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Dear Chump Lady, How could he turn into a completely different person?

serial_cheater_sharkDear Chump Lady,

My husband of 10 years suddenly left me 6 months ago, with ZERO warning, and is ever-so-cliché-ly dating his former office manager, 14 years his junior. I honestly had no idea he was so unhappy in our marriage that he would have an affair, let alone leave me, our 6 year old daughter, 3 dogs 4 chickens!

We were truly best friends, so I’ve actually lost TWO people. What I can’t understand is:

1)How he could turn into this completely different person, so lacking in morals and integrity,

2)How he could just act like we don’t have 11 years of memories and love between us, and

3)Why he has become so hateful and nasty towards ME ever since he left?!

Please help shed some light on this for me — so that, maybe, the cannonball-sized, sucking chest wound I carry around can begin to heal.



Dear Smart (You’re plenty smart, just chumped),

Some people are shallow puddles. We just thought they were deep.

How could he turn into a “completely different person”? He didn’t. That’s him. That’s who he is — a guy who can walk away from a 10-year marriage and a six-year-old child. The office secretary didn’t wave her magic stapler and transform him into a man with no morals. He had to have that lack of integrity in the first place to be able to run off. The other woman could be anyone. Where sparkly kibble dispensers beckon, narcissists follow.

Some people connect and commit and other people are just biding their time waiting to “trade up.” Remember junior high where you thought Amanda was your best friend, but then Stephanie invited her to hang out at Pizza Hut? And having had a taste of pepperoni and the higher social strata, she dumped you? And started wearing Guess Jeans and spiking her hair and acting all snotty, and you thought “Who is this person? I played BARBIES with you! I know what a DORK you are! I LOVED THAT DORK. Come back!”

You married an Amanda. She’d chuck your true love for a chance with the Cool Kids.

How he could just act like we don’t have 11 years of memories and love between us?

Because you know where the Barbies are buried. You represent The Past. He wants a do-over. A chance to sparkle for a new sucker and extract value from her. (She’s 14-years-younger arm candy. Winning!) He doesn’t love and remember the way you do, because he’s not that deep. See shallow puddle comment above.

Why he has become so hateful and nasty towards ME ever since he left?!

When he looks at you, he sees abandonment. A wife and child he walked out on. Who abandons people without so much as a warning? Assholes. Vile people. People with shit for character. Cowards.

But he is the Great One! He can’t be Wrong. Cognitive dissonance. So he has to blame you. You’re the REAL asshole!

I’m sure you were less than thrilled with his actions. I’m sure you demanded accountability, an explanation. You stopped providing kibbles. Of course he’s hateful. You’ve gotten in the way of something he wants. You don’t matter. You don’t have needs. Do not remind him of your agency. You’re an extension of him, and when you get uppity like that, it unnerves him. You’re supposed to be in perfect sync. If he leaves you, you should be OKAY with that, because it’s what HE wants.

If you ate the shit sandwich and consciously uncoupled and stayed “friends”, why I’m sure he’d sweeten up a bit in time. (So long as you don’t go reminding him of his obligations. Don’t be a killjoy.)

Do you know the kind of person I’m describing, Smart? A narcissist. Read up on them. That’s what sort of person does what he did the way he did it — a disordered person without empathy. He wasn’t all there — he was a shark in a people suit like the cartoon above. He showed you the real him. Now, you just need to believe it. You’ll grieve the hologram you thought he was, but trust me, he’ll keep reminding you of who he really is.

And THAT guy? Good riddance.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Smart, I also had the sudden abandonment (22 years). And CL is right. Our cheaters were actually shallow pieces of shit that were good salesmen. And a word of warning (cause it sort of happened to me.)
    If things go wrong with titty-la-la, the new squeeze, he might actually try the ‘I don’t know what happened to me, it was completely out of character, but I’m back to the old me now, ta-dah!’
    DO. NOT. LISTEN. That part of his character that allowed him to treat you and his family like muck on the bottom of his shoe is who he is, it has always been there and always will be.
    You deserve better. Breathe a sigh of relief that you found out, and I wish you the very best of luck and love for the future. x

    • Oh, Elle, thank you so much for your reply! It’s just so hard to imagine how someone could wear a mask—be worthy of an Oscar for Best Performance for 11 years!!! I just don’t get it. Incredible. 🙁

      • notsmartenough, you never met my late MIL. The best actress this side of the black stump. My ex husband was taught well. 45 years all up for me!!

        • Maree, yes! I realized my X MIL was NPD several years into our marriage. She was evil. My X wasband became more and more like his mommy over the last years of our marriage. The only thing I can say about that is apple/apple tree. Familial mental illness or training, who knows, but it blows your mind.

          • Yep! My MIL is nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake. (I’m from the South and we say things like that.). Long-time alcoholic (now recovering) and depressive. My FIL has remAined married to her, but leads his own life. My STBX told me on D-Day that he didn’t want to end up like them—stuck in a loveless marriage 10 more years from now!

            Like a punch to the gut….

            • OMG.. my H said the SAME thing to me!!!! And my inlaws were the same too! It’s like they are reading from the same book!! “Don’t want to end up like my parents, like your parents… blah blah. Want passion, want excitement. Major VOMIT.

              • Now you can have a “jerkless” life! What BS! It is amazing how they have NO feeling for it might be to hear these things from someone they care about/love. Truly heartless!

              • Well, I’m having one of my moments–/you know the ones in which that cannonball comes out of nowhere and blasts right though the center of your chest?!? Dropped my daughter off at school, came homento my empty-ass house, and the waterworks start. This happens to me every single day. Just when I think I’m making a tiny bit of progress…backslide. More than anything else, I just still cannot believe what he’s done to me. That’s the poison arrow; the wound.

            • SmartEnough, I wish there were some magic words any of us could have to ease your experience, or way to somehow bypass the incredible indescribable pain that cheating leaves in it’s wake. I think most of us here have found that an experience with so much loss is hard to process by/for ANYONE! Personally, I have never been through so much pain, and no one who hasn’t been through it would understand this. There are those moments your moving forward, and then there is a backslide or triggers that bring it flooding back. Unfortunately, I believe this is normal.
              I believe it unearths a “core” hurt within us that must date way back to deep fears and damage done (intended or not) years ago. That is what it felt like to me, like a stab right to the heart, and an intentional one at that.
              I guess the one thing to be grateful for is that whatever time you spent with him, it wasn’t more. Your daughter can hopefully be a focal point for you to try to get your brain off the rumination, trying to figure out why, etc.
              From what I have read, anger is further up the emotional scale than being depressed, which I would have to agree with. At least with anger you are feeling more powerful, and protective of yourself.
              My heart & I am sure many others here at CN go out to you!

      • 20 yrs for me too – walked away, telling us to ‘get over it, I did’ and his parents firmly behind him, telling him they support him and all of his dalliances because you have to do what makes you happy of course. 20 yrs – lost what I thought was my best friend, my partner in life and the person who I had planned to spend my life with – the person I trusted the most.

        They are snakes, they lie and cheat and don’t think twice about it – as long as they get what they want in the end – kibbles.

        • 36 years for me. My son said my ex should win an academy award for acting like he cared. Sure is disorienting but the pain gets better the further along the road you get to your new life. Turn the love you used to have for him towards yourself.

        • I have the exact female version of that INCLUDING the parents !!! And even the “get over it ” OMG exactly the same ! Thats so strange her parents sitting there after 22 years of knowing me blaming me for everything I just walked away like they were freaking invaded by body snatchers! I just couldn’t comprehend anything they were telling me about what their wonderful daughter had told them as to what a monster I apparently was and why she needed their support to get away.
          And everyone else who would listen.
          These narcissist so goddamn convincing they can turn what you would think were otherwise normal people into complete freaks they just believe everything and anything they tell them and you’re like oh my God how the hell can you be so blind.

          • I was willing to work at loving my in-laws, but I always got the feeling that I would never really be one of them no matter how hard I tried and then I was thrown away also.

            I am coming to terms with this and I am also happy that I never have to deal with them because it was a chore.

            • I am right there with you. My Ex was an only child and mom and him where to close. Talking every day on the phone ( she only lives 15 min from our house)
              My EX never ever stood up for me all these years I thought his mom was talking smack against me but I recorded him and found out it was my Ex badmouthing me:(
              I don’t miss my ex In-laws at all. She was a sneaky narcisistic viper!!!

              • My XMIL was the same. Her phone calls to XH were subversive, usually when he was on his commute home from work and I wouldn’t be there. God only knows what she talked about with him. My XSIL, married to XH’s brother, used to listen in on her H’s calls to XMIL. XMIL would blame my SIL for being a stay at home mother. Flew to their home after SIL had a baby via C-section and was demanding that SIL bring in the Costco groceries when she had trouble lifting her new born!

                I also understand the part about not having an H to stand up to MIL. My XMIL told me to fuck off – once on Christmas, another time on a family vacation to Costa Rica. X said nothing! After the final time she did this, I told him he’d better decide damn quick if he wanted to stay married to me because up with that shit I will not put! He told MIL off. Things only went down hill after that I contribute MIL with driving a wedge between us.

              • Maybe I got off easy! My in laws were awful, especially my ex-FIL.l My in-laws had 3 properties, 2 were apartment building that my Ex worked at like a slave from about 12 years old on. Never allowed to go out, not allowed to participate in sports, go to friends houses, etc. He was busy painting apartments, mowing all the lawns,s pruning the trees, cleaning the carpets, refrigerators, ranges & floors after tenants moved out. Pressure cleaning roof & driveways, fixing appliance, etc., etc., etc. He married me when he was 31, (we had been together 8 years by then) and not only did they decide not to attend our wedding, but after a few months the father decided to call & one property at a time he had to go to the Dad’s attorney’s office and take his name off each property for marrying me. They said it was because I had a failed marriage and a child. Truth be told, I wasn’t the “yes” girl they were hoping for. (Italian family) My Ex had 2 brothers, one has been married 3 times, the other once, and the parents did not attend any of the marriages!! I thought all of them were nice, decent woman. They (parents) resented loosing control of them in any way. Where are my slaves?!!
                Anyway, my Ex stayed away from them for awhile, but then went back and was expected to still do their chores for them .
                After we divorced, he got “re-inherited” and that lasted until the father felt like screwing with him again. This is why I was very hurt by the cheating, I always thought that extreme loyalty he had to his parents also would extend to me. Not so.
                His Dad is Mr. Narcissist. I did not know exactly what his problem was, but I knew he was VERY effed up. For the first 7 years or so I did not want to marry him because of his family. We broke up and I dated around but found no one I was interested in. He wouldn’t give up on me, and I guess he flattered me & at that time I loved how I was being treated. : (
                Anyway, to wrap this up, I gave up on them after we married & never spoke to them again. I knew who I was, and that the real reason was I would call them on their shit occasionally & they did not like it. I was also a voice of reason for him. MIL liked to ignore me, so I ignored her! This is how I executed it with them-no contact! However, I did realize I gave up being involved with a normal family, another big loss for the home team. Sad.

        • 19 for me..3 kids 1 dog 3 turtles, 3200 sq foot house. Buh bye. My single never married secetary is my new life. Anger I have never seen someone so angry with me for getting what he wanted. Still shake my head 4 yrs later

          • Me too. Almost Verbatim. 3 boys. 3 dogs. 3200 sq foot house. Single, super young,
            never married client. He is also still angry 5 years later. Intense anger at me and he has what he wanted. So bizarre.

      • My ex left me aftr 31 years of marriage. The book Runaway Husbands by Vicki Stark really helped me understand how he could just walk away from our marriage and family (i had also just finished cancer treatments that he swore during how much he loved me and couldnt live without me)

        • Just cruel. 34 years for me. I sure didn’t see it coming that many decades ago. What was in the water in the late 1970’s that convinced us our job was to be spackle queens for the rest of our lives? There’s a special subcategory for those of us who don’t have enough years left to fully recover financially or personally from this massive betrayal of our youth and innocence. Maybe I’ll feel differently once the decree is final but right now, the consequences of “settling” back then (without knowing it) feel so permanent.

        • They are something else… mine left me and our seven year old son…six days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer but only after rubbing his affair in my nose for three entire months and acting like I was a lunatic for objecting and demanding that he either STOP or LEAVE. They are despicable!! (Had a double mastectomy one month later, I am one of the lucky ones, no radiation or chemo… just my final surgery and at this point I’m managing pretty well, all things considered).

          • My ex left me 18 months after breast cancer – double mastectomy and reconstruction, chemo, RT. He was more loving during cancer treatment than at any time in the previous 16 years. 18 years; two school age kids and he leaves me for the mother of a child in my son’s class who is a ‘Buddhist’ yoga teacher financial journalist. Blame, projection, distortion – I had it all. It took a brilliant male counsellor telling me about cognitive dissonance, which led to reading on narcissism, before I stopped blaming myself and finally understood the psychological framework. But the feeling of devastation and bewilderment is still pretty overwhelming two years on … Not helped by him still not letting me go fully, refusing to sign the papers … Chumplady has been a lifesaver …

            • My bi-lateral double mastectomy was performed exactly ONE month to the date that he left. Yeah, Mr. Wonderful offered to do “whatever you need” during my fight…. I knew it was just to make himself look like “the good guy” and told him “no thanks, you couldn’t possibly love me or care for me and be doing this with what I’m going through. ” It was WORSE having him here knowing what he was doing. Asshat.

    • Yeah, mine left me without warning for a co-worker 10 years my junior after 28 years of marriage, and 5 years of living together before that. Not a person had a clue he was unhappy (except the OW), although he said he had been unhappy for 10 years, and before that had just settled for me because he couldn’t do better.

      Apparently that is who he was, I just didn’t know any better and he was a great actor because nothing ever changed until he told me he was unhappy and wanted a chance for happiness (2 weeks after that is when he broke the news about the OW).

      Best of luck to you and I hope you find both what you need and what you are looking for!

      • That is a hell of a sad story, Bogie.

        It is incredibly wrong, and I agree, the thing that is hard to understand is how this person we thought we knew better than anyone our most trusted partner.

      • I am so sorry Bogie-I am sure he was just fine until he saw Ms. Free _ussy and then had a sudden change of heart. To say they have not been happy for years is BS because they are far too selfish for that!! He will get his, I will bet she will dump his ass. Many well wishes.

  • Dean Not Smart Enough,
    You are me. I am You. I am you a year and a half out of a 12year marriage / relationship. The aftermath (to me) is like a thousand piece puzzle, the marriage and the relationship (you thought to had, actually you had, he didn’t) are the edges of the puzzle, the outside so to speak, and the inside is much much trickier…and every book you read, every blog you come across, every fb page on “what the hell happened”, every therapy session, puts a piece of that puzzle into place. Every piece that finally fits in your head you say “OMGee!! Ah ha!!”…and you know you have more to learn and figure out but you have knowledge you never had before.

    Best to you Not Smart Enough, you are smart, you will be wiser day by day. Start by not saying “not smart enough” about yourself, you are, we just had NO CLUE these type of people exist…and in the end you will realize you are smart enough and it is he who is lacking in so many ways.

    Best to you on your journey

    • “we just had NO CLUE these type of people exist…” This is a big part of it. How can you conceive of a lack of empathy when you have empathy yourself? There are a lot of these people out there, but they are so good at hiding, that normal, trusting, people just don’t know how to spot them. Until something like this happens to you, you can’t understand the depth of the deception that disordered people like this operate in. It can rock your world to find out about true narcissism. Even when we see the signs, we come up with the “spackle” to explain it away, because it just doesn’t make sense to us.

      I tell myself everyday, like Tracy said, he really is that shallow. The rest was a very good performance. It helps to remember that.

      • I had no clue either! I came from a kind family where I thought everyone was either ultimately kind or in prison. I was so wrong. There are a lot of those sharks pretending to be people out there.

    • Chumped in Chicago, Yea, another Chicagoan! Sorry you’re here.

      Smart enough,
      I was blind for 30 years. As soon as we sold our house, I haven’t heard from her since. As if 30 years of memories never happened. For her they ment nothing. Divorce was final two weeks ago, after 15 mo of waiting and BS from the lawyers. Chump nation opened my eyes and brought me out of the fog. It took a long time. Have patience, you will learn to trust your gut again and you will see the truth clearly. You did nothing wrong.
      Don’t give up, keep moving forward. You’ll make it. Some day I may make it too.

  • Dear Not, marriages fail, people divorce, love goes. When it happens it is so very sad but…..people who have some integrity try to do the right thing. They NEVER abandon their families. They may leave but they don’t shit on the people who love them. My former SIL abandoned my brother and his kids and after many years is still the same person. Disordered people don’t change because they can’t change. Don’t spend your time mourning a ghost. Believe Tracy. The man was never real. He has moved on to the sparkly one and you and his child don’t count. You really never have. That is what my brother and his poor children had to face. They meant nothing to her and still don’t.

    • People with integrity only leave for very serious reasons- infidelity, addiction, abuse- not because you didn’t make their favorite meal enough or “grew apart.” So don’t listen to anything like that.

  • Smart
    I am sure he was happy with you, these narcs don’t need to be unhappy to do what they do. They just need to see another opportunity, and then, hey, I love you and I am happy with you, but she might make me really happy.
    She is new and sparkly, and young which is a massive ego boost coz I am such a shallow fuck.

    My ex has a brother who left his 47 year old wife and 3 kids for a 36 year old.
    My ex comment was why wouldn’t he?’

    Should have got his case out then and there.

    It’s as if it’s a competition,mine has buggered off with a 35 year old, yay he wins, mine is younger than yours!

    Shallow actors, it is just so shocking that they could fake being human for so long.

    This is the 3rd time my ex has walked out on a long term relationship for someone else.
    He doesn’t get that the grass is never greener, it’s just younger grass.

      • Maybe you Chumps have heard this but I like “The Grass is Greener where you water and take care of it.” Would you go fertilize mow & edge your next door neighbors lawn? Of course not. It is true the grass becomes greener where it is tended to!”
        I told that to mine and said you don’t have to be an effing lawn service!

  • I needed this today. I am just a few days out from mediation and my Father in law passed away. I get to the funeral and I am told by his family that he finally came to visit his Dad after ignoring him for nearly a year. My STBX chose to drive quite a distance each weekend to be with his paramour he met on Facebook each weekend. The family then informs me that he had brought Schmoopie with him to visit with his Dad, but his father was adamant that his HO would NEVER be welcomed, so I am sure his effort to shove her down his elderly fathers throat failed. So Schmoopie had to rent a car to drive herself home. Once I arrived my STBX suddenly nearly drops into my lap and starts asking “How are you”? Repeatedly! He knows I had surgery for lung cancer and a second surgery because I contracted MRSA! I told him I was fine, but please leave me alone. He then tells me,”I’m not doing so fine.” I told him that I was sure his GF would be glad to listen to him and to help him. Anyways, long story short, he followed me and his adult children around the entire funeral and at the gathering afterwards. Tells my son that Schmoopie is not there as she had to go home to get a hysterectomy!!! WTF!! Once we left to head home we understand he left immediately to head to his GF house! His attention to me and our kids was an act to make him
    Look like a human being with genuine feelings. Trouble with that is NOONE bought it! Not even his own siblings! He was very much shunned! And I think he was trying to “soften” my feelings towards him so I won’t hammer him in mediation! I’m not sure, but that’s my take! Bottom line is he was tacky enough to use his Dads funeral to try to manipulate the circumstances he must face!! Anyone else have a take on this?

    • Roberta, of course it was manipulation to get something that was beneficial to him. If you were divorced and everything was settled, I doubt if he would have put on such a “convincing” act. Narcs do not do anything for anyone unless there is something in it for them. Even if you were divorced, he could have still done the same thing to show people that he is not that bad, that see, his STBX and kids are even talking to him. All is well. “It’s for the best” BS. My ex pulled something similar on me, too. Hours after a close family member died, he called me, all upset and telling me the details. Then he asked me to do something for him immediately, and I told him I will do it when the time is right, and he was pissed because I wasn’t at his bidding. It was so strange, so surreal to watch the “it’s all about me” unfold. We were already divorced at that point.

    • Please tell me your ailing father in law actually used the word “HO” when referring to Schmoopie. Because that would make my day.

