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What is the difference between cheaters and chumps?

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liarchumpToday’s guest post is by Tempest (who has a PhD in psychology)

Yes, yes—the obvious; one betrays their marriage or family as the other is trying to keep it healthy. Chumps free associate “CL” as Chump Lady, cheaters as CraigsList.

And, of course, we suspect that there are gross personality and cognitive differences between cheaters and chumps involving in cost-benefit analysis (really, cheaters, 30 visits to the strip club was worth burning your kids’ college tuition?) But what does the research say?

It is difficult to encapsulate all cases of cheating, or all cases of chumpdom, under a single category. There is, however, evidence that those who are willing to engage in unfaithful acts within a committed relationship are more entitled, have poorer impulse control, and are less empathetic than their faithful spouses. Conversely, additional research suggests that many chumps may have empathy, loyalty, and self-control in abundance.   Hyena, meet prey.

Surely, the freshly-married have stars in their eyes for each other, and “forsaking all others” ringing in their ears. Nope. A classic study[i] asked newlywed couples to participate in interviews and personality tests, including questions about their likelihood of engaging in acts of cheating within the next year (flirting with someone, having a passionate kiss, having a one-night stand, having a romantic date, having a brief affair, and having a serious affair).

Did any traits correlate with intended infidelity? Wait for it … Yup, narcissism. Shocked? Women and men with high Narcissism traits claimed they were more likely to engage in acts of infidelity; men with high Narcissism also predicted that their wives would be more likely to engage in infidelity (projection?).  It did not require that a spouse qualify for a full-blown diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, only that the person exhibit higher-than-average traits of self-centeredness, exploitativeness, and grandiosity.

Men and women low on Conscientiousness (defined as dependability, self-discipline, and a preference for planning over spontaneity) were also most likely to report that they would participate in extracurricular behaviors or relationships. Another shocker — both men and women who were deemed impulsive (based on a measure of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire) had a higher likelihood of performing at least 5 out of the 6 cheating behaviors. Cheaters have self-control issues?  Whodathunk?

We know that Narcissists often have sparkly traits; could their high levels of charm, achievement, and confidence be at the heart of why they felt more entitled to cheat? They tend to marry down because it is so hard to find their equal? Here’s the twist — the interviewers also judged each person’s overall desirability rating, to see if partners in discrepant relationships would be most willing to engage in infidelity. This was not the case; Mate Value Discrepancy was not a predictor of betrayal. The more desirable member of unequal pairs was not necessarily the one most likely to stray in the marriage. And most of those who predicted they might cheat had fairly equal Mate Values to his/her spouse.

So, sorry, one cheater excuse won’t fly — that infidelity was the only way they could tolerate marriage to their inferior spouses. (Of course, this leaves open that narcissistically-oriented spouses may perceive themselves to be of higher mate value, and thus entitled to seek extra perks outside the marriage, even if objective observers disagree about Ms. or Mr. Cheater’s actual appeal.)

What about the flip side — do chumps have personality traits that predispose us to be chumps? Women coupled with ClusterB men were invited to participate in an on-line study.[ii]   [Although the main research was conducted on women only, it’s not a far cry to assume that the same results apply to male chumps.]

Spouses of the disordered were found to score in the top 3% of the population on traits such as empathy, bonding, helpfulness, compassion, responsibility, loyalty, and trust. Sandra Brown termed these “supertraits.” So how is it possible for people so different from each other to become attracted in the first place? Chumps’ overabundance of positive qualities helps compensate for cheaters’ deficiencies in empathy and responsibility and loyalty. Cheaters can skate while chumps do the heavy lifting in the relationship. This, btw, has also been confirmed — people engaging in extramarital affairs are usually the ones doing less work to keep the marriage/relationship healthy.[iii]

But Brown also found that a few traits were shared by psychopaths and their relationship victims: Both were high on excitement seeking. But “I don’t like bungee jumping,” you say. “Kiddie coasters are the extent of my desire for thrills.”  For cheaters, this is obvious; seduction and deception themselves are sources of excitement. For chumps, the relationship drama is our excitement; we might hate, hate, hate the fights and the devaluing, but we adore the highs of love-bombing when things are going well. Until we don’t.

Cluster Bs and the people who love/d them were also both high in dominance (defined as “feeling as if one is in control of one’s own life”). That trait displays itself differently, though: cheaters believe that, through sheer force of their wonderfulness, they can bend us to their will. Dictate the terms of the relationship (in their favor, it goes without saying). And chumps? We believe we can change the sparkly-but-flawed cheater through the power of love. We can make a marriage work singlehandedly!! Superman and Wonder Woman have nothing on us; heck, those superheroes didn’t even have kids to juggle in the midst of saving the world.

So there you have it — the evidence has spoken. Cheaters really are overgrown toddlers with entitlement issues and the empathy level of a cockroach. Chumps, on the other hand, bear and forbear, dispensing care and concern to our undeserving spouses, while holding up our end of the tent and theirs.

How did your relationship fit the data?

By Tempest

[i] Buss & Shackelford (1997)

[ii] Brown (2010); website: saferelationshipsmagazine.com

[iii] Glass & Staeheli (2003)

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hi Tempest, can you provide the link for reference II? I can only reach a statement saying the data collection is complete. Cheers, JJ

  • Tempest. I love you. Thank you for this research.

    Tonight I played my music with the most wonderful married men proudly displaying their wedding rings and talking about their wives. Most of them married for 25 plus years.

    I know what is wrong with my picker. I know there are other chumps in the world and they come in both sexes. I hope and pray I will never settle for less again.

    The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain…

    “Chumps free associate “CL” as Chump Lady, cheaters as CraigsList.” This is hilariously true.

    • Love you back, CalamityJane! Yes, there are good people out there. We just have to make sure those people are in our “acceptable” dating pool. Integrity first.

  • Thank you for this information, Tempest!

    This confirms 150% even more what I have read about these Cluster B Personality Disorders. I have Sandra Brown’s book and she really explains in detail what you wrote above. I always refer to it and to a podcast I have posted many times. I highly recommend the book and the podcast. Both have been a major part of my healing process. Also both explained many puzzling questions I have about the ex, his family/friends, and mind also (Yes, of course his APs).

    This information above is very powerful and I hope it helps all the chumps out there. The more I read about them the more I can see that these experts are explaining my ex 110%. Also it explains how I became a chump. Yes, it explains me 110% in traits of a unwilling chump.

    I am all for posting more real data that really can explain in great detail the Cluster B PD and also explain why us chumps can be unwilling victims of these individuals. We need more information like this to help us be better informed and also ways to educate our children. I have read so many books about Cluster B Personality Disorders and they all say the same.

    Thank you again Tempest and Chump Lady!!!!! I am loving these guest post.

    Tempest you might find this interesting. I was posted yesterday in the Daily Mail (UK newspaper):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3199335/You-psychopath-don-t-yawn-study-found.html

    It talks about what you wrote above.

      • Thanks, Tempest! That is very interesting reading. Some things that Sam Vaknin also talks in his book and YouTube Channel. Also Tempest I posted some questions below. I hope you don’t mind answering them. I would love to have your professional views on the questions.

      • “Previous research on psychopathy has focused on what these individuals lack — fear, empathy and interpersonal skills. The new research, however, examines what they have in abundance — impulsivity, heightened attraction to rewards and risk taking. Importantly, it is these latter traits that are most closely linked with the violent and criminal aspects of psychopathy.”

        Very interesting. I’m not sure about lacking interpersonal skills…. many disordered have very GOOD interpersonal skills, in terms of being able to charm and dazzle people. But that paragraph from the article pretty much describes my ex, who was diagnosed NPD and probably is really a sociopath. He never felt fear or anxiety, even when it would have been normal to do so. Total, absolute confidence, regardless of the circumstances. And Lord knows he requires constant stimulation and excitement. It was exhausting to be with him.

        This is a great post, Tempest, thank you.

      • Good article, Temoest. I read an articke by a guy named Richard Skerrit where he disagrees with the oft cited comparison of the disorderd to toddlers.
        He points out that toddlers can be comforted and that their rages stopped when their needs are met. Not so with clustef b folks. He also points iut thst toddlers can truly love whereas disordered people cannot.
        He seemed to feel that while the behavior of the disorderd can appear to be due to arrested development, in reality,the disorderdd are fully developed, just really messed up. They do not really resemble toddlers because of the aforementioned inability to be consoled and the lack of capacity for love vs toddlers who can be comforted and can be very loving.

        I also wonder why some of the books regarding relationships with the disordered, like Lundy Bancrot’s anc the one you mentiin abouf women married to psychopaths could not be more gender neutral. I wish there was mord out there in terms of support for men martied to abusive women.

        • Yes, the toddler comparison was poetic license (no analogy ever fits perfectly, and I love toddler; cheaters not so much). After all, who/what are cheaters like? Perhaps pit vipers? But even they moderate the amount of venom in a warning vs. an attack strike.

          I completely agree with the research being one-sided. Believe me, I looked for information on male survivors of infidelity when trying to write this. Almost tempted to start a study myself…

          • The stuff I have read for male survivors of abuse is from a couple websites : Shrink4men, Shari Shreiber, amd Sam Vaknin has one youtube post on female narcissists. I do not think society has caught up with the fact that the personality disordered come in both genders at , roughly the same rate.
            Even Vaknion still thinks that NPD is more common in men. I have read that the reason more women are diagnosed with BPD and HPD and men with NPD and ASPD may be due to the fact that ASPD and NPD are thought of as more malignant and the folks diagnosing still cannot bring themselves to look at females that way.

            • Tempest, such a great post. Very healing for me. I needed your wise words today backed by research. Such wonderful insightful truth that you spoke and I am very grateful! And YES, you described my ex-nar-abuser to the Tee.

    • ^^^Very Much This^^^!
      My profound gratitude to Tempest for this amazing post, and to Beth for a
      wonderful response.
      I’ve been soaking in as much of Sandra Brown’s material as I can get ahold of because it resonates with me so much. I was late-to-the-party in participating in Ms. Brown’s survey, but I believe I fit into her profile: a college graduate with a high GPA, successful and well-respected in my career – which included 30 years with the same amazing company. I was confident, happy and hopeful about my future, even with the challenges of my deteriorating physical condition.

      Then I met him. I found him
      quiet, unassuming, with a great self-deprecating sense of humor. Intelligent,
      kind and generous, I was puzzled by his determined refusal to pursue college despite the fact he had the resources to do it from his parents. He also had a penchant for working mediocre jobs – which were varied – classic underachiever. Being an open-minded Chump, I just took it in stride.

      He is perfectly described by Ross Rosenberg as a Covert Narcissist. Coming across as a perpetual Eagle Scout, he voluntarily and cheerfully ran the gauntlet of my close friends and family members (male and female), passing with flying colors. We married over a year later – a beautiful September wedding in 2013

      I discovered his serial cheating and secret life February of 2014. The rest is history: I filed, and the divorce was final February of this year.

      I’m fascinated with the results of Sandra’s survey data and her conclusions. Though some Chumps may have what is classified as Co-Dependent behaviors, ANYONE can be a Cluster B’s target. They are that good at what they do. In fact, Robert Hare, who is a modern pioneer working with these disorders and the people who have them, admits to occasionally being duped by his patients. What I’m trying to say is, don’t automatically assume you’re Co-Dependent because you were taken for a ride-to-hell by one of these predators.

      Tempest, when I put up my first post on this blog, confounded by my then-husband’s actions just a couple days before (I was still a bit scared), you were the one who told me what his agenda was, and what would probably happen next. You were right on all accounts. Your insight helped me to officially file ASAP, and gain control of the situation. Thank you so much and big hugs!

      • Boudica, yours is the type of story that scares me most. Some disordered folks can completely wear the mask until their victim is snared, only revealing their real selves in small cracks once it’s hard for the victim to get away. My ex is such a person as well. Even though my current boyfriend doesn’t show signs of being disordered, it still really scares me that he might just be fooling me, and eventually I’ll find out I was chumped once again. This makes it really hard for me to trust or move forward with the relationship.

        • GladIt’sOver and IHave Hate, I felt the same way also. Now since educating myself about PD and reading so many books. I do find myself feeling much better these feelings. I am getting pretty good at seeing the signs. They are behave the same way. There is clear (well to me) red flags I can see within seconds of meeting someone new and people I been knowing for years. Is it full proof? No, but I am enjoying my new “super power” now.

          I can fully understand how you feel. I know I will always be on alert when it comes to things like this.

      • Thank you Boudica Reborn. If you don’t mind me asking if you can prove me with the link that Tempest replied to you about what his agenda was?

        The reason I ask is that I still don’t understand why the ex set his sights on me and these AP (one is his wife). I am still puzzled because we were very young and still trying to sort out what we wanted to do. His future life was not sorted at all. In fact, it was not going to well. I was just starting to sort out my formal education and at the time we both were working fast food place. We were working together and that is how we meet. So there was nothing in term of money. We both were very young adults trying to sort out what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives.

        Then 20 years later things were very different. We both had our formal education done, great jobs, new home, and even I was about to even go along with having kids. He would beg me to have kids for many years. Then the first Dday. Everything changed. He wanted to stay together I was about to file and I feel for it. The promises. Nothing came to be true. Few years later another Dday but it didn’t add up long story but now I know it was another Dday. Then another Dday day that one was the one that he left for the ow and now his wife. They have kids together now (2). She is 20 years than him. Her mother is 5 years older than him.

        All along I had so many red flags about his behavior. Now I just want to know why me? Why them? Why all that wasted time since there was really nothing to gain for it? I don’t have money. There was nothing to gain in our relationship. I guess now that is my last question so I can fully close this book.

        Thank you again.

          • Thank you so much Tempest for all your contributions to this blog and through the forums. We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as you are. With the knowledge you had after DD1, you believed that your generous offer to give your marriage another shot was your best option. With what you knew then, you could not know your ex would take your generous offer at a second chance as a new shot at double cake! His loss!

            But I can relate to your struggle. I am a repeat chump (from two different relationships), and I know forgiving myself will probably be the hardest part of this whole journey.

            I hope that it can bring you solace to know that your comments, filled with wit and incredibly rich wisdom, have been a beacon of hope as I keep forging on to Meh. I stumbled upon CL and CN right around Xmas, the best gift I could have hoped for! Thanks to you, Dat, Beth, Arnold, Luziana, Boudica and many many other amazing contributors, I find the strength and wisdom I need to forge on.

            Beth – I have been working through the “Why Me?” question. I thankfully have not had to deal with any of this, but a friend how was diagnosed with cancer gave me the best advice. She told me it took time for her to get that she was spending more energy trying to understand why she got cancer than she was spending on healing and staying in remission. She is not placing her energy on remission while learning how to change the behaviors and thoughts that might have contributed to her first diagnostic (e.g. exercise, nutrition, stress). Applying her advice, I now spend as little time as possible on avoiding my strong tendency to untangle the skein (http://www.chumplady.com/2012/06/untangling-the-skein-of-fuckupedness/) and as much energy as possible focusing on what I can learn from my past that will help me build my joyful, cheater-free future.

            • Chumptitude,

              Thank you so much for your kind words. Hugs to you! You also have some amazing comments on these pages. One thing I know that Chump Nation is a great source of information and support. That includes you, Chumptitude. You are so mighty. Thank you so much again for your support. It means so much to me the kind words of encouragement and the wonderful link you provide. So many people like you on this site has offered me so much help and better insight about these PD individuals. Many hugs to you!

