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Dear Chump Lady, I just need to hear her say she’s sorry

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so_sorryDear Chump Lady,

For some reason I have an incredible need to be validated and vindicated as being “right” about things by my ex. I don’t want her back at all, but I really want her to come completely clean about all the bad things she has done and the lies she has told – basically to confess, for her to confirm and affirm that I was right about my suspicions and suppositions all along, and for her to feel bad about what she has done.

It’s the “not knowing” about what really happened about certain relationships that drives me crazy. I suspect many things, but can prove only few. And believe me, they are enough to make walking away the best decision. I have a high sense of “honor” about doing the right thing, even when I’ve done wrong. So I guess I’m projecting that onto her. Plus, since she did a total mind-%#@*/gaslight job on me, I just want to know I wasn’t crazy all along.

I know the problem with my desire for this is somewhere in my twisted mind and heart, but beyond that, I don’t know how to break free of what is presumably a totally unrealistic expectation.

Could you address this issue?

Thanks. And don’t take your foot off the neck of these liars and cheaters. Pain/pain avoidance is the only thing that motivates them.

Palmer

Dear Palmer,

You just answered your own question there, Buck-o. “Pain/pain avoidance is the only thing that motivates them.”

Yep. Cheaters have a pathological need to avoid — responsibility, grown up life, feeling bad, feeling guilty, feeling frustrated, feeling anything less than deliriously entitled and exceptional. Given what you know about cheaters and your wife in particular, Palmer, do you really expect her to say she was wrong? Because, gosh, that’s kind of a bummer.

Much better if you’re just an asshole who she had to cheat on because… oh I don’t know… you watch those insipid “Storage Wars” TV shows. Or you didn’t trim your ear hair. Or she never liked your cousin Ronny.

Because you know, if you cornered her and asked her to “feel bad” about cheating on you, she’d have to give you some crazy blame-shifting excuses. And do you really want to stick your head in that blender?

Okay, I get it, that’s not the fantasy. In your imagination, she validates you. She dissolves into a puddle of moist, hanky-clutching remorse and answers all your questions. Yes I screwed him in our bed. On your birthday. I have multiple online identities, a drawer full of secret cellphones and assorted chargers, and a blonde wig I wear for incognito hook ups. Bobby? Oh yeah. Bobby too. And Jeremy and that guy who gave us an estimate on repaving the driveway, but I forgot his name. There were others.

Then she cries out in soul-piercing anguish, “And I am SO SORRY! I know I can never feel even a FRACTION of the pain I have inflicted on you! I am a terrible, terrible person unworthy of your forgiveness.” Sob. Sob. Sob.

And depending on your fantasy, you either turn on your heel and leave without a word. Or you magnanimously confer absolution of her sins, and then depart. And she’s crushed. And wrong. So, so Very Wrong. She’ll never get over it and she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to live with herself.

Ye-ah.

That doesn’t ever happen, Palmer. I’m sorry. You’re going to have to let that one go.

Why doesn’t it happen? Several reasons. Let’s start with the most obvious one first:

1) She’s not sorry. Sorry people act sorry. She’s not tripping all over herself to apologize because she doesn’t feel she has anything to apologize for. At some level she thinks you deserved this. (What did you think would happen when you didn’t trim your ear hair? Huh?) Your grief is this annoying background buzz that’s getting in the way of her fabulousness. She’s not going to bother herself with that.

Some of the freakier cheaters can fake remorse when they want something. But they cannot sustain it, nor can they describe it. (Ask “what exactly are you sorry about?” and watch them sputter to come up with the particulars.) Her lack of remorse is a sign that — yes, she’s perfectly capable of betraying you and not feeling one bit bad about it. She might care what other people think about it (she’s got a pocketful of justifications and self pity just in case), but you? Nope, she doesn’t care. It doesn’t hurt her to hurt you.

2) Even if she was sorry (and she’s not), narcissists need to save face. And they’ll do that at great personal cost to you. Character assassination? Bald-faced lies? Sure. If we’re having an epic battle of Who Is Right, they’re going for the jugular. It’s a dirty fight you won’t win. The best thing to do is trust your senses, know you’re right, and not engage. Walk away from this and live your life with integrity. The people who matter will get it. The one’s who don’t matter will be swayed by her spin, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

3) They get their sick jollies from knowing what you don’t know. Gives them shivers of delight, makes them feel powerful having this knowledge you want. Why would they hand over their power? Why would they make themselves vulnerable? Disordered people love to lie about stupid shit that doesn’t even matter. Why? Power. “I know the real truth about who ate the cookies, and I’m not telling!” Makes them feel superior. I know this Thing You Don’t Know.

I know that’s the dumbest thing ever. It’s like saying you’re the greatest boxer in the world when your opponent is blindfolded and handcuffed, but that’s the kind of pathetic validation they need. They’re better than you! Don’t forget it!

Why do you need the details? Because denying someone’s reality makes a person stark raving bonkers. You want affirmation that these things really happened from the person who did them. But Palmer, listen to me, you’re never going to know all the details, and it doesn’t matter. Because she’s not in your life. You know enough to know that she sucks and she cannot be in your life. The rest is just the cherry on the shit sundae.

So why do you need to hear her apologies and explanations?

Bargaining stage of grief. You’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around who she really is, how little she cared, how much she got off on having a double life. And so the bargain your grief is trying to strike is, okay, she cheated and lied, but maybe, maybe she’s Really Sorry About That. So, she’s not a total waste as a human being. If she’s a total waste, then you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve all been there, Palmer, some of us are still gulping.

If she wakes up and finds her conscience, first I’d be highly skeptical. What does she want? Next, remember it doesn’t matter. Your healing is not dependent on her confessions or remorse. These betrayals happened. They were real. You had to remove yourself from that painful situation. This can never be a “love” that is healthy for you. There is no explanation other than she did it because she could. Because her character allowed it. And people don’t get new characters overnight. If it happens at all, it happens over a long, painful period, when the boot of those consequences stays firmly planted on her neck.

Don’t waste your life waiting for that day. Trust that she sucks, Palmer. Trust that she sucks.

This column ran previously, but feel free to comment! 

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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.
  • Palmer,

    As CL says, it makes sense that you’d like to know what actually happened. However, as you even suspect, this is an unrealistic expectation given your ex’s demonstrated lack of character. One thing I would add is to point out that her “confession” could just be another way to mess with you. How can you be certain she is telling the truth? She has already demonstrated that she’s a liar by cheating on you. I would think the safer road is to trust she sucks and assume your suspicions are correct until proven false. It stinks having to swallow that bitter pill and live with not fully knowing but you are in good company here with others who had/have to do just that.

    Hugs!
    DM

    • Wanting an apology is NORMAL and if your ex were a full-fledged, fully formed human she would be able to give you an apology. The problem with Narcissists is that they are humans devoid of soul and nothing that comes out of their mouths is based on reality or truth.
      I was taught that everyone has a soul or conscience and if you just use the right words or repeat enough times, the message will get through. That does work for human beings. The truely malignant Narcissists have no soul to reach.

    • my XH NEVER told the truth. i was forever trying to figure whether or not he was lying. he would lie about the littlest and stupidest things. and i never could figure out if he just flat out lied, was lying by omitting some of the truth, or just plan forgot some of the details. after the first d-day, he only revealed very little information on the cheating he did, i was left in the dark on so much and was confused about that one time, and that other time, and his timeline is not adding up for cheating with one of the times, i remember actually wanting to take him to a hypothetist so i could find out the truth. seriously, i would fantsize how i could trick him to go to a hypothest just so be able to find out who, what, how many PLUS to hypothesis him with a sign everytime he would lie to me (like pull his right ear) or just hypothesis him NOT to lie to me anymore but there was so much i wanted to know about the past. and i wanted to know just how many times did he lie to me a DAY!!!

      i was such a chump, hooked on the “till death do us part” vow that i forgot the “honest, faithful and loyal” vow i guess. i cringe just reading what i just wrote…. gag,

      • Mrs. Vain-every time I read more about your story, I feel horrified at the level of emotional abuse that you suffered through. I wish we could organize a chump retreat, just to give you a hug and pass along some sassiness to help you mentally get rid of that f**ker. It is so painful to be left out in the dark on details of infidelity; to be robbed of all the information your X refused to give up is gut-wrenching.

        Write down as much as you can remember about suspicious events, lies he told, things that didn’t seem quite right, and you may be able to piece together enough to give you some peace. I don’t understand WHY having this knowledge is calming to those of us who have been betrayed, but I know that it is for me and for so many others (and telling us to put it out of our minds takes a long while to accept).

        Hugs to you.

        • thank you Tempest. my story really is crazy, i did put up with so much but i had blinders on for most of it. that is why this site is so helpful. the more i read, the more i see what i went thru. the more i write my story, the more i remember all that i went thru these past 14 years. i have had other sites tell me i was a doormat for him, and i STILL have a hard time believing a person like myself could be a doormat. when did that happen?

          i have some stuff written down. even from years ago when i was having issues with my teenage daughter. (i was writing stuff that she was doing and have some stuff that XH was doing also) i wish i had written down more. i really and truly do not understand the level of fucked up my XH is. at first i thought it was just that he was an alcoholic. i dont understand the deception that alcoholics live with. but the more i read, i am beginning to understand that my XH was just morally corrupt, and i was just a stepping stone for him.

  • Palmer, I tried to get some sort of apology from my STBX just a few weeks ago. I wanted to know how sorry he is and I wanted an explanation as to why he just didn’t divorce me if he was so unhappy and I , of course, so very horrid. He wouldn’t give me a straight answer about anything and he became quite angry with me questioning him. At one point he went outside. I followed him out and told him I deserve answers. He had his back to me but he turned to face me and then charged towards me (I thought he was going to hit me), but he started running away. He actually ran through the yard and back into the house. So I went back into the house and he told me he was leaving. He got his car keys and went. He didn’t stay away for too long, though. He mostly hid in the basement and came back upstairs not too much later.
    Our cheaters don’t have it in them to truly be sorry or to honestly see all the pain and devastation they have caused. Trying to get a genuine apology or an answer is a lost cause. They just don’t care if they hurt us. There is no fairness for us. There is only more lies and pain.
    They absolutely suck and there is nothing we can do about it except dump these slobs.

    • Supreme Chump my stbx is also a scary “charger” then runner away and hider when confronted by his actions. He really can’t deal with being accountable for his actions, and I really have to stop trying by reminding him of his perfidy when he becomes self-righteous (we share custody and he is such an abusive ass).

      This was a good reminder that I will not somehow “get through” or “know the truth” or “get the validation of his remorse” or “become safe in his presence because everything is out in the open.” I am still struggling because I have to deal with him because we share child custody and he has not changed one bit. Still lying about stupid things that make no sense to lie about with regards to my child and trying to get the upper hand by blame shifting.

