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Dear Chump Lady, How come he waited 20 years to blow up my life?

narcissisticDear Chump Lady,

I know that my ex probably has NPD, but why didn’t I see any of this in over 27 years (believe me I’m not blaming myself, just inquisitive)? Like many of the chumps here, my ex turned on a dime into an evil warlock the moment I questioned him on suspecting an affair. The spewing of lies and rewriting of history — (I’ve previously mentioned that he yelled that he didn’t like crab cakes for Thanksgiving when he was the one who brought the meat home and made them)  — bewildered me into a state of shock that kept me disabled me for a long time. One time as I lay on the floor sobbing he stood over me and said that he couldn’t stand to see me like that. WTF! After Dday, he was gone in three weeks and filed two months later. I went no contact to save my sanity and pretty much never heard from him again. His family dropped me soon after I told them he had filed.

Why does it take these asshats 20-25 years to implode? Why didn’t he cheat 10-15 years ago (I know he didn’t)? How is it that they are able to keep their disorder under wraps for so long? Why do these men/women wait until we are at the point of seeing retirement on the horizon? Seeing the mortgage finally paid off?

Why is it that the comfort and history of a long, healthy life shared together gets tossed into the wind for the unknown? He didn’t have any childhood issues that I can think of, excelled at his career, and loved spending time with friends and family (although I wouldn’t say he had one really close male friend). I also had no idea that his family would also drop of the radar screen.

Hurt1

Dear Hurt1,

How long was his affair? If he was cheating, you caught him, and he walked out and filed? I would guess that he had an exit affair. Obviously a shattering experience, but he was at least definitive about it. Doesn’t sound like he pleaded for more cake, or mindfucked you into a false reconciliation. I don’t mean this in the “Thank God for small mercies, count your blessings” sense, but more as a diagnostic to figure out what kind of cheater he is. IMO, the toxic NPDs live their lives to maximize kibbles. That’s why cake is so very wonderful — the marriage AND the screwing around. And the manipulation to “win” you back, or bully you into staying, is all part of the fun for them. They dig the game playing, just not the consequences.

What you’re describing is someone who probably checked out at some point, didn’t tell you — or tell you vociferously enough — trumped up his charges against you in his head — and gutlessly ended the marriage by detonating it with an affair. A passive aggressive, shitty person, but not necessarily an NPD.

I’m only surmising here, but if you could be sincerely happy with him for 27 years and he displayed empathy and compassion and good humor for many years, I doubt he’s a narcissist in the true sense. Cheating IS a narcissistic act, IMO. It’s rooted in narcissism — giving yourself person to do selfish, destructive acts for your own gain. But just cheating doesn’t make someone an NPD.

NPDs don’t keep their “disorder under wraps.” Oh no, it’s out there waving its freak flag every day. It’s just that we chumps spackle and excuse, devalue ourselves, and have our minds colonized into believing yes, they really are more deserving. Yes, they’re smarter/prettier/more clever than me. We don’t question the lopsided nature of these relationships, and we take sparkles and starvation rations of kibbles from them instead of healthy mutuality and respect. We crave their approval. Gosh, if we just try harder, maybe we’ll get better than a C+ this time! Oh, the NPD is there, it’s just that we’re such experts in accommodating it, that we act blind.

So either one of two things is happening. Either, you were living with an actual NPD and you were just too chumpy to clue in, OR you were living with a guy who was a pretty good guy (albeit passive aggressive, I’m guessing), and he gutlessly ended your marriage with an affair. NPDs have zero empathy. So when he saw you crying and said HE couldn’t stand to see you like that? Selfish. Stupid. But implicit in that is the message that your grief upsets him.

An NPD? They stand over the carnage, shrug, and while you lay prostrate sobbing, they say: “Gosh, I feel like a Hot Pocket…Yumm.” Then they step over you, microwave a snack, and then go sleep the quiet, restful sleep of the sociopath.

So look back on your long marriage — how long was he indifferent to you? Friendless? Selfish? Blame shifting? Always? Or just since the affair?

And Hurt1, does it matter? Do you feel like if you gave him the NPD stamp you could say — Oh thank God he’s not fixable, because otherwise this thing stood a chance… and I blew it? Because we don’t control other people (well, especially NPDs..) He wasn’t a good partner for you because whatever his malady, he was capable of disconnecting from you and betraying. Whatever his “unhappiness,” he didn’t speak up! He just walked! And his family suck too — but that’s usually the way it is in divorce. Blood is thicker than water, and it’s all very awkward, and so they circle the wagons and don’t reach out. If he’s truly a personality disorder? He’s been maligning you for years as well, telling them it’s All Your Fault, and that’s also why they’re quiet. Ooh… don’t touch the Crazy Ex-wife!

It’s totally UNJUST, whatever name we give his narcissism. Asking why he did what he did, when he did is just another way of untangling the skein of fuckupedness. He’s fucked up. That’s all you need to know. The GOOD NEWS is now you’re free of him and his crab-cake hating ways. Paid off mortgages aren’t everything. A new life is worth a LOT. Make it a good one.

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!

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  • I think CL is right to say that he likely fell into one of two categories and we only have few clues to help us guess which he was but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

    I would bet money that her cheater was much more like mine than she has admitted to herself. The idea that he “turned on a dime” is something Im getting more and more skeptical about as I age and reflect on these things. I think that gals like me & Hurt 1 are such expert spacklers that we lose track of how chronically shitty they are.

    Also, I would have sworn on the lives of my children that H never cheated before his “Midlife Crisis Affair” with Susan of Seattle…it was YEARS before I learned the truth (of serial cheating) and realized that I was so convinced that he would never cheat that my lens filtered out the very FEW clues he left.

    In terms of the original question (“Why did he wait 20 yrs?”)…I think 2 things are at work:

    1) they do whatever is best for them. For some reason, staying up to that point worked best in their universe. Maybe it was work, money, didn’t want to trade weekends with little kids, earlier APs didnt work out, whatever. But he stayed because it suited him to.

    2) I don’t think that very many genuinely decent men melt down in midlife crisis (there may be some outliers) The more I ponder it, I think that most of the ones who do have been devaluing their spouses for a LONG time prior and were likely much more selfish than they allowed themselves to show. They had coping habits (likely bad one) that worked until they didn’t any more. My H1.0 blamed and blamed and blamed and blamed. It worked for a LONG time until the built up toxins from all that misplaced blame caused him to have nothing for me but sheer distain. The fact that the blame was misguided and delusional mattered not to his mind.

              • I agree. I couldn’t believe how fast my XH turned to hating me after dday. Then I realized, looking back, there were signs he was blaming me and distancing himself for years before

          • Yes to this!! My ex too would blame, blame, blame!! Everybody was an asshole, everyone else is at fault, on and on. My head would spin! Yes, he had a coping habit, and yes, built up toxins in the form of stomach problems which I am sure he will never resolve. He deserves more pain than that, but it’s a good start….

          • Yes to the blame and slow slide into a completely devalued state – at which time I often I just succeeded in agitating him. In fact, if I was upset, crying or my grieving was “bothering him” bc of his crappyass cheating, betrayals and constant life long deception, he was simply disgusted. Cruel motherfucker.

    • This…..

      25 years for me.

      Everything is my fault, and I mean everything. He rewrote our entire history and I’m the villain. At the time, though I thought we had the best marriage, were best friends, extraordinarily compatible. We rarely fought or bickered and liked all the same things and did everything together. I thought. The thousands of pictures and my memories show us laughing and loving and having fun in life. But then DDay and the shock, then the discard of me, the kids, our home, our friends, our pets, our community…our whole life. He slunk away without a tear.

      I spent at least an entire year with “why why why why” ringing in my dazed head. Nothing but “trust me he sucks” really matters.

      He’s gone. Living with current OW. I’m low contact and shooting for NC most days. Still blames me for every single thing he did AND all the consequences. Yesterday he tagged a kid-logistic message with an order that I “stop villianizing OW!” “But she IS a villian,” I said.

      Yes. He sucks. I’m matching steadily towards divorce to hopefully be free of this horror. No contact is my ultimate goal.

      • “But then DDay and the shock, then the discard of me, the kids, our home, our friends, our pets, our community…our whole life. He slunk away without a tear.”

        THIS – I have moved on, but somehow it’s still somewhat incredible to me what he did and probably always will be.

        • I have read these accounts for almost two years, and it’s still hard for my mind to absorb that there are people out there capable of this – and that they walked around in our houses undetected for years. I’m sorry.

    • This is it exactly. I was so good at minimizing his behavior and convincing myself that we had a good marriage that I was in shock the 1st dday. I was convinced that he would never cheat. I was so convinced that I did not mind that he picked up extra money bouncing at a strip club. Sometimes I am speechless at my own naivety. I will have a flashback of an incident during my marriage that I spackled over and it doesn’t quite stand up to my newly acquired Chump Lady Litmus Test proctoring abilities. I don’t care how he might be clinically classified. I only care that my life is now all mine and it’s honest.

    • “My H1.0 blamed and blamed and blamed and blamed. It worked for a LONG time until the built up toxins from all that misplaced blame caused him to have nothing for me but sheer distain.”” BINGO!! Same here. But wait, they KNOW that they are lying to themselves and others about us. They demonize us to justify their nastiness. Dday, I was so miserable, and in a moment of guilt he told me that his actions have nothing to do with me, that i’m a good person. Then he went back to painting me the monster, again. If they do not do that, it looks really bad on them, and their image is to be protected at all costs, even at the expenses of their spouses. it is like ;” I’m a wonderful/caring/loving person, and did it and only did it because my spouse is such a horrible person/no sex/mean/whatever. It is a lie! And they know it. His favorite whore told me that he told her that I am a nice person. she said that in front a police officer, nobody asked her anything. Yes, it was that ugly, police was present Dday. She was mad at him,( wanted more money) marched to my porch and vomited everything about his double life, (a life NOBODY new about, a well kept secret)) , and I had guests, a birthday dinner was about to start, kids were happy, chocolate cake for dessert, a perfect evening . Until: Knock knock
      Who is there?
      Whore.
      whore who?
      Whoreble news for you and your children, in front of your guests, to ruin the birthday dinner. Nice to meet you. I’m your husband’s whore, paid whore. And i’m not the only one.
      See why they need to demonize us? To cover for their muddy/hidden character.

      • Mama, thank you. It wasn’t until I arrived here at CL that I ever knew about “image management”, and it’s helped me make sense of so many insensible things that happened.

        I’m sorry this happened to you and your family. At same time I am so grateful for the way you’ve told it, because, great humor, you — and it’s your telling tonight that has opened my eyes to the fact that some cheaters (probably also mine, very much likely mine) actually engage PAID whores, not just the OW we all call that word.

        Somehow reading all this makes me clear that it just is not my fault. I was always so dumbfounded when he tried to make me a monster. I wasn’t a peach but it was crazy what he latched onto and blew so massively out of proportion. I actually spent years in therapy trying to figure out what I was doing that made me come across so badly to him.

        Your share makes it clear to me that it was total bullshit, from the get-go, and although all that therapy was probably fine, I wish in retrospect that I had heard a personal story like yours sooner. 😉 It would have saved me a LOT of money and time. Thank you for the clarity tonight, and again, I’m sorry for what you endured, and I love the way you’ve told it here. I hope that joker and his whoreable set are history now.

        • Lucky, I’m so happy for CL and CN. I’ve been so blessed by this site. Thank God for this site and all the decent people posting here. No. it is not the spouse’s fault. I’m not saying that we are perfect and flawless,I know that I’m not. But there is a huge difference between imperfection and evil. No, it is not your fault. It is them. In my opinion, most of the signs are there, we see them, BUT because our minds are wired so different we do not know, we can not tell that it is something sinister. Only, and only after something huge come to pass, we can get all the puzzle pieces together and have a panoramic view. Little things that we do not understand, big things that makes a angry, etc. I’ll give you an example: In almost 20 years of marriage, I could never understand why he always undermined my efforts to correct my kids, calling them out on their wrong doing, demanding good behavior and holding them accountable, according to their ages of course. He always cut me and “protected” them from me. I could not for the life in me understand that. I was like, does he not worry that one day the kids will grow, have jobs, their own family, etc. If we let them get away with bad behavior they will expect the same out there?
          Does he not worry that they have to understand that people have feelings and deserve to be respected? Today I can see clearly that he was grooming the kids to never see him as a bad person . He was creating a good image of himself .I was the bad guy. Always.
          I also always made a point to show our kids their father’s wonderful qualities, he never had anything good to point to our kids about me. NEVER.
          I was really pissed when my teenager boy went to work with dad and later I found out that he did not make him work but let him play on the cell phone all day, and at the end of the day paid him so well . I was like, what are you teaching him? To exploit people? To expect a payment without working hard for his money? It is honorable to work hard and do the best job you can, that is honest money. Guess what? I’m too harsh, a monster. Grooming at its finest. Mom is bad and dad is wonderful, sweet and so loving. But I have no words to thank God enough because all the grooming did not work Dday. He insinuated that he and the kids are my victims.
          I had the biggest surprise of my life when my kids told him that I’m a great mother and did not deserve to be betrayed and that a good parent does not betray his/her family. Kids know , he heard from their own mouths they know I call them out for their own good, because I love them and want them to be the good citizens, spouses, parents, employees, employers, friends, neighbors. All those years I could not tell that the “protection” was grooming to be protected by them one day, in case all hell broke loose. He hoped that his image would not collapse, after all dad was always SO GOOD! The blaming , the grooming and much, much more, all there, we just do not know it is a plot. Not our fault. Their character.
          I’m getting a divorce .He can enjoy all the whores his heart desires. I have my wonderful kids and their loyalty, my family and friends. Reading here I know I will heal. I know we will be all right.
          All we chumps are going to be all right .
          One more time: it is not your fault, it is not dear.

        • If we all posted here the whole thing it would be UGLY.Here we just tell a little, right? It is mind blowing that a person we married, trusted and created a family with , is someone so wicked. My mind and heart can not comprehend how a parent can destroy their kid’s home and family life, have a double life, be two person in one body. It is mind blowing.

      • your point #2 is my life exactly. Makes so much sense! You posted it awhile ago, but I’ve just seen it and I’ve copied it and posting it where I’ll see if often. Thank you!

  • Hurt1 – I agree with CL – who cares what he is? My EH is a true Cluster B – NPD/Sociopath. The signs were there from the very beginning of our 20 years together (11 married). He loved the deceit. Playing games, getting one over on people, that was his *thing*. He did it with employers and was always getting fired. I now think he cheated on me from the beginning and was ALWAYS cheating in some form. It was a game. He was a predator always on the prowl. But I spackled over his game playing.

    Consider yourself lucky, Hurt1, that your past 27 years were maybe all real and genuine. One of the hardest things for us with NPD ex’s is the question, “What was real and what wasn’t?” CL always has a great response to this: It was ALL real to us (the chumps). But the question can still linger and nag.

    There is nothing you could have done with your Cheater. Maybe he just snapped. If that’s the case, you don’t want to be near him anyway. People whose switch gets turned on in the wrong direction, you don’t want to stick around and see what that’s about.

    • “He loved the deceit. Playing games, getting one over on people, that was his *thing*. He did it with employers and was always getting fired. I now think he cheated on me from the beginning and was ALWAYS cheating in some form. It was a game. He was a predator always on the prowl. But I spackled over his game playing.”

      This was mine to a T. He got off on the deceit and the secrets. There were so many red flags, but I refused to listen to what my gut was telling me, and just kept spackling. I’ll never forget that look on his face the day after D-day, he actually smiled/sneered at me and said, “You had no idea”. Pure evil POS.

      • Chris W. and HeLovesMeHeLovesMeNot-Same exact thing here! He absolutely got-off on moving chess pieces (actual human beings) around on the board in which he was the only “opponent” that got a King piece (He thought that was him) and thus, a chance to “win”! The image of his smirk while gleefully telling me “I lied to your face several times,” is forever seared into my brain. Ugh. Even THAT was a lie. Several should have been replaced with thousands!

          • Chess is the exact analogy that I used just this week when I explained to my therapist how my EH is using his first vacation since the divorce to take the kids on their first plane trip, first cruise and first time out of the country. He definitely trumped me on this one. ugh.

      • The morning my stbx left I told him he was a predator. He grinned and said, “You married me.”

        • I have dreams about stabbing people like this.

          That memory alone would help me keep NC. I didn’t give mine the chance to say anything more to my face. Because, see statement above.

          I’m super angry for you and I hope your life is GORGEOUS without this creature in it.

          • Me too, LuckySeven. I sometimes (Look away, folks, no homicidal ideation here) lull myself to sleep by imaging slapping Maggot over and over on his handsome face and locking him in cage.

            I am reducing it to writing so I can’t actually do it….the smoking gun (Hee Hee, sort of joking).
            Tracy gets a subpoena….we need all the blog posts of a certain woman….

            We kid around, but that is how catastrophic the betrayal is…I don’t even know how much I am kidding.

            The Chinese proverb:

            He who jokes confesses.

            Remember what Maggot would say to ME in the garage toward the end when leaving?

            KEEP THOSE LEGS CLOSED.

            Son of a bitch.

            • “He who jokes confesses”

              WOW. My ex used to “joke around” about me having a boyfriend, about how I must be dressing up/or down for said boyfriend, on and on. I would laugh. Six months later and I am divorced, having told myself that my ex had an exit affair because what else could explain what he did? Except, all the pieces of the puzzle that was my 23 year marriage have fallen into place now, and I am reeling. Not from the divorce, but from not having acted sooner when certain clues were there all along. My ex has not begged me to come back, but has tried to exert control in different ways that I fear will lead up to that special phone call/text that we chumps dread that says says “I want you back, I made a mistake”. The fact that I thought he had an exit affair was just a delusion on my part. Joke is on me.

              • The joke is TRULY on him because clowns who lie constantly and believe they are superior because of their idiotic Machiavellian schemes usually get a beat down from life.

                You just wanted to love someone and have a happy life.

                Those jokes….pay attention. They mean something. I love that quote. I never joke around unless it is something truly innocuous, like calling one of my dogs the M&M Bear or Ms. Double Stuff, because she is overweight (I would never give her chocolate) but that is as mean as my jokes get. And she has no idea what I am saying, as she is a dog.

                Most jokes are “tells” as to what someone is TRULY doing and thinking.

                He “joked” about you dressing up for a boyfriend because, most likely, he had a girlfriend, and he was doing the same.

                I think the jokes are a way to let steam off the old guilt valve because of the intense lying. It is a way to “confess” but NOT confess. And maybe too just to toy with someone, a sadistic pleasure.

    • Dear Hurt I am in the same situation i just realized 20 years of my 25 with him were all games he has had a mistress since he was 33 i was 30 and it blew me out of the water I am still hanging on to his empty promises and I so can agree they keep the games up make you believe in them only to satisfy their own sick needs I am so glad I am on here its helping me to move forward. My story is all the same as several of you here wow Incredible Hang in there Hurt and try to gain strength to Move away it takes time but you can do it we all can xoxoxxxx

    • “He loved the deceit. Playing games, getting one over on people, that was his *thing*.”

      I only recognized mine as “mischievous” “a prankster” “bratty”. Because I thought his cleverness and love of twists and turns was like mine. I thought of him as a “good negotiator” and “devil’s advocate”. Because I am those, too.

      It took a really long time, and NC, for me to understand that none of this was typical sales guy or “Macchiavellian” or even just good joking around.

      He likes lying to people. He likes how stupid and gullible they are. He likes how they have no idea what he does behind closed doors, or on his cellphone while you and the kids are standing there in a public square at Christmas, surrounded by people and waiting for him to finish up the “work” item that just pinged and took over his full attention.

      He likes how stupid you are. How stupid she is, how stupid they are. He likes being the only one who knows the extent of the game. The one you don’t even know is being played.