        • So few people call their shit out to their faces. Mine was bragging about how often he goes to church now (with the Schmoopie of course) and a family member looked at him and said “That’s not going to help you!” Wish I’d been there to see his face. I heard he got up and walked away.

          • Yeah! During the funeral the priest was leading us in prayer and my STBXH & I were devout Catholic! I still attend, but my point is, I just turned and looked at him saying prayers and thinking Satan is probably pretty pissed at him right now! What a hypocrite!

            • Roberta, when my ex was in the throes of his affair, he received Holy Communion, looking all devout. Just goes to show that “appearance” is so important to these cheaters.

              • OMG Uniquelyme! I cannot wrap my head around how screwed up these fools are! Good heavens!! To actually receive a sacrament while sitting in the middle of huge sin is just beyond me!! I had an advantage during this funeral though, time to consider the angle and I knew he was using his own fathers funeral to show everyone what a great guy he really is and he just can’t help having found Twu wuv on Facebook!! Barf! Only thing that would have made his day would have been if I had gone off on him!!No way was I going to do that because it would have then “validated” his rewrite of history that I’m a mean, crazy bitch! Luckily the sibs in his family have known me for over 40 years and know he’s full of crap!!

              • My ex brought the whore to church while STILL married to me! “She’s a good person looking for a church.” Ya right!

                Now they go to another church together 30 miles away, thinking people don’t know about them…but God does!

            • At least your church had the decency to throw him out.

              Most of the time I hear that the church is pretty accepting of this shit which is probably something cheaters calculate before they act.

          • ScorpioRising: I agree, so few people call their shit out to their faces. Because its like a battle with an unarmed opponent? They’re witless fucks, who get up and walk away, whenever there’s the slightest whiff of criticism. Silent treatment follows – they don’t have the balls to mount a decent rebuttal, so best just to negate the existence of the offending person. When I attempted to call cheater ex on his shit, he would put his hands over his ears and repeat “I’m not hearing you, I’m not hearing you, I’m not hearing you”. Then I would be served a heaping dose of silent treatment for days on end. That’ll teach me.

          • How about performing sacrament and weddings at the time of D-Day ?!?!

            Both he and his tru lurve are ordained.

            But they are so special – if course they are forgiven !!?

            But not by me 🙂

    • Hi Roberta,

      My at the time FIL died the year of D-day. I attended the funeral. Shark-ex spoke. He talked about how great his father was at forgiveness. That all you had to do was apologize and he would be gracious: just glad that you apologized and glad to forgive. Then he spoke about his father’s “favorite” Bible story of David and Batshevah, that David was unaware of what he did so wrong until Natan the Prophet told him a story about someone else. Then he “got it.” I wanted to puke. “Yes, folks,” I wanted to say, the character of King David was a narc. Ex’s message was: People who don’t forgive are just not that good and the great kind David was human like me, like my father.

      They will spin anything to serve themselves and “humanize” or sermonize on what they have done.

      My take is that human beings do violence to others. Humans rape, steal, lie, treat others with contempt, slander…Unfortunately, it is human to damage and hurt others. So what? Some of us choose not to harm. We choose to work on ourselves. We choose to be honest about our feelings and actions so that others can make the best decisions with the best information for their own lives. We work hard to NOT fuck people over. Why? Because it feels shitty to harm, a world that people harm is a world of horror. It hurts me to hurt someone else. I can be true to myself without deceiving others and treating them as less than.

      Your ex cornering you at his father’s funeral to show “how much he cares” is a sham, a “good guy” performance to turn on and off.

      I have not delved into the character disordered much, have not read up on narcs. I don’t yet have the stomach for it and have very little interest. I am just listening to myself more, what I pick up, dissonance, who I migrate to and why and who I do not connect with and why. I am doing a study in me in dialogue with others so I do not fall for another charlatan.

      Smart, I know just how you feel. When I first heard about the affair, I could hardly believe it. But then all the pieces came together. I was still shocked but the writing was on the wall for those who could read and decipher it.

      Was your ex always honest and caring? Did you not feel any disconnect, any dissonance?

      It could very well be that you did not. I wonder if it is possible for someone to hide so profoundly. Shark-ex could not, I spackled and assumed well, I did not read the signs and I did not want to see the one’s I did read. But that was me. Your letter says that his behavior is a huge shock.

    • WOW Roberta, Another Chump wins by losing a LOSER! You guys are making my jerk seem like A NICE GUY. That death bed story is amazing!

  • Smart,
    Reality will set in. It has taken me almost three years to realize who I married. I think in some grand perspective it was good that I had the wool over my eyes for the marriage.
    I would’ve never had any kids if I knew I was just being used…
    Also, everything bad he now ‘sees’ in you is just him projecting his own bad on another.

    • Friend, I feel exactly the same way. We struggled for 3 years to conceive our daughter. I put my body through unmentionable hell with every fertility treatment you can imagine! I never would have done all of that if I hadn’t loved him with all my heart and truly believed that we would be together for the rest of our lives. But I look at her beautiful face and think—I got the very best of him!

      • Smart-
        I know how you feel. 17 years with my stbx. Multiple miscarriages and a tubal rupture that required surgery & I almost died. But stbx kept persisting & telling me not to give up-WTF?! I was 39 with only half my parts left and told we would probably never have children. We ended up doing fertility treatment and after a horrible scary pregnancy, our son was born a month early. Stbx was great in the hospital with our son because it was a show for other people to see. Once we were home, he was a ghost and I was a single parent. I went through it all for stbx because I loved him. I used to be upset that I bred with a fuckwit but I wouldn’t trade my amazing son for anything.

        Think of your daughter as your inspiration. In order to want better for her, you will need to want better for yourself! It will help push you forward to do the things you will need to do for both of you.
        You are a mighty mama bear!!

  • Smart,

    I hear the shock in what you wrote to CL. And I can relate. It is very unnerving to discover such infidelity and then to have him leave you plus your child!

    Whatever he might have been before, he has made choices. These are bad choices, and like CL writes, they likely reveal is real self. Someone with character does not walk out on his commitments and family. He could have chosen otherwise.

    Don’t let his choices define you. They say a lot about his character. And they say nothing about you in the end. These horrible choices and actions are 100% on him.


    • Thanks, DM. Hugs back to you. This was a man who always strove to do “the right thing”. A man who would judge, disdainfully, adulterers and other couples who “took the easy way out; who didn’t do the work to save their marriage”. He even said time and time again, “Divorce is just not an option for me.” This is why what he has done has been so confounding! The man I married never would have made these foolish, reprehensible choices. SMH…

      • My ex was the same–a Jesus cheater. He would get animated & ask how men could find time to cheat, if they knrw what they were doing to their families, how husband d unhappy they must be. He’d say with much concern & sadness, as he shook his head. I thought I was so lucky to have a husband who was so vocal about his beliefs! Ha:)

        And the whole time he was cheating on me with a myriad of vulnerable, low-life women, every chance he could get. Saying things like that is part of their ruse. They enjoy the deceit, the fact that they are perceived as holy, yet they have this “other side” that no one knows about & would never suspect. It’s not even about sex–it’s about power.

        The fact that you don’t suspect shows your mind doesn’t work that way. My mom said it best: People who are trustworthy, trust. We think others are like us, and that’s not always the case. We learned the hard way.

        Every second you’re away from him, it will get better. One day, you’ll forget he exists!

        • Your mom did say it best Sara! People who are trustworthy trust. I trusted the ex right up until my subconscious screamed at me to start checking his phone. When I did, I found out that I shouldn’t be trusting him anymore.

          Him? If I had a nickel for every time he acted like the marriage police with regards to me, I would have had enough nickels to retire. He was ridiculous. One time (long ago) he left our 6 and 9 year old alone in at 11:30 at night because I was a half hour late coming home from work. It was the summer and I was hanging outside of the building I worked with 3 other women gossiping about people at work on a Friday night. We weren’t drinking or clubbing, we were just letting off steam and he came tearing into the parking lot like the building was on fire. He was swearing at me and screaming and acting like a lunatic. I was 30 at the time and I was mortified. I felt like I was getting in trouble for missing curfew. So humiliating.

          He did stuff like that for the entirety of our marriage until I put my foot down about 7 years before he had his affair. I thought he was insecure but now I realize he wasn’t trust worthy so he just assumed no one was. Such a red flag that was being waved in my face since day one.

          That is a red flag I will never miss again!

      • Smart- I have the exact same kind of husband. Remember actions speak louder than words. They can say all those things over and over but poor choices and bad behavior nullify those words. My husband’s parents got a divorce when he was 10 and he said he could NEVER do that to his children. Wrong, he can and is. I’m 7.5 months into this and in my mind I know he is not that good guy I thought he was but my heart still can’t accept it. I will get there and so will you. Divorce Minister told me once there are men in the bible that started well but didn’t finish well (like King Saul). They allow something to corrupt their hearts at some point. I know it is so hard to accept, give it time, and with acceptance comes healing. I’m not there yet either but it will happen. Hugs to you.

        • Nicole,

          I agree, and my ex-wife was the same way – screeching about how wrong it was to cheat. This actually helped me when the truth came out because I knew it was not a mistake or an accident because she knew it was wrong and did it anyway.

          I too am about seven months out but I know I am lucky because we were not even married a year, and I too know that I will come out of this, I just feel there was perhaps a better way to learn this hard lesson in life…

          • Oh Tony, I’m with you I so wished I didn’t have to learn this lesson this way. After 19 years of marriage for me or one year for you, it is still excruciatingly painful. Maybe for you children aren’t involved in this cruel lesson, but it is still so so difficult. So sorry you are dealing with this.

            • Thanks, Nicole.

              In reality, this thing could not be going smoother – no kids, property, assets. I never asked her to change her last name because I liked it and I was happy just to have her as my wife.

              When the affair came out I told her, “maybe one day I could get over this, but I cannot bring life into the world with you, and because of this, and because I cannot give you my one and only future, we have to divorce.”

              The funny thing is that I did not want to be married, I just thought that God gave me my soul mate earlier in life that I was prepared, but I went for it.

              Dealing with my ex and my once undying love for her, then her family – who were my family and I loved them very much despite their flaws – throwing me away also, then the sorting of our friends – where friendship means much to me – to finally dealing with society collectively shrugging its shoulders at infidelity and affairs.

              I found out 7/27/2014, and the divorce was final 10/01/2014. Not even married a year, but my friends and family have loved me and been there for me because they know that I love deeply and truly and I meant what I said when I said, “I do.”

              Life is going on, and I am moving on, but it still a hell of a thing to learn about the depth of everyday human evil among us…

              • It’s just so sad Tony. I’m so sorry. My in laws that loved me and called me their daughter dumped me like yesterday’s garbage after 20 years. I am the mother of their grandchildren and have been kind and loving to them. I just don’t get it. Yes, evil all around us.. I may go live with the Amish. 😉

              • I’m part of the 7.5 month club too, July 5. I got the house, dog, cat, and I’m grateful for being in a secure financial situation, but it’s still very difficult to reconcile what I thought with reality. I found out by text and broke it off by text when she wouldn’t answer her phone, after 10 years together. I go back and forth, it’s such a dissonance, but the picture is starting to solidify. She was always incredibly controlling of her image, to the point she felt uncomfortable getting her photo taken. I was incredibly lucky to find CL within weeks of d-day. I feel like it’s kind of like exercise, even though you can’t see the results right away, if you go through the motions (eat healthy, exercise, no contact, see friends, get hobbies, stay busy, stay productive, focus on your interests) it really does work eventually, and you will get back to being your true and healthy self.

        • Nicole,

          Thanks for reaching out. You’re so right—it is hard to accept. When you love someone truly and deeply you’re supposed to be able to put your trust in that person. Implicitly. When you spend years with a person, you should know them! That’s what confounds me. I know you, and so many others are right: it takes time. Every day feels like an eternity. Please keep in touch with me. Seems like we are at the same stage of the game. Sending love, hugs and peace to you!

          • Thank you Smart! Absolutely, I will keep in touch. You sound like such a kind and caring person that could never ever do something like what your husband did to another human being. I couldn’t do it to an enemy, let alone to a loved one. That’s why it is SO hard for us to understand. That kind of evil is not in us so we understand love, goodness and light, not selfishness, cruelty and darkness. We can overcome this! Let’s support one another! XO

            • Nicole, I agree with you. I could NEVER have done to my ex what he did to me. I just couldn’t do that to another person. I read somewhere a good quote – “If I wouldn’t do it to you, I won’t take it from you.”

      • Smart, Nicole…It’s surreal that they say the same things…

        “God put us together and His plan is perfect”, “Divorce is not an option” “You are my queen and my home”, these kind of things I heard over and over for 20 years in what I thought was a super happy and blessed marriage.

        Then out of the blue, grumpiness, constant criticism, then he said “I love you but I am not in love with you anymore…I want a divorce, in fact in my mind I already divorced you, I don’t need a paper for that”. WTF????? He blamed me for destroying the marriage because I can’t communicate efficiently and he can only deal with “one disagreement a year” (you can’t make this stuff up). A month later I found out about the affair, and later of the multiple hook ups he was in the habit of doing.

        I am two years and a half since d-day, separated, super difficult divorce. And for me the hardest part too has been the dissonance. The incongruence of one person living two lives and having two sets of values. It is so hard as one of you said to bring it down, from mind to heart. I really loved him. It has been really hard. But it is getting better, really slow, but it is happening. Coming to really trust that he sucks. I keep repeating to myself CL’s words: if you can have a double life, you are a disorder piece of shit. Period.

        CL mentioned this article a while ago “Great Betrayals”… this is a little part…

        But for the people who have been lied to, something more pervasive and disturbing occurs. They castigate themselves about why they didn’t suspect what was going on. The emotions they feel, while seemingly more benign than those of the perpetrator, may in the long run be more corrosive: humiliation, embarrassment, a sense of having been naïve or blind, alienation from those who knew the truth all along and, worst of all, bitterness.

        Insidiously, the new information disrupts their sense of their own past, undermining the veracity of their personal history. Like a computer file corrupted by a virus, their life narrative has been invaded. Memories are now suspect: what was really going on that day? Why did the spouse suddenly buy a second phone “for work” several years ago? Did a friend know the truth even as they vacationed together? Compulsively going over past events in light of their recently acquired (and unwelcome) knowledge, such patients struggle to integrate the new version of reality. For many people, this discrediting of their experience is hard to accept. It’s as if they are constantly reviewing their past lives on a dual screen: the life they experienced on one side and the new “true” version on the other. But putting a story together about this kind of disjunctive past can be arduous.

        Understandably, some feel cynical if not downright paranoid. How can they know what is real going forward? How can they integrate these new “facts” about family, origin, religion, race or fidelity? Do they have to be suspicious if they form a new relationship? As my friend said in despair, “I’m just not a snoop; it’s not in my genes.”

        You can read the complete article here…

        • Gaby

          I think the ultimate reason that they do not tell us how dissatisfied they are is because they are already out of the relationship, and they want to get as much out of it as possible, and they are able to do so on their terms if they do not tell you because they have created their own reality of which the betrayed spouse is not a part.

          It is a hell of a thing to be treated ultimately like an unwanted business asset to be excised as soon as possible while making as much profit from the transaction as possible.

          • It is called passive-aggressive! You are supposed to PAY and PAY BIG for all the things you didn’t do because you were not told they were missing anything! You are not psychic?? Well yes, that is another problem with you! You’re not psychic-shame on you!!.

            • Regina

              Yes, the problem was that she did not ask me when I was wearing my blue turban and sitting in front of my crystal ball.

              Since I am wearing my blue turban and sitting in front of my crystal ball right now, I see, yes, that’s it, I see great prosperity in your future.

              And you want a nice sandwich right now.

              I hope you are enjoying this cold weather. I know I am in Austin.

              • HaHa Tony; I DO have a magic 8 ball (remember those?) but it only has 8 answers and none of them were “you married an asshole.”
                I am glad you see prosperity for me, also for you and the many struggling in Chump Nation!
                Just say no to Ramen noodles! (I am eating them right now!)
                I live in Florida, and just had to turn my air on, but believe me, the place has it’s drawbacks. I am from Michigan though, so I remember so many pains in the tail because of snow, ice, cold, winds, etc. I will never forget.

  • Smartenough, I bet if you looked back on your marriage you would see things in a new light. Things you didn’t notice before or minimized will have new meaning to you. This will clue you into what you were really dealing with.
    He acts nasty to you because he has to justify his actions. Cheaters aren’t too original in their excuses, actions, and behaviors.

  • NotSmartEnough: I’m sure there were many red flags throughout your 10 year marriage to suggest that he wasn’t wholeheartedly into your marriage or family – you just weren’t looking for them. Closer to the end, before you knew about the affair, he had completely devalued you and your head was already spinning. Finally, once your relationship is over, he becomes downright nasty. His behaviour has been on a long downward continuum – it was always going that way.

    Chumplady is right – the OW could be anyone – anyone who is flattering him with attention – that’s just how shallow narcissists are. The OW thinks she is so very special, that she is the chosen one – not for long though. He’ll repeat the same behaviours with her because that is how he is primed – his relationship repertoire is limited. Best of all though, if she is a fellow narcissist, he’ll get to choke on a taste of his own medicine.

    • HaHa, so true! My idiotic X told me this last Fall, when he was trying to convince me of my big mistake in leaving him – She turned out to be not what she pretended to be. She doesn’t have my back, and she won’t be a couple with me after all!
      OK, am I evil if this made me so very happy? I told him she was using him, and that breaking up a 32 year marriage was just a huge notch on her bedpost! He refused to listen, they were Soulmates. ( Actually, they are, two giant Narcs calling to each other).
      He was in such pain, and he lives in her freaking basement room-for-rent! He threw me away for that, and is being told by Miss Narc that he’s not boyfriend material. So it’s all a power play for these AP’s, to see what they can get, and then, Oooops! they don’t want it after all!

      • Same for cheater ex…(I will NOT claim him with a “my”.) He met schmoopie at an AA meeting and of course she was his soul mate. Oh, they were so in luv, and she had such problems that only he could save her….(he actually wanted to tell ME her problems.) ……but he was in love with her but not me anymore. Well, he knew what that meant. I had told him when we were dating that if he ever decided to cheat we were done, period. There would be no question of a second chance. To make a long story short, she dumped him when she found out that he wasn’t making the kind of money she needed to support her in the style she would like. I almost felt sorry for him…..almost. Got a good laugh out of that one.

        • Wait. Doesn’t AA have clauses in their process where people can pretty forgive themselves of anything done when they were alcoholics?

          • Well he was 17 years sober when all this went down……not sure if they get a pass when they sober up. The 12 step program does tell them they are responsible for cleaning up their past, as far as I know. I think that includes the crap they did while drinking. The program did not seem to take with cheater ex and his schmoopie. Tisk, Tisk. She is probably still out there helping cheaters destroy their marriages. Too bad she dumped him, I think they were just right for each other.

      • Freewoman!! Hardy-har-har!! As soon as she had a chance to devalue him, guess what? The fun is in the chase, just like with any Narc. Once you know you are “winning” (as ultimate Narc Charlie Sheen famously said) like minded Narcs lose interest. They like MOVING targets! Picture Lion & Zebra. You are so right that they consider it a victory to ruin what others have. It is like a sport to them.

        • Oh, I like that Tony! I’m going to use that when people accuse me of being bitter and enjoying his downward spiral a bit too much!!!

          • Roberta,

            I know from reading the posts here from people who keep track of what happens to their cheating ex that almost always nothing good happens from there on out. Sure, we know they are terrible people on the inside, but to me it is affirming knowing on that they go down in flames at some point in the future.

            I can say personally that I know that my ex is very arrogant, and feels she is entitled to her actions, and so many people have been making excuses for her, that she will not learn from her mistakes and she will fuck up sometime in the future.

            When she does fuck up, I want to hear about, and I am going to BBQ myself a nice steak.

            • OK, it’s not evil, and I prefer to see it as research- after all, we have to examine the consequences of asshole behavior, so that we don’t fall into any more of their traps!
              I know, also, that every single Chump here gave many, many chances to these USERS. So when they throw our chances in our faces, and keep shitting on us, who can blame us for saying “See, I told you that AP wasn’t exactly a CATCH!’
              Who was the catch of your lifetime? oh yeh, it was the Chump! My new boyfriend thinks so, anyway.