              My heart goes out to your friend that is dealing with cancer. I will keep her in my prayers. Your friend is correct with what you wrote to me. When I read that people are dealing with such terrible illnesses like cancer I know that my issues has nothing compared what she is dealing with. Thank you for that and your comments. Sending her prayers and hugs. She sounds like an amazing and very strong person. I hope and pray she overcomes her illness. Please let her know that Chump Nation is on her side. Also please keep me posted on how she is doing.

              I guess the reason I asked the question is to help me better understand and educate myself on how these disordered individuals work and think. Also to help others to better understand how damaging they can be.

              I hope my question on “Why me?” did not come across as a pity me question; however, a question that I want to gain more information so I can educate and empower myself to better understand the mental thinking process of these PD individuals. If I can better understand how these PD minds work and the signs maybe just maybe we all can help someone else out there.

              I am at the stage of wanting to break down the old stereotypes and excuses and statements of what people deal with these PD individuals. Two previous post from Chump Lady “Worst Infidelity Advice?” and another one “Is the Mid-Life Crisis Real?” are two prime examples how us chumps deal with such insensitive comments and stereotypes when it comes to cheating and the AP and the cheaters themselves and even from our so-called family and friends.

              I fully believe that we need to educate ourselves and every single person on this planet so they can be aware of PD. These PD individuals do not offer anything good to the world. Still today I was reading (on some other site) the same uneducated insensitive statement about cheaters, AP, and it is all the fault of the chump. That is abuse also.

              That is the many reasons behind my question.

              • Thank you Beth for your kind words! This is a painful nation to be a part of, but I am very grateful to know that we are all in this together, helping each other out with the resources and support we all need to create our best life!

                Very much like you, I crave to understand how I got here, how I could have become a repeat chump especially given all the knowledge I had at the time. Some books I keep re-reading that you might find helpful include:
                *Why does he do that? by Bancroft (I mentioned this one in an earlier comment)
                *Stop caretaking the borderline and narcissist by Flejstad
                *The Betrayal bond by Carnes

                These books are filled with good resources, sound research and practical insights.

                The start of trauma relationships are generally good. For me it was rather the slow slide from balanced to toxic relationship that took place. I believe that rationalization defense mechanisms that I used during early mask slipping episodes kept me in the relationship for way longer than it would have had I had better boundaries. The more he was pushing, the more I rationalized.

                Hence, I not only need to fix is both my picker, but also shape up my ability to keep my boundaries up in romantic relationship once I decide to commit to a specific person. Much more work ahead!

              • Thanks, Chumptitude. I just looked up The Betrayal Bond, and a few sentences in the synopsis on Amazon really struck me:

                “Little acts of degradation, manipulation, secrecy and shame on a daily basis take their toll. Trauma by accumulation sneaks up on its victims.”

                This is the trauma that people don’t see–the small insidious acts that wear us down and suck the life out of us.

        • Hi Beth! Don’t ya just love the autocorrect messaging? There are times I could strangle my phone.
          The baffling behavior I posted on that day last December (I don’t remember the date or post right now), was this in essence (I was still pretty stressed and don’t remember exactly what I wrote): I had suddenly and secretly moved out of the house (his house) and he came home from work to a house-without-a-spouse! Surprise! I had become the Kibble Nazi – No Kibble For You! Not knowing where I relocated at the time, he wrote an apologetic letter via email, stating he didn’t understand why I left, thought our marriage was stronger than this, felt sorry that I was so afraid of him that I felt compelled to leave, and capped it off with saying he would undergo counseling to see where he messed up. Still Chumpy at that point I replied: Thank you. After that…..crickets. Since I didn’t come running home after his “heartfelt” declaration, curiosity made me check some things about 24 hours later. 1. He had changed the password on his/our email account so i couldn’t access it, and 2. On his Facebook page, he had eliminated all photos of us together (wedding, honeymoon, misc. – everything, along with all references of me. Every single comment about me or us from both him, myself and friends – gone. It was as though I never existed. Oh, and the Marital Status? Guess! Yup – Single. At that point Tempest alerted me: he’s getting ready for a pre-emptive strike. Getting counseling huh? Counseling my ass!!! I filed as soon as I could get to an Attorney’s office.

          • Oh, I forgot the most important part of all:
            He had taken my name off of our joint bank account. That fast.

            • Oh dear, Boudica Reborn. That does ring a bell about the ex. Many hugs to you about that disordered freak. The ex was the same way. The reason why I asked is to better understand how these disorder things work. I do see many similar things in your ex and my ex. Thank you for sharing that for me. What he did is pure evil. Just like my ex and yours one second you are the best thing since slice bread and then next you are sadly nothing to them. I experience the same thing just in a different order of events.

              You are so mighty! I wish I was much stronger then. Sadly I didn’t have the information as I do now.

              (Gotta love autocorrect-mine is having issues with correcting green to prime today-everday it is something new with my autocorrect). ha!

        • Beth, I agree with not
          over-thinking why you were chosen. However, my theory is that Chumps, having what Sandra Brown describes as Super-Traits, ooze compassion and empathy through our pores, and Cluster B’s can somehow smell it on us – like sharks can smell blood in the water. Both are unfeeling predators. I believe I would feel safer with a real shark – they live out their true nature, and don’t even attempt to mask it.
          Seriously, what Narcs/Psychopaths do is study human behavior extensively. Example: If they detect a potential target, they will find a way to approach the person to start a conversation. In the process of talking (read: interviewing), they will work some sort of misfortune and/or tragedy that has befallen them into their narrative – then study your reaction. If you respond with a great deal of kindness, compassion and possibly helpfulness…bingo! They have a possible target – let the games begin!

          • Thanks again, Boudica Reborn. Yes, Sandra Brown’s book & website is amazing. Reading your story and others I can see my ex in so many of them. What you wrote above is clearly my ex. That is what he did in my case. I know for a fact he did to others.

            I am learning so much from you and others on this site. Chump Lady and Chump Nation has helped me so very much. I cannot thank you all enough for all the love and the support.

      • Boudica: I’m glad I was able to help you months back (and help get that paperwork filed asap). Your posts are always so full of strength that it is inspiring, and you’re a great model for newly minted chumps.

        Amen to the not-a-codependent argument. Being chumped doesn’t mean a person is co-dependent; we can be deceived by master deceivers, and not relish haven been taken for a ride once we find out about infidelity. Best way to make sure you’re not co-dependent? Leave the abusive narc.

        • Tempest and Boudica,
          I always question the co-dependent part of these studies. I don’t have the signs of being co-dependent. So that I have to disagree on that part and say with that part of the studies that isn’t 100%. I am very strong minded. I know I never could sort out the odd behavior with the ex. I had so many excuses or reasons from him being young to being a follower. I know but that is what I did. When I meet the ex I was very much single for about a year or so. Then after the split and the divorce I was single for about 1 year also. Yes, some dates but nothing to write home about. I enjoyed being single. I enjoyed being able to do what I wanted to do again and how I wanted to do it. I got to know who I was again. Well even before we split up I was pretty much single I just didn’t know it.

          • Beth-I’m with you on this. When I met my soon to be ex I was young and naive but I really don’t think I match the co dependent characteristics. I’ve always been very independent and strong and a “rock” to my friends and family. I definitely was attracted to the love bombing, heck, I thought that was just courting. I, too, think I will be fine as a single person after 20 years. I have my kids and great friends. My biggest heartbreak comes from the extreme verbal abuse I received at the end of our relationship and watching my kids go through the crap my stbx and his family are putting them through. I pray it makes them stronger and smarter for their adulthood.

            • Codependent is way overused and very amorphous. There is nothing codependent about trusting a master liar or hesitating to divorce once you are entangled. There are, often, kids, finances, mortgages and rsspectdd vows that would cause any healthy person to hesitate and think about ramifications.
              These folks target good, empathetic, committed people and are masters at fooling folks. That mask does not come off right away, often not jntil enmeshment and entanglement is well in place.

              • Yes, my therapist told me I was codependent and it shocked me. I never thought of myself in that light and did not fit the criteria. Such a loosely used word. And in my opinion, one more little message we get about what we did wrong.

              • You’re right, ChumpB–it is absolutely victim-blaming. “Hey, you’re suffering at the hands of another’s behavior. How did you contribute to that?” Burns me.

        • I may be taking a harsh stand on this, but I believe
          that automatically putting the
          co-dependent tag on Chumps has a slight whiff of victim-blaming. Not intentional, just well-meaning but ill-informed. “You’ve been chumped? You must be co-dependent.”

          • Me too. My first therapist tried to label me co-dependent. I didn’t even know what it meant. I went home and looked it up and got really angry. I was always independent and had my own things going on, which actually irked my ex. He tried to control me until it got to be too much work. He was lazy so he gave up and just internalized his resentment.

            I was doing very well when I met him. I did enjoy being married and having a partner but I don’t think I was co-dependent and neither does my current therapist.

          • There isn’t really research on ‘co-dependency’, since it’s not a concept or diagnosis that’s used in psychology or psychiatry. It comes more out of the addictions field, which until recently was almost entirely by ex-addicts, not trained researchers or specialists, using 12 step models, which are also not research based.

            Same goes for all the ‘sex addict’ stuff – mental health specialists have a lot of doubts about that, and there’s very little research on the problem or the suggested treatments.

            What I don’t understand is why couple’s counsellors aren’t educated about the role of personality traits and Cluster B traits/disorders on infidelity. There’s too often the assumption that everybody’s reasonable and mature, and can work this crap out. Hah! Rrrriiiiiggggtttt…..

            • Thanks for this, KarenE. So much depends (no pun intended) on what school of thought the constructs emerge from, and lots of stuff just doesn’t translate across models. I really appreciate hearing it put so succinctly. 🙂

              When I was first starting to put 2+2 together, I was very fortunate to come across an organization called POSARC. They follow the trauma model, not the co-dependency model, and I think the difference is so much more than a semantic one. That model and their website saved my hide, because it made me realize that it wasn’t *my fault* or *my choice* to be cheated on and abused, and there was absolutely nothing I could have done to mitigate/control what my ex did. Ultimately, this knowledge led me here, and I am sincerely grateful to be part of this Nation and learning and growing every single day by what I read. In the intersection of our stories and lived experience, I’ve found courage and I’ve found hope. More, I’ve found folks I’m proud to call my friends.

              Having said that, though–I will never remove co-dependency from the many check-points along my way to healing. Maybe I didn’t choose to be chumped, but I did/do choose what to do with the information I have at any given time. That’s on me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

              Love to all of CN, and thanks again Tempest for a very illuminating post.

            • Therapy. It’s serious stuff. One thera tells me I am codependent, another doesn’t spot his narcissism at all, however, narc ex abuser was VERY good in therapy: soft-spoken, concerned, sensitive, intelligent, and tearful. Fooled that therapist for sure. I think the best solution is to simply ask the thera. What is your experience working with Cluster Bs? (though many of us may not have known to even ask or think of a question like that) and go from there because I know for a fact that they are well trained in all DSM diagnoses. It’s just that PDs are tricky, especially the brands of narcissists. Narcs are sneaky and I believe really know how to fool a thera. It’s part of their maddening traits, appearance.

          • Of course its victim blaming. Its basically saying “You are tolerating this shit because you have flaws too!”

          • Thank you, BrokenHearted Believer.

            Boudica Reborn,

            That is how I take it also and I cannot agree enough it is Victim Blaming.

            Lania,

            Great way of thinking what I have been feeling for many many years.

        • Thank you Tempest for your amazing discussion/research. See, I get the codependent gene. LOL before I was married decades ago I mindfully acknowledged codependent behavior since I grew up in an alcoholic household. I was very careful not to marry a drug addict or an alcoholic . Hahaha joke was on me, I didn’t get the narc, sex addict memo!! I am seriously laughing at this madness. The great thing is I no longer feel alone in crazyland! I am actually feeling a bit normal under the circumstances I have been in, thanks to CL and everyones contributions and comments. Thank you – you all are mighty:-) 🙂

          • See, theres no such thing as ‘sex addiction’ being used to cheat. If someone’s sex drive was that high, there are PLENTY of ways to fulfill that desire other than cheating.
            First way being “Provide sex thats actually fucking interesting and your partner might want to reciprocate?”

    • Hi Beth — At some point I have to stop focusing on the character flaws of Handsome (Mr. Cheaterpants) and start focusing on how to identify sterling character traits in people, and what it feels like in my heart to be around people who have the healthy attributes I seek. What does it feel like to be around an honest person? How do the other people react to the honesty in this person? What does it feel like to be around a person who has at least an average dose of empathy? How can I identify humility in a person? So far I have identified three qualities that seem heart-warming in a man: honesty, empathy, humility. There are other qualities I seek, and I have an idea of what to avoid . . . however, I want to become expert at identifying the good qualities, and seek to have my perceptions objectively verified by others.

  • Last night I sat at a table with the mighty chumps with super traits. Each and every one was beautiful inside and out. The excitement cheaters seek is self serving. It does NOT go away.

    I was stuck for the longest time reliving how I put my super traits to good use over the years of being in a relationship with the abusive thrill seeking boy wearing his super hero cape of escape.
    It goes like this: I took care of his grandmother for years, i was a good mother, I forgave, supported and did all the right things to make it work.

    As chumps we relive all we did and the truth in the end is the thrill of the chase suoerceed anything we could have, would have done or did.

    We as chumps need to know we did what comes naturally to us and THEY do what comes naturally to them.

    I will NO longer ruminate on what I did and waste another moment beating MYSELF up over being a GOOD person. Fuck them.

    As chumps we beat ourselves up over this for YEARS. I’m changing my narrative leaving the serial cheating, personality disordered OUT of my goodness.

    As we move forward it’s important to accept our super traits and remove the “and he..,…” (Lied, cheated, abusdd) statements. Donna you were an amazing mother. Donna you were kind to those who needed your love and understanding. Donna you provide live and support to children and make a difference in their lives daily.

    From this day forward I will look at my traits and align them with those worthy of appreciating them and never include X. Thank you TEMPEST.

    Just a funny note. I am writing this from my car as I met up with the lovely and amazing chumps last night and I couldn’t drive home because if torrential rain and was unable to drive. I pulled over and found an inn however it was full so I slept in the parking lot in the back seat if my car. We create and build when we nurture what WE have. We really do have a lot now don’t we?

    • Donna–your posts are the main thing that motivate me to forgive myself for putting up emotional abuse and being sporadically belittled for too many years. I know you are aware of my X’s demand letter that I read the other day (from 8 years ago), and have been beating myself up for staying for 8 more years, even after he basically said, “You suck, and here is what you need to do if you want me to stay with you. Oh, yeah, and even that may not be enough.” I stayed for the right motives, as did all of us. We stayed for our children, to try and help a flawed spouse, because we had made a commitment & took it seriously. All those things are admirable, not shame-worthy. Your posts always remind me of that.

      You’re also great at the “glass half full” attitude–“Had to sleep in my car? Yeah, but I got to meet a great group of chumps!” Thank you for your wisdom & inspiration.

        • “I stayed for all the right motives, as did all of us.” Yes, yes, yes. I got a “you suck” lecture 8 years ago from my cheater. I couldn’t understand it. I was such a devoted wife and mom. I stood up to him and told him his attitude was way off and that I didn’t deserve it so he either needed to change his attitude or go live with his mother. He said he’d change his attitude but he never really did and I put up with it, the belittling, mean behavior and I just kept spackling. I absolutely 100% stayed for my kids. Maybe it was the right thing to do because now they are older and can see him for who he really is. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do, but it is what it is.

      • Tempest

        This touches me so much. Thank you. Brown talks about being an “Ambassador of Change”. CL and Brown are the new pioneers. Knowing these super traits put us at risk is heartbreaking. It’s what makes us persevere and make sacrifices we DON’T have to make. I missed the “If only” I knew boat. Now we have life rafts and a life line with CN.