      And when he lets you in on it, he loves the shock and pain on your face, and the fact that for a moment, you absolutely CANNOT BREATHE. He loves that. “The look on your face!!”

      Breathe. Get away from it, this thing, and stay away from it. Forever.

      Just breathe.

      • Mine was the same way. We would watch the news and some poor people in some poverty stricken part of the country would have something bad happen, and he would say “We should move there. Everyone there is so dumb, I could make so much money. I would rule the place.” His first and only response when seeing something bad was how he could take advantage of those people to get one over on them. Of course I got out the spackle… because of course he didn’t really mean it. He wanted to change jobs, but the place he wanted to work couldn’t afford his salary. He suggested to me that he would just get paid in cash off the books and not have to pay any taxes. Like this was a totally legit and normal thing to do. Thank goodness I had the sense to shut that down and say “Not on my watch”. I decided to buy a car that has “carpool stickers” (I can drive in the carpool lane without a passenger). He said “I’m sure I can find a way to get some fakes made and just put them on your car.”

        The list goes on and on and on. Mine has such a pathological lack of empathy, that he doesn’t even relish the idea of getting one over on people as a power trip. Because that would acknowledge that a human being actually had feelings and he would have to respond to them. He just fucks people over and walks away content that he got what he wanted and that even if it was “wrong” or even technically illegal… well that’s because the person was stupid or the law was stupid and the rules don’t apply to him.

          • FWIW – sickness wasn’t really a good metric of his investment because 1) I don’t get sick very often 2) I never had a major chronic illness (knock wood) 3) I work in medicine, so I’m pretty competent at handling my own medical stuff. 4) I am a relatively stoic sick person. I either soldier on, or camp out on the couch until it passes.

            If I had bug, I could certainly ask him to pick something up for me at the pharmacy. He would ask if I wanted him to pick something up for dinner. But he didn’t really seem to CARE that I was sick. But I didn’t really care that I was sick. Like I work in a pediatric clinic, I’m going to get sick every once in a while. It’s how it goes. Mine liked to cut me down in other ways, but we both rolled with the punches when the other was sick.

            I do remember once I got a stomach bug and I was many many hours without being to keep anything down on a Sunday. I said “I may need you to take me to the ER to IV fluids. I’m in bad shape.” I was the kind of sick that if you take even a sip of water you are retching. He went to the pharmacy and got me some sort of anti-nausea thing. I took it, and I actually started to upswing. Now I don’t know if the drug helped or whatever bug I had was done, but I was fine. I remember him saying “Good, I really didn’t want to take you to the ER.” And I remember thinking that it was kind of cold. He didn’t care I was feeling better, he was just glad he didn’t have to stop playing on his phone and watching TV to take me to the ER. And I remember thinking that if I of all people was saying “I think I need IV fluids”… I probably could have used some IV fluids. But as I said – you don’t get divorced because your husband expressed once that he would rather not go sit in the ER. Because no one wants to go sit the ER. Most people just don’t tell you that to your face.

            • Yes, I was curious because it seems to be a common thread in cheaters….jaw dropping selfishness and very immersed in their own needs. None of that nurturing behavior that we all need to make us feel loved: affection that is not related to sex, preparing meals, and the like.

              My cheater was an addict, so that places me on an entirely higher level of misery and stupidity, but he was often sick due to his fiendish drug use, and I was his nurse maid. I could have been deathly ill but he was too zonked out to have helped me, if I needed it.

              Yes, I drove 3 hours in the sleet to tend my cheating addict in the ER, and he was there from his drug use. Codependent-yes. But also very much in love.

              Your X saying, Good because I did not want to take you is callous.

              • Mine was too busy to pick me up from work when I needed to go to the ER, he sent his mom (who I truly love) to bring me. She stayed with me the whole time and brought me home. That night, as I lay in bed, he says I’m going out as originally planned… And then didn’t come home until the next day.

                On a trip in Mexico I got food poisoning and he left me in the hotel to go on a booze cruise, and decided to go out with a local later on that evening.

                These people have no empathy, they are robots, cold and heartless.

              • This makes me very sad. For everyone who suffered this lack of nurturing, but also for myself, because X was deeply sweet when I was sick. He was awful and antagonistic when I needed emotionally nurturing from him (or someone), as in the case when a family member died, or, say, on the anniversary of my father’s death, when I needed to delve into my past or childhood vulnerability or hurts. But he was always good to me about my physical needs (health, food, sex — especially sex). He never failed to take care of me in a good husband way, when my needs were more plainly visible and maybe easier to understand.

                He was good at so many solutions, for me, and it was the history stuff, the deep dark stuff that I’ve carried all my life, that he was not able to fix or deal with. But he was a nurturer and a provider on so many other levels, particularly when it came to my physical body and physical health. And this — that he was good and good hearted where the partners in your stories were not — leaves me so much more confused.

                I mean, I loved this man more than any I’ve ever known. Even at his worst and ugliest, I still am 75% sure that’s my One. After reading these stories about men who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t nurture, I am now wondering again whether I made a mistake.

              • He wouldn’t allow me to take care of him the same way. Stoic in illness or pain, the kind of person who bears it out, shrugs it off. His whole sense physically was “don’t take care of me”; he didn’t know how to receive it, or how to be vulnerable enough to let go and be nursed.

                Then in the last year, a second or third college friend died, and everything got too weird and I left. And he had a major elective surgery that, guess what, required someone to take care of him. But he had run me off in the months leading up to that, and again the day after the surgery. And this spring he moved OW into the house and says he loves her.

                I’m a nurturer and in some ways it was this surgery and recovery that I was waiting for. The natural opportunity to be there as I had been, but, to do what is natural for me to do anyway, and have it be finally received well by him. Because in this case he finally had to allow it.

                Instead he is doing that with someone else. I feel totally wretched this morning. Of course he loves that other person. I don’t even know who she is, but on some level she is daily saving his life.

        • It opened mine, too, writing it. I’m glad you commented because today for some reason I am back on the fence about him (eyes crossed maybe!) and needed to reread this again, my own words yesterday, to keep my heart straight.

          I was at a family reunion of sorts last night, with people I hadn’t seen at all during the years with X. I said what is true: that he and I were perfectly matched in so many traits, better than any other partner I’d had. But, I said, he is also …crafty.

          And the person I was talking to, who had known me since I was a child, frowned and said, knowing, “That is something you’ve never been. And ‘crafty’ is not good, for anyone.”

          I keep thinking — because I keep growing and learning and growing up (at almost 50) — that X must also be growing and learning and growing up. But maybe people just don’t grow out of these negative traits.

          I have to keep reminding myself that the fake superiority and cool detachment are not behaviors that I can healthfully withstand. I mean, apparently even a year or more out, I still have to remind myself of this on a daily basis. 🙁

          • LuckySeven,

            I hope you see this.

            Meth Maggot took care of my sexual needs like a Superman. Nobody does it better. Nobody. Not yet. Please God let someone else come along that can.

            There was the special little cake I loved called Pan De Queso, and they are hard to find. He would drive to all the Mexican shops to find them and bring me bags of them.

            He would bring my boys (dogs) bags of premium treats, toys and food. He would bring me medicine when I was sick (if he was conscious after binging on drugs.)

            He defended me against a bully neighbor at a cabin I own. Like a gallant knight, he solved the problem and showed no fear.

            He gave me $10K for my birthday.

            HE LISTENED. I mean…the man listened like the Buddha. He remembered everything I said. EVERYTHING.

            But he still cheated. And lied. And did not value me.

            ***YOU SAID…HE WAS GOOD HEARTED AND THIS LEAVES ME CONFUSED.***

            If he cheated on you (and he did, you are on this site)

            HE WAS NOT GOOD HEARTED.

            You did not make a mistake. I know it. Here’s how:

            I had this revelation and I could not wait to share it. This is kismet for you.

            The moment…the second..you have to start reasoning, explaining, arguing, cajoling, presenting a case, offered proof

            to SOMEONE

            that you and he should be together

            It is over.

            When someone wants to be with you, you don’t have to talk them into it. You don’t have to play moral Blind Man’s Bluff to justify the relationship. You don’t have to present points to them as to WHY you should be together.

            If he did not have some good qualities, you would not have fallen in love with him.

            You said he is the “One”…you are almost certain. No. Your “One” would not be “crafty.”

            I do not want a crafty anyone in my life.

            *HE MAY HAVE RECEIVED SOME TYPE OF PAY OFF FOR THOSE THINGS HE DID TO NUTURE YOU*

            Sex, obvious. Taking care of someone is its own reward. You cannot romanticize him because he has some traits that were good.

            If you had an apple, and it had a wormy rotten streak down the middle, would you consider that a good apple, even if there were some white, firm parts left? No, it is ruined.

            I struggle with this so much as well…but this is what I know.

            I know it. If someone cheats on you, they do not love you. Period. And all those nurturing behavior that he did, it did not stop him from betraying you in a catastrophic manner from which there is no recovery.

            You did NOT make a mistake. Go back to basics. Trust that he sucks. You are untangling his skein and it is not worth it.

            Do you truly want a life with a crafty person? I looked up crafty for you: LOOK AT THE SYNONYMS…is that who you want as a life partner? The antonym of crafty is HONEST.

            adjective
            1.clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods.
            “a crafty crook faked an injury to escape from prison”

            synonyms: cunning, wily, guileful, artful, devious, sly, tricky, scheming, calculating, designing, sharp, shrewd, astute, canny;

            More
            antonyms: honest
            of, involving, or relating to indirect or deceitful methods.
            “a shameless and crafty trick to mislead public opinion”

            • Well said if you have to tell someone you belong together then its over. Whore juice daid this to asswipe over and over so now they broken up yet again. I never said those words to the ex ever. It just was. He had some issues when i met him and a few more popped up nothing much most i could live with and did for thirty years. I made mention of the ones that were difficult and he watched himself mostly kept those in check. We had a good life loving caring laughing forged a team and weathered the storms together. Till he hit mid 50s and all hell broke loose the demons came out and when the smoke cleared he was really different and a full blown affair. I guess he was always that way just couldnt hide it anymore. We really dont see it coming do we? I told me once long ago he knew from the start that his new relationship would be doomed he tried to blame that on me. Ha i said i never cheated or lied to you not once. Of course it was doomed you started another commited relationship while you were married. She got a known cheater and you got someone whos moral values caused to sleep with a married man and constantly she tells him they belong together, twas fate, stooopid bitch. She gets the cheater and i get some peace.

            • Amazing post, honey, amazing. So so true… You meth fuckhead will probably never understand the quality of person he lost, as with all the other cheater fuckheads that have driven is here.

            • SabineSavoy thank you for your post, it gave me such clarity! My ex was also very nurturing when it came to my needs physically, it was the emotional needs that were lacking. We rarely fought, and his favorite comment to me (for years!) was “we are so connected”. D-day was shattering for me, we had been through so much together, we were “connected” after all! He said to me on that night “I want a different life, you’re not going to talk me out of it” to which I responded “Why would I?”. My own Freudian slip, my subconscious admission that things were not as they should be. Of course cheaters are perfectly capable of being nurturing.. Keeping you and others satisfied is a talent they possess.

          • Lucky 7,

            I too was very well matched w my hubs, as he was w me. We were together close to 30 yrs, and he had an affair. My whole world blew up, at the ripe old age of 58.

            Mine wanted me back. I love him very much and never stopped, but we aren’t together. The pain of the betrayal was more than I could carry, and have a future w him.

            We are living separately starting our 6th yr. we still are in contact & finally life is looking better than I ever thought could.

            I still have a long way to go, but I’m no where near that broken women I was when I learned of the ow.

            Everything happens as it should, we are in the very place we are suppose to be in life. It’s the “way” we finally learn the lessons along the way that I find brings peace finally to ones life.

  • “NPDs don’t keep their “disorder under wraps.” Oh no, it’s out there waving its freak flag every day. It’s just that we chumps spackle and excuse, devalue ourselves, and have our minds colonized into believing yes, they really are more deserving. Yes, they’re smarter/prettier/more clever than me. We don’t question the lopsided nature of these relationships, and we take sparkles and starvation rations of kibbles from them instead of healthy mutuality and respect. We crave their approval. Gosh, if we just try harder, maybe we’ll get better than a C+ this time! Oh, the NPD is there, it’s just that we’re such experts in accommodating it, that we act blind.”

    Yes, Yes, YES!!! I agree with CL so much on this, it doesn’t sound like your loser was necessarily NPD – You would have seen that freak flag daily for sure. It took me 8 years to leave… but I have been avoiding the Narcissist’s red flags since before we even said “I Do” there was no crazy turning point, there was no unveiling of the beast. The beast was always there I just wanted to believe the smoke screen so badly. I wanted to believe that he was really prince charming, and I let him convince me that I was the problem… that I wasn’t appreciating him enough, respecting him enough, loving him enough, compassionate enough… you name it and I wasn’t it, and that was why our marriage was so troubled… duh!

    Dealing with what you have been through sucks, and there really isn’t a silver lining in any of it – however, I do think that you should be thankful on some level that you didn’t spend 27 years with full on Narcissistic abuse.

    • Yes, the freak flags flew every day chez Major & Mrs Cheaterpants. I was, however, too frightened to admit it to myself lest I have to make a decision I did not want to make. So I hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped. Yes, he was a shit, but I stayed and Im (slowly) coming to grips that that was on me.

      • Unicornnomore, my story, too. I buried my head in the sand for a long time so as not to have to make a decision. That was on me as well.

        • I saw the freak flags & identified them for what they were, but was initially convinced it was best for the kids to stay, and that my operant conditioning techniques ; ) were actually turning then-H into a better person. “No” on point one (my kids would have been better to have one sane parent than live in a two-parent family where the Narc was slowly working on driving me crazy. On point 2, then-H *appeared* to be becoming a better person (his family thought so, our friends thought so), but he was really getting better at impression management and taking his psychopathology deeper with deception.

          • Yes Tempest and for the Limited it was an unbelievable con. He took multiple steps to get what he wanted. My losses were his achievements. Then after his unilateral decisions and his massive costly fuckups he blamed it on me. He was a master of image control and a pathological liar.

            I believe exit affairs with a ready made life and the ability to erase a lifetime with a partner are carried out by narcissists, period. Dig deeper and chisel away at their actions and it was ever present. They plan for years, lead double lives and fake it all.

            • DoingMe,

              The Limited has no capacity to see how much he gave up when he lost you.

              And yes, the ready-made-life exit is a harrowing narcissistic exit to survive. Erased.

              • Thanks Ian. One of the biggest comforts I have is knowing I saved myself in the end. My therapist gave me the strength to file. And CL/CN gave me the strength to fight for myself and live better.

                Of all the names and labels he deserves the best is ‘dumb’. Both my therapist and lawyer both said, “He’s really dumb.”

          • OMG Tempest, you SO got it! Were you peaking in our windows all those years? I did ALL the stuff you’re supposed to do to improve your relationship w/your partner and encourage them to be a better spouse and parent. The operant conditioning, the soft start-up, the showing him how it was ALSO in his best interests to treat the kids and I better, the being super super supportive, the letting the little stuff go, the clear (but not mean) setting of boundaries on the big stuff, the accepting that I can only change myself ….. ALL OF IT!

            And he actually DID get better! The last 8 months or so (after I set a major boundary around his day-to-day unpleasantness) went better than many years before had. He was talking a lot about our future retirement together, and for the first time in a decade I thought we might actually retire together. The kids saw it and were happier and showed lots of appreciation to him, as did I. Our sex life (always very active, but often mediocre because of the actual relationship issues) even started to improve!

            I felt like maybe, just maybe it was worth it, and maybe I had been right to work so hard to have a decent relationship, rather than giving up years before.

            So then of course he fucked around again (while working out of town – I guess the opportunity was too good too miss) and I kicked him out. Later he revealed that he had super resented my boundary setting, and the ‘being nicer’ and less mean had simply been him biting his tongue while thinking the same negative critical crap. And over time the kids and I realized we were a lot happier without him around, and I realized I was a better parent without being constantly upset and preoccupied with him.

            He wasn’t becoming a better person, and the kids (and I as well) would have been better off if I’d left years before.

            Sigh.

            • “Later he revealed that he had super resented my boundary setting,”

              This is a classic trait of someone who is disordered. They hate hate hate boundaries. And will vilify you for it. And the main way to deal with a disordered individual is to put strong boundaries to protect yourself. And that’s what repels them, because they can’t get their way. Disordered people despise boundaries, No wonder he resented you for it.

              • Absolutely right, Kelia! The only boundaries my ex ever respected were those that ended in a threat to leave him, and I HATED doing that, because I think when you’re in a committed relationship, you don’t say that kind of thing. But it’s the only thing that worked with him, I eventually realized. When my last boundary-setting was actually working, I felt like I should have set way more boundaries way earlier, our whole family could have been happier (even him, he really liked how much better we treated him once he started treating us better).

                Then when I found out how much he had resented those boundaries, I realized I STILL should have set way more boundaries way earlier. Only this time I thought that because I realized he would have hated that and we would have ended up separated far earlier, which I now realize would also have been a better outcome.

              • Boundary setting: YES. Mine so hated the boundaries I tried to set around his compulsive porn use that he took it to the next level and joined three ‘married dating’ sites. Passive aggressive, anyone?

      • Unicornnomore, gosh I hear you on this one. When I decided to marry my Narcissist and move to the other side of the globe with him after only spending about 6 weeks with him… I defied everyone I knew and was so convicted in my decision that I was marrying my dream man… it was so damn hard to own up to the fact that I was SO VERY WRONG. It took me a long time to face it, and I am still coming to terms with it.

      • Yup. I had red flags early on – the first time he took me to his parents for dinner he ripped into me afterwards for not holding the fork “the right way”, AND WE WEREN’T EVEN DATING! (he was a friend who thought I was lonely far away from home for a major holiday).
        Mine was a miserable marriage for a long time – he steals, blames, hides money, manipulates, bad mouths his friends behind their backs, badmouths his family, is horrible with the kids, mean on major holidays, doesn’t show up at mealtimes and doesn’t call, never went to kids events, blew off every one of my birthdays after I had my first child, blew off Valentines and would hide in the hotel room on vacation making me take the kids to the parks, beach or whatever on my own.

        Of course he would pull off the cutesy/sad sausage/you’re the best thing that ever happened to me routine whenever he pushed things too far.

        I was a single parent FOREVER and lost a lot of friends because having a husband who wouldn’t show up for couple events just became too humiliating.

        THAT is a narc/sociopath. The cheating, while devastating was just the 2×4 that finally made me wake up and realize just how much I was putting up with. I was miserable and mentally there wasn’t much left, all I was holding on to was “the dream” and protecting the kids.

        He’s a great manipulator and good at getting you to give a little, then a little bit more and so on until you have too many sunk costs and it is hard to walk away – just like a stock that is going down in value but you hold on hoping it will go back up rather than accept your losses.

        My only other justification for not walking was that moving here meant I couldn’t return to live in the country I grew up in and so I was stuck. Then we had the kids (with no family or support system on this continent) and I stopped working so I was doubly tied.

        Now instead of feeling sorry for myself I’ve started to feel really proud for surviving so much crap, especially being cut off from any support system. My kids are older so I’ve managed to be there to protect them from him while little, I have a solid job, I’ve built a life which while not adequate is a foundation and we’ll all be OK.

        I spend every day telling myself that HE is the loser and I’m all kinds of awesome.

        • Oh and of course, my father was a covert narc and my mother codependent narc and I was the scapegoat child so my expectations were REALLY low.

          Let’s just say I’m going to be spending a LOT of time retraining myself. I’ve got myself in therapy and about to put the kids in too although my daughter is actually pretty well balanced, has great boundaries and really values herself, I have no idea how that happened.

          • FA, my dad is a narc and my mom is Borderline Personality Disorder/alcoholic…I managed to escape then when I was 17. Compared to mom. my lateH was a stellar human…my expectations were SO LOW.