            • Amen Tony, but I can’t wait for that Karma bus to roll over this fool! I’m anxious to witness it in it’s catastrophic totality! Free woman, I told (warned) my STBX that Schmoopie isn’t some innocent babe in the woods, this is what GF does for a hobby and he is just one fool in a long line! He refuses to believe me. Only time will tell, but I believe he lost his best asset ever, ME!! He’s done!

  • This is so timely for me that I think God is answering a prayer and address a chumpy desire to help my STBXH. See he did the same thing. I thought we were awesomely happy. I had no clue he wanted out. And now 6 months later, all of a sudden he wants to talk to me. HE went NC (no contact) from DDay. Guess why he wants to talk? He had his appointment at the child support office last week. Yep. He’s asking for MY help in not having to pay so much. I feel chumpy because I considered it. And then I talked to my sister and she tells me that I am doing nothing wrong, that I am in charge of his life and finances anymore and he needs to figure it out. She’s right…but it makes me feel mean. I hate that!! Now I read this morning’s post and I am sitting here thinking, “Ok God, I hear you. Thank you.” I can let this go. This is not something I need to concern myself with.

    NotSmartEnough, I thought the same thing. Felt the same thing. I had to stop trying to figure it out and wonder how I missed it. Its hard to watch someone make such a monumental mistake and then face the consequences of their horrible decisions. But I’m going to. I am going to remember how he didn’t show an ounce of respect for me when he cheated and then when he abandoned us. I’ve been treated better by people who don’t even like me very much. Just sayin’.

    • conniered, glad that you caught yourself nearly falling for his narcissist manipulation. If a narcissist X is talking to us, it’s because the narcissist wants or needs something from us.

      • What LaJ said. Conniered, I’ve been following your story, and you’re a very strong person. Good on you for not falling for his BS! Besides, child support is just that–support for the child. Any time he starts moaning and groaning about how much he has to pay, you just look at your kids and remember there’s no dollar amount any court could mandate that would truly compensate for the abandonment they have had to suffer and will continue to suffer. It’s our kids who really wind up having to pay for these cheaters and their entitlement. Ask me how sorry I feel for your poor beleaguered ex! (NOT)

        • So, hes basically saying ‘Woe is me I shouldn’t have to pay for the children which are half me’
          Fuck him and the horse he rode in on – that should not be even an option.
          Despicable pig to abandon his kids monetarily, too.

    • Look at it this way. If he opens his mouth the only thing coming out is bullshit. Once you get that then his tears, apologies, whining are nothing but noise. If I were you I would start humming a nice John Phillip Sousa March in my head to drown out the crap he is throwing at you.

    • Dear conniered,

      Yes, God did answer your prayer! Obvious to me.
      You would not have found the answer, however, if you had not been receptive and had not been looking in the correct places. ChumpNation is always the place to go to get these types of answers! (Well, and DM, too!)

      “This is not something I need to concern myself with.” Takes us SOOOOOOO long to really embrace this truth! Stand firm, my friend.

      And for SMART ENOUGH! Yes, you ARE smartenough! You are HERE!

      What conniered wrote and all the other’s advice is based on wisdom acquired through the same type of journey you are just now beginning. So, listen up so your journey can be shorter, quicker and less insane (hopefully) than some of the other chumps here. Lean from the BEST!

      ForgeOn, all y’all……………..

    • It took me a while, but I finally convinced myself that the financial fall-out of his actions should not be my burden to bear. It is HIS burden, and I will not share it. If it bankrupts him in the end, then hey, I gave him SO many outs, and he took none of them. So too bad, so sad, pay up. He made his bed.

      • I too gave ex so so many outs. Was asking for him to be honest the entire relationship. Why he chose to deceive is beyond me and I like to leave it there. I take heed of any dissonance I feel with anyone at this time in my life. Not explaining anything away, anymore.

      • Right! I refuse to go down with the sinking ship financially because of HIS decision also. In the past 6 months he has done nothing to help cloth our son or make sure he has what he needs for school, hasn’t offered a DIME to our household expenses, or visits to the vet for our 2 older dogs. He was totally fine with leaving me with all of our debt. He thought he wouldn’t have to pay hardly anything in child support because I earn more so he always said, “I am ready and willing to pay child support”. Yeah right. It seems he thought it was ok to leave me with all our debt since I earn more even though half that debt HE accumulated. Amazing. Just amazing.

  • As painful as it is to recognize, after the shock dies down and chumps start looking at our relationships it seems the entitlement was always there, it just hadn’t yet manifested itself into physicals affairs. We don’t see it because we don’t understand that type of thought or personality. You have done nothing to earn his ire besides being a good example and thus making it hard to convincingly blame you to others. Good Luck and stay true to yourself

  • Dear Smart
    its hard to say what is the bigger shock … The discovery of the affair or when you realize you realize the mask fell off. I can only liken it to an earthquake… Then after shocks. Only problem is the earthquake is happening to you and they walk around saying ‘ what?’What earthquake? Didnt feel a thing.
    They are living a whole different movie… In a different theater… In a different town. And you will stand there on your crumbled life screaming …pointing to the rubble…. And they will say ‘ your crazy’
    Mine ran off with a 19 year old illegal immigrant…. I am 47. She is merely 8 years older than our child.
    She understands him. She makes him happy. She is everything and i am the root of all that is wrong in his world. You cant wrap your brain around it… So dont try… You cant fix it…. So dont try… You cant make it better… So dont try. Once the mask falls off you are dealing with a stranger… Treat him as such. He is a dangerous stranger who knows way too much about u.
    Get your stuff together… Read… Educate yourself. Cry later.
    U will survive this. You will.

    • It’s funny–during he stage when the Jackass was devaluing me and baiting me into arguments, I thought I was the one who was screwed up. I believed I had to be doing something wrong, although I was the same person I had been all along (whom he professed to love forever). That self-blame lasted through the discard phase and even past DDay, until I had enough perspective and information about narcissism to understand that it wasn’t me. IT WASN”T ME. He had been wearing a mask and once the devalue stage began, the mask was coming off. I “knew” him over 30 years and he was a stranger. You put it so well.

    • ‘He is a dangerous stranger who knows way too much about u’
      Truer words were never spoken. I am glad I am never, ever around X, I moved far away. I can see him trying to humiliate me publicly, or in front of our kids, because he’s a vindictive kook.

    • So sorry you’re here Smart. Welcome to the club that no one wanted to be a member of. But on the other hand, you will find that those who are members are pretty great and tough people with an incredible amount of heart.

      All I can add is my two cents. My 58 year old w of 32 years cheated on me with a 29 year old (9 years older than our beloved son). Then she matured and had a fling with a 42 year old ski instructor (while on a family ski vacation and afterwards). No remorse, zero, zip, nada. I asked the same questions you did plus, “How could she? and “Won’t she come to her senses, we had a great, long marriage?”

      It’s not you, Smart, it’s them, truly. Hold on to that and keep visiting this site. All the best!

    • I STILL can’t wrap my head around it all… but reading everyone else’ stories and comments helps. I had a glimpse of this last year around the same time but after one month he just stopped, I still don’t know why. According to him I “became nice to him again” which is utter bullshit. This year when I caught him and confronted him for chatting up another selfish POS he had just met (she was/is married with 3 young boys, double damage) at first he cried… begged forgiveness… “I don’t know why I’m so f’d up?!!” … wanted to go to counseling… blah blah… He was SO sorry and remorseful that he came home the next night with a “lock” on his text messaging, phone log & HeyWire app… yeah… I opened up the task manager… shut off the lock app and looked at everything I wanted (they are SO dumb and always think they are smarter than you, why is that?). At this point I lost total control and unleashed my pain in the form of a verbal assault and I SWEAR I watched him TRANSFORM right before my very own eyes. The mask fell off… the man I loved disappeared and never returned. He stayed in our home, with myself and our 6 year old son and continued his affair and acted as thought I was a lunatic to object. He finally left our home 6 days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Really?? They have NO shame!! Soulless vile people!!

      • That transformation is a scary thing. It is still hard to believe what I saw, and other people do not believe me to the point that I have stopped telling people about it.

  • Smart, right now it seems that what he is doing is so out of character. Once you have time and distance between you and him, you will have a clearer mind and realize that this was all along the real him. You just didn’t see these traits or refused to see them. Spackling. Chumps are really good at spackling. A change in character, whether for good or bad, doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an internal process. He didn’t suddenly wake up and said, “I think I’ll have an affair today and abandon my family.” Something in him allows him to make it okay to do that. Sure, he may feel badly, but not badly enough to do differently. That’s where character comes in. His choices are the manifestation of his character, what is inside of him. It has nothing to do with you or your child. I am so sorry.

  • “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” – The Help.

    I’m sorry your husband forgot that. He is not the man you thought you married. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking for one second that it was because of something you did or didn’t do during the marriage. He CHOSE to cheat. He is CHOOSING to be a dick. His actions are telling you loud and clear who he is; please listen to him and do all you can to protect yourself.

    And come here often. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll learn. You’ll always be welcome because we’ve been there, too.


    • Chutes, Thank you for this response. I truly love that quote from “The Help”! I have to figure out the trick to remembering that everything that happened was HIS CHOICE, and stop falling into playing the blame game. Thank you so much—again. So blessed to have found this site, Tracy and her book!

  • Hi Smart,

    The similarities between your story and mine are uncanny, down to the 14 years younger AP. I’m several years out from all this, and reading that was like looking back in time at me. So…

    Here’s the thing. Believe me I understand that it seems like he magically became another person overnight. He really didn’t. After a lot of time and therapy sessions, I came to realize what tflan said – there were red flags that suggested he wasn’t into the marriage/family thing, that he was a narcissist, only interested in HIM. As we say around here, I spackled over all of that, I think, because a. I DID love him, and b. I took marriage/commitment seriously and wanted to try to work on things. He never did either. Well, he might have loved him too, but me and the kids? No, he’s not capable of it.

    As Elle mentioned, things with he and his little Schmoopie didn’t work out, and within a few months after the divorce, he was back saying almost exactly what she said! ‘I don’t know what happened to me, it was completely out of character, but I’m back to the old me now, ta-dah!’ I gave him the chance to prove that I could trust him, and he didn’t do a single thing and I wasted a lot more time than I’d care to admit. Because the people mask had slipped, and I could see the real him now – the shark.

    I’m as NC as I can possibly be with young kids, and let me tell you, through trying to deal with him as their father the people mask has never worked again. He is not a responsible person, period, let alone a responsible parent. He doesn’t think about the kids’ needs, everything is all about HIM. Ditches the little visitation he wanted whenever he wants to go do something else or wants me to change to accommodate him last minute, doesn’t care about school, doesn’t care about age-appropriate movies/video games/TV – it’s whatever HE wants to do, they’re going to do with him! The oldest hates going with him, the youngest I think is starting to. Rarely pays the small amount of court-ordered child support, can’t hold down a job, lives on friends/relatives couches, etc.

    I think given enough time, you’ll come to realize what CL is saying – he always was this person, he was just pretending to be who you thought he was. The mask has slipped. The emperor has no clothes.

    • So glad you didn’t take him back after he came crawling back after your divorce was final! I saw a great quote the other day, “Taking an ex back is like trying to put poop back into your butt.” The analogy works on so many levels!

  • Hi Smart,

    I had similar questions after my narc of 6 years essentially told me to pack up my things and leave ASAP so he could pursue a more sparkly kibble tosser (read: a naive, desperate woman). As others have written above here, I bet there was behavior that indicated his narcissism, and at the time, you were just doing your best to make life run smoothly and putting 150% effort into the marriage. Maybe once in awhile, he was even kind or seemingly loving.

    I’ve learned to forgive myself for being blindsided by a narc-they are very, very good actors especially when offered something they want (social status! marriage! family!). When you begin to forgive yourself, you realize that all the effort you put into the relationship was in some ways self protection at an unconscious level. You did what you needed to do to keep the peace and take care of your daughter, and that is nothing but smart.

    Take care of yourself Smart, I’m rooting for you all the way!

  • My theory about this is that these disordered people have a greater capacity than most for compartmentalization. Once they’ve made the decision to leave their spouses and blow up their families, they have to blow up all their feelings too. They have to dynamite them completely, leave no traces, make a clean break, stick them in a cave and then dynamite the entrance closed. It’s not that they don’t know what they’ve done – unless they are completely delusional and psychotic – but they are incredibly good at spinning the narrative in their heads to justify it. As CL says, HE can’t be wrong, so you must be. You’re the problem, you’re the reason I’m miserable, and now I hate you for making me feel guilty. And dammit I don’t want to be guilty, I want to be happy, in fact I deserve to be happy, blah blah… This is how a seemingly loving husband of 10 years can become a raging, hateful asshole overnight, because he’s dynamited himself over to the other side, the dark side; it’s kind of a new country where he can rewrite history, and he HAS to rewrite history in order to live with himself. He can’t be in two emotional places at once, so one of them has gotta go – guess which one. Continuing to treat his wife with respect and dignity would be a constant reminder that she IS a person who deserves respect and dignity and therefore he is an incredible asshole for what he’s doing. Facing one’s “assholeness” and taking responsibility for it requires maturity and introspection, which is painful. He wants no pain and no guilt, which means no memories and no feelings. Gotta wipe them out. Gotta wipe her out. It’s chilling that people can actually do this.

    • Wiser, so well said, I don’t think I have heard it put quite like this before. Everything you said fits my now XH. Especially the no memories part, and I agree, how chilling that someone can cut out 20 years (in my case), ‘just like that.’

      • Very well said, Wiser. I also believe that you can run but you can’t hide. Eventually, the lies and deceit will catch up – could be in a physical illness, sleeplessness, etc. We may never find out and hopefully, it wouldn’t matter to us anyway.

        • I agree. I wonder if he really can completely block out all those memories. Everywhere I look seems to bring back memories to me, once so special and now agonizingly painful. I think it all may eat at his insides, so deep that he might not even be aware until it manifests in some horrible way that will take its toll.

          • Dear Lina and Others,

            This conversation about wiping out memories, compartmentalizing and so on…..whether they can truly wipe it all out & truly forget…….

            Well, the body sends out all the signals to indicate what is going on subconsciously. If you can read those signals, you will learn that, No, no one can wipe out those memories, those emotions, the history. The body knows…..and suffers……

            Biofeedback and neurofeedback are two ways of reading what the body truly feels & has experienced. Both STBX and I go to the same biofeedback clinic. I have seen the treatment summary sheet from his sessions (he leaves them all in plain sight—I still have access to his house to care for office work for our family-owned business) and it is astonishing at times to read the results from his sessions! His body is fully aware of the nasty choices he has made and is crying out from the damage those choices have caused. Unfortunately, he is not using the information from those sessions to improve his life in any way.

            The body can never truly forget the nasty things its owner puts it through! We are all familiar with the concept of how stress damages our bodies, our health. It goes so very much deeper than most of us realize.

            Lina stated: “I think it all may eat at his insides, so deep that he might not even be aware until it manifests in some horrible way that will take its toll.” This has been proven true by many areas of science.

            So, if the body never forgets, then the Creator of the body won’t forget—whether for good or for bad—–and will act accordingly. We at ChumpNation be the good——Cheaters be the bad!

            And as uniquelyme says: “… wouldn’t matter to us anyway.”

            This has been a most excellent post and comments session today. I see that smartenough has received much love and sound direction!

            ForgeOn……and love to all!

    • Wiser, I’ve pasted your comment in my journal, because as Scorpio said, it’s a succinct and wise summation. My ex just walked out on me after nine years with no warning. (Literally, one day he came to me with ideas for holiday plans and the next day he said he was ending our relationship.) He said he wanted a “fresh start,” which is the clean break you talk about. He used a tonne of dynamite because he just up and moved 6,000 km away, blowing up his whole life here. It’s really easy to compartmentalize things when you turn your back on your old life and move to the other side of the continent. Effing cowards, all of them.

    • This narrative-changing behavior can take many forms. I am a cook from a long line of cooks. STBX used to take pictures of what I made for dinner and post them to Facebook, saying that he was a very lucky man to have all this done for him. Now that I’ve filed for divorce, every time I cook something, he complains the house smells as if something’s burning. I do not think it’s possible to do any kind of cooking and NOT have him complain. I do not doubt that he truly believes this, but I also think he believes this because he has to see me as the Bad Person in the entire divorce. Why? Because he’s moral and good, of course. I mean, he even posts Christian-related pictures on Facebook to show he’s a good Christian (who doesn’t go to church because of germs and other people and yadda yadda yadda).

      • Ha ha… my ex is also working the “good Christian” angle. Bought ALL three of the youngest children new bible’s (ours is the youngest at 6) and….. are you ready for this…. he and the AP do “Bible Study” together every night over the phone. Her husband left right before Christmas but they (she and my ex) live 4 hours apart so they don’t get much time together lol. The adulterer and the adulteress doing bible study together…. guess they figure they are getting a “free pass” from God. Delusional. He was previously married, and divorced before I met him. Yes he cheated on her but not with me and I didn’t find out until I was already 6 years in. She is a fabulous person and has been my rock and this is pretty much a repeat performance.

    • I think this goes a long way to explain how my STBXH could not only leave but leave everything behind. He has asked for NOTHING from our house. That included pictures of his child. He didn’t ask for anything of those beautiful pictures of our son when he was a baby. NOT ONE. How does a person do that???

      It’s hard to fathom that a person could be “happy” in a marriage and then decide things look greener in another place and just….leave. And let me tell you, wrapping my head around the OW he chose is hard work. She’s only 2 years younger, has kids, 3 times divorced and doesn’t have any money he can mooch. It’s mind-boggling to me.

      • Oh, yes, conniered… I have to share…….

        STBX packed up all the pictures, including those of our child & put them in storage with my stuff. Moved it all out of our marital home while I was out-of-state. Did not keep even one photo of our precious child, the child he begged me to have! (Yes, I was in agreement in wanting a child, but that is beside the point…..)

        The only photos of people he has in his new place are a couple with him in it and a photo of the children of ANOTHER FAMILY! A family that is not even related to us!

        Yes, they are a family that I happen to love very much, love those children, but he has just that photo but no photos of his own child! So disordered!

        (Whoops! Not totally true now….Now he has a recent photo of him with our child and another friend,)

        Anyway…..We gotta stop trying to “untangle”…..All of these accounts should just serve to remind us that these disordered ones truly suck and we have to stay as far away from their crazy as we possibly can!

        ForgeOn, all you sane ones…..

    • Wiser,
      That was a great description of xhole. I realized my ex wanted me to suffer. He enjoyed the pain he inflicted while he cheated. He tried to provoke me in odd ways and when I ignored it he upped the anti until I called him on it. Then the rage built. He was like a snake shedding his skin (me). For example I came home one weekend and he said. This house costs too much. I’m downgrading to a studio, you can sleep there. This was a month before he actually downgraded with his ow. Bizzare behavior.

    • Wiser, YES! That is it in a nutshell! My experience as well. That is also how they sleep at night while us chumps are up half the night every night. My gut churns with the weight of all I know and have yet to discover. All the while he snoring and isn’t life grand? I want him to suffer but don’t see it happening cause he is the master at compartmentalizing. I want him to suffer like I did/am. I want him to suffer for causing our kids this extreme pain and fucking up this family.

      • Me, too! That’s what I want: vindication and justice! And to those devil’s advocates out there that caution us to not live with anger or seek revenge I say, “SUCK IT, Kumbaya!” I want him to be in pain and live with remorse. I want his confidence and happiness to drain away the way mine has. I want him to feel loneliness, hopelessness, and yes, worthlessness. I will likely never see it, but I hope I get to know it one day.

        • Romans 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
          Yes please. I say this verse all the time and ask a God to repay my STBX sooner rather than later for the pain he has caused me and my precious boys. Brings me a lot of comfort. 🙂

  • Also, he’s being a jerk because he needs to convince himself that you DESERVE this treatment. That’s his narrative, you see, the neglected, misunderstood husband, downtrodden by the demands of being a husband and father. He is BRAVELY pursuing what will make him happy in life, pushing past the unfair expectations of society. He sees himself as the Erin Brockevich of Misunderstood and Down-trodden Penises, facing off with the Evil Empire of Marriage.