        Your post about the letter was timed right after my therapist told me to stop beating myself up. Your post made it sink in that as chumps we carry such a burden of pain far deeper than just being cheated on. They make demands!! Your letter helped me figure this out. I love reciprocal relationshios!!

        • Donna, I cannot agree with you more about Brown and CL being new pinoneers in helping us chumps being better informed with these soulless cheaters and their APs. Also I can see Tempest in that movement also. The truth that these ladies speak is loud and clear and the TRUTH. I owe so much to CL and CN and to Brown and now to Tempest in helping me be better informed about these PD aliens.

          I am the same when you wrote “If I only knew”. Sadly we are not born with this knowledge about PD and how to deal with them and how to heal from their abuse. The Dday with the ex happen many years ago and I had no clue what was going on. All the blame was on me. I knew that was not right. I knew something was not right about him. I thought that the first day I meet him. I just never could wrap my head around it. Now I do. He has every single NPD trait and I think he has even more that is not on the normal list. The more I read about NPD and PD the more I know without a doubt the ex, his ow(ife), his family/friends, and yes sadly my family and some friends have these disorders.

          Big hugs and much love to you all. Thank you again Chump Lady for all you have done for me and I know everyone else feels the same.

          • I agree Beth 100%, Tempest is mighty as hell in this movement!!

            What you described was exactly how I felt for years. I was aware off abuse growing up but could never wrap my head around the love me love me not feeling that always kept me off balance. This, today is just amazing to see how we get sucked in by these predators.

  • I fee like you just did a case study of my failed relationship while reading this… Thanks for the insight tempest!

  • I know this is going to sound naive and foolish to the enth degree, but is it possible for someone with narcissistic qualities to ever truly overcome their narcissism and become decent human beings? For many years I was on heavy medication for epilepsy, and during that time I would complain to my doctors that I was having significant cognitive problems which they then attributed to brain damage. Essentially, I was told that there was nothing I could really do about it. I was just finishing high school and entering into college when this began, so my mother arranged to provide for me due to my illness so long as I worked as her live in maid. This was also when I began dating my current fiancé. I had the persistent feeling that they were taking advantage of me in different ways, but my thinking was too fuzzy to clearly identify what was wrong or do anything about it. Seven years later I switched to a doctor who recognized my symptoms as the side effects of my medicine rather than brain damage. Once the drug was out of my system and I began to recover, I slowly started to wake up to the world around me and the people in my life. I was horrified to discover how bad the situation was. My mother had arranged for her doctor friend to put me on the medication I had been on so I would be “easy to manage”. My fiancé had been cheating on me and emotionally abusing me. So I started digging myself out of the hole I was in so that I could get my life back on track and escape. When my fiancé realized that I couldn’t be fooled into giving him eleventy million second chances anymore and that I was finally in a position to leave him, he started shaping up. As much as I distrust him, I want to believe that his progress is real. I want to believe him when he says that he’s a different man. The combination of love and trauma bonding (or possibly just trauma bonding and trauma bonding) make it difficult not to wish that the Blue Fairy might pay a visit and turn my fiancé into a real boy. On top of all that, my father is dying and my fiancé is my only source of support right now. Sometimes I feel like I can’t afford to leave him, and it scares me to think that that might be exactly the position he has set me up to be in. As angry as I am over the past, I know I would forgive him if he really was the changed man he claims to be. However, people with narcissistic traits tend to be excellent actors. I don’t want to chase after a mirage. Is there any way of knowing if the change is real, and is it even likely?

    • No. Cut your losses and RUN. Your head is now clear. Your deserve so much more. If that guy had had your back, he would have been the first person to take you to a specialist for a second opinion, over and over and over again.

      He’s love bombing you. It feels good and it’s supposed to. He wants you hooked and in place where he wants you to be, and then his behaviors and your sorrow will repeat itself all over again. Please end the relationship.

    • Hi Cat, I am going to give you a link to a well know writer and I believe he proclaims himself dealing with NPD. His name is Sam Vaknin. He has his one YouTube going into detail about NPD. Also he has written some great books about NPD.

      1st thing I have posted Can Narcissism be Cured?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npLHrRivMJU

      2nd is his YouTube channel. Great, great information on there

      https://www.youtube.com/user/samvaknin

      Hopefully it can help you out.

      • Overall, the answer is NO nothing can be done. The reason is that he doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong at all. It is a mental disorder and they don’t think anything is wrong with them. The is much debate in the field with Cluster B Personality disorders about nature vs nurture. Sounds like this person is playing the same mental games that all of these PD do.

        I highly recommend for you to get out of the relationship like NOW. Get some much needed help for yourself. Go 100% no contact. Educate yourself about PD. Chump Lady has a great book and also I recommend a book about PD from Sandra Brown and also there is a podcast on the site that Tempest wrote about. If you cannot find it just let me know and I will post it to you.

        Also just remember it will only get worse with the guy. If you can look at past post on this site and read the comments. It doesn’t get better. It is a mental disorder. Nothing can be done. It is not your job to “fix” him or wait around for it to get better. You have enough on your plate to wait until pigs can fly. Then again pigs will be flying BEFORE things will improve with him. Also look at it this way would you want your mother, your best friend to deal with such abuse? I don’t think you would. Just leave. Go no contact for your healing process. Learn about PD. Like this site reads “Leave a cheater, gain a life”.

        Also we are here for you! Stay with us also and we will support you but staying with him will be placing your health at risk and maybe even your life. Get out and now. Sending you some hugs and remember you are mighty and you can do this. You had a life before him and you will have even a BETTER life without him. Trust he sucks!!!!!

        • What do a narcissist and a sperm have in common? They both have about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being.

          Seriously. It’s not even a mental disorder. It’s more like they’re a different species altogether. They can not be fixed the way a shark can not be turned into a golden retriever.

          • “What do a narcissist and a sperm have in common? They both have about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being.”

            Love it, Kat!! (And that is pretty accurate about stats on the reform of narcissists.)

            • Tempest,

              I would love to get your professional opinion about a couple of things if you don’t mind:

              1. What are your thoughts about the cheaters marrying the OW/OM? What are the stats of them having successful marriage?

              2. What are your thoughts about the NPD wanting to have kids so much? The ex was always pushing me into having kids. We never did and now he has some with the Owife.

              3. What about the cheater and the Owife having shared social media accounts? Trust issues or what?

              4. What about when the cheater ends up staying in connect with the chumps family and friends during and after the divorce and still years after? Note he never did like any of my family and friends and we never had kids.

              5. Why do so many of these NPD end up having affairs with such younger people? The ex is about 20 years younger the OW (now wife) and about 5 years younger than her Mother.

              6. Will his “friends” and family (if they also have NPD then some don’t) ever see his true colors?

              7. I have not been in contact with him and/or anyone in his life including my family and friends that are still friendly with him. My question is do we ex’s ever come to there minds years later? Hence he is still in the same town and he still in the same area that we use to have a home together or we just truly forgotten?

              Many thanks!

              • Tempest, another question would him and her getting engaged just a few months into my divorce process be a sign of impulse control?

              • Beth, my “Is the Pope Catholic?” response below should have posted here. Yup, poor impulse control and lack of boundaries.

              • Hmmmm, interesting. Asshat can spend time on his own but he craves attention in a way that my lonely inner child never has. I enjoy the company of friends and family but also enjoy being alone. He accuses me of being anti-social and depressed, which is not true. He simply cannot understand that I don’t require constant validation and the admiration of others.

              • Response is for Chumpy Elf. I used to joke that my ex’s worst nightmare would be to be on a deserted island by himself. I think he would actually implode. Or explode. They’d just find a smoking crater surrounded by coconuts.

                I on the other hand am just fine spending time alone. In fact I love it. Going to a movie by myself, or dinner, or for walks. Ok, I have a toddler so now time alone is pretty non existent. Hell, time alone in the bathroom is non existent. I also don’t need to constantly be in relationships. I took three years off from dating in my twenties to spend time with myself and see what I needed to change.

              • ‘They’d just find a smoking crater surrounded by coconuts’.

                Oh Kat – what a fine, fine visual!

                ROFL!

              • CL should make a cartoon of your crater surrounded by smoking coconuts 😀

                This would be Asshat’s fate too had he not eaten all said coconuts ;O

              • Jayne, I thought of this later but I should have added that the coconuts would have been severely traumatized, if they survived the initial Asshat buffet, bc he’d probably have tried to hump them all first :-O I realized that is not an image anyone wants to have but if the coconut fits….

              • ChumpElf, you and I are very similar by the sounds of it. My 33 year old son has been very cruel to me and accuses me of not having any friends and abuses me relentlessly. I have a hand full of friends who have been in my life for mostly 40 years. That is what I call real friendship not this liking on Facebook etc. My ex and I lived a quiet life but I realise now that is not what he wanted. He has to entertain his 23 year old’s family practically overnight and he is 63 now. God I would love to be a fly on the wall. He was having nana naps with me. I bet he can’t have them now particularly with her 2 little boys of 5 and 7 to look after. That just might be a serving of karma, not sure.

              • Beth:
                A caveat–I’m a cognitive/developmental psychologist (rather than a clinician). I got interested in narcissism because of my developmental/parenting interests (how does one avoid raising a narc?) and ..oh yeah, ‘cuz I was married to one for almost 2 decades.

                1-Stats on cheaters marrying OW/OM are low to begin with, and second marriages are more likely to end in divorce (here is a quick link, though ignore the “Guilt about the affair undermines the foundation of the relationship.” line–we all know guilt rarely enters a cheater’s mind: http://aboutaffairs.com/2011/03/can-relationships-that-start-as-affairs-succeed-revisited/ ). Exit affairs may be different; one-time cheaters who leave a marriage in which they report being unhappy might have better marital luck (though I don’t know of stats on that). For serial cheaters–forget it. Just because they can convince someone to stay with them doesn’t mean that person is happy (and if it’s the OW/OM, too bad so sad if they are unhappy).

                2-I’m not sure all NPDs want to have kids; children get in the way of obtaining narc supply from their spouses. For those that do emphatically want children, they may view kids as a new and never-ending source of kibbles–from the children themselves, and because outsiders will view the children as embellishments. My narc father constantly bragged us up to others while treating us like crap in the house.

                3-Cheaters don’t do boundaries well; shared social media reflects either trust issues, or “look at how wonderful we are together!!” barf.

                4-A cheater trying to stay in touch with chump’s family is pure impression management. “Hey, his/her family likes me! I’m not a bad person!”

                5-Cheaters going for younger women or men is probably some combination of evolutionary factors and the desire for the impression of status. Hey, she may be skanky, but she’s !!25!!.

                6-Narcs do usually reveal themselves as exploitative frauds to a wider array of people through time. But as PT Barnum said, “There’s one born every minute,” so the narc will be able be able to fool some people for very long stretches.

                7-Highly unlikely they come to their senses. If life is hard enough on them, they will APPEAR to come to their senses to pull the pity-play. Don’t fall for it.

              • Thank you very much! I cannot thank you enough for your helpful and thoughtful and yes very funny insight. Much love to you! I am so very sorry and everyone here is dealing with such pain. Reading your comments will help my healing process even more. Thank you again! hugs;-)

              • I think the wanting to have kids is a control tactic, no different than wanting to be married quickly. Ties that bind you to them. They just don’t have the depth of emotion to realize the child will take attention away from them.

              • My ex loves kids too (supposedly). He always wanted more than the two he had with first wife. He was actually the one who insisted on keeping all of the kids’ baby clothes. What’s so weird though is that he has absolutely…and I mean none…pics of his kids except a pic of him with each of them that he has on the wall. And pics of his son playing little league. Always with the Little League. He had none of the kids when they were little or babies. And erased everything from the three years we were together off of facebook without saving anything. I still have all of my pictures of the kids. He’s never once asked for a picture of my son either.

              • Kat, don’t be fooled. I believe it’s because these parents see their children as literal extensions of themselves, especially the cool, athletic, talented parts that reflects their own interests.

                I have three sons, and X had his favorite, who happened to be a good baseball and basketball player. X loves basketball and baseball, so this son was in!

                The other two? Well, one time my son fell off the swing set and came in crying and holding his arm. I asked X to come with me to the hospital, and he told me to just wait until after the ballgame. It was the Sox v. Yankees, see? That’s his FAVORITE rivalry, and he wouldn’t have been able to yell obscenities at the TV. That’s his favorite past time, not baseball. P.S. Our son came home in a cast before the ninth inning.

                Another time, one of our boys joined a soccer team that played every Saturday morning for ten weeks in the fall. I was his coach. X never made ONE game. Why? Because, “I hate soccer.”

                The boys learned the pick me dance early, knowing that if they wanted their father’s attention, they damned well better be doing something he likes.

            • “What do a narcissist and a sperm have in common? They both have about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being.”

              Love this Kat, and still chuckling as images of traumatized coconuts in a crater keep popping into my mind, thank you!

          • “Why would I want to change? I like being me. I want the kids to be like me.” Yes, that’s what he said after decimating his wife and children. If doing damage to people who love you can’t inspire a little change of perspective, then nothing can.

            Great post, Tempest.

            • DoneNow, right before leaving the house the morning after Dday, my ex looked at me cool as ice and said, “I love myself just the way I am. I would never want to change.” This is a guy who committed more infidelity than anyone I have ever heard of.

              No, disordered do not change. They are not capable of change, because their brains are miswired in some way. It’s like a person who is born without eyeballs, they are never going to be able to “change” to having vision because they are lacking what is required for that ability.

          • OMG, Kat, I am one state away from you. Can you hear me shrieking with laughter? The narcissist comment would make a mighty fine tattoo. Like across a cheater’s forehead ;O

    • Cat

      Now that you have options given your new medication are you able to go to college part time and get a job with flexibility? The reason I’m asking this is because getting a job and going to school will build self confidence and make you less dependent on both your mother and fiancé.

      It’s time for YOU cat. Decide for yourself what is best for your future. When you make these changes see how they react. If they try to limit you or discourage you, things will become clear. Healthy positive people in your life are supportive and want you to succeed rather than keeping you in a place of dependence.

      As far as “believing”, believe in yourself. As far as having a fiancée whose action demonstrate disrespect, believe he is not going to change. It sounds like your caught between two people who limit your potential. If your mother is supportive of your decisions to take classes and find employment then it would be better to live there while achieving your goals. As far as the cheater DUMP him you deserve better. There is no magic pill for narcs. They rarely seek treatment and continue to degrade you. Pack up and get away from this asshole.

      • Cat, please run from both of these people. Your mother is a horrible person and your fiance is just as bad. Time for you to get the life you want. It is also time for you to get some therapy. The mother that you have is a terrible person who has changed the way you see the world and your value in it. Please go to therapy. Some people see the world through rose colored glasses and other have glasses with a monkey-vomit green. Your lenses might be monkey-vomit green, thank you so much mummy. Run! as fast as you can away from both of them. Much love.

    • “is it possible for someone with narcissistic qualities to ever truly overcome their narcissism and become decent human beings?”

      Cat–the short answer is No. I’m sorry you have to contemplate what to do with your relationship when you are in the midst of grief over your father’s illness. But your odds of winning the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket are roughly equivalent to your odds of reforming a narcissistic cheater. He will simply take his activities further underground.

      Two things motivate a cheater–Power and Impression Management. Having power over another person, whether through deception, being able to charm or seduce them, or raging until the person does what they want, is their ultimate high. They need impression management because it is very difficult to get someone to do what you want if the person thinks you’re a total jerk. Status is also power, and thus *appearing* to be high-status, or a good guy/girl, is mandatory.

