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Dear Chump Lady, Why do cheaters all work from the same script?

cheater_overlapDear Chump Lady,

After faithfully reading this blog and thinking about all that we have been through I still have questions.

1. How did all of these cheaters from all over the world basically learn the same script? I read everyone’s posts and I keep hearing the same dialogue that I had with my ex. In some cases, word for word. “I don’t believe you and I are over yet, I just need to do this”, “She is good for me”, “The kids want me to be happy”, “You just aren’t fun anymore”, “I love you, but it’s in a different way now.”

I don’t believe these words are something any parent teaches their child, so how did they all learn their script? Is there a “Narcissist for Dummies” handbook that chumps don’t know about in a secret room at Barnes and Noble?

2. What broke in them as children to cause them to be this way? The best that I can figure with mine was both parents were alcoholics (only one admitted and stopped drinking, forever). The father was not a believer in “time out’s” and used spankings, spankings with belts and groundings for punishment. My SIL told me that my ex was always a liar (probably so that he wouldn’t get hit or grounded). Is this the similar scenario in lives of other cheaters or am I just trying to find an excuse?

3. How as parents can we keep from raising a new crop of narcissistic children? Perhaps it is my newfound perspective, but there seems to be a rise in entitled, non-empathic, self serving, self-promoting, lazy humans. What are we as parents doing wrong and how do we stop it? I don’t want either of my children to end up like my ex-husband or marry someone like him. Perhaps the damage is done, but if there is some magic mommy wand out there I want to use it.

So yes, after almost 30 years of studying this specimen I am still confused. I want to strengthen my picker and not repeat this crap again. And I want to make sure my kids work on theirs so they don’t end up with the same type of person or worse, become that person.

Staying Strong

Dear Staying Strong,

1.) At first dalliance, every cheater is issued a Stupid Shit manual. It’s delivered by turkey vulture, which alights on their bedpost and drops it gently on their pillow. Other Stupid Shit manuals are found under rotten cabbage leaves, and still others can be bought at circuses if you know the right sideshow freak.

This is how lies are born! Cheaters are generally delighted to discover these manuals, because they were wondering how they were going to explain their treachery, but it’s all laid out right there for them. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering — who writes the manual? How do they know who’s cheating?

Hobgoblins. They have headquarters in Waco, Texas, with large printing presses, and an international security apparatus that keeps tabs on the empathy challenged. (Who do you think started Ashley Madison?)

You have a better answer? How else to explain the eerie similarities between every cheater?

Seriously, there’s only so many ways to manipulate someone. (For a catalog of manipulation, check out Dr. Simon’s site.) Convince them to doubt their senses (gaslighting), punish them for truth-telling (rage, abuse), divert them with chaos, insist they take responsibility for their own oppression (blame-shifting).

These dynamics are universal to humankind. And it’s not just cheaters — it’s anyone in any system trying to gain unfair advantage over another. “You don’t deserve voting rights, you’re not ready yet.” The entitled will always seek excuses as to why their entitlement is Right and Proper.

Once you understand cheating as a toxic power dynamic, you understand why all the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is so universal.

2). No answer. That’s untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Stop!

3). If anyone is handing out “Magic Mommy Wands” I want one to wave over my teenager so he stops using all the towels.

Staying Strong, we can only speculate on what makes people cheaters. If it’s personality disorder, well, there is some evidence that’s genetic. (If you want to read more on that, google “callous unemotional traits hereditary”.) If it’s basic entitlement, yes, I think as parents we can do a lot to not raise a spoiled brat. But consider your own family — don’t you know people raised by the same parents (good or toxic) who raised very different children? If only life came with guarantees!

One of my favorite parenting phrases, along with “Wherever you left it” and “Because I said so”, is “It’s not all about you.” Children constantly need to be reminded of other people’s needs and feelings. It’s Sally’s turn for a ride on the slide! No, the cookies are for SHARING! No, you CANNOT USE EVERY TOWEL IN THE HOUSE AND TAKE HOUR-LONG SHOWERS!

It’s Not All About YOU.

I do think that many cheaters have huge senses of entitlement that were fed as children. You’re a very special golden child, better than all the other children. They weren’t called out on their selfishness, instead their “superiority” was celebrated and encouraged.

We do children a disservice when we don’t force them to take responsibility for their actions. Every parent knows how hard it is not to rescue or spackle for our kid. “Well, you failed that class because the teacher was a terrible teacher who couldn’t teach!” Instead of letting them learn from consequences — kid takes the failing grade and the humiliation that goes with it.

Will our children grow up to be cheaters? I sure hope not! But of course, part of that answer is US. It’s not just what we say to children, it’s what we DO, what we model, what we tolerate in our lives that teaches them how the world works. If children grow up in a cheater/chump household, who do you think they’re going to want to be? The powerful, “happy” person who gets all the kibbles and advantages, or the  sad, put upon chump, resentfully eating shit sandwiches to keep the peace?

You want to teach your kids to be mighty? Push the mean kid off the slide if he won’t take turns. Stand up for yourself. Don’t take crap — and your kids won’t either.

That’s my hope anyway.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • That using all the towels and hot water thing really gets under your skin doesn’t it? I can relate…

      • How about breaking the monthly water bill down and make him “pay” his share. He can get a job, do chores around the house or even sell his stuff on ebay for the money. Buy him 3 towels that are his – it is up yo him to make sure he has a clean, dry towel or he can shake himself off.
        He will learn quickly!

          • Oh we’ve done the color coding. I now have a notice of $20 fine for using the white washcloths. I’m considering taping $20 withdrawal slips from his college fund next to the sign. Money seems to be the only motivator. “I have no washcloth” — not a motivator.

            • Every time my daughter leaves the bathroom in a mess I make her clean the whole thing (mirrors, toilet, bath, shower, floors, sink, benches etc). She’s learning…

        • Get one of those timers on the shower like the ones that can be found at camping areas. You learn to shower fast when it’s 50 cents/minute and you don’t want to run out of cash while you are soapy.

            • There is a simple equation- shower time and Internet time ( inverse ratio). Mind you I don’t mind my 16 year having long hot showers balding out nickel back and singing along. I know he is happy and feeling ok in his world after a cr&@ year finding out about his step fathers dark secrets and infidelity. I think his bathroom is his escape from the pain

      • My teenage son takes the hour long showers, and then leaves the dripping wet towel crumpled on the side of the tub. This doesn’t bother him, though, he will happily continue to use the same towel until it is smelly and mildewed enough to stand up on its own. I’m an enabler, I admit it — I put a fresh towel in his bathroom every few days.

      • I am in charge of team towels for the college basketball team. We start with 18. I am down to 10 because they walk off with the towels and then the towels are lost in a Bermuda Triangle for terry cloth…so I understand the towel thing. I’m not blood related to any of them and they still hog the towels.

      • Of course they do! I can have ten million towels in the shower but when one of the teens go in he will come out and all towels will be a sodding mess. Not sure why but I’m quite impressed by their ridiculousness.

          • It’s not quite that simple. There’s a critical inverse relationship between the price of water and the time it takes to clean teenage boys. Water trucked in @ .10 a gallon or more has a statute of limitations that requires teenage boys to shower twice daily.

            Towels have to be regularly rotated to maintain absorbency, so your son is actually operating them correctly. My son has three plush towels, the only ones he will use, and he will use all three of them after a single shower, one for hair, one to wear, and one to function as a regal mantle of authority as he strides through the house. These are plush, large towels, 110% Egyptian cotton. But his failure to rotate towels properly results in their failure to soak up water, and the only way he can dry off is by leaping gracefully over the bathmat as he exits the shower, then walking through the bathroom and house leaving slick puddles on the floor. Surprise!

          • Sorry to be chiming here a bit late but my 16 year old son takes 10 minute showers, uses one towel and when he is done he hangs his towel on the towel rack. However my cheater ex’s kids, when they used to come over and spend their 3 week summer visitations at my house (gawd how I used to dread that! every fucking year! I am glad I didn’t agree letting them moving in my house permanently to support their ass on top of their mooching dad and clean after them non-stop!) his daughter and son each used 3 towels , they will drop one on the floor in the bathroom and walk over it, one will be on the kitchen floor or hallway, the third one will be either in the living room, garage or on my back deck, for me to pick it up, his son would take 2 showers at least 45 minutes long daily(not because he was dirty, get it? 😉 lol) then use clean towels. His kids used 9 towels a day! I shiver now when I think about it! Their mother had it so she wanted to send them to live with me, and in those weeks they ruined my home completely and they were just incredibly filthy and lazy and still are! His son is 24 daughter 20 and still living with their mother and their step dad and causing lot of stress in their mothers marriage because they continue to be lazy, inconsiderate, son sleeps all day, smokes pot, fucks off all night on Xbox live screaming bloody murder like he used to at my house, keeping me and my son up all night. I count my blessings everyday that I got rid of his cheating, lying, mooching ass and all his excess luggage!!!

    • I never used all the towels, I STILL use ALL the hot water when I take a shower. I will do that until I die, LOL. Good thing I don’t have kids…

  • Don’t get me started on the towels….a timely post, as I realised the other day that I have been too soft on my 18 year old since D Day last July. It’s fair enough to be gentle on them during the first couple of weeks I guess but I have realised that although I think he ‘pulls his weight’ around the house, the things that he does are done purely to benefit HIM. He’ll get his own lunch if I’m busy, but will leave the pans out and a dirty plate on the side, etc. He has been very sweet and considerate of my feelings about the divorce etc, and is careful never to say or do anything which will make me unhappy, but still.

    So this is a good reminder, I think most parents realise that teenagers DO think the world revolves around them and it was ever thus, but knowing that our offspring have had the influence of a narc and have learnt their behaviours, or worse, may have narc DNA in them, it’s even more important that we make them realise that selfishness is not appropriate. I feel I owe it to his future partner!

  • Ha my cheater the other day told me that he thought of me when he was out fucking his hos…I was like ya right!!! Lol but he persisted and said such a romantic thing….yes I wish we could have all shared that moment but ur pussy is the best. Well thanks for the kudos I m so honored, u have a real way with words by the way, u sweet talker u!!! He was obviously trained at the Art of Romance Institute by evil trolls.

    • It’s pretty hard to get your mind around how somebody can think “I was thinking of you while I was cheating on you” is a compliment, right?

      But … you see… you are supposed to be flattered that he was thinking about you. That’s the message. You should be flattered that I think about you, and I even do it while I am out cheating.

      Of course, to the casual outsider… it just seems like a character defect, and you think, “There’s your proof that no matter who he’s with, he’ll be comparing them to somebody else, and thinking he’s missing out on something”.

      You can’t fix that.

      • BTW, CL would probably call that “your invitation to the ‘Pick Me Dance'”, and I think that’s true. I think people who do this are inviting you to compete for their special attention. It’s just…, as a casual outsider, that’s not something I would want to do as part of a life-long commitment.

      • I am not sure if my cheater´s non-thoughts are worse “We (with OW) didn´t talk about you out of respect”…What a way to respect someone who you are married to!

        • LOl – too funny (sorry if it’s still too soon). Yes, terribly respectful. Geez.

        • The alternate is complaining about the marriage to the OW (which mine did) as a way to pull the “poor me–my wife doesn’t understand me. Can I get in your pants?” card.

          • I’m laughing Tempest. Ex told me that OW was “helping” him with our marital problems…and…he actually told me she was a saint, “she’s a better person than you or I will ever be”. You can imagine my response to that

            • HAHAHA, same story here….”we were tlaking about you and the kids the whole time.” Gee, thanks fucktard and nasty hoe.

              • she is my friend, my secretary she understands me…. my ho-worker….. ohhh I though 20 years together was something… I guess I was wrong once again

              • OMG! Cheater three-peat here! Biker woman and Cheater #2 bonded over their “troubled” marriages. Really? Our marriage is in trouble – yeah, Moron, it is now because you cheated.

                Such lack of originality. Le sigh.

            • Dat–I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during your response to that drivel.

              • Yes, the OW is very altruistic and just wants to help. She’s his best friend. Silly me for thinking that if he was to be so tight with another female that it’d be with me, his wife of 10 years. I shouldn’t worry though, because during their 2 hr phone calls that always happened when I wasn’t around, he “never said anything bad about me”. Thanks for the info, ya homewrecking pill-head. I’m sure when I kicked him out after he admitted he was in love with you that you two were full of nice words for me. Bastards.

            • I was the worst wife in the world donchakno…mean, demanding, always wanting to do fun things, wanted the house to be clean, bills paid…mean in fact so fucking mean and terrible, he didn’t want custody of our last child… Imagine that poor poor child being left in the care of that mean, mean woman. How could you…

            • Dat, my ex was just the opposite — he was helping his OW with HER marital problems! Maybe teaching her some new sex techniques to use with her chumped husband, I guess.

            • My ex said OW was someone he could really talk to, she was so supportive (probably because she was his grad student and he could fire her). In fact, they went shopping together to buy me Christmas presents (while he hated shopping with me and the kids). They had so much in common! She was a leader of leaders AND a servant leader! She was a wonderful mother (while I was just a “good” mother). In fact, she reminded him of his own mother. AND she was healthy, not sickly like me (cancer survivor). They also enjoyed complaining about their spouses with each other, they criticized how we both liked to listen to NPR. LOL

            • Oh wow, mine played the “we are just friends and she’s giving me advice about our marriage and raising a child during a divorce…see, she comes from 2 twice over broken homes….” with his first OW.
              Wow…well….did you ever think that perhaps your WIFE should’ve been the first person privy to the fact that you wanted a divorce? And your concern for our daughter? Lmao….I’ve been operating as a single parent since her birth while you were only interested in her when it impressed your family and got you a sympathy pass as the “poor under appreciated, hard working husband and superdad”.
              Give me a break….clearly this turd of a woman learned nothing from her extensive experience in the stormy seas of divorce because her advice was so good that he bailed on his family and pretty much handed out child right over to me in court.

            • My Ex OW was also a Saint according to him. She loves animals you know. So do I for that matter. I told him yea she cheats with MM and is a total whore but she sounds like a real peach. Remind me to put her on my Christmas Card list.

          • Exactly what my cheater did at least with the work ho’s. He didn’t have to use those lies on the one night stands or prostitutes.

          • When “we” decided to reconcile, the ex “broke up” (seriously- he said that) with the OW and thanked her because she “probably saved our marriage”…ROFLMAO. I can laugh at the absurdity of that now but I actually stuck around for 3 more years of those shenanigans. I think hobgoblins really must write this shit.

            • Cheaters suck, during very very brief bogus reconciliation, my ex googled “broke up with my girlfriend and now she tries to make other guys jealous in front of me on purpose”. Looking back, it’s really funny, but when I found that on the un-deleted search history, I fell apart. I could not believe he called her his girlfriend. Ugh, all the same. So happy I have ALL the screenshots that I could get my hands on because I know at some point he will lie to our small child about his affair. I’m ready and prepared for it.

              • Yes, the screenshot is wonderful. I have a folder full of them. When I had doubts about his deep level of suckitude, I looked at those screenshot and said, “Yep. He set up the FB page. Yep, he lied. Yep. There’s that picture of his MOW.”

        • they didnt “talk about you out of respect” but they had ZERO issues with disrespecting you, your family, your kids, your health and your marriage by bumping uglies together.

          HTF do these people think these things up. it is disrespectful to TALK about you but not disrespectful to F*ck your husband. wow!!! they just make this sh*t up as they go along. what amazing, honorable, RESPECTFUL people they are since they didnt TALK about you while they were screwing….. you are one lucky lady, let me tell you.

          mine unfortunately didnt even have that kind of respect for me. i think the only thing they had in common at the beginning was their mutual hatred for me, his wife. i apparently was the topic that bonded them to each other. misery loves company after all and she “respects” him (not sure how she thought that i wasnt respecting him *shrugs*). if it wasnt for them being able to talk about me, i am not sure they would have gotten together.

      • Or “I was thinking of you while I was cheater with her” can mean: “I was wallowing in the delicious kibbles of knowing I was doing something you don’t know about. I’ve got a secret! You are not the boss of me!” We still tend to think that cheaters have regular monogamous human emotions. lt’s all about power.

    • FBI,
      My cheater told me that he accidentally said my name during a ‘special moment’ with OW. She got upset, so she demanded that he get a vasectomy to avoid impregnating her. He did some research to find out whether it was legal to get this operation without informing one’s spouse. After discovering that he was not legally bound to tell me before getting the operation, he booked an appointment. These cheaters’ willingness to deceive others, even those they vowed to love and respect, knows no bounds.

      • Is it just me or did you have trouble connecting those dots rockstarwife? He called out your name during a special moment so she demanded that he have a vasectomy? How is one related to another? Pretty ballsy to do it without even consulting you but then when I think about all the other things they don’t consult us about, I guess it’s not too surprising.