      So painful, particularly because I never wanted this kind of father and life for my child and me, but I am trying to deal and get out of the pain by realizing that he is actually static and predictable, while I can change because I am driven to make a better self and life.

      • So we can add running (literally) away and hiding (literally) to the list of shared universal traits of cheaters.
        It really is insanity.
        Like you, I also am committed to building a better life.

        • Ha!! My idiot did the same thing. Now EX-IDIOT. Divorce was final on November 4th. Which was 4 days before what would have been our 25th anniversary on November 8th. Nice, huh? And yep, the big loser decided to hop into his pickup and tear out of the driveway when I dared to ask for details. Boy was he pissed! How could I, the lowly wife, question his actions? Why should he have to tell me anything about the “true love of his life”? After all, it doesn’t matter that I spent 25 years raising kids, taking care of finances, working, and everything else..freeing him up to drive his semi all across America, gallavanting with God knows how many women. But the one he’s with now..they’ve been together almost 4 years, mind you..she’s THE ONE. She’s the golden child that stole him away from the big, bad bitch of a wife. Her sparkling personality and extreme intelligence (haha ha haha hahahaha) just blew away anything that I had to offer him for 26 years. Don’t you know..she WON? She beat me! Yaaayyyyy! And silly me..I actually questioned him..wanted DETAILS. How did I have the gall..the nerve..to question Mr. Almighty himself? Oh no…you don’t question GOD..she he tears out of the driveway (probably running over a few mailboxes and a squirrel or two on his mad dash away). Run, Forrest, run! Don’t face the music, whatever you do! Worst part is..I still want to know..no NEED to know the details! Sick, isn’t it?

          • Congrats on the finalization of divorce Sandy. I remember your story and it seems like things have been resolved quickly. Glad you have that out of the way. I’m nearly 2.5 years post divorce now, 3.5 from dday. Things keep getting better and better…x is still with the shmoopie he left me for but it hardly matters any more who he is with. I think they may still appear like “all is well” to others but I know their lives are messed up from all I’ve learned about narcissism- they can’t not be messed up. You hear about it all the time, long time cheaters who end up splitting in the end. For a friend of mine, her cheating x broke with the OW 16 years later, which hardly mattered by that time for my friend.

    • SC, my ExH was also a charger. I have come to realize they do this as a bullying tactic to scare us so se shut up and stop asking questions. If he can make you fear for your personal safety when he gets upset, and you KNOW the line of questioning that gets him that upset, then you will stop with those questions. Remember, bullys really are cowards. Any man that would threaten/bully his wife and children is not a man

  • The saddest thing of all is, and I think almost everyone who has tried to get straight answers out of their cheater – is that even if she did ‘tell you everything’, how do you even know thats the truth? Unless you could somehow implant her entire brain patterns through your own to be analysed, you’re never gonna get the 100% truth – the fact she was cheating tells you that at base, shes a known liar.
    Best advice I can give is – at least now, your mind has realised that you’re dealing with someone whos lying, cheating and stealing from you and disrespected you in the worst of ways – and the details of such don’t matter. In fact, said details will just further mindfuck you. I guess thats the ‘trust she sucks’ mindset.
    Just my $0.02.

  • Palmer, I wanted him to say “I’m sorry” for a long time, too – and finally got an apology of sorts about three months ago. It went something like this:

    XH: I can see how you might be upset about me having an emotional affair (it was a physical affair).

    Me: ‘Upset?!’ That’s the understatement of the year!

    XH: Yeah, well, it wasn’t like you were paying attention to me when I was here (because he dumped 100% of the child care on me).

    Me: You were never here!

    And on it went, with him blaming me and justifying the affair. When it became obvious that he didn’t get it, that he would NEVER get it – like offering a bandaid to someone who needs a full body cast – I ended the conversation.

    In his mind, he’s apologized and we’ve moved on. His conscious is clear. That the rest of us are still recovering from the bomb he dropped is, well, rather annoying.

    He’s getting married again today, and none of his kids, family, or friends are going. He texted me about an hour ago to see if he could borrow D17’s camera. She said he could, but he needed to get a new memory card. He demanded to know why he couldn’t use her memory card. She said she didn’t want it “tainted” with the digital impressions of his latest life fail. He got so offended, he told her to “never mind.”

    If you’re not for them, you’re against them. And make no mistake: it’s ALWAYS about THEM.

    So just distance yourself and watch her implode. It may take time, but it WILL happen.

    • Amazingly childish, that he has to try and draw you and daughter into his dumb wedding day (oh sure it’s about the camera- NOT).
      Go buy one, i think they have those things at stores!
      Hope you are MEH about all of this, don’t let him suck you in. And good for your daughter, standing up for her personal rights!

      • FreeWoman, I hadn’t thought of that – trying to draw us in. We’ve all shown so little interest in him and wife #2 that it didn’t occur to me that he was trying to get a rise out of us. But perhaps you’re right – he DOES love the drama these days. The only thing I really thought about was what HER family must have thought when his side of the church was empty at the wedding. Yet another red flag no one’s paying attention to…

  • I thought I needed to hear “I’m sorry” too. At first my spouse would only say “I’m sorry” in lukewarm, half-assed ways. “I’m sorry I lied to you.” “I’m sorry I broke the no-dating rule.” “I’m sorry I didn’t handle this better.” “I won’t say that I didn’t commit adultery this time around.” Like I’m an idiot. I study church history; trust me, I know what a non-pology looks like.

    After two months of half-assed non-pologies, I finally got, “I’m sorry I committed adultery.”

    You know what? It only helped a little bit. While it was good to finally hear him say it, I immediately thought, “He’s just saying this so he can get me off his case.” He claims that he really does want to make it up to me. I told him that the only way to really say (and show) “I’m sorry” is to stay the hell out of my life as much as possible, Do your court-ordered visitation without complaining or arguing, pay your child support, and go on your merry way. And then, maybe, someday down the line, after years and years of you doing that, I’ll finally be able to say, “He really is sorry.”

    Oh, but he’s still pursuing the OW (who dumped him in mid-October), even ditching his holiday visitation to see her. He has ignored a perfectly polite and reasonable request from me to take the pictures of her off of the background of his phone so that our kids won’t see them together when they play with his phone. So, yeah. He’s really “sorry.”

    BTW, when I first found out about the affair, I suggested that the OW (who identifies as an evangelical Christian) needed to apologize. Long story short, she basically said, “What should I apologize for??” (Um, breaking the 7th commandment, you dip?) I guess my then-husband pressed her on it, so she offered a tepid apology for “breaking the no-dating rule” (such a cute way of minimizing adultery) and “not thinking about [my] feelings.”

    And then she continued the affair with my husband for another month before dumping him for reasons that had nothing to do with me. She wrote a narcissistic blog post on the act of dumping him which made it pretty clear that she wasn’t sorry about anything.

    So, yeah. Asking for an “I’m sorry” from the OW proved to be a waste of time, because she isn’t and wasn’t.

  • I think the thing that was most important for me to finally realize, isn’t that I couldn’t believe him even if it was the truth—it was that even if I got the truth and I could verify that truth 100%—what does that change?

    Knowing the truth wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, at times, be careful what you wish for.

    Was I prepared to know that he screwed his AP in my house? Was I prepared to know that he screwed AP in my house when my daughter was upstairs sleeping? Was I prepared to know what he and his AP snickered about regarding me behind my back? Was I prepared to know how many of my family, friends, work colleagues and neighbors knew but didn’t tell me? Was I prepared to know how many APs he screwed without protection?

    The list goes on and on. And what would it change if I knew the answers to all of those questions. I came to “trust that he sucks” and cut him off at the knees. Done.

    Sorry? They’re not sorry. There is no “if they were sorry they would….”—NO. There is no sorry with them. They feel sorry for THEMSELVES, for the dearth of kibbles that will now be their existence until they find new sources (and that is hard work that they’d much rather avoid), for the lack of marital perks like sex/money/nice house, and for the lack of respect that they will now get in return for their deceit.

    Palmer, she’s not sorry. Even if she said it, and meant it—would it matter? Would it change what she did? Would it make everything alright? I am thinking, no.

    Let it go.

    • “Was I prepared to know how many of my family, friends, work colleagues and neighbors knew but didn’t tell me?”

      ^^^This. I was also astounded by how many people “looked the other way,” people I’d known for years and had invited into my home. XFIL eluded to it by saying, “You really need to keep him home more,” but no one came straight out and said, “Red, he’s cheating on you. Here’s how to find proof.” That’s what a REAL friend would have done. Would I have been in denial? Probably – at first. But then I would have put the pieces together and saved myself YEARS of his duplicity.

      • My cheater’s colleagues, friends, and even parents knew Cheater was doing things that were deal-breakers before and during our marriage. Nobody bothered to tell me, and it seems as though nobody told Cheater that his behavior was unethical. Sad that there are so many cheater apologists. If I ever suspect that my kids are abusing people this way, at the least, I will describe some of the damage that is caused by this heinous behavior and tell them that I will neither condone not ignore this behavior.

  • Off topic, there is a Hax advice column, today’s LW is a chump and I’m a lone voice in the comment section saying he should disclose. If anyone wants to jump in the comments, here is the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/carolyn-hax-a-cheating-wife-wants-to-stay-friends-after-the-divorce/2014/11/27/2ce9a7f4-6a8e-11e4-b053-65cea7903f2e_story.html

    And put in a plug for chumplady if you do, expect the Hax commenters to beat you up too…

  • It’s true what the others say. These people aren’t sorry. My STBXH’s apology went like this, “I’m sorry you got hurt.” Um, that is NOT a sincere apology. That is not an apology for decimating my life as I knew it or for destroying the vows he said on our wedding day in front of our family and friends and God. There has been no apology to our son for his abandonment. Because he didn’t abandon him you see. Yep. The truth totally sucks for them and admitting it is just such a downer.

    I know I will never get an apology. I know the truth without him saying it. He knows I know and I make sure to remind him of the truth via email when we have to communicate. I am a total downer. Why can’t we just be friends. Well, you said you were “just friends” with the OW because I didn’t sit with you on the couch and sex with me was just you going through the motions. Well F U! You were supposed to cherish me and love me and honor me. At least show a little respect for the mother of your son. But that is asking WAY too much.

    I trust that he sucks. I see that he is delusional and doesn’t want to deal with consequences. Because that sucks.

    • I also got the “I’m sorry you got hurt,” which I only heard via a friend because I was almost immediately NC with him (NC? Best. Thing. Ever.). There were other … what I like to think of as passive apologies and half-truths (like, “Was I cheating on you emotionally before that? Probably.” — Probably??). The closest I ever got was “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier about my doubts.” Never, not once, did he apologize for not working to try to save us, or for saying, in his opening statement, that he didn’t think that he ever did love me (16 years — what a martyr) and there we “aren’t worth trying to save.” Not worth it. Ouch.