      Your BF is illustrating both traits. As CL says, they have 3 channels–charm, pity, and rage. Your cheater is currently using charm (and possibly some pity) to get what he wants. What does he want? The respectability of a great girlfriend while he continues to cheat behind your back. Then, the deception becomes even more challenging now that you know he is a cheater!! Voila, an even greater high!

      Run. Have your exit strategy. I married someone I thought was a reformed narcissist/cheater (in his former marriage), and wasted almost a quarter century with a dishonest person. You cannot trust what they say; mine had explanations for why he wouldn’t cheat on me, and since he was 12 years older, I thought the age difference would also help his fidelity. Nope. Serial cheater for at least half of our marriage. He, too, was sporadically emotionally abusive, and it got worse, not better, once he had a ring on my finger.

      Hugs to you; this is hard to live through, but it is so much better the other side.

    • Oh Cat! I wish I could give you a big hug. I married my now-ex repeat offender cheater only four months after my last brain surgery. With my Dad in fragile health, I asked two of my girlfriends, one on each side, help me walk up the aisle. When I found out he was cheating the entire dating-engagement-marriage, I didn’t know what to do – I was at that point dependent on my husband, as I was by then disabled (but had not started the SSD process). I was also second-guessing myself at every turn because he was gas lighting me using the toxic “I’m not doing anything wrong. Aren’t you being over-reactive and too emotional? You’ve just been through brain surgery after all – consider that.”
      Cat, disordered people, like the ones who are/have been in your life won’t change. They can’t, and, even if they could, they probably won’t BECAUSE THEY LIKE WHAT THEY ARE!
      if you feel as though you have no other recourse, you can call the domestic abuse hotline (cheating is abuse), and explain your situation. I got out with only $100 in my pocket.
      Resources are out there for you,
      and very compassionate people behind those resources.
      Please get out of there, and let us know what’s going on.
      Chump Nation is here for you.

    • Cat, they are both vile creatures. If you can get away from them and go completely no contact for the rest of your days, please do. A good therapist can do you worlds of wonder as well, but only one well versed with narcs. I am so sorry that the person who was supposed to love and protect you chose to exploit you instead. It is just wrong, plain and simple.

  • Ok. You just described my life. Yes. I do like excitement. I know that bit about me has let me have some incredible experiences and opportunities. Yes, my relationship with the cheaterpants began with excitement that I ironically organized or friends of mine organized and invited him. Yes, there was subtle grooming to keep me in place and reward me with excitement. Yeesh.

    I have some things of my own to work on.

    • ANC, keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with liking excitement! Somebody has to be the firemen and the explorers!

      But I now know that I have to keep the excitement coming from HEALTHY sources; my work, sports, travelling, trying new activities… And in my next relationship, I’ll make sure the relationship is peaceful, even while we’re doing exciting things!

  • Gullibility is one of the super traits I think we chumps have. It is not just that we are stupid in a classic ‘gullible’ way, it is that we don’t know that we have the other super traits. We think everyone has them or most people and our cheaters just need a little more love. My XH was able to even use this against me. Accusing me of being manipulative for all of the nice things I would do for him, for our kids and for people and the world. The he would project his awfulness onto me, during his rages. It left me very insecure about who I was. Was I mean Ringin’. I didn’t think that offering to get dinner for someone was a mean and manipulative act, for example. But with my XH’s mindfuckery, some how simple things like that became evil. Free at last, Free at last, Oh thank God I am free at last.

    • OMG Ringin’ – that’s chillingly reminiscent of ‘The Great I Am’. He’d do exactly the same thing! One week after D Day (and I was in utter shock – on the D Day diet, not sleeping, traumatised to my very core) ‘The Great I Am’ ‘fessed up to some of the complete clusterfuck he’d made of the finances. For a fleeting moment the thought to tell him to ‘go fuck himself’ when he came to me with this new bombshell, entered my mind, but I put how I was feeling aside, and sat down with him to work out a plan to get out of that hole – helped to identify where the financial priorities were, how to approach creditors, where we could make savings etc. Some time later, during the disastrous wreckonciliation he accused me of not loving/caring for him, doing nothing to help him. I cited the help with the finances and was told I’d done that to manipulate him.

      That wasn’t the first time, by any stretch, when he’d twist my kindness – and I agree, it’s a huge mindfuck – and does have you questioning your own motives and inclinations – complete evil bastards!

      On top of everything else nasty ‘The Great I Am’ laid on me – I’d forgotten this aspect. God I really hate these bastards. No wonder I still feel like I have PTSD 6 years on from D Day!

    • Yes, Ringin–been there, done that. They use even our positive traits against us. Living with a narcissist is not dangerous because they throw punches out of left field (though some do), but because they take little scoops of dirt out from under your feet, day by day. Before you know it, you are standing in a pit of toxicity, with your self-esteem, mental health, and ability to sort things out rationally, in tatters.

      • Amen to that tempest! It is so insidious that we chumps don’t even realize it is happening.

        I would venture to say that many of us would not take this abuse if it was outright and obvious. They had to condition us slowly over many years to get us to the point that we were broken and they could mold us like clay.

    • Yes yes yes! Ringing.

      This is my lesson learned: “We think everyone has them or most people and our cheaters just need a little more love.”

      Cheaters have NO CONCEPT of love. None.

      I believe it’s IMPOSSIBLE to cheat on another person if you know the concept of love. Real love disables the cheating gene.

      • “Real love disables the cheating gene” : So true! Remembering this has been very helpful! My cheater began to hoover recently, one month after divorce is finalized. He said that I was being too aggressive, and if I wanted to have that type of relationship, then he was ready. Or would I prefer “cooperation” from now on? I said, “cooperation, of course…” and he still called me aggressive and said that I had changed so much in the last year, that he figured out that I was a manipulative and a lyer and had humiliated him wherever I could. (because I divorced him and gathered more than 200 pages of email, skype and other evidence of his cheating, and told everyone we know that the real reason for divorcing him). He said he was sooo disappointed in me and would have divorced me years ago if he knew what a terrible person I was. And then he played the victim and showed me how terrible his life was, with so many debts and so much humiliation. He tried to make me feel like I caused everything. WTF! Cheaters never stop trying to manipulate the chump so that the game is on their field. But when they loose, they suddenly become the victims with no empathy for what the chumpp went through because of their cheating!

  • Ok, but if I’m so empathetic, loyal, bondable, trusting/trustworthy etc, why can’t I find a dude who’s like that? Also I like excitement in the idea of new things, but certainly not relationship drama. But I am sort of a sparkly person myself. So can a person being charming and sparkly and not be evil? Is it possible to have some narc qualities without any of the sense of entitlement?

    • Can you empathize with others? Are you able to purposely inflict pain on others with no remorse? Are you able to walk away from your life and children without giving it a second thought.?

      I like excitement and adventure. It does not involve harming others through abuse. Entitlement defines narcissists.

      • Kat, we all have a some level of healthy Narcissistic within us. If you ask that question then no you don’t have PD. The ones that Tempest is writing about don’t have these type of questions. They don’t think anything is wrong with them. Sadly it can be very hard to find someone without running the risk of finding out later on; hence, the mask they were. The best thing is to educate yourself about PD and if you have any red flags (your gut) listen to them. There is a lot of material out there that can they out. Sam Vaknin has a youtube channel that gives some information about.

        • sorry on my phone *There is a lot of material out there that can help you out to see what the red flags are. Listen to Sam Vaknin’s YouTube channel. Great infor!

          • This is one thing that keeps me stuck and confused. Mine admitted to me that he knew he had something wrong with him and that he was a crappy person. He did blame it on his mother (she is a narc) so that may mean something. More blame shifting or whatever. Maybe it was a sad sausage thing. It didn’t last long. Things quickly went back to me being the crappy one. I really don’t know what the problem was so I am stuck in self blame. If he knew he was crappy maybe he knew I was too. If you know what I mean.

            • Lina, it’s just blame shifting from your crappy partner! If you read some of the links above, especially Sandra Brown’s, you will come to the conclusion that Narcs/cluster B’s target good, capable, smart and above average women/men. I figured this out for myself while I was dealing with my cheater during the divorce. And I told him that he was leaving me because he knew deep down inside that I was too good for him so he went with what I would call a bargain basement, discount downgrade! You should have seen his face! It was as if alarm bells went off in his peanut sized brain! He knew I had his number and I was done with him siphoning the life out of me. Funny, I know I was right because he has all kinds of legal and financial problems right now that go back to our joint affairs during marriage. These issues were clearly placed into his “court” in the divorce decree, but you can’t imagine how often he gets in touch with me trying to get me to untangle the awful mess he created. Guess his “smart” Schmoopie is incapable of handling all those boring, mundane details of everyday life! Too bad though cause I don’t give a damn!

              • Thank you Roberta. X

                I know what you mean about the alarm bells going off in their brains. I asked him if we could try counselling before he just walked. Of course he didn’t want to and was very cruel in his answer (“What good would THAT do? Make me fall in love with you again?” Like I was a piece of garbage who could never be loved) I told him if he didn’t want to go to counselling with me, he’d better go for himself because there was something wrong with him. The look on his face….

              • Lina, I’m having the same thoughts as Roberta. Blame shifting. I hope you are able to leave this loser. hugs!

              • Thank you for the hugs. I needed them.

                He’s long gone. Walked out on me and filed out of the blue about 2 1/2 years ago after a year or so of devaluation and emotional abuse. He claimed stress over his job but he had met ho-worker.

              • You are so very welcome. I have all the hugs you need. That is so good he is gone. My heart goes out to you with the pain you had to deal with. Oh yes, that is what the ex did also met and married an ho-worker. I like that term. I will use that if you don’t mind? ha! How are you doing now?

              • Thank you again. X

                You can use ho-worker. 🙂 I got it from someone else here. Not sure who coined that phrase but it’s perfect.

                Mine’s ho-worker was already married with kids. I don’t know what happened between them because I’m no contact but I doubt she left her husband for him. It’s always been my feeling that she was playing an ego game with him and that she really wasn’t interested in him for himself. He always was very gullible. In a way that makes it worse but also better if she dumped him. I feel a lot of sadness over the waste of it all. I really loved him despite his faults.

            • Lina

              Your comments about your X reminded me of the final year with the crap shooter narc I thought I loved. Every time I walked in the door with a smile on my face he was sure to wipe it off within a short time.

              X did this wierd breathing thing where he exhaled through his nose as if he was disgusted. Over what? Don’t care anymore.

              I often asked myself the same thing, “For what”? We put them on a pedistal. And they put us in a pumpkin shell and there they keep us very well. I bought an ornamental empty bird cage and hung it on my window. We are finally free.

              • Donna, one of my friends said to me near the end, “Honest to God, it’s like he can’t stand to see you happy.” And it was true.

            • Lina: Narcissists can be very good at figuring out puzzles, e.g., that your X had traits that got him in trouble, and therefore he had to find a way to explain why. Notice that his explanation blames someone else (his mother) rather than taking any responsibility. Then he set his sights on you to blame shift & project bad traits. Why would you trust his opinion of you? He is clearly disordered and cruel and (since I know your story) largely good for being turned into compost.

              He can cognitively recognize his cheating and abandoning a marriage are against societal and personal norms (that’s why cheaters lie instead of proclaiming their conquests from on high). Thus, since HE broke the rules, someone else (YOU) must be to blame. That’s how they roll–number one predictor of a cheater is that they blame shift.

              You are a warm, compassionate, intelligent person, as all your comments on CL indicate. Do not internalize the things a fucktard said to you. I understand the temptation. Below I posted a story about receiving a “you suck, and here’s how you need to improve if you want me to stay with you” letter after my X’s first affair (though I didn’t know he’d had the affair back then). What kept me sane was realizing that, while I was imperfect, I didn’t suck as badly as he conveyed; the “bad” was all emanating from him.

              Hugs, friend.

              • Thank you Tempest. X

                I so relate to your letter story. I would probably have received one too if he wasn’t too lazy to write one. He set me up to fail with his “conditions” so he’d have an excuse to do what he did.

                I’m going to try to stop letting his opinion of me keep me stuck. I’ve been internalizing it since he left.

                Thank you again. Hugs.

      • I definitely have empathy and remorse. I was just wondering about the traits because when I was younger I used to lovebomb for sure. But I’ve never destroyed someone’s life. I’m not worried about being a narc but I’m curious as to having certain similar traits and what causes such things. My sister is also sort of a love bomber.

        Don’t worry. I’m waaay too empathetic and compulsively non-entitled and honest and very loyal and I don’t like hurting others and I absolutely believe in taking responsibility for shit and not blame shifting.

    • Yes–being sparkly or vivacious itself is not a narcissistic trait; Entitlement and Exploitativeness are the two dimensions of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory that are deemed most damaging, and that typically stem from/result in lack of empathy for other people. After all, narcissists think the rest of us are merely here for their use.

  • “Hyena, meet prey.”

    and

    eternally gullible

    with supertraits hones in a house with an alcoholic parent

    I was a sitting duck. I cut myself some slack that the magnitude of his dysfunction was well hidden when we were young and dating. He hid a massive amount of dysfunction behind a witty and clever sense of humor that in later years became a sharpened surgical tool of gaslighting where he could disown every mean shitty nasty insulting thing he said to me with a tiny twist on the very last syllable of his toxic spew that inferred “and Im only kidding” if you react at all to my scathing insult I get to accuse you of not having a good sense of humor.

    • Unicorn, YES! X is a clever copywriter, and used his words to cut like the surgical knife you mention. If I never hear “I was only kidding!” ever again, it will be too soon.

  • Yay Tempest! 😀

    Have been looking forward to your guest post – and it’s great and informative and thought-provoking – just as I knew it would be! 🙂 (we are so lucky to have you in Chump Nation, your insight, care and support is immeasurably beneficial for all of us. So sorry you had to join us, but so, so grateful you have).

    ‘But Brown also found that a few traits were shared by psychopaths and their relationship victims: Both were high on excitement seeking’…
    This is a great point. I think many of us, when faced with the steep learning curve on PD’s and Narcissism, come to question whether WE are the PD/narcissist (I certainly know I did) – probably because of the ‘enjoyment of excitement seeking’. And also, sometimes, I think because D Day and the ensuing mindfuckery has us focusing on our own pain and, in a sense, how this has blown up our own universe (in truth, how could we not) we start wondering if this sudden obsession with ‘self’ is indicative of Narcissism. (‘The Great I Am’ couldn’t resist telling me the world didn’t revolve around me, as a response to my ‘how could you’ question).
    Thanks for that info – I think it’s useful for chumps to see that there can be similarities but they don’t make you similar to the PD. For a start, chumps will actually take the time to self-reflect – unlike the PD/Narc – for me, the big, main difference!

    Today I had a FOO experience that reminded me of how I was perfectly trained to be a chump – to accept crumbs where I’d give the whole bakery. Ye Gods, sometimes I wish I could be born again.

    Love you Tempest – thanks for all you do for all of us 🙂 xxx

    • Yes, self-awareness and self-reflection are not really well-developed traits in a narcissist (though they may feign these as a way to get what they want). After dating one-full-fledged narcissist, I was impressed that my next BF (who became my husband), could say “I’m sorry.” Purely instrumental–as I saw many times throughout the marriage and his faux attempts at reconciliation, when it came time for actual remorse, cruelty and blame shifting ensued.

      (Love you, too! And rest assured–you’re not a narc! Your posts on CL are filled with empathy and insight.)

      • Maybe you just answered my post above Tempest.

        Maybe admitting he was a crappy person because of his Mom was a good excuse for what he was doing to me?

      • When the guy I am now dating said he was sorry for something he had done and apologized and discussed it with me, I was absolutely stunned and didn’t really know how to respond. It was then that I realized that I did not have a lot of experience hearing those words with my ex.