        Fortunately for the ex-asshat in my life; he didn’t have to worry about the OW calling out her husband’s name in bed because they both have the same name. Convenient right? Right around the time I realized that I wondered simultaneously just when exactly my life became an actual episode on Jerry Springer!

      • Rockstarwife–my mouth hangs open every time I get a new piece of information about your X. I hope his vasectomy HURT.

  • “I do think that many cheaters have huge senses of entitlement that were fed as children. You’re a very special golden child, better than all the other children. They weren’t called out on their selfishness, instead their “superiority” was celebrated and encouraged.”

    You just described the way my STBX M-I-L raised my STBX. . He was so “golden” that my parents told me years later that they thought our marriage wouldn’t have lasted ten years because his mother worshipped the ground he walked on. He grew up on a farm in Indiana. He’s very smart, has a gorgeous singing voice and can play any sport and can do anything he sets his mind to doing. There were years when growing up that he would spend summers singing in Europe while his father farmed the land. He was given an MG (car) in place of being paid for working on the farm. His mother spoiled him rotten and it took me years to unspoil him. When we first started dating he had a credit card for every store on NYC’s 5th Avenue and no money to back them up. He was like a kid in a candy shop and his mother encouraged him. He never heard the word NO.

    And when the planes hit the WTC on 9/11 — his mother called her local newspaper and gave them his office number so he could tell them what he could see from midtown. She wanted to see his name in print.

    All that said, I loved him for over 30 years because of his wonderful nature and his can-do attitude. But now I see what is broken in him and this aging thing has made him realize he can’t fix eveything, so he’s on the run… back to his college girlfriend.

    Love your children — don’t live vicariously through them or worship them!

    • Wow, I grew up on a farm and I certainly didn’t spend my summers singing in Europe. I spent my summers working on the farm from sun up to sun down. My ex, however, had a privileged urban upbringing and never had to work for anything. Got sent to a private boarding school for high school (which he didn’t even graduate from–he didn’t pass all his courses). His mother thinks that rainbows come out his ass. Seems to be a common theme among our coddled cheaters. Mom9193, I bet you can’t wait to be rid of your MIL. I sure don’t miss mine.

      • HA HA So glad my MIL is out of my life. My plan is to write a book based on all the shit she dealt over the years. Maybe a “flip” calendar and I can do one thing per day! She was a nightmare from day one and that’s the brightest side of divorce!!! Even my kids are happy not having to deal with “Grandmother”!

        • i guess i was blessed in not having to deal with my MIL very often. i believe i only saw her 3X in all 14.5 years i was with him. when i met him he didnt even know where dear old mother was, she dumped him off and disappeared (should have been my first clue and i wish i ran like hell instead of feeling sorry for him).

          she ended up just popping right up after our marriage, and i was 8month pregnant with his first child. i mean literally popped right out of the woodwork, one day she wasnt there, we didnt talk about her then next day i came home from work and she was sitting in my living room, husband was gone to the autostore because she needed help with her car. i walked in a literally stood there with my mouth hanging open the whole time she was there. she had already made herself at home. and for the 4 hours she was there she talked nonstop ABOUT Herself. not once did she ask me what i was carrying, or when the baby was due. not once did she ask my husband how he was the past 8 years she was missing. it was all about her. (again, i should have known something was wrong, but my momma raised me better then that i was trying to be polite and was shocked at her rudeness and uncaring attitude, of course my heart only hurt that much more for him), he fixed her car, she left with some empty promises about making “the baby” a blanket before he was born.

          2nd and 3rd times were about the same. i was happy i never had to spend too much time with her. My children DID NOT like her either. apparently his married slut gets along very well with all of his family…..imagine that

    • I believe this is also my cheater. He was great at sports and very smart. He used to tell me that his “half way” beat everyone else’s best day on the soccer field. I suspect school was the same for him. His mom and dad gave him praise but it was never overt to me. I see more clearly now especially since his parents KNOW about his cheating. They have been silent on the issue. They have also been less involved with their grandson. He lives with me. And I called out their son and I have anger about him cheating so they don’t want to call the house I guess. So sad. They won’t be having a ton of grandkids…and my son loves them to pieces.

    • It’s sad about your STBX. He was born with so many blessings, so much talent. But each of us has things to overcome on our journey and his was his entitled upbringing. You said yourself that “it took you years to unspoiled him” but all that means is that he isn’t a grownup who can manage the disappointments of life, hence taking the WayBack Machine to college days to avoid the pain of finding out that, like all mortals, he is growing older and not the king of the universe.

  • Hmmm – this explains a lot. I married my pos ex in Waco, maybe it was doomed from the start!

  • I think all of us chumps work from the same script too, at least we do until we find Chump Lady and finally come to our senses. That’s the thing about being a good person, we just don’t want to admit that the people we shared our lives with have hurt us on purpose. We want to figure it out and make sense of the utterly senseless! But, as Chump Lady rightly says, it’s not for us to figure out. Chumps have been trying to figure this shit out since the dawn of time. The only thing to do is swallow the red pill (or is it a blue pill?) and accept the cold, hard truth: the people we loved hurt us, and they absolutely, positively, 100% meant to do it. It wasn’t a lapse in judgment, it wasn’t because you don’t wear matching bra and panties from Agent Provocateur every day, and it certainly wasn’t because daddy didn’t give them enough hugs as a child. I grew up with an alcoholic father too, and not once has that fact caused me to grievously harm the people I love. They cheat because they want to, because they think they can, because they are so sure of their own utter fabulousity, and because they are so sure that you will simply take it like the good little chump that you are. So, even though it’s tempting to wonder why (and you’re not alone, I think every chump has had these thoughts) you should refocus your energy on more worthy causes, like yourself and your kids. Lead by example, show your kids that bad decisions have bad consequences, and take immense pride and pleasure in the knowledge that you are a GOOD and KIND and DECENT human being. And now you’re cheater-free as well. You win. We all won! Thank you for everything Chump Lady, and thank you to every other chump out there xx

    • You said it, Jacqueline . . .

      “We want to figure it out and make sense of the utterly senseless! But, as Chump Lady rightly says, it’s not for us to figure out. Chumps have been trying to figure this shit out since the dawn of time.”

      And in my opinion, this sums up the only way out of the pain. Accept that it exists, it has always existed, it will always exist in the future. Now that we have good detectors for the tactics, we can decide how much we allow disordered people into our lives. Personally, my tolerance level is very low. I can tolerate disordered behavior from the UPS driver who serves my area, but that’s about as close as they get.

    • Jacqueline, I agree with what you said. An epiphany for me was when I was telling my mother how my ex just didn’t seem to understand that he was hurting me, and she said “He didn’t CARE that he was hurting you.” That’s when it hit me like a 2×4 that I’d been trying to “understand” his behavior in the hopes I could better control it.

      • Mums are great for really spelling it out to us sometimes. My mum said the exact same thing, and like you it was a lightening bolt of reality

    • Jacqueline,
      Thanks for writing this response. I needed to be reminded today–as my cheater attempts to lure me back into pseudo-reconciliation.

    • “It wasn’t a lapse in judgment” ,………damn i was stuck on that for Oh So Long. i just couldnt get it in my head that he was NOT confused, misguided, unsure of what the right thing to do.

      Like Lyn, i was certain, 100% (well like 90%) CERTAIN that my XH just did not understand how he was hurting me and the kids. my mom also told me the same thing “HE DOESNT CARE THAT HE IS HURTING YOU OR THE KIDS” and i STILL did not see it. even now after 8 months of absolutely zero contact from him, no calls, no texts, no emails no effort whatsoever to see his children. and i am barely beginning to understand that it might be possible that he really doesnt care (you see how i still word that, ugh, i disgust myself!)

      • I did the same thing. It was just unfathomable that he was hurting me so badly on purpose, I was convinced that he must simply not understand the results of his actions. I spent so long trying and trying to explain it to him in every way I could think of over and over again. One day it just clicked that it was ME that was the one with empathy, not him.

        It’s the fact that we have empathy that makes us such good chumps. I am not ashamed of trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, no matter how painful it was at the time. He’s responsible for causing the pain, while I only gave him multiple opportunities to stop doing it.

        Everybody reaches the end of their line eventually.

        • I did the same thing. I spent SO long trying to reach him so he would open his eyes and SEE what he was doing to me…I reasoned that it must just be that he was so wrapped up in the thrill of the affair that he was “temporarily blinded” to everything except what she and he were feeling.

          Well, he was blinded, yes, but it was a willful blindness. It was possible for him to be that blind only because he didn’t actually care about me and my emotional agony.

          I had been devalued, after all, so why would my reality be of concern to him?

  • I have ruminated many times over the last few months on the wingnut i got involved with.

    I fluctuate between the fact he was just born a selfish empathy lacking narcassist, or if it comes from his family.

    His dad was a musician in the 60s, banned hugs when boyfriend was 5. Was never around much, and had lots of women on the go. His mum is also not affectionate, and was very critical. Stbx tried to kill himsrlf at 15. Has had 2 marriages he left for affairs, and has led me a merry dance fir the 3 years we were together.

    He is obviously damaged, and will never have a long term stable relationship. He always thinks something or someone else is out there to fix him.

    But the 1 conclusion i have come to is, he knows what he does will end up hurting someone, but he does it anyway. Then says he never meant to hurt you and it is all his fault.
    But he then has another crisis and repeats the behaviour.

    He is just a bad person, the reasons dont matter.

    • “He is just a bad person, the reasons dont matter.”

      This is the 100% truth that all chumps need to accept.

      Maybe we need chump tshirts and hats that say “I doesn’t matter”. Because really it doesn’t. Makes no difference if they are a sex addict or not, or if they have ADHD, or FOO issues – they treated us like shit, so we should leave them. Being treated like shit is reason enough to divorce.

      I spent a few years trying to figure out what in God’s name was wrong with my exH. But then I realized, “it doesn’t matter”.

      I think that should be the title of Tracy’s next book!

      • I agree Coco and That Girl. It’s a colossal waste of time for the average person to figure out why cheaters cheat. If you’re an academic and want to write a psychology PhD dissertation about the topic – go for it. Perhaps the research can be presented in graduate psychology courses, or as mandatory reading for marital therapy training. For the rest of us, who struggle to live day-to-day when our marriages implode, the reasons for infidelity don’t matter. It’s a mug’s game.

    • I agree that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why a particular cheater cheated. They left a crater behind no matter where the meteor came from. But personally, I do find it helpful to delve into the origins of cheating behaviour more fully and generally in the hopes that I can spot such tendencies in potential partners and run for the hills if warranted. Just risk management, really.

      • And nothing for me is more important than knowing about character disorder.

    • I never really paid attention to the lyrics but this time I did & I cried for how truthful it is for a chump like me.

    • Great chump song and great post above, Jacqueline. I will post this in the songs forum.

  • My husband was a late Baby for his Parents. His Parents were nearly fifty when he was born. He had older siblings who also spoilt him. He was spoilt and worshiped by his Mother.

    He never had contact with other children until he was five. So as a toddler he never had to share his toys and I have been told that he was spoilt as a child. I really do believe that is where the sense of entitlement comes from. As a child I was always made to offer my sweets around and to share nicely. He was never taught to share things and consider others.

    • i believe that too…………”that he was spoilt as a child. I really do believe that is where the sense of entitlement comes from” being given everything you want, not being taught to share, not being taught to wait and earn it, not being held responsible for your bad actions and decisions.

      i know that my XH was basically ignored as a child, was allowed to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, however they wanted as long as mom or dad did not SEE them actually doing it. mom and dad in law were so busy screwing, drinking, fighting with each other and sleeping the day away, they did not SEE a whole lot that their 7 children were doing. nobody was held responsible for anything that was broken, crushed, destroyed or missing as long as they were not seen doing it.

      i thought it was so sad to be raised this way. that and being tossed around from one group home to another, being coached by the CYFD people and the therapists that “It was NOT their fault” that mom and dad gave them away, or lost them. then on the other being given 100 stipend to use as they wished. the systems has greatly failed our young people. no wonder my XH is disgusted with therapists and turned to alcohol, then finally drugs in order to deal with life little failures, he was never TAUGHT the right way to handle disappoints.

  • About a month after dday, I was at the doctor’s office because I couldn’t sleep and had lost almost 15 pounds. Flipping through Esquire magazine I saw an article on how to cheat on your wife with fake email accounts, throw away phones, dinner meetings with “out of town clients” & suave lines to use on the suspecting, etc. I nearly fainted in the waiting room as my ex appeared to have followed it like a playbook. It was probably meant to be tongue & cheek but I’ve never seen articles like that in womens’ magazines.

    • Hurt1
      I too can relate. My ex was a small business owner, who methodically drove his business(& his salary) into the ground while he was planning the demise of our marriage. Apparently there is a schematic for that on the internet. My brother in law told me about it – I didn’t have the stomach to go read it myself . I lived it & am now paying the consequences via a vastly reduced alimony.
      Any chump whose husband owns his own business — watch out for this!!!

      • Mine threatened to retire early because my investigations into whether he had been a serial cheater were making him depressed, and threatening his reputation in the profession. He wanted a conditional written into the decree for lower child support if he retired early.

        Thankfully, my lawyer put a stop to that nonsense.

        • Mine “counseled” with a friend who had previously done the same to his EW. I absolutely KNEW some of the words coming out of his mouth came from somewhere else. They just didn’t sound like him and some weren’t even in his vocabulary which, to be kind, wasn’t very extensive. So I be believe they do have a source. Other cheaters.

          • My Ex before Dday srounded himself with other guys who did or are cheating on their wife’s. You are who you hang out with!!

              • This same friend used to send EH soft porn pics, filthy jokes, etc. by email. You are who you hang out with is right.

              • Tempest, your STBX has friends? See, my cheater doesn’t have any. That should have been a red flag.

          • NARP does not have friends, but everyone at his all male workplace cheats it is very much a part of the culture of the place. He always used to say to me. “If J–n spent all the time and money on his wife instead of his mistress his marriage would be great”. Well yes that is correct, but take your own advice you lying, thieving, hypocritical moron!

      • My stbx started running our business into the ground in 2012. Coincided with his mid-life crisis. His already abusive behavior ramped up at that time so told him I wanted a divorce in late 2013. A few months later I discovered the affair and started to understand that the business was somehow involved. Hired a forensic accountant and became my own private detective. Discovered and documented thousands of dollars a month being diverted from business to stbx’s pockets. Forensic accountant imputed that income right back into the business to undo the damage he had done in lowering/trashing the value of it as a marital asset. Just waiting for trial in June to see if all my investigating and evidence will hold up in court.
        My stbx also tried the “I’m so depressed it’s effecting the business and I can hardly work” as a reason why we were losing so much money each month. And also threatened that he may have to shut the business down because of it. Nice try, but hard to argue that you’re so depressed while out partying most nights and taking the whore on weekend getaways.

      • My ex quit his $100K per year career immediately after our separation. He said this was because he was “too stressed” to work because I filed for divorce, and that he was instead going to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. It’s been nearly five years since then, and he has not had a regular job since. He is actually homeless now. He owes me over $43K in child support, money I know I will never see.

        • GIO,
          My cheater quit his six-figure job shortly before he moved out and started to pursue ‘creative endeavors’ to earn a living and find his bliss. I suspect that he has produced virtually no revenue. For months, he did not pay child support, but he did take a relaxing vacation to a tropical isle, while I worked and took care of our kids.

          • I don’t know where you guys live, but in my state, they will impune income to guys like this. I remember reading there was one case where a judge made the guy go out and get 2 part time jobs to make up the income he “claimed” he couldn’t make because he was depressed or something.

            • What Onthehill said. In CA, there is a state agency that actually finds deadbeat parents and tracks their child support debt. Any tax refunds, any earnings, anything is garnished until the debt is paid. Bankruptcy does not absolve the debt (Cheater #1 tried this). If you aren’t in CA, please, please look into your state’s agency that can help you with this. No parent should be allowed to get away with this!
              /steps off soapbox

              • I am in CA, and I do have a case with the state child support agency. They have been mostly useless. In fact, they told my ex to go to court and they would lower his ordered support because he was so behind. They have done nothing to penalize him. When I told them he intentionally was unemployed or underemployed or working under the table, they did not care. When I pointed out that he made over $100K right up until separation, they did not care. He doesn’t turn in required paperwork, he moves without notifying them, he left the country for months without notifying them… nothing. On occasion, they manage to find out about an odd job and get me a few bucks. That’s about it.