      Each and every interaction I had with him after Dday was disappointing or infuriating or excruciating — sometimes all three. These people? These cheaters? They aren’t us. Palmer, you hit the nail on the head when you said “honor.” They have no honor. They know how to push our buttons and do so unhesitatingly.

      I’ve also thought a lot about this anticipated tearful remorseful apology. I have accepted it’s not coming and it’s probably not sincere anyway, so why want that? I also feel, FWIW, that even if he were so so sorry, crying in his craft beer every day and night, he would NEVER apologize, because it would mean he was wrong. And someone as shiny and sparkly as he is can surely find someone else out there in the big wide world. Why debase himself in front of me and all his friends? Better to just carry on.

      You know those newspaper stories about people who are just walking along when they get beaned on the head by piece of frozen airplane waste falling out of the sky? That’s what I think of my marriage now. Just bad luck. I’m sorry, Palmer. But as you see here, you’re in good company.

      • That is what i believe too. that we were not worth it. after 14 years for me. everything i did, *sigh* in the end it just didnt matter. i was nothing to him. i am nothing to him. it has taken me a while to “get over” that. i still struggle with it somedays. this hood rat he replaced me with, she was just a fuck. someone who agreed with him and made him feel better when he was feeling bad about the things he was doing. he KNEW he was wrong on so many different level, but she somehow analyzed, twisted everything thing i said, and supported his fucked up decision. i do not think he chose her to STAY with her, even thou he is still with her. i think she was just one person in the room that sympathized with him and made him feel good about being a weak, spineless, fucked up, unmoral, undependable, unfaithful loser. (She is one too btw). in fact one time when we were talking and i told him “well you replaced me quick enough” he just sighed and started saying how he didnt….only to shut up because he didnt want to tell me the truth about what was going on with them. i think he only stayed with her because i didnt want him back and she is better then being alone. plus she lets him drink all he wants, hell she drinks with him and he doesnt have to hide his meth use when he is with her (yep, she is an occasional meth user too) so that is just bonus points right there. OH AND SHE DOESNT ASK HIM FOR ANYTHING, she doesnt care if he is a better person. she is perfectly happy with the loser that he is. (i mean really, who wants a man that would ditch his wife and kids, stop paying child support, stop visitations only to whine about it later how I dont let him see his kids, quits his job, loses his vehicle and now has no place to stay?? although i hear they might get a place to rent in a nearby town and are bring her 3 kids to live with them….karma bus is warming up and getting ready to move)

        but ya,,,,our marriage, our 14 years together, our children all was not worth him to put forth the effort to save it. he did everything to destroy it and destroy me in the process. too bad the fucker doesnt actually know how strong i am

        • Mrs. Vain, he didn’t replace you. He found his equal – his hood rat, meth-smoking, alcoholic equal. He is a narcissist so he relies on the mirror his partner is to tell him who he is. You were encouraging him to be a better person, to live up to his potential. The hood rat? Her mirror tells him this: “You’re great the way you are! You can just party with me and drink yourself to death!! You want to use meth?? No problem!! I’ll do it with you! There’s nothing wrong with it! It’s fun! Who cares if you are unemployed and don’t see your kids or pay child support? I’ve got three kids I don’t care much about and you can pretend to be a good father to them!”

          Mrs Vain, don’t you see? It’s not that you and your children weren’t worth trying to save the marriage, it’s that he is not worthy of YOU. And he know it. That’s why he balked when you said he “replaced you” so quickly. He knows he didn’t replace you. He know he just found someone as fucked up as he is to make him feel less wretched.

          • yep. I’m really convinced, on some level, I wore XH out. OW is so much easier. He just wants life to be easy. And who knows, maybe it will be with her? But I’m of a better quality than he is, and unfortunately, that requires a bit of work. He was too lazy to keep up.

            • This is the truth. For twenty-two years I had the words “You don’t even like me,” spat at me whenever he was mad. It seemed weird then because, of course I liked him. I loved him. I spent every waking hour with him and let him know how I felt. What he meant was, “You wouldn’t like me if you really knew me,” and he was right. He knew what my values and expectations were, and he hated trying to live up to them. Much easier to be the creep that he really is without having to apologize for it.

          • Thank you uneffingbelievable: i didnt think of it that way. i feel like if i was better for him and was good for him, then why did he not love me enough to keep me? why is it that i couldnt make him feel good and less wretched? i get so focused on that i cant see the other i guess. you just wrote down my thoughts. but your last paragraph really made sense. opened my eyes just a little more. THANK YOU!!!

            NWBiblio: yes!!! he was too lazy to keep up!!! it is much easier to find someone who agrees with your bad decisions, even thou you know they are bad decisions, then to change the bad decisions you are doing. My XH has told me over and over that i deserve better then him, that i was too good for him. and of course i never listened. he was telling me who he was and i wasnt listening. i thought my love could save him and i thought he loved me enough to change. i was wrong.

            • These people truly believe that no effort should be required of them. My H always said that nothing he did was ever good enough for me. When you do the bare minimum (sometimes not even that) then, I’m sorry, you will be criticized. If I had existed in our marriage like he did, our lives would have been a disaster. When he would do something that was out of his norm of nothing, he expected a ticker tape parade. You can’t win with these people. Mrs. Vain and NWBiblio, trust that you were good wives and that your husbands knew they couldn’t measure up.

              • UGH!!! i always heard that from him. “Nothing i do is good enough for you” and “you are never happy with what i do because it is not done your way”

                it would always confuse the hell out of me because first of all I NEVER SAID ANYTHING about it. second, i was programmed to be super appreciative for even the littlest thing he did do, regardless if it was done half ass or correctly. i would thank him over and over “thank you so much for doing the dishes. i really am glad you are so great and i didnt have to come home to dirty dishes” GAG!!! even thou the silverware and pots werent done, AND we have a dishwasher. right. i could clean the entire house cuz he hated a dirty house and kill myself to “get it right for once” and he would walk in and never say a word. i would see him look around and then he would say something like “whats for dinner” WTF!!!! if i said anything like the way he did “you didnt notice” or nothing i do is good enough for you….i would get “i noticed. but that is just what you are suppose to do. fine then. the house looks nice”. same thing with the way i looked. we would dress up for church, or a family bbq or whatever, i would always tell him how fine/hot/handsome he looked, he would say thank you and that was it. again, if i said anything, he would say “you look nice too” nevermind. if i have to beg for a compliment, if i have to tell you to tell me….it doesnt count.

                so even thou i NEVER complained about what he did, or how he did it or how it looked like shit after he was done…..he would still throw it in my face that i was “never happy with what he does” that “nothing he did was good enough”… i just couldnt understand how he felt that way. but ya, he felt that way because HE knew he didnt meet my standards. because HE knew he didnt really try and was only doing it half ass to shut me up.

                and yet i loved him so much i never saw that. never made the connection. i was too busy trying to get him to understand that i was happy with whatever he did for the family, i was too busy trying to boost his fragile ego and make him feel like a man, i was too busy making sure he felt needed, wanted, loved, supported and appreciated to notice he never reciprocated those feelings back.

                so why do i miss him so much?

  • Palmer, I hear you.

    I really wanted an apology from my exH as well. I also wanted to know how many women there were (I knew of 2 long term affairs). I wanted to know every detail. It weighed on me. It ate up so much of my energy.

    As kids, if you hurt someone on the playground you are taught to say I am sorry. You expect it.

    CL is right. These people are incapable of saying I’m sorry. They still want to have you on the hook, so to speak, so that they can come back – so they can continue to control and manipulate you.

    If you have been ‘gaslighted’, then you understand. My therapist told me “look at his behavior, not the words”….You still need to apply this now. There was absolutely nothing in my exH’s behavior that said he was sorry.

    I know, it is a bombshell to learn that the person you shared your life with is – well – a sack of shit.

    For the longest time I thought an apology would help me with closure. I found that closure came from understanding that I deserve much, much, much better. Also, I came to accept my exH’s true character as someone incapable of being an adult.

    It sucks, but don’t give this person anymore of your energy.

    Good luck.

  • This is the perfect column for me today, just what I needed to hear again (and will again and again until meh!) I still can’t get my head around that they have no true remorse and have come to realize these people just do not have the values and morals that decent people have. But narcissists are just like that, right?

    At some point I will ask Tracy to put the note he wrote me on our 20th wedding anniversary (3 months after D-day) through her Universal Bullshit Translator. Suffice it to say he was careful to word it so that he was a poor victim in all this too!

    • you are too harsh ScorpioRising. they are not bad people. they are just good people that make mistakes. it doesnt mean that they are bad people. sometimes good people just make bad choices, it doesnt mean they should have to pay for them for the rest of their lives. it doesnt mean they are bad, they are just human……

      ugh i fucking hate that saying. but you said it all…..they do not have values and morals!!!! and i dont want to live with someone like that. i am too old to teach him how to be a decent human being with integrity, plus i am too busy teaching it to my kids.

  • I think this was the hardest thing for me to get over. Not getting that validation. Not getting the answers. Not having the conversation I felt we needed to have.
    He won’t ever apologize in a meaningful way, some family members are going to continue to think I’m to blame, and there isn’t going to be any justice.
    I found meh, but damn was that a long road.

  • Palmer-

    I know this is an old post and I hope that you aren’t still waiting for an apology from your ex. I think this quote from the Chump Lady is the one that resonated the most and one that I still grapple with every day.

    “If she’s a total waste, then you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve all been there, Palmer, some of us are still gulping.”

    Just change the pronoun from she to he and that’s my problem too. It’s getting to be less of a problem as time goes by and I maintain my strict no contact boundaries but it is a huge bitter pill to swallow! To come to the realization that I had been with a person like this for decades of my life; that I had children with him, that I stayed with him after dday for three years before I came to my senses is mind boggling. It makes me question everything I thought I knew about myself and that’s probably what you’re feeling too.

    Like someone before me said-if she finally did have a come to Jesus moment and told you the truth; what would that change for you? It wouldn’t undo what she had done and it wouldn’t change the fact that she blew up your entire life to satisfy her selfish needs. Cheaters don’t hold the same value for the things chumps value mostly because they lack integrity.

    Just do what Chump Lady says and trust that she sucks! Then trust that this experience, while one of the worst you’ll probably encounter, will propel you towards the authentic life you were meant to have someday. The one you’d never be able to have as long as you stayed with a cheater.