    In order for this narrative to work, there has to be a villain and that villain is you. YOU are the face of the Evil Empire, the embodiment of the Institution of Marriage. And so you “deserve” his scorn and derision. You have to. You have to be the bad guy, because if you’re NOT the bad guy, then HE’S the bad guy and that is UNACCEPTABLE. So he’s being hateful because it’s necessary to his emotional well being. That doesn’t make it OK. That’s not even a good reason to do it. That’s just another symptom of what a selfish, disordered jerk he is.

    Yes, it hurts to be treated this way by someone who you love so much. And you need to mourn the life you had and the husband you thought you had. He’s gone now and he’s been replaced by the Erin Brockovich clone. You’re going to have to get – not mean – but tough. You’re going to have to see him for the ridiculous, hypocritical douche he is now, and find the strength to treat him with the cold, clinical civility he barely deserves. You don’t have to stoop to his level and be hateful and rude. But you have to detach to protect yourself and your interests, not to mention that of your daughter.

    Good luck. Chump Nation is with you.

    • Ah, the memories….In some text messages I saw between the ex and the Professional Masturbator he cheated with & moved in with, I learned that their nickname for me was “the Evil Empire”. They made quite a pair.

  • Just remember that you’re not the only person this has happened to– like CL says, it’s a pattern displayed by disordered people. I knew my now ex for 17 years when he suddenly morphed, and the only good thing was that he was plagued by guilt at first, so he didn’t turn into pure evil until a few months after I moved out, and he brought the AP onto the scene and into our kids’ lives. Then, when I didn’t want to be her best buddy and did a full NC on the ex, he started treating me as though I were the one who cheated and abandoned him and the kids. None of them like to be reminded of their mistakes, so they transfer their anger onto us, treating us as though we are somehow the culprits. That way, they don’t have to face what they’ve done.

  • Smart Enough, trying to understand why he did it is normal – you can’t really understand, none of us can because we don’t think or feel the same inside. Smart has nothing to do with it, a person with empathy and ethics simply cannot comprehend how cruel those without it can be. CL nailed it, worth repeating;

    1)He wore the mask until he was finished with you, I’m sorry. I’m sure in time you will realize that mask slipped over the years but your love blinded you to the slow changes. This won’t happen until you can step back and feel some peace and clarity.

    2)It’s possible he doesn’t remember your history that way anymore, if he ever did. It occurred to me after the split that my ex told the same few stories about his past history over and over. It is as though the only memories he really had were the ones where he came off a hero. And I found out later that some of those stories were fabrications. When a cheater rewrites history, I think they actually REMEMBER it that way. A constant rewrite of the movie that is their life – and they are always center stage.

    3)It has to be your fault this happened, he’s a nice guy…controlling the narrative and projecting their own shit onto you is classic. My ex literally told people I was evil, why? Because I wouldn’t let him “keep” his “friend”, I was so evil…and suddenly his favorite reason for leaving was that I abused him for 17 years. Even after he pulled a gun on me, that was his narrative. Evil me, poor abused nice guy him…

    Jedi Hugs!

    • Dat, mine had a similar narrative – he’d been unhappy for 20 years – our entire marriage. I’m still amazed at how these people say this crap and think you will believe it. Of course, I did for awhile, I am a Chump after all!

    • Omg, Dat!!!! Your number 2 gave me chills and then kinda made me chuckle!!!!

      STBX was the same way!!! I didn’t get much of his history before meeting me (helllooooooo huge red flag) but what tales I did get were either him as the triumphant victor or him as the pitiful victim. He typically told more of the victim stories…that’s his MO and the angle he plays best. And YES yes YES, I found out many of them were twisted or just blatant lies that he whole heartedly believes are true.

      What nuts they are!

    • Datdamwuf,
      I love your reply, especially #2. It was only after we left that I could see how thin a history he had provided me, and when I began to question it, it unravelled. The fact that he has rewritten our history together and uses his time with our kids to pound it into them over and over still makes me nuts. ( I am mostly at “meh,” but still struggle where my kids are concerned.) And the fact that he seems to truly believe his own lies and 10% truths (half-truths would be far too generous), is probably a good part of what makes him persuasive to some.

    • I read somewhere that in an abusive relationship something strange happens…the person who’s being abused ends up apologizing to the abuser. I guess that’s their MO…making you feel like you’re the one who’s the problem. My ex said those exact words, “the problem is you.” It had nothing to do with the AP, or his disconnection from me that was the result of his affair. What kills me is I felt so low by that time that I apologized and apologized. I didn’t understand that was part of emotional abuse.

  • Dear notsmartenough,
    I’m so glad you’ve found this site, it will be a HUGE help in understanding, putting a name to and getting past your husbands *character flaws* (putting it lightly). CL is right on all accounts and sadly, just about every one of us here has been trapped inside that circus side show freak tent you’re currently stuck in, in some fashion and for varying lengths of time. We’ve all had the “who the f*ck ARE you” moments that make us feel like we are in the twilight zone.

    From my personal timeline, you’re at a pivotal point. Around 6 months was where the gears really started turning for me and I’d finally uncovered the majority of heinous-ness that was my STBX’s mystery double life. At around 6 months was where I really began healing. You will too!

    So now that you know the sordid details and see through the fog, you must trust that the man you loved is literally a dead man. He no longer exists. He merely existed for however long it took to fulfill his perfect image that you, your marriage and your picturesque family created for him. That’s all he was looking for, sadly, he was creating an image with you but he didn’t let you in on the game. He is disordered. But see…that wasn’t enough. For him, your all wasn’t enough…the other womans all won’t be enough either. But for right now, it sure seems like its all he’s been secretly dreaming of.

    Cheaters don’t let you know that they weren’t happy in their marriage for a few reasons:
    1. They’ve never been fully fulfilled, ever, so it doesn’t feel that foreign to them to not be fulfilled in their marriage.
    2. After long enough of the nagging old feeling the entitlement sets in; he’s mad at you for not accurately filling the void that can’t be filled…he was counting on you to fix that and dammit, you failed! So he will go find extra stimulation…he needs kibbles…insert shiny new chick.
    3. If he had informed you that he wasn’t happy that would be NORMAL, for one, but you can work on normal marital problems. He didn’t tell you because he didn’t want you to work on it & he wasn’t going to do the work. He skipped right over that to avoid having to explain to you that he’s a terrible person.

    You’ll get through this!!!! I know you will!!! Hugs to you and your child. Karma to hubby & his new kibble dispenser.

    • BetterJamie, You called it spot on, along with Wiser now with compartmentalization. They have never really been happy, no matter what happens, how joyful or fun, it is always tinged with ‘poor sausage’ me. They get used to it as well. Slowly slipping into the miasma of unhappiness is not foreign to them. They use you and your duck behavior (looking serene and happy on the surface and paddling like crazy under the water to make a happy life for you, him and your children) as a distraction from their misery…and at some point, the novelty of it all wears off, sort of like a drug, all of those miseries start to well up and you are not doing what needs to be done to keep them at bay. So off to find a new drug, new kibbles but they CANNOT ever countenance the idea that happiness is something you cook up for yourself every day, with your actions thoughts and deeds, and that they alone are responsible for their own happiness. If they did their heads would explode with the unbearable truth, that they have never been happy and don’t have the internal ganas (spanish for EARNEST DESIRE/ABILITY) to make themselves happy.

      So they look for it in others and it never works, shockingly. But society has rules and is very clear on schmuckdom, they can’t bear that either, so they comparmentalized, forget your pain, forget that their actions permanently stain them as schmucks.They move on looking for some other sparkly thing…like a lost soul on the landscape until they bump into someone receptive (displays compassion or lack of ethics or desperation, someone who doesn’t look too hard) and the love bombing begins. I have been wondering if love bombing is as important for them to do for themselves to ‘bring the happiness back’ as it is important for conning us.

      Smart, you have just slipped down rabbit hole and you probably need to change your name to Alice for a while. I am so sorry. It is like the reality you had, the bed you sleep in, the floor you stand on has just morphed and turned into goo. It is a terrible place, but actually the goo you are in now is more real than the solid footing you had before with your Sharky shapeshifter. Hold your head up… you loved him and the blessing in this is that you are capable of love and happiness. You will find that again because you have the ganas. Him…not so much…it might be hard to imagine at this moment, but think of him as a ghost, moving accross a bleak black and white landscape…forever looking for something that cannot exist for him.

      • Ring, I do believe lovebombing is as important to them because it feeds their ego. So long as they’re reaching a level of adoration for you that no one else could ever reach they’re getting their ego stroked; “you’re such an amazing guy/girl”, “you’re the best boyfriend/girlfriend I’ve ever had”, “I never thought people like you existed”, “you are perfect”…..blah blah blah….I know I told my STBX those things and I meant them. He was my soulmate, my companion, my best friend and I told him in some way how much I loved him almost daily. So technically I never stopped giving him kibbles, he just required more than I was able to give after the mortgage, bills, a baby….
        But we also wise up to the game. We chumps usually start to see the cracks in the glass that is them and we start holding them accountable….and then we are screwed. All hell breaks loose because you now signify the end of an era….we had it so good, the Narc thinks; you adored me, you let me do whatever I wanted, you didn’t press too much, you didn’t demand much of me and now you’re messing that all up, making me grow up and I just can’t have that. Where can I find the most naive new fling to undo the damage you’ve done to my ego? Aaaaand insert OW or OM.

        And the cycle restarts.

        Thank God we are off the circular Narc track!!!

        • Jamie

          I think Tracy said it best when she said they have the ultimate “You’re not the boss of me!!” as their life motto, and a marriage with its vows represents the ultimate contradiction of this because it in effect tells them that for the rest of their lives their actions are limited by the marriage.

          Thus, as things start going south, and behavior gets worse, we chumps are faced with the quandary of how to compel a seeming adult to do something, such as be decent and participate equally in the relationship to which they agreed.

          This to me is the concerning aspect of any serious relationship going forward – we really cannot compel people to do anything they do not want, and marriages seem to be in the minds of many just papers and a promise.

          • I agree–marriage puts them in a place that limits their options and the “You’re not the boss of me” kicks in.

          • Agreed, tony. It truly seems so silly for them to ever even desire to have that “ball and chain”. But I know they have their own selfish reasons for marriages; don’t they always?

          • So true Tony. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that for cheater, the marriage ceremony was just a social gathering, not a vow solemnizing a comittment to one another before God, family, and friends. The only vow he has ever made must have been for his own happiness to the exclusion of all others. He might be the boss but it sounds like loneliness and isolation in the long-term.

    • “Cheaters don’t let you know that they weren’t happy in their marriage for a few reasons:”

      Cheaters don’t let you know they were UN happy in their marriage because…wait for it…THEY WERE *NOT* UNHAPPY!

      If you have a job that pays $100,000 a year with benefits, you might feel like you’re on top of the world. You’d be able to afford MOST of the things you want MOST of the time.

      Here comes someone else who offers you $250,000 a year (with even MORE and/or “better” benefits). Although you were happy with $100,000, with a new, seemingly “better” offer on the table, you begin to look at that $100,000 as (excuse the pun) CHUMP CHANGE.

      It’s not that $100,000 was so “bad”; it’s that $250,000 is BETTER. But the cheater needs to see $100,000 as “bad” in order to justify him/herself to make the change.

      The cheater mantra is “I can do BETTER”.

      • And “better” is measured in kibbles! It’s not that the Schmoopie is better; it’s that new kibbles are better than old, and nothing is better than new romance kibbles, especially if they’ve managed to fool respective spouses or partners.

        • I was always taught that the enemy of best is better! That’s when you start chasing something subjective and possibly unattainable!

    • This site is a GOLD MINE for Chumps 😀 I love it. The insight is priceless. Sucks that so many people are going through this, however it sure helps decipher the mind “fuckery” they inflict. You truly begin to believe they are right, you question your own sanity because the brutality and swiftness of their exit is baffling!!

  • Smart,

    You are plenty smart enough. Cheaters all read from same manual and there is absolutely nothing original about them at all. Everyone here was duped because we actually did love them.

    The ex in my life cheated after 23 years of marriage and convinced himself that our marriage was over anyway so it was okay in his head. He told himself that enough times and after a while he truly believed it. Once they believe it, it isn’t a lie.

    I stayed for three years and did the humiliating dance of pick me but it became very clear that unless I dispensed kibbles with wild abandon for the rest of my life, he would do it again. He was hedging his bets with the OW the entire time we were together and kept her dangling along in case we split. I ultimately asked him for a divorce and when I let him know that I couldn’t be his chump anymore (aka, I would no longer be used by him) he completely cut me off. I went no contact but I have heard absolutely nothing from him and I never will unless he is desperate and he needs something.

    After about 6 months, I started seeing the forest through the trees (which is the only time you can look at your old life objectively) and I realized I too was dealing with a shark with a human suit; who’s favorite movie of all time is Jaws by the way. I started to see him for the person he really was and I also realized how many times he demonstrated to me who he really was. I just spackled enough not to believe him.

    I know it sucks and it must suck especially hard that he walked out on your child too. If you can take anything positive away from this, be thankful that he only wasted 10 years of your life. Mine wasted a total of 27 years that I can never get back. Those last three that he wasted were in my 40s which is worse.

    You are smart and you are so worthy of something better than what your stbx gave you. Please remember this when his young kibble dispenser drops his narcissistic ass!

    Sending jedi hugs your way

    • Cheaterssuck, Thank you for your post. I am 44 years old. That’s part of what SUCKS even more for me. At a time in my life when I should be at ease and winding down, all of a sudden—and without any doing of my own—I find myself alone, eventually having to go back to work after 8 years of being at home, and the sheer horror of having to be “out there” in the single world again. I truly hope that he does get dropped on his narcissistic ass. Sooner rather than later, please.

      • Smart, I’m 47 and my D-day was seven months ago. At first I, too, panicked in “horror” at the thought of dating again. My doctor told me to wait at least a year before starting to date. I was outraged. It’s not fair! How come my ex gets to keep Schmoopie but I have to wait a year to find someone? Well, my doctor was wise, because I’m spending that year healing and getting to know myself better. I come here every day and it’s a godsend. I’m doing the work to examine my life, which my ex is not. He’s taking shortcuts, like Portia says. Don’t panic about being single. Take the time to heal, to get your life back on track. Once you’re happy with your life, love will find you. Someone out there will appreciate the smart, loving, hard-working, and loyal person you are. It only seems scary now because you’re not ready to date yet. Hugs!

  • Dear Smart, like so many of us here, we asked the same question: how could our beloved and best friend change and then abandon us? Tracy provides a very true answer. I was you, add 17 years and 2 daughters (subtract chickens:). I am sorry for the huge whole in you now. i remember it so very well. It can be filled with hope, joy and love as you heal. You will see!

    The other question I struggle with is: how did I miss his narcissism? Apart from the way he hid it so well, i think my part in it was that I assumed normalcy. Not perfection, but a core normalcy. Perhaps it is true that we see the world as we are, not as it is. Which also explains why they (narc cheaters) treat us the way they do…mean, blaming-shifting, lying as if we do not matter. Those behaviors show us who THEY are…not who WE are.

    Chumps are loyal, loving, whole hearted people. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Recovering from this wound is the most important challenge in my life so far (mid fifties). And I will do it. We chumps will do it. Whole heatedly.

    On that note, I have been wanting to share Brene Brown’s TED talk on whole hearted people and vulnerability. (if link does not work, search for her talk on vulnerability on youtube or NPR).

    • Chumpette, yes, this too resonates with me. My ex’s reaction to many of our life’s challenges was to run away, distance himself (both physically and mentally), and then pretend his crap behavior made sense. He never questioned what he did, who he hurt. Most of us here work harder to be good people, to do things that make life better not only for ourselves but especially those we love. This however was not the case with my ex. He was after the limelight always, as he grew more entitled he surrounded himself with shallow people; even though our life had everything good going for it it was never enough. One thing he stated to me on his way out, “Every thing about MY LIFE is perfect, except for YOU.” This as he abandoned his family, his financial responsibilities, and me (his partner of 28 years). Telling, don’t you think?

      • Chumpette & Drew,
        Yes. My STBX in the words of our therapist: ” he just buries his head in the sand and waits for everyone else to fix the problem for him”.
        It’s so true. Normal life problems were just too much for his weak little mind to handle.

        Your quote, Drew, also brought up a memory of one of his last and most hurtful quotes: “You just keep thinking that I want someone else when in reality…I JUST DON’T WANT YOU!”

        He said this in response to me accusing him of cheater behavior 101…it was so obvious but he refused to admit it, still hasn’t. But oh how it burned when he said that…I gave that man my all, made his life better in every way and had his then 1 year old daughter. I was so shocked that all my love felt like it was annoying, bothersome and reprehensible to my own husband.

        Now I get it. Ha.

          • Same here…keeping up with his needs, remaining fluid to accommodate his mood swings, always being anxious and waiting for my next unintentional misstep.

            Good riddance. I’m a better mother, better lover, better friend, better daughter, better employee and generally better person without him causing so much turmoil.

  • One of the most difficult things I had to learn when I was coming to terms with this dysfunctional personality type was that they do not see other people as complete, real people. They can interchange everything, including body parts. ” I really like Mary’s hair and face, but I prefer Jane’s boobs, and Sally will twerk like a pro if I ask her to. My dream woman is Mary Jane Sally, because it’s all about pleasing me!”

    Compromise and commitment is out of the question. Everything is supposed to go the way they want it to, and everyone should recognize how superior they are to everyone else. People are only useful for a limited amount of time, so they use them till they find someone more useful. They discard them and move on, and you better believe someone with even more sparkles will be just around the next corner.

    Normal people do not think this way. Normal people do not try to shortcut life. The whole thing with the older established lover and the new sparkly lover, is about shortcuts. He does not want to face losing that young sparkly body, he imagines that he can somehow stay young by sleeping with a young person. She does not want all that pesky struggle with life and slowly earning your way into a more comfortable position stuff. He can give her all those comforts and prestige NOW. Their “twu luv” is WORTH HURTING OTHER PEOPLE FOR (Schmoopie).

    When it comes to children, and their legal commitments, my ex actually told me I should seek out a doctor or a lawyer to marry — someone who could afford to raise OUR children, because that would take a lot of pressure off of him. That pesky child support interrupted his ability to take a vacation when he wanted to, or buy a new car. Poor sausage! I was an interchangeable part, and my husband should be to. Anything to make HIS life easier. Forget my needs, or my desire to love and be loved, I needed to marry a big wallet because that person could pay for everything. Really.

    Abandon all hope of finding a valid and moral basis for your SBTX’s actions and words. He has no morals or scruples. If he had any, he would not have done what he has already done. Expect nothing different in the future, and you will not be disappointed.

    • Oh my goodness, Portia! So much familiarity in your words!!!
      I’ve never heard that these Narcs don’t look at others as complete but in little compartmentalizations. Wow!!!!! That explains some things!

      It is endlessly helpful to see all my suspicions and theories put right here in plain sight. Of course, when I brought these things to my STBX’s attention I was coined as crazy, dramatic, hyper-sensitive, immature, pathetic. And to outsiders/people that have never experienced a narc in action, these theories seem really outlandish. I felt like some people who asked me to explain wound up looking at me in disbelief. They truly had a difficult time believing that there are humans who operate the way narcs/sociopaths/disordered do. Being here on CN, hearinh so many stories that hit home & sharing my experience in the hopes that it helps someone (or at least makes them laugh) really helps more than anything I’ve done so far.

    • AND, I forgot to add, my STBX also told me that he “hoped I’d marry a rich man next time so that I could get the kind of money I want out of him when I divorced him.”

      I don’t recall divorcing ANYONE, Narc, that was YOU. Filing for divorce was your retaliation after I uncovered your secrets, kicked you out of the house and filed for child support-how DARE I take care of myself and our child!

      • Wow just wow on the “I hope you marry someone rich” thing. I thought I’d heard it all but this takes the cake. It doesn’t surprise me because these losers are capable of anything but that’s new one for me. Did either of you have a reply to that? Maybe “I just hope I find someone with a soul” or “Oh no I don’t plan on even looking until I get every possible cent out of you.” Just curious.

        • Nicole, it is a beauty of a quote…his self hatred & self victimization is always in motion. Poor guy, always getting the shit end of the stick.

