I just wanted to get your advice or insight on what you would say to this extremely naive, gullible chump.
She and the cheater have been together for over seven years. She has basically raised his 9 year old, as he is your classic liar, manipulator, cheater, addict, abuser (mental, verbal and I personally believe physical too). His behaviour over the years has been deplorable and she should have kicked his sorry, cheating ass to the curb eons ago.
However, until recently she could never actually “prove” the cheating and to her “proving it” seemed to be extremely important — even though anyone with half a brain cell KNEW he was and I’m positive has been for years, with MANY people over time. Well she finally, definitively, caught him — no hiding it, denying it, lying about any more — he was CAUGHT red handed. So obviously the shit hit the fan and her world fell apart. Finally his little cheating Utopia was crumbling around him and he had to “fess up”.
Well, unfortunately she took this ‘admission’ and his apologies (which I believe was nothing but GINR) as gospel and decided to forgive and forget. Oh did I mention that the affair she ‘caught’ him having, had gone on for 1.5 years?!!
All I hear is “but I love him” (gag, barf, choke). She had told me previously that he “doesn’t want to marry” her… but guess what? After he realized that he could potentially lose his live-in cook, cleaner, child care giver, and after he cried, apologized, wallowed in his self-pity and misery, what does he do? HE PROPOSED!!!!!
We are talking only WEEKS after being caught! Not only did she accept, but another couple of weeks later guess what happens? She gets PREGNANT… with TWINS!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t believe for a millisecond that this was accidental. I think HIS “trap” to keep her from leaving was to propose and HER “trap” was to make him straighten up by getting pregnant. All of this has taken place since May.
I’m at my wits end. I don’t want to abandon her because I believe she truly suffers from battered woman syndrome. She’s already lost friendships over her decision to stay with him. But I can’t stomach what’s going to happen once these precious babies arrive. I just CAN’T believe that he’s ever going to “see the light” and become a decent human being. Not possible.
What would you say to her? Help!!
Well, I’d direct her to this blog for starters. She could read stories here of exactly how it turns out when you breed with a cheating fucktard. But that would be assuming she wants insight or help. Her actions say what she really wants is another helping of this creep’s “love.”
I’m sorry, Smart. There is nothing more painful than watching someone you love behave self-destructively. As we say over and over again here — you don’t control that. You only control yourself. So you have to do the cost/benefit analysis. Is staying friends with this person (whatever else you get from this relationship other than a front row seat to her drama) sustainable in the face of the grief and upset of her crap life decisions? You CANNOT save her. She has to save herself. There is nothing magic I can say, or you can say, that will make her see sense.
Look, if I had that particular “Abracadabra” to make people behave, do you think I’d be blogging? No, I’d retire with a bazillion dollars and would’ve achieved world peace by now.
That said, hey, I’m a chump. I try to save people from their idiocy every single day. Having been a huge idiot myself, I now devote my life to standing at the sidelines yelling at other people: “DON’T BE A CHUMP!!!”
So I’ll try to help you with this the best I can.
I have a lot of sympathy for unknowing chumps. I don’t like the judgment of others that We Knew, or Had an Arrangement, or that somehow our inadequacies Drove the Cheater to It. No, to be a chump means you got PLAYED. Your love and trust were abused.
BUT, once you find out and you stick around for MORE of that shit? Now I’m judging you. You’ve just volunteered for more abuse. This person showed you who they are, and you can either choose to believe it, or stick your head in the sand and deny it, or cover up the stench with instantly conferred, unearned “forgiveness.”
And listen, just because I’m judging this idiocy, doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. Painfully, I do. I’ve written about why we stay stuck with cheaters. Let me untangle your friend’s chumpy skein for you a bit.
1) She doesn’t want your insight. She sees but she disagrees. Is your friend naive and gullible? Or does she just disagree with your assessment that this guy sucks? She just caught him red-handed cheating. That proof that she was waiting for was just handed to her, but apparently she still needs a few more disasters to connect the dots. (Thus today’s cartoon.) You see an abuser. She disagrees. She sees a broken man who really loves her but just needs help.
2) She’s got a fucked up idea of what love is. She’ll accept his abuse as the price of admission for his “love.” Somewhere along the line she’s learned to make her needs really small and feels that no one will love her unless she is Of Use. Thus the cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and general lopsided, un-reciprocal nature of this relationship. She’s pick me dancing. She thinks love is jumping through flaming hoops for people in order to be found worthy. She gets a feeling of being needed and indispensable. She also feels a (false) sense of control. I can COMPEL people to love me by being Of Use. Then she’ll feel resentful when that doesn’t happen, and rewarded when a tiny kibble is thrown her way. She’ll just try harder. (Maybe I’ll get ANOTHER KIBBLE!) It’s codependent. At some level she’s used to this shit.
There is also brain science behind why this intermittent reward love is addictive.
3) She’s making decisions based in fear. Not just fear of him, but fear of who she is without him. What her identity is, how she will manage, how she’ll face being alone. She’s convinced herself that being with Mr. Douchebag is better than the nameless dread of The Other Side. That’s why this blog might help her — we’re on the other side and it’s lovely and sane over here. Jump in!
4) Her values are out of whack. Chumps don’t like to hear this, but frankly, a lot of why we keep hanging on to cheaters has to do with our own judgments of others and our values. Oh, I don’t want to be one of those Pathetic Divorced People! (Yeah, you’d rather be one of those pathetic people hanging on to a loser.) She thinks she’s nothing without the public “commitment” of a cheater. Other chumps want the lifestyle, can’t give up the perks of being the number one satellite to the narcissist. They don’t know what they stand for, so they’ll let this larger than life asshole take the place of where their Self should be.
And THAT is where you question her. These aren’t magic words, but they can help nudge her towards understanding.
“Is this relationship acceptable to YOU?”
“What do you value? Is this the kind of relationship you want?”
“No, don’t talk to me about potential and what ifs — I’m talking RIGHT NOW. Who he IS. What your life is — is this ACCEPTABLE to you?”
“Can you imagine a relationship in which you are cherished and respected?”
“Is it okay with you that this person is making unilateral decisions about your health and welfare?”
Put HER decisions back on HER. Point out to her that she has AGENCY. She doesn’t have to take shit. And if she takes shit? She CHOSE IT. Of course, she doesn’t see it that way — she sees it as investing heavily in this man’s potential. He’s all very sorry and is going to Make Things Right.
You cannot help her from following the unicorn into the dark woods, Smart. You can only hope that when she has children, she’ll want better for them.
You’re a good friend, but sometimes you just have to detach with love and let the Big Bad Wolf gobble up the unicorn.