  • I saw my stbxh the other day for the first time in four months. Its four and a half months since D Day. We needed to discuss my son’s college and career, and the house sale, so I hadn’t gone to see him for an apology. He did tell me ‘no-one could hate me as much as I hate myself’ and ‘I’m the man who had it all and stupidly threw it away’. He was fighting back tears. He said he didn’t expect any sympathy as he’d bought it all on himself. I had to go and meet him at his mother’s house as coming to the former family home would ‘mess with his homesickness too much.’ He is going away for a few days at Christmas, as he ‘can’t bear to be in the village, it would make (him) too sad’.
    Do you see a theme developing here? ME ME ME ME POOR POOR ME!
    The problem is, like me, you have got rid of a narcissist, Palmer. And any apology you get from her, even if it seems on the surface to be genuine, will be all about her. And deep down, I doubt they think they’ve really done anything wrong. So them saying sorry is of no value.
    And my idiot ex, all the while he sat there telling me he won’t be around at Christmas because of it being so difficult for him – not for one second did he realize that his son, though 17, will not see his dad on Christmas day for the first time ever.
    These people really ARE selfish in a way that it is difficult for us normal people to comprehend, Palmer.
    As Moving Forward says above, it’s about the behavior not the words. And the behavior stinks.
    Good luck, stay strong.

    • Totally get the Me Me Me reference. Every time I received a ‘woe is me’ email or text, I’d send it on to the 3 lovely ladies who had my back.
      One would send me a tally of how many time ‘I/me’ appeared vs ‘you’ or ‘sorry’.
      Nothing like a pie chart of narcissistic whining to make you laugh.

      • “Nothing like a pie chart of narcissistic whining to make you laugh.”

        Love this phrase and picture of you and your friends laughing over the emails!

        The “woe is me” crap is so tiring.

      • While still in a daze and before i found Chump Lady…i started to see the MeMeMe-ness of it all in an unusual place.

        My XH wrote my mom a note before she died. My mom loved and trusted him. She was also a terrific support to me after he cheated and encouraged NC from the start (she and my dad were married 50 years). XH to her was not thanking her for all she was and did in life. It was ALL about how far he had fallen, how he had hurt all the people he loved, etc. He did not even apologize to,her for the pain he caused her … and it was great pain.

        Sometimes i ink it is more than narcissism. I think they are missing an interpersonal empathy chip in their brain.

        • That’s what my therapist said (he was our marriage counselor — one session, wow — so he even met him). XH’s birth mother died when he was 3 years old and his dad remarried when XH was 5. So XH was raised by — you guessed it, a narcissist, who cheated on XH’s stepmom (but I digress) — which means he missed a critical child-development period of having empathy. — My XH even said, on Dday, that he was surprised I was “so sad” (umm, shrieking and sobbing and rocking back & forth in a fetal position is a little beyond “sad”) because he thought I felt the same way. SUPER faulty empathy chip!

      • This is great! I’m a scientist, so pie charts are right up my alley. I saved all of the emails, so one of these days, I’m going to go back and do Me:You ratio. I bet it’ll blow my mind.

    • You NAILED IT!!! it is always about him. his feelings. his guilt (that he is hiding behind beer) his pain. once when we were talking (before i knew about oompa loom-pa hood rat), all he was doing was complaining that he had to move 7 times in the past 3 weeks. (i guess it was hard to bum a place to stay when you are dragging in the homeless bitch you left your family for so nobody in his great and wonderful family that i kept him from had enough room for him, his bitch and his/her shit?) and another time (after i found out about homewrecker) he was sitting in the truck with a open beer, telling me that he had to go to court because he got pulled over twice in 2 weeks.

      i also believe that is why he refuses to come to my house to visit the kids, just too painful FOR HIM to sit in the house he once owned, doing shit with the kids that were once his, with the (some) stuff he bought for them. so he would rather not see them at all then face the pain of his bad choices. PLUS that is why he hasnt given my his new number because if the boy asked to call dad, i would dial his number and hand the phone over so boy could tell dad all the cool things he did in boy scouts, or school or soccer. i think it was just too painful for him to hear his own sons voice, and the happiness in his voice while he was telling dad these things. He never cared that by going nc on us that it would fuck up the boys and possibly give them abandonment issues (they are fine btw). i was the one that had to deal with their tears, their anger, their pain and their questions.

      never once did he think what he was doing to me, hurting me AND the boys, never once did he or has he asked how the boys are handling this, or if they need anything. and like you it never entered his mind that the boys are not seeing him for the first time in their lives during holidays and special occasions.

  • Palmer, you stated, “I know the problem with my desire for this is somewhere in my twisted mind and heart, but beyond that, I don’t know how to break free of what is presumably a totally unrealistic expectation”.
    You are not the one with the twisted mind and heart, it is you ex. We Chumps beat ourselves up for the things that our ex’s have done and keep looking for answers that will never come. I was married for 37 years and I still cannot get my head around the fact that he will not take the time to meet on neutral ground, 1) to say sorry for all the hurt and pain he has caused not only to me but our 2 adult children, and 2) tell me why he destroyed our family and finally, 3) why he could not tell me to my face that he wanted out but sent my son in to tell me. The only saving grace I take from this mess is that I bumped into an old neighbour the other day, a nice young man who told me that me ex told him that I just ‘left’. I told him the truth and said that my ex wanted young Asian girls and would you believe he actually said the same words (Asian girls) as I said them. So others knew and I didn’t which makes me feel a fool. The best bit is he said that he saw the ex recently and he looked absolutely terrible. That made me sad but when a 62 years old man keeps having sex with teenage Asian prostitutes it is going to wear him out at some point … well I hope so!! My point is, you are a good, decent and honourable person just like me and all the Chumps and you want answers that you are never going to get. We best move on and get on with it. I no longer want to be stuck in the crap that the ex has created which I keep holding onto to. No more asking ‘why’ because I am never going to be told and neither are you. A genuine heartfelt sorry would be wonderful but it is not going to come. This is an awful journey that we are on but a good and happy life is waiting for us hopefully sooner than we think. Good luck.

  • The closest I got to an apology was an email where fucktard said he had been “a complete asshole” for unilaterally ending our relationship (which was before I found out about the OW). I took that to mean that if we had come to some kind of mutual decision to split that he would not have been a complete asshole. In that same email, he said he was sorry he did not come up with a more productive way of letting me know he was unhappy. More productive than falling for some skank at a self-improvement retreat? So his half-arsed apologies were backhanded and stupid and never directly addressed his EA.

    • Karma Express–I guess we can unanimously agree that your ex-BF was indeed “a complete asshole” who dramatically needed an entire year (lifetime?) of self-improvement seminars.

      Unfortunately, what you got is so much better than what many chumps here get–either nothing,or continued hostility. I didn’t get a full apology from mine until I texted my cheater that I now profoundly hated him, and wanted him to file the divorce papers immediately so he could make a rapid exit from my life. Yes, the apology was motivated by consequences & his hope that I might forgive him with full disclosure, but it did help to hear.

      I get so upset thinking about what other women & men on this site have put up with (you included); it offends my sense of justice to the nth degree. May they all come down with internal parasites.

      • Wow, Tempest, you actually said you profoundly hated him? Did he reply that he hated himself? Or something to that effect? I was uber careful not to use the “hate” word around my ex when the shit was going down because even though that’s what I was feeling, I didn’t want him to know he could have that effect on me. (I’m not saying I was self-righteous or anything, just that I took this deliberate approach.) Because he acts like a lost little boy, I used words like “I’m so disappointed in you” and “You were disloyal to me”–things a mother would say. He just remained silent. Maybe if I had used the “hate” word he would have come out swinging? Doesn’t matter now since we’re NC. But good for you for pulling no punches with how you felt. I know you’re just 2.5 months from D-day so it’s still raw.

        • Yup, I said it, and I meant it. He had been all gung-ho to go back to therapy (after I filed, of course–motivated by consequences), and the therapist had been up his ass about “transparency, transparency, honesty.” Thus, I thought I’d test whether he had real or faux remorse, and finally asked for the name of the OW. In this authoritarian way, he said “No, I won’t tell you,” and later said that she had the right of “privacy” over my right to know (for context, she was a grad student in his department, he a professor, but bullsh*t if FERPA covers her fucking a married man–I hadn’t asked for her GRE scores).

          At that moment, I felt only slightly less betrayed than the original betrayal, and did indeed hate him for AGAIN putting her rights before my feelings & our marriage. It turns out he was just trying to save his ass in case I publicized her name and hurt his reputation in the profession. He also, toxically, roped in the friend who had (stupidly) given him that privacy excuse, thus probably ending my friendship with that person. Their toxicity just spreads and spreads and spreads. So, yes, I have hated him and thought he should know that (and I did find out the whore’s name, so I won that battle). If these guys (& gals) only learn by consequences, then other people hating them is a consequence. Will they learn from it? That’s an empirical question.

          • Er…mer..gawd… your STBX entitlement knows no bounds. Unbelievable that he would put her rights ahead of yours. As a grad student she knew exactly what she was doing. (If she’d been a frosh I could maybe see a bit of cluelessness and vulnerability but a grad student???) My ex was more concerned about his Schmoopie, too. During our very brief reconciliation period, he started crying when we decided we’d give us another try. I asked what was wrong and he said, “She’s going to be so disappointed!” Gee, I’m sorry to disappoint your OW whom you only met three weeks ago. He wasn’t arsed at all about disappointing me, when we’d been a couple for nine years. Fucktard.

            • Major Entitlement? yes, yes, and yes.

              He wasn’t really concerned about her (sheesh–narcissists!), he just wanted to protect his own ass. Within his field in academia, there are several high profile Sexual Harassment cases and he didn’t want to be one of them.

              Just to show you their thinking–I pointed out to him that he had known me for 24 years and I had NEVER done anything petty or vindictive to anyone, but that never occurred to him (his dark soul assumed everyone else was dark, too).

              I swear, all this sh*t is going into a novel one day, and if it’s a best seller, I won’t have to share any of the proceeds since I’ll already have divorced his entitled ass. [But should I dedicate the book to him? You know–as thanks for all this tawdry material?]

  • Palmer (and everyone else in the same position):
    It does sting when they don’t apologize, and our search for a sincere apology becomes the quest for the Holy Grail. There are, unfortunately, only 3 options here: (a) no apology because that would validate YOU at the expense of her power (the situation you are now in); (b) a pseudo-apology where she says “sorry,” but there is no real sincerity in it, and if pushed, just like Red’s husband and so many others, she will turn the tables back on to you by gaslighting & blame-shifting; and (c) a sincere apology, which would require that she is someone other than who she really is. A sincere apology would put your emotions before hers (an impossible feat for a narcissist), force her to confront that she is a lesser person than you (ditto-near impossible for a narcissist), and make her confront her shoddy behavior & motivations head on (not going to happen).