            Like Tempest, I thought that staying was better for my kids and that one day, H1.0 would understand and do better. In early adulthood, the boys both suffered severe mental health crisis. If I had left their father when they were kids, I likely would have blamed that& myself for their struggles, but as it was , they had an “intact” (using that word loosely) family and it still happened.

            and like you guys, H1.0 sometimes acted decent but it was forced and limited.

          • I didn’t get any red flags. They just weren’t there. He was covert and expert. We married very young and I didn’t know any different maybe. He played the game and I didn’t even know there WAS a game. It was insidious. And I’m not a stupid person. In retrospect I see the very very slow slide and how he gradually devalued me, but it was subtle, slow. I didn’t necessarily spackle either, because it wasn’t or didn’t seem that bad. I just went about my life as usual. I had great friends and was going to grad school, so I was busy living half of my time or my life apart from him, with other supports, which probably helped and was why he wasn’t successful in taking me down sooner. Once I had our first baby though, I was isolated and exhausted, tearful, needy (I did really need his help) etc. if I hadn’t been so exhausted and if I hadn’t had such severe PPD, maybe I would’ve noticed some red flags at that point or seen how he put me down, neglected us and left me to just sink or swim. Idk. I could not have been more blindsided when I finally caught him. 22 years of marriage. He’d been cheating since about the 3rd year into it, maybe sooner. He sucks. Cruel and cold.

            • **THIS**—no warning no indications—essentially the ‘perfect’ friendship/marriage/partnership. People used to call and ask for advice on how we were so happy together. Seriously. Thought he was the love of my life. 22 years together, 18 married. Wonderfully supportive, seemed like a great, involved Dad, amazing provider, partner, caring. It was ALLLLLL an act.

              Found out he had been cheating on me since the day we met after I discovered a disgusting, graphic text with photos. He was all over the internet, dark websites, dating sites, Craigslist, you name it. More than 100 people–he can’t really count. His goal was to have a FWB or f***buddy in every city he traveled. Nice. Found out that when I thought I was miscarrying our first child, he went out and hired a hooker and left me in a strange country alone in the hotel. This is probably the tamest of what he did.

              He did go to rehab. Sex addict with a second addiction of alcoholism. Didn’t see that either. He was labeled an NPD and borderline. So, this is where I disgree with Chumplady—-they can wear the mask and seem supportive,,,,for years and years. My ex harbored huge resentments toward me, but told me every day how beautiful, wonderful, smart and amazing I was. NPDs can be conniving and deceitful while wearing the mask of ‘mr. nice guy’. He turned on a dime once I found out and is now a complete asshat. No idea who this person is now, but I call him ‘the addict’ and “deceitfuk’, which makes me feel a bit better.

              Didn’t want to restart my life. The old one was pretty awesome. Just didn’t know it was a fake production. Happy not to have to live with the pit of waiting for the other shoe to drop—right on my head again. It is super hard, but I just know there needs to be a purpose to this and part of it is helping one another go through this hell. While our stories have similar patterns, we all have a slightly different bend and being open to hearing the differences can lead to tremendous healing for us all. Thanks for providing the venue.

    • Sometimes most of us have never even explored narcissism. We just thought our spouses were difficult, unfaithful…..we were conditioned to think that we were the issue so we don’t look for red flags, were too busy trying to fix whatever we perceive is wrong with us to make it work.
      My sister sent me an article after he left “10 signs you may be with a narcissist” I will never forget it. I was standing in a Starbucks and almost dropped my coffee as I read……almost everything on there was him. Even if he wasn’t a full blown cluster B( who knows) he sure is hell is “on the spectrum”.

      • I definitely agree that the spectrum is wide with narcissists, and it can be hard to diagnose the situation from the inside. I do think that even if you don’t know what the red flags are telling you – that most people in Narcissistic relationships know that there is SOMETHING wrong… even from the early days… and even if we think all of the wrong stuff is tied to ourselves.

        • How do you deal with the evil of these people?? Everything I read says no contact but we have a toddler together. Going through the court process of custody, well hasn’t reached court yet but he is making my life hell-smear campaign (told a mutual friend he hopes I get cancer and die), the “dirt” (?) he has on me. He’s been a binge drinker for over 20 years and can walk a straight line after drinking 48 hours straight-a cop he dealt with said “he didn’t seem that drunk” Wtf?!? I fear when it reaches court as he keeps rejecting my lawyers proposals that I’ll be a shell of a person. I left him 8 months ago because I found out he was screwing multiple hookers while I was pregnant with the baby he begged me for. And this can’t come out in court because it’s “no fault”? What does that say about his character and morals? Why am I paying for his fuck up? How do I make it stop? ?

          • Bel:
            It is tough to wrap one’s head around the evil and the manipulation. Read as much as you can about Cluster B disorders and addiction. Then try to view your STBX clinically–don’t take his actions personally, it is just how Cluster Bs/unreformed addicts behave.

            And nonsense that his sexual escapades can’t come out in court–even in no-fault, they can be used to ascertain custody and financial division. It showed reckless regard for your health, and if you can document the $$ spent on hookers, you can re-coup those costs as ‘marital assets’ (and it’s a good way to introduce his infidelity into the record).

            As for sharing custody, your best bet is grey rock, which gives the disordered fewer ways to hook or manipulate you: http://www.lovefraud.com/2012/02/10/the-gray-rock-method-of-dealing-with-psychopaths/

            Good luck, and head to the forums (top right; get an account) to be able to ask for help from people as you navigate your divorce.

          • Bel- Try this tools:

            Ask the Court to order psychological assessments for BOTH you and him, and that you both must follow all recommendations. See if your state also has a Psycho-Social Assessment…that binge drinker and hooker behavior would come out.

            Then ask the Court to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) for the child. 98% of the time, they will see through someone who is disordered. The first time the GAL, who are volunteers that are only there to advocate for the best interest of the child, asks him a questions he does not like, he will go ape shit on her and they tell the Judge EVERYTHING. I have NEVER seen a Judge go against a GAL’s recommendaiton unless it was bonkers, and even then they do it kindly.

            If you stay calm, and document everything ( I know it is exhausting) his mask with slip and the Court will see. They may not let on that they see, but their ruling will show you.

            Ask your lawyer to file a motion to order your spouse to stop disparaging you in front of the child.

            Ask your lawyer if your state has Child Visitation Centers, and if the visits can take place there. The visits are supervised and videotaped. State your concerns about alcohol, disparaging the mother and volatile behavior.

            Remember…many people don’t understand about NPD. You have to quietly educate them. You can’t do it in a gossipy breathless way. (I don’t meant that ugly) People in Family Law have hard hearts from all they see and hear.

            You have to firmly, without histrionics, document and brick by brick, show the CHARACTER of the person you are attempting to protect your child from.

            Make sure your lawyer understands, truly understands, that your X is a person with absolutely no commitment to the truth, and he is not going to behave in a reasonable manner. The best way to do this is to write this out, succinctly with examples and certified mail it to your lawyer.

            Your X will not be able to hold up his mask of sanity when challenged by anyone with authority. As CL wrote, his freak flag will start flying high.

            I don’t envy you. But, you have to do it. It is a lot of work up front, but it can buy you years of peace down the road.

          • Aw Bel I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I have not had to deal with children with my Narcissist so that has made the whole No Contact rule easier, I am sure there are many strong ladies on here with good advice on how to survive co-parenting with a Narc. I think you just need to stay strong, and keep reminding yourself that there is nothing wrong with you… he is the one with the issues.

        • That’s a good observation. I knew SOMETHING was wrong – something had changed almost overnight two years into our marriage. I was confused and had no clue how to deal with it or how to interpret her behavior and what she said.

          I know the cheater playbook now, and what narcissistic behavior looks like. Back then I didn’t, and I would never have guessed she was a serial cheater and was capable of what was to come over the next 18 years. I also knew nothing about codependency, which tied me to that unhealthy relationship.

      • Our marital counselor assured me that he was an unusually special narc- because he actually able to “own” some of his wrongdoing. How not comforting.

      • Paintwidow, you are right. I had *no* idea what narcissism was. I thought it was about the Greek guy who loved to look at his reflection in the water. Post D-Day, I searched for answers. My Ex walks this world believing that he is a special sad sausage, that the “Universe” is “laughing” at him, that he works harder, is smarter than anyone else and all of us put together, that his upbringing in a foreign country makes him “unique”, that the “work” he does is worth thousands of times more than anyone else’s efforts/investment. Every single fucking day with him for sixteen years was spent walking on eggshells trying not to “set him off” into one of his rages about how selfish and stupid everyone else (me, my kids) were and how misunderstood and special he was. Sexual deviant. Rape and pedophilia fantasies. Parasitic lifestyle. I spent every waking SECOND working to please this man, did anything and everything he asked for. Now? I see his behavior ticks all the boxes of NPD. I did therapy and never got a diagnosis. But no question in my mind. The shock I felt when I learned he was a liar/cheater, then months after D-Day that he was a *serial* cheater, was epic, that was how much I worshipped this man. Which is what he wanted. Even now, 3 years later, some Stockholm Syndrome when I remember what I thought were “the good times.” But ultimately bottom line, I’m finally OFF THE CRAZY TRAIN. No I never got a diagnosis of him. But there’s no question in my mind. Cheating was just something he did, because they are like little amoebas at the lowest level of Maslow’s heirarchy. They do what benefits them. They lie to benefit themselves. They blame you to benefit themselves. They benefit themselves, always and forever.

    • We don’t question the lopsided nature of these relationships, and we take sparkles and starvation rations of kibbles from them instead of healthy mutuality and respect. We crave their approval. Gosh, if we just try harder, maybe we’ll get better than a C+ this time! Oh, the NPD is there, it’s just that we’re such experts in accommodating it, that we act blind.

      YES! For the longest time I bought into the “happy wife – happy life” bullshit. It was gradual; insidious. I spackled over all her subtle abuse because I hate conflict. I trusted she had good intentions.

      She’s constantly getting little digs in here and there. “You aren’t actually heading out of the house wearing THAT are you?!” -OR- “Thank you for washing my car. But why didn’t you vacuum out all the food crumbs? (that she drops everywhere)” -OR- “Thank you for picking up dinner. My order is wrong. Why didn’t you check it before leaving the restaurant?” -OR- “Thank you for cooking dinner. Why did you use [fill in the ingredient]? You should know I don’t like [fill in the ingredient] in this dish.“-OR- “Thank you for vacuuming the house. Why didn’t you move the furniture and to get the hard-to-reach places?” -OR- “Thank you for mowing the lawn. Why couldn’t you keep the grass clippings from blowing into my flower beds?” -OR- “I see you got a haircut. Was the barber blind?“-OR- “Watch whatever you want on TV. Why didn’t you pick something we BOTH would be interested in?” OR… OR… OR…

      And when I’ve finally had enough to protest I’m just “being overly sensitive” or “can’t take a joke.” I’ve learned to never EVER “joke” back with her unless I want to spend two raging tear-filled hours exploring how I am incredibly mean & spiteful, don’t fight fair, don’t approach topics with her correctly, don’t know how to communicate with her, and whatever else it is that has royally pissed her off in the last month or two.

      And the pickle topping off this deli-riffic shit sandwich is guess who has been labeled with all the “anger issues” in our house?

      • I read that when someone shows you open contempt, that blatant snarling snake talk, you have crossed the Rubicon.

        To get Old Testamenty, better to have a crust of bread in the corner of a roof than a feast in a palace with a hateful woman.

        You sound truly miserable, and like you are still living in the same house.

        Are you saying she is like this AND is cheating? If so, lace up your Nikes and start running.

      • BNM, there was no limit to the abuse I was subjected to as he insulted me briually to my face with his voice inflection going up ever so slightly at the end of a sentence possibly indicating humor but if I ever challenged him on it, I was “overly sensitive” and “have no sense of humor”…he very intentionally said things that no one could tell if he was serious/joking so that he coudl spin in in whichever way gave him power in the interaction. He won every one of these scuffles before they even started…I was trying to be kind and fair and he was out to win.

        I wish that I had been brave enough to leave once it was clear that he had open contempt for me.

        • YES. THIS.

          When I was still married, both the MC and my IC tried to help me understand that sometimes a disordered or addict partner (or person) will use the other person to “broadcast” its hidden issues or emotions. I could not, for the life of me, understand what this meant.

          Now I do. It’s like the screwed up person manipulates and manufactures whatever scenario it takes, to get YOU to blow your stack or come apart in heartbreak, so that it can externalize feelings or thoughts it either is not aware of or does not have a template for or “permission” to express. Sometimes it does it just for kicks and chaos; sometimes it does it like a child, experimenting and blinking in surprise at all the shattered pieces of the result.

          Sometimes it is mindless, reptilian, scheming, and the screwed person is happy it did that to you; it feels powerful. Other times it is hapless and sad, almost accidental, and the screwed up person feels lost and sorry and bewildered, not having meant to screw you up too.

          Either way you get the short end of the stick, and it’s no way to live. Life without this agitation is much quieter and even pleasant.

  • It sounds like you are asking a version of “why?”
    The truth is it doesn’t even matter.
    Many times the reason we ask these questions is because we believe if we change what we do they will change and that is simply not true.
    A fuckwit is a fuckwith is a fuckwit is a fuckwit…
    Kind of the opposite of what the guy who created Hamilton said at the Tonys the other night.
    Part of the process of freeing yourself from the mindfuckery is that you stop asking these questions under the banner “Trust that they suck!”

  • Chris, first…sorry.
    As to why do they take so much of your life before blowing it up. My STBXW and for sure NPD waited 12 years and three kids before creating a cheater double life. The best I can come up with is that, the older you get the more you become what you already are. If you have lived an authentic life it can be a good thing. If you have been living a lie then at some point you can’t fake it anymore and you are what you are. Fore some that happens to be a whoring POS.

    • NarcBait – well put. Similar scenario here: STBXW was about 12 years, one kid, major financial infidelity throughout and then at least one affair.

      I was discussing it with one of my neighbors last night, and he was thinking out loud about how difficult it is for people to change, and yet some people seem to change for the worse (as in the case of my cheating STBXW). My alternative explanation was that real change is difficult, so the simplest explanation is that eventually bad people can no longer keep up the facade of being a good person, and they appear to change for the worse, or to turn on a dime; but that is just the appearance.

      • Completely agree Sephage!

        Our Xs sucked all along, but with age, they cannot keep up the facade, too many lies to remember, too many pretzel logic croutons getting sprinkled on their word salads, they can’t fool people that easily anymore, and people around them put down the hopium pipe, go NC, and move on.

        Good riddance!

        • “. . . too many lies to remember . . .”

          This was the beginning of the end of our marriage. Serial cheaters might consider keeping a list of sex acts they perform with their APs, but not with their spouse. After 20 years of marriage and multiple APs, it’s understandable that one could lose track. But I promise it will get your spouse’s attention to remember engaging in a certain ultimate sex act during your marriage that your spouse never engaged in with you. I promise, no amount of trying to do damage control by blaming a faulty memory will work.

          • Geez GK that’s awful. I had to read it a couple times to get it. What a POS. Sorry you had to experience that.

            • That wasn’t very clear, was it? Sorry, but you deciphered it correctly. Everything unraveled from there.

              • SON OF A BITCH. Of course this just caused one more moment of clarity. He wanted to “try” new things. I’m game I thought it weird at the time that there was no awkward moments in these “new things” or funny moments of “well, that didn’t work like it was suppose to.” Nope. Perfect and flawless. Of course, I just now realized that he had already practiced and perfected this.

      • During a time when nowdeadcheater was being a meanassbastard, I got him to go to a Catholic Marriage Retreat weekend. In it they spoke of “faces” (facades) and had us write essays to each to her about ourselves and our marriages. I know now that he had years of lying and cheating he had kept COMPLETELY hidden.

        It is odd to remember that weekend (and for a while I had the notes he wrote me but I may have tossed them) now that I know better what he was hiding. I think it took more and more energy to keep up the facade. I used to look at him and think “he looks like a person with a deep, dark secret” but he had me SO bamboozled, I had no idea what it was (Yes, I realize now how strange that sounds).

        I think there were brief glimpses when he realized that I was a really good wife and it caused him so much angst and cognitive dissonance, that he quickly returned to his warped narrative out of nothing more than self protection.

        • “he looks like a person with a deep, dark secret”

          That was SO my cheater. As a caring, empathetic spouse, I spent too many years trying to get him to open up to me. So silly. To him that was part of his mystique.

          He had a secret for sure…but he was far from deep.

          • Deep dark secret, for sure. I have always believed the alcohol is a truth serum. You see who a person really is. In 30 years together xW and I were never drunk together. I am a happy drunk (people tell me – on the rare occasion I do get drunk). I now know she would never get drunk with me due to the dark secrets.
            She’s still trying to hide them from the world, but I tell the truth if anyone ever asks. She was a monster.

      • Good points about how some of them only seem to have changed when the reality is they simply exhausted their ability to keep the mask on any longer. I think for many narcs, that starts to happen when we first begin to question them in serious ways about lying, cheating, etc.

        I have no doubts my covert narc X could have kept up appearances indefinitely if I had continued to accept crumbs and buy his lies. Looking back, there was a limit to the number of questions I could ask before he pivoted from, “I would never, ever cheat” to “you are a pathetic, crazy fucking bitch and the real problem in our marriage is YOU.”

        He seemed to turn on a dime from a mild-mannered nice guy to a raging, frothing, goateed monster, and at the time I thought that’s what had happened (the goatee and sudden interest in manscaping should have been my first red flags). But with the benefit of hindsight and deep immersion into the workings of NPD, I now realize the signs were there from the beginning, they were just better contained and I was willing to spackle over them.

    • I love this! “the older you get, the more you become what you already are.” I spackled like a crazy woman for almost 30 years, and believed he was “different” than his lying, cheating, disordered father and grandfather and likely, brother. For 25 years, before my FIL died, I watched that old bastard lie, manipulate, cheat on taxes and other things, and devalue his wife. He made everyone’s lives miserable, but hey, that was just Dad. A few years before I finally divorced my cheater, it did seem to me that he was becoming more and more like his father. Thankfully, I did not stay forever and take it like MIL did.

      Interestingly, in the light of him starting to become just like his father, he also said to me, after Dday #2, “I just can’t fake this any longer.” He is what he is. He also said, “Look, I know I’m fucked up.” One of the rare times he spoke a word of truth.

  • Hurt1, I had an exit cheater. We were together 17 years, he told me a few years back that he was unhappy. I suggested therapy, but he didn’t want to go. I also suggested he get a hobby, go out & make more friends, he had excuses as to why he couldn’t. He worked away, if you added it up, for approximately half the year with his first job, then about two thirds of the year for the last few years with a new company.

    When he was home he did the cooking and was supposed to look after the yard. He did less & less & was meaner & meaner to me because he wanted me to break up with him. He finally left a letter to a Ukrainian scam artist on the spare bed, when I fronted him he moved into the spare bedroom, refused to try marriage counselling & took 9 weeks to move out of the house. I was able to investigate him, he had plenty of emotional affairs and tried to hook up with people, but no-one took him up on the offer. I still got STD testing, which was all clear. My two big red flags that I spackled were his laziness & lack of friends (he has two).

    I am grateful it was an exit situation, I just wish he had left me three years ago instead of treating me poorly.

  • IMHO,there was probably more hidden from you than you knew about. It is very hard to believe that someone you have known and loved and have most of your memories with would do such a thing, throwing all that history away for an unknown future. We are all in or have been in that boat.
    When CL talks about how at least he didn’t stick around for the pick me dance, the kibbles ploy and the mindfuckery, you may not appreciate that this could actually hurt MORE. But it is much worse when they stick around. They just grab more years of your precious life and life force.
    Chances are he will be sorry, but please do not care and look out for yourself!!
    We are with you here at CN!

