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Nice vs. Kind

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haveanicedayThere was an interesting side discussion the other day on Chump Lady about the difference between niceness and kindness. Many people noted that their cheaters appeared to much of the world as “nice people,” but in point of fact, lacked kindness. (Sure, it’s an understatement to say that cheating is unkind.)

Now, I don’t want to diss niceness, after all I am from the Midwest and it’s our default setting, but a lot of being nice is simply impression management. See? I come in peace! You can trust me, I’m nice! Nice works if you’re in sales. That’s why (at least here in the U.S., any way) salespeople are always encouraged to compliment you or end each transaction with “Have a nice day!”

I enjoy the social lubrication of nice. I want a nice person to bag my groceries. But at the end of the day, I just want my groceries bagged, the attitude with which you do it is optional. If I just got nice and no bagged groceries, that would suck.

“That’s a beautiful sweater you’re wearing!”

“Um, thanks. Could you please bag my groceries?”

“Lovely weather we’re having!”

“Uh, sir? There’s a line forming. Is this one of those bag-it-yourself places? Did I choose the self-check line?”

“Have a nice day!”

This is the cognitive dissonance of cheater nice. It’s nice without the bagged groceries. It’s pleasantry without substance. It’s all cherry and no sundae. Frankly, it’s a mindfuck.

When someone is outwardly nice, but their actions are withholding, dismissive, oblivious — they’re disguising an agenda. Pay no attention to my failed obligations or implied hostilities. Press me about them and you’re a killjoy. But me? I’m nice. How can you be so unkind to the nice?

Done with enough manipulative panache, you can drive anyone crazy with “nice.” God, who is that jerk that nice person is married to? How can they be so pissed off all the time? Donald is so nice!

Contrast crazy “nice” with actual kindness. Kindness is the person who sees you and your broken bag of groceries and stops to help pick them up. They may not even be nice about it. They might grunt, or swear under their breath as they chase your rolling cans of tomatoes, but they go for it anyway. Kindness responds to distress. Kindness offers help without being asked. Kindness doesn’t even know you, but stopping and helping is the right thing to do, even if it’s inconvenient. Even if no one else is watching. Even if you’re a bastard about it. “Hey! You missed a can!”

Kindness isn’t impression management. It’s about empathy. You have to be somewhat selfless to be kind. Kindness responds to people in need. A kind word. An act of kindness. You have to be outwardly focused and connected to others to be kind. Any idiot can do nice. Sustaining it when things get hard is kindness.

I think chumps, like most people, are fooled by nice. We see it as a short-hand for kind — surely this nice person wouldn’t fuck me over? But nice is often just superficial and doesn’t translate to kindness. It’s not enough to act inoffensive — you have to actually not give offense to people and refrain from hurting them. And if you do offend? You have to care, not slather “nice” all over it.

You see this shit in reconciliation all the time. The cheater ups their game a bit. Sends flowers. Shares a few kibbles. But they can’t muster up much sorry. They don’t do remorse. They fail to read the books, or show up for the shrink appointment, or feel anything other beyond “Thank you for not divorcing me and taking my 401K.” It doesn’t deeply hurt them to have hurt their chump. But they can be nice. They can pick up the check. They can compliment your hair. And for some people, that’s enough. They’ll take the nice and find comfort in it.

Did you have a nice cheater? Would they still like to be your friend? Do a kindness to yourself and find some substantive people to hang with instead.

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!

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  • My ex was someone everyone described as “kind and generous.” If you needed help moving, he would volunteer to help (even if it was the same day as our anniversary). If you were depressed and needed someone to talk to in the middle of the night, he was the guy you called (even if I happened to be crying at the time and really needed him to console me). If you needed to borrow a car, he would volunteer his (even if we planned a getaway for the weekend you needed).

    I used to refer to him as a “people pleaser”… until I eventually came to realize that the only person he wasn’t interested in pleasing was ME. My sister said it was because his only concern was feeling good about himself and making other people think he was a great guy. I was his wife, so “image management” wasn’t necessary with me.

    • Lulu — my stbx was exactly the same.

      He was always the one everyone could depend upon … but me. He sings in the choir, is on the village planning board, head of the church consistory, on the paddle team for the village, on the skeet team, blah blah blah. And everytime I asked if he could miss a meeting, he’d respond with “they need me — they’re short a guy, then need a bass, I’m running the meeting”. When I said, I needed him, he’d promise me something to assuage his guilt. For years, I felt like the maid, cook and laundress — just keeping everyone afloat but not getting what I needed. Then while going through the whole divorce process, I realized he was a NARC and needs to be front in center so everyone can see what a really great guy he is.

      He very recently commented to me that he “wants everyone to like him”. To which I said “those who matter most, (the three you are abandoning) DON’T LIKE YOU. How does that feel?” No response.

      And how did he meet his “fiance” — an old college gf who was going through a divorce and “needed him” from 1000 miles away. He picked up her pieces! Good luck to her …

      • “I used to refer to him as a “people pleaser”… until I eventually came to realize that the only person he wasn’t interested in pleasing was ME. My sister said it was because his only concern was feeling good about himself and making other people think he was a great guy.”

        THIS RIGHT HERE ^^^ My life for the last 8 years. He could NEVER do enough for EVERYONE else but ME. I always felt like I didn’t matter. HE will claim “you never asked, all you had to do was ask!” I did, and he ignored me…. didn’t matter WHAT it was. I can remember simply asking him to remove the training wheels from our son’s bike so he could learn to ride…. and I ended up asking 3 times…. I finally managed to get them off myself. The crazy making shit sucks…. but now as I keep looking back and sifting through the shit….. I KNOW it wasn’t my imagination. God how I wish I’d caught on sooner 🙁

        • I call that “cocksucking”….and dancing Cinderella…it’s amazing how many of the suckers flit around, act like the most generous guy in the world..like they just got a new fucking dress and are going to a balll….right after…they have punched you in the guts, left you on the ground bleeding…to run do someone else’s bidding so they can get a good boy and a pat on the head…

      • Funny mine was super nice to everyone else as well. I’d have to pay to have my oil changed on my car, but he’d have a “party” and do everyone’s in the neighborhoods. If I asked if he could do mine too, he’d roll his eyes. Oil change parties were a thing! To make him a great guy, get drunk and have the neighbors think he was so wonderful. But his wife, partner, the woman who was supposed to share his life with him got the crap end of the stick.

        He was even nice enough to loan my car to a buddy to drive home one night and the guy got into an accident opening the door to get out – he was drunk, wasn’t paying attention and someone hit the door as he swung it open. He got the thing closed, but I had to crawl over from the passenger side over the stick shift in skirt and heels to get to work for two years because we couldn’t afford to have it fixed or to get a new car. He didn’t let the guy borrow HIS car, noooo – he let him borrow mine.

        Another time, when my first daughter was very small, he traded our microwave for a car. I came home and tried to heat some water for her bottle, and had no microwave! I ended up calling the car, the microwave car – I was not pleased.

        I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, it’s never a problem for anyone else, but to do something for me, was always a big deal. I’d be afraid to ask, and walk on eggshells. In hindsight, it was not a good way to live. There was no respect, or kindness. Nice yes, but to everyone else.

      • My husband is a pilot and they are the biggest cheaters of all. Everyone thought he was a nice guy. My divorce was official March 16 2015. Recently I got a nail in my tire and when the roadside assistance arrived he told me there were no Nissan tools to change the tire. He said it was common for men to do this when they divorce. Also, my husband kept my half of the tax refund so I’m taking him to court to get it back. He played dirty during divorce mediation saying that I comitted credit card fraud. Of course all lies. What a fake.

        • So sorry about the treatment, but congrats on the divorce finalization! Time for a new screen name, as you are now the one flying free.

    • Exactly. Image management. I was married to the nicest, kindest covet narc and cheater. And it nearly killed me to walk away and get healthy.

      • Ditto that Heather. 38 years and 2 fine sons with a Covert Narc, passive agressive, serial cheater, and he’s stalling the divorce by not doing his financial disclosures. Now that he is living with Schmoopie, and she’s turning up the pressure, he won’t have an excuse not to marry her once the divorce is final. I can only imagine the stories he’s telling her. He will have to cut and run, or actually marry her if he can’t “Narc Nice” her into staying together without a legal committment. She thinks he is her golden ticket. Reality? He’s trapped! Right now she is supporting his life with her. He is spending every dime he makes, is in a huge lawsuit for fraud, paying for my separate legal defence in same lawsuit (I was completely in the dark, uninvolved, yet he made me an officer in his company without my knowledge thank you very much) paying off another huge legal judgement, has 2 accounts in collections, a 570 credit rating, where do I stop……? He is somehow paying our mortgage and the major expenses, and knows he will be expected to continue doing so in spousal support. Maybe the Karma Bus will be in the form of Schmoopie giving up her widow’s benefits and marring his broke, lying alcoholic ass. They can live happily ever after. I no longer want him, so why the hell does it hurt so much? It’s a trauma/betrayal bond. The tenticles go very deep.

        • Mine was so completely disconnected from me for our entire 10 years together, though nice to my face superficially, just like that total stranger in a grocery store. It was really confusing.

          I recall the lengths he’d go to for every stranger’s birthday, to solve every colleague’s problems. And when we finally agreed to separate, the conversation was so “nice.” Gee, he was just so helpful. It made me realize how little I ever mattered. There were never any real feelings involved, though he was certainly capable of them, as I’d see in the emails I’d hacked to his friends and lovers. He was real to everyone but me, it seemed. Or maybe he was never real to anyone.

          He was a classic narc – all about impression management. When his dad was dying he refused to cancel our vacation to be with his mom because it would have been “depressing.” But when his dad finally did die, you’d better believe he soaked up the sympathy and went about playing the role of the good and dutiful son to everyone who’d listen.

          When I finally stopped the game of tug of war – aka our marriage – I finally saw the whole relationship had consisted of me trying to move things forward and live like a normal couple, which is impossible with one person who is totally disengaged and has always been so. Stunning when you make that realization, really. But he was nice, everybody’s pal, and the life of the party. And that’s all that really counts with these narcs.

          • Emily, this is how my ex-husband was, except he was also good to me (I thought). For 21 years he made every birthday and Christmas special for me and was the one who liked to cook our meals. He loved cooking and used to want to be a chef. He also helped me clean and did the yard work. There was nothing lazy about him. He didn’t like to be bored (not tolerating boredom is one of the traits of a psychopath). Also, he was so good to his friends and his parents for the most part. He would do anything for his Dad. I wasn’t perfect in the marriage and had my own faults because of all the stresses of a business we had, but one of the things I could never get past was the fact that he would put me down in a joking way in front of his family and his friends. If he saw that it bothered me, he would run up to me, hug me and say “I’m just kidding baby”. He did this a lot and this was one of the things I resented about him. After awhile I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore and then he built up resentment towards me about it. This was his reasoning for leaving me for the Whore he lives with now.

            Anyway, he was cheating on me throughout our marriage. In fact, he left me for another woman 15 years ago, but we got back together a year later. I gave him another chance because I loved him. I found out about the affair by accident. He never confessed to me about it. That should have been a bad sign to me then (not confessing and feeling guilty), but narcissism wasn’t talked about at all back then. But of course even after we got back together he was cheating on me. Then about 2 and a half years ago he left me for another woman and they are still together. They were cheating behind my back for over a year before I found out. And I only found out after he left me. What’s so strange is that just 3 months before he left me he gave me a card that he signed saying that I was his everything. What a fake he was. All the while he was cheating behind my back. He used to get in a good mood sometimes and would smile at me and say…I love you baby while he was cheating. We had been fighting a lot the last 3 years before he left, but what he doesn’t realize is his actions behind my back with cheating added to our arguing.I just didn’t know it. HE said that’s why he left. We were fighting too much and were not having sex. Really? How about you lying and having an affair added to our stress? That didn’t make it better. What an idiot!! The trauma I have experienced from his actions do not seem to get better. I have a social life now and I go out a lot, but I don’t date. I can’t even stand the thought of being with anyone right now. I don’t trust any man.I even had to see a therapist for months. People on Chump Lady keep saying I will get better, but I keep waiting.. One day Emily I hope we both will be a lot better. I’m sorry for what you have gone through. I know it’s devastating. And it’s hard to recover for people over 50 too. I am 52.

      • Same here!!!! My abuser would not work in a steady job (nobody is the boss of him), I kept the rent, most bills and his sorry ass alive for 11 years. But when he got a ‘deal’ (averaging yearly income between $6-15,000), he would not share the money with me and kids (only leftover if there was), he would buy several presents for relatives, to show them what a generous guy he is!!!! Another ‘deal’ he would go for vacation in native India, because he is a nice guy and wanted his grandma to see kids. Never mind we were using food bank at times etc.
        Then he donated there in a orphanage and helped poor relatives (and made sure everyone knew). I was not clear on what was happening, but even though I was glad our money made a difference, I knew something was terribly wrong here. You see, I have never been even on honeymoon, or any other vacations, even for a day or the kids, until India a year ago. I stayed home with our severely autistic son, he has weaker immune system and is on a special diet. I did not mind was happy for the kids, but the bigger picture……
        Then he made ‘a big deal’ of 30,000 (only deal that year). He took 10,000 and gave it to his parents to help with their down-payment. We lost roof for his misappropriating even baby benefit that payed for rent, twice. I lived in a small 2 bedroom apartment, never saved for a down-payment or anything else. His parents already own a nice condo. Then ‘we’ bought them a new big TV, bigger and better than our 5 year old one.
        Then ‘we’ bought his brother a new big TV, all from his infrequent unreliable deals/commission based income…..not something a family can live on. Debts for electricity, frequently turned off to scramble a payment. But hey, what a Swell guy!!!! A ‘Jesus” guy!!!! Forgive me Lord to even mention your name in the same sentence. When I was in hospital with our autistic son for perforated appendicitis, which was not responding to any antibiotics for 3 weeks, he had to care for our children for the first time and cook a meal for him. Well my a bit clueless but good girlfriend called him up to drive her around town for some errands. Did not bother to even let me, his wife, know. (She is otherwise a very good person, I gave it to her then, and am working on my boundaries). So I found out he did not make his meal, my little boy dependent on that, was living on apple sauce and rice crispies for the day. You see, my friend said, that he is such a Nice Guy, she did not think she did something wrong!!!! He moved her house 5 times with our van!!! On days when we had outings, lessons, obligations…always available to others. I mean she thought he is so nice she does not need to exercise discretion or respect at all!!!! I have finally put an end to this for good, after years of being taken advantage of…but He keeps being the Nice guy to strangers to admire him. He was the Right Man of our pastor!!! As I was home six days a week alone, now it was seven (Saturdays!!!) Let me tell you how much the ‘pastor’ was motivated to ‘stop using him’ since he is also a husband and father. Hmmm..When children asked him recently when he was boasting to them about his charity if mommy also give the money…he said well mommy was officially with me then so I guess ..yes? Wow, really… Whatever, to us he was cruel, ruthless A–hole. But I’m the mean, hysterical creep, ungrateful and unapprectiative ‘female’. Ladies, you were not just chumped, you were abused by these human leeches. I can only wonder if I was also chumped. You see, when you are physically abused, depressed, barely making it through the day, your perception and senses are not sharp to ‘see’ very well. But we are heading out of this Hell Hole. Forge on.

        • Dear Sasanka,

          Oh so glad you found your way here! Wow! What a filthy, stinkin’ load of poo you have finally off loaded! Way to go! How ‘nice’is that! (Pun intended!)