    Let me float a crazy idea: You could go for the cheat–type up a note AS IF it is from her to you, with a profound apology and fill in as many details as you know about her affairs. The mind is a wonderfully flexible thing; if you read that note over & over again, filled with sentiments you need to, want to, and deserve to hear, your mind will start to accept those sentiments emotionally. And then you will heal a little at a time.

    I know this sounds absurd, but try it. What will you lose? An hour of your day typing. Small price for a (potential) good night’s sleep.

    • OMG, Tempest, THIS is brilliant! My note would go something like this, ” I am so sorry you wasted twenty years of your life to a man who did not deserve your pure loving heart.” “I am sorry for hurting you, and I am sorry for hurting our children.” “I am sorry I went outside of our marriage and blew it up.” “I am sorry for taking you for granted.” “I am sorry for stealing your savings and I am sorry for stealing our children’s savings as well.” “I am sorry for walking out on you financially.” “I am sorry for knowingly dissipating our community assets.” “I am sorry for leaving you financially destroyed because of my selfish crap life skills and the fact that my OW, after five years of my screwing you over and living a double life, finally gave me an ultimatum.” “I am sorry for being a shitty father.” “I am sorry that my crap behavior occurred at a time when our children were vulnerable.” “I am sorry about the HIV test you discovered two years after its date because that tells you exactly who I am.” A lying, no good, Narc. “I am sorry I could not have been more honest with you.” “I am sorry for being a bully.” “I am sorry for leaving you with twenty years of belongings and in a place five hundred miles away from people who really cared about you and our children.” “I am sorry for not being engaged, or present in our marriage.” “I am sorry for not being a giving lover.” “I am sorry for being a crappy husband and telling you there was nothing wrong, when there was.” ” I am sorry for making decisions that eventually sabotaged everything about our life and time together.” You know when I started to date my POSex he did a lot of things young men did, but there was always a part of his story that was a little worse. He had many secrets that’s for sure and I was a classic Chump. Dirty magazines, uh, a little normal for most men. 800 numbers and a prostitute in Nevada, not so much. When I look back I think his need to constantly be in the spotlight was a warning as well. There was never room for a wife and children, we simply outshone him. And poor sausage he could not be successful with us in his life. Sob. “Most of all I am sorry for being a crap human being.” Hmmmmm, I feel better already!

      • Drew–Well done! I think you’ve covered all the narcissistic bases. I may steal a few for my own fake-apology! Now keep that to read multiple times and you can eventually convince yourself that cheaterpants was indeed remorseful (instead of a just a sorry excuse for a human being). Memory is best tricked by repetition.

  • Palmer…I hope you get the apology you need. I have my own ” if only—–then i could truly heal” (btw, mine is for their adulterous relationship to end)

    I did get the apology. my XH came clean with more than i ever wanted – or needed – to know. After a blindsided horrific DDay and during reconcile attempt, he apologized over and over and said he had remorse…but could not stop seeing her. Then After the divorce he said he could not live with himself knowing how cruel he had been to me…and that if the situation had been reversed it would be a living hell. Yes, all of this ‘ helped’ in some way while i was trying to reconcile who i thought he was with what he did…after 26 years.

    He has since retracted all of those apologies. When i would not meet with him after the divorce ” to be friends” he changed the narrative and now tells me, our daughters, our friends, and his family that he was never happy with me. Note, like all chumps, this was not my experience of our marriage…based on what he did and said those 26 years. Ups and downs? Absolutely? Do i have a laundry list of human flaws? Oh yes! Was i loyal, did i love him dearly with my chumpy heart, did i quit my job to move to his city when we got married…and spend all holidays with his nearby family? Of course.

    My deeper healing started only a few months ago when i got REAL knowledge about infidelity here at Chump Nation.

    What helps me most now, Palmer, is remembering i am loved no matter what…no matter who betrays or hurts me, no matter what my once beloved husband did to me, no matter what he and his adulteress do or say now…They did not, and cannot, take that away from me. For me, the source of this love is Love…God.

    Belated happy thanksgiving, chump nation. It was a extra difficult one but i got through with family and friends. Am so grateful for Tracy and all chump nation.

    • Chumpette, sounds like you got the genuine fake naugahyde remorse, like many of us did. As twisted as it sounds, I think in some ways the lack of sincere remorse on the part of cheaters makes it easier to get to meh. It shows their true colours (black, black, black) and makes it easier to trust that they suck and are sparkly dog turds.

      • Yes i can see the fake remorse now. But back then it was pure mindfuck and heartfuck.

        Sitting here now, in my new home, with integrity and peace..and remembering what i have been through the past 4 years makes me realize how very strong and blessed i am.

        You are too, Karma Express. We all are.

        • Chumpette, we are the lucky ones being safe in our new homes, with integrity and peace. I have only just started looking around my little apartment thinking how lucky I really am. It is my bolt hole and I only allow people in that I trust. Some Chumps are not as fortunate as us and I remember to count my blessings now more than ever before.

          • Maree…my front porch of the marital home was a wrap around with a pond view. I spent so much time on that peaceful porch. Now i have a 2 step concrete stoop for a front porch. I sat on it this morning … and i found the very same peace.

  • “The bargain your grief is trying to strike is, okay, she cheated and lied, but maybe, maybe she’s Really Sorry About That. So, she’s not a total waste as a human being. If she’s a total waste, then you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow.” THIS is it in a nutshell, why the need for validation and apologies is so great. We can’t let the narrative stand as written because it does feel unbearable – the Story cannot end this way! I cannot, must not, permanently be in this one-down position! There HAS to be the possibility for another ending, so we turn ourselves into pretzels trying to get a new Story, a new ending. I did that for over a year… finally therapy helped me to see that I really don’t need another storyline, I can close that book. It had a very, very crappy ending that’s for sure but I no longer need it to be different. Palmer, start a new story for yourself, look for validation elsewhere. You cannot find validation in any other human being – thinking you need this is just another narrative. I’ve learned that what we tell ourselves about the events in our lives is often more damaging than the events themselves.

    • Here, here Neveragain! I tried to re-write that story for a full three years before I removed my cranium from my rectum! Now I realize the only part of that entire story I would want to re-write is a hastier exit. Like the nano second I found out about his affair.

    • “You cannot find validation in any other human being – thinking you need this is just another narrative.”

      Wise words, never again. Your whole reply is helpful too. What i would add to the validation piece is that as we mature, we discover that the journey to our true self Is about becoming our own best inner validator.

      It is always so good to have good and trusting people love us along the way. Especially in the formative years. But the real deal is eventually about discovering WE are the arbiter of the value of ourself. The great myths and archetypes tell this narrative across the millennia.

      This wonderful web blog and Tracy’s book are creating a new archetype: Mighty Chump!

    • NeverAgain, yes! Close that Book and say Never Again, I am done. And it is baby steps for our entire family to move forward. My children and I learn every holiday what we won’t tolerate any more. Spending time with toxic people is no longer a choice we make. Crap we now do without. And we are very intentional about how we spend our time together because life is too short.

  • Palmer,
    Take some deep breaths. We all hope for the truly remorseful apology, but it will never come. It’s the actions that count.
    I got a “sorry”, but was also given a list of things that excused (?) the behavior… Did not like his family, etc.
    Teenage daughter was desperate for her father to acknowledge what he did, after she spent the summer listening to her father and OWife sing praises of their relationship. In two separate email conversations, her father admitted to two affairs, but then commented on how he was in love, and that how it was true there was a bit of an overlap and that OWife was also married when they got together, but that is her story to tell (hints of abuse). He also admitted that he is a coward as he spent years “sacrificing himself and his happiness for others” though he never said anything to anyone.
    At the same time, he tells her that he can say lots of me, that I am not perfect, but unlike me he will not say anything that might affect her relationship with me.
    So, lots of contradictions here… Yes, cheated, but….

    ExH demonstrated his true colors a few months ago. Daughter attempted to harm herself, directed it at him, wanted him to acknowledge her pain … And he did not return although she was hospitalized. Instead, he plans to take unpaid leave from work so he can visit the kids once per month, which will reduce the child support payments. Real stand up guy.

    The letter to daughter where he admitted the cowardice and the cheating, but then excused it… I admit it finally set me free. He will NEVER understand the pain he has caused. He is empty and soulless, and I no longer care about an apology.
    While he is somewhat acknowledging things to daughter, at the same time he emailing me telling me daughter’s crisis is all my fault for saying things to her about him, that she was fine this summer and did an abrupt turnaround once she returned home.

    Meh, whatever. He will believe what he wants to believe so he can sleep at night.
    You will get there one day, too.

  • Palmer, I did get a thousand apologies…a lot of ‘ I apologized why can’t u accept my apology and move on apologies’ only further validating his point that it was me who couldn’t move past it and therefore he was wasting his time waiting for me to get over it”
    Do I think he was sorry… yes, I believe part of him was very sorry…. Very sorry that he got busted…. Very sorry that his reputation as a wonderful family man was ruined… Very sorry that he could no longer live duplicitous …” HIS” life was ruined… That’s it. Because it’s all on a scale… The Fairness Scale… The Who Is Suffering Worse Scale…And if it doesn’t fall mostly on his side…. He will do whatever is needed to weigh it back down. Anything.
    He was very sorry that his life was ruined.
    Don’t bother waiting for the empty apology…
    Acta non verba…
    Actions speak much louder than words.

    • The Clip–oh that sounds familiar. That the problem is that we “can’t let go” of the offense.

      I finally just admitted, “you’re right–I can’t, nor should I have to.”

    • Bwaahahahaha;
      Direct quote from cheater email- Direct- “I’m truly sorry for many things that I’ve done and didn’t do.”

  • I’m of the school of thought that whether they mean it or not, an apology after they annihilated your life is irrelevant. An apology can help when someone doesn’t invite you to an event, or bumps into you and sends your groceries flying. If a trusted friend is snarky to you or if a sibling forgets your birthday, an apology really helps. Because it shows they are empathizing with you. I just believe there is no apologizing for knowingly systematically destroying someone else’s life. Both their interior and exterior lives.

    Infidelity changes the person who was betrayed on such fundamental levels that simply saying “I’m sorry” is more like an insult. And really, when they say they are sorry most, if not all, behave as if they had no idea that what they did was so retched. That’s why cheaters are so fond of the word “mistake”. One of the best lines I’ve heard on television is when Ross cheated on Rachel on “Friends”. He said he made a mistake, and she said “A mistake?? Where did you mean to put it . . . her purse!?!”.

    An apology from a cheater is ALWAYS self-serving. When DDay hits, they don’t suddenly acquire a conscience. They just need to do damage control so their fragile self-image remains intact. If your cheater comes back to you 20 years later with a sincere apology, they might actually mean it. Because it would take them that much time to really understand that you weren’t to blame for their actions. And by that point, none of us would even care.