    • “It is very hard to believe that someone you have known and loved and have most of your memories with would do such a thing, throwing all that history away for an unknown future.” Believe it Regina. 35 yrs down the drain. And yes I agree with CL X is passive aggressive. The only clue I had (and this is on hindsight) is that he was having inappropriate relationships with the much young coworkers. Otherwise that mask was on tight.

      • Happily ever after; I had 23 years down myself, 35 is downright criminal. Yes, passive-aggressive describes mine too. Secretly holding small things against you & snowballing them into an avalanche of hatred and then used as an excuse to do whatever the hell they want to do to you, with it all pre-rationalized for the convenience of their exit. (or playing with you like a cat plays with catnip, batting you around emotionally and getting a buzz out of it!)
        Can only hope they fall in with one of their ilk and get their chance to be the toy!

        • “Can only hope they fall in with one of their ilk and get their chance to be the toy!”

          My suspicion of that is then they feel all the depth of what *I’ve* felt, say, and it pisses me off that all their good self-reflection and terrible shuddering is wasted on yet *another of their ilk*, instead of on the loss of the partner who actually loved them and therefore deserved some of their wailing, wanting, and grief. If that makes sense (it’s not well written, I know).

          Like, it doesn’t satisfy me that a PoS I loved gets hurt by another PoS. I have no interest in that. I want to hear that this guy is sorrowing over ME. I’d rather my PoS gets treated badly and then realizes (cue movie music of choice) he was wrong to treat me this way.

          I want to ask, is that stupid? But I know it is. So, is that normal?

          My hope is less along the lines of “get their chance to be the toy” (which I think most of them want anyway, to be abused at a level greater/deeper than they have managed to abuse others), and more along the lines of “fall into a swamp and get eaten alive slowly and painfully by crocodiles or small toothy mean fish”.

          • LOL hope they get eaten alive, better yet,
            Somehow it seems fair that they get to deal with what they have dealt, although they probably won’t do anything to learn from it, but blame others.
            I have a previous boss who got rich and then turned around and ripped her employees off. Heard recently she went broke, owes the government a fortune and doesn’t have a pot to piss in. Does it bring many careers back like mine she ruined or give me the $4000.00 plus she owes me? No, but it is some justice, at least in my mind.
            People don’t have to agree with me. Plus, I am a long stretch away from D-Day and not as angry as I once was (thank God, I would have had a heart attack by now!)

  • Hurt 1-

    Ex did sort of the same thing to me in the sense that he waited until we were married for almost 24 years before he cheated. We married young, had our children young and we were just starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our mortgage was almost paid off, we were traveling and retirement was still a few years off but we were both hoping to get enough into our 401ks so it could happen a bit sooner than 65.

    He wanted to reconcile…or so he pretended….after I begged for our marriage (vomit). I did the pick me dance for almost three years until I couldn’t take it anymore. When I stopped showing gratitude that he “chose me” after dday, things went south in a hurry.

    I wouldn’t call ex NPD though he certainly had narcissistic traits for the entirety of our marriage. He was also pretty entitled (my mom pegged that one the day she met him) but I didn’t listen. He also did the passive aggressive thing quite nicely.

    Before I found out about the affair I was quite sure he never had one before but as I removed the rose colored glasses and put down the spackle, I realized he was likely very careful before our children reached the magic age of 18-no more child support! He was extremely vocal throughout the entirety of our marriage of his disdain at even the idea of paying child support.

    As far as our fake reconciliation-just didn’t want to lose half of his shit. No more, no less. I used to think it was cool that he wanted to “give our marriage a chance” but it was just a play for more kibbles. It was also another three years of my life wasted.

    Does any of this hurt any less because he’s one type of cheater over another? Not really. Does it matter what type of cheater they are? Cowards or NPDs? I don’t know-I only had one type. I’ve read some of the truly hateful shit these total freaks have said and done to our fellow chumps and I can only think there but for the Grace of God…It doesn’t make my pain less real but I do know that some on this site have had it much worse.

    Regardless of what kind of freak flag cheaters fly, I’m just grateful to have the ex out of my life these days and CL is right. Having the mortgage paid off doesn’t feel nearly as important anymore.

    • “Before I found out about the affair I was quite sure he never had one before but as I removed the rose colored glasses and put down the spackle”

      Same here with my STBXW. I was sure she wouldn’t cheat on me. I was so proud of that “fact”.

      But looking back now, there was 1 particular instance that I misread. Long story short, I used to travel far for work daily (early up , late back). I got a job close to home Yah (so I can be wife & kids). She was upset. I remember her face… I thought it was about money at that time (but was still weird).. Took the job, 2 months later we had “issues” according to her. She moved out few months later (I said something to piss her off).

      After I begged for month she came back. Fast forward 2 years, my best friend and she “love” each other. Then I asked her about the work issue. She lied (saying she had to go and do other work, but she didn’t, there was no money issues). My best friend’s STBXW gave me a heads up on the guy at my STBXW work… that just confirmed to me that my STBXW did have an affair on.

      I was too blind (and stupid) to see the signals. Then I started wondering about ALL other times I missed (being at work, she working 1.2 days).

      So yes, I think they hide it very very well, and we don’t pick it up. Then when opportunity strikes for a “better” victim (more money, fame, fortune etc).. then they make their move (blowing up the marriage).

      • SDK,

        I live for the guy-chump posts these days.

        You are not stupid. You were duped by a professional whore.

        I was cheated on by a girl in my 20s. I had that experience going into my marriage, so I probably had a quicker survival reflex when I felt it again.

        There’s no shame in fighting for love.

        Thanks for your post.

        • My brother married a woman with children and they had one together. He worked and provided for them and treated her children as his own. She was a SAHM who cheated with a relative and brought a non curable STD into the marriage bed.
          They divorced and he raised their kid as a single dad. She moved on to her next victim.

        • Hi Ian

          Thank for your reply. Yea I live for guy-chump posts too ! I like reading other guys experiences too. Gives me some comfort to see similarities between them

          “You are not stupid. You were duped by a professional whore”

          Thanks. That is how I view it these days. The ProW (he he) played me well… but I learned my lesson. I won’t be making same mistakes twice ever again.

          “I was cheated on by a girl in my 20s. I had that experience going into my marriage, so I probably had a quicker survival reflex when I felt it again.”

          Shit man.. that sucks but one positive thing. You learned and gained experience in what to look for. You survival skills were working 100%… I installed mine now 🙂

            • Like you said , she is other man’s problem now.

              The awesome part in my story? She is with a 100% full blown narcissist. I’ll be honest, I love it… because he’ll just work his shit on her… enjoy!!!

        • Having represented several whores, I must defend them. They are upfront about the price, offer no illusions of love or permanency and most insist on protection in sex. They are some of the most brutally honest people I have ever met, and you know where you stand at all times.

          I think negotiating prices with all those scumbag married men about how much to charge to shove dildos up their ass (If you knew how many times they told me that was the most request service) has honed their bullshit skills to Sensei Level.

          • Point taken.

            So, yet another thing our cheater bitches can’t do well: failing to disclose up-front the price for swallowing a load; all the while bilking us out of meals, purses, and shoes.

            How about “piss-poor professional whore?”

            I quite like the sound of that.

            • I usually call this type a slit or a PoS and leave it at that.

              Whores actually work really hard, and are often visibly tired and scarred from their profession. Even sex workers who don’t have actual physical contact with their clientele (think film or webcam or phone sex) burn out from the business of being used.

              I’m not chiding, just sharing observations. I get why we call anyone a whore. But I like my own terms for it because 😉 my terms disturb and distress X. Like Sabine, I know firsthand (and decades earlier than he does), that whores are people too. But a slit is just a slit, not any person at all, and a PoS is just something gross he’s pulled out of his ass.

              🙂

          • IMO they are prostitutes, not whores. They become prostitutes or are forced into prostitution for many different reasons and believe it or not, most are life-long victims (unlike the Johns).

            Whores give it away for free without thought to consequences or who they are fucking or what diseases they are spreading. Men can be whores also, it’s just that society views them differently.

            • I feel like the whore/prostitute/slut distinction breaks down as prostitiute is an actual sex worker that gets paid to have sex professionally. A slut is someone that likes to have a lot of indiscriminate sex. And a whore sells themselves to others. Not necessarily for money but for kibbles or a place to live or money or whatever they sell THEMSELVES. Sluts and prostitiute scan have morals. They like sex or they have to do what they do to get by. Whores are immoral because they sell themselves usually for the wrong reasons.

        • Have heard Ian that women cheat at about the same rate as men these days. Someone needs to inform men that things have changed and women can be predatory and selfish. Men still think they are a lot safer from this devastation than they are in fact!
          Once heard the line that sex you pay for is less expensive than the “free” kind because at lease they are honest about the price.
          Most of the “free” ones I hear about are trying to get their bills paid and have the flirting and innuendo down to a science to rope those who want an ego boost in.

  • Mine had FIVE affairs with four different women ( one of them he hooked up with again 13 years after the first affair although I’m not entirely sure it ever ended) that I know of over our twenty years together and after all that he had to leave me….yep, I’m a chump. He told me at 10pm on New Years Eve 2014 that he was leaving. He left me sobbing in our bedroom and went to make himself a snack and sat on the couch eating cookies with our son like he didn’t just blow up our family, then came back in the room at 11:50 and asked me if I wanted “a hug” at midnight……and I still question all the time if he’s really a narcissist or he’s just self absorbed.We do this because we spent 20 years there and we think if they were truly a cluster B we would of figured it out sooner. So….he’s either a narcissist, a passive aggressive asshole, or we really were the problem and that’s why they cheated and left. There are days where I still pick it apart, there are days where it really doesn’t matter. I come here and read and I get better and I realize that he was a poor quality husband, that even if it seems like the ultimate fuck you I am lucky that I have an ex that’s just chosen to ride off into the sunset with his affair partner and for the most part leave us alone, and that even if he made another pass into my life I would be strong enough to know that he is not a good person for ME. whatever he is to the others in his world is none of my concern anymore. I’ve been stuck on waiting for it to blow up with the home wrecking affair partner, thinking doing the “I told you so…” dance would feel soooo good. Who cares?? I hope they stay together. She can have my fickwit ex, his mother who is perhaps worse than him in narcissistic characteristics, and all that goes along with them…..I choose peace and tranquility. The longer they are together the less time they are inflicting their disorder on others. As Chumplady says, it keeps them both out of the dating pool.
    Done waiting for the karma bus, done wondering why he waited 20 years, done feeling like if he gets married and has what appears on the outside to look like a healthy marriage for 20 years with her if I will feel like a failure. I know who he is, and I know that everybody except my very tight circle thought my marriage was great too. Just ready to live in peace. The best gift we can give ourselves is meh…..to live happy lives and not allow disordered assholes to enter our consciousness.

    • Paintwidow, karma bus has hit asswipe over and over again. Heehee! He will never change and will continue to hit him again and again and whos fault is it his! He has no idea what real love is dumb ass. May the bluebird of karma smack him with a two by four everyday for the rest of his life. Our son similiar to his dad plays his dad for sympathy and money and our daughter reared her shoulders and gives him no sympathy or special treatment once the kids werent little anymore he wasnt much if a dad. Good provider but unatentive. She keeps her distance from him and accords him no special treatment. She got his number they both do.

    • After my ex left he didn’t tell any of his siblings what had happened. His mother knew, but sent me chatty emails as if everything was fine. His parents never acknowledged the divorce to our adult children, or said they were sorry. His family deals with things by pretending they don’t exist.

    • @ PaintWindow

      “, thinking doing the “I told you so…” dance would feel soooo good. Who cares??

      Same here.

      “Done waiting for the karma bus,”

      Again same here. I can’t wait to get rid of her (she is draggin heels).

      I’m actually in a win-win stage to be honest. If she stays with the AP (and hopefully move in), I can pay less maintenance towards her YAH!!! Win for me. If they split then Ha ha Win for me. So I’m not even sure which one I want .. because it’s a win-win.

      I just want to continue my life without her in my wallet (and life)

  • Hurt1 – I agree with CL and CN comments, and share your pain although my marriage was way shorter than yours.

    The devalue and discard phases of Cluster B relationship cycles are as painful as they are so very unfortunately common.

    As a person extremely curious about the inner workings of the mind, I had to find an explanation, not to untangle the skein but to parse out what where the red flags I missed and what picker revamp I had to undertake to never put myself in a situation like this again.

    Bev from CN and a variety of other chumps have shared amazing resources to help me in this endeavor. Some of the most helpful and healing resources included:
    The Cluster B attachment/relationship cycle Radio podcast by Sandra Brown – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/relational-harm-reduction/2014/10/24/after-a-pathological-love-relationship-hes-moved-on-and-is-with-someone-new
    Tempest’s brilliant post on cheater/chump traits – https://www.chumplady.com/2015/08/what-is-the-difference-between-cheaters-and-chumps/
    “Why does he do that?” By Lundy Bancroft

    My healing is deepening beyond this first phase on trying to understand at an intellectual level what was under my control and that I can do better in relationships vs. what was going to happen no matter what because of who he is. Feeding my brain with new knowledge has solidified a core belief of mine: “knowledge is necessary not sufficient to create lasting change in my emotional, cognitive, and spiritual well-being.”

    So I keep forging on to the next level of dealing with the aftermath of coupling and breeding with a selfish, lying coward. Please keep reading this blog, post on the forums when you feel alone, you got this!

    (((Hurt1)))

  • Hurt1, it’s possible your ex was not honest with you; cheaters are, by definition, liars, as well.
    Cheaters only tell the truth about what they think you already know. In other words, if you found out about the affair four months ago, they’ll tell you it’s been going on for five months. They won’t admit it’s been going on for four years. It’s possible the affair went on for a long time. I really think there is far more to the story than you know.
    I would like to offer a few more possibilities besides the Narcissist and Exit Affair options:
    – He may have been plotting to leave anyway, or considering it, and you’re catching him just moved up the timetable.
    – In the same vein, you say you know he didn’t cheat 10-15 years ago. Don’ be so sure. Like unicornomore, I had the same certainty, and bought my wife’s assurance there was only one hook, line, and sinker. She eventually fessed up that she was a serial cheater. He has no incentive to tell you the truth, so don’t automatically assume he is.
    – He knew you wouldn’t tolerate “cake eating” or fake reconciliation, so he chose the “fun” option (the lady who slept with him without asking him to take out the garbage) rather than try to deal with shame and work hard with you. This was the case with my ex, and if so, you’re “luckier” (if it’s possible to imagine that) than most people here.

    • I totally agree with this. I thought my ex-husband had an exit affair. Until I did a lot of digging and found out that the woman he left me for was not the first affair he’s ever had like he had told me. The truth was, she was just the first one I found out about. Once that happened, once I outed them both to her husband, the jig was up and he bolted. I still believe had I never found out, we’d still be married and I’d be completely clueless. He’d have his cozy life with me and look like an upstanding family man, and he would continue screwing her on Friday afternoons.

      I don’t know that exit affairs exist in the respect that someone wakes up and decides to ditch everything for someone else. I think there’s a lot more happening that you just don’t know about.

      • I think exit affairs exist, I just think they’re unicorns. They are the minority of affairs, IMO. And that is based on my mail, my blog numbers (10M et al), and spending years on infidelity boards.

        What’s WEIRD, however, is that the popular discourse treats all affairs as exit affairs. The whole The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants narrative. One day golly gosh I happened to fall in love with another person and my marriage wasn’t meeting my needs….

        I think that is bullshit. I think the majority of affairs are not one offs, and not one night stands or drunken mistakes — they are lifestyle choices. Cake is the goal. Cake as preferred lifestyle. Your chump invests wholly in you and you don’t have to return the favor. #winning ! To a narc anyway.

        But to say that, to ADMIT that serial cheating is a lifestyle choice and most cheaters like cake, is just too scary, makes people feel too vulnerable, too freaked out, IMO. So the discourse is it’s a once off Mistake and We Must Forgive and try and make that shit right.

        • Don’t you feel like asking cheater apologists, “How many affairs get to count as a ‘mistake’?”

        • Tell me about. The majority of the Switzerland friends spoke of that narrative . . . that we must have grown apart, that he just fell in love and didn’t mean to hurt anyone hearts and sparkles bullshit.

          Cheating on me was what he did for years, he was just really good at hiding it and finding women who were cool with fucking in the afternoon. I thought he was at work. It never occurred to me to put a tether on him. The last one was the only one I found out about. We’d still be married right now and I’d be making tasty dinners for him and doing laundry and all the other delightful things one does, and I would have never known. These two had no intention of leaving their spouses to be together. They could have went on like this indefinitely! But, once I had blown them both out of the water, it was lurve. This wasn’t a guy having an exit affair, he was just a cheater, got caught, and knew I’d never forgive it.

          He used to tell me that he and his first wife “grew apart”, were married “too young” and he never got to do all the things he wanted to when he was younger because of marrying early. Now that I’ve been through this, that was code for I cheated on her. I’d bet my life on it.

        • Agree. The most realistically described exit affairs I’ve seen have been abused spouses, the other person provided the impetus and/or support to get out.

          • FinallyAwake,

            Add to your list an abused husband whose wife had an exit affair – realistically described.

    • My ex told me countless times that he had never cheated on me. I truly believed it for a long time. I thought we had truly happy and committed years early on.

      Turns out, he had been cheating from the very beginning. Shortly before I divorced him he did fess up to cheating once, years prior, and claimed to have never done it again. He seemed to think he’d get a cookie for honesty and that I’d stop questioning his current behavior. Wrong.

      • There is a saying among those of us with disordered freaks of the closeted variety that if you are even asking if your spouse is gay, odds are very good that they are. It’s simply not a question that occurs to people to ask about their spouse and if you are, odds are very good that you’ve been seeing the red flags that indicate that yes, your spouse is gay.

        I wonder if the same principle applies to cheating . . . I suppose it’s all a variation of trusting your gut, but it does make me wonder if even needing to ask the question is the first sign that you’ve probably got a cheater on your hands. Why ask the question if you haven’t seen the signs?

        • I think you’re completely right. I googled the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship like four months into mine. I ignored some of the signs… I spackled over some… What I didn’t do was trust my gut and the simple reality that I should never have to google that in the first place.

          • The very first time X and I spoke on the phone, before meeting in person:

            A few minutes into the conversation, there was an abrupt, horrible, clanging metal sound on his side — ongoing, like prison doors all being shut, one after another. I froze in my skin as a thousand internal alarms went off, and something inside me wondered if I would go dead.

            This turned out to be nothing more than one of the several garage doors in his executive luxury home. On a different call, I was equally panicked at another sound, which proved to be only the ice maker in his fridge.

            See? You’re making it so much more than it is.

            I had to reconcile my first impressions in person, at that beautiful house, and I was so glad and relieved that my mind had just “played tricks on me” and simply “overreacted” to mundane house noise. That he existed and his facts existed and he was just a big actual person in a big actual beautiful place and he was louder than I was, that’s all. Everything is ok: you are just triggery because of past stuff. Those weren’t his explanations; they were mine. I never told him what those first scares sounded like to me, that I had the horrible deafening deadening sense that I was speaking to a criminal psychopath who was somehow calling me from deep in prison or Hell.

            But, those fast terrorized glimpses that turned out to be “nothing more than”?

            They did turn out to be so much more, and worse than I could imagine. And yet even as I write this, I still wonder if maybe it was all misunderstanding, a temporary clash of wants or values, and if “maybe he will come back, some years from now when he grows out of it”.

            Good old CD. What would I do without you.

          • Other Kat – I remember one of the first sites I went to was, “Is your Husband Gay” – as it was the first thing I thought. The site said immediately, ‘if you find yourself on this site, chances are your husband IS gay’.
            Well, that solved it for me.

            Except he went and cheated on with with another woman and that’s what surprised me.