          Just when I think I have heard it all, along comes another sordid tale directed by satan himself!

          Am so glad you are on the right road and have found ChumpLady to help you navigate the terrors! Any who have not been down this road may read what you wrote and say: “No Way! That’s all made up!”

          However, we here at the Nation know that type of poo is just another routine day for the passive-aggressive, looser-cruiser scum bag narcs we so naively paired up with!

          ForgeOn, all y’all…..

    • Lulu, yes, my husband was like this too….your example about your anniversary is right on. Even if WE had plans or a commitment, everyone else was priority. Mine was also viewed as such a nice guy. Toward the end of marriage I used to tell him he just needs this validation from other people that he has to please and help everyone but his wife and own children.

      He would run and be everyone’s Knight in Shining Armor. He was SO nice. BUT I came to realize myself he really wasn’t KIND….he donated blood all the time at work. No brained when a friend’s child had a serious illness and they were having a blood drive. He wouldn’t do it??!!! Oh well, if he donated AT WORK, he got release time\time off! He couldn’t with this. So he didn’t donate. TO A FRIEND OF OURS WHO HAD A SERIOUSLY ILL CHILD. And he would say such nasty things about people behind their backs after just being Mr. Wonderful to their face….just like the picture at the top of this post.

      He did so much of this, and toward the end of our marriage when it seemed to get worse I started calling him out more on this. But he was SO nice and I am sure I was the bitchy crabby wife! Ha ha

        • My first husband (not the cheater) was nicer to total strangers than he was to me. We would plan wonderful vacations and at the last minute Every Single Time he would cancel because so and so would be so disappointed if he didn’t finish the tile in her bathroom. And what would the strangers in the TV room think about him getting me a glass of wine at the Bed and Breakfast we were staying in on our 10 year anniversary?? He cared more about what total strangers thought than he ever cared about what I thought. And he always had 100 better things to do than be with his wife and child. I still regret not marrying my high school sweetheart.He was madly in love with me for years. He never would have cheated on me or treated me like that. I ran into him at my God child’s funeral a few months back. Of course he’s been happily married to the same woman for the past 35 years. *sigh*

          • I know!! That’s so frustrating, I can think of four other guys I knew in my youth that would have made better husbands! Most were mutual friends of cheater and I. They are genuinely good people. One of them was just texting me today, to say he hopes I’m OK, and that he loves my three sons.
            I think I subconsciously went for the ‘bad boy’, or the ‘guy with potential who’s a mess’, because of really bad FOO problems.

            • I dated some guys who seemed good at the time and ended up turning into total disasters, but l also turned down a few super nice guys because I was enamored with future husband the bad boy – paid dearly for that bad decision!!

              If you had asked me 5 years ago who the nicest guy I ever dated was, I would have told you a story of an easter basket I received in the mail when I was 19 from a sweet guy..he was so nice <>

              Well. 30 years later, Im going to marry him in 14 weeks, he is still nice and we are going to have a ton of fun.

              • Yes, life can be amazing sometimes. Me and sweet man actually met as children 40 yrs ago a thousand miles from where I live now. We met up again 10 yrs later when we were 19 and dated briefly. When husband died, my dad (who always thought a lot of this fellow) searched for him and found him single and 35 miles from me and our streets have the same name. He proposed on a trip to Turkey where we sailed the Aegean Sea.

                My life as a Chump (2005-2012) sucked and now it doesn’t anymore… granted results will vary… my story is a bit extreme but life is full of good things that might happen.

    • This is so hard to understand. I know a similar case (no cheating involved, but still similar). The woman works in a church. She married my relative. My relative’s children have had more than their share of horror stories to tell about her: gifts that went directly to the trash, harsh punishments, etc. She is all “God” this, “God” that, “I am blessed”, I noticed that she is using the possessive “my” a LOT more than other people (my man, my girls, my family…). When she looks at me it’s like black darts are coming out from her eyes. She hates my guts for no reason. I have been told “oh, don’t worry, she hates everybody”.
      Yet, she has a Facebook page, where she gets compliments all the time from strangers: “I love youuuu”, “You are so wonderful”, “Thank you so much”, etc. So weird. It’s like a dual personality. Cold and hateful in her home, sweet in the church and dedicated to complete strangers.

    • Lulu, exactly this! Mine made a dinner and movie date with me and when I got there looking forward to it (after driving a snowy highway for more than an hour), my then Mr. announced to me in front of pals at his convention that he’d volunteered to pick up a friend at the airport. At 7:30. PM. Being a well trained woman, I didn’t say anything his friends could hear but they sure saw the look in my eye when he told me. I was being painted as the Crazy Woman, so when he came to me all apologetic and condescending, it was an act. What I was upset about didn’t get discussed in front of anyone. Stupid me. Even after I caught on to that bullshit, I still couldn’t handle an embarrassing public scene. Played right into his hands. And, of course, he was a Great Guy.

    • My XSIL is one of these people. A cheater like her brother (my XH), she spends her time and energy trying to impress everyone but her neglected family. Everyone loves her, she volunteers for every event and committe and makes sure everyone knows it by putting it all on Facebook.

    • My soon to be ex Fucktard is very nice indeed! Nice enough to go down town pick up hookers and give them a ride to our home if they dont have a car. Nice enough to troll online for a ho who needs a place to stay and offer a free room in exchange for sex so they dont have to worry about paying rent. Hell yeah he’s a nice guy, even offered me a good life with him as long as I’m willing to forget about everything he’s done and just start over. He has a lot of good advice to offer me too, if I’m short on money I can always hang out at truck stops and suck dick for Its easy money (he knows for a fact)

      • Bastet – I get stupid ass remarks like that too. A friend of mine and I went on a short vacation down to Texas to visit my cousin. After returning home I got the snide remarks eluding to the rationalization that the reason my friend and I went to Texas was to whore ourselves out. And when I go out to dinner with a girlfriend (every once and a great while), I am told not to go to that particular restaurant because the guys there aren’t Italian. I need a German guy… It gets old!

      • It’s all too familiar. Sick f-her after figured out his double life, 10 years while donking prositutes, BJ’s at the local strip club, travel whores and any other person he could imagine impress or pay. His next step was my children’s friends, all teenagers. He is a pervert- I married a pervert. Puke!
        It’s just heartbreaking how easy this behavior was for him while coming home to our family with superior face in tac.

        • Dsredding–Yeah, what’s up with the hitting on your kid’s friends? My X didn’t (thank goodness), but my narc father was a little too enthusiastic to talk to my high school friends who were attractive or really good athletes. Creepy, creepy mf-ers.

    • This! Exactly this!!!

      For so long, I felt like ** I ** was the crazy one. My STBX is the “World’s Greatest Guy”…. Everyone says so!

      But, he was only great if he was getting credit for being great.

      I guess us poor schmucks at home didn’t give him enough of the credit he deserved….

      Thank you, Lulu for sharing your truth!!!

    • Lulu, you have described my ex perfectly. So nice, so kind, so helpful and wonderful to everyone except me. Everyone thought he was the best guy ever. And that adoration from others supplied all the kibble he needed…. there was no reason for him to treat me well, because I wasn’t a kibble dispenser, I was simply there to keep the house looking good, take care of our son and most of all, make it appear that ex was a straight, family-oriented good guy.

      To this day, I still sometimes doubt myself, wondering how ex could be such a wonderful guy to so many, and yet I see him as a horrible person. It’s the ultimate mind fuck.

      • This was my life exactly; you are not alone. I also doubt myself some days but try to remember to Trust That He Sucks.

      • “because I wasn’t a kibble dispenser, I was simply there to keep the house looking good, take care of our son and most of all, make it appear that ex was a straight, family-oriented good guy”

        This ^^^^^ exactly. The moment my XH realised that I was not going to maintain my part in this sharada he set about boosting his good guy profile and pointing the finger at me as the issue.
        This makes me so made. My XH is such a good guy that although he has proven himself to be a pathological serial cheater who lied and covered his shit for years. People who know the truth are still swayed by that good guy act and accept anything he says because why would such a good guy lie to them? He only did it to me because I a made him.

    • oh me too *raises hand* this is how my exhole was also. that is what i was thinking as i read this one. exhole was kind to everyone. he would stop and pick up your groceries that broke out of the bag. he would often get mad at me for cutting off someone in the grocery store who was just standing there looking at the shelves. then apologize to the stranger. he would help strangers who were broke down at the side of the road, he helped umpteen people move over and over and over. he enjoyed working and fixing cars for the old people who did not have a lot of money, heck he even would go mow their yard and pick up their trash.

      but anytime i asked him to do something, he would not do it. i asked him once to change the oil in my truck for me and i got “why should i, i dont drive that truck” WTF are you kidding? your wife does and with your kids. i could never get him to mow our yard or pick up the trash. i would ask him to do something and he would agree but say he will get it on his next day off (because he works so much harder then i did) and then never got to it unless i screamed and nagged him. and then YEP….i was a nag. i have never been a nag in my life but it was easy to be one after waiting for months sometimes years to get him to do something.

      he would even talk nice to everyone else but never say much to me. it used to kill me when we would be in a group of people and i would look across the room and see him going on and on with someone he just met. he was nice and kind to everyone but his family. my children think daddy is always mad. he never compliments me (or them) unless i said something. which didnt mean as much if i had to beg for it. he did help around the house quite a bit but did sh*t so half ass, it was more of a curse then a blessing. and yet i still had to thank him repeatedly for washing half the dishes or cleaning half the living room.

      he told me once that it makes him feel good to help other people. i told him i understand that as i like to help people too (not just people who sit on their ass, partying and then ask for help to pay their bills after they spent all their paycheck on beer and drugs) but i asked him why didnt it make him feel good to help his wife and children…..crickets. i never did get an answer.

      i also think it was just me. because he seems to be doing everything for chewbacca. of course she respects him so much more then i did. And she lets him drink after a hard days work to relax.

      • Oh i forgot to say, that was one of the things that attracted me to him. because he “seemed” so selfless and caring towards others. and he still was, probably still is today, Just. Not. To. Me.

        i was the one who gave him everything. i was the one who fixed everything he fucked up. i was the one who forgave him and loved him. i was the one who stood by his side for 14.5 years. but it doesnt matter. no loyality for the woman who gave him 2 sons and a good life.

        • Yes, and for all that we do there is not an ounce of love of kindness. We get just the opposite. They are really damaged individuals when thy can walk away with absolutely no remorse.

        • Mrs Vain…yes, that is what I fell in love with…that he was so caring! “The caring” in the marriage though ended for our children and me yet was given to EVERYONE ELSE in his universe. We. Never. Even. Mattered.

          • Don’t forget that if we tried to assert ourselves and our wants/needs more than once we were the “nags” and “controlling”
            And yes, I fell for the nice guy act also. Kind and warm to everyone but me. The one who ran everything while he was deployed. The one who slept alone worrying about his safety while he was actually bonking someone else in the combat zone. So glad he’s gone.

  • My STBXW can be nice. I am trying to think of a situation in our 15 year (or thereabouts) history when she was kind as you describe. She has done kind things, sure, but often complained about having to be the one to do them.

    She certainly is the type that wants to appear nice and by her own admission wants to “be friends with everybody.”

    I am not sure how she is reacting internally to me being cold, calm, and collected until she moves out, and not looking at her unless I have to do so, etc. And I don’t really care, because we’re at the stage where I need to protect myself more than I need her to feel as though we can be friendly. She certainly hasn’t mustered up sorry.

    I was actually nice and told my cheater my plan: a) if she wanted divorce immediately as she said she did, she could either file herself & move out, or she could wait for me. If/when I filed, it would mean the death of our relationship – coparenting only, no friendship possible whatsoever, because nobody screws me over like that and gets to call me a friend (sorry, I’ve way too much self-respect for that). Or, b) she could sign a post-nup and try MC, and if it legitimately didn’t work out then we could divorce as friends.

    She chose option a through inaction. So I lawyered up, got all of my ducks in a row and outfitted for legal battle, filed, and am making good on my promises.

    To our credit, I think many chumps *have* to be kind, in that we give some chance to the cheater to pony up and do the right thing, because we honestly feel that giving them that chance is also the right thing to do.

    So… I say be nice/civil only to the degree that you need to be (coparenting, settlement, etc.). You don’t need to be kind to the cheater. History has clearly shown you that if you do, that person will almost certainly take advantage of that kindness and manipulate it to serve their own needs above those of any one else.

    • This could be a template for how to deal with a cheating spouse without getting bogged down in Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse.

    • I like your 3 options. I just told my husband that I want a separation, and I’m not sure how to handle the rest. I don’t want revenge… I just want him to “get it”. I’m 3 years from Dday, and one thing I’ve learned from this miserable, heartbreaking mess is that I can’t fix him. He is responsible for his own enlightenment. If/when he chooses to develop empathy, kindness and a moral conscience, he will. I’ve waited 3 years. I’m done waiting for him to change. He’s losing SO much… if this doesn’t change him nothing will.

      • ItsAJourney–the most likely scenarios: 1. They will NEVER “get it.” 2. If they do “get it,” it will be fleeting, and the gaslighting of you will resume. 3. If they do “get it” they will rationalize “it” away or disagree.

        It will n.e.v.e.r alter their behavior. E.v.e.r.

        • Tempest is absolutely correct….. this is a REPEAT performance for my cheater X, ten years ago he had a Narcissistic Breakdown and started having an affair and really didn’t try to hide it well (same this time) and BLEW up his entire marriage of 12 years and walked away from her and 3 kids. Ten years later…. 8 years in…. another child……. and he is doing an encore performance. While he has “changed” in a few ways….. the inability to function properly in a relationship and to curb his selfishness are still present. From what his ex-wife says…. he has been “better” with me….. but the same issues are there…. just dulled a little bit. Their inability to face reality inhibits them from facing the truth about their pain, they are so busy blaming everyone that they can’t realize it is their own coping skills that sabotage their lives and that THEY are the cause of the pain.

      • in my case exhole did not CARE what he was losing. i was stuck in the “he is losing so much” stage also. but it finally dawned on me. HE. DID. NOT. CARE. because sweetheart if he truly cared about what he was losing he would have never put him self in the position to lose it in the first place.

        you are projecting your goodness, your feelings on to him. he does not want to change because it does not matter to him. he can find another one just like you to take your place. he is happy with the way he is, in his eyes it is not a loss only a change in players. sorry if that is harsh but it is real.

        take care of yourself. He never will.

        • SPOT ON MrsVain!! All of THIS ^^^ is exactly right. “in his eyes it is not a loss only a change in players.”

          By the time they “discard” they are already done…. the decision to eliminate inadequate supply has been made, the replacement has already been chosen.

          My X’s life is SO screwed up…. once in the midst of the affair when I was sobbing and begging for answers he actually said “she is the only thing that is keeping me from going over the edge, I can’t take it anymore.” His masochistic avoidance has destroyed his financial existence…. and he is still digging the hole deeper… so in my opinion…. Schmoopie must not be all sunshine and rainbows or he wouldn’t still be acting so fucked up…. he’d be trying to straighten his shit up. He doesn’t seem to be on “good” behavior to me….. still in crash mode.

      • I waited 36 years for x to get it. The only thing he got was std from one of the women he was dating. It gets worse every year you stay.

  • My kids and I also had this discussion recently after watching “Into the Woods.” The Wolf, nice is not the same as good.. and Prince Charming, taught to be charming, not sincere.

