles any one person has in your life, the easier that relationship will be to manage.” Perhaps if Chump Mother had left her relationship to Mr Cad as simply “that guy who dated my daughter” instead of (as she wrote verbatim)

      “The boyfriend felt like a son to us and my other children would often remark that he was the favorite child! ”

      then her better judgement would not have been clouded.

  • It really strikes a chord with me about not needing anyone so much that I sacrifice all I am and have. While my heart aches for your daughter’s experience, I agree that for her to get past this hurdle so young will only strengthen her in the long run and adjust her picker to a fine calibration.

    I keep thinking back to the Sunday four days after D-Day. I was a hysterical sleepless hobbled shell, and had driven to my sister’s house to tell her about the affair. She had loved my ex, like me she thought he’d been the One to set everything right for me. But her judgment was unclouded, she felt no guilt for being fooled like I did. Some of the recent verbal abuse and mindfuckery I told her about, and his refusal to leave the house to allow me to rest had her livid. I told her ex’s dad was to wire him money from the UK to move out, and the planned date.

    She said, “No. He needs to go NOW. He can go stay with his whore.” I don’t think he had Schmoopie completely snookered yet. He was refusing to leave, 46 years old with a credit card of his own, till daddy sent him 2000 pounds. He has no claim to the home I inherited from my parents. My sister handed me a stack of moving boxes from her atticand told me her husband and adult sons would be there that evening to send him to ‘the whore, a hotel or the hospital.’ This is a perfect reaction by the way.

    But in my mindfucked, gaslighted state, I couldn’t do it. I went home, gave him the boxes, and let my heart and soul rip into a million pieces as he swung from glee to self pity to cold abusive insults planning his new life. He sent my stepdaughter to stay with her mom and told her not to contact us. He began to openly text and call Schmoopie, refuse to pay bills, and ignore his stepdaughter. He and Schmoops laughed at and mocked our pain. They took all their kids to the zoo. He moved all his things entirely by himself, because I refused to allow her on my property and not another soul could believe or support his insane behavior.

    I absolutely regret not taking my family up on kicking him out. I’m utterly grateful that while I was hysterical with grief that others never showed him the mercy I did so he could stomp all over it. I recently had to deal with two financial issues where he had tried to foist medical and cellphone (yes, I should pay for the phone he used to woo her!) charges he agreed to pay on me. I managed to do this without contacting him. But of course for impression management he felt compelled to send me an email saying it was all a big misunderstanding ‘and he would never consciously hurt me that way.’

    I see. He must have been comatose when the whoregina fell on his groin. See, nobody but his HoWorker believes this shit anymore. I didn’t respond. How I wish I were 24 instead of 44 with this wisdom.

  • My parents thought the sun would always shine out of stbx’s backside and his parents painted him as the golden child.

    About two nights after my Mother passed away from cancer my H woke up in a cold sweat.
    He had a vivid dream that my Mother had come to him and told him that it was now his job to look after me.

    She must have known that things were not as they should be. In fact – she would have been very disappointed in him if she were alive to see what he had done.

    My Dad’s Alzhimer’s kicked in about this time too. Neither parent had to experience what their charming SIL put me through.
    Sigh

  • ChumpMom, you are amazing. it goes to show that you should TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Don’t believe what they say, look at what they do. You sound like a great, caring Mom. But even still, it’s so easy to get chumped. It makes ones blood boil – how can people live with themselves like that?

    My own Mum was chumped and I am a lot older than your daughter. My ex chumped my Mum after I phoned her in tears following D-Day. She promptly rang him to calmly and lovingly tell him our family loved him like a son, etc and he blamed his cheating on my “mental health issues” and “university studies” apparently. He also said his OW was “his counsellor.” What about HIS mental health issues?

    Sadly, my Mum thought it was just a one-off thing he did when he was drunk. Me? I wasn’t so sure, but I was so traumatised I hoped an outsider would see more clearly than I did at the time. My Mum was so chumped by him that she advised me (when I was spiralling into anxiety, fear and panic after the revelation of his betrayal) to “give him time to prove himself.” I did it (*face palm) because I was so desperate to believe he was actually remorseful and going to fix things. But… my whole family and I were majorly CHUMPED. He since left me in a shitstorn for the OW.

    It has since been 4 months since D-Day and I am slowly but surely moving on with my life. I have NC with my ex, have passed all my university exams, and am relocating interstate to be closer to my family. Most importantly, I am starting a new life away from my creepy ex and his “fabulous” OW (vomit). Life without my cheating, lying, blame-shifting, manipulating, denied ex has so far been great. I have my moments, but I am determined to life a great life with honest, kind people.

    I wish you and your daughter all the very best.

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