            Of course, chances are he wanted to keep his image up and she just became another Beard.

            • If you see cat hair in the house, you are probably going to find a cat.

              And…if you hang around a barber shop long enough….you are eventually going to get a hair cut.

              That is what keeps me on DAY 28! on No Contact.

              If I go back to any contact with him, there will BE…with 100% certainty….other women contacting him BECAUSE HE WANTS THEM TO. He gives them his number. He thinks it makes him a stud to have a harem of drug addicts in his life.

              A strange soup of rage and grief is so miserable to swallow. I am ready to be done with it.

              The takeaway…and I think Anita said it first and better…the first whiff of ANY BULLSHIT (strange texts, MIA behavior, triangulation)

              FUCK OFF. No more. I will be alone before I go through this emotional meat grinder again.

  • This was my marriage to a T. Even the timeline, the standing over me barking as I sobbed and convulsed, as well as his screaming that things were bad for a long time so he was pushed to an affair.

    It sucks, and left me so damaged. When you live a life you love and you are in love and you think you have been a great partner and mother….and you find out they checked out and didn’t let you know. But instead let another woman believe she was the answer, the better woman, the person he needed all along.

    Some days, I am not sure I will ever recover fully. I know what logic tells me…it wasn’t my problem or fault. But it has changed everything about my view of myself and relationships.

    • Z it’s never about the other woman. I’ve come to the conclusion many of these freaks hate women.

      Before DDay I stood up to him and said HE had to come uo with the down payment for the home he wanted to buy. He forced me into bankruptcy years ago after I worked three jobs to buy my first home. It wasn’t important to him. We are the ones invested, right?

      He could and did save. How dare I not comply? He picked up a rag instead. Seven months later after going on vacation and buying a car he had to take out a credit card loan to pay 13000 in taxes. It’s a fucking four year loan.

      It does change you and how you view relationshios. You will get better and live better. Count in it.

  • Asswipe treated me the same way once i discovered like i was the enemy he was never happy told everything that was wrong with me ie everything wrong with him not me but he keeps hoovering boy does he hoover, me im indifferent now, he cant bait me and when he complains about his aches and pains i shrug and say hey why did you let yourself get old dude. He hates it no longer the wsrm caring me for him. Truly disordered he is truly. My father in law rest his soul would have moved in with me so i would not live alone and his sister was and is my dear dear friend loves her only brother but she did not will take sides cause hes an asshole. They i was lucky almost every damn one of our friends jumped on his side disgusting. Set me adrift at 60 little time left to rebuild on my own. May his dick fall off and he end up crippled in wheelchair in diapers continuing the snarling nasy complaining way he is i swear ita a 5 year old in an old man body and he belongs to some other woman hopefully who cheated on her husband and now its karma time. I got blamed repeatedly for the demise of their relationship cause he still loves me blames me not himself blames me! I grit my teeth and walk away til this house sells then bye bye asswipe forever!

  • I hear you, Hurt1. Your pain echoes mine as we have walked the same long, chumpy road. Why didn’t he just tell me 10 years ago instead of living a double life? Why was he so cowardly? Would it have continued another decade or two before I found out… or would I have wasted the rest of this lifetime as his naive, chump wife? I just wanted you to know you’re not alone. That you’ll get through it. And your life is about to get MUCH better!

    • God, I couldn’t have said it better. 17 years with my wife and then this. Presently working towards divorce. She’d like to save the marriage but as I told her. “What marriage?” The moment you cheat you’ve dissolved your vows and voided the contact. I’m looking forward to being free and able to live life as I see fit. No longer tied down to a wife a woman and has to sleep with another man to figure out I’m worth being married to. No life is worth wasted being runner up.

  • This makes a LOT more sense to my experience. He definitely wasn’t a real narcissist. A bit self-important, but I don’t think to the levels of true NPD. A certain amount of passive aggressive though.

  • My XH was a pathetic lost boy. He was bored/confused upset with himself – and he did not have the skills to self reflect or change, so he bumbled around until the OW appeared to (magically) “make him happy!”.

    It was romance, It was tru

    Mine did not have a mid life crisis, he had a mid life face plant. He had been showing signs of depression for years, it culminated in a twisted, blame everyone/anyone but himself disaster than included stealing, lying, hiding treasure (my jewelry in the barn! ) and police reports, secretly voice recording people — midnight peel outs from the house – fun fun fun!

    • lol

      Mine had surveillance cameras all over the house, and in the final few months, was secretly voice recording people, too.

      It’s been over a year since all that, but the voice recording to me is still such a huge WTF.

      • Are you sure he was not on drugs? Seriously. That is either meth, cocaine or mental illness. What was he so paranoid about?

  • This situation mirrors mine. I offer a couple of thoughts. First, why do they wait a couple of decades to blow up their lives? In my ex’s case I think it boils down to being a weak man with poor coping skills who’s dissatisfaction with life’s bumps and bruises coupled with financial success turned into his personal pity party with a shiny enough exterior to attract a gold digging little girl offering promises of a fabulous escape. Of corse it felt great to accept her offer of a him-centric future with a party loving pretty young thing. Bonus, blame it all on me and sail off into the sunset. My list of crimes? I wore sweatpants, read too much, and watched PBS. Now he has a life free of the drudgery of a wife with an early cancer diagnosis and a disabled child and truly feels no shame. NPD? Asshole? Monster? What difference does it make? My second point concerns my wonderful disabled child. The diagnostic part was very difficult. She has many complicated symptoms that seem to cross known disabilities. Early on one of her wonderful physicians said not to get too attached to any single named diagnosis. As medicine advances more is discovered and those labels evolve. What matters it what complications and difficulties show everyday and how we can best address them in real time. Look at your ex this way. What happened in the past was an evolving set of circumstances. Doesn’t matter what you label it. You will discover new things about him that will inform is daily behavior both past and future. No need to label. In the end he was as deep as a puddle and took the coward’s way out. They blame it away on you because it’s easier than acknowledging what shits they are. That’s on them. Be glad they are gone.

    • Sweatpants, I hear you on reading and PBS.

      Those are big-time deal breakers for dumb asses. Hahahaha.

      My STBX is very superficial. He parrots ideas he picks up on talk radio. He is preoccupied with fucking. He is a drunk.

      I gave him the benefit of the doubt for years. What a waste. I wish I had been different so as not to be attracted to an entitled asshole. I just didn’t know it was possible for someone to lie like that.

      I would not waste years with someone I was only pretending to tolerate so I never imagined someone would do that to me. That’s what I hate him the most for: wasting my time, lying, and stealing. Fuckity fuck him.

        • You’ll love this Tempest. My teenage son came home from afternoon with 50 year dad and 20 something OW/new wife laughing his head off. Said pretty young thing asked if there was a difference between the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights. So that’s what ex is into now??? SMH 🙂

          • Oh my, Sweatpants, I’m speechless. Did she ask whether they were likely to fall off the world if they kept driving?

            • Thank you Ian. I know that now but it’s taken years to arrive here. He is an extremely cruel man who exploited every insecurity I have to blame me for the affair I forced him to have. Happy ending though, the kids and I enjoy a drama free life full of love and laughter. He goes to Vegas and shops for high priced designer shoes. I’m all good 🙂

    • Ugggh… mine also hated the fact that I enjoyed PBS and reading and had diverse interests and friends. He hated the fact that I wanted to like do financial planning and run the household on a budget. Of course I matured and became more reflective and thoughtful as I got older. But to him I just “got old”. He never matured, I think he kind of went backward. He insisted on using language like “what fucking homo” to describe people or things that were not to his taste. He whined any time I suggested he wear something other than a wrinkled wresting t-shirt, torn jeans/shorts and broken down tennis shoes. His favorite thing to tell people was that his Instagram (which he looked at obsessively as a 40 yo man) was filled with cats and strippers. He would sit with me and not have a real conversation, but just show me pictures from Instagram. Meanwhile I’m all… “Yep, that’s a trashy stripper with a huge ass… don’t know what I’m supposed to have to say about that.” But of course I don’t know how to have fun. Now he’s apparently starting a professional wrestling company or something and spends all his time talking to and hanging out with low rent wanna-be professional wrestlers.

      I remember once I had a party at the house of my Department Head. It was on a Friday evening, at his very nice Beverly Hills home. It was the kind of thing that normally, you would attend with your spouse. I actually didn’t tell him about it, because I was afraid that he would either 1) be super late to punish me for actually making a request of him and his very precious time and/or 2) show up completely inappropriately dressed. I would be there with my professional colleagues (MD’s, PhD’s, etc.) by the pool in my white pants/sparkly top California Cocktail-Look, and he would roll in wearing Cargo Shorts and a t-shirt that says “F Bomb”. I just told him at the last minute “Some of us are going to grab drinks this evening, go ahead and have dinner.” But I was the one with the problem.. .sure. The fact that your wife doesn’t want to take you out in public is definitely because she’s “old” and “no fun”.

      • How dare you tune into Antiques Roadshow instead of WWE? Why not just go ahead and kick kittens and trip the elderly???

  • I like how you (and many others) say it doesn’t matter what he is. It doesn’t. The why doesn’t matter. He did it. No matter what the marriage is over. I am slowly recovering! I can feel it. Not there yet but I have hope. I am done asking why. No more tears over this worthless man. I think ex is finally getting that our divorce and my reaction to him is not something he can control or manipulate. I am no longer acting on his best interests as I had throughout our marriage. He puts the blame of us not being friends on me. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I will never respect or trust this person. He thought we would be friends. No. I don’t keep lying, deceitful, cheating, toxic people in my life. He says I’m sending a bad message to our kids. No. I follow the custody order, never bad mouth him and am moving on with my life to which he has no part. He was my past, not my future. The kids will find their own relationship with their father and decide what that will be. I’m so thankful they are older but no kid is ready for divorce especially when it comes out of the blue. I told him I will never lie to our children as he has and continues to do. I am honest with my kids and let them know it is not healthy for me to have their dad in my life right now but that I love and support them and want them to know they have two patents that love them. Ex pictured me behaving differently. Making everything smooth for him. Easy. No , never again because I am no longer a chump!

    I have been so grateful for this website. It speaks a truth that others just don’t understand. And when you ask the question “why” we all reminded WHO CARES WHY?

    Thanks chump nation!

    • Chumpfree – you just captured me and my mind perfectly with your summation of ‘WHY’.
      WHY THE FUCK CARE!!

      Finally, after all this introspection, I am there. I just don’t care anymore.
      Give credit where credit is due. A rat is just a rats-ass in alien clothing.

      High 5 to Meh!

  • When my XW left me for a neighbor, I thought she too had an exit affair and our marriage was perfect up to that point. Fast forward almost 2 years, and things were much different that I thought they once were. I now understand that I fell in love with and married a narc. The relationship was never perfect, and I tolerated a lot of bullshit: her rages (but wonderful makeup sex always followed), her controlling me (because I was too weak or stupid to make decisions for myself), and her subtle insults and flirting with others (because she was human). I also know she cheated on me more than this time although I can never prove it. As CL stated, count your blessings and move on with your life. Don’t do a postmortem on your marriage. Your XH is a douche and does not deserve a minute more of your time.

    • Oh my goodness, the excuses and self blaming you wrote are like words out of my own mouth. We chumps want to believe in the good in people so badly that we think nothing of putting the blame on ourselves

    • “her subtle insults and flirting with others (because she was human).” YES, YES and YES!!!

      The local mailman was her ‘Stalker’ apparently! She took great delight in telling me he told her things like “I hope your husband appreciates how beautiful you are” and the time she went to a gay bar and one guy told her ‘You’re enough to turn me straight’!

      • Mickeyblueeyes-

        And you can believe 100%….those comments never happened. She is triangulating through lies.

        One of my best friends is a gay man, and they have *NADA* interest in vaginas.
        Super Pussy cannot turn them straight. They like penises and men. Period. The moon can melt and this will not change.

        If you start missing her, focus on what a clown she is…so desperate to make up those ridiculous statements to make you jealous and know what a “prize” she is.

      • Just because the mailman shows up at the same time everyday to bring her flyers, doesn’t mean that he’s “in love with her.” Plus I seriously doubt he ever said that lame-ass thing to her. That just sounds SO made up.

        • I’m apologizing up front — sorry everybody — because I have to disagree with this, unfortunately.

          The first week I lived at this address, the postman knocked on my front door, introduced himself, welcomed me to the neighborhood, and delivered the day’s mail right into my hands. As it happened, we were of the same …breed, let’s call it. Talky, for one thing.

          He was married but yes, on his way out and with confirmable good reason. Shockingly good reason, as good as any here.

          He skipped the mailbox and delivered my letters and parcels personally, several times a week, for years. We would talk for a good 45 minutes or more, and I learned a lot from him, and I know he had a lot of comfort from and respect for me. In the end, he did divorce, and married again (a younger model, meh, but she enlivened him and gave him the babies he could never have with the cheater wife).

          The guy was full of great stories, great humor, and great chemistry. And yes he did once seriously proposition me. And I turned him down with integrity, kindly, and the next time he delivered my mail into my hands, he apologized in exactly the way we all wish anyone would.

          It’s maybe cliché, but the postman became a truly personal contact. I was surprised at this, but I have to say, he was a good friend, and one of my angels through a nasty transition.

          I tried for a long time to figure out which of us was bringing that energy to the exchange. In the end I think it was just right time right place, and all told, a blessing. And I sort of hate to say it here, but I think it’s sometimes just true. If a person is reasonably attractive in physique and friendly personality, they’re going to garner very direct interest from others.

          She may have said it just to prove something if she felt she wasn’t getting adequate attention or appreciation from home. I kept my postman’s stories and long talks with me secret until he retired, because a) even despite the one proposition, the talks were both harmless and actually mutually helpful, and b) I never saw the point of using that interaction to upset anyone or make them jealous or uncertain. And c) telling would have got him in a ton of trouble professionally, and potentially would have got me his confirmed crazy ex at my front door.

          I know that makes me look a bit (or a lot) questionable here, for not having cut him off at the first. For what it’s worth, I saw it as just a completely safe, if sometimes bewildering, human dialogue.

          Have any of you randomly met a total stranger who used or encountered your own divorce attorneys or judges? It was like that. You become tribe and family immediately somehow, and at some point maybe someone makes a pass. Stuff like this happens to me all the time, and I just take it as kismet of sorts, gently reject any proposition, keep the good, learn from the bad, and trust that it all somehow means I am in the right place and on the right path.

          I know that’s a lot of story that maybe is a major derail from the original comment, but I wanted you folks and future readers to understand that yeah, the postman. That happens. And I would never have believed it, but the plumber, too (don’t ask).

          Thank you for reading. I do miss my postman since he retired, and I hope his first wife has the care that she needs, and that his second wife and the babies, now full-on personalities of their own, are blessing him with all the happiness he deserves. Mine was a good guy, even if a little inappropriate. I’m grateful and honored that he trusted me with his content, and I know he felt the same way.

          In this site’s context I do understand how it looks like transgression, and I welcome any input, because I’m not sure if that’s what it was.

  • This is how my therapist explained it to me…

    You’re a frog. If a frog jumps into a pot of hot boiling water, the frog will immediately jump out. If a frog jumps into a pot of cool, refreshing water, the frog will swim around and say this is great. If you turn up the heat just a little, the frog will say “oh, this is nice”. If you turn up the heat a little bit more, the frog will say “this is not bad, I can handle this”. If you turn up the heat a wee bit more, the frog will say “it’s hot but I can do this, I will persevere “. If you turn up the heat to a boil the water, the frog will become soup, never seeing what happened until to late.

    The point is when you’re in the marriage you go along until the behavior and actions of the cheater slap you in the face. You have justified all the little things leading up to it. You have talked yourself into doing everything and anything to make it work until you can’t do it any longer.

    I am close to retiring. Not now, but that’s ok. I have no choice other than to make the best of it and it starts with my attitude. Good luck!

  • My ex husband had his serious affair in 99-02. It lasted about a year and a half. We had been together for ten years and married for eight. In the process of trying to work things out, he said on the phone one day he did not know what love was and he wanted to leave both of us, the affair partner and me. I should have listened to those words. He was honest to say that he did not know what love was and at the time had admitted to eight prior one night stands. I opted to forgive him and took him back. Well lo and behold, he did this again in 07 with a bar skank and did not last as long. Fast forward to 2013, he lied for about a year or so and was back fucking the bar skank from 07 and left to be with her this time. He left me a present called herpes. He left at a time the family needed him the most. I was not working, helping my elderly mom and tending to my oldest with mental illness issues. It was devastating to say the least. He helped with rent for a while but that all ended at the request of his bar skank. We are finally divorced three years later. I am still finding things out of what he has done throughout our long marriage. The latest was from my youngest son talking to former cable buddies witnessing his fucking around while I was pregnant. It never ends. He had the charisma and good looks. I was fooled all along.

  • I know I am not supposed to untangle the skein but, I believe my ex had Asperger’s. There is a total lack of empathy or understanding of social cues. Having intimacy with others is impossible. They may be able to remain married if you shrink your needs to nonexistence. You mentioned your ex had no close friends, that is a sign. Mine had none that knew him emotionally. Hell, I didn’t know him emotionally. I don’t think he knows himself emotionally!

    They have a very vague sense of themselves and are prone to copying people they admire, even to the point of mimicking their speech. It’s called echolalia. Mine would take on the accent of the person he was speaking to even if it was a foreign accent. It all makes sense in hindsight. His dad is like that and his mom drank her life away to live with that. It really is a shallow way to live and once I am further removed from the shit storm he left behind I know I will be glad he is out.

    • My counselor read some of my ex’s writings and said she suspected he had Asperger’s, but I’m not so sure. He definitely had some kind of issue with not feeling much emotion, or suppressing it in order to survive his childhood with a hard, authoritarian father. Sometimes I wonder whether keeping the lid on his emotions just built up too much pressure and exploded. We were together 36 years, and he never once said he was unhappy or wanted to work on anything in our relationship. Instead of talking, acted out because that’s how he dealt with his feelings. On the other hand, I was a very emotional person and had trouble containing emotion sometimes. We were definitely opposites in that way.

      One thing about Asperger’s…my niece has it and I don’t think she’s capable of the kind of deception it takes to be a cheater. She is very honest and straight-forward, not manipulative. My ex was manipulative, and used my compassion (gullibility) against me. Somehow I always ended up sacrificing my needs in an attempt to please him. Even now I look back and wince at things I did to try to prove my love to him. For instance, I remember encouraging him to go to a dance without me, because I had pneumonia and was really sick. I was always doing things like that trying to prove that I could be the strong person he wanted. Anyway, later I found out OW followed him around all night, and that they danced together.

      Looking back over our long relationship, I suspect there were more affairs than the last one. There were signs I tried to bury. I saw what divorce/abandonment did to my mother’s family and didn’t want that to happen to mine. In order to stay with him, I became an expert at stuffing painful emotions. If sacrificing myself was what it took to keep our family together, I was willing to do that.

      Anyway, I’ve also tried to figure out whether he was NPD, or passive-aggressive, or had Asperger’s, or was emotionally repressed, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Part of trying to figure out what is wrong with them, is trying to reassure yourself that you’re a lovable person. I know there are things I didn’t do well in my marriage, things that were the result of my FOO issues. I was insecure and had few boundaries. Now that I know better, I do better. I believe the things my ex did came from FOO issues as well, but the difference is that I was willing to face my issues, while he chose run away from his.

      My kids say he’s still running, and I’m in a better place than he is. They say I’m the stronger one, but they didn’t see me that way while we were married.

      Now that I’ve been out of my marriage for 4 years I do feel much stronger. I’m still working on improving my confidence and getting over the fear that life is going to throw me another curve ball, though.

      I wish I could put my finger on the point where things started to go so wrong, but all I can come up with is how much he changed once his married coworker moved down the street and became his best friend. That’s when his personality really started to change. From what I understand, his fantasy of wooing her away from her husband didn’t work, but I hear he has a group of people who follow him around and “worship” him.