    Both fit cheaters.
    As for me ex, he was the nice guy, but in hindsight not kind. I used to volunteer us to help friends move, and he got tired of it, but never said anything to me until years later. Post divorce, multiple colleagues and acquaintances came up to me and mentioned how he was superficial, nice on the surface, but never any depth to the conversations. He never let you know what he was thinking. One acquaintance even told me she pushed him on his narrative, she thought they were friends and could do that… And he told her to f*#k off. So, turned out, nice talk, but no real friendship.

    So, in the end, Nice, not Kind: cared about impression management, did not really care about the person he was interacting with….

    • I thought of that movie too with the nice vs. kind! Which, BTW, I was upset when a character cheats (whom I had liked up that point) and then sings a very cheater-y song. But then falls off a cliff. So. Hi there, Karma.

  • “Thank you for not divorcing me and taking my 401K”. ^^^^THIS^^^^ I am treading water in this self-same wading pool at this time. I keep looking for the shark fins on the surface…..it’s more uncomfortable with the “courtesy window dressing”, knowing he’s still dead behind the eyes…..

  • My STBX was most often described as an asshole by his friends…pretty telling. I saw glimpses of kindness over our 20 year relationship, but they seemed to be made to help manage his image.

    • Yup, it was easy to win the public relations war–most people thought my X was an arrogant asshole. Know he was nicest to? Young women coming up in the profession….hmmm…wonder why.

  • Yep, I had a “nice” cheater….he divorced me (after his 4th AP) and I STILL don’t have my half of the 401K, that he owes me (a year later)! He still trying to sell his “nice” to people!

  • I also think there is some relationship between their trying to appear nice and the “word salad” type of language some of them use, like Esther Perault. Seems to me that they try so hard to appear evolved, tolerant, open minded etc by using this flowery language without substance.
    My first XW was very new age, evolved etc. She would fit right in, immediately, with whatever super evolved group she joined, picking up the lingo, acting as if she understood all these weird concepts and could empathize with the folks in the group.
    In no time, she would be a leader with a cult like following of weak minded group members. They think she is a virtual Ghandi.
    None of them have any idea of how she tried to break up marriages of the men she bedded or how she was always trying to shuffle off our disabled son to temporary group homes every weekend when he was just a little kid ( It terrified him and , I would go and get him and keep him with me(this, BTW, incensed her)).
    In general, I think these cheaters, disordered assholes of the first magnitude, have perfected, through years of practice, the art of fooling people into believing they are someone they are not.
    I now sit back and watch my XWs do this , albeit in different fashions. The first is great at appearing sophisticated and compassionate , very new age evolved. The second has perfected the ” all American girl next door ” persona.
    But, when you stop and look at their behavior that outsiders are unaware of, they are amazingly evil.

    • Watch what they do, not what they say.

      I never ever ever trust new-agey types, and especially the type who adopt new-age type religions or who decide at mid-life to go to the seminary. They’re not all cheaters, but many of them are very unsettled on the inside, and while I applaud their efforts to become enlightened, I see a lot of effort, and not a lot of enlightenment, and I got my own problems. I also tend to see a lot of defensiveness and hypocrisy. But, that’s just me. I prefer to take advice from boring people who seem like they know what they’re doing.

      The girl next door would confuse me more. So I suppose my first sentence here comes into play.

      It warms my heart that you would go rescue your boy like that. Awwww….!

    • the homewrecker hood rat is like that. she “Says” all the right things. is super accepting of everyone, it is not her job to judge people. she even told me she “doesnt hate me, she respected me”. of course i told her “you didnt respect my marriage to my husband when you were f*cking him) and of course i got no response to that.

      but a few people have come up to me and told me she is “NICE” GAG!!! sure she is nice, if it doesnt bother you that she f8cked married men, if it doesnt bother you that she is STILL married and f*cking around, if it doesnt bother you that she bailed and abandoned her own children, then i guess she is a good person then. she told me in the beginning how “She respected my exhole” a few weeks later she is driving his low rise truck over the curb. SMDH yep that is respectful huh.

      it seems that everyone is so fooled by her but i just took one look in her dead eyes and saw the devil inside. she is evil but she hides it well. boyman can not think for himself so i know everything he said and did was coming from her. she manipulated him into thinking it was ok to leave his wife, it was the best thing for everyone (me, children and him) not to come home and make our marriage work since we had soOOOoo many problems (but when asked what problems he couldnt come up with anything), she thru a fit when i suggested he visit his children without her and in the end made him believe it was some twisted reason i was doing that instead of it being in the best interest of the kids.

      but then again……He. Let. Her.
      her word was truer then my word even thou everything i said and did was in his best interest.
      she still has him fooled. *shrugs* maybe that is what he wanted.

      • He’s not fooled really. That is what he wants because even with her, he hears every third word or in other words Just What He Wants To Hear. And this is a good thing in the long run for you and your boys. It keeps him occupied while you become more mighty. Fortunately, kids are resilient, not like what that thing told your stupid x, but they will adjust to what their lives are now. You got a blessing served on a plate, when you got sole custody of your kids, use it to your advantage. That your idiot x can’t, won’t of doesn’t see that you are trying to give him a gift (sharing your kids with a person who has no legal right to them) is on his stupid ass. But that you are there for your kids, that is the greatest gift that you can give your kids. These things that we were married to, they don’t count now, they don’t matter anymore. That their lives may “look” good or ok, that’s not for us to care about anymore. You know what lurks under that seemingly looking human, not a damn thing. He’s an empty, affirmation seeking, soulless nothing. They are shadows of what a regular person is and that right there is there Karma. They will never, ever get what they want, what they truly seek, a soul. They sold it a long time ago and there is nothing that will get it back for them. That is their curse.

      • “a few people have come up to me and told me she is “NICE” ”

        MrsVain, I have had this too. These people’s idea of “nice” and mine are worlds apart. When you actively pursue another woman’s husband does not make a “nice” person. Evil, manipulating, and have a moral compass of zero is more like it. I even had my cousin say to me how lovely the OW is. I said I’m glad you think so but keep an eye on your husband, she likes other women’s husbands. My cousin hasn’t really spoken to me since.

        • I knew my exH’s OW for 20 years, She had always been a ‘nice’ person. Not so much a friend, more of an acquaintance. We didn’t have much in common apart from our husbands being workmates and having kids the same age. She helped me make curtains and had some of our baby guinea pigs, our kids played together and we occasionally had dinner with them. So, yes she was ‘nice’.

          In fact she was SO nice, she saved my exH from his miserable marriage and his terrible wife.

    • These Narcs morph into whatever persona is needed at the moment to gain a foot hold on their prey! Some are extremely expert at the game. My ex wasn’t that good, but still managed to recreate a persona on Facebook where he had legions of followers telling him how funny and talented he seemed! These folks NEVER met him in person, but the MOW now Schmoopie that he shacks up with! It’s funny in an ironic way because his own family always mentioned what a grump and a stick in the mud he was! Once we split up his own siblings told me how they couldn’t stand his obnoxious ass! My siblings told me they always found him arrogant and stand offish! I was shocked! I thought everyone liked him, but nobody misses him at all!

    • @ Arnold…… you can tell a LOT about these disordered assholes when you see how they treat their children. When I met X I remember that I was SO impressed with how he called his children from previous marriage at night before bed…… until he didn’t. Once he got comfortable the “show” stopped and he no longer had to try so hard.

      His visitation schedule with children from previous marriage is Wednesdays and every other weekend (plus alternating holidays). Please ask me HOW many Wednesday visitations he has actually attended since his divorce 10 years ago…….NOT EVEN ONE!!! His ex-wife and kids live about 30 minutes away from us. HOW friggen SAD is that??? I tried talking to him about that too….. keeping them overnight wouldn’t have worked but he could have at LEAST went out there once a month or every other Wednesday and took them to dinner. Nope. They tell ME and their Mom that he is selfish….. but they never tell him….. too bad, he should know. Sadly… he doesn’t understand WHY they don’t go out of their way for him.

  • Hmmm. Interesting. My stbx would do nice things for others every now and then, and he made damn sure we all knew about it every time. True acts of kindness are performed without expectation of reward or affirmation.

    • ^^^^^^THIS^^^^^

      the expectation of a reward or gratitude. god forbid if you did not say anything about some little thing he did for us. That most normal people do for their families every day without thinking. we had to acknowledge his deed and then shower him with gratitude and thanks. how lucky we were for him doing that.

      fuckin black holes that they are. cant ever just do something because it is the right thing to do.

      • “That most normal people do for their families every day without thinking.”

        I’m chuckling here as I recall how he would nudge me to get feedback over the most mundane things. “Did you see how I did the dishes??” or “Did you see how I made the bed?” Later on it became a statement, like “It was nice of me to put the garbage out before I left for work.”

        Black hole for sure.

  • My cheater was neither nice nor kind but the worst of it fell to me. Oddly enough, both he and his dad would have been described as “great guys” by nearly everyone – except their wives. Late husband had a fabulous sense of humor, very witty and clever and intelligent but with me, he used it as an escape hatch to never be responsible for what he said…he pathologically and manipulatively used humor to keep me off balance and never have to be responsible for anything he ever said…it was cruel and selfish.

    • This sounds like the poison that runs through my ex’s family. Several men in his family are exactly the same. People they work with think they are funny, smart and “nice.” Then they come home and are cruel to their family, while clinging to the image of themselves that everyone else sees. They blame their family for their inner demons while yelling about how everyone else thinks their nice guys.

  • I was chumped a little over 3 years ago, and last year I stuck my toe back into the dating “pool”. I met a man who was “nice” (he was a SELF-PROFESSED “nice guy”. I know, I know, HUGE red flag!) I heard several people tell him that he was a “nice guy” and he almost seemed to get off on hearing that. But he has also described himself as an “asshole”. O.k. dude…which one IS IT?! Maybe he thinks of himself as a “nice asshole”…

    To make a long story short, after dating him for several months, it turned out that he wasn’t so “nice”. He was one of those emotionally unavailable men (at least, to ME), who I later discovered, had been pining away for his MARRIED ex-“girlfriend”. He failed to tell ME that our ‘relationship’ was over, and had been spreading lies and half-truths to people we both know and work with. He will be “nice” to your face, and talk badly about you behind your back.

    My only saving grace was that I realized that he did this with EVERYONE, and not just ME, and that at least SOME people see him for who he really is.

    Luckily, I didn’t waste YEARS with him, like I did my previous cheater. Yaaaay! I’m finally LEARNING!!!

    • “He will be “nice” to your face, and talk badly about you behind your back.” THIS! It took me years to figure this out- that not only was he doing it to all his ‘friends’ and co-workers when he was with me, but that he was saying the same sort of things about me, behind my back, casting doubt everywhere. He would set me up before I was introduced to anyone by saying dubious things about the person, alerting me to possible negative influences, as if no one was ever as good as they might seem. (Projection right there!)
      If I thought they were genuinely good people, he would undermine my responses. He ALWAYS played devil’s advocate- or said that’s what he was doing. I remember one of our friend’s saying “just when you think you’ve had a discussion about something and that you were both on the same page, he’d suddenly turn it all around and take the opposite side.” It’d make your head spin, trying to figure out what he REALLY stood for. The thing is- he hates everything. I know that now, and it’s impossible for him to align himself with anything for very long. After building a house on shifting sand, I look for what is solid. Thank you Chump Nation for providing solid ground.

  • Kindness can come across as firm and blunt. Thank God for the kind friends who pushed me to have a backbone when the poo was hitting the fan! I am so grateful for that sort of kindness even though it wasn’t the warm fuzzy “nice” sort of thing. I needed it.

    • I took an assertiveness training class once. It was GREAT.

      People think I’m super assertive because I speak up and speak out. But the truth is, I’m a chump, and if someone says, “Boo!” I will jump back and get into place. I’m learning, though, and truly, with experience comes wisdom.

      One of my favorite lessons from that class was that assertiveness does NOT mean aggression, it means speaking the truth in a MUTUALLY respectful way. It means setting up a win-win situation, even while advocating for YOURSELF in the process! It is the kindest way to speak, because it puts everything on the table. It leave both parties with a good feeling (unless the other guy was hoping to screw you over.)

      And, don’t we ALL wish we had the sort of friend who would have our backs and not be afraid to point out where we can do better, and to give good, blunt advice? That’s a TRUE friend who will do that for us. That is REAL kindness–not the sort of superficial relationship that is expedient for the other person. That is real love.

      Which is better–the person who tells you straight up that you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe? Or the person who doesn’t want to embarrass you with the truth? I’ll take the first friend, any day. Give it to me straight, or don’t waste my time at all.

  • My exH told me that his (just widowed) OW had said how ‘kind’ he was…

    So kind, that he plotted to leave his family for her, hid assets, moved to a secret address and went no contact with his own kids for nearly a year.

    That’s the sort of ‘kindness’ I can live without.

  • Mr. Cheaterpants was actually the nicest man I ever dated. He brought me flowers and a card on my birthday, even though we had only known each other 2 weeks at that point. He always complimented my outfit, earrings, shoes, hair, etc. He instantly included me in family occasions (his son’s birthday BBQ), and was welcoming to my teenage daughter. He always asked how my parents were doing, and even after we broke up he still emailed that he missed me and wanted to catch up on how I and my family were doing. But it never seemed to bother him that he turned out to be actually STILL MARRIED to his alleged “ex-wife” and had lied repeatedly about being divorced, AND had another girlfriend in California that “he couldn’t break up with just yet because her dog had died”. Well, we dated for most of a YEAR before I put the puzzle pieces together, so I’m sure his “nice” was really endless cake, and the thrill of multiple unsuspecting women doing the Pick-Me Polka.

  • I hate nice!!! My cheater’s whole family is nice ! When I first met them they all just talked about the rain…”do you think it will rain today? It rained yesterday! Maybe it will rain tomorrow?” Who gives a fuck about the rain? Nobody got in my face and asked a thing about me. Wouldn’t it have be appropriate to ask how my cheater and I met? Where I’m from? Where our relationship is going? Nope, and my questions were met with surprise? My cheater’s whole demeanor changed too! He let go of my hand as soon as we were spotted and took on a strange aire as if he didn’t know me. Should have run like hell. I hate superficiality, small talk, weather talk, and have a nice day bullshit…I have never said that to anyone ever. Kindness can make a difference on every level….have a nice day is just wasted words and fake!

    • Yes, my “nice” neighbor, who likes to talk about the rain or the sun…is (I am almost certain) the one who called to report me to the Homeowner’s Association for too-tall grass, even though she knows I *just* went through a divorce and am now a single mother. She could have left a note on the door, or talked to me (I’ve known her for 13 years). Saw through her “nice” years ago.

      “Sanctimonious bitch” is my preferred term for her.

      • Isn’t that fabulous? It doesn’t cost a fucking dime to be decent, but there it is. If reporting you to the HOA is all it takes to give her a jolly, take pity on her and her pathetic, pissy little life. She is a permanently miserable person, but your life is improving every day without your X, so fuck her.

        BTW, in my world, HOA = POS. Lived in one once, and they never enforced the rules that had real meaning or actually took effort. I once was reported because I had a motion sensor over the front door to turn the porch light on, and it was white instead of cream-colored to match the door trim. Not kidding.

        • Egads, SixYearChump!! You had !white! instead of a cream motion sensor!!! It’s a good thing we no longer put people in stocks, eh, or you’d be a prime candidate for them, eh?

          I had little tolerance for pettiness prior to D-day; I have no tolerance for it now at all.