        • Ha! My H said to me that he didn’t think I’d be THIS upset! I would love to know what color the sky is where these idiots live!

          • Uneffingbelievable.–mine said exactly the same thing, “I didn’t think you’d be THIS upset.” Warning him umpteen times while dating, before the wedding, after the wedding to NEVER cheat on me, I guess, didn’t sink in.

            They all get the same script, don’t they?

            And let this be a warning to our daughters & sons–if someone has been a serial cheater in a previous relationship, they will never change. I, unfortunately, bought his explanation for why he had cheated on his former wife (and even his claims he had gotten “her permission”), and figured since the same problems weren’t in our relationship, he’d reform. Now I know they will ALWAYS find some “excuse” to cheat if they want to.

            Oh, how I’d like to go back and slap some sense into my former self. Time travel, anyone?

            • I got this, too, Tempest. My X tearfully told me all about how he cheated on his late wife. She had cancer and, well, he just wasn’t getting his needs met. At the time I actually felt compassion for him. “Poor guy. He’s gone through so much.” I remember how moved I felt, how connecting it was that he shared this with me, even though I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Looking back I want to bitch-slap myself. He wasn’t confessing to anything or trying to achieve a deeper intimacy. The dude was warning me. He was telling me straight up who he was. And I didn’t get it until the damage had already been done. He was cheating on me the whole time we were together. And likely he’ll cheat on whomever he suckers in next with his whole superficial charm and veneer of honour and respectability. That’s just who he is.

              Time travel . . . oh man. How I wish I could dial the clock back!

              • If you guys figure out the time travel, save a seat for me. I want to go back to one of the mornings during his affair when he would say to our son, “Do the right thing today” then breeze out the door go see his whore! This was his idea of being a good dad. If I could go back to one of those mornings, I would spit in his face and throat-punch him.

      • My ex referred to his hundreds of gay encounters during our 20-year marriage as a “sordid phase.” Funny that that “phase” started before we ever even met, and continued long after our marriage ended.

        • My cheater’s gay ‘phase’ started long before I met him–before and during his first marriage. Foolish me, subsequent wife, automatically believing him when he lied about never having had a gay relationship and automatically believing that his first wife had wronged HIM by conducting an extra-marital lesbian affair. I even felt sorry for him, poor sausage. I should have interviewed her before getting involved with him. I plan to run background checks before getting involved to help avoid future disasters.

    • My X made me burst out laughing when he described his (3 yr, fucking, blowjobs, showers, etc) as –
      ‘We got a little too close’.

  • I never got a real apology, not even when I was stupid enough to take ex back in bogus reconciliation. There was never anything but anger, blame and gaslighting. The lengths he went to blame ME for the marriage’s problems were really astounding. In a recent exchange with our son, before son blocked him, ex said that it was my fault the divorce happened, because he “made a vow to be with me forever” but I went ahead and divorced him. How conveniently he “forgot” the nonstop cheating, lying, emotional abuse, financial devastation and general mind-fuckery he put me through.

    I fantasized for a long, long time about ex feeling remorse and offering a genuine apology. But it never happened and it never WILL happen because he is disordered. He does not experience guilt, remorse, self doubt or responsibility.

  • I did want to know at some point. But I got my answer when he said that he would tell me generally but not give me the names of the other women So, he can’t remember the names, or some are my friends or he is afraid that I will sue him for adultery. So, I am assuming he screwed some friends and cannot remember the others. And judges do not care what a H and W do in a marriage related to faithfulness. It is almost as if they believe that the faithful spouse consented to it.

    • I could give a shit about an apology from an asshole NPD cheater.
      I would like to know the full facts, though.
      I will never get them but I know enough.

  • Palmer needs to know why just like people want to know why serial killers kill. It’s a little irksome, but the answer is BECAUSE THEY CAN. They are born with different DNA, their brains develop differently, and THEY know, from a very young age, that they are different. They learn early how to manipulate you in order to get what they want. They “train” their entire life. Like prisoners who have nothing to think about 24/7 other than how to make weapons, how to cause trouble, etc. Guards have lives to live, and don’t devote time to thinking about prisoners. So why are people surprised when prisoners manage to injure/kill guards? Not the guard’s fault. Same thing with victims of narcissists and psychopaths: not your fault. You could not see him/her for what they are as they have spent their whole life learning about you and other victims. What to say, what to do, the mind f*cks that work. If you want closure, then take some psychology courses and therapy for understanding yourself and the various types out there. Expecting a narcissist to explain their actions or feel bad is like getting a great white shark to be introspective and thoughtful — it just won’t happen. And yes, it was a waste of your love, time and energy. But move away and surrender no more of your being to what is, essentially, a black negative hole.

    • I love your moniker, Violent Misanthrope! I need a tshirt with that emblazoned across the chest. I do have a misanthropic bumper sticker. It says “People. What a Bunch of Bastards”.

    • Exactly, Violent. One of the toughest things for me to accept was that there are people like this among us. I just could not accept their monstrousness.

  • Palmer, i think that most people want to know how the universe works (or at least what makes our partners tick) as knowing makes us feel safe. I’ve come to realize that no matter how badly I want to find the answers, I will never get all of them–and I am growing more comfortable with that uncertainty.

    On my first D-day, six months ago, I wanted my cheater to explain why he cheated (with OW) and express remorse. By second D-day, one week ago, I didn’t care why he had lied to me, deceived me and others, had sex with prostitutes, other women, men, animals, or anything else for the last 30 years, and I didn’t care whether he apologized for dropping a nuclear bomb on our family. All I cared about was confirming that he was a chronic liar. I got my answer to THAT question.

    For many months, I woke up at 2 a.m. thinking about cheater’s activities (telling me to choose a dating website for him, spending money that was supposed to go into our kids’ college savings fund on prostitutes on our wedding anniversary), I wondered what else he had done. Now I try to redirect my thoughts. After a few minutes of thinking about the rotten things my cheater did and my family’s ordeal that resulted from his actions, I work on my new life plan with honest and considerate people. I try to create a ‘replacement’ thought or activity for every negative thought. I also envision my anger energizing me, thus enabling me to forge a path toward a happy, healthy, and meaningful life.

    Hope you reach ‘meh’ soon.

  • Palmer, my heart breaks for you-I have been through exactly this, and accepting that the abusive, twisted, lying, cheating scumbag is the real person is really hard. You only need to know you are HIV negative, at the end of the day. Leave the rest behind.

    love to all in Chump Nation
    x-Meh.

  • Palmer,
    I’m with you…I desperately want/need my stbx to confess every last detail and then remorsefully say how wrong he has been. And in my head, I know those things will never happen, but I still think about them all the time. Then I realized that the reason why I’m thinking about them is that I’m grieving that I will NEVER have closure on this. I want him to validate me, because I want closure. But I’m not going to get closure, because he’s a messed up POS who never cared about me and what was best for me…for 23 years! In those 23 years he never owned up to even the smallest of things, like who ate the last piece of my bday cake. What would motivate him to own up to the huge pile of crap he’s created in the last six months? Nothing good would motivate him. If he ever did show any kind of remorse, I know in my head that it would not be real, but only an attempt to manipulate and control me into giving him something he wants…even if it’s just a few kibbles.
    I am grieving that I will never have closure and that he will never be held responsible for the terrible pain that he has caused my children and me. And the years of bullying and abuse. And the gaslighting. And the fact that for 23 years he used me and didn’t love me. I was a great wife and I don’t deserve this. I need him to tell me that, but know that he won’t. And I grieve it. One day I’ll be able to let it go without having gotten any closure, but I’m not quite there yet. I find myself doing some bizarre pick-me dance seeking closure. I want to show him how great I’m doing and how happy I am without him; not because I want him back, but because I want him to say he is sorry. I want him to validate me. I want to get to a place where I no longer want that. A pick-me dance is a pick-me dance, no matter what you’re seeking as the outcome. Validation comes from within yourself and I hold onto that…I was a great wife (better than he deserved) and am a good person. None of this was my fault. He is a terrible, despicable human being who used me and treated me badly. When I validate myself and remember who he is, I find that I move closer to letting go of my need for closure.
    Coming here and reading every single day is the number one thing that has helped me to get through this! Keep coming here. Read the comments; there are wonderful people here who share their stories that help me to understand I’m not alone. You aren’t alone and what you are feeling is normal. You will come to a day that you no longer need your ex’s validation. Keep trusting that she sucks!

    • MightyMite, have you read the section in the Chump Lady book on closure? Closure doesn’t mean having the answer to every question, knowing and understanding everything the fucktard did, having apologies and remorse galore, having the satisfaction of vindication or watching the karma bus arrive. It’s about having enough of the above to close that chapter in your life and move on. I won’t repeat what the book says (I couldn’t do a precis justice anyway), but do give it a close read. I hope you find closure soon.

    • THIS!!!! YES!!! i was a good wife. better then he deserved. and i am in the same place as you. wanting him to see how good i am doing without him so he can realize wtf he gave up. wanting him to come crying that he fucked up because then it validates ME. that i tried those 14 years, that i gave him everything i could give a person, and it was HIM who blew up the marriage and destroyed our family. AND THAT HE FEELS VERY VERY BAD FOR DOING THAT!!!

      but i also know that he wont. this is the reason HE went NC. he couldnt handle seeing me doing good, he could handle knowing that i was a good wife and that he feels guilty and feels bad for what he did. he is hiding behind his drugs and booze and lets the oompa loompa homewrecker tell him that he is a good man. He knows thou….

      But i KNOW he will NEVER EVER admit to me. he will never say those words to me. he is too busy trying to make himself feel better by blaming everything on me. he is happy now (haha right) Iam also struggling to get past the validate pick me dance. i am slowly getting there.

  • Yeah Palmer, all I got was ass half apologies. Not once did I believe they were real. They were only given when I insisted. Wow, coerced apologies from a cheater. They meant absolutely nothing to me. I’ve read this column before from CL and the words that really resonated with me were “It didn’t hurt them to hurt you.”
    I got that then. It didn’t hurt my husband to hurt me. I didn’t cross his mind while he was sneaking off to sleazy motels to fuck his skank woman. All that mattered was HIM.
    Trust that she sucks Palmer.

  • I understand and agree with everything CL has said here, I have suffered it, but what I am struggling with is that suddenly, with this new woman, none of this seems to apply, he is subservient and always meets her needs ( with me, everything was a battle, even the smallest things, he always had to be in control) apparently she is everything I wasn’t, a saint put on the earth just for him to meet and love. I know what the replies will be, he is acting, playing a role, but it is two years living together, four years in a relationship, some of that whilst he was still with me, and still there are no cracks, I know he is damaged, she is as well, how how on earth do you manage to hide that for so long? I just don’t get it.

    And that is my point, people who have values and morals will always be at a disadvantage with these people, we just don’t understand them and the truth is you don’t want to.