      No thanks. I’ll take my quiet life with sincere friends over that, any day.

      • Lyn, I have FOO issues that left me with little self-esteem and poor sense of what was “normal” but that did not make me become an abusive person.

        A sensitive, compassionate partner dies a thousand deaths being with a cold, demeaning narcissist. Glad you finally got out and are much happier!

    • During marriage counseling our therapist at first suspected that my ex might have Aspergers, as he had a flat affect, was unemotional, etc. What changed her diagnosis to sociopath was her seeing him smiling as I was sobbing. He enjoyed my pain. Sociopathy can appear to be Aspergers until it is clear that they are enjoying the torture. People with Aspergers are not cruel, they don’t lack empathy, they just have a difficult time understanding emotion.

      • I agree, they are more like oblivious to emotion than using others’ emotions to manipulate them. Once my ex came home from work and told me, “I’ve figured out how to get people to do anything I want them to.” When I asked, “What is that?” he answered, “Act like I care.”

    • Tahitibound.

      I doubt your lying cheater has Aspbergers. First, they rarely present with echolalia. Just the opposite. They have higher level language skills. They, unlike sub human narcs DO have empathy and feelings. They DO NOT LIE! Where are you getting your information? Please stop picking on Aspies. It hurts.

      • My husband (cheater) is Asperger’s and my oldest daughter is autistic. I don’t think that being autistic (Asperger’s is just a higher functioning form of autism) makes you into a narcissistic jerk. I do, however, think that individuals with Asperger’s can end up relying on being more narcissistic a a defense mechanism if they’ve had a bad childhood or other emotional damage early on. My husband certainly can lie to my face, but it’s a studied lie. In other words, he’s convinced himself that some lies are necessary and everyone lies. There’s no joy in lying, but also no real remorse. They’re extreme functionalists, and if the world taught them to manipulate to get their needs met, watch out. My daughter is very kind, and to the degree she can, tries to connect with people. She can also be somewhat cruel when she’s mad, as she doesn’t understand the ramifications of what she’s doing (despite having a high IQ). I’m determined to ensure that she doesn’t end up like her dad. Whenever she’s having a bad time, I make sure to try to listen to her and reassure her. That way, she doesn’t feel like she has to lash out to get her needs met. I know where that ends, and it’s not pretty.

      • My 25yr old son has Aspergers. He is one of the most morally upright persons I know. True, he does not express himself socially “on cue”…and does not look directly into people’s eyes, and used to walk kinda weird when younger…but he does feel very deeply. He has a ton of friends because he is compassionate and always there for them. He NEVER LIES or manipulates and is quite blunt and honest when you ask him his opinion. He is my hero.

        One time my husband said to him “you dont like me very much do you…why”? My son said “because you are an immoral man”. Crickets. I about fell out of my chair and could say nothing to defend my husband from my son’s statement. After all, he asked and should have known that he would get the truth from my son.

      • My 25yr old son has Aspergers. He is my hero. He is kind, sensitive, humble and would not hurt a fly. He is bluntly honest if you ask his opinion (which he does not offer unless directly asked), dependable (when not distracted with whatever he obsesses about…usually something in Science) and probably the most moral person I know. True, he has trouble picking up “cues” when in social circles…but still he has many many friends who value him because he is true blue and would give the shirt off his back. He NEVER LIES but will give one or two word answers to avoid hurting you with his opinion if he cant see any other way around it. Once, my ex (his stepfather) asked him “you don’t seem to like me very much do you? Why?” My son looked passed him (Assies have trouble making eye contact) and without batting an eye said…”because you are a very immoral man”. End of conversation. No future question ever asked again.

      • Hi Doingme, I meant no offence in talking about Aspie’s. My son is one as well and is at MIT, and kind as they come. He would not hurt a fly and would not purposely lie or be devious. Yet when I was balling my eyes out about his dad leaving for another woman and her kids he very calmly said he would like to meet her. He didn’t know that would be hurtful to me. I tried to my best ability to describe how I was feeling but he truly did not understand why that would hurt me. I am in the mental health field so I am familiar with Asperger’s.
        Ok, perfect example, I just got off the phone with my son and he informed me he will not be going to his aunt’s funeral because he wants to see his girlfriend. Explaining how this is hurtful was pointless. God bless him. Her is a link that describes the brain wiring that makes it hard for Aspies to see other’s viewpoints.
        http://psychcentral.com/lib/neuroscience-sheds-light-on-why-people-with-aspergers-syndrome-lack-empathy/

  • My therapist thinks Dr. Demento is an aspy but I think he is a narc too. Mine has no friends at all. Only professional colleagues. I shrunk my needs into silence. I was silent because I learned that it might be 60% effective in not triggering rages and because he was lost in his own world of brain candy. But he was a freak from day 1. I would suggest that folks who have this kind of person in their life for years, listen to Saferealationships blogcast on He’s moved on. Sandra Brown says they are perfectly capable of staying for years where they are sheltered, fed and have sex and because they have a disorganized attachment, the they leak out the mask and put it back on. She says a sign that you are with a cluster B is that you have whiplash, never quite knowing where he will be on the mood continuum at any given moment.

  • Oh dear, my was a Dr. freak too! Thanks for the Sandra Brown tip. I will check it out. And yes freak from day one, yet I thought it was a harmless freakiness. A nerdy, scientist harmless variety. Boy was I wrong!

  • One phrase I read on CL has stuck with me – “spiraling down”. My story is similar; my X and I were together for 20 years, most of which she spent declaring undying love. Oh yes; there was the time about 2 years into our relationship when she was suddenly going to move out for no reason, but just as suddenly changed her mind.

    The years passed, very happily, I thought. Then she turned mean and rotten, practically overnight. Starting looking horrible too. Left me out of the blue, surprising me and everyone else, and moved in with her AP the next day.

    “Spiraling down”…. One explanation I have is that its like how some people just start drinking themselves to death, or taking drugs. Or lying and cheating. Some switch is thrown and they head on that downward spiral. For all I know, she could be drinking and/or taking drugs as well.

    I’m glad I’m safely out of that mess.

  • It’s also possible that he has had multiple affairs, she just hasn’t uncovered the evidence. I wouldn’t have known about what my STBX has been up to our entire marriage if it weren’t for my technical knowledge and ability to hack his emails (really guys, don’t make your favourite fetish). Mine is a for-sure psychopath who, after rendering me to tears on the floor for an hour, would tire of hearing it so would turn on the charm and tell me he didn’t like to see me crying like that. Then why repeatedly do things that decimate me? In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Her husband is an a-hole and the sooner she goes no contact and gets that divorce, the better. Don’t worry about diagnosing him – it keeps him in your thoughts. Instead, use that energy to go out and develop your new life and rediscover yourself.

  • Hmmm. Divisive topic.

    “Be grateful this,” or “you’re lucky that.” I’m not feeling it.

    I’m the victim of an exit cheater. I think how they act during the divorce is a better metric than how they left you, if it’s an “exit affair” scenario.

    • +1 – not feeling it either.
      I do not feel lucky to have been abandoned with a house now in foreclosure, pets, livestock, snow belt winters, financial chaos, and most of all a 14 yr old daughter devastated that her father just walked out of her life.

      • I tried to say I don’t mean it in the sense of “thank God for small mercies” — what I mean is — as HORRIBLE as these people are, and as AWFUL as it is to be abandoned, IF these folks REMAIN in your life? By cake, by false R, by better impression management? They will do MORE damage.

        YES there was damage. Keep them around? It just means MORE damage.

        • Absolutely. I would love to have back the 8 years of the marriage since my X had his first significant affair (I’m sure he was a sleaze before that). It was intermittent hell, and I didn’t get any younger.

        • Chump Lady, yes, indeed you did cover it in your response. I was commenting on some of the other chump’s posts. It’s all good. We all share a common betrayal of the heart.

          Not “untangling the skein,” and “meh” are two of the common goals here. I’ve said before that, for me, those only apply after the divorce decree. Until the legal proceedings are over, I’m going to untangle, and there is no meh.

          For example, if indeed my exit cheater is a unicorn, how would I know unless I untangle enough to know that there were no previous affairs? I’m almost certain there was a previous act of adultery (in the legal sense, I don’t give a damn about the spiritual connotation,) but I need to know. She’s re-writing history in the court documents. Untangling the skein is a tool to preserve my sanity right now.

          Unfortunately, those of y’all with kids have the challenge of untangling the skein until the kids are 18. It just seems a bit unreasonable not to spend time untangling.

          Aowlee, glad to hear from you. I take it your heart is still hurting. He sucks.

          BetrayedNoMore, re: anger. Yes, I think (and the courts prove it) that men are so easily painted as “angry,” and MG used it as a tool to control me. She knew I’m not violent, but whenever she felt (feels) like her truth will be exposed, she accuses me of “anger” and I instinctively shut-down out of guilt and fear of being perceived as “too angry.” Insidious.

          And, the reason I keep saying that how a cheater acts in the divorce is important, is as a measure of her narcissism. Match Girl is still collecting kibbles even though I haven’t seen her at all this year.

          Chirral, sorry he’s such a horrible person.

          • Good Morning Ian,

            Unless you hope to prove she used the martial resources to fund affairs, and your lawyer believes you have a shot at recouping the losses…why keep untangling that skein?

            You are clearly whip smart and insightful, kind in your responses, many positive things I sense.

            WHY WASTE ANY MORE TIME ON THIS CHEATING FREAK?

            Life is so brief. I know you are angry and I know she was a….cockroach in her behavior.

            But, you could be out there, meeting new women or having amazing sex or holding someone’s hand, looking at Angkor Wat (I have been there, you should go).

            If we did a cost/benefit analysis….what benefit is there in figuring out the metrics and depth of her adultery? Let the lawyers hash it out. She did it. She killed it. It is over.

            I hate to see her steal anymore of your time. We turn around and a decade is gone.

            I wasted three years. To me, this is an abomination. I read about people who wasted 25 years and my stomach turns for them.

            Coming here keeps me from contacting Meth Man. (29 days no contact). I think coming here helps us manage the suffering.

            But I think you rolling up your sleeves and sticking your arm into that vat of fuckupness….I am not sure what it gets you but more pain.

            What do you think?

            • Going to leap to Ian’s defense here. Finding out more information on our cheater’s shenanigans post-mortem can be useful and healing.

              First, looking at one corner of an impressionist painting only gives you a bunch of dots. They don’t seem connected, or even a full object, even though you can see the gradation of color MUST mean something. Add more dots and then more dots, and it gives you the big picture–oh, there is a bridge, and a water lily, and a boat.

              Secondly, to see that big picture requires that you keep stepping back as you detect each dot. More information on cheaters’ evil deeds causes us to DETACH, the main goal in this post-betrayal healing. Disengage, disengage, disengage.

              Third, Information is Power. Many of us thought we were roughly equivalent in our marriages. But we weren’t because one side (the cheater) was using deception. They had critical information we needed to make cogent decisions about our life, and they deliberately withheld it to give themselves a HUGE power edge. Finding out about their escapades rights this imbalance.
              Once I found out a critical piece of information on my X (his last affair, which had not come to light before the divorce, & that he took the AP with him on a trip secretly 3 days after D-day), I felt liberated. Now I have the power because now I KNOW when he did not want me to. I also have unexpected power over him, because my discovery/ies could bring down his career if I wanted to use it (though I won’t, though I wouldn’t mind him knowing that I could). And I am no longer tied to him (see Disengage above).

              Lastly, there are huge individual differences in the need for more information. Advice that works for one person can be damaging to another. Especially if one’s feelings toward the cheater are cold enough that extra information does not hurt, but does help with all of the above, it needs to be sought. Ian is just over 1/2 year out, and needs this information. I’m 1.5 years out and still seeking one last piece which will allow me to let go my memories of X entirely. People who are information-oriented by nature cannot be deterred from this step without psychological harm or limbo.

              • I completely agree. Lack of information and distance to process that information is why I had a 2nd dday. I found out he cheated after 26 years of marriage. One single mistake in 26 years. Didn’t I owe it to him to offer him a chance to make our marriage work? Didn’t I owe him my forgiveness? 11 months until the 2nd dday allowed me get a glimpse of who he really is. I was able to make the divorce decision weeks after the 2nd dday and although I haven’t actively sought out information, when it comes my way, it reaffirms my choice and my power.

                i live in a no fault state. Still, I was tempted to check the adultery box and make this as difficult for Fucktard as possible. That was my gut reaction. It would have felt so good. However, he is so much less than I am (I believe that we have to all be a little narcissistic to survive) including intelligence, that he signed the martial settlement agreement ONE WEEK after I told him I wanted a divorce. He signed away 90 percent of all assets and rights to my retirement. He can have his OW, I will take that and call it justice.

              • And just to clarify after I read my post, time to process and distance allowed me to KNOW that an affair is more than just just one mistake and I owe him nothing. I learned from CL that the discovery of the affair is just the first tremor that shakes us. Knowledge of what an affair involves is the earthquake that destroys everything.

              • To me, it seems like an invitation for more pain, agony and torture unless it helps him financially . Ian may be tougher than me.

                But, I PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY cannot process any more betrayal information. I know he did it. Knowing the metrics of it…it just renders it more…..horrifying. I truly would be at McClean (Harvard’s Psych Unit) and under psychiatric care.

                No need to defend him. It was just a suggestion. I have handled…maybe 60 divorces and I have never seen a spouse look happier after we hire the private investigator and those awful truths start rolling in….with photos, stroke key recoveries that show all the emails, phone records. Many women have said to me…I wish I would have listened to you. They knew he was cheating…but that desire to KNOW ALL THE DETAILS, I believe…is a cruel trick. And unless marital funds were used, Judges do not care. I wish they did, but they don’t have the moral outrage we have over cheating. It is so daily routine for them.

                We already know the person we love did not love us back, and chose to seek sex outside of a sacred promise or understanding. I think it is prolonging the pain and wasting the precious days we have left on the earth.

                Life…it just slips away…and it seems like we have wasted enough time untangling the minds of people of are probably…RIGHT NOW…having a fun after they disemboweled us.

                As sad as that is. They are not hand wringing and blogging about cheating. They are probably having sex, water skiing, eating, laughing, goofing off in Home Depot with their lover and we are a distant thought, a back burner idea if they need something in the future.

                For me….I would run from anyone who wants to tell me more about Meth Maggot and his behaviors. I would run from them like they had Ebola on their hands.

                I know he is….a liar, a cheater and horribly damaged. The details are just more needles in my eyes. It does not help me see any clearer. It just makes me cry.

              • Disengaging by digging out the truth is a contradiction. It makes no sense. We all know the truth.

                They are cheaters.

                Playing Sherlock is FULLY engaging with the cheater’ skein of fuckupness.

                What good can come of it? Unless it is to get money (which is a worthy goal!) it is meaningless.

                I think it goes against Trust That They Suck.

                We were duped. Period. We were chumped.

                They suck the big one. Is it really healing to know the levels and metrics that they suck? I can’t work out how that would help someone gain a life.

                I think it is wasting more precious life on their shittiness.

                To know more about their antics may give you a feeling of power, but it is just that: a feeling. We have no power over the past, and how they murdered our relationship.

                Know this: You will never know the full truth. You can’t know it. Most cheaters lie so much, that even P.I’s cannot ferret it all out. Cheaters can be clever and all are sneaky.

                They are much sicker than we are smart. You could hire the Soufan Group and would never know all the betrayals they committed. It is a tragic waste of limited time and resources….TRUST THAT THEY SUCK.

              • I didn’t mean “defend” in any strong sense, but I suspect Ian and I share some views on this topic.

                “Disengage” comes in many forms–you can kick them entirely out of your life. You can also disengage with them emotionally–you don’t miss them, you don’t want them back, you don’t pine for the good days. That “disengage” is harder. I divorced mine on the basis of finding out he’d had an affair 8.5 years prior (which had ended 8 years prior). That was enough to get him out of my life. But as people came forward with more information on X’s behavior in other contexts, and the Ashley Madison hack hit, I discovered he had a web of deceit possibly dating back to the 3rd month of the marriage. I also discovered he had done several things that classified him as a sociopath. It prevented me from pining for him at all (with only 1 exception in 1.5 years), and helped solidify that he & I were not going to be “friends” after the divorce, nor would I be adopting the narrative he wanted which was that we “grew apart.”

                It solidified my defenses when he claimed I should take 50% blame for the demise of the marriage. Ha! I now knew he was a serial cheater and a real marriage had never been a possibility. All of that emotional progress & disengagement on my part was due to the additional information I had. Did I need nitty gritty details? No, just enough to know exactly who he was, that my marriage was doomed from the start, and there was nothing I could have done about it. That yielded behavioral & emotional freedom for me. And most of it came after I cared very little for him. Did some of it hurt at first (as the women you mentioned who first get the PI reports)? Some, but as a long-term strategy, it was *extremely* beneficial for me (and may have been for them–you saw only their initial reactions).

                I know many, perhaps most in CN, do NOT want more information. But we’re not all the same.

              • Love what you all have said here, on any side of it. I’m an info-oriented person and tend to want to know ALL the details. But when I realized it wasn’t just that I didn’t like how X talked to me, and that, simply, SOMETHING IS SCARY WRONG!!! I bailed, fast.

                I thought about hiring a PI. I wished I’d had access to his online and phone records. But, in the months of reading about recovery from affairs, betrayal, partnering with addiction? I started to understand that what I didn’t know, if I suddenly knew it, could really hurt me. I’ve had enough hurt from this guy. I’ve managed NC for the better part of almost a year, and I don’t know any of his illicit doings. I usually face everything head on, ready to throw down and win the truth. But this is the one time I have completely run for my life. In my personal case, it’s best that I never know. What I did know was difficult enough. It’s all someone else’s problem now.

                In defense of those who *do* need to know, whether for court documentation or for peace of mind — what I really wanted, in finding out any truth, was the knowing where my own intuition had either failed me completely or been absolutely motherf***ing SPOT ON. And I think it’s more than fair for any betrayed person to pursue that truth and that knowing. Reconciling and recalibrating our intuition seems really important.

                Sometimes one clear big truth is needed; sometimes a million little ones. But whatever amount you need and find, I think that knowledge or discovery or awareness goes a long way in a betrayed’s ability to distinguish that the cheater is an irredeemable fuckup and no longer worth any further thought.

                So just know and recognize your limits for the pain. And when happiness starts to sniff around and beg your attention, heed that.

                We’ll all make it through, at our own right pace. I’m so glad for the discourse here, and feel lucky every time I read these threads. You folks are a wealth of awesomeness.

              • Don’t know if I speak for anyone but myself, but I needed answers. The more he ditched, dodged and told half-truths, outright lies and lies of omission; my mind wanted to fill in the cracks and empty spaces. This is just how my mind is, it wanted to figure things out, get to the truth. I guess that is why I ended up with something similar to PTSD, or it probably was PTSD.
                Funny thing is, it was very hard to let go of once your mind tried to process all the things that “don’t add up”. This is the hell you will live in until you make up your mind & decide to leave. I wanted to find a reason to stay, to believe. Giving up is much healthier. Would not wish it on anyone, especially a upstanding Chump.

            • There is no such thing as too much information for me. We all have a life story and the course of my life has been changed as the result of XH’s affair. I am now divorced and live alone. I discovered the cheating through circumstantial evidence but it is not enough for me to know that he cheated. I want to know everything. I want to know when and how it started. I want to know how many times, where and what positions. I want a “play-by-play” of every instance of sex. Not knowing and not being told just means I am filling in the gaps with my imagination. I want to know how close my imagination comes to the truth. I did ask for all of this information but I was just told that he never cheated and I was crazy to imagine it. When I confronted him about the evidence of the most recent affair, I also confronted him about cheating 35 years ago. He finally confessed to that with the smirk. However, he refused to divulge any information about it, saying that he was so drunk that he didn’t remember anything. He did blame me for it; said it was my fault for being away at college.