    • i talk that way to strangers. i can talk to a stranger for hours and yep they think i am nice. but at home it is different, at home and with my family i am honest and straight to the point. exhole family is like that also. talking about everything and everybody. gossiping about who is in jail, who did this and that but would never talk about the serious things. they all gloss over the reasons why they did things or what they themselves did. i hated all that talk. exhole mom (the one he told me he didnt know where she was and hasnt seen in years) came for a visit suddenly, she spent the entire 5 hours talking about stupid shit, like where she got her purse and how her sister stole 20 dollars from her. she never once asked about the baby in my belly, when it was due, if and when or how was our wedding. if he or i worked. hell she didnt even ask him how have you been son. i knew something was very very NOT right then, i just did not think HE was like his mom thou. took me YEARS to figure what it was that was NOT right and that he is just like his mom.

  • My X played the “nice” game for all it was worth and when the realization hit me that this was just an extension of the continued gas lighting he has always used, well let’s just say it went from nice to vile and back so often I didn’t know if he was going to have a mental breakdown.
    “I can’t stop doing nice things for you”
    “I want to buy you nice things” “it’s your fault I do these nice things, I just want you to smile and be happy” “your lawyer doesn’t know how nice I really am and what kind of special relationship we have”. Replace the word lawyer with therapist, family, friends and so on.
    Forget that he moved his ex wife from 25 years ago across the country to start a new life, “look I bought you a nice set of monogrammed towels from Kmart (on sale) isn’t that nice”.
    He got caught going to weekly happy ending massage parlors (not exactly the kind of thing a cop wants to get caught doing) “look I bought you “Big bang theory” bobble head dolls. I can’t help being nice to you, you make it so hard to stop. I will never stop doing nice things for you as long as I live”
    He has absolutely no clue what “nice” is “It would be so nice to still be friends” “Wouldn’t it be nice to go out to dinner” “nice to reconcile” “nice to put our marriage back together”
    What was “nice” was to see the karma bus run their asses over, the 7 months of NC was nice, the fact that I came out of this stronger than ever is nice, that I don’t need you or want you in my life is nice.
    It’s nice to be in the place that I’m am.

    • Lisa, love it. Mine, during our 30 year marriage, was absolutely vile to me at home, seldom a compliment or kind word, but always reminded me that he never said anything bad about me to his friends-always told them about my accomplishments with some pride (but never wanted to socialize because they would pay more attention to me than to him and that bothered him…sick). Like this should be enough! All it did was, in his mind, make him look like he deserved such a great gal…..ugh. My parents used to do this, too, talked me up outside, then were obnoxious to me at home, I couldn’t do anything right or well enough. It’s so twisted that I can’t even explain it – this is someone who absolutely drips superficial friendliness, no depth at all, lives for attaboys from the outside, and I didn’t see it for what it was until about 15 years into the thing….

      • Mine claimed he always said nice things about me to others. He must have forgotten the multiple affair partners, several of whom assumed he would leave his wife for them since his wife was so awful, dontchaknow?

        • i actually used to have his people (strangers to me thou) randomly come up to me in stores or on the street and tell me how exhole talks so good about me. how he says all these nice things about me. i was always shocked because HE NEVER TOLD ME anything. one time during a difficult times, he sat and talked to my cousin and my cousin came up to me (While exhole was across the room) telling how much exhole loved me and how hurt he was because i thought this and that and how he just wanted us to make up……again i was shocked because for 2 weeks that man did not say a SINGLE word to me.

          • My stbx would do the same thing…speak really well of me to others (because it made HIM look good) and be abusive to me in private. One year, for his birthday, I threw him a big party and invited lots of people. Two young men from his work came and at some point in the evening came to tell me how stbx “loved me so much and said I was such a great person and the best thing that ever happened to him.” I was gob-smacked. I looked at them and said “you can’t be serious…all he ever tells me is that I’m so fucked-up in the head that nobody could ever like me and that the only reason he stays married to me is that I’m so pathetic nobody else would ever want me.” I have never forgotten the look on their faces. I will never forget the look on their faces.

      • My ex rarely said nice things to me when we were alone, but he would play up the part of adoring husband in front of others or on Facebook. Typical example — on our 20th anniversary, he barely paid any attention to me, gave me a gross joke card about sex with whips and chains. Yet he wrote this gushing post on Facebook about our 20 years of marriage, and then spent most of the day tracking exactly how many people commented or “liked” what he wrote.

        • Funny, my Mr. Nice Guy would go on about all his wonderfulness on the internet with my family. My aunts, uncles, brother, cousins knew more about what he was doing for all his friends and workmates from his facebook. He’d fawn all over my family about their accomplishments; odd thing was he never mentioned a damn thing about his wife and his children to the very people he was trying to impress.
          One of my aunts actually referred to him as an absentee husband and father based solely on his facebook posts. Her quote “how can he go on about what a great family man he is when I see zero pictures of you or the kids on his “…ing ” wall. She figured it looked like he was single the whole time he was in touch with anybody in my family. They started placing bets on when the marriage would end.
          Too bad I hated the whole narcissistic aspect of facebook and never actually created a page or presence for myself. I missed out on the x’s assholian approach to keeping in touch with MY family. At least they recognized his innate not niceness!

        • GladIt’sOver……ah, yes, the love affair with Facebook. Mr. Wonderful’s freakish, slavish devotion to his multiple devices was one of the many red flags that our marriage was over. The merest possibility that someone, ANYONE (other than myself, of course) might need him/IM him/email him/mention him on FB was integral to his joy. i laugh at it now, I mean, truly, it’s pathetic, but I will admit that I stopped loving him because of it. And I loved him through a lot more challenging, idiosyncratic, OCD behavior than that, but it became the straw that broke this chump’s back. I’m so happy to be at meh. And I’m thrilled to be happy. And it’s fun to throw some of the same shit behavior back at him, I enjoy his discomfort. I know, that sounds evil, but payback remains a bitch : )

      • Smart is hard: THIS!!!!!—> “absolutely vile to me at home, seldom a compliment or kind word, but always reminded me that he never said anything bad about me to his friends-always told them about my accomplishments with some pride”

        We lived the same life !! Both my parents and my latehusband were horrible to me (endlessly insulting and belittling) then went out to their friends and bragged about my competence and accomplishments. Yes, it made him look great to have a gal like me but he wouldn’t admit I was less than crap behind closed doors. He especially bragged about me to his parents – whatever the hell that meant is forever a mystery to me.

        I once asked my mother why she never said a kind word to me and she said “I brag about you to my friends all the time”. She is only 72 but drank herself into dementia and illness…those friends are now gone like the wind. If my dad dies before her, her mean ass self will go into a nursing home …I wont care what she says about me to her chums there.

        • We really do pick the same shit sandwich-it’s what we are used to, and insecurity from growing up in a stupid environment kinda withers our intuitive antenna. That said, I can appreciate your writing your mother off-she was hateful and deserves no better. I do the same thing now-don’t want to waste one more second on anyone who hurt me intentionally. Hard choice, but feels right.

  • I love this post. It describes my Ex to a T. He was SO nice, so charming, so SEEMINGLY selfless and sincere. He brought me lunch at my work almost every day. He bought me thoughtful gifts on holidays and my birthday. Sent me flowers and went out to pick up chocolates, just because I was craving some. He kissed me passionately when we stopped at red lights. He told me that he loved me with every bit of his heart and soul, forever and ever, for 17 YEARS.

    He also screwed almost every friend I had, our nanny, and probably my sister (new revelation just now surfacing, blech). He bought prostitutes like they were going out of style. He worked at a non-profit and stole Christmas gifts for homeless kids and gave them to people we knew, so he’d get credit for being generous. He was a closet drug user and alcoholic, as well as a physical abuser. But oh how people loved him! So fun! Always so upbeat and nice! Even got an official work award for being the Social and Morale Leader of the company, because he was “such a positive influence” on the rest of the 500+ employees.

    But I’ve learned my lesson. The surface stuff is lovely, but it means nothing if the rivers underneath don’t run deep. I’ll take kindness, true kindness, over niceness any day. Character over personality. Loyalty over “fun”. I’ve had enough of the sociopathic assholes.

      • Yes, character over personality…..The last time I spoke to the XBF (I will NEVER call him ‘my’ XBF again cos he never was “MINE”), I told him that he would never be in my proximity again, I refused to ever be around him again.

        In an attempt to be ‘cute’, he asked “Why? Do I stink?” (he knows he doesn’t–he is fastidious about cleanliness and always smelled delicious).

        and my reply was “No, but your CHARACTER does”

        and I hung up the phone….I have held firm to my statement–no contact whatsoever no matter how hard he tries.

        There were many times when we had plans to do something but he would suddenly have ‘friends’ who needed ‘help/counseling/moral support/him watch the kids while friend was in hospital after major accident/the needy needing food (not kidding about that one), etc but he was actually going off to be with one of his harem of ho’s.

        The ‘accident’ story was broached shortly after midnight on NY Eve while we were out dining and dancing. I was having the best time of my life and after returning from the ladies room, he told me he had just received a call that his best friend had been in a wreck and his wife asked if he could he come watch the kids. He dumped me back at home, did not change from his tux, took no overnight bag nor toiletries.

        He remained gone (with infuriatingly minimal contact) for 4 days before he came home still drunk from the night before at 9am. He was wearing casual clothes that were very familiar though he claimed they belonged to his friend. He’d been with his perpetual collusion partner, his ‘former’ GF. She is as disordered as he is. I just learned she recently married for the 8TH TIME.

        As I am aware of just how hard life is treating him after I dismissed him from my life and home, the Karma bus keeps stopping for him and taking him for ride after ride. He’s reaping what he’s sown all his life and I couldn’t be happier for him.

        • Oh my goodness, he was just like my Ex! What a POS! Looking back, it’s amazing how many lies there were, for example…

          When we were dating, we used to go by and visit an old friend of his who worked at a makeup counter, when we were at the mall. Then, we just stopped visiting her. After about 6 months or so, I realized that we never stopped by anymore, and I asked, “hey how come we never visit your old friend anymore?” He looked at me for a second, then blurted out, “she died.” Seriously, that was what he came up with. I was like, “what? She DIED? What do you mean, what happened???” His response, “breast cancer.” I was so shocked, I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t believe it. Out of the blue like that, she just died. And he’d never said anything, never visited her in the hospital, never went to her funeral, nothing. I figured it was just very sudden and too traumatic for him.

          Fifteen years later, long after dday, this memory resurfaced. I got curious. And discovered how amazing it is that neither of his “old friend’s” 2 current, active FB accounts say anything about her death 15 years ago! And they are now actually FB friends! Yeah, What a chump I was. Since then, Ex’s lying just got better and better. As they say, practice makes perfect! so glad he has a much more deserving, fat, ugly troll-wife to weave his web of lies around now 🙂

    • “I’ll take kindness, true kindness, over niceness any day. Character over personality. Loyalty over “fun”. ”

      Couldn’t agree more. But why is it so hard to find? And why are so many attracted to the opposite characteristics? Seems like an instantly charismatic, sparkly, “fun” personality and surface charm often (if not usually) trump kindness, loyalty, honor, character, etc. And I’m not talking about a “dud” personality, lack of fun, no sense of humor, etc.

    • Sunshine–I am so sorry. The sister-fuckers (or brother-fuckers) are the worst ones of all, IMHO. That is multiple shades of abuse.

  • My STBX is a pastor and considered to be very nice. He is when he is in that role but I have told him for years that he needs to treat his children the same way he treats the other kids in the church – he never listened. Now our daughter will tell you bluntly that you can’t rely on him to do anything for you. She loves him but won’t count on him. I have to agree, he saved all of his niceness for others. I became the nag who didn’t understand all of the demands on him. He’s planning to go to his OW, another pastor.

  • And there you have it… if everything is going all right for me, I’m nice. But always, I’m kind. Cheater is the opposite, and he knows this of me best of all. My kindness can rally me up to being Nice. He is Nice without Kindness… he’s – honest to God – trying to *learn* how to be kind. LOL! He envies it… the always knowing the better thing to do or not do for someone.

    Very few people would call me a nice person. I have SERIOUS Bitchy Resting Face and have the build and demeanor of a woman God made specifically to punch you out if you so much as cut into a line. I have a dry sense of humor. But I give a shit about people, even when they’re assholes to me. It’s what has always infuriated co-workers (sales) when I seem to work a sale so little and end up with so much more. The client knows I care about them. And that I’m not pretending to care and Just Being Nice. I don’t bullshit. It’s a waste. Why would anyone bother being Nice if they weren’t Kind?

    I used to think they were the same thing. That’s why I’m a chump.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtYrx-XLLKE

    Scene from Meg Ryan, in French Kiss, that.I.love and so shouted “Yes!” at the screen to… lol

  • I, too, had a “nice” cheater, who thought the most important thing in life was for everyone to like him and think he’s a nice guy. After DDay, some of the raging emails he’s sent have concluded with “nice gets nice, and you’re not nice!!!” Let me get this straight, fucker…You abuse me our whole marriage, neglect the children, have an affair, divert large sums of money from the business we built together in order to devalue it as a marital asset AND fund your bachelor lifestyle, abandon the children, broadcast your tales of woe to anyone who will listen in hopes of turning them against me, refuse to settle our divorce because you want to keep all “your” stuff, refuse to speak to or acknowledge the existence of your children (who both have health issues) and accuse me of turning them against you…and you think that’s nice? Better yet, I’m not allowed to call all of your evil behavior what it is and hold you accountable for it, but instead must act like you’re right and I’m wrong and just be nice to you? And you need me to acknowledge that your whore really is a nice lady, if I’d just get over myself? If that’s nice, I’ll never be nice to anyone for the rest of my life!!! You can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine!
    Instead of a nice guy, I now see a monster so disconnected from reality that it frightens me. All of the niceness is just superficial and hides a seething ball of rage and utter wretchedness.

    • Mighty Mite – I can relate to your post! You should see some of the texts I got from my stbx! I have taken screen shots of everything pertinent to my case (216 in all) and plan to use every single one of them against the ‘great guy’ that he is! The only bummer is – I really really really wish I could show this shit to my kids!

  • I took lovebombing for nice. My previous partner had been dismissive and dramatic and cruel, so I thought calm and devoted was a dream come true. In custody issues with his ex, he was always calm to the world but privately bitching. My concerns that he was a bit too intertwined with ex drama turned out to be correct.

    When the devalue began, I was so bewildered. At least starting an affair at work this time countered some of his public image as a nice guy done wrong by a string of women. After bragging about me for years nobody bought his story that I’d morphed into a viper. He just came off as a stupid, vapid lying manwhore.

    But he still thinks the world of himself. Thinks he’s an honest guy. A mutual friend posted a meme on liars on FB and informed me he left a pithy comment. Hahhhaha. He courted Schmoopie publicly at work, everyone knows, hacked my work laptop to delete phone records, and thinks he is an honest person! You cannot make this stuff up!

  • I like this topic & I completely agree.

    One thing that really stuck out to me, CL, was your reference to an agenda. I have forever viewed my STBX and his family as ulterior motive motivated. I now realize that they do not work on impulse empathy or generosity or just for the benefit of others….they’ve almost always (I’d prefer to say always but I’ll be fair) got a hidden agenda to their actions. It’s maddening to be around and interact with people that calculated!