    As for the apologies, I got those many times and still do, it doesn’t help, because to quote a cliche ( cliches are such for a reason) actions speak louder than words, you may think an apology will satisfy you, nothing will satisfy you because it is fucked up and wrong according to your moral compass but she doesn’t live by the same values, you thought she did but she doesn’t. A harsh lesson, but one you must learn quickly so you can protect yourself.

    She might say the words but they will mean nothing, despite what you think.

    You need to let it go, nothing she says will help you, because you have experienced the actions. They disturb your well being much more but you don’t realise that.

    Move on, leave it and try to process the hurt and pain, she can’t help you and more importantly she doesn’t want to help you. If you get healthy and strong then you are no longer an option and she wants you as an option so she will never help you get healthy and strong, in fact she will do the very opposite.

    Sorry, it is harsh advice.

    • Sammie, you remember that time in the first couple of years after you met your fucktard, that his behaviour was probably likely different in some way? Its a role. Thats all it is. And its the exact same for her, too. This idiot doesn’t have a ‘real’ persona and instead has to be a terrible actor.
      The shit has already hit the fan, they’re cursed to be with each other, even if they don’t realise it consciously.
      Either they spend their entire life thinking the hammer’s gonna drop on them and their fuckbuddy will cheat on them for someone else, or they’re so far removed from reality that no emotion at all sets in, which would be a curse in itself.

  • Is there a chump anywhere who doesn’t want an apology? An acknowledgment of what happened? An acknowledgment of a reasonably truthful version of the past that doesn’t blame the chump for the betrayal? That’s just us being us–living in a world where truth matters, where gaslighting others is abuse, where consequences follow actions. We wouldn’t be recovering from betrayal and abuse if our spouses/partners had been honest. Or honorable. Or loyal. Or minimally concerned about our well-being.

    One of the biggest mental hurdles for me was how Jackass could just deny what was obviously true–and not only deny it, but blame me for bringing up the subject of his MOW and his lying. His last communication to me was to say that he’s “done” because I accused him. So it was OK for him to hurt me in a dozen horrible ways but it was unforgivable for me to bring up anything he did. There’s no arguing with jerks like this. We just further debase ourselves by asking them to relieve our pain. What helps me is remembering that HE HAS SHOWN ME WHAT HE IS. The very act of refusing to accept responsibility defines him.

    He knows I know what he is. That’s his consequence. I know the secret of his utterly bankrupt character.

    • LAJ,
      “HE HAS SHOWN ME WHAT HE IS” … my ex did so many times. I once said to him, “nobody has your number like I do” and he replied “I know and that is why I love you so much and feel so safe with you”!! The lies I swallowed, makes me look like a right fool.
      Your last 3 sentences are very apt as well.

    • LAJ…..This reminds me so much of a quote from Maya Angelou and I have it on my FB. She says…..“When someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.” We all should pay attention to this one…..it makes all the sense in the world and rings so very true!

  • Palmer, I went through this exact thing. In fact if there’s any one thing that was the hardest and the most lingering it was this. I had to realize this was part of the game my ex played to work me over. You’ll get there too. Start remembering non-affair related days where she would pick at you, jab at you, correct you, lord over you in some way, any way, just to get the one up on you. THAT’S what this is about. I was married for 16 years by the time the court finished their business. I can’t think of a time when she didn’t denigrate me, or try to tear me down. A barely literate, functional idiot tore me apart when I have a graduate degree and a spotless public service record. We’d walk into places and I would see someone I’d recognize and she’d actually get jealous because I was “better known” than her. I have a reputation for being a person of good character and doing what’s right. People trust me, and I take that very seriously. So to be with someone like that, and to get pushed and pulled like that, of course you prize that admission. You’ll ‘win’ in that case. Guess what? It’s hollow. Tracy’s right. Even if she said all the right things, admitted to everything and you had 100% proof it was all 100% true, then what? Would it change your mind, your path, your decisions, your hurt, your workload in bringing yourself back to life? It’s been a little over 2 years for me since my d-day. There’s not one thing I want to hear from her except the deafening silence of having her out of my life. Let it go dude.

    Even if you do get the, “And I am SO SORRY! I know I can never feel even a FRACTION of the pain I have inflicted on you!” it’s still a power thing. My ex was heavily invested in the abuser cycle. Reminding me of the pain, seeing the anguish in my eyes, gave her control. She literally said the words Tracy put here, and after a few short weeks of me not reacting, she said, “I’m done apologizing, it’s not getting us anywhere.” Where does one expect an apology to “go”? Get us to “what”? And what us? The us with you and the kid your daughter’s age screwing in some shitty apartment, or the us with me divorcing your cheating ass? There was no ‘us’, there was her. The apology was a manipulation device. It always is. Cheaters work from a self-centered reward system. It’s called “I’m great, holy, and willing to step off my mountain for the little people.” Others call it arrogance. These monsters are trained from an early age that they can do no wrong and if other perceive it as wrong, all they have to do is apologize and things will go back to normal. An apology will solve it all, won’t it? The gut wrenching anguish of facing another sleepless night, knowing you’re going to have PTSD for months if not years, knowing you’re a shell of your former self, ripped to shreds by the relationship equivalent of Josef Mengele can all be cured with one simple apology, right? Trust me, even if you get the apology, like me, you’ll look at the face of the apologist and know it’s not real. It’s still about them.

    “narcissists need to save face”
    All the above said, there was maybe 4 or 5 times in our relationship when she apologized, and that was when she had no other out. Yet it was another manipulation technique, “You hardly ever apologize for anything” she told me many times. On reflection, this was her issue all along. She projected on me, and tried to make me believe I was the problem. She was always the problem. There’s no way around it. So is your STBX. Soon, if you haven’t already, you’ll start to look backward and realize you were a frog in boiling water and you never knew it. She was saying things to cover up her insecurities. Pushing blame and gaslighting, or using other outlets to cover her pain like being a spendaholic. My ex was such a bad hoarder it took her 4 days to move the items from our attic. Doesn’t include furniture, appliances, etc. So many things will become obvious to you. Here’s a really sad one. My brother came to Thanksgiving yesterday and told me it was his first time in my house. I’ve had the house for 7 years, and he told me, “I never felt welcomed by your ex…she was so mean…” Her own friends don’t like to hang around her much because of her anger. You’ll see these things with time. Things you spackled over.

    “makes them feel powerful having this knowledge you want”
    Yeah and what really weakens them, hurts them, and infuriates them, is when you don’t give a shit anymore. Once the attention is gone, they really get weird. You know what real power is? My first ex, which is a different story and different hurt completely, and not appropriate to discuss here, came up to me a decade after I divorced her and begged for my forgiveness. By that point I didn’t care, I forgave, and I walked away. Later it dawned on me, I really should have asked a few questions about her actions, but, oh well, and I just waved it off and moved on. You can hold forgiveness hostage, because eventually it will become uncomfortable enough for her, and people she respects and values will continue to be wary of her, so she’ll come running and beg forgiveness. Or she’ll find religion. Or go through AA. Or lose a job. Or get burned in a fire. Or her parents will die. Or something. No one goes through life unscathed. No one. Eventually she’ll want forgiveness. If you still, at that remote moment care, tell her your forgiveness is conditional on disclosure. But just be prepared for nothing but lies. And you can always take comfort in the fact that she’s made God angry and she’s going to hell. LOL…

    “If she’s a total waste, then you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

    We all like to think we’re perfect and have great taste. But we don’t. It’s better to live with the knowledge that you picked wrong and move forward, then hope she’ll have some miraculous insight. Cause that ain’t ever happening.

    “If she wakes up and finds her conscience, first I’d be highly skeptical. What does she want?”
    Wait for the next few sentences afterward, that’s what gives them away. “I’m so sorry Scott, I hurt you so badly, it’s not what I am, and I don’t know why I did those terrible things. I hope we can move past it. I hope you can move past it. By the way, did the Lawyer tell you anything about the retirement paperwork? Do you know how much it will be?” So this literally happened 6 months ago. Out of the blue I get this note. And you know what? She just wanted to know about the retirement. Had she just asked, I would have been polite enough to answer. But I just ignored her.

    • A lot of wisdom here, Scott. It’s funny how even though my details are all different, I could still relate to everything you wrote here.

    • Scott, I can relate to every single word you say here. Same narc, different gender. It is amazing how good they are at following the cheater-narc handbook. My non affair days were also full of constant criticism, and putting down, demonstrating every day how I would never live up to his standards ( eventhough I have a PhD like he does and am probably more recognized than he is…). His apologies were lame, and he was always looking for a but, the stupidest one was “I am sorry to have hurt you but I thought you didn´t love me” after dedicating 20 years of my life to him, two kids, full time job, etc, etc, etc Bullshit, they need an excuse. And, like you Scott, now many of my friends (close and not so close) are telling me they didn´t like him, felt he was arrogant, and mean, and that he didn´t deserve me. But they didn´t want to tell me during our marriage out of respect for me. His friends view him differently: as a brilliant, generous, fun guy, and, of course, they all support cheating (they have an academic cheaters group, where all have cheated or are the lovers of cheaters-he got his three OWs from this group). In addition to CL and Chump nation, what has helped me a lot was when a friend told me “the problem with your relationship was that you were both in love with the same person-him!” and the second thing that has helped me was to realize that no OW really cares about him, because if they did, they would not knowingly contribute in the destruction of his family and of everything he had built in his life around. So, eventually, he will figure out who really doesn´t love him, but by then, I will have become part of that group.

  • My x spent our whole marriage apologising to me. He would turn on the water works sometimes, he would look all forlorn and I just felt like a heartless bitch….until I started to sense that, just like CL says, if he was truly sorry how come it never seemed to make a difference. Any sorry he would give me now I think could only be disingenuous. I didn’t believe him before, why would I believe him now? On a different note (just cos it helped me this week) my XMIL called my dad. She gave him a full account about how x and OWife were just a pair of “bogons” (white trash?) which she said repeatedly. She said OWife wouldn’t be around for very long, why would she? He hasn’t got anything and is now borrowing money off his elderly and newly widowed mother! (Her words not mine) she spoke to my dad about his wedding and how OW family trashed the retirement village XMIL is living at because they too are “bogons”. How x’s brother wont talk to him, how he a no hoper. And, well I just felt relief. He didn’t give me the explanation but by some intervention xMiL did. His grandmother told me very early in our relationship that I wasn’t like the other girls he’d brought home. I was just too damn good for him!!!!