  • Wonderful article, Tempest!!

    “There is, however, evidence that those who are willing to engage in unfaithful acts within a committed relationship are more entitled, have poorer impulse control, and are less empathetic than their faithful spouses. Conversely, additional research suggests that many chumps may have empathy, loyalty, and self-control in abundance. Hyena, meet prey.”

    This ^^^ sums it up for me.

    I thought I had those character traits because I am a “good” person, I never realized they were setting me up to be prey. Although I will always have those traits, I will never allow myself to be prey again. Xh will always have those traits, too. Good luck to OW…hope she enjoys being stalked, hunted, and gutted.

  • Lol kat, they cannot be fixed. I have 32 years of trying to show and my mother has 53. Assholets from the day they were born and fully formed flaming assholes by age 16. Somewhere in their predatory hearts they know something is wrong and they use that as the basis of their sad sausage routine. Not wanting to change, mind you, just using it as a test to suss out the depth and breadth of your super traits.

    Now I spend my time trying to identify them. Just the slightest whiff of au de clusterb has me back behind my security screen door saying thank you but I don’t think I will buy any of the frosting covered shit cupcakes you are selling today. Move along. Move along.

      • LOL Tempest… but I have had two romantic relationships in my life, one with a covert narc and the other with an over narc… my mother did the same thing. My bio dad, overt narc so she was determined not to do the same thing so who did she marry a covert narc and monster. I have to learn how to identify these people, in my daily life and in my romantic life. I am not taking one step near the dating pool until I have my narc detector honed like a drug sniffing dog. So I practice every day. The poor people who are around me, my staff… they get run through the narc detector, (I had one ClusterB emp who did some damage, and my former board chair, I believe is a full on psychopath. I am going to war with him, next week and without one bit of guilt or second guessing.) I have learned a very valuable lesson, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, fucks like a duck( see radio lab on duck penises :)) it is not a goddam chicken… it is a duck, Ring’n get it, it is a duck.

  • Tempest

    I always enjoy your knowledge mixed in with wit comments! So, as I happily saw you were a stand in CL, I grinned when I got to: hyena, meet prey.
    That would describe how my marriage dynamics played out but it took decades for my ex to let his mask drop. I relate to the studies between characteristics of cheater vs chump. His “wonderfulness” evidently did feel entitled to get involved with patients and his co-worker(s) but in the back of his distorted and disordered mind and void of empathy, he did know I would be history should I find out his double life.

    Towards the end of marriage, he would say “I have fear I’m going to be alone in life”. Yes, I am long gone (2yrs divorced). His kids have no interest to engage and his once thriving practice is in ashes. I am grateful I fled from the burning house! I fit in the chump mold as I got played.

  • This rings so true. All of it.

    Cheater ex told me during false RC that my exhibiting those “super traits” actually made me marriage material in his eyes. He even cited an example: years ago while we were still dating, he told me that one of his family members had had an affair but the couple had worked it out. I was horrified at the news. He later confided that he told me this specifically to gauge my reaction in an attempt to guess if I would ever cheat. He had other specific examples of where I had passed the super trait test.

    And the kicker is, he admitted to cheating on me from the earliest days of our relationship, even while “testing” me.

    I wasted 20 years of my life on this man & it was all a game to him from day one. (A game where he gets to make up the rules so he always wins.)

    My advice to anyone who discovers their partner is cheating: RUN don’t walk for the nearest exit.

  • Someone in. This group needs to become a stand up comic (kat?). We need to do riffs on narcs clusterb cheaters. It would resonate with so many people and it might do some real good ala that comedian who called out that psychopath Cosby. His one show did more for that situation than all the things those women had been saying for years. I am serious. Humor has power as all of the super traited and super funny women here can attest.

  • Oh thank you so much, Tempest! When Asshat is out of the house, I am printing this out. Impulse control is a huge problem here. I knew before we got married that he had very little but I thought it had to do mainly with food and buying useless trinkets. Getting my little guy’s breakfast just now, I noticed again that Asshat has been snacking on more and more unhealthy stuff, despite my making all manner of yummy ‘good’ snacks available (and reminding him every day). I would not have thought to view his whole family having (over)eating issues as an indicator of extremely poor judgment and character. Sheesh. I just thought he really liked cheese. Just like nobody wants to be the marriage police, I really don’t enjoy being the food police. Thankfully, we agree that our son inherited my restraint and self control when it comes to food. I pray he also inherits my common sense and decent judgment.

    I was dreading having to paint on a happy face today for shiny-happy-family-time but then I got to wake up to this awesome Sunday post 🙂

    • ChumpElf –

      ‘I would not have thought to view his whole family having (over)eating issues as an indicator of extremely poor judgment and character. Sheesh. I just thought he really liked cheese’.

      This made me LOL – thanks for that!:-D xxx

      • Hmmm, I am unable to post replies where I want them to go now….

        Thanks, Jayne 🙂 When we were dating seriously (and exclusively, yet I had to gently inquire as to why he kept ‘forgetting’ to turn off his Match and other profiles), he used to text me (we lived 80 miles apart) after grocery store trips. I remember thinking it was cute but the day we were on the phone and he counted the varieties of cheese in his fridge, I did seriously wonder what I was getting myself into. Eleven, btw.

        • Hey, right this minute I have at least 7 types of cheese in my fridge – I really DO just love cheese! 😉

          I don’t think even impulsiveness alone is a big problem: caring and non-entitled impulsive people end up with too many colours of nail polish, and sometimes put their feet on their mouths, but they don’t consistently disregard other’s feelings and rights.

          (and at least when they put their feet in their mouths, the toes have pretty colours!)

          • KarenE and NorthernLight, I *may* also have a cheese and nail polish problem…. I recently pared down the polish so I counted only six bottles. i have not put any colour on this year bc I don’t want Asshat to go all coco-crazy. I recently posted he is grossing me out bc it feels like he is leering at me and all but catcalls if i wear something that is not pyjama based.

            Last week, I was desperately looking up places in my state to buy cheese curds as I am poutine deficient and I think it might help me to not be so angry ;O

              • I went home last month and my family went on a goofy road trip to take photos at the cottage before my elderly parents sell it and at our old house in Montreal. I did not eat enough poutine while I was there. Usual family drama with my increasingly cuckoo mother and my two sisters fighting with me in the middle. Literally, they almost had a sidewalk brawl near rue St Catherine. A new bar opened here and Asshat’s nurse (a friend, not the OW nurse) just told him they have poutine on the menu. Trying to figure out a way to go without the cheater….

  • I’ve been wondering about that too. Am I the Narc? type questions. Nope and nada. Living with a mindfucker is disabling.

    Being constantly shoved into a parent / rescuer role because I am empathetic and than villanized for not willingly jumping through every single flaming hoop is exhausting and erodes your sense of self.

    • My iPad is causing me grief today. I’ve posed the am I a Narc question in IC during this past year. Mainly because of the mindfuckery my cheater continues to pull. I’ve had years of grooming by him that my needs don’t matter, and to ask for my needs to be met meant I was too self-focused.

      • ‘I’ve had years of grooming by him that my needs don’t matter, and to ask for my needs to be met meant I was too self-focused.

        Exactly ANC.

        It’s like they’ve convinced us to believe in the saying ‘who smelt it, dealt it’.

      • ANC, one thing that Narcs do is question our mental health. After leaving these things we question everything about us and they want us to look crazy. They project the things onto their victims. I even question myself if I was a Narc and my therapist said to me if you have that question then no you are no because a true Narc doesn’t have this type of thinking process; hence how NPD works in their brains. Also I read the same in many books about Narc. If you question yourself, then no you don’t have NPD; however, all human beings do have a health level of Narc quality which is very normal. I hope that helps.

        • Yes! I was continuously being told how CRAZY I am! I’m not one damn bit crazy, thank you very much. People who chase roadwhores they knew 20 years ago and the roadwhores themselves are the crazy ones. Purely and completely delusional losers.

          • Yes, that is what they do. They still do that no matter how long it has been since they been in out of your life. It is all our fault.

            That is what also they do is grooming. I do truly believe the ex is a groomer and predator.

            I was just reading that most of them (the men with PD) also are Misogynist. I’m sure it is the same with the women PD that are misandrist.

  • “For chumps, the relationship drama is our excitement; we might hate, hate, hate the fights and the devaluing, but we adore the highs of love-bombing when things are going well. Until we don’t.”

    That’s me– I didn’t fight with the ex-cheater very much, but boy, he lovebombed me, and I reveled in it. Same holds true for a recent guy that lavished me with attention and compliments and then poofed. I have to stop looking for that and/or hoping that whatever guy I’m interested in will behave that way. Lovebombing is romance novel behavior– complete fiction (and IRL, fiction that is covering up something else, like a disordered personality).

  • Thanks, Tempest for this eye opening post. It’s not surprising that Little Napoleon and myself are textbook cheater/chump.

    Well, I WAS a textbook chump, but not anymore!

  • I guess I don’t mind spending time reading up on Narc/cluster B’s to figure out how to avoid them in the future, but the very best advice I EVER got came from my psychologist, who, BTW, had a Mom who had been chumped! I told her I felt powerless. She told me this, “to the contrary, you have all the power and HE know it because you have the power of “No!” She went on to explain that most spouses/partners want to please their mates so we often times have a default setting to say “yes” to these fools without thinking about how it affects us or the ramifications. She told me to forget about what HE wants for the first time in my life, and start thinking about what I NEED! Believe me, his mask slips fast and hard! Narcs don’t expect you to say No! They are so wired and have groomed you to think only of their needs and wants and it comes as a shock to these types that you would ever leave the script they have so carefully written for years! If you want to “test” someone in a future relationship then just say No with no justification to them and watch their reaction. Should be a great indicator of who you are dealing with. Just my take for WIW!

    • Roberta,

      My divorce was almost done and the ex called me again for some stupid reason or excuse. Well I was feeling pretty empowered that day I told him I didn’t want him calling me again. I told him there was no more reasons or excuses he can give to weasel his way in my life as he pleases. I told him no more calls and he didn’t reply (dead silence on his end) and I hung up. That was the best day in my life! I was with a dear friend that day and she looked at me and said good you did that now you can focus on your healing. Then we started to laugh! First time I laugh that hard in a very long time. It was a real laugh if you understand.

      I knew he was still contacting my family but I was no longer talking to them also because they were telling him many things that I was doing. The word “NO!” in whatever placement in a sentence is our power and our power also is going NO CONTACT! It is not for these cheaters or whatever you want to call them it is for ourselves. To gain our sanity back, to help us in our healing process.

      • Yes Beth, THIS! It’s taking back the control and power in our own lives for our own well being and Lord, these Narcs hate it!! That’s when they absolutely know they have lost every bit of sparkle and persuasion! It’s incredibly empowering and at the same time, so simply amusing that one tiny word can send these PD’s into a total tailspin! I can fully understand you when you say you actually laughed heartily for the first time in a long time. It’s that “AHA” moment and you realize you have lost a whole lot of nothing and you have let the next victim (schmoopie) take her prize! It’s the moment of your liberation from an incredibly destructive human being! It’s the sweet feeling of Victory!

  • Tempest, I am slow to wake but am now stuck on two traits. Confidence and empathy, or lack thereof. Of either really. Asshat is super insecure about just about everything. He overcompensates for his lack of confidence and puts on a good show. He is a good physician, full of empathy for strangers. When it comes to me, he thinks I am also on the receiving end of his empathetic glory but it is often not true. When he is projecting all manner of crap on me (dude, seriously, quit it with the ‘I thought you could be cheating on me’ shite!), he is cruel and not at all empathetic. “You can’t move your shoulders and hips this week? Get thee to the rheumatologist! Why the fuck haven’t you asked for new meds?” Okay, I am paraphrasing…. But instead of being supportive, because his solutions are not viable and he should KNOW it, he just unleashes. In the one IC appointment when I was asked to attend, to provide his IC with a list of his strengths and weaknesses so they could work on him owning his own shit, I carefully brought this up. Instead of accusing him of being mean and uncaring, I said he was SO empathetic to his horde of demanding patients that I felt left by the wayside sometimes. He sacrifices so much family time to coddle people who continually trample on professional boundaries (and he allows them to) and I explained, and was backed up by the IC, that this is just illogical and unfair to our family. Later, after D-Day, i told him he was nice to everyone, that he refrained from getting angry and putting his foot down and saved all his frustration and ill will for me. He mumbled that it was probably true and it went no further.

    I guess Asshat is just unclassifiable. Other than as an utter jackhole. Sigh.

    • ChumpyElf–where’s the *behavioral* evidence he has poor self-confidence? He got into a competitive academic area, is a top person in his field, right? People with low self-confidence don’t do that. Add his cheating into the mix and voila–behavioral evidence points to entitlement, with “poor me” as a strategy. The empathy for patients is probably feigned as part of his impression management. As a result of my trying to make him a better person, my narc simply got better and better at charm and feigned empathy and seduction. But, oh, did the mask slip when real empathy was called for.

      Yours could be different, but I’m not convinced yet.

      • Yes, Tempest, he must have enough hubris to have made it through his specialty. It is tough and every once in awhile he likes to quietly boast about how few med students match in this field. But he always acts so humble about it. Obviously, I know he’s a complete tool now so I am hypoimpressed. Last month, I could practically hear my mother oohing and aahing over him and he awesomeness. BARF.

        Most of his life is about acquiring more gold stars. I do believe he cares about patients’ health. It isn’t just so he looks like a better doc than others though he likes to tell me every time a patient tells him this. And I don’t think he is motivated to provide good care to avoid malpractice suits. So he must care.

        He is all about the ‘poor me’ shit, too. Just earlier, he asked me a dumb question. I didn’t reply in my kindest tone and he got shirty. “I don’t mind doing it, I just don’t like the way you said it.” I don’t waste my breath to tell him I pretty much hate most things about him so it is difficult for me to muster the energy to speak adoringly to him. Poor him, indeed.

        • “I didn’t reply in my kindest tone and he got shirty.” I’ve never heard this expression before, “shirty.” Love it!

          ChumpyElf, I think what Tempest said earlier about your STBX and insecurity is bang-on. Before I found this forum, I thought that anybody who could treat other people this terribly must have awful self-esteem issues. Otherwise, why else would you need to tear someone else down? But from everything I’ve read on this board, and certainly from my own experience, I don’t think there are self-confidence problems, and anything that looks that way is probably another mask. They really do think they are that special and that important, and as for why they are abusive, they do it because they can.

          • FMT, I got ‘shirty’ from an unlikely source – Harry Potter! Well, Oliver Wood to be precise.

            Thanks for the insight 🙂 I used to believe there was a lot of truth to all the criticism. Now I am fairly certain he is just a dickweasel. Seriously, I wasn’t seductive enough even though I married him knowing he had ED and he was the one who ballooned to twice my weight? Sorry, I wasn’t moaning all bendypornstar style bc I was too busy trying to breathe under all that dead weight :-O

            And I completely agree, they are abusive bc they can be. I guess I know now to just head it off at the pass.

    • ChumpyElf – it’s definitely the ‘Impression Management’ thing. Narcs (from my experience) want / need to be adored. They want / need to feel godlike. If you look at what he gets from the relationships he has with these ‘boundary-busting’ patients – you’ll see – it’s major kibbles. He’s indispensable to them, he’s ‘such a lovely man’ to them. It’s absolutely about fostering adoring fans without all that messy reciprocation that real relationships require.

      I struggle to understand why they get into the ‘discard’ mode when they are getting all the adoring kibbles from their faithful spouses – but I think that part’s down to the thrill of seducing new source. ‘The Great I Am’ knew I adored him – there was nothing to have to seduce from me – the con had worked!