    An irritating example story:
    Went on vacation a few years back with STBX’s whole family, we are talking 7 families in 1 big beach house…wtf was I thinking? Anyhow, we went and the noise was getting out of hand near our room for the 2nd night in a row and many of us had infants/toddlers trying to sleep. My STBX expressed his anger to me concerning the topic & his older brothers excessive drinking despite all the children. He said he would address it and went upstairs to do so. I come up 15 minutes later to him in a pseudo argument with his mother, claiming that if our preferences are creating an issue we will just pack up right now and leave, 3 days in to the trip. So I walk over and calmly tell him that that’s a family decision and not for him to volunteer for us, we should be discussing that together. Well eff me for having a mature opinion because his mother stepped in and asked me if “it was my plan to embarrass him in front of his whole family” and that “I should know he wasn’t serious about threatening to leave, he was just blowing off steam.”
    WTF?

    Um, no, trying to embarrass him wasn’t “my plan”, I don’t work that way. My plan was to inform my husband that leaving out vacation early was a decision made by both parties involved, not just him and he was doing a fine job already of embarrassing himself by making wild threats for dramas sake.

    But that always stuck with me, her assumption that I would not be genuinely just standing up for myself but that I’d have a hidden agenda to hurt someone in the process. And the reason for that is because that’s how THEY operate.

    • Even better is that STBX with his infinite projection claimed that I was in fact the one who was nice in public but different behind closed doors. Lol…first time I’ve ever been told anything like that, Lord knows I was born brutally honest.

      Upon our therapist figuring out our dynamic he brought it to STBX’s attention that I’m not really the phony type…I’m quite honest and assertive, STBX claimed “well you don’t live with her”.
      Welp, I guess that is the end of the conversation, can’t really argue that one since no, our therapist doesn’t live with me.

  • Yeah, my ex-wife was nice but not kind. Newcomers were greeted a big smile and a lilting hello and about 40 seconds of attention and apparent interest, and then . . . nothing.

    Kind? Not at all. Wouldn’t help out anyone with anything so long as there was some anonymous way to exit the situation. No helping hand, no favors, no financial aid, no thoughtful gestures, no gifts, no compliments even. If I wanted to give money to any charity I had to do it from my business account instead of our household account since she would treat me like a moron/sucker if she found out. Her lack of kindness extended even to our family: she made it clear she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of contributing to the kids’ college funds or even buying life insurance to protect a surviving spouse. If it wasn’t now and about her, she wasn’t interested.

    If you guessed “sociopath,” you win!

    • I think they can sustain far beyond 40 seconds — at least until they get what they actually want be it sex, money, power, and preferably some combination of the three. Newcomers are to be evaluated for the quantity/quality of kibble, exploited and chucked under the bus.

      • ca chump….. YES! Mine did the whole size up thing…what can you do for me?
        1) can I fuck you? 2) what future use might you have ? 3) are you competition?
        My “niceness ” will expand or decrease depending on your worth to me.
        He was/ is a fucking snake with a smile.

    • While most of you are divorced, I’m still married with mr nice guy serial cheater. Im trying to figure out my plan. Interestingly he used to act like an abusive parent and husband. He always referred to the kids as my kids. Called the oldest stupid and said he didnt love her. Made me cry on our anniversary. Told me maybe I could go wash dishes to pay for the meal at said restaurant. I had no idea he was cheating. 19 years and would never ever have thought he would cheat. In fact people have said not in 10,000 years would they have picked him.He always portayed himself as the do gooder. Early to work.( since learned he stops to smoke a cigarette. Didn’t know he smoked for 20 years wtf) Never took time off for anything. ( well he did to f*ck his whore) Always left a store and made sure clerk knew he had paid. Lots of aquaintance friends he has but no close friends. ( the close ones wives must have sensed that he was a bad seed).Now that we are 2 years past dday I think he is cheating again. However, he knows Im onto him. He is playing nice guy to the hilt. Spending money on us. Actively participating with kids. Helping around the house. Lots of love going on here. Dinners, movies, fixing the house. I smile as he pays for every single penny of everything. While I get my sht together to leave, im watching him be the nicest s.o.b.! Its either guilt or he thinks he is throwing me off his scent? WTF

      • I was exactly there too: what I didn’t get a year ago is that all that $ he was spending was actually legally half mine. If I’d left earlier I’d have had control of using that for mortgage not trips where I spent more time in the bathroom crying. Now there is no money and I’m more dependent on him than ever but determined to move forward somehow.

        • If any $ is spent on affair-partners, that $$ is recoverable during discovery & settlement. Be sure to document everything with credit card statements,etc.

          (I found the credit card statement with X’s lavish dinners for grad-whore after the divorce, so I let him pay more than his fair share of the legal bill instead. Best to do it before settlement if you can.)

          • I wish it were like that because I have tons of evidence (a hundred thousand inheritance we planned on) but I’m in a no-fault community property state and (from what I understood) the final decision may steer towards making things fair upon dissolution but there is no sense of wrongdoing with “sex addiction” money waste and judges don’t like that angle in this state. I wish I’d listened to CL a year ago…now we have $45.000 more in debt for the “treatment” on top of another year of misplaced energy.

  • Oh boy

    My cheater spent SO much time fluffing up his image. He always trumpeted his accomplishments and told the SAME stories about how wonderful he was OVER and OVER. I chalked it up to insecurity which was dead on. He was also very selfish. It used to embarrass me that he could never shut up in social settings.

    He had so many insecurities and a huge ego that bruised at any perceived slight. Once the cracks in his veneer were sliding off en masse – and he used every bit of what he thought I could give him – he brewed up a fast MLC romance and rode off on a Harley he couldn’t afford with his high school girlfriend.

  • Warning: this one is a rant.
    Ex would do anything good for praise from others!
    He cut down the dangerous tree at a single woman’s house. (Never mind that I couldn’t get him to pick me up when the car broke down)
    If there was a person to impress, he was there!
    Mr. Shiny would not help someone unless there was something in it for him.
    To this day, that single, elderly woman thinks Ex is so wonderful. She helped me out after the divorce and said, “I love him, and I love you. That is what Jesus would do.”
    Gag. Who was watching the children, cooking him meals, managing his money, washing his clothes and being called a stupid bitch and a ball and chain, while he was cutting down her tree?
    She frickkin witnessed him tackle me to the ground (“But he did it so gently.”) How would she feel if her small children were wrenched from her? (“I don’t want to go to court for you; my blood pressure couldn’t handle it.”)
    Has the whole world gone mad? She was elderly and had more strength, money and kibbles than me. Guess where all my energy went? Guess who exhausted my supply and then discarded me?
    Ladies, never ride the narcissist train to the end. Get out while you still have strength. There was nothing kind about that Jerk; it was all a façade.

    • Jackass once built a home addition (so he says) for a family he didn’t even know–his SIL’s cousin or some such thing. He talked about it as if he had done the whole job, down to hanging the light fixtures, but who knows? But what struck me the most about it was how bitter he was that his SIL hated his guts because, don’t ya know, he built that addition for her cousin…

  • Red Flag of nice not kind- I am a really competent baker. I would make things for his coworkers and send them with him to work. I’d ask how they went over and he’d admit he did not share. He would eat the entire several dozen treats himself, and report that he enjoyed their jealousy!

  • A bit off the rail but I have a great friend who has stood by me throughout the shit. She’s the sort who calls a spade a spade and just tells me to tell him to F… off! She’s not at all polite; nice whatever but she’s the one who is always there at the end of the phone; always there ready to roll her sleeves up and help in every single way! I know exactly whats meant by those that appear ‘nice; but wouldn’t actually do a thing!

  • I don’t think my cheating ex was ever nice or kind. I really at this point can’t fathom why I married the guy. I really did spend the whole relationship making excuses for his nasty and selfish behaviour. I can’t understand why I did that. The fact that I wasted so much time on the horrible creature would be far more understandable if he had ever actually been nice or kind. The only time he ever spontaneously bought me a lovely present was (unknown to me at the time) a week or so after he’d treated OW to a fancy holiday behind my back. Guilt or something I suppose. That gift has been sent to the charity shop this week. He was so, so cold. Cold to his parents, his grandparents, his cousins, his friends, his work colleagues. I had some insipid idea that it was all a front and that he had a warm heart underneath. That he was a northern bloke who couldn’t show his emotions or some such nonsense. Instead of actually believing the evidence of my eyes and ears.

    Incidentally, on the subject of kindness, my supremely ghastly counsellor – the one who told me that ‘the true love story was Charles and Camilla’ and that ‘sometimes people just fall in love, like DH Lawrence’ a few short months after my ex had abandoned me to face cancer alone, also memorably said to me that ‘the very worst thing’ about what my husband had done was that ‘he was unkind’. Errrrrr, I don’t think so. Unkindness doesn’t even come close to describing the full-blown evil he subjected me to. My only conclusion about her was that she must have been an OW herself.

    • Many great moral teachers feel that kindness is all that does matter. But of course, your therapist is a world-class minimizer.

      • Thanks LAJ. You are dead right about the minimising. I mean, imagine someone saying ‘the worst thing about the Yorkshire Ripper was that he was unkind’ and you’ll sense the sort of disconnect I felt when she said it. Mind you, by the end of our counselling sessions she had formed the opinion my ex was an actual sociopath. I think she was pretty inexperienced.

    • Your therapist’s line about X being unkind reminds me of the knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “Just a flesh wound!!!” after his limbs have been chopped off.

    • “I don’t think my cheating ex was ever nice or kind. I really at this point can’t fathom why I married the guy. I really did spend the whole relationship making excuses for his nasty and selfish behaviour. I can’t understand why I did that. The fact that I wasted so much time on the horrible creature would be far more understandable if he had ever actually been nice or kind. ”

      M, this is the part that makes me feel like such an idiot! My ex was crabby, negative, mean, sulky, right FROM THE START. In the beginning he treated me as well as he was able, I think he was as in love with me as he can get (given his selfishness), but even that was interspersed with moments of real mean-spirited-ness. But I found him so attractive (tall, good looking without that arrogance that good-looking people sometimes have, great baritone, French accent ,,,,), attributed his negativity to his situation, then assumed so much (the narcs aren’t the only ones who project! But chumpy types project our kindness and values!), spackled so much, believed so much that there was a caring heart under that negative shell. God, what an idiot I was!

      ‘Live and learn’ gets a bit tiresome after a while.

      • KarenE–yes, I was 24+ years of idiot. More red flags than the United Nations building. I finally decided to just own it, “I am Tempest, and I was an idiot.” No excuses, no further explanations. But I won’t be an idiot again.

        • i was just thinking that it is time to get my BITCH on. all this time i have wondered and worried about how can a man just up and leave his children…..now i need to focus on how to help the children get past having their dad abandon them. no longer worried about who or why he did it. Getting my bitch on for my kids.

        • More flags than the U.N.! Love it. I too had a cheater that about 40 seconds into the marriage, revealed himself as not nice and not kind. I felt badly that due to his lack of patience, other people caught on to him quickly. However, those FOO issues of mine, kept me firmly planted in marriageville trying to understand him, fix it, be a better me for him, etc., instead of recognizing my own value. It is all too clear to me now that the seeds of my lack of self-worth were planted by my own serial philandering narc father who always sought kibbles from and had endless praise for other people and other people’s children, while neglecting his own family.

  • Oh everyone loves my cheater. “He’s such a great guy!!” That’s all I hear. Sometimes being said as if they were thinking ‘what the heck is he doing with you’. Such a joke. Well I’m trying to get my ducks in a row for the big exit.. I bite my tongue when I hear people say how ‘nice’ he is… Nice to a narc is totally self serving. And kindness…well my narc doesn’t have a clue to what that is…

  • Does anyone sit here now and the sparkles have quit working for you so much that you honestly cannot remember what you ever saw in your ex-spouse? I have been sitting here for a long time trying to think of when X was nice and I cannot come up with anything. Honestly, he was always rude, sarcastic, and condescending to me, to his family, and to his friends. He would only ever do things for people if it would get him the right amount of attention, and if it wasn’t the right amount or if the recipient wasn’t the right amount of grateful, he’d get angry. To try to do anything nice for him would also earn you anger, I realize now because then he felt like he “owed” you. What did any of us ever see in him to like? I guess at the beginning we all got the “love bomb” stage but at this point that’s completely faded in my memory.

    • Yes, this is how I feel about my son’s father. I do remember friendly civil times, I even remember a few kind things he did, but I can’t remember ever loving him.

  • I often find myself bewildered with this a bit. The for-years cheating ex-husband is SO NICE. Ask anyone. He used to care for our elderly, childless neighbors. He would take them to their doctor appointments, helped cared for them until each passed away. He even flew to NJ with the body and met with the remaining family for the funeral. He was the executor for their will. When they would call at 5am because their dog was barking and they thought it was sick, he would go over. Isn’t that kindness? I get so caught up and confused as to how he could do these wonderful things for other people – which he did for me early on during the woo’ing stages – and yet utterly destroy and betray me. He spent several afternoons at our daughter’s high school softball fields (she plays) trimming the trees while they had practice. We once paid for a plane ticket for a friend who had his flight canceled on their way back from a softball tournament. He does all these kind things for people all the time and everyone pretty much thinks he walks on water. How do I reconcile this with the cheater that he is? Does that make sense? Is it just the kibbles? I know I need to trust that he sucks, but sometimes it’s hard when it seems he only sucks in regard to me.

    • Vicki, it’s been FOUR years since the discard began for me and I’m still struggling to meld the man I thought I knew for twenty two years with the selfish hateful man that he turned out to be. It’s the thing I struggle with the most. He seemed kind at times, others superficialy nice. I just can’t figure him out. I’m trying to stop trying.

      There is a certain frozen coffee drink I love. Up until the day he left he’d bring one home for me. When I questioned him about the mixed signals he was sending me by doing things like that while secretly wanting to be rid of me he said, “That’s the kind of guy I am”. I think he meant that he was nice but I think it just meant how f****d up he is.

      • This hit a cord with me. The “mixed signals”. My cheater would tell me he loved me and kiss me every morning and night. He would sleep cuddled up to me every night. He would have sex with me. BUT, he wasn’t “Happy”. I am having a hard time reconciling all the lies and what was real.

        Was he kind? No, he claimed to be. Claimed that he would help if he was asked, except I never saw that. I saw selfish behavior and then a bit of crumbs of nice. He once commented to me that he was impressed with me stopping at the grocery store and helping a woman in a motorize cart get something out of the freezer section. He said that it would never have occurred to him to ask her if she needed help.

        And was he nice? Nice doesn’t cheat and lie. Doesn’t destroy a family. Doesn’t steal.

        One heck of a “mindf**k”.

        • Mixed signals indeed! My ex and I were going through the best period in years in our admittedly rocky relationship, in the months before affair #2. He’d been treating the kids and I better, we’d been very appreciative of that. He’d been talking about plans for our retirement together, which was new, he even bought me a spontaneous gift, practically the first time ever! In the days just before his heading for what would be months of flying in and out, to be at home only 3 days a week, we had sex 8 times in 3 days, he cuddled and told me he loved me (not a frequent declaration from him), and he seemed really happy (also rare) at home with me and the kids. Then I guess he just decided that being out of town so much would be a GREAT opportunity to have his cake and eat it too.

          Asshole.

    • I think it’s the nature of character disorder. They seemingly have a hard time sustaining relationships. He might not have any issue with you other than you are “old kibbles” and that isn’t enough to feed his black hole any more. If it’s all superficial, and intended to boost his internal image, nothing he or she does has any meaning that we would understand.