          But my reply was first a laugh and then I said “oh boy, you must be thinking of someone else. I’ve only married one man & it clearly wasn’t for money & I don’t recall divorcing him either.”
          We argued back & forth a little because I was still giving him attention at that point, I didn’t realize what he really was yet. But he was pissed because the courts had just decided how much he would be paying in child support & mortgage deviation and I was the big bad wolf that made the state come after him and treat him unfairly (or like every other man in the state). He ended the conversation with “I am tired of trying to divorce you and nothing happening”. I was like “yeah…..that sucks, dude….”

  • Oh boy…this brought back so much for me today. First you are SMART enough…he’s just a dud!

    After 10 years of marriage my husband left me, our 3 year old daughter, and two dogs. No warning, no explanation, nothing! He would not tell me where he was but everything started to come out and he had moved in with the OW he was having an affair with. Younger, no children, good time sally. I asked myself these same questions over and over again and the one that still gets to me sometimes is

    “How can he hate me so much?”

    I’m not the one who abandoned my family. For a while I blamed the OW . I slowly came to terms with this was the man I married and trusted. He did not just wake up one day and become this awful man. He was always flawed. He has blamed me for all his actions and has gone as far as saying It was my fault because he never wanted a family, he hated that I was 20lbs overweight, blah blah blah. He crushed my soul and it took me sometime to get to MEH but everytime I have to interact with him I feel relief that this toxic man is out of my life. My divorce was final December 31st!!!! My New Year is cheater free and I feel like I have lost 180lbs of asshole! I have lost 50lbs so he can shove that 20lbs up his ass! lol I didn’t realize just home much I compromised until he was gone. I eat clean again, I’m kicking butt at work, and have gone back to school to complete my degree. Yes the financial security is gone but I make it work and I’m happy at the end of the day and I sleep well at night knowing I did nothing wrong.

    I promise you it does get better. There will be good and bad days. Lean on your friends and family for support and love. Work on loving yourself! We all love you here in Chump Nation!

    • Yeah, great job! Your financial security isn’t gone forever. I suspect you’re on your way to earning it on your own. You’re smart, and you’re working hard. What an inspiration!

    • Great story of triumph, seacurlz! Good for you!
      I’ve asked myself why my STBX hates me and how he can be so cruel, as well. I always come back to: he just reeeeeally sucks. Lol.

      Happy to hear your story! Forge on!

      • They really do just suck! lol I feel like this whole horrible experience nearly destroyed me and that alone makes me want to forge on strong. My daughter is my true inspiration. She makes me do better everyday. All of you here at Chump Nation have also been a HUGE part of my recovery! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  • It is normal to think “how could I fall for the lies” for a while.

    Then you get clarity, see the situation for what it is and it turns into “how could someone lie so well” and then you have closure.

    In these situations, it isn’t the fault of the person who is open-hearted and trusting. It is the fault of the liar.

    As CL and others have said, he didn’t change overnight. This is how he was and is. He’s just a very good actor.

    Hang in there, don’t fall for it anymore. My main regret is that I spend 2 months on more of his lies during faux-reconciliation. He was just biding his time to see if I would go back to the way things were. When I told him things weren’t going back to the way they were he turned nasty. The game was up.

    “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”
    ― Maya Angelou

    “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
    ― John Wooden

    • You nailed it Sam, I wasn’t stupid and when I saw how easily he manipulated cops and friends and pretty much everyone. When I knew he was lying and yet he did it so well. I realized he was indeed a master at his craft and that craft was forging a mask to get along and use people. Once I *really* saw him I stopped beating myself up so much for being taken in. It helps to have validation that a liar can indeed fool the best (and the worst) of us.

      • Dat, your comment is bang-on and made me remember something that in retrospect is truly telling. The summer right before I left cheating POS ex, there was a huge city event we were attending and all the streets were blocked off. Somehow ex was able to roll down the car window, flag down a cop and charm him into providing us a f*ing POLICE ESCORT to the restaurant we were heading to. At the time, I remember being impressed with how he pulled it off, and how we were like visiting royalty bypassing the pedestrian plebes. Now, I’m absolutely chilled thinking how slick he was and still is, and how naive ‘play-by-the-rules’ me never had a chance.

  • What Dat wrote really hit home for me: “[M]y ex told the same few stories about his past history over and over. It is as though the only memories he really had were the ones where he came off a hero.” Hero stories dominated Jackass’s memories, but he also had some dandy stories where he was the victim. Looking back now, I can see this “minimal memory” as a big red flag. I’d ask questions about how he got into such a bad situation with his business or why he put up with his cheating XW#2 when he was married to her and he had zero memory, zero explanation. He claimed he couldn’t remember why XW#1 moved back home with her parents or what went wrong in the marriage. But he had detailed stories about his daring exploits on the job or about building an addition singlehandedly on a home owned by an in-law.

    Now I look back on years of conversations and see nothing but a disturbed guy hiding the truth about what he is from everyone, including himself. He’s both pitiful and dangerous. There are indications that his MOW is still struggling a year after he kicked her to the curb (not that I care about her, one way or the other). But the devastation he leaves behind him after every relationship–including the affairs–is no joke. I remember one story he told about a married woman he was “dating”–and whose name comes up a lot in his dealing with XW#2, which suggests he was having an affair with her during that marriage (not that he would “remember” that now). But he tells a story about having his work vehicle parked in a public area and this MOW “climbed into the truck” to talk to him. The only thing he “remembers” about that encounter was telling her to get out of the truck. How powerful he sounded telling that story, demonstrating he was done with that woman. He spoke of her as if he were nothing. I speckled that into “he is done with married women.” What I see now is that he enjoys the love-bombing stage and particularly with someone who is married or otherwise unavailable but that–whatever he feels during the discard–his memory of that discard is that she deserves it and he’s the hero.

    So, Smart, that’s why CL cautions us against “untangling the skein of their fuckedupedness” and tells us to “trust that they suck.” There is no explaining this behavior outside of character disorders like narcissism. It doesn’t matter how they got that way. But it does matter that you trust that the guy who left you and your family is the real guy and the guy you thought you were married to was the mask he was wearing to be acceptable to you. The way they live is unsustainable. Soon enough the sparkly office manager will get the discard, too. Meanwhile, you’ve got your daughter, your dogs and those chickens! The sucking wound in your chest will start to heal when you learn about character disorders and come to terms with what you were married to. Mourn the hologram husband but understand that the physical being you were involved with is a person who will hurt you over and over if you let him.

    • Oh the selective memory….I dealt with a lot of that, too. Funny how their stories only paint the picture that they intend. In my experience life doesn’t really work that way. I guess for a Narc, if you can rewrite history, then it does!

    • LovedaJackass, Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I truly empathize with your situation. Looking back, I see some of the narc signs—loving to talk about himself, being overly defensive to any degree of criticism, being resistant to doing anything he didn’t WANT to do. I guess I accepted these things as parts of his personality of which I was less than fond. I remember wincing whenever I had to ask him to help me out, at times.

      It’s just so stunning how his personality seemed to change 180 degrees from the MOMENT he told me (directly and matter-of-factly) that he was “done” with our relationship and wasn’t in love with me anymore. That’s how fast everything changed!

      • Think about it this way: when an actor walks off the stage, he drops that character and becomes who he really is. The narc signs you saw where the real person when he slipped out of character a bit. Once he decided to leave, he dropped the act altogether. It’s hard to know it now, but you will at some point be very grateful that he left. And being here among these amazing, tough people will help you learn what you need to know not to pick another sparkly con artist. Because you are gaining a healthy life that can have a loving partner in it!

        • Smart,
          You surely will be grateful for him leaving, in time. You’ll get your life back in ways you never realized you had lost it.
          Hugs to you!

    • LAJ’s “He’s both pitiful and dangerous” basically sums up why I was so chumped. XH’s many wounds hooked me, but I did not know he was a wounded wild animal.

      Once my disorientation cleared up, my attachment to him ended, and my grieving faded, I could see how dangerous he was. Still is.

      The education here sped all this along, mightily.

  • Personality disorders are managed, never cured. If there is a period of relative calm, trust that it will swing back to chaos eventually.

    I would rather be alone than deal with that again.

    • Hi Sam, Could you describe managed? I have never heard that they could even be managed. It would be a great life skill for me to know how to do that because often you bump into them in a variety of other situations. Thx.

      • Ring, there is a pretty good book called Disarming the Narcissist that has helpful tips, although it makes staying in any kind of close relationship or frequent contact with a narc sound like a TON of work and a huge pain in the neck, exhausting and soul-deadening. Unless the person is only mildly narcissistic, or you only need to deal with them occasionally, the best option is always to GET AWAY, whatever the context. Find another job, move to another neighbourhood …

        The other book I have found super helpful when communicating with the ex is one by Bill Eddy, who totally gets these character-disordered freaks. It is called Its All Your Fault.

      • Only the person with the personality disorder can manage their disorder. Therapy, sometimes medication, behavior modification. It is a lot of hard work and most PD people can’t or won’t do that work.

        People who are involved with PD people need to set and keep strict boundaries. You can’t manage a personality disorder from the outside.

  • Hi Smart–

    You are asking how your husband of 10 years could dump you and your child (and assorted animals) for a woman 14 years his junior? The answer is simple: because he can.

    You can’t untangle the skein of fuckedupness. We’ve all been where you are. You wonder what went wrong, can you fix it? Is your loving spouse lost in the fog? Can you guide him out? Is there something you did?


    Let go echoes something one of my brothers said to me. Marriages do fail. A lot of things can go wrong with them, and divorce happens. It sucks for both spouses, but in these cases, there’s a kind of no harm, no foul aspect. However, once you introduce cheating into the situation, there is harm and there is a foul. The cheater lacks integrity and honor.

    Cheaters cheat because they can. You have to trust that they suck. Getting to this point is a real journey, and right now you’re just beginning. As you make further steps on the road, you’ll realize that there were a lot of little cues that showed you there were issues.

    Cheating is a profoundly narcissistic act. In the cheater’s mind, you don’t matter. Your child doesn’t matter. All that matters is his own ego. This is hard for us non-cheaters to fathom because we take relationships very seriously.

    I assume that you have a good lawyer, that you’ve protected yourself financially (Schmoopies are expensive, and you don’t want your cheater sucking out the funds that should help support you and your child), and that you are closing in on a divorce agreement. If you aren’t seeing a lawyer, you need to do so.

    Next up is therapy. You will need the support. This is a terrible betrayal, and therapy can help you navigate your healing. You might explore therapy for your child, too. Other chumps here have great ways to talk to children in age-appropriate ways that both tell the truth and reassure the child.

    You will get through this. And you will be mighty!

    It’ll just take a bit more time.

  • I have a question…my now ex told me while driving our youngest son to college he had been having an affair since this young man was 4…yes 4 years old!!!!! Meaning also since his older brothers who were 11, and fifteen who when their fathers truths were told were 22 and 27. Yes all boys. I went into shock, depression and learned so many could not accept my despair…heard you need to accept, get over it, move on, let go. Then even lost friends (who I know never were,now). This man (or chump or A**hole) went thru weeks of I want you…no her. Long story short I divorced the SOB. Yes high school sweethearts and a 30yr marriage dissolved due to his selfish narcissistic behavior. His beeotch on the sidelines yelling if you go back to your wife…she wins. WTF is that??
    What I don’t understand…my boys?? Yes they know what he has done…all of it! Yet they behave “if we don’t talk about it…it maybe didn’t happen??” They will not talk about it, if I bring it up get super defensive. They still have this man on a pedestal!! They go away w/him on boys trips, play equal at holidays 2 live w/him (thou he is rarely there as he stays in NY w/the beeotch!) I hear “he is still our dad” no shit…but I am your mom who gave you everything and would do anything and you act as if we are equals??!! I did nothing other than maybe taking my marriage for granted. Why do my adult boys treat me so heartless?? What have I done…why am I not the one they should protect?? “Oh they are boy’s, their dad” BULLSHIT…I did nothing wrong and they act as if I did! What can I do? Why do my boys hurt me too?? Make a new life for myself etc…4 years later living alone and letting this women have my a**hole husband and I have nothing! My boys have not met her (the only thing they do to stand up for me, until their a** father traps them.) How do I accept this and will they accept who their father is w/out hurting me more??
    Help, me understand please??!

    • Connie, this may sound cruel but I did not mean it to be. You were the “little woman” in your family. You had a husband and sons that you catered to and they let you. Now they are “entitled” to be catered too and you are still just the “little woman”. You have more value than that. You are a living, breathing human being with value all your own. Find on this blog someone quoting T.J. Jakes. He has a sermon about letting go. That is where I get my name. His sermon is….if someone walks away from you let them go. If your boys value their father more than they do you let them go. You cannot control them. You cannot control their behavior. You cannot control their loyalty. What you can do is get up and find a life for yourself. Get training and be a foster parent, be a mentor, rescue dogs, find someone who need you. The only person who’s life you control is your own. Be thankful that you have it and do something with it. Your husband was a lying, thieving cheat. I just hope your sons have not learned from him.

    • Carrie, this absolutely sucks, but unfortunately you control only you.

      Your sons are grown, and their role model has been a profoundly narcissistic father. This is a pernicious thing.

      You cannot put conditions on how they feel about their father. Yes, their father is a lying POS who had an affair that lasted longer than a decade. This is still the only father they’ve known, and they’re used to giving him unconditional love. Even more than that, they’re used to trying to get him to love them in return.

      Their father is a narc. He wants to be put on a pedestal and worshiped. Since he isn’t really capable of love, he feigns love by giving them intermittent rewards. Remember, he’s gone most of the time, so he’s often not there when they really need a father. Instead, he parcels out the fun trips as a reward for worshiping him sufficiently.

      You can’t control any of that.

      The only thing you can control is your own relationship with your sons. Here, you can impose conditions. Assuming they love you, how should they treat you? Once you can answer that, you then have your conditions. They need to treat you with kindness, consideration, and respect. When they’re at your home, they need to help out with the chores. Did you cook supper? They should clear the table and do the dishes. If you do something for them, they need to say “thank you.” You deserve a “please” when they ask you to do something. These are little things, but respect is built out of small actions, not just grand gestures.

      Their father is used to making grand gestures–the fun trips–not building the firm foundation of everyday kindness, consideration, and respect.

      Your sons may figure their father is a narcissistic asshole incapable of loving them, or they may end up vying for his attention by modeling themselves after him.

      You can’t control which, and that absolutely sucks.

      I hope you’re working with a therapist. You’re going to need one to help you establish livable boundaries with your sons, and to help you let go of their relationship with their father. You’ll also need therapy to help with healing. You have been through the wringer!

    • Carrie, could you start a thread on this topic on the formum (freudian spelling) part of Chumplady. I would like to explore this topic more and see what collective wisdom there is out in CN. My situation is not as difficult as yours, but I definitely have threads of this in my world and those suckers hurt.

    • I hope you find a therapist to help you through this. I wrestle with the same issues you brought up, but on a smaller scale. One thing I have learned is that being the loving and trustworthy parent also means being the parent that children can play bad behavior and negative emotions out on. My kids know that they can side with their father ( even in arguments that I am not participating in) and I will still love them. But if they defy or disagree with their father, they risk rejection. A therapist can help you find and support the boundaries you will need to save your sanity and sustain yourself as your EX manipulates your sons.

  • Carrie, we are in the same boat in relation to our children. I was married for 37 years and my ex and I had a so called friendship for 45 years. My daughter (35) and my son (32) do not speak to me and haven’t for some years now. They know that their sperm donor is screwing teenage Cambodian prostitutes and will be relocating to Cambodia soon to live out his exciting ‘sex on tap’ life. I have been treated like a leper and I raised my children as he was not interested in our family but now he loves his family and friends. All I can say is that eventually you will adjust to the hurt and the pain that this is causing you. My side of the story has never been told because I was pushed out by the 3 of them and the door was closed. I found out who were the decent people in my life and there wasn’t too many but the ones who were there at the beginning with me are still here now. They are the true people and the rest can go and jump. Are you speaking to a therapist to help you understand what is happening? I never have because I am battling my way through this and it is getting easier. We do everything for our kids and they literally sh*t on us. I can only hope that for you and me also, our kids grow up and open their eyes. However, I am not holding my breath. Please keep on this site as you will have some wonderful people to speak to and who will support you.

  • Notsmartenough,

    Smarts have nothing to do with it. If you look around here, you’ll find a whole lot of very smart people who were similarly deceived. My time served was 16 years, and it took a while afterward to understand WTF happened.

    If you married a narcissist, as you likely did, and you behaved as a caring spouse, you probably didn’t notice it was All About Him for a long time, simply because you are an accommodating person. As long as you’re on board with what they want, there is no conflict. Sure, you might notice that they act like a cranky child if you want something, anything other than what they want. Those sorts also tend to get a burr under their saddle at the notion of children, no matter how enthusiastic they claim to be. After all, how can it be All About Him if there is a child needing attention? I think you’ll find that your emotional needs (and the needs of your child) were disregarded for years before physical abandonment occurred. And like some of the others here, I don’t believe disordered people have to be unhappy to dump their spouses and families. They just need to see someone sparkly who will let it be All About Them, unencumbered by any responsibility to others. Then when the sparkly new toy sends them packing because they don’t reciprocate, they may reach back for the former spouse or family they left so abruptly behind. Please just say no.

  • My ex did this. Just walked out. No explanation. One minute, we preparing to leave the country for vacation and laughing, next minute, he wants a divorce. I immediately decided that a guy that could just walk out like that must be a genuine asshole or severely disordered and either way, there was no going back.

    This is exactly who he is. I will never forget a moment when he briefly returned to pick up a few more items and the way he talked about his parents, who did nothing but pamper him, and how their doting irritated him. It was chilling to see the charm switch off.

    Who does this kind of things? Asshats at best. Sociopaths at worst.

    You may want to read Vikki Stark’s “Runaway Husbands” or Donna Anderson’s “Love Fraud.”

    • Dear Dr.,

      I did read “Runaway Husbands”! It’s both comforting and very disconcerting to discover that this is a phenomenon! Sometimes when my STBX comes to see our daughter, he will try and shoot the breeze with me, and I’m like,”WTF??” Other times he’s calling me an “ass” over text messaging. It is chilling to witness the change in him. He says I am the one who changed! It’s really incredible…

      • You can help yourself a good bit by going No Contact. I would never, ever text one of these fools. It’s too quick and easy for them to hurt us that way. Use a dedicated email address on which you do nothing but communicate kid stuff. And figure out child visitation so you arent in the middle– maybe he picks her up, does the Disney dad thing by taking her to the movie or dinner, and then brings her home, with you not there for the “breeze shooting.” I don’t have kids, so the ongoing contact isn’t an issue for me. But the first thing I did was block him on my phone so he couldn’t text me AND I wouldn’t be tempted to text him (’cause you know I loved him…).

  • Notsmartenough, it was almost too painful to read your letter to CL and I could barely skim the responses here in the comment section. It’s just too close to home and I am 16 months since d-day!

    But, it’s true, we can’t ask ourselves why they did what they did because it’s an answer we’ll never ever get in a million years.

    Best to spend our time on questions that do have answers such as what you need to be personally fulfilled, to grow, to change, and to avoid anything like this in the future. Or, what must you do for the sake of the future of your kids, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. And what can you do to make this world a better place.

    Our cheaters are such despicable people that they simply don’t deserve any more of the time they’ve already stolen from us. Let’s not give them more.

    We’ll be here as you go through your journey. You’re not alone. And please, change your nick to “SmartEnough”


  • Smart,

    I have walked in your shoes. I wrote to Chump Lady 3 years+ after dday trying to figure out what happened to husband of over 24 years. Read her answer to “How come he waited over 20 years to blow up my life? from March 2013. I reread it from time to time when I fall into the woe-is-me state from time to time. Also, welcome to this site – it will save your life.

  • There are classic, overt narcissists who sparkle for everyone and are universally adored (until they show their real selves) and then there are the COVERT narcissists, like the coward I was married to.

    Looking back, the coward was attempting to trade up to a blonde mother-type figure since day -30. I was his red-headed back-up plan for 20 years, through 3 kids. He cycled through no fewer than 5 blondes (one-sided, unrequited infatuations, as far as I know) until he finally found The Facebook Troll, a personality-disordered alcoholic damsel in distress who finally validated him.