      As for the ‘lacking in self-confidence’ – nah – that’s also impression management. Great for ‘poor sausage’ moves and – you guessed it – more kibbles – less demands.

      • PS ChumpyElf …. ‘The Great I Am’, his sister (a serial cheater) and his brother (a rock star) ALL profess how lacking in self-confidence they are. Let’s be honest, you certainly don’t end up a rock star if you’re lacking in self-confidence, do you?
        From my understanding of Narcs – the disorder stems from a fundamental dislike of themselves – so I suppose they are ALL lacking in self-confidence / over-compensating, aren’t they? Whatsmore, their opinion of you is framed by their own dislike of themselves – you must be either a fool or as nasty, horrible as them if you can love them.
        They wear their masks and feign empathy and ‘good eggedness’ but they totally believe the true them is a worm – and, eventually they show their wormy nature.

        • Argh, now it keeps trying to reply to a specific reply of Tempest’s.

          This is for Jayne. Yes! He is all about impression management. He knows he needs to keep up appearances. I just wish everyone else could see what a jerk he is. I realize it shouldn’t matter but it is really annoying 😛

          • It shouldn’t matter – but it does. I totally get it.

            Unfortunately, the fact we loved them makes us unreliable witnesses, on a social and even legal footing. Insane – but then again – I wouldn’t want the world to believe I’m the monster he’s projecting me as (and I used the word ‘projecting’ deliberately).

            Trouble is, they wore the mask well enough to get us to fall in love with them and ‘hitch our wagon to their star’ – they know how to charm and … ‘impression manage’ … they are very adept at it – remember, the true narc has been hiding what a despicable person they, at heart believe they are, for almost their entire lives. They’ve got the patter well rehearsed and tested.

            While it pisses me off that there are people who want to stay ‘Switzerland’ (unreliable witness, d’you see) and there are people who’ll believe his history revision. I like to hope that some of them squirm a bit with unease when they recall how much I obviously loved him – but, what the hell. Let them stay fools – I can’t foretell whether they are going to get bitten by him, but I kinda hope so!

            • Jayne, in Asshat’s case, I know there will be a majority staying neutral (ie totally dissing me) bc he is Dr Pillar of the Community. I KNOW it would bug me a whole lot less if I could just have my own fun – when it is no longer a freaking felony (listen up here Asshat and Florence). I have only told a few people in town who I feel matter the most to me. Other than that, I will tell as I see fit, or to avoid snapping necks as I am finding this whole living-in-the-upstairs-convent arrangement to be most frustrating. Another six months of this and there’s no telling what I will become ;O

              • I know how you feel, ChumpyElf, my STBX is a highly successful artist and in a position to mentor, network, and offer projects to a wide range of people in his field, all of whom fawn all over him like nobody’s business. Oh, and is he the man to go to whenever one of them experiences a personal or professional crisis–he can feign empathy like nobody’s business but it is nothing more than impression management, pure and simple.

                And of course, when it comes to showing empathy or concern for me, forget it (same goes for the son who’s always been onto his game and calls him out on it). He actually kicked me while I was down during the personal crises I experienced while we were married–after my mother died and I was still in the throes of grieving, he told me to stop being so “overly dramatic” and accused me of always looking at the negative side of things. Such jerks.

              • OtherKat, that is awful about your mother. Asshat isn’t quite that extreme but maybe it is partly bc he knows how bad it would look. When I was still working, he went embarrassingly large floral arrangements to my work. So every hot firefighter would see…. Then when I quit to move to his town, the flowers and showy gifts all but stopped. No need to impress anyone anymore. Sigh. Of course MightyCat was also eating the flowers.

                Some days i just want to scream, “He’s not that special!” when another subordinate or patient gushes about how awesome he is. Small town. Sigh again.

    • I also experienced X’s need to be the hero to complete strangers. I never could understand why it was more important to him to be needed by people who essentially did not give a damn about him than it was for him to make himself available to the people who loved him. It was as if he knew his “real” self was hollow. As he aged and could no longer get his hero fix satisfied by others, he sought the admiration/attention of a person who was more than happy to tell him how perfect he was. He knew what a fool he had been when he discovered OW viewed him as her pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. By then, the kids and I were no longer willing to be his loyal servants and he ended up alone. Even now, though, he goes out of his way to try and dazzle people he doesn’t know. It truly don’t care because there is not enough sparkle in the world for me to let him back into my life.

      • Violet, I secretly hope, if Asshat ends up with Florence, that he is humiliated at being used. He ISN’T awesome (in the sack or elsewhere) he just puts on a mediocre show. Now we live somewhere where there are lots of sparkly people. He is dazzled but now working double time to try to keep up appearances.

      • Yep, the hero hook was just what cheater ex’s girlfriend used to snare him. She “needed” him to solve her problems. Of course I was the one solving the problems in our family, so he brought her problems to me to solve too. This was right after the ILYBINILWY speech. I was literally speechless at that point. Then I was mean for not helping him with her problem….Say What?

        Great post Tempest, I always enjoy what you have to say. And even better it really makes me think. Slowly but surely revamping my picker. So many wise folks here, I’m glad to be a part of Chump Nation.

  • Tempest….. A borderline sociopathic husband leaves his wife and family to be with a sociopathic mistress . How does a relationship with two sociopaths work? Is it possible for them to marry and be happy?

    • No but it is possible to bring a blanket, and picnic and some popcorn and sit back and watch the show.

    • Maggie May–nope. While two sociopaths may ignite in sympatico flames of passion for awhile, there’s only room for one of them in a relationship (and I’d advocate trying to never be in a relationship with one at all). That marriage will go down in flames; even if they do stay with each other, two sociopaths can never be happy with each other. Heck, they typically can never be happy because it requires constant “new” to feed them.

      • That is what I’m thinking the ex’s owife is. The same like him. All the pictures I have seen of them together is just a show. Just an image they want to project to the world. They can have it. Sadly with to PD parents my heart goes out to the kids they will be the same like them. I am so happy I listen to my inner voice not to have kids with that bastard.

  • Beth, I would like to respond to #4
    4. What about when the cheater ends up staying in connect with the chumps family and friends during and after the divorce and still years after? Note he never did like any of my family and friends and we never had kids.

    This is part of the mask, impression management that Tempest referred to. That mask of theirs is a very powerful thing. They hid from us during our dating period and we danced fast enough during most of our marriage to keep Mr. Nasty at bay.

    Now we have educated ourselves on this special form of human perversion. I, for one, have to come to Chump Lady and to saferelationshipsmagine.com every day, just to reinforce my understanding that they suck…My gentle, hopeful, be kind to everyone, super traits part of me is so ingrained that I need this reinforcement every.single.day so I don’t relapse and spackle.

    They are good at hiding this shit, and I find it galling that most of the world, particularly my family and my children can’t see it. So yes from the Narc perspective they are doing impression management. From yours, it feels like betrayal by family and friends. How can they like him? Why is anyone even giving him the time of day? Family and children think, wow, he is being so nice now, I bet it really was that he was so unhappy with ring’n (because you know she has strong opinions and can be annoying, made me do chores and ran off my (druggie) friends) that he was a sullen and uncommunicative all of those years.

    What I want is a spray, (back to au de clusterb) that I can spray on him, that stinks to high heaven so that everyone knows what a shit he is and can validate my experience for one, and help the whole world stay away from him, except CFMily. She has what is coming to her.

    • Thank you, ringinonmyownbell! Tempest and your comments is what I’m thinking. The really weird thing is that I think that my step mother was in love with the ex. She would fall all over him and always flirt with him (in front of my Dad also).

      Now get this ringinonmyownbell when the ex and I split up I was visiting her and my dad one day. She said to me that she was upset that she would not be getting anymore calls from the ex. The step mother didn’t say anything to me about her being sorry about him and I divorcing and the trouble he was causing in my life. They all knew about the 1st Dday and the latest one. So her comment was that she was upset that the ex would NOT CALL HER anymore.

      I remember giving her this look and just left the house.

      Then about a couple days later I guess the ex and her were talking again. Why you ask? Well I got this phone call from him yelling at me and asking me certain things I was doing. There was no way he would know anything because I was very far away from him. Well during the phone call I put two and two together (very fast) and it equal to my step mother and father telling him what I was doing. I just hung up on him. The next day I had a nice chat with them. They didn’t care. So I ended up deciding to play a little game and made up something to tell them. I kid you not, within me leaving their house to me getting into my car on my drive home back to my new place I got a call from the ex yelling at me again. Since then I haven’t spoken with my family.

      This also includes a half brother and some step brothers that have stayed in contact with them. They all knew what he did with the first Dday and everything in-between.

      The all have Narc traits. I saw it when I was around them. I just didn’t understand it at the time.

      Trash belongs with trash!!!!

      • My family is not as bad as yours…but there is definitely a bunch of victim blaming going on. My mother is one of the biggest ones. Part of it is that she is narcy in her own quietly manipulative way and part of it is cultural. It is just in our generation that has had the rights and the wherewithall to leave our abusive marriages in droves. Before then, women coudn’t get jobs, religion (sorry spiritual folks) plays a huge role in this in keeping women prisoners in marriages that are shit for them and their kids. If you go and read about what happened to women who left their husbands or their husbands died in victorian England and how they and their children ended up in the poor house, work house or being deported, you get an understanding why the vestiges of that culture are still around. Not that long ago, Good old Dear Abby or Ann, would say, when women wrote in with troubles in their marriage, ‘Ask yourself if you would be better off with him or without him?’ For most of judeo christian existance, the answer was better with him. So we get this shit, like it is your fault. The ‘kids need a two parent household, dads are important crap’ Leaving out the fact that women don’t leave marriages with good men, no they leave marriages with douches. No one trusts us and our judgement. It is maddening. You show one bit of spunk and all of a sudden you are the problem.

        We will know we have acheived equal rights when a woman finds herself in our situation, and has the economic and cultural support to leave these douches on the very first offense. My daughter comes to me and says her husband is cheating or abusive, I will say leave that SOB… Not what my mother said to me, “Perhaps if you had taken his last name when you got married, he would have felt more married, perhaps you should have another wedding to renew your vows?” To which I gave her a, “fuck you and the horse you rode in on’ look and politely declined.

        • Oh yes I know that history very well. I heard about that with some grandparents and read it also. Very sad. What is sad now it is still happening in many parts of the world. Even in our own back yard.

          I do think the divorce law and general laws with this type of abuse need to change. We chumps need to have more rights. I know it is very difficult to find out if these people have PD but something needs to be addressed about it. I don’t know what. But something needs to change. I don’t believe in no fault divorce. The place I lived when I was married to the ex had that. That is not right at all. Just my opinion whatever it is worth.

          I don’t mean to be rude but your mother is clueless; however, it doesn’t surprise me at the same time. There is so many people that thing this way. I have read some really shocking and uneducated replies about cheating, affairs, and divorce on many websites. People just don’t care. It is really sad.

          When I had my last little chat with the step-mother and my dad that gave me this look like they had no clue. The good thing is that I saw what they were doing and I decided the best thing was to walk away. I really don’t miss them. There are some details why but I don’t want to write them here for reasons that if they come across this site. They would know it is me. I don’t want them trying to contact me what so ever. Let me just said it was more shocking stuff I found out. I’m sure you understand.

          Sending you some hugs. I know how hard it is to deal with family and then you have the ex also. It is not easy to deal with. I can fully relate with your issues. Now my family is pure trash.

      • Beth, you are correct that your family was being used to provide the creep with information about you and to give him a forum for suggesting you were to blame for his bad behavior. My disordered ex did the same thing, buddying up (to what extent I don’t want to know) with my sister. I had to go NC with both of them, as well as the members of his family I still had contact with. He had no legitimate reason to need to know my activities and whereabouts, and I decided to share those things strictly on a need to know basis. It drove him batshit, and it gave me peace. Win-win.

      • When my first marriage was imploding and papers were almost filed, my sister was visiting (she lives overseas) and she and DrillChucker went to the Caymans together. Without me :-O Ugh.

  • Thank you Tempest!

    Your culling of Sandra Brown’s research definitely resonates with my situation. I will say though that I’m not so sure the “love bombing” stage was as quick and fierce with me as it is sometimes described. Looking back on that period of my life now, I wonder if he was uncertain he could pull off a relationship with me or if he was mirroring to an exact ‘T’ what I expected and copying aspects of his best friend’s serious, committed relationship. Of course, once he found the opportunity to have an affair with the OW, he acted quickly and gave me a front row seat to ‘love bombing’ (they moved in together within a month after I moved out, got engaged 6 weeks after I moved out, and were recently married, one year and 4 months after I left).

    • Lucky35–I didn’t get the love bombing either; more the opposite. When I met him, X was still a sad sausage from his divorce (former wife left him for emotional abuse), and he wanted me to reassure HIM how much I cared for him. Being chummy, I saw an opportunity to help a suffering soul, and the rest is history (and I became the long-suffering one).

      He would try some semblance of love-bombing after I’d threaten to leave him every year, but thought too well of himself to ever fully prostrate himself to anyone.

      • lucky35 and Tempest,

        I had the loving bombing even before we started dating. It was way to overwhelming. I was pretty young then and I freaked me out. The night of our first date he told me he loved me. Freaked me out again. How in the world could he love me? We don’t even know each other. The flowers, the poems, the letters, the phone calls, the unexpected visits at my home and work (we worked together), and other gifts was way to much. He was very jealous and very controlling also. I asked him to back off for a bit and it made it even worse.

        From what I have gathered with his other affairs and the owife he did the same. So is OW(ife) special? No, she isn’t. She is just a game to him. Typical Cluster B Personality Disorder relationship cycle that is all she is. Now from what I’m reading also that she is also the same as him. Maybe even worse.

        I can see both of them are very deep into their PD now. The show they give out on their social media accounts are see how happen we are; however, I can tell they don’t have a real bond. Something is missing in his eyes and her eyes also.

  • Hot off the presses–a supreme example of Impression Management.

    X is British; he emailed his relatives to ask them NOT to have any contact with me. However, SIL in England & I have stayed in touch, and I recently saw her when I visited London. X doesn’t know this, and is still playing the line that the divorce was amicable, and hiding the fact that my 14-year old daughter won’t have anything to do with him.

    He is, at this moment, visiting his brother & SIL (with his new victim, er um, flame) and texted 14 year old D a picture of his brother’s dog, thus pretending to them that all is well on the ex-family front. I’m sure SIL is having the same laugh as me, since she knows the truth. These jackasses are so transparent once we see them for who they are.

      • No–just heard about new victim last week. My predominant feeling is pity for her. She has no idea what she is headed for. Unless she is gorgeous, model thin, limber enough to perform flips while giving him blow jobs and discussing ___[fill in his academic subject here]____, the criticisms and control issues will start in 10, 9, 8, 7….

        • The only thing I’d change about this assessment is to amend “unless” to “even if.” The criticisms and control issues will almost certainly start exactly on schedule, but this time you’ll be in the audience, not on stage, when it all detonates. That is some measure of comfort.

          ((sigh))

  • It’s funny, but one thing Cheaters and Affair Partners have in common is that they LOVE to feel superior to the betrayed spouse. They just have to try to make you feel bad about yourself. I guess it’s the only way they can feel better about themselves.