              • Like GIO, I’m in CA. From what I’ve heard, witnessed and experienced, most courts don’t actively shake down deadbeats. Sadly, many responsible spouses/parents who are abandoned are left out in the cold, sometimes literally.

            • In my state, the judge can decide that spousal income is based on potential earnings, so someone who works a lot of overtime can actually get sucked into that for 15-20 years because the state expects him or her to pay support based on that number. Jackass’s XW wouldn’t concede even a dime of support so he could go back to 40-hr weeks. I used to feel sorry about he had to work so hard. 🙂

  • Personally, the common lies from cheaters strike me from coming from a common spiritual source ( It is just too close to be otherwise or a coincidence even if there are limited ways to manipulate. The verbatim use of lies is what signals strongly to me that we are dealing with dark spiritual realities here. That’s my opinion.

    In defense of generation, Millennials, we do have endearing qualities. And I do think growth in character is necessary for ALL generations.


    • My cheater did mention, as an excuse, “but Honey, you always knew I had a dark side…” I always thought he meant he liked to watch weird depressing movies and write “dark” poetry, not that it gave him a right to cheat because of his ingrained darkness.

      • Yeah–wish I’d put more stock in the fact that my STBX always liked the manipulative villains in movies, e.g., the lead character in House of Cards (the British original–that guy was even more diabolical than Kevin Spacey’s character).

        • Yeah, Tempest. That rings a bell for me, too. My ex used to be fascinated with weaselly politicians and frauds. (Rod Blagojevich, Bernie Madoff, etc.)

          He used to get angry with me for my refusal to cheat on my taxes or to exaggerate my knowledge in order to get a new position. He made me feel like everyone did this — that I was terribly naive and uptight for being honest. How would I ever get ahead?

          And, you know — I’ll never be incredibly wealthy. That much is true. But I’m proud of the fact that I never sank to his level. I’ll take my mid-level position and decent salary any day over that.

          • You’ve made a nice list of red flags here: Identifies with amoral people, both real and fictional; willing to cheat on taxes, resumes, etc; thinking cheating is required to get ahead. If you are married to a man or woman who thinks those things are OK, it’s not a big step toward thinking a rendezvous with a potential AP is OK.

            • Ann Landers or Dear Abby had an interesting take on this years ago. I cut it out of the newspaper & carried it in my wallet years ago when I was a student. Something to the effect of, “the fellow students who always want to copy your homework or have you help them cheat on a test? They are cheaters. The rules don’t apply to them. They grow up to be cheaters. They will cheat at every opportunity. On everything & everyone.Don’t let your sibling date them.”

              Excellent post.

          • We must’ve been married to the same asshat Lilybart. I was often ridiculed by the ex for being “too honest” ; he even made fun of me once when I gave back an extra 10 dollars a cashier mistakenly gave me at a coffee shop when she thought I gave her a 20.

            It makes me sick when I think of how often I looked the other way while he broke whatever rules he could get away with; including cheating on our taxes. If I ever spoke up I was made out to be the fool.

        • I’ve thought about this too, Tempest: the many fucked up foreign films STBX loved – filled with mindfuckery, glamour and deceit. And his affinity for characters lacking empathy is obvious now.

    • DM, I totally agree. Anything that creates as much widespread pain as infidelity, to me, must be evil. And yes, that’s not a get-off-the-hook excuse…it’s an individual choice.

      I was just as unhappy in my marriage as my husband was (although aside from the typical marriage garb I still haven’t pinpointed what it was that was SO miserable for him); he was verbally abusive, abusing alcohol, physically withdrawn, emotionally dead and his “true self” was slowly seeping out for about 2 years but did that drive me into another mans arms? Another mans bed? No, it didn’t. And there were no shortage of opportunities, I just chose to remain faithful.

      I assumed/hoped that these were the temporary dark ages of my husband and our marriage and that we would move on to a better place once overcoming these obstacles…we did make VOWS, after all. But that’s just the kind of eternal optimism that these predators feed on. I’m sure the majority of chumps here were at first adored by their cheater for their infectious positivity, the same positivity that would eventually be criticized and mocked when the infidelity set in.
      Experiencing that optimism was what got their deceit wheels spinning in the first place. In my experience most cheaters, at their core, are pessimistic self loathing vultures that need constant stimulation (even if they are in denial and come off as arrogant). What better stimulation for a self hater than a constant flow of praise?

      So to me it does boil down to good vs. evil in its purest form.

      • Wow TheBetterJamie…you nailed it!

        I spoke to my STBX cheater yesterday about how he was passing all the negativity to our kids and why couldn´t he at least show them the option of a positive outcome. He said “Thats the way I am…you tried to change me for 17 years but couldn´t do it…HA!” as if he had triumphed over me by continuing to be mean and angry!

        • Mine has gotten angry too. He’s very condescending and finds fault in everyone and everything! He’s now started to criticize our 23 year old as she tries to figure out what she wants to really do post-college. She doesn’t want to be around him because he is constantly on her back. Guess his mommy didn’t do that to him but he feels the need to order his kids’ lives! Back-off buddy we’re doing just fine without you!

        • Chumpita, I think he’s ENTITLED to a congratulatory trophy for his life long commitment to only one thing: negativity. That’s the only relationship these losers are faithful to. It’s also the only thing that’s predictible about them.

          Ps- the trophy is a cloak they must adorn for the remainder of their pitiful lives of sewn together flaming turds and the contents of a full diaper genie bag.
          Have you smelled those things?!? DEAR. LORD.

      • Agreed. Cheaters are 100% responsible for their choices and actions. To use this influence as an excuse is lame. ‘The devil made me do it’ begs the question: why are you taking orders from the devil? And that would make you (ie cheater)…

        • Precious DM,

          I LOVE the way you put it: “why are you taking orders from the devil?”

          That this is the work of Satan himself is fully obvious!

          Several of our friends made comments about how my STBX had the look in his eyes of being possessed by the Devil. (He had been a counselor in our Community of Faith, mind you! ‘Jesus Cheater’, big time!)

          Even my Christian Counselors fully understood the role of satan in what transpired in his life and often prayed with me, asking for protection for me.

          I find it interesting that even people who do not necessarily embrace faith in God still see the obvious, that adultery & all the poo that comes with it is demonic. One of my Counselors reminded me that is is satan who wrote the script.

          Even though satan is very powerful, he CAN NOT make anyone break their integrity! It is as you said: They choose him as their Commander. It is truly a conscious choice to turn to the dark side, to ‘take orders from the devil’!

          ForgeOn, DM……ForgeOn, Nation!

      • Wow, TheBetterJamie, your story is so similar to mine. I don’t think there is anything really that makes them miserable in the marriage. I think they are miserable people in general that have a deep hole in their soul and they go looking for all the wrong things to fill it. That is evil too. I think too often we think evil comes with a horns and a tail and fire and brimstone but the worst kind of evil is this sneaky evil that only a few can see sometimes- that is the kind of evil that does the most damage.

        • Nicole, you’re absolutely right. I’m sure you were an able wife just as I was. If you had been my exes therapist you would’ve thought this man married the devil! That’s how he described me to him and that’s the story he was sticking to…until I made my own appointment with said therapist…it was only a few months after that that we split. Needless to say I still see that therapist and I’m surely no devil…as for my ex….?

          I could be way too fair to the ex and say “well maybe I just didn’t speak his love language” (trust that I tried every one of the heal your marriage by yourself gimmicks) but his love language was silent treatment, sulking, withdrawl and callousness…no healthy partner speaks that language. I truly think if he had taken that test he would’ve quit before finishing…he couldn’t choose between 2 loving options…he’d prefer neither!

          No intention to boost myself here but I think this will drive my point home: when I met in my ex in 2007 I had a successful modeling career in the works. Boy didn’t happen his ego love that? All the bragging rights and the arm candy he could’ve asked for…but once the commodity wore off, he despised it.
          Aside from the physical aspect I’m a well rounded woman with no fatal flaws, if you will. I’ve got my issues, we all do, but just as I’m sure you & the rest of us chumps are…I’m a freaking catch. Especially for this assclown I speak of. This man had it good, I would’ve done anything for him and pretty much did. I showed him what true, unconditional love looks like and made him a father. Now I’m a wonderful mother.

          My point is; NOTHING we could do would matter, nothing would keep them happy, nothing would change who they are deep down inside that black hole of a soul they have. Not having a model for a spouse, not millions of dollars, not the gift of a beautiful child…nothing.

          • I get it Jamie. I think we are on the same wavelength. What you say is so validating to me. I’m not a model but I’m no slouch either and take good care of myself. I was a kind, loving, faithful, loyal, caring, wife and mom and a good cook! :). I’m not perfect but like, you said, no fatal flaws either. It wouldn’t matter who they marry, they would do the same thing. The hard part for us is we deserved so much better and so did our kids but I know my husband had me fooled for many years and then the monster came out. Now it’s time for us to accept that we allowed this into our lives, overcome it, and create a life we do deserve. Hugs to you!

            • You’re right, Nicole. I’m learning to accept it every day, growing closer and closer to meh.
              We will move forward with eyes wide open!
              Hugs to you, as well!

          • TheBetterJamie: “My point is; NOTHING we could do would matter, nothing would keep them happy…”

            YES, this!! My therapist finally said to me, “your marriage was doomed from the beginning.” There is not attention, or praise, or perfection in the world for a narcissist to feel “happy” with one person. You could be gorgeous, and fascinating, and meet him at the door dressed in Saran Wrap with a martini in one hand, and a narc will have some complaint that justifies f*cking around.

            • Yes, yes and yes tempest! My therapist has said very similar things to me.
              Being an empathetic chump like I am, I can place myself in my STBX’s position and imagine how much it must suck to be so irrevocably broken that no amount of happiness will ever fill your soul and maintain your happiness..what a curse! While these banshees may never feel real pain they will also never feel real love or be able to reciprocate it. How sad….glad that’s not my burden to bear.

      • i totally and completely am 100% convinced that the married slut that convinced my XH to leave and desert his wife, kids, family was sent by the devil to tempt my poor little XH. of course he failed that test.

        i also believe that a lot of the similarities are in fact because people with poor or little character tend to hang around other people with people or little character so that they dont feel inferior. when people with poor or little character hang around people that value character and have integrity they end up “feeling bad” about themselves. (one of the things married slut actually told me was to “stop making him feel bad, that is all you are good for”)

        Xh started hanging around more and more people who did not value their marriage vows, who did not take care of their children because they would rather party, stay up all night, and sleep all day. and not have the responsibility that having children living with you make. Xh surrounded himself with people that supported his decision to bail on his family (after all he was so unhappy), abandon his children (after all kids are resilient), and forget the woman who stood by his side for 14 years (after all i dont treat him right). he did not want talk to people, friends, family members who supported staying married and fixing whatever issues you have with your wife, he avoided those people (and still does i think) that think it is wrong to walk out on your kids, and ignored anyone who tried to tell him he was making a mistake. (which was not like him at all)

        the whole thing went downhill so fast and was so completely out of my control……

        if that wasnt driven by the devil then i dont know what else it could have been. it actually hurts my heart that my marriage that i sanctioned in the catholic church was so easily destroyed by the devil and his succubus. that the man i trusted and loved was so easily taken away from me.

        but it also makes me faithful that God has a plan for me. God has seen the devil destroy my marriage and He will find a way to bring happiness back into my life. For every bad, there is an equal amount of good.

        • Beautiful, Mrs.Vain……Excellent comment you posted!

          Love you…..Love your comments and the wisdom you share!

          So glad that you, too, saw clearly that this is the work of the devil and drew closer to our Creator during your trials. You allowed it to strengthen your faith, knowing that God was there with you every step of the way and He values your integrity!

          Forge on, Mrs V…..ForgeOn, all…..

          • thank you for that!!! i struggled with it for a long time. actually typing it out here is what helped me see it fully. although from the very beginning i could see the evil that my XH allowed into his heart and mind.

            it really is sad. i was hoping we would go together in God’s plan. but my XH was too overwhelmed by the devils temptations.

            as for my and my house we serve the Lord.

    • I completely agree DM. I feel the presence of evil when I’m around my STBXH. I don’t think it’s an excuse at all either. He allowed that garbage into his heart and soul.

    • DM, I agree. My ex is a big-time Jesus Cheater, and uses the excuse of my not being Christian as one of the reasons he had to cheat. But his wickedness, his lies, his cunning and even his delusions are driven by a force of evil, IMHO.

      • Gross GIO! I am a Christian and when supposed Christians say things like this I feel so angry and embarrassed. No real Christian would ever justify this kind of behavior. I’m so sorry he said this garbage. It’s so evil. My husband is a Jesus Cheater too. Some people tell me he could still be a Christian. I don’t buy it for a second. REAL Christians don’t do stuff like this and if they do they do (very rare) everything possible to repent and change without putting blame on anyone else but themselves.

        • My Ex’s father was a minister and professor of New Testament Theology…and among the worst philanderers I think I may have ever met! He was horrific to my former MIL (may she rest in peace) who was surely not the nicest person I ever knew, but now that I know what she put up with for nigh on 50 years–they lived overseas, and were dependent on his position for housing, benefits, status the while shebang–her school (that she founded) brought in the real cash however…well, I feel sorry for her. Both of this man’s son’s (my Ex and his brother) are cheater crapweasels. My MIL’s father was a bigamist (yay for the 1940 census, find out all kinds of things, cough.)

          And yet. When it comes to FOO stuff I think of my mother’s father, who was as morally upright a human as you could possibly imagine. He was born in the 1880s (yeah, long generations in my family…) Subject to domestic violence as a young child; his mother managed to divorce the violent husband and flee to Germany ca. 1890 (where she took up graduate study, go GGrandma!) but: she remarried, had another child with the new husband, then promptly died of TB. My grandfather’s aunt had gone over to care for her dying sister– she married the stepfather, and they had a couple of kids. The stepmother/aunt did not like my grandfather and was very cruel to him (and sent his brother back to the US alone at age 16). In general, his family life was one of dislocation, sorrow, abandonment and loneliness.

          Yet he managed to complete a PH.D. and Habilitation in physical Chemistry, do a postdoc at Harvard, become a professor, eventually head of the department at a polytechnic university in the US. More importantly, he made a loving and devoted marriage to my grandmother, and was still singing her praises 25 years after she died, saying often “she was the most accomplished woman of her generation.” (that was high praise from him–the highest!)

          TL:DR the point being, you can have the shittiest FOO in the world (he even had a knife thrown at him once…) and still decide to become a person of moral integrity and treat people right. And he treated *Everyone* right, from the homeless guy he sat next to on the bus, to the aristos they had for dinner at my grandmother’s parents’ house. They guy just believed in being honorable and fair, the total opposite of crapweaselitude.

          So now when I hear “FOO issues,” I think, “Horse shit!, think of my Grand-Père!” shove your FOO where the sun don’t shine…it’s just an excuse.

          • Love the story of your grandfather. I bet his mother really loved him and he never forgot it.

          • WOW, namedforvera…..Absolutely WOW!!!! {{{{me picking jaw off of floor!}}}}

            WOW!!……about what an amazing human your Grand-Père is (was), but also the extent of your knowledge about your family! Am so thrilled you shared that family history, both the good and the sick!

            (I also have long-lived generations in my family—of Germanic decent)

            ‘Tis so true that foo issues are NOT the real ‘reason’ people choose to be scumbags! There are many examples all around us of people who have been raised in the most horrific circumstances, as was your precious Grandfather, who choose to be loving, kind, caring, authentic humans! Let us all be sure to celebrate the lives of those individuals!

            ForgeOn, namedforvera……

          • Namedforvera, your grandfather sounds like my father: honorable, kind, gentle, someone to look up to. Always the most trustworthy person.

            Makes me really wonder how I ended up with such a low life. Have to fix that.

            My cheater projected his shady traits onto me, and was always crazy jealous and suspicious, while I projected my expectation of good motives and reliability on him.

            I was really blind and it has been a huge adjustment to wrap my head around the person he really is. This is basically what all of us are struggling with – the shock.

          • Comes down to strength of character, really.
            I myself have had a LOT of shit thrown at me during my life (fortunately, none ever by family though!) and I myself never have felt the need to cheat or be a manipulative fuckwad.
            Fact is – these cheaters have fuck-all for character, hence the reason why they do what they do. To use a gaming analogy: they can’t cleave their way through real life, so they use the cheat codes.

    • This reply is originally to DM’s observation of the role of evil in adultery…and also agreeing with all those in this thread who see it too.

      I have pondered the post question for 4 years – how could all cheaters be using the same phrases. I had concluded the devil is deceitful but not creative. the. exact. same. words. it is chilling.

      The XH had narcissistic traits and I spackled a lot. I was a good and faithful wife but have my own quirks. But we were good for a long time. 27 years went down so fast and so horribly. The mark of the devil is all over this destruction.