      • I could not understand my ex either after I found out about the affair.he’s a typical covert narcissist that has absolutely no empathy. Doing the nine months of reconciling which he still saw the bitch, I had a flu really bad in the 22 years I was married that was the first time he ever offered me and made me tea.I asked him after the affair and the reconciliation process if he wanted to be with me,he said he love me and always he would want to be with you I want us to be like it used to be but then he would still see her I don’t understand the that. Freaking cake eater!!!after a filed for divorce, he never fought to get me back, i got arrogance, anger, and infront of my girls he said that I was riding his coat tails all these years.I never wanted to better myself as far as my job situation! I was not making more money, I did not have a retirement plan…. On and on it went.
        I still struggle how covertly evil he was.
        Sorry

    • Vicki–I think LAJ is right; small acts of kindness don’t really require a commitment. They are quick, buttress the person’s impression management as a good person, and then he/she can move on. Kindness in marriage requires so much more.

      Some researcher (Walter Mischel, I believe) also looked at dishonesty across a bunch of domains many years ago. While some people were universally dishonest, most others were not–they might be willing to cheat on an exam, but not shoplift, or shoplift but not lie to a friend. Honesty may be partly domain-specific. Even when trying to reconcile with a very-reluctant me, my X did not tell one single truth about his affair/s. Not one (I found out everything later). But he was very proud of never haven been dishonest with me about finances. Go figure.

      • In the face of all my cheater’s pathological lying, false braggadocio, and adulterous deceit over at least half our marriage (what he admits to), he did not see himself as a fundamentally dishonest person, either.

  • “Pay no attention to my failed obligations or implied hostilities. Press me about them and you’re a killjoy. But me? I’m nice. How can you be so unkind to the nice?”

    My ex was a master at this. I real master. He was nothing but failed obligations and implied hostilities. I knew people like this existed, I just never dreamed I would be with one.

    Well said, CL. It was a spider’s web.

  • xH was nice in the sort of soft and harmless around other women way. He would volunteer in the classroom with the little kids (as part of the agreement we had with the alternative program at the public school) and coach soccer and bask in the clucking approval of the SAH moms who all said he was such a nice guy. He spoke in a sort of feminine and non-threatening way, and preferred the company of the female volunteers, not the male volunteers out by the BBQ, nor the men setting up tables for the fundraiser–these men he felt threatened by. He never really fit into the masculine culture. He’s just such a nice guy….

    But he was exceedingly begrudging toward me, and most certainly not nice. Like most closeted narcs, he was passive-aggressive, which served him well–he looked to outsiders to be the nice guy, and that was a kind of mind fuck to a chump like me. (Everyone says he’s so nice….?) If you looked for it, you could see it, really. I was known for being “independent.” What most people failed to really realize is that this was partly the result of being married to a very withholding and stingy man. (When he said, in the end, “I never loved you,” it’s easy to see, now, in hindsight.) And I’m not a really high maintenance girl, not one to ask for nor demand (egads!) help. Oh, but at least, you know, I was married to SUCH a NICE guy. While other husbands were off at work Monday through Friday, MY xH was volunteering (and working on weekends and nights.) Such a nice guy. While other husbands paid for family vacations, my husband was the soccer coach and had his own bank account that I wasn’t allowed to touch. If I wanted something, I worked for it–nothing wrong with that, mind you, but I’ll never ever forget the times he refused (REFUSED) to buy me a pair of $30 sneakers or a used book. This was typical, and away from the eyes of women who believed that he was Such A Nice Guy. So, I learned to be independent.

    We had friends who caught glimpses of his behavior. “Hey, how come you don’t buy your WIFE a lift ticket or HER own used ski equipment?” Or, “Oh, Dick, buy her the $10 earrings AND the $10 sunglasses!” These men paid my way for a trip to New York with their wives when my xH came up empty-handed. I couldn’t afford to pay my own way, because WE were paying for HIS vacation home, to the tune of THOUSANDS of dollars a month. Nobody but me heard my xH suggest that we stop paying our voluntary charter school dues. Tch! Such a nice guy.

    But volunteer to help someone who dropped their groceries? Pick up litter? Help clean up after a school function? Not so much. He wanted it made very clear to himself and to me that he was nobody’s bitch. That’s a trait that he gets from his insecure mother, the Victim. His family was poor, due to a socially maladaptive workaholic father who bailed on the family permanently when my ex was a teen (history does repeat itself) and a mother who was always so downtrodden her whole life, who was exceedingly harassed by wealthy family and community standards that she felt she couldn’t live up to–but she tried! Classy, to her, was all-important and all about outward appearance. It wasn’t enough to her that she was a professional in a respectable field (a teacher!) and that she could fix anything. (How awesome is that? But any compliments were met with suspicion.) My dad grew up poor, too, but learned and taught me that classy is as classy does–and it’s ALL about your character. Helping others to help themselves (within reason, of course) is good for your own soul, too!

    I wasn’t always nice to my ex, and I’m not always nice in public, but I’m pretty freaking nice. I’m known for it. I don’t necessarily care if I’m known for being nice (but I AM a chump, so there’s some evidence.) On the other hand, I do value my integrity and I do value my relationships and reputation. I like to get along with people.

    Lesson learned: keep one eye on the “nice” one at all times. Watch what happens when nobody else is watching.

  • Yes, yes, yes I had a *nice* Cheater.
    Why do you think I stayed for 34 years? He kissed and hugged, brought me thoughtful gifts, did random acts of kindness for strangers… Then I found out I was living in a complete mindfuck.
    The truest thing he ever said was ” I’m probably going to Hell”!
    He knew what he did was so wrong, I adored him, and he was a serial Cheater and a gigantic Liar. ( cheated on me from day one, fathered his secretary’s second kid which I only figured out last year, when the kid was 19!!!, then abandoned them as our family moved 2,000 miles away, he caused us foreclosure, and bankruptcy,etc, etc)
    But he was so very nice!
    He got so careless and lazy at the end, his mask was slipping big time. But I certainly do forgive myself, and understand why I stayed so long with a selfish Fucker, because he was being so nice to me, so hopefully I would never leave!

      • Lyn, when I told him I figured out that whole mess with his employee, and her son looks exactly like the X, just with brown hair, and has his same hobbies, and even says things on FB that came right out of X”s mouth, here’s what he said – How could that possibly have happened????
        God, what a moron! He still was doing damage control, and trying to lie to a Chump that got EDUCATED on CL!
        It’s called sex, Dude, so now I know (gasp!) you weren’t really fixing her faucet that Saturday!!!
        I wish I could go back and shake myself!
        At least now I’m free from his lies, and I hope that young man never finds out, he’d be better off!

  • CL is my daily oxygen / reality check…I always felt this dissonance: I’d get Hallmark trinkets or cards that to him should have made me forget the cruelty of his behavior. I can relate to. all the descriptions above of the ‘great guy!’ perception..For me, “in the end only kindness matters…” (I have a “kindness is cool” bumper sticker) it’s one of my core values that doesn’t waver even now in my destroyed sense of self these past few years.
    But it’s such a fine line I walk daily now trying to understand where I’m being chumpy vs. holding fast to myself as a kind person. In my gut I know the difference how it feels to be motivated by chumpyness (fear) vs. authentic (self-respect/love) although it’s a crazy-making process these days. I think I’m at meh in my heart but lifestyle-wise (which affects kids) I’m dependent and so scared to shut down this ‘nice’ (and sick) dynamic. I feel so destroyed inside, isolated in shame and exhausted overall so in the worse place of my life to harness my mighty, independent former self with energy to Run! as I want to and know I should … CL gives me a shot of courage everyday to keep trying. This post is spot-on describing the ‘niceness’ of my (hopefully STBX) husband to pay/fix/help logistically which fades in proportion to my kibble-giving. Thank you all for the support I gather here and at SOS.

  • They are so worried about their image. My ex when confronted by her Mother about her “friend”, her reply without answering the question was “I’m a good person”. Her Mother tried to ask her some more about why she was leaving her family and her reply over and over was “I’m a good person”.

      • I’ve just come to the realization over the last few years that there are some people with whom you can’t reason. You can’t have a meaningful conversation, let alone a relationship of any sort, with the kind of person who can think or say that they are a “good person” when they do the shittiest things to people.
        I mean, there’s NO POINT in trying to argue over something SO OBVIOUS! All you can do is walk away and let that person try to convince themselves and anyone who is willing to do the mental gymnastics to believe “I’m a good person” means anything, and that Miss “I’m a good person” will be any sort of loyal, rational friend. You’re gonna pull a muscle trying to twist yourself into that sort of logic pretzel.
        Best to walk away. Some people are just not worth the futile effort. Don’t get mindfucked by trying to believe what is not believable.

  • This post reminds me of a quotation I’ve heard attributed to Malcolm X: “Not everyone who is friendly toward you is your friend.”

    Amen to that.

  • My XH could do nice because it was a mimicked response. But if you took him by suprise or failed to give home the response he expected you just got cold. Like dead fish cold.

    When we were still together my XH would always begin a phone conversation with ” hi, how are you” even if he had only saw you two minutes prior. I always thought this was odd. If I didn’t respond with ” I’m good how are you he would get shits and struggle with his train of thought. If I challenged him on why he was asking. I would get accused of being a deliberate bitch out to be mean to him for no reason. Even now 16 months post d’day no remorse, NC on pretty much everything if he calls me out if the blue he asks the same thing.
    And I so relate to the crazy making comments. He is such a nice guy. How in the world did he stay for so long with the crazy bitch. He even had me asking this question prior to d’day.
    Yes I am a chump and I was in a relationship for 20 yrs with narc and I survived.

    • Well, this is something to think about. It’s easy to be “nice” because there are models to follow. Buy a card, bring roses, give compliments, say the things you hear “nice people” say.

    • Yes, the whole mimicking thing! Cheater could be so self-absorbed that he never picked up on the nuances of a particular social interaction. Even basic stuff like holding hands, kissing…. If he didn’t observe others doing it, I don’ t think it would have crossed his mind. Just couldn’t fathom he was Mr Entitled Detachment with Loving Accessible me, while playacting with Dominatrix-Submissives or being serviced by prostitutes. All about him. I was too much trouble.

  • Everyone thinks my STBX is such a nice guy. Always helpful, quiet, never yells at the kids at soccer games. Looking back I have come to realize he hasn’t been either nice or kind to me in a long time. No random hugging, no holding my hand, he would buy me gift on Christmas and my birthday but only because of the kids. Our 20th anniversary came and went without a word from him last year (I used to ask him every year if he wanted to do something on our anniversary and he would always say no), I turned 40 last year and he got me a cake but didn’t acutally say Happy Birthday (of course he was sleeping with the OW at the time). He has never been abusive just indifferent. The OW’s birthday is the same month as mine and I found out he went all out for her, made her home made cholocate truffles, wrote her a love poem on a sappy card, of course she was turning 28 which I guess is a more important birthday than 40. I used to think he wasn’t a lovey, sappy, super kind person, turns out he is just not with me. My point is outward niceness doesn’t tell what a person is like at home.

    • Mine always made sure he was mr nice guy in front of others but alone you could cut the tension with a knife, and non of it was ever his fault.

  • My x wanted to throw a Christmas bar party for the bar regulars at the restaurant he managed. A manager at another store shared with him that she sold a lot of gift cards at her party by giving raffle tickets when they were purchased. Then she reaffled off gift baskets, some of which she bought, some of which were donated by nearby businesses. Well he thought that was swell and wanted me to help, but when he couldn’t get too many donations, he bought dollar store items.

    A family of regulars organized a toy drop for a local children’s hospital. That went on the invitation, so we did get a lot of toys. But this nice manager let the toys sit in the office and employee bathroom (gross) until mid January. A lot of these toys were Christmas themed. He wanted to be known as that nice proprietor, but he didn’t give a shit about sick kids being given a little extra at Christmas. I could keep complaining, but the point is, the next time I am with a man I want him to be genuine.

  • Good timing on this post! I was talking with a neighbor yesterday about my marital troubles (not the cheating part), and she said, “I’m so sorry, you’re both such nice people!” I said, “Let me just say that some people are not who they appear to be on the surface.” She got a strange look on her face, and walked away. Oooops… Like many people commenting here, my husband has made a side career of being “nice” and volunteering to help out whenever anyone needs anything, so everyone thinks he is just fabulous. But if I ask anything of him (“can you please watch our small children so I can go be with my mother who is dying of cancer?”), he acted totally put out and disgusted.

    • My X disliked a relative of mine. When the person was murdered, X just shrugged. No one aside from third-world dictators who practice genocide deserves to be murdered; that was my 2nd glimpse into X’s evil soul. Wish I’d left after the 1st time.

      • Tempest, I’ve been told not to focus on revenge by my therapist but everyday I pray he gets what he deserves. I’ll add your X to the karma buss ride straight to hell.

        • Thank you Donna! And I brought back a spare Voodoo doll from NOLA this past weekend. I will call it “Donna’s evil X” and put the pin exactly where it belongs.

  • I am sure I thought he was nice at one point. He calls himself a “nice person.” He said,” I have to remind myself I have always been nice to the kids.” I guess being nice is never disciplining, spending time, or speaking to them. Nice to others by playing the A game and being the big spender and treating everyone then complaining when they expect the treat. Nice by giving money to others.
    Kindness is a different subject. Kindness is asking about the family’s day, life, school, Dr. appointments. Kindness would help with luggage and garbage, home, and kids. Kindness would be a smile and thoughtful sex. Kindness is keeping your dick and thoughts of your relationship with your wife within the marriage. Kindness is shown by doing something for someone without expecting acknowledgement or return on the investment which did not happen. Kindness in a relationship is a “nice” dream. My husband was not kind.

    • He never had kindness,always wanting a return on his investment. Informal, that was him every time he paid for something. Going in a cruise and spending money meant sex. And he was never satisfied. The world was full if hurts and injustices he suffered. Having fun with him was null and void unless he was drinking, smoking pot, accessing porn, or having sex. That was his limited thought processes. I am a planner and know his future will suck. I had an amazing lawyer and although I am waiting for the final order he will suffer from his own stupidity.

  • Once DDay happens, it’s all about the image and controlling the narrative. “I just wasn’t happy”, he says, thinking people will give him a pass for decimating his family.

    He was never kind. Nice, yes. And the irony of it all was that he always told me that he admired me for not caring if this person or that person didn’t like me. Well, I didn’t. Staying true to myself and living with integrity. I don’t think he understood that at all. He needed everyone to accept him. He needed to think he was a good guy.

    Another odd thing about him was that he never wanted to ask questions ever. If he took a training at work and didn’t understand something, he would not raise his hand and ask for clarification. He’d come home and I”d have a million questions and he wouldn’t have the answers and i’m thinking….why did you leave without getting the answers??? I think he was afraid of looking dumb. I always thought asking questions made a person smart. Whatever.

  • My ex is fond of holding small events to raise money for a particular charity, for a chronic disease which he has. Proceeds go to X sort of things. So people participate and think it’s going to a good cause and that he’s a generous guy. He keeps the money for himself. The first few times, I called him out on it and he explained that “oh, there weren’t any proceeds, I actually took a loss on the event.” There’s a difference between proceeds and profit. He probably thinks it wasn’t even misrepresentation to keep the money because he has the disease in question.

    If something non-profit he organized accidentally made a profit, he’d keep that too, instead of sharing it back with people, or putting it towards something else.