    His fantasy was complete! And he never looked back. In an instant, he went from Dad to Uncle “Dad,” even. And I was discarded. I’d served my purpose, but that was in the past. Cue the Cheater Script: “I never loved you. We have nothing in common.” Uh-huh. Right.

    And slowly I began to realize that I never really knew him at all. He was right. He never loved me. We DID have nothing in common–nothing intrinsically important, that is. I suspect he was even jealous of the relationship I had with my children–he wanted a mommy. That unsettled feeling I’d had from day 1 was my warning, and I’d ignored it, along with the concerns of my closest friends and family.

    It’s not that my ex changed, it’s that he finally got what he wanted.

    Suddenly, he WAS a hero, just like he’d secretly believed he was all along (covert narcissist.)

    And as I sneered at him, in the middle of our lawn I was mowing (he was too busy to bother himself with manual labor, after all, and hated our “home” and everything it stood for) “SHE makes you feel like a man, and I remind you of what you REALLY are.)

    They don’t change. They are just opportunists.

    You are free from the lie now. Thank God that he won’t waste more of your time.

    • Amen, Sunshine! Well written! Mine was covert, as well….can be difficult to spot from your own perspective, even harder from everyone else’s perspective. I can’t even tell you how many “but he seems so sweet & soft”, “nooo, he ADORES you! He’d never do that!” And “not him, that’s not in his character” quotes I got from people. I also received quote a bit of criticism from his overbearing & controlling mommy about *my poor behavior*, which was actually his projecting his own flaws on to me.

      Thanks for what you’ve written, I needed to see that!

    • Frighteningly like my ex, Miss Sunshine, except mine was definitely sparkly…at first, and later on only in public. At one point he turned to me and sneered, “HE’S your boyfriend…” referring to our then 3rd child, our youngest son who is ex’s spitting image. And I call ex our “hero” narcissist- he thinks he is being noble because he believes he was a great husband while he cheated on my for literally decades, and now continues to be a hero by staying out of our lives.

      And on the day my divorce decree came through 4 short months after D-Day, my sister texted me this message: “You are finally free of the lies.”


  • I agree there is no change. Just truth poking its head out! Mine begs for reconciliation…… But I make more money than her….. Just bought new home…. It would be next to impossible for her to maintain without me….. Her boy toy doesn’t want her…. So I get the dont leave me in my situation!

    • Ugh. Good for you. Stay the course. You are of use to her, that is all. You will find someone who admires you.

  • Smart,
    I don’t have much to add to the responses.

    The mask falling off the narcissist’s face in the ‘big reveal’ of D-Day reminds me of the climax of a Stephen King story about a monster literally removing his mask (which had made him look like a psychotherapist) during the victim’s psychotherapy session, which had followed years of terrorism of the victim by the monster (in other forms). I agree with CL that these narcissistic, cheating ‘family abandoners’ denigrate and villify us as a way to deal with cognitive dissonance. Observing and acknowledging the carnage that they caused create uncomfortable emotions and thoughts in them–and you know they can’t have that! To them, better to just look away from the carnage or ‘identify’ a scapegoat, probably you, than offer aid of any sort of even the smallest magnitude.

    As a middle-aged mother of young children who was abandoned and attacked in various ways while unemployed, I sympathize and empathize and wish you the quickest, fullest recovery and new life possible.

    • RockStarWife,

      Thank you! I am a nurse, and haven’t worked outside the home for nearly 8 years. I am terrified. I would appreciate knowing more of your story, if you would be willing to share.

      • Hi Smart.

        I worked as a teacher in a past life (almost a decade ago) before going back to grad school. I am working part-time but will need to secure something permanent soon. It’s tough right now because I am the primary custodian of my kids (yeah!), but I need to work, meaning I need to pay for child care. (My STBX is scary, so I’m afraid to give him more custody.) My STBX quit his six-figure job last summer and refuses to work (he’s too busy following his ‘passions’) but insists that I work, pay for childcare so that I can work at a modest paying job, and pay HIM alimony. I am working on becoming Superwoman, juggling work, my school, childcare (including care of a child with special needs), care of a dying relative, amateur forensic accounting, amateur family law, etc. Since Cheater left, I have become quite comfortable knowing that, in spite of my best effort, I won’t always be perfect at everything. I more readily voice my needs. I more quickly recognize abuse and demand respect. (Jerks usually run away, which is fine.)

        I hope that you can avoid being sucked into a legal vortex as I did. I may go bankrupt, but I am getting comfortable with that possibility. One thing that helped me start feeling ok about my situation was thinking about my legal battle as ‘just another day’s work at the office,’ which I suspect is how most attorneys feel about their jobs.

        I’m sure that, as a former nurse, you are accustomed to working in challenging situations and looking calm and upbeat while doing so. I hope that you discover many authentic people and observe many beautiful things in this new phase of your life. Chump Nation provides much solace.

  • My son’s father started hitting on me when he was getting bored with his girlfriend and I had improved my life circumstances= didn’t really need anything from him anymore. I found it amusing, sad, and not at all enticing.

    There was a time when I would’ve wanted that attention, but by the time it came, he was not at all attractive to me anymore. Even the memories we had didn’t seem special. I am just glad we have our son, period.

    You will get there in time, so will I with my latest jerk. It hurts like a mother fucker right now, but our time will come. When it does, you will feel bad for the girlfriend or new wife. Honestly, you will.

  • All of us were “notsmartenough” my friend. Nothing much to share with you but best wishes and support to you. You are more than OK, your cheater ain’t so OK. I was in your shoes exactly three years ago and I am now divorced, happier and wiser than I have ever been.

    Buckle up for a rocky ride, but thank goodness the mindfuckery is over. Surprise! Your well oriented moral compass came from strength. You are going to be mighty.

  • Smart,
    I know about the cannon ball feeling. That was exactly how I felt when I found out about my EH affairs. Forgiving him was the worst thing I ever did as it gave him no consequences and he continued. Each time the cannon ball got bigger. This last time I didn’t think I would make it. What I learned over the past 10 months changed my life for the better. Understanding the three stages of narcissistic relationships helped me make the decision to file for divorce.Knowing there is no logic a normal person can apply to a disordered individual is the ‘answer’ we seek as we cry ourselves to sleep. They are inadequate and you did nothing wrong. He gave you all the evidence you need to move on with your life. It will be better!!

    Today I went to court and my divorce was finalized!!! I am much happier today than on the day I got married. My EH actually told me with his poochie sad face that he thinks about me all the time. Who cares???? I got rid of the cannon!!!!!

    • Yay Donna… the day after my divorce I started sleeping through the night… really hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since I married that disordered SOB… you are going to love this part of your life.

      The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades. break out your sunglasses girl, you got a bright future ahead of you.

      • I also used to have terrible nightmares of people breaking into our apartment when we were together, and now I sleep very well.

        • You think that was your unconscious telling you about the cheating–“people breaking into your home…”?

          • LovedaJackass,

            Who knows? Most probably. I used to have frequent night terrors, and dreams of being stuck inside of a rickety, clapboard house on the Kansas plains while tornadoes formed all around.

            I can tell you that like so many people here, that there were huge red flags in the very beginning which I overlooked, and things slowly got worse – mainly she began withdrawing her love and affection until when I did throw her out not much had changed and things immediately began to improve.

            I was eating too much, drinking too much, not exercising, and generally not doing anything with my life. It was pathetic, and the whole time my subconscious was screaming at me that something was terribly wrong, and I stifled it with bad habits in my waking life, but I believe now that in my dream life – where I could not drown out that voice with booze or food – the messages manifested themselves vividly in these horrible dreams from which sometimes I would wake up screaming convinced people were breaking into our home about to attack us.

  • Notsmartenough happened the same thing to me after 14 years! Think we’ve been really lucky, we didn’t vos through the long suffering of trying to “save” a marriage that was not real! Big hugs hugs, it gets better

  • Please don’t beat yourself up. I’m pretty smart and I fell for all the lies and deception. I’m sorry this happened to you. You are in good company here. May I be the first to welcome you to our Chumpie Club.

  • I figure the hard part to get your mind around is how can somebody just walk away from everything that you thought you both thought was important.

    If somebody is emotionally invested in another relationship, of course they don’t care much for you, and even if they pretended to care–cake eater–they don’t really care.

    So why treat you badly? Because they’ve already made a choice, and you’re just an impediment (same for kids sometimes). And yeah, that’s who they really are. If you’re lucky, you can use the “fleeing phase” to get better separation agreement terms because they might not be thinking too far ahead, but whatever you do, don’t drag it out. Spouses who drag things out sometimes wind up the subject of an episode of 48 hours once the person you have discovered doesn’t care about you starts doing financial math.

  • Amen to everything written above…there are very wise people here in CN! Get help for yourself, both emotional and legal, as quickly as possible, and go for the attorney who has experience in high conflict cases, ’cause if it’s anything like mine to Mr. Highly Entitled Executive, more crap, compartmentalizing, massive history revision, and downright nastiness could all be headed to a theater near you.

    My XH gave me three weeks of vague, angsty bullshit, not really an opening for discussion but more laying down the exit carpet, culminating with the handbook line “we are just two different people and we grew apart”, delivered the night before the movers were to return to take our stuff from our sold empty nest home to the wonderful downsized “view” condo just weeks after our 33rd anniversary. I felt blindsided, especially confused when he waited up to almost beyond the last minute when he would have had to move into the next home with me (we’d actually bought the condo several months before) … I now think he’d once again been such a coward he didn’t get his full rejection plotted out in time, and the OW probably told him if he moved in there with me, she was done. I lived in the condo and made nice friends there for 15 months while he was a total asshole using every standard trick to delay the divorce I was the one to file for!

    My filing after only doing the Pick Me dance for four weeks totally surprised him, and me too! As did my being just smart enough to get a damn good lawyer and accountant to take control of things, to document the secret accounts and stolen money, get documentation of the massive and multiple steroid and testosterone injections from one of those many cheesy “men’s” clinics he’d been giving himself for well over a year ( those bi polar like swings were not my imagination!), the charge bills he’d racked up, etc etc. We had a damn fine life, on the brink of early retirement at age 58, a lovely small beach home in California near our only adult daughter, a great new condo for our time still here in the PNW, plenty of money and freedom, hell, he even had two Porsches to enjoy, one at each home! And thank God for our savvy daughter, who took over that day while the movers resorted and repackaged only my stuff, insisted I go ahead and move into the marital home of record, and sent me with my box of Kleenex to both the copy place for the financial records, and the doctors office for every std testing known to man.

    It’s interesting though… He solidly maintained I was the embodiment of every problem he thought he had, became very hateful, and going no contact helped me tremendously, though it waved even more red “you’ve lost control of this situation” flags in front of him. After dismantling our married life of 34 years and liquidating the assets and finally reaching a settlement that was good for me, I moved out of the condo, and he and OW moved in… Must not have worked out so well because now, only about four months later, he’s decided to buy another big, fancy four bedroom,three car garage home and recreate what we had– but with a different, better, younger Lego piece who must lick his shoes enough. Her hands are full though as I know this man wouldn’t pick a paper clip off the floor, let alone his dirty underwear, let alone have the knowledge or desire to take care of a single family home or do yard work! And she has had to take over my role in nursing him through literally dozens of orthopedic surgeries, starting with the first of the two hip replacements last week. She is likely seeing a very different side of him even now. Even so, I wish him an excellent recovery and a speedy return to work as retirement is not on the table anymore for him between the maintenance he must pay to me, the grad school tuition promises he made to our daughter that my attorney had written into the decree, and his choices for an ever escalating lifestyle with my replacement unit. Hope she’s worth it!

    I can honestly look back now, twenty months and some excellent therapy later, and say this outcome was written in the stars from the beginning… I forgave and spackled and turned a blind eye in my Chumpness to repeated infidelity (one of which in about year 14 was so premeditated he even videotaped his noontime fuck and forgot to take it out of the camera), gambling, assorted classic entitled executive behaviors, and even several abandonments of me and our daughter over the years, the first of which happened when she was just four weeks old! She was the very long awaited first (had been married eight years before he said he was ready to start a family) grandchild of both sides, and after the rush of congratulations, he said “this just isn’t working for me.” He moved jobs frequently, leaping to the next one if there was even a hint of not perfect, traded cars with abandon, and purchased expensive stuff like big ass cameras and mountain bikes that were used once and forgotten.

    It was all there, and if I had had enough confidence in our solid, middle class, Midwestern upbringing and less “I made a vow and I meant it!” to say “wait a minute…” years ago instead of being overwhelmed with his forceful personality, my life might have turned out quite differently.

    Don’t ignore things like I did! Call a spade a spade, no matter how awful at the time. SmartEnough, I am so hopeful for you in the midst of this pain that so many of us know only too well, that you have not lost as many years, had as much time to doubt yourself, and can be quickly proactive to protect your and your child’s financial resources, get reset with good counseling, and enjoy the wonderful future you deserve! I will be sending up a little prayer for you…

      • No kidding! I consider myself incredibly fortunate at my outcome… By the way… Hate your cable provider? Horrified at each new outrageous customer service story we read about on the Internet every week? I’m convinced that this culture of The Customer Isnt Right, And We Don’t Care As Long As They Pay comes from within, right from the executive level, right in keeping with that attitude of entitlement and that the normal rules don’t apply to them thing, no matter what lip service gets mouthed to the media. I can eventually forgive myself for anything I didn’t address in my naïveté and blind hope for the best with my sunk costs, but I cannot forgive the bullshit attitude of superiority , calculated deceit, and callous disregard that destroys many things in the ripple effect that my ex and others like him show.

    • Chumpness in Seattle, I love how smart you are about the behavior he exhibited all along. The job hopping every time there is “a hint of not perfect” is what I experienced with the cheater. He went through 4 jobs in 18 months–made very good money at all 4 but he isn’t getting younger and at some point, his physical skills will start to diminish. He was complaining 5 months into the latest job that it was too much for him and of course, the owners didn’t know what they are doing…

      • Yeah… Sigh… Hindsight is great, isn’t it? Further revelations in the discovery process enabled me to make sense of a whole hell of a lot in retrospect. I feel reasonably sure I can recognize a fair amount of narc warning behavior from someone in the future but admit my shields will probably be UP for a long time… And I am ever so grateful that he chose to implode everything a final time, and not come back for reconciliation at the thirty day mark as usual, in the fortuitous window of daughter already grown so no real custody shit, and that he is still employed and not already retired, which allowed my attorneys to obtain way more for me to start over with at nearly 57 years of age! I have kept and stepped up my part time, on call home staging job, and will make the most of what I’ve gotten!

    • Dearest Chumpness,

      Thank you for everything. Really! You are clearly a strong, wonderful person. What a story you have; what a journey you’ve taken. Thank you for sharing. Please do send up a little prayer for me—I need all I can get!

      All the very best to YOU!

  • Thanks so much for this post and all the comments from Chump Nation. I am a little over 10 months post DDay. Beyond the first 45 days or so of initial shock I have seen my Cheater clearly for who she is and have not wanted her back. However I still struggle(d) from time to time with the loss of what I thought I had, how the person I thought I knew and loved dearly for 14 years turned out to be so very different and so deficient in values and character, and how I could have been so very naive. This post and comments ring so true. My STBX and her mother who feeds her sense of entitlement treat me now like a host organism from whom they try to continue to extract value. STBX is so hurt that no one (except mom) is sympathizing with HER pain from having done something so awful, etc. etc.
    Keep coming back, Smart. This blog will help turn the sadness into anger, transforming both over time into meh. With lots of wicked funny humor along the way.

    • I am also 10 months past DDay and over the weekend he stood next to me at a funeral and smiled at me. After the funeral he sat at my table and hugged me in front of his family. Just being nice? No. Today we went to court and he was angry man making demands. Finally we agreed and are now divorced. He looks at me and sincerely said I think about you all the time. Good guy, angry man, pick me dance from a flash cheater gone haywire when having kibble withdrawl.

  • Of all the articles on ChumpLady I can relate to yours so far the most. 10 years (2nd for both of us). I can truly walk in your shoes…..In the 4 months prior to my discard we went on a vacation, I had a surprise 50th bday party for him, we purchased a pool that we had talked about for years. We had the family Easter dinner and egg hunt with all 5 adult kids, spouses and grandkids. The youngest daughter was turning 21 and we were to go to her college to celebrate. He backed out at the very last hour before we were to leave. This was nothing new, he was a workaholic and work always came first. When I arrived home the next morning I could tell he hadn’t slept at home although he tried denying it repeatedly. I knew….the next weekend we were babysitting 2 of our grandkids, he walked in the house kissed me and said I love you do you need anything from town? I ran to his shop and broke into his office and found the love notes from the waitress at the local dive coffee shop. She is 26 years old 4 years younger than his daughter. He had been cheating the entire time.

    Of course it wasn’t about what he’d done, it was about me breaking into his office. Then I got the ILYBINILWY speech and how he hadn’t loved me for years and our vacation was the worst vacation he ever took and on and on. Devastation doesn’t even cover the feelings I had at that time. He was so callous he started staying at her place and coming home with hickeys on his neck. I was packing and picking myself up off the floor. He wouldn’t discuss it, he was done. Your world starts spinning and all of these decisions have to be made and made now when you are at your worst. Their mask falls off and we get to see who they REALLY are.

    I packed and left and went and stayed with a friend until the moving company could come. What I didn’t know was he was going through my boxes and stole things that meant the most to me. Things that had to do with my kids. Protect your stuff! Take all you can take!!! You get one time to do this, no regrets.

    I am 9 months out now and the first 6 were horrible. I couldn’t wrap my head around who he was and why. I spent a lot of time angry at myself for being duped and blindsided. I thought I was smarter than this. What I’ve come to realize is he is far sicker/evil than I am smart. It’s all a game with them. They know what they are doing and they still do it anyway.

    Time and no contact are your friends right now. I’ve let go (most of the time) trying to figure out the why. We will never get an answer that makes us feel better and say oh ok now I understand. It’s them, not us. As my friends tell me “you dodged a bullet”. You will get there. Read all you can, set your boundaries and never let him get remotely close to you again. HUGS! Reach out if you need to talk.

    • For sure!, Trust that they suck! There will never be a satisfactory, sensible answer in these situations, it usually turns out to NOT be us, and NEVER let them get near you again!!!!

    • Michele,

      Thank you so much for your reply and sharing your experience with me. It all sounds so familiar! My husband and I planned an took a trip to Belize, just the two of us, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in the last part of May/first of June. It was wonderful. Following that we vacationed with his family, which we did every summer; spent a week with friends at our lake house (that we purchased 3 years ago; HE loves to fish); and I threw him a lovely birthday party at our home with our closest friends TWO days before D-Day. Blindsided? You bet your ass!! I still feel that way, 6 months later. I already have a tendency toward depression, and all of this has almost pushed me over the edge.

      I have to be strong for my daughter. That’s what keeps me going. I feel like I want time to pass as quickly as possible so I can start to feel okay again. Baby steps and lots of patience. I will be so grateful to be at a point at which I can help others going through this. I’m glad you were able to relate to my post.

      HUGS back to you.

      • I know how you feel… our stories are so similar. We built a new home, we had the best family with all the kids and grandkids. We had all the toys. We even looked at lake houses a couple years ago to buy, life was good. Sad part is it must have only been good for me. I’m 48 and starting over, not where I thought I’d be at this age but I’ve accepted it. The kids are all grown so my first time living alone so be grateful for your daughter. It truly helps get through the days even though some days you don’t feel like it.

        My son said “It goes to show you all the money in the world doesn’t buy happiness” and he’s right. The money never mattered to me as much as it did him. So I find peace in the fact that all he has is money and he can continue to buy people the rest of his life because he obviously has no good qualities inside.