      And the grace of God is all over my and my daughter’s recovery. Deep love and so many blessings have not only kept me glued together, but continue to lift me up.

      As does Chump Nation. May God Bless and protect us all.

      • God Bless, Chumpette. What you’ve said resonates with me. The day my STBX filed for divorce IN PERSON as he watched from across the waiting room for our child support hearing…still gives me chills thinking about him actually wanting to witness that horrible event then going in to the hearing and lying about his work status to try to get out of child support as I sob uncontrollably….yuck…anyways…
        On that awful day I walked out from that hearing, broken, and God placed a message in my heart as I got in my car: “I’m saving you from something much worse.”

        At that moment, amidst all that sadness, I felt some relief. I could’ve never imagined how true that message would end up being. I truly believe God has bigger plans for my daughter and I and her father was really only there to help create her and not much more. He saved me from my STBX’s impending financial crisis, infidelity that I learned of 4 days later and a lifetime of misery with that man and his equally sociopathic family.

        I thank God every day for the struggle. I can be cynical and crude with my stories about my ex but I truly do know that his infidelity was the best thing he could’ve done to our marriage…obliterated it.

        • Jamie, what a great message: God says “I’m saving you from something much worse.” Very helpful to be reminded of that. Which is why we are reminded constantly to give thanks for our problems and our struggles. Give thanks always and trust even when we don’t understand what’s happening. I get it now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Such good timing on this article! I’ve been a little more than a year out of my separation but SO many friends of mine have experienced infidelity within that time frame. It’s alarming. I am thankful, though that I’m able to help them through this and offer some comfort & support because being the victim of infidelity, as we all know, is a very lonesome place.

    Thank you for this article today. It was perfect timing. I’m going to send all my fellow chump friends here today to read it and hopefully give them some perspective.

  • I can hardly put into words what my 25 year old son said when I tried to talk to him about my future. He lives with me, is still in school and I pickup the tab for everything. I asked him about his timeline for graduation so I could plan to sell the house and move where my daughter lives 3 hours away. I even offered for him to come with me until he found a job, etc. he response was “you stupid bitch, I don’t care what you do or where you live.” I guess the apple didn’t fall far from his fathers tree. 🙁

    • Irene, I am so sorry you were treated that way, but remember, this 25 year old smart ass won’t always be on top of the world and once he realizes he may need your assistance you may then treat him in the same callous fashion! Don’t feel bad about doing it either! Remember, he’s grown and thus is the “best” he’ll ever be! Sad? Yes! He showed you who he really is!! Not your fault, his choice!! Let him go ask his father for assistance in the future!! That’s my suggestion!

    • OMG Irene – that is horrendous! You have to throw that MAN out of your house – today! I know he is your son and you love him but he’s all grown up now – he’s not a toddler, he’s not an hormone-addled teenager, he is a fully grown man. You have done raising him and sheltering him from the harsh realities of life (and obviously one major lesson he hasn’t learned to date is that you certainly shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you). Your job is done with this ungrateful little bastard (sorry honey, I know he’s your son but ….) let him go sponging off his father, or trying to graduate from a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. You didn’t go through the heartbreak of D Day and divorce only to be saddled with another abuser tearing chunks out of you for the love you gave freely. I appreciate throwing him out will be hard for you to do, I know you risk permanent estrangement from your son should you do this – but Irene, you don’t deserve to be treated this badly, and you know, you really don’t have to take it either.

      Hugs x

    • Irene–how horrible for you to deal with two narcs in your house. I’m with Jayne–that boy needs consequences and self-sufficiency. Don’t make him worse–kick him out, go NC until he treats you with respect, and NO money or perks!!

      • Yes, Irene, if that little ingrate talked to you that way, he and his suitcase need to hit the sidewalk. Then change the locks and sell the house. NO ONE should talk to ANYONE that way, let alone a mother planning her own move around his timetable. So sorry he hurt you that way.

    • Oh Irene,
      I’m so sorry you experienced that. I do hope that it will come full circle and you’ll get the apology you deserve AND a healthy, respectful love from your son.

      • And Irene, you’ve been footing the bill for this kid?? Time to start handing him a bill or better yet, cut him off! Let him get his funds from his Daddy and Schmoopie! He’s in for a rude awakening! You’ve already been screwed over by the hubs, don’t let this little ‘daddy” pull his crap too!!!

    • Irene, I am so sorry. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”

      I hope you’re in therapy. I agree that you need to detach with kindness from your son. Tell him you’re selling the house, sell it, and then move to live near your daughter. Are these two children from the same parents? And how does your daughter feel about her brother?

      When you move, leave him his bedroom stuff, his Xbone, Playstation, etc. It is now up to him to get a job, apply for financial aid, etc.

      He really needs to do this. It will be a chance for him to grow up. You might not have a great relationship with him, but right now, you realize that he sees you only as free rent, groceries, etc.

      • Completely agree with kb, except for the “detach with kindness.” Irene’s son needs a 2 x 4; “kindness” is his incentive to behave better in the future.

        • Detach from anyone who calls you a “stupid bitch” out of self preservation. 25 year old can get a student loan and a shared apartment. Buh-BYE. Time to sell NOW. Why give your kid power over you like that?

        • “Kindness” is the 2×4. It may be too late for him to develop good empathy, but it may not be too late for him to learn that he has to abide by social norms or pay the consequences.

          • I agree. It’s one thing if a 13 or 14 y.o. tries out the nasty language..and learns what happens. But a 25 year old? nuh-uh. On your own with that, kiddo. Talk to the hand, and the hefty bags on the corner. I would say it’s time for some tough love. And, don’t worry yourself over much about how he’s going to react–Irene he’s already treating you in a really shitty way! You need to tell him to cut it out, and back that up.

            I say this in loving solidarity, as the mother of an (almost) 123 y.o., and aunt of lots of 25-35 y.o.s….. yeah, it’s time to grow up.

            hugs and strength to you.

    • Irene,
      So sorry your ungrateful progeny is exhibiting his Daddy’s narcissism. Absolutely no excuse for calling his own mother a stupid bitch.

      Even if somebody feels that a chump should have known the XH or XW was cheating and deserved it because of their stupidity in failing to connect the dots. By the way I am not saying any chump is stupid for being trusting and loyal to a POS. But people who have never felt betrayal do not understand how easy it is to miss the “signs” when you trust somebody that you committed to.

      This man child needs to fend for himself for his own sake. And you need to cut the apron strings for your own sake. Make your future plans for selling your house, changing jobs, moving etc. contingent on your needs and wants not for anybody else.

      Don’t trade the XH for a grown child who makes you play a different version of the pick me dance (do you really want to shower him with $$ and affection so he’ll like you better than his father).

      Your life is yours and you’ve finished raising him!

    • I admire your restraint. Let him fend for himself. Better yet, let daddy take care of him.

    • I am so sorry Irene. I know you probably can’t fathom kicking your own flesh and blood to the curb but doing that is showing him (and more importantly yourself) more love than accepting his abuse. He’s 25, there is no excuse for him to treat his mother that way. He’s not ‘spreading his wings’ and ‘pushing boundaries’ because he’s a teenager.

      Sending Jedi hugs to you.

    • “So. If I’m a stupid bitch, you know where the door is. You have fifteen minutes to pack up your shit and get the fuck out of my house. After that, if you aren’t gone, I will be calling the cops to remove you from the property.”
      Maybe I’m a snarky son of a bitch, but if that were my son, he’d be wearing far more than words after that sort of crap.

  • Dear Staying Strong,

    My first comment—Listen to CL’s answer #2 especially.

    Now, the other queries—-Satan himself wrote The Script!

    As for how to work with your children—

    While my son was growing up, I did a lot of what can be termed ‘damage control’. Whenever his Dad would get freaky and flaky, I would remind my son the correct way people should treat one another, reminded him of what the Scriptures say about the loving and proper relationship in marriage and generally all-around tried my best to model sane, kind, loving conduct.

    Of course, I did teach him the scriptures in between ‘blow-outs’, so that he was learning fine things in peaceful times, not just when his Dad would go crazy! He also had other good role models in his life.

    He is naturally very intelligent, but also very smart, perceptive and so on. So, he saw the bad results of his Dad’s conduct. He determined at a young age to be different. And, he is! My son is a grown man and has continued to be a kind, honest, loving, empathetic, compassionate human, with a fine reputation amongst his peers, older ones and the business community. (And, does not cheat on his wife or abuse her!)

    As he was growing up, I always showed him that he shared this planet with billions of other humans, the world did not revolve around him. Yet, all of us are special, precious & unique individuals; not one of us will ever be just like another. The balance—yes, that is a challenge!

    I also told him & showed him that because of my love for him, what he had to say and what was going on in his life was always important to me. However, sometimes what was up with him was not THE MOST important thing. Always taught him to love and care for others.

    As for what shapes these narcs—-there are several good books and on-line resources, if you are still curious. One I enjoyed: “Enough About You—Let’s Talk About Me”. I believe the author is Les Carter.

    This comment by mom9193 is a pretty good summary: “Love your children — don’t live vicariously through them or worship them!”

    Also, as Tracy mentioned, Dr, George Simon is about the wisest expert on character disorders. He has books and a web-site, manipulativepeople.

    In my cheater’s case, he was the neglected, middle child. He observed his dad’s alcoholic rages. His mom spent all her time & energy dealing with and deflecting dad’s horrific behavior and had no time let for him. So, it can be several different scenarios that trigger a full-blown character disorder.

    Am sure you will get lots of helpful feed back from The Nation!

    ForgeOn, Staying Strong…..ForgeOn, Nation…..

    • I have this thing about ‘cheap lessons’ with my kids…I want them to know that the world has consequences and the soon they learn that the better. Of course they need to learn that consequences are in all parts of life. I began when they were babies with hot. I told them don’t touch that it is hot and will hurt. (they would always try with this grinchy little smile and i let them (if they were not indanger of burning their fingers off) They were so surprised that mom was right, that grinchy little smile left them in a flash. (they got lots of love for tender fingers too but also mummy told you didn’t she.) I did that sort of stuff for lots of things.

      I told them if you are mean to your friends and hurt their feelings, they are not going to like you and you are not going to like it when they do it back. Lo and behold they didn’t like it and learned. They learned the consequences of getting bad grades in middle school not high school where they count. But I think that it worked, by the time they got to high school, they were pretty compassionate, confident people.

      My son did have to learn a lesson about money in college (dad never made him work for anything and was always good for a $20.) So in college, when he decided to eat his meal plan at Jamba Juice and ran out of meal plan at Thanksgiving. Mom, sent him back to school with #10 cans of pinto beans… that and with mooching food from the meal plans of small Asian girls, he made it. Got a ticket, mom paid and he didn’t get a birthday present or Christmas present for 2 years. He learned and has been living off $15K in grad school in Switzerland for the past 3 years. No help from mom at all. That is quite a trick in switzerland.

      I think our cheaters missed this sort of stuff… someone protected them from the consequences of their actions early on. They are so surprised to learn that you have to make your own happiness every day. No one hands happiness to you. Or that if you cheat, break your promise, you get your ass handed back to you… I watched a girl friend do that to her son… read his books for his book report, pitch a fit if he wasn’t the ‘star’ player at soccer…constantly bragged about what a perfect child he was. She raised a cheater. What is he now… a dope smoking loser.

      I maybe a mean mom, my mother was a mean mom, I come from a clan of hard ass but wonderful women… but it works for our kids.

      ps If you want to shorten the showers, go to the garage and turn down the heat on the water heater to barely comfortable… don’t tell anyone and before you or your husband take a shower, go outside and turn it up again. ‘I have no idea why the shower is so cold… perhaps you use to much of the hot water.’

      • This and more. And in my large family, we ALWAYS did that with the hot water heater when the water hog took a shower. Works great!

      • The great motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia told a wonderful story once about when he was a young man and went to Europe; he was young and foolish and blew all his money but figured his mom would bail him out. So he sent a telegram and to save money wrote only one word: “Starving.” He got a telegram back from his mom: “Starve.” He said that was the kindest most loving thing she could have done in that situation, because it forced him to stand on his own two feet and figure out how to solve his own problems. He also said that his mom confessed to him later that it was the hardest thing she had ever done, to cut off the purse strings and leave him on his own but that it was the only way for him to learn and mature.

      • I’ve written here about my mother the narcissist, but I will give her this: she raised me like you raised your son. She established the rules, allowed the natural consequences to apply and raised 2 productive children in terms of hard work, money and respect for others. If she had just done as good a job on the boundary thing…

  • Thee is something to the Troll theory… And the book… I challenge Waco Tx …I am no anthropologist but …. Talladega ,Alabama.
    I think part of it is very much learned…. A lot like love… And other human emotions … Its what we attach to the emotions and the pay out if you will of the response that is returned. I think ‘ cheaters’ and other like POS learn to lie and get rewards from it very early on in life. They learn how to ‘ bend’ the truth. Years of grooming people in their lives… Right from dear old Mom and Dad… to kindergarten classmates … And onward to the first prom date. And while some are better than others at it… You have your master class all they way down to remedial… Its still the pay out. And the minute they are challenged is when u become all bad…. The bitch… The nag.
    I think they start very early and just exchange items/ people as they grow and learn. Example’ Sammy did you eat all the cookies from the jar?
    Sammy starts with a ‘ Noooo, mom I didnt’ Mom’ why do u have crumbs on your shirt? ‘ Sammy’ Crumbs? what crumbs? ” Mom’ the ones on your shirt’ Sammy looking at crumbs on his shirts ‘ oh, I got these when i was cleaning up the counter… Somebody left a mess’
    Now just insert…Money for cookies… Bank for jar … and receipt from local Titty Bar for crumbs…. Its all the same fucking thing over and over again.

    • Or, they learn that getting over on someone is hilarious fun! And that mocking the woman that loves you, makes you feel like the King!
      I just realized that X was a mean 2 year old, his whole life. ( no offense to most wonderful little 2 year old’s!)

    • I agree it begins early. My X was the son of a raging alcoholic, only child, whose mother always stepped in to clean up whatever mess FIL made. X’s parents had an affair, which resulted in an out-of wedlock pregnancy, a very big deal at the time. FIL left first wife and child, who was old enough to know exactly what was happening, and he and MIL moved thousands of miles away, moving expenses paid by FIL’s mom. Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree.

      It was made clear to X growing up that being “the best”, being successful, was the only thing that mattered. Character, integrity, empathy simply did not enter into the equation. So long as X and his siblings were professionally successful, they could do no wrong- and success was defined by one’s bank account balance. You can imagine how fucked up these people turned out! Shallow, vain, egotistical, and very, very unhappy, each and every one of them.

      I hope I have raised my children to be caring, empathetic people and I do worry that some of them will follow their father’s path. I have let them make mistakes and learn from those mistakes and have tried to avoid the whole helicopter parent syndrome. Still, I recognize that this is their journey, not mine, and it is not my place to remove obstacles from their way. Too many parents want to make every easy for their kids and, to me, that is a recipe for disaster, because the kids never mature-they become teenagers in a 40 year old body. We collectively do our kids no favors when we make them the center of the universe. I do not know what the future holds for my kids, but I have tried to avoid raising self-entitled brats.

  • So does Mom believe Sammy? Punish Sammy? Call Sammy out on his bullshit… Or give him another fucking cookie for cleaning up? Alllll the same

  • I think mine is one part genetic (his mom is a cheater and a Narc) and one part chasing kibbles from an early age – his mom has made no bones about the fact that she favors his siblings over him. It was always “fun” going to Christmas and seeing the lavish presents his siblings and their kids got, while we got things from the dollar store. It was always made very obvious that we were an afterthought. Sitting here now it just occurred to me – was that his mom’s invitation to the “Pick Me” dance?

    It’s funny, he always did -and still does- the pick me dance for mommy, trying to do his best to prove he’s the more reliable kid than his siblings (excuse me while I laugh my ass off) but I never saw any evidence that anything he did won any favor with her. I guess that shows the pick me dance doesn’t work! And he would talk all the time about how he couldn’t stand to be around his FOO, especially his mom. Well guess what, you turned out JUST LIKE HER.

    • I can relate Kira, My narcissist cheater turned out to be like his Dad, the king of all narcissists, who didn´t speak to his son for three years as a teenager because he failed a grade, who spanked him with a whip when he was a child, who told him he was good for nothing if he didn´t study what he wanted him to study. My cheater struggles every day with trying not to be like his father but wanting his father to like him (the pick me dance). At one point, when I was untangling the skein, I imagined that my husband has affairs and surrounds himself with young admirers (students) so he can show his Dad that there are lots of people that love him. In that sense, I was a trophy wife because his father admired my work and diplomas, but I think he thought his son wasn´t good enough for me, until he insulted me last summer and I vowed never to see him again. I am soooooooo happy I don´t have to ever deal with that family again….