    I always rug-swept it because I didn’t want the confrontation which would have been the alternative, when really, it should have been telling me all along what sort of person he was. I’m not talking huge amounts for any of this stuff, but I don’t know how to enlighten his clients without seeming vindictive.

    But, he was just nice enough that I saw the potential for kindness and stuck by him.

    • Just tell the IRS, what he is doing is a huge violation of nonprofit rules or contact your Secretary of State. I believe you can do it anonymously. This is criminal, says she who runs a multi-million$ nonprofit.

    • When we see or hear something wrong and “rug-swee[” or spackle it, we are really afraid to look at what else there might be that isn’t so great. Jackass told me he was involved in a car theft ring. I was shocked, and appalled, and sick. And then I told myself he was young and learned from that.

      • LAJ, I was 6 weeks off having our son (our 2nd child) when the ex walked in the door and told me he had been sacked for misappropriation of funds. I remember it like it was yesterday and it is nearly 33 years ago. I commented that they had made a mistake because I knew (thought) him to be such a fine, upstanding and honest person, to which he commented “no they haven’t. My very dysfunctional family at first rallied around me but within a month of the ex being found out, everyone and I mean everyone blamed me and said I put him up to it because he was just too nice to have thought of it himself. The irony is that he is now employed by the same bank. I wish I was nasty and send an email but I couldn’t live with myself. I am evil enough in my kids eyes. I should have never given the ex a chance but I was on high alert from that day on.

      • My stbx is an alcoholic. Drinks and drives daily. And I mean literally DRINKS and drives. Always has a case of beer in the back seat. Do you know how many times I have called the authorities and said hey “If you wanna get a drunk driver tonight – just sit at the end of my driveway.” or I can tell them what bar he is bellied up to or what house he is getting plastered at. I have handed the guy over on a silver platter, yet he still drinks and drives every day… He has never had a DWI – he has 18,000 lives it seems. I gave up. I guess I’ll just have to wait until he does finally kill somebody – then maybe they will take my emails seriously. He too is a ‘nice’ guy (to everyone else), but the alcoholism turned me into his enemy.

  • I have been thinking about the difference between nice and kind. Kind, like DM said, is doing the hard stuff for people, it is helping when you haven’t been asked, it is saying the truth as gently as you can. It is stepping up when that wasn’t what you really wanted to do that day. It is really looking at the people you meet every day and seeing them, seeing their moods, their hurt, their needs and trying to help make it just a little better.

    Sometimes kind will bite you in the behind… but nice is teflon. It is just going through the motions to gain something or look like a good person. I couldn’t articulate this before, but I felt it after living with him for 32 years. It is never really going beneath the surface and doing the hard work. My XH looks to all the world like a nice person but really he is just a water strider (you know those 4 legged critters that run around on the surface of water.) He just dances about on the surface, looks like a good guy but when something important, hard or mildly unpleasant needs to be done, he hides under a rock.

    I am glad chumps are kind, we keep the world going round.

  • OMG–yes. You just described my ex as well. He was involved with our church, always volunteering to help with projects, helping his mother, friends and nice to everyone but me. He even admitted the reason he started his affair was because the AP hadn’t had sex with her husband for over 7 years! He felt bad for her–really???? I guess that is his idea of being “nice!” But when I found out about the affair, guess what? Yep….no empathy, no “I’m sorry–let’s work on our relationship,” nothing. In fact, he left me and moved in with the AP because (according to the letter he left me) he couldn’t take “seeing me so upset all the time. It just broke his heart to see me so sad!”

    I will admit one thing…..and I would never tell him…..but one year later, I have never been happier, more alive than I have ever felt and at peace with who I am.

  • This was a great post because it’s a good reminder to look past the surface-level people show to see if they are ‘nice’ or ‘kind’…to me, ‘kind’ equates to genuine, too.

    Cheater was nice to me during the early phase of our relationship. He was attentive, made me feel special and loved. He was also jealous with no real reason and I assumed this was because he didn’t want to lose me. He sent me flowers, was thoughtful when purchasing presents, and did things to show me he cared about me. Over time, these things faded out and were replaced with excuses. He stopped sending flowers to cut expenses, he had a hard time picking presents for me because I’m to picky, we don’t need to have lunch during the week because we’re married, etc. If he bought me a present, it was the first thing he saw on the sale rack when he walked into a store. He was ‘nice’ only in front of other people (image management) and when he thought he might have pushed me too far so he could reel me back in. Otherwise, he ignored me and my feelings, He told me on mother’s day that I wasn’t his mother so he didn’t need to do anything for me. He sat at the table on my birthday while my family gave me presents and cards with nothing – no presents, cards or even an acknowledgement. Worst of all, he blame shifted to make me responsible for his years of serial cheating. He’s a masterful liar….and I am grateful to almost have him out of my life.

    • We married the same flavor. I have decided he really did not like me at all to dismiss all the occasions that I cared for. He can’t harbor resentment for showering affection and being rejected because he never tired after we were married. At first I accepted his excuses then I realized that they were just excuses and he could get by because I suffered in silence. I know that packing that much emotion in the body will eventually cause some type of motion. That would be me moving us out!

    • I too got “Why should I wish you a happy fucking mothers day? You aren’t my fucking mom.” For Christmas – he re-gifted me a ‘safety’ jacket from his employer. On my birthday, I got puke on my bedroom carpeting because alchi decided to stay out (on a Thursday night) and get plastered. At 4 AM on my birthday I was awoken by him puking off the side of the bed. He too blame shifted the cheating. He has accused me of an affair for 15 years (Yes – I’ve been hearing about this ficticious affair for 15 fucking years), so when he was busted with his OTHER NEW CELL PHONE (by my son thank you very much) – he said he got the phone so he could talk to a ‘friend’ about my cheating. Give me a fucking break asshole.

      • LS, mine also said that if I made his cheating public, as in the divorce documents, that he would reveal the same about me. WTF? I’ve never been remotely close to having an affair! But he said it to mess with my head and to an extent, he did. I was afraid he would accuse me of an affair by randomly selecting a male friend. Who knows – he’s that twisted. I called his bluff and filed the paperwork citing his infidelity. He folded and just sent me a nasty email in another attempt to intimidate me. What an ass.

        • My cheater stated on more than one occasion that if I did not stop telling people the truth of what he did he would tell people that I was violent.
          My response ” go right ahead”.
          Well what he did is now on the record in my property settlement court documents. You want to stick your head in the sand and pretend like nothing happened, deal with it the hard way.
          Not my problem.

  • “Done with enough manipulative panache, you can drive anyone crazy with “nice.” God, who is that jerk that nice person is married to? How can they be so pissed off all the time? Donald is so nice!”

    I heard, “but I’m a Good Guy!!!!!”. Nope. My cheater is a douche. What Good Guy plots and plans over a 20+yr marriage to fuck other people? Some were for sport, the MOW was his second life.

    When a person needs to remind Good People that Good People do not lie, steal and cheat on their wives, children and employers, that’s usually when Good People then retort about how unhappy they have been. Because don’t you think we all deserve Happiness?

  • Nice X never (well, very rarely) raised his voice or argued. He just quietly went about his secret life. Kind Hubby (#2) and I argue about every week or two about something or another, but he is “all in.” I’ve learned that when we are “all in” there is a lot more opportunity to butt heads.
    Nice X is such a good stepfather and father to his OWife’s kids. He walks them to school, cooks for them, babysits them so OWife can go out (and probably fuck someone else), and he even helps them with their school projects! Kind Hubby makes sure to be there for Nice X’s original kids when Nice X stands them up for preplanned activities because suddenly OWife needs him to do something for her kids. Whether it’s watching the Indy 500 when Nice X stands up kids on Memorial Day Weekend or helping assemble school projects when Nice X is a no-show because OWife wanted him to help HER kids with their school projects instead, Kind Hubby never once complained about being “Plan B” for my kids.
    Nice X bitched and complained when he found out Kind Hubby had been asked by the church league to coach our son’s T-Ball team. “I’m the Dad — I should be the coach,” Nice X whined to me. Kind Hubby says, “Nice X, I need all the help I can get. Will you please be my co-coach?” Honest to God, there is room enough in Kind Hubby’s heart for me, my two kids, and “Nice” X. One of our son’s most treasured pictures is his first-year T-ball picture standing between both of his dads and they are all in matching uniform.
    Nice X was always really nice when letting me know he didn’t have money to pay child support. He had very good intentions, but, you know, there are circumstances beyond his control. He really hoped to do better in the future. When Mean Bitch X Wife (that would be me) covertly had Child Support Services add interest to Nice X’s arrears, suddenly Nice X owes upwards of half a million dollars in arrears and is facing imminent jail time. How could Mean Bitch X Wife not be understanding towards such a nice man? After all, his intentions were, you know, Nice. Kind Hubby to the rescue offers to make all go away by adopting the children. He even agrees that children will keep Nice X’s last name still be able to have contact with Nice X, because he cares about the stability and wellbeing of the children much more than he cares about their last name.
    I — and my kids — really hit the jackpot when OWife “stole” my prize of a Nice husband!!!!!

    • I was the Kind Hubby. When me ex’s first husband came to town to visit their son, he planned to stay in a hotel. My thought was that the several hundred dollars would be better spent on the kid, so I invited the ex husband to stay in our extra room. This happened 5-6 times over 5 years, including a joint birthday party with the ex husband’s parents coming to our house for the celebration. We would have meals together, go out to ice cream together, and play board games together.

      My ex left me on a Saturday. She woke her son up early and took him out of town to visit his father; by the time he got back, she had moved out. I asked about not getting a goodbye, and she said she’d planned to have him call me the next week. 5 years as a daily presence in her son’s life, more of a father-figure than his bio dad, and I didn’t even get a goodbye.

      I’m proud of my behavior, and I didn’t do it to be rewarded or complimented, but because it seemed to me the right thing to do. But I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I thought my kindness would have kept my ex from walking out on me with no warning, with no attempt to let me know how unhappy she was or to salvage the relationship.

  • Perfect example, 18 months after divorce, well over 2 years since dday. She sends an easter basket with my 16 year old son and a 3 dollar bag of candy for me. I told my son, “thats nice.” And am throwing it in the trash tonight. Seriously? My life is turned upside down, family torn apart, and she thinks a 3 dollar bag of candy will allow us to be pals. Doing nothing is kind. Doing this is just more opera singing, “look at me me me”…this article nails it.

    • My ex just sent me a sandwich bag of stuff via my Little Brother. The contents: a mailbox key, a DVD to a boxset that was her son’s that she left behind, a sticker, and some touch up paint for the electric car she had me buy her 4 short months before she left me (as she was leaving, she said “I’m sorry about that. You should sell it).

      My life is complete now that I have those items back. Items that I didn’t even remember existed or realized were gone.

  • He had a dark side he kept hidden since day one. Yes he was superficially nice outside the home. There was always disappointment that followed anything I planned and that I looked forward to enjoying. He wasn’t social and came home drunk or late. When I needed him and depended on him to help me, he had an excuse or didn’t show up. His constant complaints colored every aspect of my being. The truth was that he was a narcissist and I never saw it until the end. He bought cheap flowers for out anniversary and expected sex. Cheating was effortless and at this point I lost count. Every important life event was marked with a sidefuck. He never had any friends just women. He still to this day thinks he is a glorious being. There was never any kindness. He SERVICED people, agreed with everything they said and never had a true opinion unless it related to HIS needs. He always WISHED for things right through DDay when he told me he wished he could do things with me. How NICE of him to say he thinks about me all the time at the court house after the final hearing. He repulses me, this shallow asshole of a coward. Everything he ever said or did was false. His parting words were that I had to work on myself because NO ONE would ever want me the way I am. Spoken like a true narc with a sadistic twist. He is darkness and toxic to anyone who falls for the nice guy image he projects.

  • My cheater stbx was very nice and kind to everyone but me and our children. Not that she was mean, more just oblivious since she had already learned to manipulate us. But for the external world, she was perfectly polite and followed every social protocol. Behind the scenes, I was the nice one – giving, providing, accommodating – buffering her from the consequences of her toxic actions.

    But my niceness over the years evolved into being a doormat, which nudged her disrespect and lack of attraction to me over the edge and then she apparently felt justified in attempting an upgrade at the husband position to someone who could rescue her from the toxic environment she’d created within our family. Of course the AP, the upgrade candidate, turned out to be a fellow narcissist, so that fell apart leaving her heartbroken, and I, being the nice guy I was, took her back. More doormat. More nice. But pure hell, devastation, destruction, and trauma.

  • Cheater was nice because it’s easy to pretend to be nice and he wanted people to like him. He was “kind” only if he wasn’t inconvenienced or knew he was going to get some form of payback. Nothing was ever about true giving with the ex.

  • This is an interesting post. Chump Lady, you’d fall for my X- at least initially, but hopefully you’d catch on before it was too late!

    To all others, my X IS kind. He IS the guy who stops on the highway to help a woman change her flat tire, without fanfare. He IS the guy who picks up the tumbling groceries with no syrupy overtones. He WAS the guy I worked with who made quietly sure the room was a comfortable temperature for the pregnant lady that worked over in the other cubicle. This, and his quiet charm, good looks, and quip-y sense of humor was what attracted me to him like a magnet. And he APPEARED TO BE a DOER, not a SAYER.

    As time went by, I learned he WAS kind, good, and courteous – TO OTHER PEOPLE than those in his family.

    Here’s a good example. He’s in a specialized form of construction. He would go out of his way to put cloths and other coverings down to keep people’s stuff from getting dirt or oils on their carpets/furniture. Clients would compliment him that no one working in their home EVER took such care. At OUR home? No way. Spackle everywhere, NO drop cloths for paint, projects 1/2 done, I could go on … get the picture???

    Sure, he’d do stuff for his family, but at a cost, and eventually, with a chip on his shoulder. And if you didn’t give the RIGHT kind or enough Kibbles in return; on the right day or time, God help you. Screaming, raging, ranting put-downs, endless sarcasm, you name it. Everything BUT leave a mark. Oh yeah – and while he’s at it? He’ll drain your finances too.

    Have a nice day!!!

    BTW – how do I learn to trust my instincts after dealing with that shit?

    • Read “Gift of Fear” twice and write down some parts of it. Then work through how you tamped down your intuition. That’s what worked for me. After you do it though you will have to work on realizing that one fuck up by an individual does not equal a totally fucked up human being. Balance. It’s hard after you deal with a seriously manipulative person who was able to be someone different for years. Jedi Hugs!

    • Nice is done with reciprocity or image management in mind. I’ll put on the appearance of generosity so I can get something in return, or so that people will think well of me and remember that when I need help later. It’s like an investment – I put in this effort now, and there will be reward later. Your ex was thoughtful with his clients and took care with his job there because they were paying him to do so, and would likely give him a good reference that would get him future work. He didn’t care with your house because he didn’t get anything out of it. Stopping on the highway, picking up dropped items, etc, is all done because there is an audience – either someone watching him to impress right there, or people he can relate the anecdote to later. He didn’t need to impress family anymore – you were already stuck with him.

      Kindness is done with empathy, and no thought of return on investment.

      I think being aware of the difference helps you make the distinction. It’s not something I learned except in hindsight.

  • It’s weird…..my X is so much kinder to me now. He was nice to me when we were married. I don’t remember any REAL kindness. Maybe there was I just don’t remember it. But now….he makes sure I have everything I need financially. He’s never coming back. He knows it and I know it. He told me once that he was going to spend the rest of his life ‘making it right’ to me. So he really wasn’t the big fuck that a lot of the men are here. I could have it a million times worse and I know it. Sometimes his ‘kindness’ hurts the worse.