  • I got the half-assed apologies too. He was “so sorry and didn’t know why he did it” – about the affair, and about all the hateful things he said to me. Both of these after he and Schmoopie were already having problems and he was cake-eating, and then when they split up. Everyone kept telling me, “Talk is cheap.” And it is. He could say it all he wanted, but I could tell he didn’t mean it. So it didn’t help at all. And never having a reason for why the affair, why the hateful extremely damaging things he said, just “I don’t know” is basically the worst non-apology ever. Honestly, if he could have been the least bit introspective (I know, asking WAY too much of a Narc) I MIGHT have believed the apology.

    Obviously, the betrayal hurts, we all know that. But this far out, I almost think what has been most damaging to me was the things he said. That is what has stuck with me.

    • Kira….Yes exactly to your words of yes, betrayal hurts but most damaging was what he said. For me too in that mostly it was his terrible treatment of me mentally in the last 2 years of his lying – gaslighting – bullshit that is something I’m having great difficulty getting over.
      Also yours with his ‘I don’t know’s”……..his to me was…….’I can’t remember’……ANYTHING!!! Sick predator bastard!!!

  • You know, I don’t think I’ve seen Palmer post since CL originally answered this letter. I think he got past it OK. I know I’m way past wanting an apology myself, hell I don’t even expect or care about justice anymore. I just want ex to leave me alone, or possibly die so I can be sure he won’t come back and fuck with me again. But that last bit is just me wanting to feel safe again.

    • Oops, my text didn’t paste, what I said to him in the original post remains the same: I really think that even after we give up on our ex we want that validation to help us feel like we were not entirely fooled. We want to believe the person we invested so much in cared about us and is sad for us. We want to believe that they lost their shit, but deep down they are who we thought they were. Sadly, they are not who we thought they were. When a person sets out to deceive everyone, even themselves, it is pretty hard to spot the deception. Forgive yourself, if you are anything like me, that’s who you are most angry with – don’t be – honest people expect honesty.

  • I saw this quote which is about levels of apologies. Needless to say, the first level alone is pretty useless, as it’s just about words. Compare that with the last level, which is about actions.

    “I’m sorry” is a statement.
    “I won’t do it again” is a promise.
    “How do I make it up to you?” is a responsibility.

  • Yeh, I got loads of “I’m sorry”, no tears, just teflon like demeanor, followed by, “but I’m sure I’ve done the right thing for me and now I’m no longer living a lie”.

  • Palmer, first off I would like to say how very sorry I am you are going through this. I’ve been there and I know how much it hurts. You say you want the truth. I can tell you the truth. The truth is, your wife isn’t capable of telling you the truth. Your questions scare her, because If she even tried to answer them, she would have to remember the version of events she tells you for future reference because you are going to keep wanting to know more. You are smart. You will put 2 and 2 together and have more questions when you see the holes in her story. Even if she did tell you the truth, she would have to think of a way to make it all your fault to save her fragile ego. She clearly has no self respect of she wouldn’t be going to bed with strange men to make her feel better about herself. No sexual partner will ever fill the void in her self respect. If she was smart, she would realize these men aren’t attracted to her. They are attracted to her willingness to go to bed with a lack of obligation. The mistake that you made was loving someone who doesn’t know how to love you back. She probably doesn’t even know what love is due to her own issues from childhood, but that’s a conversation for her and her therapist. What I can tell you is that even though you will never get the truth, you will care a LOT less about it after you just walk away. Leave her with her lies and deception and walk towards a better life

  • Yeah, I got “I’m sorry.” and “I wish it had never happened” (notice the grammatical construction.) (I know I’ve ruined my life.) Sorry was sorry that he fucked up his own life. “It happened ” is kind of self explanatory. And then the bullshit re-writing of our marital history, to my face started. That was after he decided that he had been “cruel enough to make me initiate a divorce.” end quote.

    Sick, disordered, selfish, lying, did I say selfish?, never really ‘in’ the marriage, emotional child abandonment… the list goes on.

    Let ’em go. He’ll get what he deserves, whether it’s with Mr$. Narcissa parkinson, still married to her former husband, or in another realm, or both. Not my problem.

    My challenge is to live life in the most kind, moral, thoughtful, caring way I can, and with the best integrity I can muster. A minister in my tradition, A. Powell Davies, said, “Life is just a chance to grow a soul.”–meaning that we must attend to the work of our spiritual life (it’s a metaphor.) I take that task to heart. Apparently my Ex does not although he, ironically, was raised by a Minister of the Gospel. (Leaves me wondering what labels mean.)

    He couldn’t honestly apologize even if he wanted to. All he can do is lie and make excuses. Eventually, you stop looking for it, if that is comforting.

  • Hi Palmer.
    I am sorry for your hurt and frustration, and I know exactly where you are coming from.

    Yes, you were treated badly, no, you didn’t deserve it, and yes you deserve both an apology and am explanation. In an ideal world you would get both, but I’m afraid this isn’t an ideal world and you won’t. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

    CL really nailed it in her very erudite response, so I’m just adding my 2c to her posting.

    We all make mistakes, every one of us. We misjudged the parking space and damaged our neighbour’s car, we left that card at home so it didn’t get posted and Auntie Flo didn’t get her b’day card on time. We misread the time on the clock because we could find our glasses and turned up late for an appointment. We didn’t mean to mess up but we did, and we are sorry and we apologise to those concerned, We pay for the neighbour’s car to be fixed, we take Auntie Flo out for afternoon tea etc.etc.

    Your wife didn’t make a mistake – she had an affair. It was devised, hidden and indulged in because she wanted to do it. She knew it would hurt you if you found out. She knew there was the chance that it would blow the marriage to $h!£r@g$, but she didn’t care. She didn’t love you enough or care about the marriage enough to stop instigating the course of action she had planned – and that really hurts.

    She won’t apologise because she isn’t sorry. The only thing she is sorry about is that you found out and put a stop to her cake-eating.

    Most of us on this board of had to swallow the bitter pill of knowing that we invested a sizeable chunk of our lives (and I invested a lot less than some of the people here) on someone who was of no more value than a sack of runny poop.

    I never got an apology from my exH either. The nearest he came to it was some 10 years later when I accidently met into him in a hotel foyer and he said – without prompting – “It was all my fault. I was the more mature person (referring to him & OW) and I should have known better.” I said “Really?” and walked on. And d’you know, I wasn’t bothered because it didn’t matter any more.

    “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got” – Robert Brault

  • When you’re past this, you’ll be grateful it happened. It exposed you to the betrayal and damage some people are capable of. You thought this only happened to other people, in movies, etc. Now you know the risks of entering into another relationship. Actually, I prefer to call them partnerships now. You would (or should) protect yourself as much as possible before entering into a business partnership. You would enforce boundaries. Now treat “relationships” in the same manner. Your love and commitment isn’t unconditional.

    Forget about her. You need to internalise that she’s a cheat and a liar. She’s now disqualified from your future time and resources.

  • At the risk of just repeating what everyone else has said, I would say it is better to just accept that you may never get the apology and explanation you think is so key to your recovery. Cheaters don’t define “sorry” as being about you. They are just sorry they got caught.

    If you let your cheater know you need an apology, that gives them power over you. The best way to gain the upper hand is to truly NOT CARE what they did, how they felt about it, or who it happened with. Of course this is difficult, but it is what getting to MEH is all about. Somewhere underneath all their slime, they know they did wrong, but being truly being repentant is not part of their belief system. Some of them are evil enough to actually enjoy seeing the chump upset.

    I too was guilty of agonizing over the gory details, playing amateur detective, and asking for apologies. It just got me more hurt. One day I woke up and thought…if this goes on any longer, I’ve let them win. They were dominating my thoughts.

    Now I just live my life, free and content, and then if information about Cheater crosses my radar, I just chuckle and say, “glad I’m not them”. The occasional karma event happens, and strangely it really does brighten my day to know the fate takes care of the scumbags.

  • I wanted, for a time, an apology from my ex but then I realised that he wasn’t sorry. He really didn’t think that cheating on my for years was all that big a deal and that my being absolutely knocked sideways upon discovering that was an ‘overreaction’ and I really, really needed to (get ready!) ‘get over it’.

    If he actually apologised to me I think I’d crack up. And assume he wanted something. I’m happy to say that these days I find him rather ridiculous. He’s a weak and silly man who still thinks the world owes him a big, fat favour.

  • Uneffingbelieveable, my exH said to me, during the divorce “I could respect you more if you’d been more reasonable about this” – I told him ” You **** another woman in our bed and I’m supposed to be effing ‘reasonable’? Are you completely effing barmy?!”
    Do they all get copies of the same script from Cheaters Central Casting?!
    This shows, to me, their total and utter lack of empathy/understanding for anyone except their selfish entitled selves – pah !

    • Yes, Juliet, those scripts from Cheaters Central Casting are well-worn pages!

      One of the reasons this site is so helpful as I disengage from my f**ktard is that it “normalizes” the bullshite lines one hears throughout the faux reconciliation and divorce process. “Normalize” in narcissistic circles; nothing, of course, is “normal” about their lack of empathy and laser-sharp focus on themselves & their needs.

    • It is both alarming & soothing to hear that your jerk thought you weren’t reasonable. Mine objected to my using the sentence, “he fucked her for 3 weeks” to our marital therapist because “I don’t like that bad language.” I shook my head; he was okay with shoving his p*nis into someone repeatedly, but objected to my sailor language? Perspective is lacking in them.

    • Juliet, mine objected to my using the word “whore” when referring to his skank. I think they do that to derail the thread of the conversation and to once again regain power and control. So I started referring to her (sarcasticly) as “Mrs. ***********”. That bothered him even more! I found out that if you put enough spin on it, you can make the word “pear” sound like “scum-sucking, malignant, disease-ridden, opportunistic, soulless whore”!!!!!

  • Just assume that she did everything in bed that paid professionals do, with multiple partners and unprotected. Assume she cheated since before you met and every day while you were together. Assume she laughed evilly and told each partner you were inadequate and couldn’t please her. Assume she liked to pull wings off flies, pinched sleeping babies and liked watching car accidents on youtube.
    Assume the worst and nothing less, because cheaters will not tell you the full story, and if they did how would you know? And never expect “I’m Sorry”, unless finished with “I got caught”
    Assume the worst. And leave it alone.

    • So right, Krassdaddy! Post-separation, my cheater started claiming he had never said a bad word about me to any of our friends (and thus implied I shouldn’t say bad things about him).

      Then I started thinking–he HAD probably said bad things about me and/or our marriage to his physical-affair partner & emotional-affair partner, as they both knew he was emotionally available and (supposedly) in an unfulfilling marriage, and both thought they could ask him to leave his wife.

      Liar.

  • I got a one liner e-mail quasi apology. After 20 years of marriage (together 23) and 2 children together, he said, “I’m sorry I failed.” He is now married to the other woman and they live in the house I worked my whole life for. It digs but I am moving on with my life. My kids say he is perpetually mad, like he can’t be happy. I believe that.

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