      • My ex used to talk about what an ass his father was. Serial adulterer, violent and threatening to wives and kids, selfish, alienating people … I thought that meant the ex had some awareness of why these behaviours were problematic, and was actively trying to be a better person than that.

        Then he did EXACTLY the same things, repeatedly! Granted, he was less violent, and cheated less often and less consistently – but even that, I believe, because times have changed and the type of man his father was, is no longer socially acceptable.

        But of course, the ex justifies every single thing he did! And the stuff he now admits was ‘bad’; well it wasn’t really his fault either, because he’s was so messed up.


        • KarenE,

          Did you write that comment or did I? Same difference…….THE very same situation for my STBXH…..Guess it is (unfortunately) so very common……Still a choice, though….still a choice

          Forge on, KarenE…..Love To All!!!!

    • Yeah, the Jackass and his brothers have been in a lifelong pick me dance with the mother. Two of the three are serial cheaters.

  • Ooh, ooh, ooh!! Hand up!! Thesis alert!

    Long before D-day, I thought long & hard about what makes a non-empathetic narcissist (as I knew I was married to one, didn’t want my children to become narcs, and I teach parenting in my developmental psych. classes). And I’ve explored the research on narcissism, attachment, parenting styles, etc. The Cliff Note version of these endeavors, in hopes it can help anyone:

    1. Lack of empathy & narcissism comes about from one of two diametrically opposed ways of being raised–(a) harsh treatment & lack of affection; or (b) overindulgence of a child, with few consequences for bad behavior.
    People on this forum have already documented STBXs who are spoiled brats, used to being praised for putting on their shoes. I think these children are also, at most, talked to about their bad behavior but never punished (or are threatened with punishment that is never followed through on–Larzelere found that this strategy was the one MOST likely to lead to worse behavior in the future). Well, it turns out there are two different brain paths for discipline–one for reasoning, one for determining the consequences of actions. Both strategies–reasoning AND consequences are necessary for full moral development. If a child is only talked to about their bad behavior, with few punishments ever, they become master negotiators, able to talk their way out of offenses with charm, but never truly learn to behave better (and in fact, getting out of things with charm becomes its own reinforcement, so that strategy of talking one’s way out of thing actually intensifies).
    But children who grow up without love and affection (as in the Romanian orphanages, or neglected/abused children everywhere) are also more prone to lack of empathy and sociopathy. They have no role models, no emotional health, and have learned to survive by taking what they need on a short-term basis. Other people become mere pawns in their survival and pleasure-seeking game, and they exhibit no remorse when they hurt other people.

    2. Physical affection & Responsiveness–Hug your little monsters!! Lots!! There is a growing consensus that physical touch is half of the recipe for secure attachment. The other half is responsiveness; children learn empathy and concern for others by seeing their parents & role models do it. Modeling is a more important learning tool than reasoning.

    3. There is some evidence empathy has a genetic component, but it can be taught if children are encouraged to be empathetic from at least 1 year of age (haven’t learned empathy by age 6–probably too late).

    4. And so as not to blame parents for EVERYTHING, narcissists typically intensify over time: kids who are successful at using charm as a way to escape punishment; in children (and adults) who are attractive, wealthy, highly intelligent and thus used to getting perks for their very being in the world, self-centeredness starts to snowball (it feels GOOD!!)–the difficult 20-year old starts to intensify narc qualities, and ends up a monster by 50.

    5. To avoid future chumps (those with overactive empathy modules)–train them to pay attention to warning signs, and NOT to tolerate bad behavior from others, even when it’s subtle. A former boyfriend (a mega-narc) had someone break up with him on the second date because he repeated a small criticism of her. That’s the spirit!! Wish I had done that.

    • Tempest!!! I’ve just copy & pasted your entire post to my notepad! There’s SO MUCH insightful info in there! Truly, what you’ve written here is something I will go back and reflect on when asking the “why’s” and when making sure not to allow my daughter to end up like her narcissistic sociopath father. Invaluable! Thank you for sharing!

    • Awesome post, Tempest! I especially appreciate the tips on how to deal with kids as I have a 15 year old that I worry has some of the same personality traits of her NPD father.

      #1 really makes sense to me: STBX has a father who is a narcissist himself – completely self-involved and distant – and a mother who tried (actually still tries and her kids are in their 40s) to make up for it by acting like her kids could do no wrong. They raised two kids who are both narcissistic cheaters.

    • Tempest, empathy is apparent even in the early years of development. My youngest son is mentally retarded. His cognitive skills are in the range of an average two year old. My daughter is missing her military husband who is deployed right now. As my daughter sat sadly on the couch, my son went over and sat down next to her. Then we saw it-big tears rolling down his cheeks. He didn’t understand what had upset his sister, but he felt her pain. It was a beautiful moment. Anyone who doesn’t have empathy is operating at the emotional level of an infant. So pathetic!

  • I try not to spend much time untangling the skein, but I do wonder about #2 also. Cheater was one of five kids, raised in an intact church-going family. However, his dad one of the most self-absorbed people I ever met, and had at least one affair. Cheater’s brother has also screwed around for the duration of his 30 year marriage. So genetic predisposition or poor role models or both???

    • Well, my similar experience suggested to me that it was how the family system worked, in their lives (the cheat-o-rific brothers)–so role modeling, and LOTS of toxic family secrets and everything hush-hush. Also? When the affairs came to light they were excused by other family members as “mistakes” and so on.

      BTW, I really love the deep & professional insights above by Tempest–thank you & please do weigh in with your thoughts! (for the record, the older brother was sent to boarding school at age 14–he felt pushed out of the nest, but there was no American curriculum HS where they lived, then. My ex was a toddler, and thought his brother was being punished–and he would be next–he lived in fear of being sent away. They made fun of his fears (nice parents, eh?) By the time he got to that age, there was an International School, so he stayed home, in the affair hive. But the point is, in many ways the boys had very different environments growing up, certainly during puberty. huh. sample of 2.

  • I was talking to friends who are both retired middle school principals and have been in the education system for almost 40 years, and I asked them what was the biggest change they noticed as the decades passed. Without a doubt, both agreed the biggest change, as well as the biggest problem, is that parents are REFUSING TO LET THEIR KIDS FAIL. Failure is seen as an absolute no-no. Making mistakes and failing is considered something absolutely terrible, the worst thing that could possibly happen. Hence the epidemic of blaming the teacher if the kid doesn’t do well. This allows kids to grow up never taking responsibility, and it’s actually a tragedy for them because they are being cheated of the kind of essential life lessons that failure can teach. If kids don’t fail they never learn how to deal with disappointment or grow in maturity and perseverance. They never learn from their mistakes because mistakes are verboten. Parents are enablers in this current entitlement culture, even to the point of encouraging kids to cheat in order to ace a test. My friends saw this all the time in the last 10 years, but it wasn’t this way when they started. This is a complete 180 to what parents used to model for kids when they were young teachers in the system.

    Human beings come to character, strength and maturity through struggle. Remove the struggle and you have weak, immature people with huge entitlement issues. Honestly, the worst culprits are the parents. Parents who don’t set boundaries and rules. Parents who don’t require chores and who let kids get away without any consequences to their actions. Parents who seem to be afraid or unwilling to discipline their kids. Parents who would rather be pals with their kids because that’s a lot more fun and easy. Don’t mean to rag entirely on parents. They desperately need help in combating the influence of our increasingly narcissistic culture. This must be one of the hardest times in history to raise emotionally and socially healthy kids.

    • Your comments should be required reading for new parents. So may parents do not want their children to struggle, not realizing it is the struggle that makes us who we are! Putting kids in a bubble, not letting them skin their knees, these things emotionally cripple young people. And stepping in to solve your child’s problems sends a very subtle, yet dangerous message- I don’t trust you to make good decisions, so I will make those decisions for you. The lesson of consequences also goes unlearned.

      The whole parent as friend syndrome is so destructive and I see it all the time. Parents “partying” with their kids, trying to recreate their adolescence through their children. It’s pathetic, but so common these days. I guess I believe children learn by example. Want to have a kind, thoughful, moral child? Be one yourself. And never, ever make excuses for bad behavior!

    • I’ve been in education for 20 years and see the same thing in that time. I would also like yo add that some parents are already concerned with academics at age 3. This is when we should be teaching empathy, compassion, and kindness. We can worry about the abcs and 123s later.

    • Yes, Wiser Finally, sort of like helping a chick out of its shell or a butterfly out of its cocoon. Without that struggle, both of those creatures die…..

    • Yep, my mother actually said the exact same thing (except she’s not in education) – she noticed that the world and society in general is going down the toilet around the time when she left high school (which is a couple of years before I was born).

      The people who were born and growing up in this entitlement culture are having children now. Its only going to get worse. To be honest – its this ‘pussy footing around failure’ that breeds the fact that people are ‘special little sausages’ – whatever happened to people playing to their strengths and realising their limits with the stuff they’re not so good at? Nope, can’t have that now, its too politically incorrect to call someone ‘bad’ at something.

      This inane shit of never telling your kids ‘no’ or instigating appropriate discipline just breeds spoilt brats.

      As for the academics at a young age, Nicole – I myself was at the point where at age 3 I was interested in the abc’s/123s. Nothing wrong with pushing that, if the child’s gifted. But its only part of a well-formed little person. 🙂

    • It’s not just the parents avoiding consequences for their kids, it’s also that society has changed the consequences and childhood mistakes often have lasting consequences. If your kid is having trouble in first grade, they label him learning disabled or adhd, and encourage him to be medicated vs learning self discipline. More and more things become criminal offenses that often carry life long consequences or civil damages. There is a balance in there that we seem to have lost.

  • Although I do believe that Family of Origin issues have a tremendous influence on us, I have noticed that the result of living in a dysfunctional situation is different for various personality types. Some become a rebel, and fight back. Some curl up in a ball, are quiet and try to avoid abuse. Some try to please, an impossible task, but somehow maintain the energy to keep trying. I don’t believe that teaching children that actions have consequences by using some form of punishment as a discipline causes them to become violent. The problem is that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another, and we all have different definitions of “reasonable” and “discipline.”

    I have often wondered about the why of it all, and I believe that many of our problems as a society are reflected in our personal interaction problems with our families and friends. The issues arise when we cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality. I have nothing against myths and fairy tales as an interesting way to explain the world, but when we cannot see these stories as fantasy, we develop real problems in the real world. First of all, we cannot all be the Hero or the Princess Who is Rescued from the Dragon. The Dragon is not always slain. Sometimes the Dragon defeats many hero wannabes and kills many victims, is never slain, and maybe eventually dies of old age while living incognito in another country after escaping all attempts at justice. The real world does not allow us all to live out the rest of our lives in a palace, surrounded by servants who provide our every need, or be loved by someone who anticipates our every whim. Our children are not all beautiful and smart, and perfect in every way. The person we trust the most is often the very one who betrays us. Reality is not nearly as much fun to live in as Fantasy, but reality is all we actually have. We can fantasize and daydream in our spare time, and it is a pleasant way to pass time, but most of us have to work for a living and have to deal with rude and unpleasant people all day long.

    Chump Lady is spot on with her answer. You can spend time wondering why little Portnoy has so many complaints and faults, and try to figure out where he went wrong in his upbringing, but that will not change the fact that you are trying to figure out how to keep living while standing in the midst of his path of destruction. You have other, more important, things to worry about than WHY he is such a Sluggard and a Cad. He is simply not worthy of your consideration. You have to go to work to build an acceptable life for yourself, and if you have them, your children. If your children are already grown, they become responsible for themselves and their own choices. If they act like a Sluggard or a Cad, there is nothing you can do about it, and they will have to suffer the consequences of their own actions. You can only control what you do, and you are responsible for your choices. Try to make informed choices that will not destroy you. Sorry, but Reality Bites!

    • Portia–a huge “like” to your post!! It’s true–one of the hardest things to accept is that the world is not a just place, and sometimes the dragon eats the whole town.

      And I’m a big believer in critical periods–people who have not developed empathy by a certain age (possibly 6, certainly early-20s), cannot develop it. They can learn to feign it, but will mainly do so to get what they want. Fixing narcs is not possible. The only response is to avoid them, or once encountered, run.

      • Brain plasticity means that kids who haven’t outgrown their toddler narcissism might be able to develop empathy in adolescence, at least some, but it would take an environment that knows exactly what’s going on and provides a VERY strict balance of warmth and love WITH accountability and consequences, plus explicit teaching and encouragement of more caring behaviours. And all this, for years.

        I’ve seen research demonstrating that even kids with very clear sociopathic tendencies (complete disrespect for rules and regulations, little to no empathy, fire-setting, hurting animals ….) can be changed a lot by this kind of approach. I don’t think they’d ever become warm and fuzzy, but at least respectful and capable of caring for others.

        But looking at my ex and his family, including our kids, I’m convinced the genetic factors are big, too, both low capacity for empathy and negativity. For some, the narc road comes so easily. For others, it’s not even an option.

        But I agree that once they’re adults, avoidance is the best approach to narcissists and sociopaths. And if you must deal with them, or choose to do so, very very clear boundaries and limit setting.

        As a terribly warm and fuzzy person myself (ie chumpy), I hated the idea of giving up on whole groups of people, but really, that’s what it calls for. As individuals, avoid them, as a society, set limits.

        I love the suggestion above to provide LOTS of physical affection, and am hoping this works!. This is one area of strength in our family, and I’ve been very careful recently to not let that slide away, with my kids now teenagers. They still love the hugs and pats and hair-ruffles, and even the kisses!!!

        • My only problem with the “can they be fixed” conundrum is the amount of time that can be wasted. Being naturally curious, and having solved many of my own problems by researching them and working on them, I thought I might be able to fix or at least improve a relationship with other disordered people (in my family, and my X and his family). I forgot to factor in the issue of “wanting to be helped/fixed” — I wanted to be better, but some disordered people think they are perfectly fine, it is the rest of the chumps in the world that need to change. We need to learn to serve their needs, and quickly, too!!! Big laugh at myself for being a chump and for wasting so much of my time!

          Correctly diagnosing what was wrong is an issue, too. Sometimes problems like alcohol or drug addiction, or having been raised by a pack of rude hyenas with no social skills can interfere with your interpretation of the real, deep seated originating problem of being a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. The abuse of alcohol, drugs, sex, theft, compulsive lying, etc are symptoms of the bigger problem. Someone may go through an AA program and get better because they want to. They are not going to get better for someone else. They have to seek out their own FOO issues and work on them, you cannot do that for them.

          The only people I tried to help and guide were my own children, and I started when they were very young. Some times I didn’t understand that I was not capable of achieving what I was trying to achieve. All I can say is I did the best I could with my children, and gave them as much love as I could. When they were teenagers I wondered sometimes if I had made any impact at all??? Now that they are older, and we have all survived this far, I think I did a pretty good job with them. Certainly better than the hyena pack would have done, had I abandoned all hope. But time I spent trying to save or fix or understand other adults was pretty much a waste. They use your caring and compassion against you, they use it to manipulate you into doing things for them, or prolonging their cake eating time. I don’t need to waste any more of my time with someone who won’t help himself. They can run with the pack of hyena’s for all I care, until the day they break their leg and fall down, and then find that the other hyenas will show them the same amount of compassion that they have shown during their entire selfish lives. I cannot even waste my time to shed a tear for them.

          • ” I forgot to factor in the issue of “wanting to be helped/fixed” — I wanted to be better, but some disordered people think they are perfectly fine, it is the rest of the chumps in the world that need to change.”

            Portia, this is so true. Chumps often don’t realize that the disordered rarely want to change, because part of their disorder is rejecting anything negative about themselves and projecting those imperfections onto others. When my ex said, “I would never want to change, because I love myself just the way I am,” on his way out the door after Dday, that was a rare moment of honesty and a look inside a disordered person’s head.

            • One of my ex’s big complaints about me, to the marriage counsellor, to his schmoopie, was that I was always harping on about wanting him to change.

              Silly me, expecting him to grow and mature and learn from experience and pull his own weight as we aged.

              Even the parts of himself he disliked, he never tried to change.

      • I agree. Narcs can’t be fixed. My husband is clearly a narc. I am pondering the question, can God reach into his heart? I believe all of us have free will and we choose our own path. But I wonder if there is any way a narc can hear God. I know nothing I do or say will ever change him. I don’t even try anymore.

  • Has anyone also been told to be appreciative of what youget? Or that catching them in a lie is victimizing yourself? I got both and was made to feel sooo ungrateful for anything/everything he has done for me. And victimizing myself for keeping quiet about his lie until I felt it was the right time to bring it out? How Was that victimizing myself? What?