    • Actually if kindness is washing and gassing my car up on Saturday mornings before I even got out of bed then he was kind. Yeah, he was kind. Until he wasn’t.

      • Syringa – can totally relate with you here. X was the kindest, nicest guy for 33 yrs. We were a bit opposite in that I was a yeller and a great match for his ‘controlling personality’ – is what my mom called him before I married him. I was nice and kind until he bullied me, but he always backed down, because he was ‘nice and kind’. I thought we were a great match. So many of these stories are so sad – X wasn’t like that at all. No, he wasn’t exactly big on gifts or occasions, no, he wasn’t big on romance, no, he wasn’t wasn’t big on compliments or romance or sex…..gee, the more I write here…the more I’m getting it. Just having a bad week after 6 good wks ON. I just see that I probably caused him to leave me. He was nicer than me at home. I think I was sexually frustrated – which we never talked about. Sex was for him. God – I’m re-hashing this story but I just still love him a lot and how romantic he looked and was when we went to dinner. I guess all this is just settelling in after 6 mos divorced. Dammit – why did he go and do that? I feel really stuck on life going forward. Just wish I’d hear the words from him someday that he regrets his decision.
        My case is a good example of a year going forward positively and then BAM, you’re back at day 1 all over again.
        This too shall pass…the pain is awful when you still love them.

  • Being nice was a boomarang for my Idiot…. it always had to return to him. Otherwise people were not worth his time. His investment never extended beyond his potential return. He sized that up real quick. I erroneously mistook his random acts of kindness as altruism…… My mistake. He did things that didnt ‘ waste his time’ or would reflect badly on him. So … yes pull that lady out of the ditch… But only because he happened to be in his police car… Off duty. Cant get busted driving the company car!
    Its taken me awhile to distinguish between kindness and being nice. Nice is polite… Nice is what is expected… Nice gets you what you want… Nice opens doors…. Figuratively… Its all about the pay back and being selfish. Nice is easy cause you can turn it on and off… And dial it up and down.
    Kindness… Much like joy is a deeper more instinctual emotion. You do it cause it right… Even if hurts peoples feelings… And not what they want to hear… Kindness is doing the right thing because it benefits the other person regardless of the pay back. Kindness is being a good parent.Kindness is being that friend that says… ” no , your ass looks fat in those jeans” ….or deeper…. ” i have met someone and I think you should know”
    Cheaters are fucking nice…

      • What a great complement! I could only hope to be as wise… And witty. I am just a mad as fuck. And sad. And brutally honest with my feelings. They arent truths… Just feelings.
        I have learned that… Feelings dont equal truth… Its my perception and experiences.
        I am grateful for the audience and the feedback… It make me feel so not alone or estranged from the rest of the world… That keeps spinning around and around… And i along for the ride. ….I want to start enjoying the view again.
        Thanks for listening to my crazy… putting up with my horrible typos and foul language!

  • My cheater would be described as “nice.” When news of his cheating spread, many people were surprised by it and one wondered if he had a brain tumour.

    However, he was also standoffish around family and had a secret side. He wasn’t really close to anyone but I thought I was the exception. He was lousy at finding gifts people would really love and rarely did anything out of his way or special for me. He wanted to “run with the big boys” but really his personality just didn’t allow it; they ignored him for the most part so he surrounded himself with losers. He drank to compensate for lack of social skills and the ability to really connect with anyone.

    He was a selfish person from the start, having particular tastes and preferences that needed tending to. He rarely said a kind or encouraging word to me other than, “don’t feel that way.” He was really emotionally clueless and I did all the heavy emotional work. EXHAUSTING. I believe he thought he was doing me a favour by being around me because he was considered a very intelligent person and financially successful.

    When he cheated he blamed me and he also blamed me for his drinking. Ugh. He criticized my parenting and then went off to the bar to screw servers. Lovely, just lovely.

    No, he wasn’t kind. At all.

  • My Ex would always hold the door open for me, and for anyone and everyone else. At every meal that I cooked with the food that I paid for, he would always say, “Bon appetit!” before eating, as if he were the one providing the meal. He used to tell me stories of an elderly man that he (between his few and far between “real” contracting jobs) would drive to all his doctor appointments. I always thought he was doing this for free till I found invoices showing he was billing the 90 yr old man who had dementia, at his $50/hour ‘contractor’ rate to drive him to breakfast and sit in the diner with him, to drive him leaf peeping in the fall, and to all his doctor appointments. The one year’s worth of invoices that I stumbled across, showed he was billing the poor old man between $500 and $900 a month for his ‘good samaritan’ services. This disgusts me perhaps more than the fact that he was a serial cheater. I am sickened by who I was living with for all those years.

  • I had almost forgotten this until now. We live in a small town and the ex is a professor at the small community college. A lot of people take his classes in economic development and business. I went to the physicians office for my second, yep SECOND, round for STD’s after false reconciliation. I was already totally devasted and spent emotionally. When I walked to the window to pay my co-pay and turn in the paper with the medical code for billing, the young lady behind the desk asked if I was Mr. Cheater pants wife. I said yes and she proceeded to tell me how absolutely wonderful and great he is and how much she loves his classes because he is so entertaining! I thought I would be physically ill! I ran out of the office and into my car crying my eyes out! If she only knew! I wonder if she saw the code she had to enter and knew what it was for?

    • That sucks.

      That happens a lot when I run into people who work with the ex. Oh, they loooooooooove him. He’s a greaaaaaaaat guy.

      And I remember when I was at the lab, checking in for my STD tests. The clerk recognized me and delightedly yelled, “You’re K’s mom!! How ARE you! How is K?”
      Wullllllll…can I have my STD pee cup, please and thank you?

      Hahaha. Cheaters suck.

      • Yes Miss Sunshine, it’s so delightful isn’t it? Now that the divorce is final I just tell them the truth and smile my ass off! You should see the look on people’s faces! And not a damn thing he can do about it either! Some people ask why I divorced him and I just tell them that I didn’t like his married girlfriend he found on Facebook! NOW THATS DELIGHTFUL! And “nice”??? Remember, these socios only do “nice” shit when they are positive it will get them something! They always have an ulterior motive! There is no other reason, it’s a way of living for them!

    • So sorry, roberta. My ex taught those classes, too! He quit two years ago, but I still sometimes run into former students. Just recently, ex was in town and took our son to a rec class. For the next three weeks I got to hear from another mother about how small the world was: her father taught my ex judo in another town, 50 miles away. Small world that we end up in the same city. It was all I could do to keep from saying “well, neither ex nor his best friend must have been good students, since ex cheated and friend covered/never told me about it.”

      • Zyx321, it makes me want to hurl my food! But I know he will never change and the OW he is with will eventually catch on. He’ll treat her the same way once he’s sure she’s hooked! My past is her future, but I don’t feel bad for her at all cause she wanted his old tired ass so bad! Good luck with that sucker!

  • Mine seemed to be more worried about pleasing the women he worked with than being nice me. LOL. He was always good at being nice to people he thought could do something for him.

    One thing I remember and that several other people commented on was when we took our newborn baby to his place to work to show off. He grabbed the baby and sprinted off ahead of me, leaving me to gingerly pick my way after him (4th degree episiotomy). A couple of people told me they felt sorry for me when they saw him do that.

    My ex always walked far ahead of me. I asked him if he could slow down but he never would, in fact asking him to slow down just made him walk faster. Or if he did walk with me he’d sigh like it was killing him. He didn’t seem to think it was rude to walk ahead with female coworkers and leave me to trail behind at events. I also remember him and his brother walking on either side of his brother’s young girlfriend. They were both flirting with her and left me to trail behind with our 4 year old. By then I’d stopped asking him to wait for me but it sure did make me feel like a nothing to be treated like that.

    • Mine was always in love with one or another of the women he worked with. He went through a phase once where he was always making plans to go hiking with a group from work. I wasn’t allowed to go. I’m sure everyone at work would have been so impressed with how he treated me.
      He had the balls to lie about where he was going and with whom, and then tell me that on the Howard Stern show, he talks about how you shouldn’t bring your girlfriend out with your friends, it’s such a buzz-kill. I asked him if that same idea applied to your WIFE, but he just sneered.
      He built a bike for one of these women (suuuuuuuuuper nice guy that he is.) He never built a bike for me, but he did allow me to borrow that bike until he moved out to go live with OW. It was HIS bike, he said. (Such a nice guy.)

      And he liked to walk ahead of me when we’d go for walks on weekends when we were young and “in love.” He just despised me. I’m such a chump.

  • My stbx always walked ahead of me too. Never opened the door for me and when it was freezing out – do you think he ever dropped me off at the door? Hell no – he would park and I would have to walk in the cold with him. I remember one time we were camping with a bunch of other couples. Stbx was going up top to the store to get stuff. He asked everyone if they needed something. He had a list – which included the milk I had asked for. When he got back from the store, he managed to get everything everyone else had asked for, except for the milk. Such a nice guy..

    • Another one here. Would never drop me at the door and walked way ahead of me. Of course he was “in shape” and I wasn’t according to him. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was over a foot taller than me and one of his steps was three of mine.

      It really was him though, because he didn’t even want to drop his elderly grandparents at the door when we drove them to a family party once. I had to tell him to do so. It was easier for him to just pull up and park way down the street.

  • Reading this, I wanted it to apply to me and my ex. I wanted to say that I’m the grunting kind person, while she’s just the superficially nice person. But, I couldn’t. Yes, I’m the grunting kind person. But my ex was both kind AND nice…for years.

    …until she wasn’t. Then she was only nice.

    I don’t know about now. Maybe she’s kind again.

    I did think about it, though. I thought about how quickly she turned her kindness off. Like a lot of chumps, I thought about my spouse “becoming a different person.” And I know now that she wasn’t a different person. She was always capable of such cruelty. She’d just never found something that she wanted to much that she needed to be that cruel.

    It was eye-opening.

    During our divorce, after her fourth or fifth request that I give it another chance, I wrote to her that I wouldn’t. I told her that I’ve seen her capacity to hurt me, hurt my family, and hurt my friends, all while she had no intention of ending our marriage. She didn’t like reading that (I got back a nasty response), but it was all true. Maybe, for a split second, I forced her to look in the mirror and see what kind of person she was. I’m sure she got over it sooner than I did (I’m on this website, after all!). But, I like to think that I got through to her, even if only for a few short hours.

    Yes, we chumps spackle. But cheaters have to spackle even more. They have to pretend they are kind people or that they are somehow justified in their cruelty. Accepting otherwise would shatter their entire self.

  • Nice vs. kind. Damn story of my married life. At Christmas this little old man comes up to me and says that x is soooo sad. Hmmmmm what should be my response??? That his skank MOW has left him to be with her family???? that he f*ing chose this for all of us without all of the family voting for it???? That he f*ing deserves to be since he annihilated me on d-day2, just because he wanted to???? But he is so nice, kind not so much. But if he never has anything bad to say to anyone, and that not one person realizes that he doesn’t say much of anything of substance to anyone, he’s sarcastic but funny, but truly means the mean things that he says. Not one other person “sees” this. But on the other hand, I’m sad, depressed, mean “looking” (that’s just my damn face), say things that people don’t want to hear, not in a mean way (we apparently HAD friends that were assholes of the first degree, red flag waving), but of course I’m the mean, jealous one.
    My children are young adults, so at least the m-f*er “waited” to blow us up until then. Anyway, my daughter tells me that she saw this guy that worked with x at his former job. He tells her “I saw your dad.” That’s it, nothing else. My daughter says she just stayed looking at him, like “is there anything else?”. The guy says nothing. By this point in time ( my daughter has tried with her father, but him not so much, she’s starting to see him for what he is) asks the guy “and?”. This whole conversation just reeks of the “poor me” narrative that the x has spewed around. We assume that my daughter should have inquired about her father and his NEVER ending sadness, because he is a poor sausage. The guy says nothing, I’m sure that he thinks that my daughter is a JR. Mean apple, fallen from the original MEAN Mama Tree.
    I’m tired of this whole thing. I am not a victim. I am not mean or jealous. I am not the awful wife that he had to get away from. I am a chump. I am loyal and I have integrity. I am getting to be mighty and I am working this out in my own time and my own way.

    • “that he f*ing chose this for all of us without all of the family voting for it????”

      Exactly. Chump lady talks a lot about unilateral decision making and how it is a form of abuse. I agree.

      e.g. cl: “If I’m in a relationship or marriage with someone, I damn well expect them to inform me that they want it to be OPEN so I can make an informed decision about my sex life and my health and if I want to stay in that relationship. I don’t want a “loving” partner making unilateral decisions about my life, courting STDs, and bringing them home. I don’t want to be someone’s fool…”

      and cl: “Cheaters may claim they love you, but they can never say they respect you. To lie to someone, to hide important truths about their life, to make unilateral decisions — these are acts of arrogance and disrespect.”

  • I feel quite sad reading all this. I can’t really contribute – my stbx has never done a kind thing in his life. I guess he was quite nice when we first got together, but I have been racking my brain and I honestly can’t remember his ever doing anything kind or thoughtful or generous. Ever. He has never donated to a charity, never volunteered his time, never coached a kid’s team, never offered to lend someone a hand, never spontaneously done anything for me (in the last 20 years that I can think of). As someone said before, he is no-one’s bitch. No-one has the right to ask him to do anything for them. No-one should expect anything from him. Sad really. I am a kind, generous, thoughtful person, a typical chump, I would do anything for anyone. I guess he just thinks I am a sucker. But I really don’t give a rat’s arse what he thinks.

    I just hope my children take after me. I am the one they see all the time, a couple of weeks per year with the stbx at the most – even less now we live in different countries.

  • I honestly can’t remember with any clarity what he was like anymore. I’ve stepped so far back. The only reality I’m focusing on is what I’m dealing with right at this moment. 1: I’m no longer in love with him, 2: he’s being a total douchebag, even with the kids, 3: I’m never going back. Who cares about his old characteristics or even what he is perceived as when we have suffered at his actions and he still pursued them knowing it would floor us?

  • ‘Nice’ v ‘kind’ for me was never better exposed than during the bigger traumas of life. The more challenging the personal issue – life threatening illness; accident; moments of reflection over loved ones who had died – the more irritated he was at my emotions and less able to provide even the most basic level of emotional support. I was a strong independent woman and emotions were not permitted – unless they were his. Very consistent with difficulties on the empathy front. My ex was Mr Nice guy to many but very hard on me. Fortunately our close friends saw him behave badly with an earlier girlfriend twenty plus years ago so the lies, and distortions, projection and delusion didn’t work when he was looking for a narrative to justify leaving and cheating on me … At 50 it is far more transparent …

  • As for “nice” vs. “kind”…. I am NOT a “nice” person but I am not unkind. I consider myself to be a “good” person and most of all a loving person. I have integrity and I try to do the right thing, I tell people the truth and not what they want to hear. I don’t say things or DO things JUST to make myself look good or nice. I do not mistreat people but I do treat them accordingly. If someone shits on me…. I don’t have a problem letting them know I don’t appreciate it…. it’s called boundaries…. if you don’t draw lines with people then they will always over-step. I tried drawing lines for X….. I just kept moving the lines for him. Stupid me.

    X was always worried about people thinking he was “nice” and could never understand that I never really gave much of a shit what other people thought of me. I KNOW who I am and I am comfortable with my own character and integrity….. I don’t need meaningless kibbles…..

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