        SHE is living in the house that was my dream home with her daughter. Its a really hard pill to swallow. Something funny though, they mirror whoever they are with. When we decorated for xmas it was simple white lights on the outside of the house. This year however, his yard looked like Dollar General threw up in it. All I could do was laugh. There were lights around every window with sillouhetts (sp) in them and ever inflatable ever made…as tacky as tacky could be…he bought a new red sports car, another laugh. This is a man who doesn’t like to go out, doesn’t drink, always had a holier than though attitude. Put people down that he thought were beneath him. You will eventually see through him and look back and see the signs. We miss who we THOUGHT they were and it’s scary to think they can play those games for years……

        I keep reminding myself of the affair and the discard and the STD and how sick you have to be to think living with a girl 24 years younger with a child is ok and all the horrible things he said and the million lies. I remember how he not only hurt me but my kids and grandkids and for that I will never forgive him.

        We spend a lot of time lost after something like this, not knowing how to get through and past it….time and baby steps…Its hard I know. I’m trying to enjoy my friends but nothings the same. It’s not what I want to be doing but I keep doing it hoping one day it becomes fun again.

        Chumplady makes me laugh and everyone here “gets” it. My friends are more of “be glad he’s gone, you deserve better” that doesn’t make the hurt go away. I look forward to reading your post someday about been there done that and came through it just fine. Hang in there.

  • NSE, I’d like to suggest that you change your name. Please don’t keep telling yourself that you weren’t smart enough. Smart has nothing to do with this. You were naive, loving, trusting, honest, and faithful. Perhaps some of the chumps here could provide suggestions? I’d like to suggest “200lbsLighter” (I don’t know how much awol-cheater-husband weighs).

    I don’t know where your are emotionally, but I know that initially, on Dday, I was stunned and disoriented. I felt completely blindsided… like by a Mack truck! As I slowly began to piece things together I fell into a deep depression; this was around 6 months from Dday. Please be gentle with yourself, and know that whatever phase you’re in is only temporary. Get help. See a therapist, or join a support group. Antidepressants definitely helped me through some very difficult times, and I think I’m finally ready to wean myself off!! Yippee!! Take care of yourself, and everything else will follow. (By the way, I would have never used the word “yippee” 2 years ago, so things do get better.)

    Everybody here has provided great advice. Now that you’re more enlightened about cheater behavior you will begin to notice patterns of behavior in awol cheater. Past events that once left you baffled or confused will begin to make sense, and you’ll see him for who he really is. Keep reading CL so you know what to expect when and if he returns, and be better prepared to deal with it. I found CL’s articles featuring UBT (universal bullshit translator) very helpful.

    I wish you the best moving forward. Please take care, and check in often. We’re all chumps here… we really care.

  • Dear Smart, I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments so forgive me if I repeat items my fellow chumps have shared. But then again, all these cheaters are bizarre yet so similar in so many ways that it both defies any sort of real understanding yet is comforting to know you are not the only one out there who has suffered this.

    My ex and I were married 25 years, 3 beautiful children. We thought we had it all. And then one day, I found out that he was having affairs and groups sex with two co-workers and “family friends,”….for OVER 15 YEARS WITH THE SAME WOMEN (oh and without condoms, so on my 51st birthday I had the joy of going for STD and HIV testing).

    Anyhow, I digress. On D-Day, as I confronted my supposedly loving and adoring husband who historically could not resist telling anyone and everyone how much he loved and respected my literally every day, the loving adoring mask he wore fell literally away from his face as I sat there watching him. It was stunning, bewildering and terrifying. And then a shark with cold dead eyes was sitting on our couch staring back at me, one who did not care how hurt I was, one who did not care at the devastating blow he was dealing me, one who did not care about his own children.

    My ex showed not one regret, shed not one tear, walked out and never looked back. He texts our 3 children, (S26, D22, S15), once in a blue moon asking to if they want to see him and they generally respond with crickets, and he goes merrily on his way. I understand he is going to marry one of his group sex partners this summer, but thankfully he has moved 5 hours away to live with her so we do not have to fear running into him.

    Ex has not seen my youngest son in the over 3 years since D-Day….Not. Once. My youngest son was 12 when his dad walked out and he will turn 16 later this year. I doubt his father would recognize him if he ran into him on the street at this point.

    My children are horrified, ashamed of their father, have panic attacks due to the abandonment, and my oldest son is hyper-vigilant with his significant other due to trust issues and my daughter refuses to date and says she will never trust a man enough to marry him.

    I know what you are going through, we all do, we have all seen it. It is the most horrible thing, when you lose not only your future (or at least the future you thought you knew), but you also lose your past. What was real? What was false? How can you ever know now and how do you deal with it? I had to read a lot of books on abandoned wives and healing after abandonment, and it helped me to learn about narcissists and sociopaths. I also went to counseling, and most especially once I found this website, I read everything on Chump Lady over and over like a dying may on the desert finding water (it has been my guiding star out of that nightmare).

    We know that big gaping wound you are carrying. You can heal, but it hurts like a motherfucker (as CL says).

    (((BIG HUGS))) SMART, it will get better. We’re here for you.

    • Kelly,

      My heart hurts for you, sweetheart. Thanks for sharing your story! Sounds so familiar 🙁 I can’t imagine how your ex could move away and forget about his children! Those darling, precious kids! He never deserved them!! They are so lucky to have you. Thank God for this website! It has been the only glimmer of hope I have experienced in the last 6 months. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, too. I’m devouring self-help books like there’s no tomorrow!

      And thank God for antidepressants and Ativan, or I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be here right now.

      (((BIG HUGS))) to you, too!

      • I am u Kelly. verbatim but my d 22, and son, 20 were she’ll shocked together, sort of.
        6 years and I gave court to fight his action to not pay arrears of many $$$$$$$$ and 50 cents a year for me and son who was at univ at time.

  • Dear SmarterThanEver (that’s how I see it),

    I am in a very similar place as you are but I’m starting to trust that the man I married is not a good man. My husband said so many sweet, kind and wonderful things to me, took me on fun, amazing vacations, was a good dad to our boys, bought me thoughtful gifts and stood up for all that is good for 18 years . That is a lot of years to “fake it” but I think that is what he did. I think he wanted to be that good guy but ultimately it just wasn’t in him and he had no more energy to “fake it” anymore. There were red flags but I didn’t see them until I went to counseling. Now he is mean and verbally abusive and barely sees our kids. I have to believe that is really who he is unless we discover a brain tumor and I’m not counting on that.

    These type of people are never happy so that is not on you in any way. They don’t know how to be happy. My husband chased things and hobbies to make himself happy, now he’s convinced a new woman is the answer. Some people are literally born unhappy because of the wiring of their brains. Some unhappy people recognize this and choose a good and righteous path anyway. But many end of like my husband and yours, they make everyone else unhappy around them too. Here’s a great article that talks about brains that are never happy. It brought me some understanding:

    This is one of the most insightful posts yet! I will be reading this one and all the replies several times. Thanks for sending this message to CL.

    “How people treat you says nothing about you but everything about them” Toby Mac

    • Nicole S, thanks for the link to that article on happiness. I’ve been reading obsessively about the notion of happiness since my ex ended our relationship, after meeting Schmoopie at a self-improvement retreat. The poor little sausage wasn’t happy, you see, so he wanted a “fresh start” with someone new and sparkly who could provide that for him. (Barf.) I don’t know if his brain chemistry is wired to be unhappy, but he needs to realize that he is responsible for his happiness, not his partner. As bitter as I still am seven months after D-day, part of me is glad to be rid of his mopey self.

    • Nicole,

      Thanks, again! I will definitely check out that article. The quote you shared is dead on. I am so glad you could glean something from my post. I really appreciate your perspective!

    • Thanks. Great article. I only disagree with his statement that biologically unhappy people are rare. I think they’re everywhere. Like narcs, most people just don’t see them, and they will never admit it themselves.
      Thanks for the link.

    • Great article, but I disagree that it’s ALL genetics. I know that a tendency to notice the negatives and get tangled in negativity has a big genetic component, but there’s SO much brain plasticity in childhood and adolescence, and so many ways people learn to manage their moods and thoughts that I don’t think anybody’s doomed.

      What I think is that a child who is VERY well loved, cared for, gets lots of physical affection, and has a fairly stable life with fairly happy parents will be in pretty good shape, even with strong negative tendencies. And both children and adults can learn to recognize those small and large things that keep them connected to others and help them feel better. Negative thinking in itself is a habitual process that can be interrupted and re-focussed. That has to start out very deliberate, and takes a lot of practice, but eventually becomes the ‘new normal’. And meds can definitely help many people who get stuck in the bad stuff.

      I think of it as like anything else in life; for some people, music, academics or sports come so easily and they excel right from the start. For the ‘rest of us’, it takes work and dedication, and we may never be excellent. Buy most of us can be pretty good at stuff, depending how important it is to us and how willing to work at it we are.

      I do agree with the author’s lesson that there is NO point in our trying to make anybody else happy, and that if someone is chronically unhappy and unwilling to do much about it, we should just let them go. Of course, our narcs mostly have a great way of coping with their unhappiness; blame others all the time! And move on to a new car/job/friendship/city/romantic partner/family when the current ones aren’t miraculously making them happy.

  • Smart,
    You are smart. You’ve been duped. I am so sorry. 6 months from now, you will see the Red Flags of your relationship in retrospect. Cheaters, by their nature, have failed the Marshmallow Test over and over and over again.

    Get angry and get moving. Do NOT let him back into to home. Change the locks, get an attorney, separate your finances NOW. If he wants to talk to you, begin having conversations via your legal team. Protect yourself and your child financially and emotionally. Someone so willing to toss you under the bus while he and his GF drive off into their bliss is NOT a rational, emotionally healthly adult. You can add ABANDONMENT to your legal decree as well as Adultry. List it all and name names (the GF).

    Hugs to you.

    • Hi, ANC,

      I probably should have added an addendum onto my original post so everyone would know the rest of the story. Following D-Day, my STBX moved left our house with some clothes and toiletries 48 hours later. The very next day, I was sitting in a divorce lawyer’s office. I ended up deciding, in month #2 to hire a PI through my attorney, and got the evidence I needed. I filed for divorce at the end of October on grounds of desertion and adultery. OW/Twinkie is actually named in the complaint. We are now in the painful “discovery” stage.

      It’s impossible to go NC because he sees our daughter 2 eves and 1 overnight each week. We also have been seeing a family therapist (I have my own therapist), at my insistence, to gain tools to best parent our little one through this horror. It’s very hard on me to sit on a couch beside him every week. I keep telling myself it’s in my daughter’s best interest, but it’s definitely not in mine!

      • That’s mighty! You’ve done all you can to to protect yourself legally. Now it’s just trusting that he sucks and remembering that if he’s a narcissist, he’s trying to get kibbles from you…

      • Smart, make sure the therapist will catch it if your ex is being unreasonable and narky. Many therapists, being empathic people themselves, do not really understand how narcissism works, and how it can show in parenting and co-parenting. They assume everyone in the room is reasonable and has the best interests of the child at heart. NOT always the case! They may encourage you to bend over backwards, while not noticing that your ex does not do the same.

        And for heavens sake, do not sit beside him! You are divorcing for adultery and abandonment; any therapist who sees people for co-parenting issues should have a seating arrangement that is more realistic than that! And do not continue this therapy if it is not clearly serving your daughters best interests, in obvious ways. Otherwise it is just kibbles for him.

        • KarenE,

          You are absolutely right. Considering the fact that he is not abiding by the “agreement” and advice set forth by our therapist which was: DON’T INTRODUCE ANY PERSON YOU MAY CONSIDER TO BE A SIGNIFICANT OTHER INTO YOUR CHILD’S LIFE FOR A YEAR AFTER YOUR DIVORCE, AT MINIMUM.” He’s already done that. And I have already lost my shit over it…although I have discovered that there is nothing I can really do about it. He says my issue with it has nothing to do with our daughter; that it’s my issue—my “control” issue!

          • I’ve gotten WAY better at handling the ex’s ridiculous accusations since Chump Nation taught me to assume it’s projection and turn it around. Amazing how often his saying I’m being ‘controlling’ or ‘have to be right’ or WHATEVER turns out to be exactly what he’s doing or feeling. I don’t mention that to him, of course, but it makes me react much more calmly to his outrageous claims.

            So, what’s your ex’s control issue here? If he’s like a lot of narcs, he HATES to be told what to do more than anything on this planet. Their motto is ‘you’re not the boss of me’. So that alone could push him to break the agreement. Add in that he probably hates the scut work of parenting and gets the OW to do it, and he wants to be able to pretend that he hasn’t done your child any harm, it’s all just one big happy family, and there’s who is trying to control things.

            • KarenE,

              Once again, you are right on about this! Thanks for putting it so concisely. Thats what I need right now—clarity! That’s one thing I’m lacking; too caught up
              In emotion.

          • I’m trying to get my STBXW to agree to a clause like this one in our parenting plan. She is dead set against it. For the life of me, I can’t understand why. Why on earth would you WANT to make life more difficult for your own children? I see it as a good thing for me — a way of protecting myself and my kids from someone who wants to move deep into our lives too quickly (I’d love for you to meet the kids, but the parenting plan ….). She isn’t actually seeing anyone that I know of, so it just seems a bad case of you are the not boss of me.

            • ANR, you are forgetting – she DOES NOT CARE if she would be making your kids lives harder. Having a new love around all the time and proving no one is the boss of her are WAY WAY more important than her kids feelings or psychological health.

  • Smart,

    I can really relate to the shock in your letter, because when I found out about my husband’s affair, I felt the same bewilderment and had the same questions. I swear, we had a very good and very happy marriage. I ADORED my husband, and I admired and respected him because I believed he was an amazing person with a really sound soul. Our life together was full of adventure and love and understanding. My husband was NOT standing on a hilltop waving red flags. 6 years after D-Day, I can still tell you, there WERE NO RED FLAGS. And I think that’s because there is a ‘different kind’ of cheater that doesn’t get written about as much here. . . the very skilled, high-functioning kind of cheater who has subterfuge down to a freaking art and who can keep that mask on for a very long time without being discovered. If my husband had just up and left me and our children, I would probably still be confounded by wtf happened, like you are. I think it would have haunted me for a long time, wondering how he suddenly woke up one day as a completely different person. If he had just left, I probably wouldn’t have found this site very helpful, because my experience SEEMS so different and my husband SEEMS totally different from much of what I read here.

    But because he stayed, I had the chance to do some intensive investigations and to make heartbreaking discovery after heartbreaking discovery about the wonderful marriage I believed I had. What I can tell you from my experience is that the really dangerous ones don’t wave red flags because they know what the flags are and know to keep them well out of sight. A lack of empathy? Mine is a vegetarian who works with disadvantaged children. The REASON he is a vegetarian who works with disadvantaged children is so that everyone else will believe he has empathy. Selfishness? Never! Mine would give me the most thoughtful presents and would do half the cleaning and most of the cooking – because he knows this is how to look like a thoughtful person. EVERYONE loves him, NO ONE said to me afterwards, oh I always knew he was a bad one! (In fact, everyone we know ran to offer HIM their support after the affair was discovered). I had no idea AT ALL for the 12 years of our marriage – and I’d still have no idea if I hadn’t hacked his e-mail and phone – that every act of kindness, every happy family adventure, every beautiful present was a manipulation and construction. In reality, he had twisted every one of these events, for 12 years, and re-presented them to other people as examples of what a nightmare life he had with such a bitch of a wife. The stories he was telling everyone else, the whole time, are so outrageous and far-fetched that it blew my mind. It still blows my mind. Nothing about him or our life together was real. That is why I hope you will be able to believe the chants on here about TRUSTING THAT THEY SUCK and that IT IS ABSOLUTELY WHO HE IS. It must be so so hard to see that truth when you don’t have any evidence that he was always, from the very beginning, a piece of shit. But he IS a piece of shit, and he was ALWAYS a piece of shit – it’s just that he is a very manipulative and extraordinarily convincing liar.

    • Wow, WTFEver, that is chilling, but sadly what I think my life was like with me ex, a complete lie. Yes he too did half the housework and the laundry, all the while violating everything our marriage and family stood for. I always have to remind myself that he IS a piece od whit and always was.

    • Dear God! I hope you had an appropriate pit bull attorney… You deserve everything you could get from this level of evil deceit… It’s such a shock to us chumps that evil of this kind actually walks among us, that they really are different, and that they just don’t give a damn. I sure hope my ex has finally chosen someone just like himself to share what he has left from what was an incredible life… I’m just a little bit sorry she is apparently too old to get pregnant since that would be the perfect “gotcha”… Ok, maybe that, plus his company finally not taking “no thanks” for an answer and transferring him to the Detroit or Chicago systems they were always after him to take on…. Yeah, I think reflection on his life in the future in the long, dark, bitterly cold Detroit winter would be apropos…. And a karma completely out of my hands….

    • WTFE- That is just downright creepy. I would put my husband in a similar category as yours. It just makes me wonder if our marriage was shorter (mine was 19+ years) if I would be as confounded as you because it was the last couple of years that he disintegrated and the red flags went up. Why did you hack his email etc? It makes me wonder if I would have done that around year 12 if that would found the same thing. So sorry for your hurt.

  • whatthefuckever,

    First off, I couldn’t love your name more! You GO!! That’s exactly how I feel. Totally worn out from the over-analyzing, self-examination and utter devastation. My STBX sounds so very much like yours! Every single person who knows us is just as shocked as I am at what he has done! EVERYONE—family, friends, acquaintances loved him! He was incredibly thoughtful, insightful, and generous to a fault. This started to wane where I was concerned, though over the last year +.

    I’m not sure which situation would be worse: the discovery process you went through, or the blindsided-ness I experienced. My heart goes out to you, too. I hope that you have reached a place of peace and happiness for yourself. I hope I can take heart in that!

    The biggest realization I have made from reading this site is just what you stated: “IT IS ABSOLUTELY WHO HE IS”.

  • There must be seminars or manuscripts for these cheaters! From reading these comments much of what my “husband” says isn’t very original!

  • Well, fellow Chumps, I just want to announce that I am changing my “name” to SmartEnough, after much validation from you awesome folks! I want to give a HUGE shout-out of thanks to the High Priestess of Wititude, herself, Chump Lady. Thank you for posting my cosmic question today, and for providing this forum of rectitude and support for me, and countless others like me—weathering the shit storm that is Chumpdom. In addition to, “Leave a Cheater. Gain a Life.”, it should be “Help a Chump. Save a Life.”

    Rock On.

  • Miss SmartEnough Britches, I love your new name. You ARE Smart Enough that is for sure. Have faith you and your daughter will come through this. If your lawyer thinks you must keep doing the joint counseling thing to keep up appearances for the courts then do so but don’t expect much and it could backfire on you — it did to my sister the “family therapist” was so smitten by her Narc STBX she actually ended up supporting a 50/50 custody arrangement with him even though he was ABUSIVE to my sister and her children!!!!! Unfucking believable but just because someone is a “counselor” or a “therapist” does not mean they are an “expert” esp. when it comes to dealing with Narcs. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

    • Miss, Thanks—loved your reply! I appreciate your taking the time to
      Post. You’ve gotta be from some place in the South

    • Missdeltagirl65, So sorry it’s been well over 2 months! I meant to send a reply, but somehow this got buried. Anyway, I hope you are well. I just wanted to thank you for your response. Sometimes it feels as though things are feeling worse as more time passes! I have no idea what that means; trying to get on the right combo of meds so that I can survive. Thank you for your time. Praying for peace.

  • KarenE,

    The biggest issue I am struggling with is: How can this man, who is, historically, such a wonderful father NOT put his child’s best interests first here!!!

    • SmartEnough, I think he can NEVER put anyone’s interests before his. And I would hazard to say that it’s been like this all along. The disordered (especially the high functioning) are great actors but my guess is you did all the work. My ex blew up our marriage (and my life) BIG time. He walked out on paying a mortgage he could afford so his family would be left homeless, he bullied me in such a way that I was afraid for my life, and trust me I sounded crazy in court. Thing is these people make us the ones at fault because they are projecting. Much like those who have committed crimes, they begin to tell themselves they are not culpable and then they end up believing it. Read an article by Hoda Kotb (in Reader’s Digest) that talked about her breast cancer. In a chance meeting someone let her know that by acknowledging it publicly it would be for a greater good. I think Chump Lady and CN does that. Infidelity sucks.