    • When you can stand back from what they’re saying and examine it with a cool head, it’s FLABBERGASTING, isn’t it? But it’s sooooooo hard not to get all tangled up in it, in the middle of a conversation or argument.

  • DM – I love your writing! I looked around on your site, and ‘Angels of Light and Adultery’ was really great. I agree totally that there is demonic involvement in cheating. I know in my case, at least, because I felt it! The X took me over to his AP’s den, across the street, because of course he had to feed her cat while she was out of town. There was such an evil vibe in there, I had to RUN out, I actually felt sick. There is no doubt in my mind she was down with the demon forces.
    But it’s all good now that I’m away, because I like to pursue beauty and love in my life! All their evil crap just rolled off me like Teflon, once I got 900 miles away, and started my own new life!

    • I’m with you there, FreeWoman, my ex was more than just a cheater, he was all all encompassing black cloud. Literally everything he touches turns to shit:
      Buys a car-doesn’t make the payments then gathers late fees and it grows and grows
      Gets married to “the love of his life” (me)-lies, cheats and bails, leaving me broken hearted and a full time single mom
      Has a child, the timing of that completely dominated by him- only sees her when it’s convenient and gets him praise
      Gets accepted to college-squanders his study time cheating and fails out, now has school loans due, doesn’t pay those, gets late fees….you get the picture.

      Everywhere he is, negativity is. When I kicked him out of my house the air became easier to breathe and the house literally felt lighter. I consider myself a very sensitive and intuitive person but I think anyone could’ve felt his heavy and dark energy. The last year he was living with me I actually began seeing apparitions and dark figures in our bedroom…it was terrifying! I would typically see them out of the corner of my eye while I fed our newborn in her room, isn’t that some shit?!? But once he left….so did all of that.

      • I should add that he’s had these things around him the majority of his life. When we met he spoke of hauntings in his childhood home and I figured it was just that house/that land but now I believe it’s him. I can’t ignore the obvious omen that is him…I’ve never in my life met a person so prone to failure, so utterly inadequate or so comfortable with living a lie.
        I do believe that negative entities feed on the low, the depressed, the vulnerable because they’re weak and easily used to do evil bidding…I believe that’s why these people leave so much chaos everywhere they go.

        • Yes, Jamie- Chaos could have been X’s middle name. He had a sweet life handed to him, on a silver platter, and every time he made things crash and burn!
          Because of him, we had a bankruptcy, close to foreclosure of my home I loved, sale of that home I wanted to leave to my kids, tons of public humiliation for me, and the kicker- a fourth son, his secretary’s, who looks JUST like my X with a different hair color.
          Unbelievable. New readers here, please don’t stay like I did! I wish I’d run twenty years ago, for real!!

  • From what I have gathered trying to figure it out; narcissism is a genetic thing, their brains are wired differently, they don’t feel empathy, ie no guilt, so they are free to do as they want when they want without ever losing a minute of sleep over the damage they cause. Where the parenting comes into play is how they learn to function in society. Because they don’t have feelings like the rest of the world they learn at an early age to imitate the emotions of others, so if they are abused as children they could be more openly abusive but if they were raised in a loving home they would be better at hiding their deficiency. If they were raised in a home with an abusive father they would be more likely to be abusive themselves because they see it as acceptable whereas if they were raised abuse is wrong they might not be as obvious in their abuse and stick to the emotional type of abuse or white collar crime.

    My ex was adopted by very Christian people and they told me that he was always “different” always broke the rules, always on the edge of what was legal, but they didn’t want to break his “spirit” and his mom always thought she could love him enough and pray hard enough to change him and he played her like a fiddle; using religion to manipulate her when it suited his purposes. I think his dad was on to him more and as long as his dad was alive he could keep him in line to some degree but two weeks after his dad died was the first time he hit me and it went steadily downhill after that.

    My ex could talk himself out of any situation, I am amazed no one has killed him or that he hasn’t done time behind bars but he plays the dumb Saskatchewan farm boy role so well he gets off every time.

    They are usually highly intelligent which is a scary combination but like any child born with a “disability” they usually have some other heightened talent to compensate. Like a blind/deaf child will be a concert pianist. A narcissist is given the brains to make up for it but he uses it for evil and not good.
    We often hear that the narcissist was abused as a child but I think sometimes they are abused because they are so difficult to handle as children and a parent with a tendency to be abusive would lose it on the kid. My ex’s parents were brought to the edge with him many times, he even told me about a time his dad pulled the car over, got out and looked to the heavens and prayed, “Why me God?” out of frustration.

    • How old was your X when adopted? Deficient attachment prior to 18 mos or 2 years is virtually guaranteed to turn out a person lacking empathy and/or sociopath. The early the adoption to a caring home, the better (the odds start to go down from 6 months). Thus, it can look like genetics but is really (mostly) due to very early experiences.

      • My ex was one of 5 children, in the middle. Always complained to me that he was overlooked, his oldest sibling was the smart one, so he took the other path and became rebellious. He was a charming rebel, though. His parents were just hoping he could graduate high school, but he was smart enough to go on and get a Ph.D. Then he became very good at his job, winning all kinds of accolades at work. Still, he wanted his mother to acknowledge he was smart too, even as late as in his 50’s but never felt like she noticed. She had 5 kids under the age of 6 at one time, I just don’t think she had the energy to be there for all of them. Also, she favored the oldest and youngest.

    • My H exactly! He feels no remorse! Sleeps like a baby every night! He fits case # 1 and #4
      no consequences, praise for everything, baby of the family. Thrives on success, high IQ, never admits to anything, no apologies. Never heard him apologies for as long as I’ve known him. Never admitted to any mistakes. Throw in early childhood trauma and voila. I and my children pay the price. The irony of it all is he can’t watch abusive/violent shows, feels sorry and gives to help less fortunate etc. makes no sense.

      • I decided this is why my husband slept so well too. You have no worries when you don’t really care about anyone or anything. Creepy, isn’t it?

  • I, too, have given up on questions #1 and #2; I now understand enough to know that I don’t need to understand more.

    But the kids, the kids …. I do believe it’s a combo of personality/genetics and up-bringing. I can totally see that my daughter (now 13) could easily become an arrogant, insensitive, raging narc. And my son, much more empathic and easy-going, either a chump, or the passive/poor me type of cheater.

    I’ve worked so hard to help them each balance their personalities, so that my daughter’s assertiveness is honoured, but she learns to be respectful in how she expresses it and to remember, even when she’s angry, that she loves us. And so that my son’s easy-going-ness is still there, but balanced with taking responsibility for his choices.

    But I now see that I couldn’t give enough and the right kind of care to help my kids develop best, while I was entangled with their father. I spent way too much time upset about my marriage issues, focusing on him and us, way too much time upset and exhausted. I’m a much better mother, now that he’s gone.

    And I really feel that kicking the ass out was a HUGELY important step, in teaching my kids about how they can and should be. My daughter saw that people will not put up with disrespect indefinitely, and that a lot of pain is caused by selfishness and entitlement. My son saw that there ARE consequences for our behavior, big ones sometimes, even when people love us, and that regret cannot repair everything.

    I still struggle with helping them become good people of solid character. But it’s a LOT easier to do with their father out of my life.

  • Wow, I’ve thought long and hard about how my ex ended up so lacking in empathy, as well as how I ended up putting up with such crap for so long. One thing that I see in both of our childhoods was fear of speaking about our feelings.

    My ex’s father was extremely authoritarian. He was the kind of guy that was at the church every time the doors opened, but he ran a super strict ship at home. I’m pretty sure whenever my ex was a child and got upset he was told to stop crying. He was also punished a lot and got into trouble at school. My FIL was a man of very few words, in all the years I knew him he never asked me any questions about my life. The only conversation I could entice him to have was about the bible or church. His wife had little identity of her own and gave me many lectures on how it was my duty to learn to enjoy all my husband’s interests. Never was any mention made of my husband needing to take my interests into consideration. My FIL was the kind who didn’t shed a tear at his mother’s funeral. My ex seemed to view himself as defective if he felt emotion, like he was falling short of the example his father had set. I truly believe my ex was cut off from his own emotions due to his childhood.

    In my family there was a lot of drama, sickness and depression. We all tiptoed around my mom because she had terrible rage issues, stemming from her own childhood abandonment. I grew up trying to keep the peace and walk just the right way so as not to set her off. I didn’t ever speak up and if I did the price was mom locking herself in her bedroom for several days and yelling about what a terrible kid I was. It doesn’t take long to learn how to suppress your feelings in that kind of environment. However, because of her frequent illnesses, I developed a lot of compassion for suffering.

    Of our two kids, one is very sensitive and empathetic, the other is outgoing and strong headed. They are both intelligent and accomplished. The sensitive one communicates very well and the less sensitive one doesn’t. I do remember having a conversation with the less sensitive one about cheating in relationships when he was in high school. I told him that I thought cheating had more to do with what kind of person you are. I told him “You have to ask yourself whether you want to be the kind of person that cheats? Do you have integrity?” This is something that obviously sunk in because he repeated it back to me many years later.

    So far both sons seem to have stable marriages and seem happy. No kids have entered the picture yet, so time will tell. I do think kids put stress on relationships and you tend to default to your FOO coping techniques. The thing both kids have going for them is they and their wives are all professionals with equal earning power. I think if I’d had equal earning power with me ex it might have changed the balance of power in my marriage. It would have been easier for me to walk away the first time I suspected he was cheating.

  • 2. What broke in them as children to cause them to be this way?

    My cheater claims his father abused him, his mother neglected him. He basically raised himself. His parents were really big on Focus on the Family – which is sort of religious and harsh but at least encourages love along with consistency. What is funny is that his mom decided she was selling her house and has us come get all is childhood stuff — she’d saved every drawing, math paper, every homework assignment. There were boxes and boxes of toys, scouting stuff, photos of trips. His parents went to every basketball game and parent teacher conference etc. Doesn’t really jive with the awful childhood story at all.

    I asked a psychiatrist whether NPD is caused by parenting and he said that blaming the mother is WAY overdone. That some people just turn out that way. And that NPDs carry so much anger that not much can be done for them.

    • Don’t buy that shit without evidence or corroboration. In MC, ex told me his father kicked him out of the house and he had to live in the woods alone for a week, so when I wanted to leave him it made him feel abandoned all over again. YEAH, that shit never actually happened…blame shift. How is it that Gavin de Becker grew up in a severely abusive home and ended up writing Gift of Fear, going into business keeping people safe from abusers? Frankly, I abuse you because I was abused is not a reason I can accept.

    • Sometimes I think “my mother didn’t love me as much as my sibling” is a way to play on a chump’s sympathy. I know it prejudiced me some towards my MIL and I looked for evidence that it was true. She did have tons of pictures of her other kids but hardly any of my ex. When I asked her why she said they just didn’t have that much money when he was little. She seemed defensive. I think my ex was a rebellious and difficult child, although very funny and charming too. He was obviously intelligent. I once told him he had a gift for getting people to do his work for him and then thanking him for the opportunity. He laughed when I said that. I had just figured out that he was asking me to “help” him with his papers in college but I was practically rewriting them. I wised up and told him he would never learn to write if he kept relying on me. He ended up in management and seemed to be able to get people to do anything for him. Once he even told me “I have figured out how to get people to do anything, all I have to do is pretend like I care about them.” I remember thinking this was so odd and told him, “No, you REALLy do need to care about them…”

  • 1) There are only so many ways you can say; “You know a lot of people live together after they divorce” or to tell you they don’t love you. After I read some books on manipulation I totally agree with CL, there are only so many ways to manipulate a person.

    2) I don’t really give a flying fuck whyyyyyyy cheater did it… However, I DO own a flying fuck, I highly recommend it, lots of fun:

    3) I don’t have kids – what CL said, what Tempest said, and lots more comments, all very good. The only thing I’d emphasize is to teach your children boundaries, they should know what the word means and how to deal with those that won’t respect them. Learning to see the subtle crossings of the boundaries is key to not becoming a chump, relentless tiny crossings erode your boundaries if you make excuses for them. And to teach them boundaries you have to respect your own child’s boundaries…

    • When I asked my therapist why they all come up with the same thing, he said, “We’re just not that complicated.” If you’re trying to get away with something, as CL said, you really only have a few mindfuck strategies that you can use.

    • “There are only so many ways you can say; “You know a lot of people live together after they divorce”

      My ex was so angry that I moved out as soon as I could after Dday. He was ordered to pay me support, which is how I was able to rent until I started working. Ex kept telling me just what you said, Dat, that it was really common for people to live together after Dday or separation. He claimed his own parents had done this, which was a total lie. He just hoped I would stay in the house so he didn’t have to pay support. Stupid fucker.

  • What really resonates with me is the stuff about the children. As you all know by now my husband is an extreme narcissist. I’ve often wondered why and there are so many reasons, first, he came from a middle eastern culture where there was a definite class system. There was also this, “You are the first born of the first born of the first born…” back for seven generations, therefore you’re amazing, spectacular, without fault etc.

    He was coddled by his mother who had him very young and resented by his father who felt he took his wife’s affection away. More than once I felt my husband and his mother’s relationship was more like ex husband and wife, and not mother and son. It didn’t help that after his first marriage he got custody of his two daughters and then his mother raised them.

    I’ve heard countless stories about this Little Prince of a man who ruled his neighborhood and did anything he wanted to. No one ever said no to him. And when I witnessed him lying in order not to say no to his own children I asked him about how in the world that helped the children his response was that it wasn’t up to him or I to bring reality into his daughter’s lives.

    We were so poor when we lived in England and often we’d put the girls in the car and drive to Central London just to walk around. I’d ask him to please feed the girls before we left because the food on these outings was costing ME a lot, but he never made sure they had eaten first.

    On one particular day sure enough, one of the daughters kept asking for more and more street food. I finally took him aside and asked him if we could tell the girls they each have a 5 pound limit because we’re on a budget and he had a violent reaction. Here’s a man who has not held a job since they were born but he won’t use the word “budget” with his kids. He made a scene and we drove home in silence. I was the bad one, again. Perhaps it’s that he can’t lose face with them.

    Another time the older daughter announced in the Spring that she hated French (the only foreign language taught at her school) and didn’t want to take it any more. His dad met with the headmaster and was basically informed that it was French at this school or change schools. What did he do? He came home and told his daughter that the headmaster said if she still wanted out of French by the Fall, he would take her out of it and let her take another subject. All summer long I kept saying, “Why’d you do that? Why won’t you tell her the truth?” We fought about it nonstop. And of course when the Fall came and she kept asking about it, he kept lying to her until the bitter end. It caused us countless fights over the entire summer. He never did say to her, “I’m sorry, [daugher], if you don’t want to change schools you have to take French. What can we do to help make it more fun to learn?” Instead she was simply confused.

    The saddest thing about my narc husband is that of his two children, the oldest is a carbon copy of him. She is so entitled it makes me sick. She stares at herself constantly in the mirror. Every hair in place. Perfect heavy makeup. And she orders her younger sister around just like her father ordered everyone around. Ironically, the younger one is comfortable in her own skin and has turned into an interesting teenager. The older one, at almost 17 years of age, cannot be alone upstairs in her own house. Demands that her sister start her shower for her. Always picks which seat to sit in in the car, which restaurant to go to, which movie to watch, she even insists her little sister stay awake with the light on until she herself is asleep. It’s utterly absurd.

    Sorry to go on a rant about this, but his older daughter, like him, will be completely unprepared for life. Both of them will have to rely on meeting someone with money to take care of them. Both of them will be miserable. Why did he allow this cycle to repeat itself? All I can surmise is that he simply can’t step out of la la land.

    If you google my husband’s name you’ll see three links to forums where people attack him for claiming some lines of poetry were his when they clearly were not. So was he the poet he claimed to be? Highly unlikely. I came to find out that some of the things he played on the piano and said were his creations, weren’t. Everything was a bold faced lie or at the least, an exaggeration. I can’t fathom existing in that way — just walking around a complete fraud. It would wear me out.

    So when we hear about these narcs who stay with us because we bring them credibility — that’s no b.s.. They do. And now he’s created another narcissist — just what the world needs.

  • Today’s post seems to be somewhat about nature vs. nurture. “Were they born that way?” vs. “Who made them that way?”

    I can join the debate and tell my own tales on the subject, but in the end the point is that it doesn’t matter. Nature vs. nurture *doesn’t matter*! (This would be CL’s point #2, above.)

    For example, when a man beats his wife, he’s breaking rules, knowingly doing something wrong and hurtful.