            • Howdy Sabine,

              Thanks for the compliment. I pondered a lot of your comments this weekend. You too sound like you have a quick-draw mind. It also sounds like you have a problem I can relate to. My close-to-twenty years of recovery from drugs and alcohol antennae are picking-up a very serious addiction component to your story. Whether from Meth Man or from your own “joking,” I see a dangerous pattern.

              Please avail yourself as soon as possible of an MD, a PhD clinical psychologist, a counselor, and some sort of support group. I have attended many 12 step meetings, and it can be a successful option for those with a god-bent. It’s only one option, but whether you yourself have a drug problem, or whether you are simply dealing with the fallout of having loved an addict, please, seek help.

              You got this, Sabine Savoy. He’s dangerous, and people die when they don’t take this shit seriously enough. Don’t let him take your precious life from you.

    • I completely agree, although I have to say I am grateful and I do feel lucky to have discovered my POS ex-fiancé’s cheating ways before we got married and had children. Dodged a bigger bullet than the one that already hit me…

      • Aowlee – I so admire you for dumping your ex-fiance. You totally did dodge a bullet. Discovering the truth before you got married and had kids, is the best gift the universe gave you. You are blessed and so mighty!!

    • Ian–I’m not convinced you had an exit cheater; without your strong (and warranted) initial reaction to her infidelity, I think she was prepared to stay and be a cake-eater.

      It seems there are several components to the amount of pain/grief we feel, and its duration:

      1-Agency. Those who take charge of the situation by kicking the cheater out or filing typically feel better than those who had no say in the matter (e.g., if the cheater just disappears).

      2-The suddenness of the D-day revelations; people who thought they had a happy marriage only to find that they had a deceptive actor suffer more than us who were already starting to get around to “trust that they suck.” Time to adjust to the divorce cognitively can also be helpful; if the cheater is willing to answer questions in between D-day and when a spouse finally files, this is psychologically helpful (but realize those “answers” are probably lies, too).

      3-Emotional abuse that was independent of the infidelity helps get to “trust that he/she sucks” faster, but you’re also playing with a weaker emotional hand because the abuse has been depleting your emotional reserves, probably for years.

      4-Support system. Chumps who don’t tell anyone, or who are surrounded by unsupportive friends/family or Switzerland types will take longer to heal than those with strong support systems.

  • Do any of you remember the TV show “House” — the diagnostic genius, Dr House, and his team of medical protege’s tried to solve the mystery of what was wrong with the patient of the week. There were many symptoms — some seemed to conflict, they had to run medical tests and try different medications, and sometimes, surprise, surprise, the patients had LIED to them, even though their life actually depended on telling the truth. Loved the show. Hated how it resembled my life with Narc’s.

    Until I found out about Cluster B Dysfunctional people, Narcissists in particular, I experienced one misdiagnosis after another. I spent a lot of time on alcohol abuse — promising, but it turns out just one of the many added attractions that Narcs can pick up to enhance their already charming personalities. But the many symptoms of the Cluster B types will describe your problems with the person — and unfortunately it may take you a long time to figure it out. In the end, it doesn’t matter which type of Ass you are with — all that matters is you realize you can no longer spackle and try to fix something which is irreparably cracked and unfixable. Then, Run, Run, as fast as you can, and get away from it!

    Everything you think you know for sure, you probably don’t know at all. Accept that. You think he only cheated once? Isn’t once enough? Quit reviewing the past — you cannot change it. Try to concentrate on your needs and your new life. You know what you know when you know it. You cannot change your not knowing at the time. Now matter what the reason was that you missed the red flags, lived in Denial, spackled like there was no tomorrow — all that is over now. Concentrate on healing and getting better.

    The good news is the Narc will never heal, never get better. You are allowed to enjoy the fact that Narc mistakes and errors will be repeated forever. Things will never be as they want them to be, either. You can see it — the Narc cannot. Personally, that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I keep getting better, and I am happy most of the time. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction, too. You have to learn that being with the Narc is like carrying around a big, heavy stone. It impedes your progress, and makes everything more difficult. You have to lay the stone down, or the weight of it will eventually paralyze you or kill you. Lay down the stone, and walk away, lighter and healthier. Each step gets easier, and you will be surprised how happy you can be without the stone.

    • Portia~
      Standing ovation. This helped me today tremendously.
      Exceptionally put and wise:

      “Everything you think you know for sure, you probably don’t know at all. Accept that. You think he only cheated once? Isn’t once enough? Quit reviewing the past — you cannot change it. Try to concentrate on your needs and your new life. You know what you know when you know it. You cannot change your not knowing at the time.”

      Another brilliant insight- you wrote you cannot fix what is catastrophically broken and unfixable. My mother, who has her smart moments, would say about my cheater…He is just too damaged.

      Do you have any tips on letting go of the anger? Like a white hot rage? I don’t want to feel it…but there it is, like a troll in the corner of my room. I have revenge fantasies which are not healthy.

      • Sabine, I have those fantasies too, unbidden, and they are sharp and scary, which is how I know for sure this guy was/is bad for me. All I can say is, EMDR helps unravel the knots these relationships tied us in, and good strong physical activity (think weight training or maybe some form of martial art) helps discharge the aggression and replace it with happy endorphins and visible positive accomplishment. Legit therapeutic massage can eliminate the skin hunger and pacify the body’s need for safe human touch — that goes a long way in calming me back down, although I admit that sometimes I’m even angrier post-massage, because it all comes right to the surface.

        Try EMDR and keep your joy open and focused on *you*. Happiness is a terrific counter.

  • The most damning thing he could come up with was crab cakes? One thing I’ve really internalized over the last several months is that cheaters (or anyone else betraying or otherwise behaving badly towards me) is that they will blame me for their behavior. I suspect they do this in order to feel justified in what they are doing so that they can still feel good about themselves/avoid confronting their own faults and issues and/or avoid confronting a tough situation and handling it with integrity.

    Since I am willing to confront my own faults and issues, I’ve bought into this in the past. (“Hmm…maybe it’s true that I am too much this or not enough that”). Now, I don’t that nymore. Now I look at their behavior and assess what their motivation might be and what they are getting out of it and then I consider their other (higher integrity) options. I won’t be anyone’s scapegoat anymore.

    I know this must really hurt. I think it’s ridiculous (literally, worthy of ridicule!) that the worst thing he could come up with is crab cakes instead of turkey. I hope that someday you can look back and laugh at how ridiculous that is.

    • And she will laugh. I guarantee that! Ex cheater in my life outlined 4 reasons our “marriage was already over” when he started his affair. Not one of those reasons included an honest conversation or a trip to a divorce lawyer but I digress.

      I can’t even remember two of them now but the two that stand out in my mind first made me crazy mad, but now I look back and laugh like hell about it!

      One was that I didn’t take time off for an ELECTIVE surgery he had which he sprung on me before I could ask my boss for time off. It was perfectly acceptable to him, that I just call out sick. He loved my paycheck but hated when it inconvenienced him. Anyway, while he was re-enacting “how scared he was that day that his wife didn’t love him enough to call in sick” —complete with crockadile tears; he compared his situation to one of a colleague who’s husband had cancer. “She walked through fire for him” he told me. Yeah dipshit because he had cancer and you were having cosmetic surgery” I seriously cannot believe I didn’t laugh in his face that day.

      The other thing that really “grinded his gears” was that I didn’t lose my shit when HE lost his wedding band while raking. I helped him look for the damn thing for a day and a half and no, I didn’t yell at him or try to make him feel bad. My bad. That meant I didn’t love him, hence he should have an affair.

      Love it! And I love telling that story to about anyone who will listen. It always gets a great laugh!

      • LOL! If it wasn’t this stuff, it would have been something else. The whole idea/objective is that the chump can’t win and it’s the chump’s fault. Most of the chumps here seem to own (or over-own) their shit. Most of the cheaters seem to prefer blame.

  • My ex is a very high functioning narcissistic sociopath and trust me he was clever enough to maintain the facade of the loving husband and father for many years.He literally did a Jekyll and Hyde.
    I had no clue this personality disorder existed until I read voraciously in the aftermath.The really intelligent ones are very capable of preserving the mask of sanity until it no longer serves their interests to do so,then comes the devalue and discard.Mine was swift and brutal and his lack of empathy was breathtaking.It was as if the man I thought I knew and loved had been abducted by aliens.He looked the same but the eyes were cold,the voice glacial.I subsequently uncovered a squalid ,sordid hidden life that no one knew of where he had juggled multiple sexual partners concurrently,women who knew each other,worked alongside each other.It takes a special kind of deviousness and cunning to carry that off.Ironically this obs/gynae consultant chaired the ethics committee of his hospital.
    The anguish of discovering the monster behind the mask was truly soul shuddering.
    It took a long time to be ok.

  • Comedy, they say is tragedy plus time. Man, you better believe in time we will have a lot to laugh about!!!

  • Well, this letter holds some clues. Even though this letter appeared before, my response is directed to the letter writer and her question.

    First: “[M]y ex turned on a dime into an evil warlock the moment I questioned him on suspecting an affair.” What happened here is that you saw behind the façade and he couldn’t tolerate that. So unleash the rage. Whether he is somewhere on the narcissist spectrum or not, it isn’t a great mark of character that this man couldn’t deal with questions about a suspected affair. It would be understandable for an innocent spouse to be hurt, concerned, defensive (and so on) about being questioned about an affair. But in a healthy marriage, those feelings would be accompanied by some self-searching, as in “Am I paying enough attention to my spouse? Have I crossed a line that gives her this wrong impression?” One way to interpret “turning on a dime” is that he resented being questioned about anything. You can look for all the ways in your marriage that he bullied people or made unilateral decisions that affected others negatively; you can also look at how he dealt with being questioned or criticized in other places, such as work or in the extended family. And if you suspected an affair, you must have had signs of disengagement from you and perhaps the family. The only point of that exercise is to fix your picker.

    Second: “The spewing of lies and rewriting of history — (I’ve previously mentioned that he yelled that he didn’t like crab cakes for Thanksgiving when he was the one who brought the meat home and made them) — bewildered me into a state of shock that kept me disabled me for a long time.” Well, no one needs to revise history unless they are shifting the blame for their bad behavior to other people. You mention lying. What is his history with truth telling? How many lies, little and big, did you spackle? The point of that: fix your picker and set some boundaries about acceptable behavior.

    Third: “One time as I lay on the floor sobbing he stood over me and said that he couldn’t stand to see me like that.” Note that this is a statement about HIS discomfort, not about your anguish and his role in that. The point of this observation is to recognize the difference between expressions of love and concern vs. controlling the emotions of others.

    So we have lies, blame shifting, lack of empathy, defensive response to questions about infidelity, yelling and rage. Put any label on that you want. This is someone who is still legally married but who is disconnected from his spouse. Whether he is or isn’t a “narcissist,” he’s engaged in the devaluation that we recognize as the way a narcissist ends one relationship in order to get into another. I’d bet that 100% of affairs involve devaluation of the spouse—and maybe even to a greater degree if the cheater has some sort of conscience or capacity for empathy. Somebody has to be at fault for the cheating and the disengagement, and the cheater wants it to somebody else. For me, an important goal is recognizing when I am being devalued. That’s a deal breaker.

    It’s worth it to look back at how you got into a situation in order to avoid it again. My therapist and I were talking yesterday about some ways that my life is so much better than it was when I was married to XH the alcoholic/drug abuser. And she said, “But you married him knowing what he was” And I stayed and “made the best of it” for a decade. What did I have to overlook, to say didn’t matter, to settle for? How did I subtly devalue myself and thus make it easier for others to devalue me? Those are my questions.

      • My ex hated people crying. It was too loud and really got on his nerves. I really thought it was because he wasn’t comfortable with feelings but now, who knows?

        • Asswipe hates crying too shit happens get over it. Tears makes him fly into a rage why he hasnt any feelings not one. I detest people like this. Ive someone in place to comfort my kids if i go so they will have care and understanding especially my daughter. Asswipe will be no comfort to her, ah she died it happens get over it. She will need someone to hold her close and it wont be her dad or his whore he is banned from any service for me. Think he could comfort his own daughter when she loses her mom nope too inconveinent for him a pod no feelings. Gee tears cause i will be missed he will just ask what she got in the will and give his sorry advice. Asshole!

    • “One way to interpret “turning on a dime” is that he resented being questioned about anything. You can look for all the ways in your marriage that he bullied people or made unilateral decisions that affected others negatively; you can also look at how he dealt with being questioned or criticized in other places, such as work or in the extended family.”

      This is definitely the case with the Sinister Minister. I am meeting with the investigators again today, but I think this is my final meeting.

      He turned on a dime with me, from sweetly-sweetly ‘Will you help’ to ‘If you had any idea how much I was suffering’ and rage, in a nanosecond.

      And yes, he had form. In all the ways described above.

      “My ex hated people crying. It was too loud and really got on his nerves. I really thought it was because he wasn’t comfortable with feelings but now, who knows?”

      Like my dad. Hey, you’re making ME feel uncomfortable! Stop crying! Or I’ll give you something to cry about!

      Nice.

      • My narc father used to say the same thing, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” No wonder we were doomed to marry disordered.

    • LAJ,
      You wrote:

      *** I’d bet that 100% of affairs involve devaluation of the spouse—and maybe even to a greater degree if the cheater has some sort of conscience or capacity for empathy.***

      That is chillingly on the money.

      When I first sensed something was “off” with Meth Maggot, I emailed him a photo of me and said

      “I AM A HUMAN BEING.”

      I did not know about discard and devaluation at the time….none of that. But, something in me KNEW he was not viewing me as a human being with thoughts, feelings and emotions.

      I felt a panic for him to remember my face, my smell, who I am. My sub conscious knew that he was reducing me to…an appliance?

      As No Contact rolls on, I got up at 4AM to continue my exercise kick and I almost emailed him a very good photo of us this morning. I wanted to say…Do you see my face? Was it worth it?
      But I did not.

    • The D-Day confrontation rage is all about the anticipated loss of cake. When I asked XH if he had sex in the car, because the seat was damaged, he said, “Let’s hire a forensic scientist. If he doesn’t find cum, then I get to hit you across the mouth as hard as I can with an open hand. If he does find cum, then you can hit me anywhere you want.”

      • I do not usually say it, but WOW: WHAT A F***.

        That is shocking just to read; I know it was worse to hear and feel. I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I hope you are LIGHT YEARS away from that guy.

        WHAT a TOTAL F***.

  • Gee, all this talk of exit cheaters! Some cheaters just wait til the kids are adults so that they avoid the messiness of determining who/what/where for child support. It’s all image management. Once the kids move out the spouse appliance has expired and needs to put on the curb on garbage day like an old couch.
    Basically the chump is/was/always will be meaningless to the cheater. Just “the help” or a souce of monies during the facade of being a family man (or woman).

    • I think mine toward the end just didn’t want to have to give up half his retirement or pay child support. The last 7 months before D-day were so AWFUL that I would tell him every 3 weeks that I no longer wanted to be married to him. In previous years when I’d brought up divorce, he would cry and plead, “I’ll change, please don’t leave me.” Those last 7 months he switched to this lie-face about wanting to stay married, and then threaten that my oldest daughter couldn’t attend the out-of-state university she wanted if we divorce. This, of course, shut me up because I will do anything for my children, but I look back and realize he didn’t want me there, either, he just wanted to keep his 401K.

      • I remember asking if she was just staying married to me for the paycheck.. before I discovered she was cheating.

        • Although my situation is different, and I know that some women do just look for a paycheck, Fucktard asked me that too. I was shocked. I make more than him. He then said I only wanted him for home maintenance. Then is was for his “dick.” His words, not mine. It’s a little justice that he now lives with her. She makes almost no money compared to him or me and has at least two small children. He went out and bought a new truck, motorcycle, clothes, etc. He’s taken out a loan. I can guess who is doing all the repairs around her house. And he needs Viagra to put his dick anywhere.

          Meanwhile, I’ve paid off my car and have been living well on my own paycheck paying bills, mortgage and saving. I’ve learned to change my headlights on my car, use a chop saw for trim work on my house, dry-walled my bathroom ceiling, installed a handrail going upstairs, installed a new pool skimmer and fixed the dishwasher. So no, I don’t need his paycheck or him for home maintenance. As far as his dick, you would not believe what they deliver in the mail these days. 🙂

      • H had a classmate in graduate school who was D and he gave my thenH STRICT impassioned counsel to NEVER divorce….of course it had nothing to do with love, devotion or commitment, but had everything to do with inconvenience. I think H1.0 was already a cake eater but it reinforced his attitudes dramatically

    • Yes. One cheater said to a girlfriend of mine. “I did my duty, I was there until the kids became adults. Now that they’re no longer minors, I’m out.”

      • I had a close friend whose STBXH waited until the end of the day that their youngest child was married, took his wife’s parents to the airport for their trip home, then never came back to the house. NO CHILD SUPPORT FOR HIM!!! 30 years of being a Wife Appliance on her side got her the house and a necessity of going back to work and living in genteel poverty.

        She was (of course) absolutely devastated; but then the Karma Bus rolled through. She found a VERY wealthy new love, the X found a disabling spinal problem and the OW dumped him.

        • LOL! I don’t mean to laugh at anyone’s misery, but that’s an awesome story you just shared. I kept reading and by the end, I was like hurray for the chump!

      • The Limited’s whore screamed at me, “He had to support you!” Narcs love to change the narrative. The truth was that he chose to take 5 months of the year off and wanted control of MY money. I said NO. It was his trolling season.

        On the humerous end of things he BRAGGED she made NO money but was willing to spend it on him.
        Tis the season. He’s holed up in a dump eating pub fries.

        I find once they score a new victim impression management peaks for a while with frivolous spending until the well runs dry.

        And all this retirement bliss they dream about never happens. As soon as the supply and dreams fade they are old and penniless.

        This is when you change your phone number.

  • This one hits home, CL! I had gradually figured out over the years that my ex is a classic covert ‘sad sausage’ narcissist. But the sad sausage ones are SO insidious!! I bent over backwards and made my needs small, not because I saw him as better than me, but because I saw him as weaker – and I loved him anyway and wanted to help him be happier! He was more insecure in so many ways, more fucked up because of his FOO, more clueless about relationships, including parenting, less able to deal with stress, had less energy than I do, was less able to make and maintain friendships, more hungry for ‘success’ at work so he could feel confident while simultaneously weaker at the people skills that would help him succeed ….

    Over the years I saw all this, but kept spackling in one super important way; I told myself that underneath all the messed-up-ness he had a good heart. Even after I eventually understood that he did not reciprocate my caring for him and felt entitled to my doing everything to keep him happy while he did the absolute minimum for me that he could possibly get away with, I believed that he really loved his kids.

    Not even that was true.

    Like so many here, I now see I should have left him years before I did. The time of his first affair would have been perfect. Too bad there wasn’t a Chump Lady then, to hit me with a 2 x 4.

      • +2 I thought he was weaker and had a good heart. And he too dumped his children and granddaughter. I was told by my therapist to stop saying I can’t believe.

        I still could NOT believe he would abandon his children. THIS is the marking of a sociopath in my opinion.

        It’s better without him.

    • Yes this KarenE. Same with me he cheated 5 years ago and I let him talk me into letting him.stay 4 years of financial verbal emotional abuse later he discarded me for another OW. He took my retirement. It’s is going to be a long time to meh starting over at 55…

  • I also think maybe we give the cheater more credit than they deserve for evil planning. I think they just bumble along in life sometimes, bored, self unaware, selfish – hidden anger and mostly, bored – then the opportunity to have this “exciting affair” comes along and WOW! does it seem like a great idea!