    In my situation, it was implied, and actually said directly a few times, that the cheating occurred cause my appearance just wasn’t Up to Snuff anymore and that Cheater and Slutpants were both out of my league. I bought into this, at least subconsciously, because i started to worry about my looks and trying to Improve them. Then, one day, a long time afterwards I was going through some old stuff . I found my driver’s license from the exact month that the ex took up with this Whore. I was shocked because i wasn’t the Beast I had been lead to believe I was. I was actually really cute, at least equal to either of those cheating slime buckets. And even if I weren’t, what does it matter anyway? The truly good marriages i know aren’t based on how the spouses look anyway. Beauty is only skindeep, and ugly is to the bone. Cheaters, take note…

    • Not Juliet, this is so true! I know it serves no purpose to dwell on Asshat and Florence and their twu-luv-for-over-a-year affair and it is immature to say a bad word about the delusional, lying whore but it is okay that she said all kinds of crap about me? I realize the actual affair and my anger about it should and is nearly all directed at Asshat but Florence bears some responsibility. Oh so mature, discreet, private and classy is the woman who criticizes my shoe collection?! Beeyotch! In hindsight it amuses me that he was SO flattered by her flirting about his vast knowledge of shoe designers. Gawd, what a bunch of losers.

      Your approach to the matter is much more dignified than my own. Ugly does indeed go to the bone. It disgusts me that cheaters have the nerve to put chumps down and it makes me sad that many of us buy their shit, even if only for a little while. Now you will always know you are beautiful and if someone says otherwise you will immediately know what sort of person they are. I like the name ‘Slutpants’! When i am in an extra snarky mood, I imagine Florence couldn’t wear shorts or a skirt bc her wizened toothpick legs are all gnarly like witch fingers.

    • Oh, and, I heard the whole ‘i felt like you let yourself go and you ignored your appearance’ garbage. I don’t wear sweatpants but I a SAHM. I do not leave the house in full makeup (i don’t know how to apply it and i can’t see without my glasses anyway) but I put on proper clothes and make sure i look halfway presentable. Asshat is a morbidly obese once-cute guy who is losing his hair faster than it grows in. Florence is not completely unfortunate but the only time I saw her, she had old lady mushroom hair (a la plastic Fisher Price figurine) and she was dressed like Bea Arthur on Golden Girls. How totally sexy is that? Maybe she was actually sporting some of Asshat’s preferred skanky stripper lingerie under all that Chico’s-Dress Barn hotness.

  • Thanks Tempest, I needed this today. A cousin of my X was nice enough to tell me she has never seen him so happy – Grrr. As I have now done so much reading about ClusterBs and finally have a handle on what a disordered piece of shit he is, I try to remind myself that the other people around him don’t have any idea. He married the OW six weeks after our divorce was final and moved her here to Canada from the US. She has no friends or family here, no job so she can be COMPLETELY dependent on him and available to lavish attention on him – exactly what he craves. All of her “kin” down south think he’s wonderful, a whole new audience to impress that don’t really know him. Have fun y’all, the mask is gonna slip one day.

    • Jackass’s “happiness” is a pure dopamine-rush (new p*ssy!!) and kibbles. True happiness comes from an inner sense of peace and social relationships. Cheaters typically have neither; their ability to relate to people is completely dependent on what the other person gives them.

      • “Their ability to relate to people is completely dependent on what the other person gives them.”

        This statement is epic.

        That is why they cannot be alone. It reminds them of their “nothingness” without someone to feed off.

        Hyena meet prey…

        • Yep – the taker (cheater) and the giver (chump). Perfect cycle of madness!! Well the cycle STOPS! Giving people should be appreciated not effing taken advantage of by the ones who SAY they love them!

  • Oh Chutes – that’s utterly vile. And, sadly, all too typical. Bless your sons. I hope they are thriving now, away from that evil mindfuckery.

    Love
    x

  • Tempest
    Yep, Hyenas and prey pretty much sums it up. I too do best in an atmosphere of excitement but my excitement comes/came from running ultras, pushing myself to the max, facing bad guys with guns head on at protests, fighting mines and succeeding, never using/discarding others for attention. I am a weird combination of eco warrior (actually have tribal warrior status back home) and chock full of those Supertraits. There’s an older song with the lines “Taken in, taken in again. Someone saw me coming, a fool without a friend…I’d like to believe it but you know how to lie”. That was me. Educated eco chick who lost her wonderful marriage and had to take jobs far from home because her life was threatened over her research. Had just battled breast cancer during which asswipe bf abandons her once and for all, underpaid, living in a cabin, stigmatised in a wealthy town, takes job here to escape knowing nothing about the place. Enter Narcboy, the sole appropriate aged, educated, dude within a 100 mile radius. Except for my more extreme outdoor stuff, we shared so many things; knowledge of eco literature, outdoor stuff, collective hatred of land raping ski resorts; we even were both supporting aging/dying parents from afar. Incredibly good looking, articulate, bright in a region where the dating pool tends toward ex miner, high school dropout, eco hating, unhealthy dudes heavily into drugs and alcohol. However, a few things we obviously didn’t share; namely honesty, integrity and character. What is still traumatic is I not only lost one I lived, I lost the one person here I could freely and honestly talk to, semmingly the one anchor I had left, like a double bwtrayal.
    This post was awesome! Really confirmed what I was seeing/finding out/sensing. The boy has just married his Latest Conquest, a former friend. Found out too late, after publically humiliated, in front of colleagues, that our boy is a serial cheater and has been twice diagnosed as an extreme narc. Tempest, perhaps you have some insight why this was: many colleagues knew what he was, knew that I was an unknowing OW, yet chose to keep silence. Why? When narc started flirting heavily with a newly hired, married colleague, we had word. He’d helped destroy one marriage, maybe two already.
    An interesting pattern psychologically speaking; his prey are lonely, emotionally/ intellectually starved women, most within our institution which plunks down highly educated folk, mainly women, in mountain towns where one has zero peers. Lots of divorces/failing marriages and high turnover. We are either breaking up with/extremely dissatisfied, or totally alone with little/no support network, little chance of meeting someone remotely compatible, no if any close family. Post recession, most of our homes are underwater, we’re middle aged (except the student prey) struggling to save for retirement, often caretake parents, and are, for now, trapped. Perfect storm for a predator. For a long time afterward, I blamed myself. Too ugly, too mixed race, too outspoken, too strident about social/enviro issues, waaay too alone, vulnerable. Wrong. I am the same age, same/greater level of achievement and income, also fit but more exotic than conventionally beautiful. However, using others, then throwing them away for the next fix never occurred to me as a solution regardless of how sad/lonely I am.

    • Copper–Your story is a sad, but typical one. Narcs prey on people who are strong, but also have some key vulnerability (whether it is FOO issues, just suffered a trauma, no other eligible bachelors for 100 miles).

      The witnesses are all prey to the bystander effect–especially in ambiguous situations (is he cheating? what should I do?), we look to see what others are doing. Nothing. And the more people who know, the LESS likely people are to help (look up the Kitty Genovese murder case for a stark illustration). We assume someone else will know what to do and do it. All this does, of course, is allow narcs to get away with violating social & personal boundaries. It’s hard to challenge people; even more difficult to insert one’s self into a marital/romantic situation.

      My professor X has escaped any retribution for screwing students for most of his long career, as it turns out. Plenty of people saw his seductive behavior; a few knew about the actual affairs & hookups. Yet not.one.person. lifted their finger to stop him, turn him in, or even drop me an anonymous note. Chilling, really, especially to those of us who are activists and willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to try & accomplish justice.

      I”m sorry you suffered at a narc’s hands; keep up the good work with your eco-activism!

  • Maybe this has been covered above, but there’s one thing I’ve never been able to quite figure out. How does lack of empathy relate to not being able to relate to or understand the motivation of others? I guess I think of lack of empathy as lack of caring, and not the inability to understand. Yet, I’m quite sure that my Ex had no clue how I think or who I am, even after 22 years. How to push my buttons? Yes. But how to predict my thoughts and feelings? Not a clue. Does it really run so deep that they can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a kind person. Do they think everyone is acting?

    At one point he was actually accusing me of stealing his wallet. He knows I don’t lie, don’t steal, and have never stolen anything in my life or been vindictive. Yet time and time again he would assume I was capable of doing underhanded and dishonest things. Projection or lack of empathy? It really is mind boggling to me.

    • DoneNow, that is truly bizarre. I guess maybe it’s projection, although I hope he didn’t actually steal your wallet! How paranoid would he have to be to imagine this unlikely scenario given your character? Weird.

    • DoneNow–we are commodities to them. Why would you be interested in your blender’s history? It is there for you when you need it, and if you see a better one within your price range, you’ll buy the new one and discard the old. Sad but true. I remember thinking that my X wasn’t really interested in learning about ME while we were dating, only plumbing to see if I fit his criteria for a GF/wife (and then he would get contemptuous if I gave an answer that didn’t fit the criteria).

      • Tempest, I too fit that pattern, and I wonder how common a trajectory it is for those of us in academia. We’re so used to having benchmarks set forth for us, knowing that it’s our task to not only meet but exceed those benchmarks, especially when everyone around us is pushing toward the same goal. In some ways, we’re probably the ultimate pick-me dancers.

  • My vote: ENTITLEMENT, excitement.

    I think there are different sub-sets a) Cluster B’s/BPD/NPD, b) Cheaters who leave and move in with the AP, c) Cheaters who stay (keep cheating, lie, gaslight), d) Cheaters who leave and live on their own to think about what makes them happy

    Are there any in D category? Ding Ding Ding Ding!

    • To MovingForward – slowly raising hand but I think I’m in the D category. He likes living on his own and thinking about what makes him happy next.

      • That’s always possible, but maybe he likes living on his own and being free to flirt, date, and screw around!

  • My empathy and loyalty to husband of 29 years = inability to even fathom affair going on despite two years of signs – and the fact I knew the AP (his assistant, 28 to his 55) had a “crush” on him. Even in the face of irrefutable evidence I continued to make excuses for him – “midlife crisis,” “she seduced him,” his partners have poor morals, they frequent hookers and all have “trophy wives” etc. I moved from store-brand to ultra deluxe spackle.

    His lack of empathy = the affair and lying to me (obviously), the betrayal of his children in that the time spent with AP ( several nights a week after work for two years) meaning less time for our three children (especially youngest son who really needed him from 15-17), the fact that he could live a double life for over two years that included impregnating his AP (who is only 6 years older than his son), grieve with her through an abortion,and come home to his family at night – and not go batshit crazy.

    The surest proof of his complete lack of empathy was sitting in a counseling session and having him share that he couldn’t go “no contact” because he was “worried about X (the AP)” because she needed him but knew I’d be okay because I was strong. What? He had a lot of cheater empathy for X because she had “issues” with abandonment since her father died when she was young. But apparently has only limited empathy for my loss – the complete gutting of 32 years of my life, 29 years of marriage, three children , five apartments, four houses, two dogs, three gold fish, multiple moves for his career, while still maintaining my own, and significant contributions to our financial well-being.

    And finally – my loyalty & empathy (to my children, and somewhat him) = ++++ still trying to reconcile and hoping it will work out.

    I am tired…

    • TiredChump–your children do not need to see their mother as a victim. Kids learn more from implicit information and modeling than from what we tell them. Do you want your children to learn to tolerate what you are tolerating?

      The whole “stay for the children” is misguided, and damaging. Will they be hurt if you leave? Yes. But at a deep psychological level, they will be more hurt if you stay. They will look up to your strength for being able to say, “NO MORE, I am done,” and walk away gracefully.

      I was with my X for almost 25 years, married for 19 of those. Let me tell you what happened to me: Eight/nine years ago, I had had enough of my husband’s sporadic emotional abuse. He was treating me badly, our children badly, even the new puppy badly. I withdrew from him, and contemplated divorce. One night, he could not maintain an erection and started telling me what I should do sexually to liven things up (and I was no cadaver in the bedroom). I snapped and said I had worked hard enough at this relationship, was not happy, and in fact no longer liked him a lot of the time, then sent him packing to a hotel. It turns out he was knee-deep in a 4-month affair with someone 34 years his junior (though I did not find this out until last September, 2014). His whore then gave him an ultimatum, and he called me from a conference to ask for a divorce. We had a 5- and 10-year at the time.

      I was shocked, but also relieved. When he phoned a week later to see me to determine, “whether anything is left between us,” I said, “No, I’ve already started healing from you so there’s no reason to see each other.” A well-meaning, but clueless friend then told me I HAD to reconcile with him because her children had suffered so much from her divorce. I swallowed my pride, reconciled with him (still not knowing about the affair), and was subject to the most abusive letter with a state of demands as to what I had to do for keep him in the relationship (see the Mount Vesuvius thread in Private:General forums for details). That’s right–he had an affair, known to many of our friends, but he dictated to me what I had to do to win him back. I REALLY wanted to tell him to shove his letter up his as*, but my friend’s admonitions about what was best for the children rang in my ears.

      I WISH I HAD LEFT. Not just for me, but for my children, who have suffered from my H’s (now X’s) emotional abuse of them and me, and have suffered from watching me try to jump through hoops to please someone who cannot be pleased. Both daughters are now closer to me since I stopped subjugating myself and set up boundaries.

      Please do not stay for the children. And while the future may be scary, but YOU will be better once you take the leap to leave a toxic situation.

      • Thanks Tempest. And sorry I posted twice but it seemed that the first one didn’t go up – the comments earlier today were all out of order- so I rewrote and then both posted at the same time.
        .
        My CH and I are trying to reconcile but while he is not seeing the AP/ho-worker – he is still calling her, and occasionally emailing. He has no other friends and his FOO is a mess. He is working hard on doing fun things with me and the family and has been very nice, although much of his conversation is about the news, and his own issues (not wanting to get old, wanting to get more fit,etc.). He has discussed how sorry he is, and answered my questions.

        He keeps saying he chose me and the family over her, but while it is clear he loves our children – and does not want them to hate him – i can tell he does not love me. I know he has no interest in me sexually. I guess 55 can’t compare to late 20s. The most galling thing of this whole affair is that during this two year affair, our sex life diminished, and he told me he had was having performance issues. I actually felt sorry for him.

        Anyway, I have stayed for the kids, and fear of the unknown. The MC has mainly focused on him – we have had only a few joint sessions as she knows he is not fully disentangled form the affair (Dday was 1/20) and she says you can’t work on a marriage until there is absolutely no contact.

        Do you know anything about telling kids 17-22. The MC says you can not tell them about the affair – just that you are separating/divorcing. For real? My kids would never beleive that. And further, while I have told only 2-3 people, I would think it would be terrible if it got back to them and I had never told

        • TiredChump–your MC is advocating lying to (a) the most important people in your life, (b) the ones most affected by the affair and potential divorce, and (c) the people who will be looking for at least one stable, trustworthy parent to provide structure for their lives. Don’t lie. Tell your children the truth–the breakup is due to an affair, and even who the affair was/is with. After that, let their questions guide what you say. Each one may be different–one child will want more details, another emphatically will not. One will react with anger, another with disgust. If there are questions you would prefer not to answer, tell them you’re not ready to respond to that query yet. But don’t lie; as we all know, it affects trust in a fundamental way.

          Good luck & hugs to you; keep us posted on how you are.

        • Please get rid of your cheating husband! He is biding his time and totally wasting yours. I can tell you a bunch of stories of how women (plus men) found great partners and a thrilling new life in their 50’s and 60’s. I can also tell you stories where people found happiness being on their own once they got rid of the toxic piece of garbage. Yeah the unknown is scary and it right now divorce may seem daunting but what could be worse than being with someone that does not want to be with you and more than likely staying due to finances. He may be home now but I can guarantee that he is making plans to leave eventually.

        • You tell them the truth. Name the whore whos complicit.
          I’m speaking from the POV of your children here – I was 21 when my father walked out to be with his fuckbuddy, and I would have been infuriated if I had been lied to at that time. Being lied to gives them an ‘out’ to spackle and even have the mentality of Switzerland.