    Maybe this man was abused as a child?
    Or maybe he’s genetically “broken”?
    Or maybe he’s an alcoholic who is docile as a lamb until that third whiskey, and then turns into a raging idiot of testosterone?

    Who the f*** cares!

    Beating your wife is wrong, so you shouldn’t do it! It doesn’t matter why you’re so messed up as to think it’s okay. It’s not. Our society understands and accepts this.

    But for some reason, with cheating, our society wants to dig deep and explain why an otherwise great person is actually a piece of s***.

    We all need a good kick in the pants.

    • Can’t remember the source now but I remember reading about some wise psychologists, philosophers and theologians who had a symposium to work on the nature/nurture debate. Here’s what they came up with: 1/3 nature, 1/3 nurture and 1/3 CHOICE! It’s the Choice part that cheaters don’t ever want to acknowledge…

    • Now, if only our society would get on board with the fact that it is not alright for women to beat men either.

      • It’s not okay. Women do physically abuse men. It’s not as common, but also men don’t like admitting their wives physically beat them so numbers may be under-reported.

        • Yeah, it is just about as common, perhaps even more common according to some studies. And, off we go…

        • aw fuck off with your bullshit studies Arnold, I’m not bothering with your crap anymore – I refuse to argue with uninformed people after they’ve made it clear to me.

          • I’m there with you, Dat. No point in trying to inform those who prefer to stay uninformed.

            • Arnold, she’s right. I’ve worked in a battered women’s shelter. How many men do you know who had their faces kicked in my women coming home from work with steel toed boots? Or neighbors, when you go over, they’re all bruised and they “fell down the stairs” and won’t meet your eyes.

              Yes, it’s true there is *some* women on men violence (just as there is violence in same sex relationships…some people can only solve problems with power/violence.)

              But seriously, you are entitled to you own opinions, not your own facts, and as one of the many women on this board who has been physically abused in an intimate relationship, cut with the men’s rights crap. It’s crap, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny–you’re a lawyer and you should know better.

              Just because your ex-wives treated you so incredibly badly doesn’t give you the right to just wildly make shit up about all women.

              • Not all women, just a much higher % than we are led to believe. Roughly , the same% as men (perhaps a hair bit higher),

          • Yeah, Arnold’s posts have been making me uncomfortable lately. I won’t be reading them any longer.

              • Okay, I’m gonna bite.
                All of you need to chillax the fuck out.
                I’m all for equality, so yes, both gender-math (as well as same-sex domestic abuse) is not ok and should be stamped out. Who the fuck cares whether one is more than the other – ALL of it is shitty and needs to stop.
                Arnold, I can kind of see where you’re coming from – but I read JC’s line in the spirit it was intended: a specific example, rather than a gross and sweeping generalisation, and with the intent to do the gender math on other situations. Settle down, please.

              • Ok, so go argue with the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

                The majority (73%) of family violence victims were female.
                Females were 84% of spouse abuse victims and
                86% of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend.


                In no way does 73-86% come even close to half. Arnold, get over your bias. (I’m sure you have some whiny reason why their numbers are wrong.)

    • Ok, I’ll play devil’s advocate.

      I was raised in a house that was safe, but tumultuous. My parents took care of us, but had trouble saving money, weren’t very affectionate (no hugs or “I love yous”), and made it very clear that we were on our own financially when we turned 18. They did the best they could, but I remember my younger days as being stress-filled.

      My ex was raised in a less tumultuous household. His father made a good living, they lived in a better school district, his mom stayed home with the kids. His parents were very kind to me and to him, as far as I could tell. If I really sat to think about it, I could come up with some things about them that could be improved, but that’s true of anyone. In short, I don’t blame them at all for his behavior.

      We all have choices. I think my parents did their best, but made mistakes. I am responsible for how I behave as an adult — not them. And ex’s drug use, lies, and cheating are totally on him. I think a person could be raised in the most ideal situation and still make selfish choices.

  • Tempest,
    Yes!!!! No Masters or PHD here, but yes….in a not so eloquent/educated way thats what I was trying to say. ….and I believe it.

    • I know–I love your posts!!! I take it you’re in Alabama. If I ever go through your neck of the woods, you and I are having a drink (and if your sociopath ever allows you to venture to Texas, margaritas are on me).

  • Interesting post today! My cheater was raised in a home with lots of abuse and disrespect going all different ways. I know there was a lot of fighting and yelling and screaming and I suspect there was some physical violence as well. There were a lot of kids and lots of chaos. I think that scenario had to have left those kids neglected on some levels. As adults they ALL have some level of narcissism and abusiveness. I have always thought of my cheater as an “escapee” and a “survivor” from that scene; someone who had to emotionally fend for himself. I think when a person spends the rest of his life “on the run” and “surviving”, his view becomes myopic and he doesn’t have empathy for anyone else. He can’t see anyone else or consider anyone else’s feelings because he is too busy surviving and protecting himself. This is by no means and excuse for anything, but it helps me understand. And then I don’t think about it too much because it is part of the skein of fuckedupness and I don’t have anymore energy for that.

    • that is a little like my Xh story. they are all dysfunctional. i wasnt aware how much until after i married him. but i agree to what you said. i also think in families like that there is a vast amount of neglect from both parents but mostly the mother. the mother was so self absorbed she neither cared for or had time for the pains of her children. it was all about her. i believe she was emotionally unavailable to her children also.

      my XH never learned what love really is or how to really love someone. to him it is just a word he uses when he “likes” someone. they learn to guard their heart because they were let down and hurt so much. i always felt like my XH never truly opened up to me and was holding back. it really is a sad way to live.

  • I really hate to make generalizations about this, especially since cheating and the disrespect that goes along with it is such an important topic but I really believe that we emulate what we see as children. In no way am I making excuses for the toxic cheaters of the world.

    When I was growing up my parents SHOWED the love between them. I saw them showing little signs of affection regularly. I saw them helping each other. They have been together for over fifty years now.

    My ex-husbands parents were quite different. Their relationship was very one sided. My father-in-law was in charge and my mother-in-law was shit on regularly. During the 30+ years I knew the family I rarely recall seeing affection between them. Even today, I do not see them hold hands, kiss or share a special glance!

    I think my ex-husband never felt connected or close to me and our daughters. I think it made it that much easier to cheat on me. He never realized just what he had until it was gone. Too bad for him. He missed out on the very best thing in his life!!!

  • Why do they all use similar scripts? I think it is simple, they have, essentially, the same values and make up.
    These include, entitlement, lack of empathy, lack of integrity, lack of impulse control. Basically the qualities possessed by the personality disordered.
    Here is an idea for a column, CL: Ever read the “wayward” forums at places like SI or the posts by cheaters at TAM or LS?
    Notice that there is an alleged consensus among the “reformed” cheaters ( the cream of the crop in terms of taking responsibility and showing remorse, allegedly) that the responsibility for cheating lays solely with the cheater.
    Yet, in a very high % of posts by these folks, there is a recitation of the pre-cheating marital problems and a less than flattering characterization of the faithful spouse.
    Now, set aside the fact that studies have shown that, in the vast majority of cases of infidelity, it was/is the cheating spouse who was responsible for most of the pre affair problems to begin with. And , set aside the fact that the characterization of the marriage and the betrayed is being done by a person ( the cheater) who, by definition is dishonest, unempathetic, and incredibly invested in painting a slanted picture of both the marriage and the spouse (wonder why it is seldom brought up by the reformed wayward responders that the cheater is really invested in lying about these things).
    Does anyone on these sites ever just say to the cheater that is posting ” If we accept that the state of the marriage and the alleged deficiencies in your spouse have nothing to do with your cheating, why on earth are you including any information on the state of your marriage in this post?”
    I mean, why doesn’t the cheater , as a prologue to describing his or her cheating, simply include a discussion on . say, quantum mechanics or civil war history or something?
    Why include all this garbage, that the reformed cheaters are supposed to agree is irrelevant to the cheating , unless there is a real undercurrent, never admitted to, that , yes, the cheating was, in some way , related to the marital problems or the faithful spouse?
    It seems to me that these “reformed ” cheaters want to have it both ways. They want to be able to espouse their alleged adherence to the principal that cheating stems solely from a character defect in the cheater. Yet they do chime in and talk about the relevance of the marital problems and the failure of the betrayed to “meet needs” etc.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if these reformed cheaters would take the poster aside and simply tell him or her that it is unnecessary to include all this extraneous information, as it has no relevance to the cheating.
    But, they do not. They chime in commiserating about the state of the relationship etc.
    I guess the above is a log winded way of saying that these folks talk out of both sides of their mouths.

    • Absolutely, Arnold. I agree that most of the cheater stories here are similar because the cheaters are disordered, and thus share similar flaws, such as lack of empathy, entitlement, poor impulse control, lack of understanding of consequences and a need for attention/stimulation. But what it really comes down to is — whatever the reason, these are horrible people who will hurt those closest to them without fail.

    • Arnold, they say they are responsible for their behavior because they know it’s PC to say so (that they’re accountable for their own behavior). See how grown up they are? Mature self realization & all that? They are masters of self delusion, manipulation & smoke ‘n mirrors. Think Wizard of Oz. The Man Behind the Curtain.

      In reality, they have a dirty laundry list of reasons why they resent their spouses and let themselves off the hook for being shitball cheaters. A list of narcissistic injuries you have inflicted on them that you will pay dearly for.

      My STBX brought up something that happened on our honeymoon. I accidently misplaced one of our wedding gifts 22 years ago that he still holds a grudge about. Seriously? I’ve been “Spray N Wash” ing your shit stains & throwing out your towers of toe nails for all this time & you’re pissed off about WHAT?!?!!?!

      They are bottomless pits. And they will suck the life energy right out of you.

      • Very true totally agree. I refer to my STBX as the black hole of space. Any matter or light completely sucked into the void and nothing is ever given back except disdain and bitterness. It’s true Arnold they really do store up these offenses. I am 2 yrs past this and within the next few months I will have my divorce. Unfortunately I am dealing with a trust fund ex who is so hell-bent on paying me back that he has told me I deserve it for all the “horrible” things I have done. However I have family and friends who do not see it the same way, and yes now his family see it. As my name states “only way is up”.

      • The reason he is bringing something up that you did on your honeymood is because he has nothing else to bring up. you obviously never did anything wrong except lost a gift after your marriage. that is all my XH could bring up too. he was telling everyone how everything was MY fault, I did THIS to him, i never treated him right, but when asked wtf did your wife do wrong, the only thing he could bring up is i went to the bar 10 YEARS AGO and stayed out late…..hahaha ok, so 10 years ago i came home super late (and i did, i walked in like a 3am feeling super bad, and kissed his ass for it) so that excuses the fact that you have been STAYING OUT ALL NIGHT and not coming home at all, not answering my texts/calls and have no excuse the next day. that excuses that you were fucking some hood rat.

        yep, they are that stupid. they cant find a reason why they are acting like an idiot but yet it is somehow YOUR fault, even if the only thing they can find wrong with you was year and years and years ago.

        i know i tried. i know i gave it my everything. the only reason we lasted 14.5 years is because of me, the only reason we had what we had was because of me. yes he gave his contribution, but without me to remind him how to be a real person, how to be a normal person, he doesnt have sh*T. but of course he is not strong enough to take the blame for fucking up our marriage, he has to blame me. i make mistakes too. of course my mistakes are few and far between. if the only thing he can find wrong with me was 10 years ago, then i guess it just proves that i did my best for him.

        too bad he didnt appreciate it.

    • Their blameshifting crap is not ‘remorse’ – rather, its more-practised and subtle gaslighting.
      Kinda how if you play your cards the cheater goes underground, its the exact same mindset, just done in a different way – and more harmful, in the long run.
      Someone who is 100% remorseful would not even bring up those issues, period. They would just say ‘I was selfish and entitled and a shit person. My partner is not at fault. And its on me to take the gift I was given of a second chance and to show with actions and deed that it will never, ever happen again – doing whatever is needed of my partner to show said remorse.’

  • I was thinking about how to improve my picker and realized he never complimented on the way Iooked unless you count a circular ass rub paired with, “you look good”. It was his narc way of initiating sex.

    He always looked for ways to improve his pecker with his porn addiction and looking at teenagers through his sunglasses.

    In the end his pecker and my picker were misaligned. I could have continued to pretend he was good in bed but his pecker was too small and there was never intimacy.

    He is penis picked a whore. Glad I passed the torch.

    • God mine was the same way, a quick snatch at my bottom or a bit of a rub as I walked by was an indication that he would be interested in sex that night and foreplay all wrapped into that one action. And he liked porn too although I didn’t see it as an addicition because I didn’t even think to look for it anywhere. And his pecker was too small and there was no intimacy.
      Here is a joke that sums up our sex
      What does a hooker think when she is having sex? How much can I take this guy for
      What does a teenager think when she is having sex? Can we do this again and I hope I dont’ get pregnant
      What does a wife like me think when she is having sex? I think I’ll paint the ceiling blue. 🙂

      Oh and I am very orgasmic with the right person just not with him.

      • Come to think of it, my XW idea of initiating was similar, a grope of the balls etc. And, her V was not terribly tight. I am sure she had been drilled pretty deep before I met her.

      • Too funny. And what does my ex think about while he’s fuckong ugly? He wishes they made condoms in xxsmall so he can avoid getting another std.

      • i always got the poke in the rear end while we were in bed. he always thought that was sufficient enough to let me know he was horny and wanted sex. he never initiated it any other way. and apparently i was suppose to be super happy that his pecker was hard and preform appropriately. He never took into effect that i stayed up all night with a sick baby, or that i was sick, or that my feelings were hurt because of something he did that day.

  • JC
    Society wants to explain all sorts of deviant/maligned behaviors….and until they can uncover the ‘Asshole” gene I guess we go with what we got. And maybe just maybe every is searching for a reason to explain it to themselves. What is your truth? What explains the pain? Because if we look at it without emotion we can very reasonably say if someone lies or harms you logic would tell you that you evade or defend. Pretty strait forward. But we are emotional beings there is the illogic. How do we tell our heart what our head alreadys knows? And where does forgiveness start? In your head or in your heart? My child once told me” I wish all bad people would have to wear a sign on their backs” I tried to explain to her that even bad people have rights…and by doing that we would be labeling and be discriminating. That they could possible be treated differently and denied things that they needed. She looked at me with all sincerity and said ‘ But they are bad ” and I said “Yes, but you don’t have to be.” She just shrugged and said ” it would be way easier my way”

    • Your daughter is a genius! I’m with her–cheaters have to wear a scarlet C on all their clothes. Then clear out a few fly-over states and let them all live there together, while the rest of us live lives with integrity.

  • My cheater said all these: “It meant nothing to me”, “I don’t remember what we talked about” (the many phone calls, some an hour long late at night), “It was the worst 5 mins of my life” (BJ from a hooker). One call he did say he remembered, “We were talking about her sick Mother” (for an hour and she was at a hotel. “I took all those missing Viagra pills you found in my brief case to use with you, took them on my way home, that’s why they’re in my truck, but you didn’t seem interested when I came in”. (He never gets home till 8:30 after his flights and always said he was tired when he walked in and went to bed soon. “She is just a Friend”. Blah, blah, blah………..

  • Their Script is written by the Devil much in the same way that a good person’s Script is written in the heart by God. Each choice we make is deliberate…good or evil regardless of FOO issues. We KNOW when we are sinning, even from our youth up, regardless of how we try to dress it up or blame shift. The more we yield to evil and selfishness, the more we become the same. Ditto for what is good/kind/loving ect.

    My husband’s father was a serial cheater…he even sexually abused his own daughter for years. My husband’s father supplied him with condoms during his teens and told him to go out and do likewise.

    Turns out that my husband attempted to have sex with his OWN 17 year old daughter too, just before his first marriage blew up (apple does not fall far from the tree). She ran and told her mother and a month later, their marriage was over. To this day, my husband has a strange relationship with his now 28 yr old daughter…they are both NPD and get their ego’s fed from each other and often lace their conversations with each other employing sexual overtones. This daughter still desperately wants his attention (even though she is now married), and it seems the only way to impress him is to be just like him. His first Ex wife was/is a sweet saint (chump), happily remarried finally.

  • Arnold,
    again…lets looks at the character of the cheater…they want sympathy and understanding…they are speaking to their people!!! And all the little cheaters are saying “Mine too! ” “I hated those fucking fuzzy slippers and the way she talked baby talk to the dog” ” He always left the toilet seat up like I didnt exist”
    They are speaking to their people!! and let em have at it. Only a cheat could understand a cheat and likewise a chump for a chump.

    • Yes, I understand. But, to have the temerity to espouse this “it’s all on the cheater” deal and then tolerate all these long , justifying explanations and even chiming in to report their own justifications never ceases to amaze me.