  • My husband did this to us after 10 years together. Our sons were eight and eighteen. The woman he was with for about a year and a half did not know he was married. I took him back and things were good until 2008 and now. Two more secret affairs with the final other woman which he moved in with her. 25 years and now my sons are grown and my final gift to have accepted this ass is herpes. I regret not divorcing this ass after the first affair. We had a house, I was working back then. I should have left but I forgave and stayed. He never put his family first and I struggle with that kind of action. Who lives a double life that long and able to sleep at night is beyond my understanding.

  • You know I wonder what it says about me if my STBX left me for an OLDER women? SHe is 5 years older then him. I could see someone younger and in better shape and pretty. But honestly, I don’t see any ofthat with this howorker. The only thing they have in common is having the same type of occupation for 25 years?

    • You know Beentheredonthat, With my stbexh, it does not matter what they look like or what age they are. If he gets his blow jobs and gets to drink all he wants and play guitar in skank bars, that’s all that matters to him.

    • BeenThere…, It doesn’t say anything about YOU, it says everything about HIM (and HER). My ex too left me for an older woman. She had already blown up her first marriage (19 years!) with an affair, problem was her AP dumped her. Her husband divorced her and there she sat scrambling for a new fucktard, someone financially sound, cue my POS ex. (Obviously, whore only likes guys who are married ….) Their affair blew up our marriage, my ex was convinced he was in love (yup, with his dick!), and once she also threatened to tell me our marriage was OVER. Game, set, match. How many people do you know who cheat on their spouse, yet play “happily ever after” for all the world to see until one day, like a fart in the wind, he/she leaves?!?! A majority of our cases include spouses who were also so entitled pre and post Dday that they stole money, neglected financial responsibilities, became crap parents, or just did all the above (and went scorched earth)?!? A note to all whose spouses just one day announced they no longer want the relationship/marriage/WTFever, protect yourself, protect your children, and protect your finances.

  • All,

    I think another slap in the face is the fact that he never even had the desire to keep me hanging on. It isn’t like the typical story of the spouse who has affairs (wants their cake and to eat it, too)—he up and left me and never fucking looked back!!

  • Same here SmartEnough – same here. I didn’t have to do the pick me dance. He was done and moved her in the day I moved out. A huge slap in the face, haven’t heard or seen him in 9 months.

  • I found out my exe was cheating when I found a credit card bill in a very unusual place but once confronted he begged for forgiveness and asked for us to save our marriage. What I did not know is all the while he planned to get a job transfer and move with her to another state. We stayed together for the next 4 months when he came home to announce he filed for a divorce. While I was crying and bent over the toilet he had the nerve to tell me I would be alright in about 2 years. He understood how hard it must be to feel this kind of rejection. Wow! Really. I am sure you can imagine the words that came out of my mouth. He never left our house to live with her and came home every night. No clue! Another 3 months passes and my family encouraged me to see an attorney. Come to find out he had filed incorrectly and if I did not countersue the divorce would dissipate. When he found out I had countersued he was really upset. But I let him know since I knew he continued to see the OW, I was now deciding. The week we were to finalize our divorce in court my oldest daughter who was only 33 years old suddenly passed away. He was with me 24/7. The OW continually sent text and e-mails of wedding rings and houses. He than started to ask me to consider a reconciliation. I was already physically depleted because of the cheating. But I told him he was no longer the priority and I was grieving. This made him angry. He packed up his belongings and moved out 5 weeks after her death! I was paralyzed with pain. But I determined to do what was necessary to come through this dark time in my life. He called 2 months later to let me know the OW was diagnosed with terminal cancer and wanted to know if I thought God was punishing him. My response, no idea about God. But I believe in karma. The OW passed away 2 months later. He has done everything in his power to come back. I don’t think so… forward 3 years later. He calls me a couple of weeks ago because he still pays my health insurance. He is in a relationship but not happy. He thinks about me everyday and all he wants to do is “come home”. So I said a few things back. I bet you anything she does not know you are unhappy. But really, why would anyone stay in an unhappy relationship it sucks because I did it for soooooo long. But he must of forgot I was the one who ended the relationship. Oh yea. My house was no longer his home. It took a long time and so much healing. But what kind of a low life thinks he can leave you for another woman and leave you 5 weeks after losing a child! Oh oh, I know. Narcissistic. I have come too far to turn back now. Take all the time you need to take care of yourself. The best thing that ever happened to me was him leaving. I was truly unhappy while we were married. Hindsight is 20/20. You can do this! I promise.

    • Dear GBE,

      Wow! What a story!! You have been through so much. Unbelievable. You are an inspiration and I want to thank you for taking the time to respond. I hope that you are now in a happy place, and I hope that that will be my story someday.

      I am still in shock at what my STBX has done! Sometimes the more I think about it, the more confounded I am! The “narcissist” label helps a little in understanding the behaviors, but it doesn’t make anything better. I guess I just have to chalk him up to having a personality disorder, I don’t know. If we’d only been together a couple of years, I could understand better!

      Anyway, I wish you the best. Thanks, again!!

      • I must agree, regardless of the behavior disorder it is hard to grasp how someone could treat us so badly. I believe it was the most difficult part of my healing. I still have triggers but I will not allow myself to stay there very long. I had a lot of people who meant well trying to help me “get over it”. But I was not moved. I would tell them I was going to be sad until I was no longer sad. This is only my opinion, I believe we are a society that tells us to hurry up and move on, how come your not dating yet? But the one thing I knew, I was not taking the baggage from my broken heart to another relationship. It would not be fair for them or me. I appreciate all that I have learned and I now know, I deserve better. My life is changed forever. So you take all the time you need, gain support where you can find it. If all I ever accomplish, is to encourage 1 person that there is life after infidelity. Then my journey is worth while.

        • Beautifully written.

          It is still a trip that I actually went through this when I thought I was so careful to avoid this very thing.

          Of course I won’t get over it until I am over it, because I feel things very deeply, like the love I once had from my wife.

          It is still fascinating to have my depth of feeling confronted with the shallowness and vapidity of much of society.

          It seems we are all melting into one shallow morass of instant gratification and self-entitlement sometimes. I sometimes feel a level of smug coming from people as if they would be able to ward something like this off or that I was inferior in some way to bring this on.

          In a way, maybe they are correct, because it seems these narcissist/sociopaths choose people like us – the dwindling number of people that care and feel deeply, and not one of the shallow masses.

          Which is another thing that upsets me greatly about this whole ordeal – I was doing just fine in life until I met her. I did not need her and I could have been doing other things with my life until I was conned by allowing my good nature and hard work to be commandeered by that bad person.

          • Tony, I couldn’t have stated it any better. Our society—the “easy out” mentality. Sadly, we are living/loving in a different world. One of the saddest parts for me is…I’m even further disconcerted by my new fear of putting myself in harm’s way again in the future. I feel like I’m too messed up now; my ability to trust in others and in my ability to judge character seems gone.

            • Hi Smart Enough; IMO, I feel like one of the things I have learned going through this life decimating experience is to be more self reliant, listen to my gut above all and remember that I can do anything alone. I am very independent, but liked having something I thought was “solid” in my life. When I look back over my life experiences, I see other times taking a risk would have been advantageous and I chose safety in one way or another in this relationship & life. I guess in the bigger picture, I wonder if I am having to learn this lesson because I wanted some “safety” this life does not offer, or certainly isn’t guaranteed to anyone.
              Also, I think Chumps have a good judge of character-they just have to listen to the things that bother them or don’t feel right instead of what CL calls “spackling” which is code for making excuses, explaining away bad behaviors or making them OK in your head somehow.
              I agree with Tony too, the morality & integrity has slid down the hill in an alarming way in recent years. It is scary to be sure, adults in numbers seem to be in the Never Never Land & Cash is King mentality, and we wonder can we ever find what we need? I guess I realize I wasn’t getting it then either, just thought I was. Both CL & CN have restored a lot of my faith in humanity because they are like minded. I needed to know there were folks like me out there-sensitive, caring, thinks of others before acting, has an engaged conscience. etc. Maybe some new faith can begin to grow here for you. It is a journey though, but you have supportive fellow Chumps to hike with. I sure wish you were not just starting on this hike, my heart goes out to you. But you can do this and come out whole.
              Remember Smart Enough, you just woke up in the rabbit hole & everything is distorted, this is not your forever perspective! One day at a time!

              • Regina,

                beautifully written, and it addresses a truth that is both devastating and hopeful – settling.

                Yes, I am an independent person, and was leading an independent life prior to meeting her and before she moved in with me. I also have great friends and I think all in all I am pretty good judge of character.

                However, I saw my now ex-wife as the “safe” course in that she was everything I thought I wanted to be someday in that she is from a middle-class background.

                I also believed we had so many nerdy things in common that I thought considering the whole package, this is what I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.

                And I was wrong.

                But I know that I would have been miserable had I remained with her, and I also feel that the lesson here is not to take the safe route always, because although I may seek security, this path can be just as dangerous in the long term as the other.

              • Thanks Tony, we write here hoping we can help someone in some way. That maybe we catch others at a juncture where they can relate. I agree about the trust issues too, but in this world, we can no longer afford to have the blind faith that others have our best interests in mind. Chumps project that which they are onto others & expect others think like they do. Well they don’t.

                This cheating thing affects us in such a multi-faceted way. It changes our story…..who we thought they were, who we felt we were, our grip on reality comes into question. We lose confidence and wonder why someone we valued so much did not value us. It feels us with rage that we now have to deal with maybe for the first time at such a dramatic level. We wonder why this is the reward for trying to live a true life. Our friends and family may be shocked we are not stronger and begin to treat us differently. We have trouble concentrating at work & risk losing positions we have earned over many years. It affects our children’s now & their future. All this so someone can get LAID? It still baffles! A party sized 6 foot shit sandwich!
                But I do believe in Karma, and us Chumps deserve a great future/life. Sometimes I think a higher power is involved in having us break away and have a chance at the real love we deserve. I like the vision of the Phoenix rising up from the ashes. It seems like ashes is about what we are left with. This time we will be even stronger & leave these ashes behind. We can’t let this thing beat us, these Cheaters are not worth it pure & simple.

            • Smart,

              I believe ultimately you and I know the answer to this although we are not there yet…which is love, trust, respect and have esteem for yourself, and we will make the right decisions, when it comes to people even someday.

              I am with you though that I am not there yet, and I am damn wary of people right now.

              • Tony, in response to this topic: I joined an online dating site for a few days, and my inbox was blown up by messages from men. I thought this might be a good self-esteem boost. I began messaging with a younger, adorable man. Suffice it to say, after two weeks of things starting to get heavy, I realized I am REALLY not there yet. Kind of made me sad. Him too.

  • I’m late on this, but I’ll just reiterate what a lot of people said here: your spouse was always the person he proved himself be.

    When we’re confronted with infidelity, we want so badly to blame a change: mid-life crisis, our juggling other responsibilities, hormone imbalance, affair fog, bipolar disorder…narcissistic personality disorder.

    But, as documented and well-explained at Infidelity Help Group, all of those explanations (including narcissism) imply that there’s some sort of “disorder” that magically appeared…and only affected your spouse’s ability to be faithful. In other words, these explanations don’t hold water.

    (Yes, in some cases, diagnosed NPD does exist, as explained by people on this forum. In those cases, there was evidence of it for years in many aspects of the cheater’s life. But overall, NPD is not a contributor to cheating in > 90% of cases. Poor character, sadly, is all we have to hang our hats on to explain > 90%.)

    My ex-wife did the same. She was amazing for 8 years…and then suddenly wasn’t. I kept saying that she “turned into a different person.” I blamed affair fog. I blamed her going off the pill so we could get pregnant. I blamed her fear of starting the next stage of her life. I blamed myself for not being _____ enough. On and on.

    But in the end, I had to accept that people don’t change that quickly. The quality of a person’s character is built over decades, not months. She was always a cheater; I just ignored the signs.

    SmartEnough, I wish you the best. It is very hard to accept that we chose to spend our lives with these people, but we did. My simple advice is to get out, and away, from this person.

    • JC,

      Thanks for your reply. I agree with you—I think that, unfortunately, my STBX must have always been a version of this “new” creature. But looking back on the flaws in his personality, “cheater” wasn’t remotely on the list! Never flirtatious with other women, never inappropriate. I always did my besy to build him up… Make sure he knew how proud I was of him. In the end, none of it was enough. And he didn’t just bolt on me, he did it all so inhumanely! I don’t think I will ever reconcile this. 🙁

      • Smart,

        You will get over this. I am about seven months out from having my world taken from me.

        Here is what I will say: You were selected by this POS because you are a hardworking person that makes do with what you have and make it better.

        With an absent spouse in the relationship, you were doing at least 150% of the work.

        With your POS gone, you have been given the gift of reality, and now you know that your feet are truly on solid ground.
        You will be able to put all of considerable energy into yourself and your new life and you will do better.

        Trust me. I am doing better. There are tough days, but things get better once you are dealing with reality and your energy goes into this and not stolen from you by your POS and the lie he made of your life.

        • Thanks, Tony. I needed to hear that. You and I are on the same timeline. Having a small child to now parent on my own (he still sees her 3x/week), and having to deal with him on a regular basis makes moving forward exponentially harder! Thank God for this site and people like you who are giving me hope in this journey.

          All the best and Blesings to you!

          • Smart

            I can only imagine the torment one would have dealing with these things due to a child.

            I would imagine that they would use the child as leverage because everything is about winning some game in their heads to them.

            Also, we are naturally at a disadvantage because we have a soul, and therefore do what is right for the child, and if that thing places you in a situation where your two options are to do wrong by your child, or appease him and do right by the child, then you would appease him and do right by the child.

            I encourage you to read the posts about and by people who must deal with these things due to children.

  • It’s crazy how many of us have been cheated on. My ex boyfriend went through an ASTOUNDING amount of lies to cover up his affair even after I was putting two and two together and confronting him. He continually lied through his teeth up until the very end. It was not until I had proof that he then said, “Yes, I’m sorry you had to find out about it from someone else and not me.” And then it was like he was some hero to himself because he finally came clean. I was completely blindsided. Then to my surprise, he became cruel and nasty and blamed me for all of his wrong doings. What??? I love you, Chump, because you are soo spot on with what I think I already know and will have to go through. Thank you for this blog and thank you for being in this world.

  • Like many Chumps here I spent hours, days, weeks, months trying to figure out why my exH changed into the sort of person who would cheat. It took me a very long time to realise that he hadn’t changed at all, that was his real persona but I just didn’t (or didn’t want to) see it.

    JC says “But in the end, I had to accept that people don’t change that quickly. The quality of a person’s character is built over decades, not months. She was always a cheater; I just ignored the signs.” and I can identify with that.

    As CL succinctly puts it – these people are like shallow puddles, they just aren’t that invested. My exH was happy to stay in the marriage as long as it was made easy for him. As soon as I made it clear I wanted some more input from him (apart from him being physically present that is) he started looking around for an easier option. Even then he didn’t put much effort in and found someone he worked with as an AP.

    Much later I asked him why he didn’t fight to save the marriage – his answer was “It was easier for me to start again with x than to sort out the problems with you.” So slut-pants has him by default as an easy option – I wonder if she knows what a prize she has? (Sarcasm)

  • But what if the affair partner is a bankrupt, gold digging slut and he’s trading DOWN. Not younger, not prettier, certainly not smarter, a bit crazy.

  • I know I grieve the hologram. The kids grieve the hologram. My parents grieve the “perfect son-in-law” hologram. But the hologram is not real, but the grief is, the emotional connection is real. So how do you get the hologram to stop appearing? How to you convince the mind that the emotional connection is not worth it? Jeez I just can’t make that leap.

    • Dear M,

      You said it so perfectly! Yes—our entire families are grieving the hologram! Some say it should be enough to have all of this PD information; accept that it is what it is, and move forward. But I’ll be damned if it’s that simple!!

      We loved this man! We were part of a family together! The emotional bonds are far-reaching, and it’s possible that not even time will be able to sever them. That is why “meh” seems so abstract to me at this point. I can only hope that the passing of days will either make me comfortably numb, or at least provide some perspective.

  • This explains abadoning cheater’s angry behavior. What I don’t understand is why now OWife is angry at me as well? Didn’t they finally get what they wanted (whatever that is?)?

    • Who the hell knows?!? I cannot understand any of it. It’s like banging my head against a brick wall. Some of the best advice from my therapist has been, “Give up on trying to understand it. You have to accept that you may never be able to.” You cannot rationalize CRAZY!! Best of everything to you, PC.

      • “CRAZY” a therapist exclaimed after hearing me for half an hour and I concluded asking if ex has a mental illness?…”and that is all you need to know” she followed…as to the OW is she jealous? Feels threatened? Insecure? Doesn’t she know he discarded me already? Idk but thank you for you all who remind me is just who they are and nothing to understand…

    • Plain Chump; I have had this experience quite a few times in my life where someone screws ME over & then treats me like I have done something to THEM!! It has confounded me for years!! It seems to be something to do with making you deserve it in their head. They have made you an enemy to rationalize what they have done to you.
      I have also listened to people that have had affairs for years who are the third wheel in the picture who blame their AP’s husband or wife for their troubles. It is WTF? You are the one that does not belong in this picture!!
      Remember those tests we took in grade school where you would have to pick out the thing that did not belong in the grouping? Like pictures of 4 items of clothing & then a fish, or a bus? Moron cheaters (as in OW or OM) don’t seem to see themselves as the bus or the fish! You are the one who doesn’t belong . It is kind of scary the crap people can dream up and actually believe!

      • Regina

        I think you identified a key issue where we put ourselves in these situations to be used, and I think the key struggle here going forward is to work on whatever issues we have that we allow ourselves to be put into these situations time and again.

        I am thirty-one, and I look back on this catastrophe of a marriage and realize it was only the culmination of a lifetime of this behavior.

        I know for me I must learn to love myself and respect myself enough so that I will not be vulnerable to these people and will simply tell them “no” and leave when they reveal their true natures – which we must all admit they do early on, except we choose to ignore these warning signs.

        It will be a long journey, but worthwhile if a better life is waiting for me.

        • Tony; Someone on the blog recently said that she was brought up to think people were either good or in jail. I got a big kick out of this because when you are a good person with an overactive conscience, people don’t even need to make their own excuses, you make them for them! I for years was convinced that people screwing me over didn’t really mean to! It is true we always have some part in everything that happens to us in life.

          I guess I thought I was speaking more about human nature and how someone can do something against you & then blame YOU for it. Like cheating. Everything was great until the spouse sees a piece of ass they want and all of a sudden they were “never happy”, or said “we hit a rocky patch”, or “you ordered pizza out & she made home made pizza” or some such utter bullcrap.

          But I have had this happen with friends or co workers too where they just start treating you differently like you did something to them, when in reality it is the reverse. Very confounding. I know I would catch myself if I ever tried to do it, the bullcrap modulator in my brain would reject it. I guess I was never expecting to be the one that had it all in one sack coming from my crazy upbringing ….
          Chump Nation makes me feel like there are people like me out there, which is comforting when you are wondering if you can live in this rapidly changing world, or make any sense at all out of it.

      • Oh my gosh, that is the WORST. The OW’s husband told me that his wife blamed me for destroying HER happiness by doing things to save my marriage to get my husband away from this gold digging slut. Yet she blames ME?? What a nut job.

  • I needed to read this so badly. My husband up and left almost a week ago, after 23 years. He claims there is no one, and blablabla midlife crisis finding himself, but it’s been five days and I’ve been served papers already. No one moves that fast without someone else. And I have the cannonball in my chest too, but making a brave face because my 20 year old daughter lives with me.

    • I am sorry I agree with you Eleventy. I hope I am wrong
      You are fortunate to have found this site so early in your pain. It is a dreadful experience, but we here have all been through it. For a couple of years for me personally finding only info that pushed me back toward cheater. Someone here just recommended a book on Amazon about abandonment they said helped, (haven’t read yet) and Chump Lady’s book is priceless too. I am so sorry for your pain.

    • Hi Eleventy11, I am so sorry you are going through this, and I too am glad you found Chump Nation now. Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark is a book I found helpful, along with How to Survive the Loss of a Love. And, of course, Chump Lady’s book is amazing. Hang in there and please do your best to take care of yourself (and eat and sleep as best as you can).

  • Chump Lady–Did I tell you that I loved you after the first article I read by you. You really are saving my psyche because you are so logical and it sheds so much light onto what happened to me. Once again, you are providing me with sanity.