        • I believe in telling the children the truth. They want and deserve the truth as painful as that might be. I was a Chump Child (mother had an AP) and believe it or not used to come openly to our home (my mother stayed married) and take us on outings causing me great, and I mean great, physical and emotional distress. No one told me but psychologically, I knew there was something going on and I abhorred that nebulous feeling. I wish I would have known.

    • Tired

      You would be surprised how much your children already know. Mine pleaded with me as adults to end our relationship. X was always laughing and happy around them as he drank and smoked weed daily. I was always frazzled. He would move in with one of my daughters and lay out the poor me routine. He was believable until he came unraveled when I filed. He used my daughter and got caught in multiple lies. Then he discarded them also.

      Waiting is good for him because he can keep up appearances as he degrades both you and your children. What are your worst fears. I had many. They were anxiety provoking and one by one they disappeared. Why not gather yiur financial information and at least talk to a good attorney. My children were relieved. We have all moved on and he’s living the life he deserves. You are stronger than you know. It I gets worse when you stay.

  • Snort! Away with you woman …. laying that picture of molested coconuts in my brain! And it’s pre-watershed, And it’s a Sunday, goddammit!

    Gonna have to go to my happy place now ….. 😉

      • Ha, Jayne, I just randomly came across this trying to post a reply to DoneNow above. It popped down here. I am done with the coconuts – I swear. I just posted a rude comment somewhere making fun of Asshat’s (former?) mistresses fashion sense ;O

  • Fabulous piece of writing Tempest. I’d say most of this does reflect my relationship. My cheater was easily bored, constantly looking for admiration from any source, be it me, friends and especially young musicians who looked up to him. His impulse control was sadly lacking to the point that he is an extremely heavy drinker and at the age of 53 cannot put a roof over his head.
    I don’t immediately recognise the “super traits” in me but was very interested in the need for excitement. I always knew that the majority of my friends could never have put up with my ex (even before the cheating was discovered) – his neediness & lack of responsibility would have been a non starter for them but for me (at least initially) the pay off was worth it & yes it was exciting !! Meeting creative extrovert people and being involved with, not just watching some fairly major shows. Oddly enough I actually remember him asking me if he was the most exciting man I’d ever been with !!!

    • “Am I the most exciting man you have ever met?”

      That is hysterical, Reformednumpty! What did you say? [of course, the only response a narcissist can hear is, “Yes, darling, light-years more fascinating than anyone on the planet.”]

      (and for the record–since I met you IRL, you have super traits galore–responsible, empathetic, conscientious, vivacious,…on & on)

  • My question is, how do I explain about my disordered ex to my children? How to help them understand why their Dad is who he is…incapable of love and empathy.

    • I explained to my kids that their dad is limited in his capacity to care for others and treat them respectfully. We discussed the fact that this is probably a result of a mix of genetic factors plus messed-up FOO. We talked about some examples of their father’s limitations in his behaviour w/them and w/others.

      I think this can be done even with fairly young children, and can be done in a way that recognizes the good things their disordered parent has done and does. And I think it is EXTREMELY helpful to kids, so that they realize that most of the difficulties in their relationship with the disordered parent are NOT the kids’ fault.

      • KarenE – excellent choice of words. I am preparing for the big talk, which I am gaining more and more confidence for. My older kids wont be shocked, in fact my oldest was shocked when she found out the STBX refused to go to therapy. The truth is, like everyone says, the kids know more than what you think. Thanks everyone for the support. 🙂

      • KarenE, I dread having to discuss anything with my son. He is 7 and high functioning but nevertheless still on the spectrum. His therapist will be helping guide me (and Asshat) and I will seek the help of his ASD program director (and teachers!). It isn’t a cop out. I just feel like I need all the help I can get in this case and I so rarely seek out help. No child should ever have to discover they have a liar for a parent. I just don’t even know how to frame it.

        • Elf, you’re in an especially difficult situation with your son. And I hear the heartbreak behind ‘no child should ever have to discover they have a liar for a parent’. I hope you and your son will get through this revelation OK, I’m glad you have lots of help and support from the people who work with him!

  • ChumpyElf, LMAO! You are killing me here! I can see the smoking crater in my minds eye and it’s just hilarious!

    • Roberta, I doubt Kat knew she was starting a carnival of coconut fun when she posted that awesome anecdote about her ex on the deserted island 😀

  • Awesome post Tempest!

    That chumps are not risk averse is really a truth, one of the saddest losses is that I am now very risk averse. It sucks to have lost my ability to just do it! I don’t mean utterly stupid stuff, rather what happens now when I consider something and my fear factor overwhelms my risk analysis. Especially telling since I’m in the security field and it sucks when the objective analysis says go for it and I don’t.

    Another take away that correlates with your post; they choose us because they want to BE US, they simply can’t.

  • Thank you for this insightful post….
    My empathy, loyalty and trust = not even being able to fathom that my husband of 29 years was having an affair for over two years despite the signs, and the fact I knew the AP (his assistant, 28 to his 55 years) had a “crush” on him. And then going into premium spackle mode when faced with irrefutable evidence/trying to explain away why he did this (midlife crisis, FOO issues, she seduced him, etc.)
    His lack of conscientiousness and self-control = having the affair and lying to me (obviously); betraying his children by spending several nights a week after work with her instead of them (especially his youngest high school son who really needed him); impregnating the AP (only 6 years older than his oldest son) and then going through an abortion with her – and not realizing his life (double as it was) was completely out of control
    Finally, his lack of empathy = Stating in MC that he could not go “no contact” because he was worried about X/AP because she felt guilty and she was hurting; but I was strong. What? Yes indeed, he explained that X had “abandonment” issues because her father died when she was young. Yet he had not even considered the complete gutting of 32 years of my life, 29 years of marriage, three children, five apartments, four houses, two dogs, infinite goldfish, multiple moves to accommodate his career, while maintaining my own. And most unforgivable, he had no understanding for the complete trauma this would inflict on his children who do not know and think he is wonderful – because until the last two years, when he “worked” longer hours, and seemed a little checked out, and seemed “snappish” with me – he had been a wonderful husband and father.
    Finally; my loyalty and empathy (to my kids & our family more than CH) = the fact I am still pursuing reconciliation despite such shabby treatment.
    I am tired….

    • TiredChump, I am tired just reading your sad story. I have not had it nearly as bad as so many fellow chumps but this part stuck out to me:

      “His lack of conscientiousness and self-control = having the affair and lying to me (obviously); betraying his children by spending several nights a week after work with her instead of them”

      I only have one child but this is the crux of the whole cheating thing for me. It had nothing to do with my refusal to wear stripper lingerie or put out. He is not having a midlife crisis – he is just a lying cheat! Asshat’s entitlement and refusal to genuinely acknowledge that he has no self control and that he is just a weak, amoral man (or coconut abuser as I now imagine) just pisses me off to no end.

      You deserve a well-earned rest after all your hard work. I hope you find some peace soon bc you shouldn’t have to accept anyone’s crappy behaviour.

      • Thanks Chumpy Elf. Was on vacation and just catching up on CL. Your comments are always helpful and positive.

        • TiredChump, that is very kind of you to say. I would actually say many of my comments are snarky and rude. It is one of my many quirks. Stressed? Sad? Frustrated? Make fun of people who can’t defend themselves. I mean, we wouldn’t be here if not for those lovely cheaters.

          I do hope you got to enjoy your vacation 🙂

    • Hi newchumpatl! How are you doing? I was thinking of you earlier when I was needlessly snarking about Florence and her fashion sense. It was because I was being fed the ‘I had let myself go’ schtick. I remembered you had been told you wore the wrong clothes etc. Of all the things they can throw into the mix, fashion is a solid choice?

      I agree wholeheartedly. Tempest’s post was so good, she seems to have WordPress completely flummoxed. It keeps breaking throughout the day and posting replies all over the green earth 🙂

    • Thank you, Tempest–what I love so much about this blog is that whenever I think I have learned everything possible about narcissism and PD, I read something here that gives me more new insights to think about and to add to my list of tools to use in trying to cope.

      Interestingly, one area in which my STBX does not seem to meet all of the characteristics is that he is *extremely* risk averse. Granted, hooking up with men on the down-low and covering it up with emotional and likely physical affairs with other women is extremely risky behavior on multiple levels. So maybe that’s all the risk he can handle?

      When it comes to other aspects of his life, though, he is a big old scaredy cat. He once took to his bed for an entire day in anticipation of imaginary food poisoning after he took a bite of yogurt that had expired the day before. He’s scared to death of food poisoning and imagines it lurking everywhere in his fridge and unfortunately trained our children to be the same way. His diet is entirely based on whatever the current recommendations are about how to avoid cancer.

      Anything the slightest bit adventurous scares him, from taking a boat out on the water to taking a long road trip in a car–why take the risk? He never let me or any of our children near the grill or the lawnmower out of fear that we would set the house on fire and mow off one of our limbs. And talk about “helicopter parenting,” he is so over the top with it, I don’t even know where to begin–one example being that he still freaks out if he doesn’t get a return text from our oldest at college within hours of sending it. He once tried to call the campus police when our son’s phone ran out of juice and we didn’t hear from him within 24 hours. He wanted to file a missing person’s report!

      Actually, now that I’m typing this out I’m thinking it’s more about control than risk since none of the things he’s afraid of and uses as imaginary risks to control others are actually true risks. The fact that I bought into it for so many years is just one more testament to the power of gaslighting . . .

      • Post to Other Kat – I think his risk-rewards are much riskier than sailboating, kayaking or bungee jumping – going from men to women. How does this happen to a hypochondriac? Isn’t he afraid of sexual diseases? Odd. His phobias seemed to have taken over your families lives – that’s sad. Helicoptering parents (sorry, no kids here) but they seem like they’re desperate to hold onto control.

        X was a supreme controller. He’d phone me every hour on the hour wondering what I was doing. I thought, how sweet – when we were first married…and then, I got used to the phone calls and thought he really cared. Now, looking back, he was and still is, and growing even MORE SO controlling, as he got older. Of course, once he had the OW, I really had a lot of phone calls. Did you arrive at destination? What EXACT time will you be back? When is your next trip? Exactly what time are you leaving?

        Truly, I think at first, he cared about me because I felt it and was flattered by it. At the time the affair came along and it was obvious his questions were for another reason (doh me), I definitely felt I’d been controlled all along.

        And, I WILL NOW call myself, a ‘Beard’. The first time I heard that term was this week on this site.

        My God.
        Signed, Beard (thanks to the members on here)

      • Other Kat–risk and risk aversion can be domain-specific. My professor serial cheater put his job, his reputation, his family, and much else on the line to screw students, but was financially conservative and a complete hypochondriac. He often said he didn’t smoke pot because it was against the law and he didn’t want to be caught. Should have taken that same approach to making his genitals community property.

        • Interesting point, I suppose the risks they do engage in are plenty (and I have no idea how mine reconciles his crazy hypochondria with his down-low behavior). Until he met the current OW, he gave up drinking alcohol because, I now realize, he didn’t want his inhibitions lowered any more than they already were. Now it no doubt helps in overcoming his natural lack of attraction to women. Another crazy-making trait that comes out in all of this is that he is totally lacking in consistency.

  • Excellent and very well-written post, Tempest. Thank you for sharing this and for your generous responses to the comments. You are a righteous chick for sure!

  • Completely off the point, Other Kat, but I have my own yoghurt phobia. I ignore expiration dates for nearly all foods but two years ago, when Chobani had that little issue they never quite explained, I ate some of the bad batches. Not the entire batches. One day, I asked Asshat, “Does this yoghurt seem fizzy to you?” He finished it so he clearly has a stronger constitution than I do and apparently no taste buds. In the next few days, I kept tossing unfinished cups of yoghurt bc I am super taster and they were freaking me out. This was before I knew about the I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Tainted recall. We had to evacuate bc a wildfire was making his asthma go nuts and the minute we checked into our room I started praying to the porcelain Gods for hours. I have not eaten Chobani since. Can’t do it.

  • What’s the difference between cheaters and chumps?

    Cheaters take. Chumps give.
    Cheaters lie. Chumps don’t.
    Cheaters suck. Chumps survive.
    Cheaters always trade down. Chumps only trade up when they dump the cheater.

    Great post, Tempest!

  • I am still trying to figured who I was married to. The person I know him to be now is a completely different guy. If were it not for his physical appearance I wouldnt recognize him at all. I dont think he knows who he is. I do think he is mentally ill and doing his damnest to cover it up. The only thing that I know about him is he is completely unpredictable. Frighteningly so.
    I have a lot time to sit and think about if I was duped. What signs did I miss? Certainly he didnt turn into a pyscho path over night, though it felt that way. And sure I spackled throughout our marriage… He was a handful. Cocky. The Alpha. I was attracted to that kinda man. Everybody loved him. He was the guy pulling out jumper cables for strangers and buying a homeless guy lunch ( of course its impression management and self fulfilling) and the guy that your girlfriends wanted their husbands to be. And then he wasnt.
    Its hard to erase those memories. And was it real? Was it real for him? The memories of our previous life is what haunts me. I cant find the rip in the seam. Try as I might. I run my mind like fingers over a beautiful dress. I feel so beautiful and wrapped in something that brings out the best in me. I put my makeup on… Do a once over in the mirror. I feel beautiful. My picture is taken and there I am radiating the joy I feel…. But….there it is ….the rip in the seam and it changes the whole picture. Why didnt i see it when i was getting dressed? When did it happen? In the car? Did i walk around all night like that? I take the dress down and i run my fingers over it again… I cant find the rip in the seam. Put it back on… Where is it? I turn and the whole side splits. Like it was never stitched properly. I stand in the mirror shocked. What was holding it together?
    Its ruined. I cant throw it. I cant wear it. I sit down on the bed and run the evening over in my mind… It was perfect. And then it wasnt.
    It haunts me.

    • “Everybody loved him. He was the guy pulling out jumper cables for strangers and buying a homeless guy lunch ( of course its impression management and self fulfilling) and the guy that your girlfriends wanted their husbands to be.”

      My cheater is just like this. In the past few years, his behaviour has gotten erratic at times and I actually think there is something neurological going on (his dad has MS and he has weird symptoms that don’t quite fit the classic MS picture) beyond his undiagnosed diabetes. I told him that sometimes I am flabbergasted bc I feel like I don’t even know who I am talking to sometimes. He claims it is bc he is finally standing up for himself. I think his Jekyll and Hyde deal has something to do with his noggin. Shortly before he started his affair, we got into an argument at a gas station about not giving money to an obvious scam artist who was harassing patrons. A woman at the next pump asked me if he had given the guy money bc her husband was also talking to the guy. He acted as though I am heartless and greedy and yelled at me bc he can do whatever he wants to. I don’t think he was being kind bc he is inherently that generous. It is easy to throw money around if you have it but i do think it was all about proving how awesome he is and conversely how horrible I am.

    • TheClip–hauntingly insightful, as always. I think the ripped seam was always there in these guys/girls–the Alpha tendencies. But impression management gets hard to maintain, and over time, their transgressions get overlooked once, then twice, then three times. They escalate–their behavior, their blame shifting, their deception. It turns the ripped seam into a full-blown tear, with no way to mend it.

  • Yep Clip! Same here! But I have just given up trying to figure it out! It was so close to perfect for nearly 40 years and then BAM! Like you I fear him and his unpredictability! It’s just eerie and creepy. My kids and I figure he’s gone mentally ill or he’s suffered some sort of stroke. The other option is his Cancer has metasticized to his brain! But what good does it do me to sit and wonder…. None! I actually asked my EX if any of our life together was real and did he ever really love me or was it a sham? I just got that empty shark eye look. Guess I got my answer.

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