      • Sounds like a typical narcissistic behavior to me. Make a claim to be something they aren’t (remorseful former cheater) and then find a forum to extol their virtue and superiority to others. But it’s a dead giveaway of genuine fake naugahyde remorse.

  • ummmm…. Not sure how to put this delicately but all you moms out there might want to back off a little on the teenage boy and long showers . . . and privacy and liquid soap . . . issue.

  • Dear Staying Strong,

    You’re wise to be concerned about this sort of development in your children.

    Do your children hear the word, ‘no?’

    Did you set limits with your children in terms of acceptable and unacceptable behavior?

    Did your children understand there was a budget in your household and some major expenses, like vacations/cars/special gadgets, had to be saved for?

    In other words, do they understanding that just because they wanted it, that doesn’t mean that it should be theirs, immediately? Do they understand that some behavior, even if they REALLY REALLY want to do that thing, isn’t acceptable?

    If those limits were set, you should be fine.

    If not, you can still work to instill those values in them.

    Good luck.

  • As unique as our chump experiences are (like shit snowflakes) the large region of common experience always blows me away when I read Chump Lady. It is comforting to read that others have been put in the position of being experts and perpetual social research scientists on narcissism. Maybe I have turned into an unwilling connoisseur of this shitty behavior.

    I cannot wait to wade through all of these comments later this evening… thank you all for sharing.

  • When I asked my Ex, why didn’t you just tell me you wanted out? Why did you just sit me down so we could have the difficult conversation.

    His response: Well, I was afraid because you have a temper.

    I was incredulous. If anyone had a temper in our marriage it was him!

    I don’t know if this is called ‘blame shifting’ or ‘false equivalencies’ — maybe it’s both!

    • Vegan Chump, The word you are looking for is projection. My ex did it all the time. He would accuse me of or make up shit about me that was actually him. Projection, he’s an alcoholic – so he tells everyone I am an alcoholic. He’s jealous, he accuses me of being jealous (so laughable, this shit), He goes into scary rages but he tells everyone (even me) that I have anger management issues. At one point during false reconciliation he accused me of cheating on him with an old friend, all the while he was still cheating. Just part of the playbook.

      • Yeah, my ex told me he was scared of my anger. It’s funny now, but at the time, it kept me off balance. I actually tried to work on being better and more understanding. It was all smoke and mirrors, of course. Literally no one in my life has ever commented on me being an angry person. Ex, meanwhile, hits himself on the head and screams like a 2-year old when confronted. Serious road rage issues.

        • My Ex (while we were married) once called me a “monster”. I was so hurt at the time. Now, looking back, it is clear to me that HE is the monster!

      • My ex claimed after divorce that I was a horrible bully and he was afraid to stand up to me. Hilarious, because of course, it was the exact opposite.

    • my Xh told me that he didnt want to make me mad……he was always scared to make me mad. i think a lot of it is projection too. he would blame me of cheating. i never did. the last time he said that to me, was the day i found out about his married slut. i was driving to the place we agreed to meet and i started crying before i even got there. i think my head knew, my heart took a lot longer to catch up.

  • I think cheaters cheat because they have angry dicks or vaginas.

    Unable to articulate their emotions in a healthy way, they refer to the angry dick/vagina for validation and find others who do the same thing. Some paid for and some not.

    Two angry genitals hashing it out. They get each other. Temporarily rids them of the anxiety of being a soulless person incapable of feeling for anyone other than themselves. They will call it “love” or “meaningless” depending on their whim.

    This is how they deal with “getting back” at their spouses for making them feel like less than who they “think” they are. The old, “I’ll show you!”.

    100 percent passive agressive IMHO.

    • it is definitely Passive Aggressiveness. the ‘i fucked up but i cant tell you and when you figure it out it is all your fault i fucked up in the first place” and the “you are not the boss of me although i wasnt trying to be the boss of him”

      such a immature childish view on life

  • You crack me up Calamity Jane! However, my 30 something daughter believes there is something to your theory!!

  • I wish I could say I figured it out myself, but I got it from a book and it resonated with me.

    Three cheaters and every one of the them fit the bill.

    “If you were more of a woman” (WTF?) angry dick H#1
    He did not like the fact I knew how to change oil in a car and was familiar with an engine.

    “If you would only obey” angry dick H#2
    This speaks for itself.

    “It’s because of YOU, I cheated” angry dick BF
    I did everything for this bastard except cheat for him.

    Slow learner….

  • The only ways that cheaters are “unique” are the ones who are especially crazy or horrible, the pedophiles, the ones who jump into pools in sleeping bags, the “talk-to-people-who-aren’t-there” schizophrenics.

    And even they have at least read through the script.

  • Boy have I learned lots here. The very first post I read mentioned ILYBINILWY which cheater ex followed with “i’m in love with the OW. I’d never heard that particular phrase before he uttered it…..and here it was. I was floored and have continued to read, and read, …..getting a great education….thanks everyone!

  • My STBX is a very angry, passive-aggressive, covert narcissistic person. His anger seems to simmer, always just below the surface. If you don’t live with him, you wouldn’t notice because his public exterior (mask) is usually calm and pleasant. In his real life he is a liar, a bully and an emotionally abusive cheater. I thought he was unique and his treatment of me exceptional until I began reading about other cheaters and realized he wasn’t original. The “reasons” he gave for cheating, which he viewed as some profound, philosophical, deep existential truth in his mutton-filled head, is no more than the distorted thinking, pretzel logic and ass-scratching ramblings of a developmentally arrested typical cheater.

    I understand his family issues (both parents suffering a certain level of narcissism, father a cheater, both parents self-involved, etc.) and how profoundly those things impacted him. Understanding the why does not change the fact that he cannot/will not love or care for me the way I deserve. Nature/nurture/all of the above – understanding it won’t change or undo what happened. Understanding it doesn’t make him any less of a lying, bullying, duplicitous flaming turd from Satan’s ass. If he would go to therapy for help instead of validation or commiseration, perhaps he could start to untangle his own skein – or not.

    I have spent the last 30 years focused on Cheater McDouchenozzle – his moods, his needs, his wants, his problems, his concerns – to the exclusion of myself. Continuing to puzzle out the why would keep me trapped in that mental enslavement. His problems are no longer my concern – he made that choice when he carpet-bombed our marriage. When he cheated (repeatedly), he forfeited his right to my care and concern.

  • The exact fears stated in this letter have worried me since DDay. The first night STBX left S5 asked why I was crying. I told him dad and I aren’t getting along. He immediately said, “why is dad being so mean to you? I’m going to tell him to quit being so mean to you.” I never really realized until that moment that he had been paying attention. I see now that STBX is fucked up just like his family. For some reason, I thought he was the exception. Ug! The golden child. I am working to understand how I can stop feeding into this and raise my son to be caring and competent.

    Minor trigger: Stupid Shit Manual delivered by turkey vulture, which alights on their bedpost. Cheater framed and hung a huge drawing of a vulture (we call them buzzards in Texas) over our bed. Being a bird lover, I had no issue with it, but his friends at work said, “your wife let you put that over the bed?!” Little did I know.

  • Little Miss Stripper
    Sat on his zipper
    Eating up his words; she was his prey
    Along came the liar
    And sat down beside her
    And (ultimately) frightened Miss Stripper away!

  • Yes, OW was so good and caring that she kept on saying ‘you must go back to your family’. Wow, I am so grateful. I really appreciated him protecting her by not wanting to tell me her name, by saying this wasn’t her fault, and by telling me her concerned side.

    • how sweet she is. gag!! was she saying that when she was laying on her back with her legs open?

      i hate these dirty whores that knowing fuck a married man.

      the married slut my XH was with wasnt even that good or caring. she would tell him how much she respected him and how much he needed to see his kids but when it came down to the button, she wouldnt respect him enough to let him see his kids without her being there and worked overtime to keep him from talking to me alone.

      she won.

  • Chump Princess, you described my STBX as if you know him. Wow. Your first sentence is his EXACT style- the “under the surface rage, passive aggressive, charming in public, gives off a sweet/soft vibe”. Ugh…gives me the creeps thinking about how opposite that is from who I lived with.

    And from my perspective; my childhood was worlds worse than his, at least from what I can tell. I was raised as an only child amongst substance abuse, physical violence and general chaos…I developed insomnia, crippling anxiety, depression and likely at some point during teenage years could’ve been considered borderline. But at 18 I chose to help myself, went to therapy and did the hard work…have been ever since. I’ve grown spiritually, mentally and emotionally into one of the most stable 31 year olds I know. I truly consider it a miracle, had to be an act of God.
    My ex…3rd of 6, K-12 private catholic school, great/loving/supportive large Italian family…by all accounts he had it pretty darn good. Perhaps he didn’t get much in the way of physical affection or attention…maybe. In my years knowing them I put some things together that have attributed to his (and at least 2 of his siblings) narcissism and sociopathic behavior. Rumors of his father having an affair when the kids were young (I believe his mother told them at that time), his fathers distant/cold/uninterested demeanor that can change on a dime to charismatic, his mothers harsh/overbearing/controlling personality…she did once tell me “he was always *different* than all my other kids.”
    You mean different like crazy, right? Like totally out of touch with reality and delusional? Lol.

    Anyhow, point is…if there had been a precursor for infidelity I might’ve been a high risk…but I chose another option and I’ve never not felt empathy…I don’t feel like I had a choice in the matter. I was born with it.
    Perhaps he wasn’t (born with it) or maybe it didn’t develop it. Either way, he ended up a behind-closed-doors lunatic and I want no parts of that.

  • At the suggestion of this website, I read the book “Why Is It Always About You?” which is so, so good for people involved with (partner, employer, parent of . . .) someone with NPD. It does delve a little into what precipitates a person with NPD. I found very interesting the notion that it often has to do with a failure to learn to integrate the emotion of shame as a child. Shame is a natural and powerful emotion we feel when we do something wrong – and for a good reason! It helps us avoid that behavior in the future, make better choices. (…setting aside dynamics here, where children are shamed for horrible reasons, of course. Those create different disorders altogether :-(. ) For future NPD types, they often do not figure out how to incorporate shame into their thinking process. Whether it’s a failure of hardwiring, whether parenting style encouraged protecting them from the consequences of smaller, childhood type mistakes – who’s to say. But they begin to learn to ignore shame early on, just stuff it away – with predictable consequences in adult life. If you never feel sorry for your behavior, you’ll do just about whatever you please.

    In my own ex’s case, this descriptor fits him to a T. He was a bit of a golden child in his family. He rose fast and with much praise in his professional life, too. Furthermore, he has some serious PTSD stuff related to work events in the past. I actually think that NPD types are at VERY high risk for PTSD – I’d love to see a longitudinal study of that, perhaps in soldiers or cops. If one thinks so highly of oneself that All Things Are Possible, Always – then when confronted with a very serious, traumatic event where a bad outcome was inevitable (ie, a battle scene or a rescue gone badly) – it creates a great deal of inner conflict, the reality that there was no way to “do it well” and the inner belief that one “always” does everything fantastically (NPD stuff.) Normal people are certainly traumatized by awful events, but we don’t also believe we “could” have (or “should” have) been able to do any better – we understand what was out of our control, and recover accordingly. I think NPD types can’t grasp that, and PTSD is the inevitable result. (…I think healthy people also get PTSD, obviously – my point is just that I think NPD might be a huge risk factor, and I’d love to see a correlated study about that.)

    My ex’s version of events is that he was miserable (probably true enough, though he didn’t seek care for decades, to include additional trauma) and so “had” to do something to make himself feel better. He could see that once upon a time, I made him happy – so “obviously” if he was unhappy, it was because I didn’t love him anymore and had quite “trying” to make him happy. Obviously, that was justification to cheat, because cheating feels AWESOME, right? (Nevermind that he could not cite a single thing that I didn’t do for him, nor what action or gesture or words from me *would* have made him happy.) Repeatedly, over the entire course of our marriage. (I never knew until the very end, I seriously had no idea – and I’m no dummy, either – I simply believed what he told me. His job did in fact have him dashing off at odd hours, etc.) He cost me my uterus and one ovary, and let me think it was probably cancer for some time – even made me go to the oncologist alone because he was “out of town.” (Shacked up in a hotel locally…) Thank G-d it wasn’t cancer, but there’s only one other thing that causes that much scarring – infection.

    Oh, and one of the things making him So Sad?? We didn’t have enough kids. Sorry the two Ivy Leaguers I gave him weren’t enough. Sorry you gave me total infertility. I’m sure the now-pregnant foreign nanny 15 years his junior is going to fulfill all his magic dreams of happiness. Good luck with that. Hope she knows to get more than a single annual screens for STI’s. Oh, hey, her first kid is already getting suspended in first grade? That’s such a shame. I’m sure it has nothing to do with her excellent mothering.

    My current partner suffered horrible abuse as a child, both physical and emotional. It stunted so much of his development – yet he made a very, very conscious decision to be someone else. He had a great military enlistment, decided to get out and go to college, and has an impressive professional engineering career now. His first marriage ended amicably in divorce, and he and his ex have co-parented a WONDERFUL young lady. He struggles with some behaviors and cognition common to abuse victims, and has worked SO SO hard (and continues to work) to make changes. I mention this part 1) as Yet Another Life Is Better After Dumping a Cheater testimony :-)!! and 2) just as an anecdote for counterpoint to my ex’s story – trauma need not create an awful human being. My partner struggles, but he is not disordered in the Personality Disorder, Axis 2 way. Recovery is clearly and impressively happening, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. He displays genuine empathy, and tries very hard to Figure Me Out. My ex never actually gave a crap about me, unless it dovetailed with Caring About Him.

    • Thanks so much for sharing that insightful post, KarmaBuilder. I appreciate all the honesty and forthcoming very much. I learn every day on the site.

  • So many good perspectives here.

    Having endured a narcissistic mother and narcissistic ex, I’m now happily married to another former chump whose child is a narcissist, like her mom.

    I ask, why, why, why me? Why again?

    The child in question is no longer a child. She is in her mid-twenties. Acting even worse than she did in her teens. This time, it should have been different. I planned a few fun activities so she wouldn’t be sulking in the guest room or off with her friends the entire time she said she would be visiting her dad. She countered by changing the dates so I had to change all my arrangements. Then she said she was inviting three other people along, that we’d have to find a place to put and food to feed. I asked one thing of her over the five day visit. Please do not interrupt me on Friday. I’ll be cooking all day for a fabulous dinner. Offered her breakfast before I got started. Cleared her dishes after. And then the fun began. She sat with her feet up all day blasting the TV and entertaining her guests, and ORDERING FOOD FROM ME ALL DAY as if I was her personal short order cook. Demanding that I heat the pool because they wanted to swim (I’d asked the week before to say asap if I should heat the pool and heard crickets). Then complaining that dinner was late. I asked if she wanted to get things moving faster, she could load the dishwasher. NO! I’M ON VACATION! Told her so was I but it just didn’t feel that way. I was beside myself and said so to my husband. Next thing I know, the kid is standing in front of me with her finger in my face telling me THIS IS MY DAD’S HOUSE, AND I HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO WHATEVER I WANT IN MY DAD’S HOUSE, AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT! APOLOGIZE TO ME OR BUY ME A HOTEL!

    No joke. I declined to apologize or pay for a hotel. She and her friends got less of a meal than I’d planned. And this is not Her Dad’s house where she can do whatever she wants. That house was sold. It’s Our House where we can do whatever we want. She can do whatever she wants at her own house.

    And we waved her goodbye with arms around each other. And sometimes he claims he has no idea how she got to be such a monster. I do. Mommy lives through her and Daddy cleans up after her messes.

  • Sometimes I wonder if you can UNLEARN empathy. My daughter who is 29 seems to have done that. She met a guy a year and a half older who was a Narc from a Narc family, and she seems to have changed from a warm, funny, super empathetic and thoughtful young girl until 16 or so when she met him. Now it seems like if you want a place in her heart you have to buy it. All the kids in his (her now husband’s) family are spoiled rotten and get everything without giving in return. I don’t think I will ever get my daughter back. She is like a different person. You must now buy her affection, and even then there is no guarantee. She uses people and does not even care if she hides it. Her wedding is the last thing I paid for, am so sick of it (and hurt!) I raised her so differently, it is still a stunning reality. Now she has her own small daughter, and I am concerned but what can I do? PS, I am done giving materially, I have paid for an education that gives her a better living than I have, the wedding, etc., none of it is ever good enough, I should have done more. times I “loaned” them money & it was never mentioned again, no intention to pay back. I do NOT clean up her messes. and I have let her suffer a bit to build character but it only made her hate me because his family always gives no matter how they get treated. (sigh)

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