    Never mind responsibility gets thrown into the blender, kids, other people, God home and hearth — It’s EXCITING! They are IMPORTANT! Life’s purpose is now CLEAR.

    Then the fog/delusion/rewriting/hate and lies all fall down the merry chase of getting everything they can out of life. It is unhealthy thinking that leads to downright delusional/destructive thinking. Like my cheater, once you are a$$ deep in the muck, plug your nose and dive right in!

    • Magneto

      It has taken me two years of painfully going through our history together. Once I understood coverts everything fell into place. My daughter told of childhood menories of going over MULTIPLE OW houses and described the women. He physically assaulted her as a teen and denied it. He convinced her siblings she was fucked up and shouldn’t be supportive. He accessed porn and blamed it on his son. It’s endless Magneto. The plotting, planning, and damage is very calculated. The old my dick just slipped is a con. Me thinks.

    • I don’t think we can say they are ‘bumbling along’ when they are getting LOTS of clear feedback about the problems they are creating, from multiple people and multiple situations, and when they ARE making an effort to do better in areas that are actually important to them (in my ex’s case, that was his work, where he worked really hard both to improve both his hard skills and ‘people skills’).

      My cheater has a PhD and an MBA, always managed to get new jobs, usually with better money, no matter how often he was ‘let go’ from previous ones or left because he was ALWAYS dissatisfied. It’s not that he wasn’t capable; he didn’t give a shit about me or his kids, and didn’t even value the many good and important things we brought into his life – until he threw it all away and then realized maybe some of that stuff was important to him (the good stuff, not the actual wife and kids).

  • KarenE, that was mine too. Such a ‘sweet sad sausage’ so smart and accomplished, so utterly useless. No one would really believe what a manipulative controling sad raging sausage he was. But pretty soon in the marriage, I learned that I wanted him happy because I thought it was possible and for self defense. If he wasn’t happy, he was a rage machine and just about anything can set him off. So so glad he is gone.

    • Ringing, thank you for sharing that. One year out from Dday this Sunday, I can finally see what a manipulative, controlling, raging POS he is. I let my needs become nonexistent to keep the peace, etc. Of course, toss in my own issues and what a swill it became. I’m just glad on the only Dday, *I* pulled the trigger!

      • “finally see what a manipulative, controlling, raging POS he is. I let my needs become nonexistent to keep the peace”.. that’s an exhausting existence and cheating becomes the last straw.

        In a weird way, I’m glad that pushed me to end the relationship, even though I was shocked and devastated. I had been walking on eggshells and expected so little for myself. I didn’t realize the strain until the relationship ended.

  • ** “He wasn’t a good partner for you because whatever his malady, he was capable of disconnecting from you and betraying. Whatever his “unhappiness,” he didn’t speak up! He just walked!” **

    This quote from CL really resonates with me!! My relationship was 23 years (married for 15), and when I was in it – never had any indication that things were not working. Bomb drop #1 was “I’m not in love with you” and 3 months later…bomb drop #2 was “I’ve been having an affair for 7 months and I’m in love with her.” Um, don’t you think you could’ve told me that 3 months earlier, rather than making me speculate like crazy – and watching me beat myself up as if I did something wrong?

    He did indeed “walk” – abandoning me & our 2 kids, so that he could live with his mistress. He wants me to “let him go, so he can be with her”. I’m now coming to the profound realization that he is actually giving ME a gift by letting ME go! And when the lightbulb finally goes off and he realizes what he “let go” – I will be happily settled in my new life!

    • This is none of my business and I only say this to offer what I think is beneficial, but are you sure you really want to post with your own webpage in the signature?

      Part of healing, is being able to do it privately. Right now, your cheater knows you have a blog, I’m sure the OW does too, and it’s crazy easy to find you here through a simple google search or backwards.

      You should be able to spill your guts and get support here anonymously. Hope I don’t come off like an asshole, just think it’s way better for you.

  • Wow! I couldn’t quite categorize my STBX until now. I guess I have the “gutless decent guy” because my STBX isn’t like monster spouses that most chumps have had to endure. Mine had ended his affair after 6 months “out of guilt”. Then I found out about it over a year after it ended. There was me….raging, crying, destroying personal belongs, relocating, losing hope and confidence, and so on. There’s him….crying,apologizing, atoning, booking therapy (that I refused to attend), begging for reconciliation. I even demanded that he get a tattoo over is dick…..”justchumped forever”……AND HE DID IT!! (Let’s see who wants to suck you now, motherfucker!!) Does it matter? No. Now I am doing the walking away. Like CL said, he’s fucked up. My point is not to make anyone feel worse. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a decent guy. The damage is done. My kids and I ….our home life is now blown to bits.

    Trust that they suck
    Trust that they suck
    Trust that they suck

  • this is an interesting topic today. reading it retriggered my pre ChumpNation state of mind, i.e, my X’s affair was “just” an exit affair, my fault, etc

    my X looked like a nice guy. in reality, he met 20/20 criteria for covert narcissism. his 4 year affair, hundreds of lies, STD yields has same result for the chump of “just an exit affair”

    simply put, i think there are various strands of narcissism and sociopathy

  • I have a theory that mid life affairs are often triggered by an existential crisis – an inability to resolve one’s struggle with mortality. People often tell me they “fix” it by seeking something exciting, as if there “has to be more to life than what I’ve got”. Sadly they are usually very mistaken.

    I don’t think the OP’s partner planned it years in advance. He always had the inner turmoil going on and it escalated into a crisis for some reason – could be spotting his first grey hairs, or his growing paunch, or a casual comment from someone. Most of us “normals” handle our mortality by comversing about, by invoking religious beliefs, or by common sense. The cheaters just look for distraction.

    • I have to politely disagree, Marci. I think it’s normal to have some sort of crisis thinking about your age, what have you done with your life, and has it been meaningful or impactful for you. Normal self awareness. It does create panic and urgency. Cheaters in this self assessment position fuck random holes, seek random dicks, and overtly or covertly blame others for their sucky character.

      So, I agree there IS a midlife self assessment crisis many people experience. Cheaters blameshift their shittiness on a term instead of owning up to the fact that they suck.

    • Grownups who have existential crises, at whatever age, reassess their lives, and may even make changes, sometimes big ones. They might do dumb things, buying red convertibles or sailboats or taking up sports more suited to their earlier decades, but they don’t consistently and long-term do things that require lying and carelessly hurting the people they are supposed to care about the most,

      Toddlers in the bodies of adults, however, their existential crises lead to throwing their old toys on the floor and breaking them, demanding new ones, then getting pissed when the old ones don’t work anymore.

    • Get over ‘IT’ ?

      This is just a pet peeve of mine Enchamtrd.

      Lying
      Cheating
      Exposing us to STD’s
      Spending money on whores

      That’s the short list. Cheating is a deliberate action by cheaters. They may want to do the cake walk.
      Yes, let them see the light of the kick ass lawyer when you divorce the fucker. ‘IT’ sucks to have consequences.

  • I think these cheaters who are disordered, may have always been from the beginning. We just didn’t feel their dysfunction because their interests and ours was aligned. Meaning they wanted to stay in a relationship with us. They may have displayed dysfunctional behavior towards “others”, like inability to hold a job, getting fired left, right and center,fighting with their bosses or others, inability to have true friendships, but we just didn’t think the dysfunction affected our relationship (little did we know this wasn’t true).

    But its when the cheater’s interests no longer aligns with ours, that’s when their dysfunction gets aimed at us. And that’s when we feel the full brunt of their dysfunction and crazy and bizarre behavior. It’s then we realize they were never really bonded with us, or the children. Now the dysfunction is turned towards us, and we get to see it in all their flying colors.

    However, had we been trained to speak “mental disorder” or “character disorder”, I am willing to bet that most of us would never have married these people in the first place, or left after the first display of mental disorder, whether it’s aimed at us or towards others. I have learned to speak a whole new language by coming here, which is “cheater speak”, a/k/a character disorder. I wish we learned about character disorders in school or something, so we didn’t have to pay the price with our lives. At least we have Chumplady championing the field.

    • I think a lot of my cheater’s character/personality disorder behaviors were sated because he worked in law enforcement in a very violent city, giving him leeway to take out some of his crazy on the (albeit criminal and crappy) people he arrested. And had I known that the red flags were really red flags for a cluster B dickhead, I would have never gotten further involved with him. But I thought I was helping him with his trust and jealousy issues. Naïve Aowlee…

      • I agree Aowlee, And at least you found out and got out on time! You weren’t that naive, and you should give yourself credit for how far you’re come.

  • No. Return to what? Normal? They were never normal to begin with. How can they return to something they never were in the first place.

  • Hurt 1,

    Your situation and mine are quite similar. I’ve been mulling over/obsessing about this very dilemma for over two years since XH up & left abruptly. If you haven’t read “Runaway Husbands,” you should; it’s covers a different spectrum of recovery than CL & IMHO they compliment each other nicely.

    I, too, am fairly confident XH did not cheat until the very end, though, truthfully, how would I ever know, and why would I care? So XH also had “exit affair.”

    After much mulling/obsessing, here’s what I think: I think those boys are scared.

    It think some of us settle into maturity gracefully, sometimes even welcoming no longer having to do certain things we had to do to “perform” in society as we did when we were younger. To be able to do this with a person who is your best friend, who knows you better than anyone else, is just the sweetest of dreams.

    Other people — like XH — look down the timeline and see Same Wife, Same Life, Less Shiny/Sparkly, and panic. “Holy Shit!! Is this all there IS?????” Maybe this panic is even accompanied by real-world reminders of the aging process such as a wife turning fifty while XH is turning forty. Maybe wife is having some medical problems. Maybe boobs aren’t as perky as they used to be. Maybe she has expectations of commitment and contribution from XH. And, maybe, just maybe, RIGHT at this moment, here comes a shiny little tart with perky boobs and no expectations of commitment and she’s FUN FUN FUN!! all the time. — Good timing, eh?

    And maybe XH really is better suited for AP. Maybe they do have more in common — interests, wanting to stay up until 4am drinking wine, listening to pop music (eww), skateboards, skinny jeans…. Or maybe he’s just terrified of that boring old life he’s maturing into. He’s not willing to be “old” yet.

    Could I have seen that coming? Maybe. I knew men matured more slowly than women, so I cut him some slack (always, it seems) and waited for him to find his niche. I was happy to do the lion’s share of the work and help him set up his restaurant (the environment of which was ultimately our undoing, as no one in that industry ever really grows up — even their sixty year old bartender only asks out 20- and 30-year-olds).

    But here’s what I’ve come to realize. I APPRECIATE my maturity. I’m not wild about the physical deterioration that inevitably comes with aging, but I accept it. I think there’s a dignity in aging gracefully. Personally, I think XH looks a bit ridiculous with his weird hipster haircut and clothes and skateboard, at his age. But, y’know, that’s his business.

    I do think XH was on the NPD spectrum — it’s all a spectrum, after all — but in a different place than many others’ spouses here at CL. I got off with a light sentence, comparatively, as CL likes to say. I, too, felt XH was really my friend, albeit a bit of a lazy non-introspective superficial friend, but he was mostly kind to me, right up until the end. And then I think he just got scared. Maybe yours did, too.

    Since this column was run previously, I hope that some time has allowed you some small amount of peace and acceptance. It has for me, though there will always be a scar.

    • Wow. I agree with everything you said NWBiblio. Sounds like we were married to the same person!! I honestly feel a bit sad for my wasband – because he seems to be chasing something that he will never be able to find.

      • Well, there’s always therapy for that, isn’t there. Now, more than ever before, there are resources and tools to help you work on yourself, and figure out ways to be happy. No one needs to stay where they are, and can seek help. But everyone is exactly where they want to be.

    • NWB, he’s not willing to be “old” yet, is exactly what x was afraid of, yet the poor, sad sausage hasn’t realized that he is old. And that is sad in a way. He looks old, but he plays the part of being youngish, by hanging around younger thirtysomethings. He is so much like his father, that it is actually sad to see, and he hated his father for the way he is, maybe that is his karma.

      • It’s what he knows and that pattern is familiar. And that’s the worst way to feel young, yeah, go hang out with people that are 20-30 years younger than you. Go figure.

        • I had a Peter Pan myself–screwing someone 34 years younger (apparently my 12-years-younger than him wasn’t sufficient), wearing Diesel jeans for the first time in his 50s, tickling grad students on sofas. Don’t miss him at all.

    • Champ, I had not cried for a few years, because crying on my part was “manipulation”. He had cheated a few years earlier and “how many years was he going to have to pay for that?” Hmmm, he still had his family, his wife appliance and he still had his image of being a stand up guy, exactly what was his consequence???? What did he “pay” for his shitty decisions and him being outed by his own brother? Not one damn thing. The cruelty that these f*cks dish out and the giant amount of spackle that I put out is freaking amazing. You are right, if they cannot touch a spot in their hearts for you or your distress at finding out that they may or may not be “cheating” and that you might shed a few f*ing tears over that is just plain evil. Of course, when I mentioned this to him at some point after the final discard, he tells me, I never told you not to cry, I just didn’t like it when you cried in front of me. Motherf*ing cold son of a bitch.

  • When I told a retired neighbor what had happened to me, she related that her best friend had married the same husband 3 times–he had cheated, she divorced him, he played at false remorse & sad sausage & they remarried. Repeat–he cheated, they divorced, he played sad sausage and she married him a 3rd time. And she’s still unhappy (and he’s most likely still cheating).

  • Apparently my definition of a so called ‘exit affair’ differs radically from others, probable because I don’t believe it’s valid. But here is what I say it is.

    Exit affair definition: spouse meets someone that interests them a great deal, instead of ending the current relationship the cheating asshole has to make sure they have someone to be with that works for them. So; person ends up carrying on an affair until they reach the point where they think they have a lock on the AP. Then cheating spouse comes to you and says “I’m not in love with you anymore, we need to split up. If you caught your spouse cheating then it’s either not an exit affair or your cheater wasn’t sure of their lock on AP yet. Either way if spouse didn’t confess to the affair I do not believe it’s an exit affair…if it makes you feel better to believe in this mythical exit affair shit, go for it. Really doesn’t matter, months, years of lying to you doesn’t make the cheater a better person than the one that cheated on you in 1999 and then did it again in 2015. And surely you can’t know what the fuck they did in between…

    True exit affair; spouse meets someone and starts having feels for them, maybe spouse even kisses them or holds them. Spouse feels bad about behavior so this doesn’t go on very long before spouse comes to you and tells you they are having doubts and met someone else. Spouse wants to try to fix things or says wants to split up. Spouse doesn’t actually fuck the AP before telling you, or if they do, it’s a one time thing.

    Pretend exit affair: you catch spouse cheating, spouse denies, then trickle truths, then swears it’s the first time, then says doesn’t want to leave. Spouse insists on staying married but continues to cheat. Or, spouse blames you for end of relationship and just dumps you like yesterdays garbage and maligns you to everyone. Or spouse disappears to ‘start over’.

    None of it matters except how it affects the chump recovery. Don’t get hung up on why the cheater fucked you over. Get yourself unhung.

    • Somehow first part didn’t make it;

      An ‘exit affair’ is another cheater apologist piece of bullshit. The only way it’s valid is if the cheater comes to the chump and tells them they did a terrible thing and they want a divorce. AND the cheater makes the divorce as easy as possible because they feel actual empathy and love for the person they are leaving.

      • Datdamwuf,

        You said: “AND the cheater makes the divorce as easy as possible because they feel actual empathy and love for the person they are leaving.”

        Exactly.

        Dat, you’re gonna have to stop saying things that save my life, or I’ll owe you some kind of life-of-servitude thing to repay the debt.

    • Thank you DAT…pretend exit affair from xhole. Doesn’t really matter though. He sucks and I trust that he sucks!!

    • I can’t speak for anyone except myself to say that calling it an “exit affair” or “a pickled herring” does not make it excusable. I’m fairly certain (again, no way of knowing) that XH did not insert his penis into AP’s vagina before he dumped me. Just based on his generally childlike perspective on most things, I think it was like a version of the “I’m not touching you!” that siblings torment each other with on long car rides, holding their fingers mere millimeters away from each other’s faces.

      IMO, the mature way to handle this is, “Oh shit, I’m starting to develop feelings for someone who is not my spouse! I should consider therapy individually and with my spouse, and discuss it with my spouse, because we have committed to each other and maybe we can work this out, why I feel unhappy enough in this marriage to be looking at someone else. – By the way, potential AP, I cannot engage with you because I have an obligation to my marriage partner first and foremost, and hopefully I can work things out with them. Interacting with you is a temptation and I love my wife/husband, so we can no longer be friends.”

      How’s THAT for a unicorn, eh? No, none of it is acceptable. XH made a commitment to me, and he owed it to me to resist whatever temptation he felt (Hell, *I* did, when I found myself starting to become attracted to a guy at my job, when XH & I were having a rough patch! I nipped that shit in the bud!!) to come to me first, to try to work on it other than in his own little pea brain. He didn’t talk to his family, his best guy friend, nobody. Just him.

      No, not acceptable. PoTAYto, PoTAHto, same animal.

      • Also, once he had an emotional connection to AP, his resources that should have been devoted to me and our marriage — like love, affection, attention, etc. — were devoted to someone outside the marriage. The fact that those resources did not include his semen is irrelevant to me.

        • NWBiblio, exactly! If I fucked or got investors lived with every coworker or acquaintance that was interested I’d have been the queen of cheeting. Anytime someone went over the line I shut it down. Usually by inviting them to lunch or dinner with my husband or telling them I’d love to meet their wife. Boundaries are not that damn hard

  • One thing I’ve witnessed with my stbxw is the ‘mirroring’ she does with her new partners. Like your story my ex was exactly the same…she became unrecognisable once I discovered her affair. Like CL mentions I believe she has many covert narcissistic traits, whether she a full blown NPD I don’t know… Either way she’s a SHIT!

    A therapist told me that the ‘mirroring’ is something they do and they get their cake from the person who feeds. Like most chumps you’re probably a lovely, normal, caring person. Your ex ‘mirrors’ the qualities you have, when you discovered his affair, his mask slipped and his true self was exposed.

    Once my therapist pointed this out and told me to observe if she does the ‘mirroring’ it became so obvious it’s almost laughable.

      • You are discussing an issue and you are passionate about it. You don’t notice that the other person is not really contributing much at the beginning. The person is learning what you think before they commit to anything. When they respond they are on your page, completely. There is no difference of opinion. It’s subtle, in the main because who doesn’t want to be people that share your beliefs exactly as you do? I’ve met many people that agree in the main with me on issues but we usually have some differences, even if they are not large ones. Of course many people totally disagree with me, LOL. At any rate, it’s hard to spot unless you really pay attention. So if you think you have someone doing this you don’t give your opinion first. You ask what they think. Someone who wants to mirror will turn it back to you again and again.

        • Ah ok, very well explained. Thank you so much. It’s very subtle, yet once you recognize the dynamic, you can see how it’s easy to get sucked into thinking the other person really gets along with you. Meanwhile it’s tricky and they’re just pretending to be on your page, and it really isn’t what they really think. Whew, good to know.

      • Kellia..it was explained it very well to me by a friend who studied psychology. He said that I was seen as a ‘Good Man’ by our friends and the people who know me. That i displayed good values, morals and beliefs. I’m not blowing my own trumpet here as he also pointed out that i’m a bit of a ‘People pleaser’ and I’m reluctant to say ‘no’ sometimes and would rather help others before my self – A typical chump!

        My Ex probably latched onto these qualities and faults early on in our relationship and saw that I was a good person, well educated and could offer her a ‘Stable’ future. All the things she didn’t have at the time at that point of her life. She was a bit of a wild child, she left home at 16 to live with an older man, pregnant at 16, abortion, STD’s, drugs and drink! I discovered this about 2 years after we met, and although she told me these things herself, by then we were 2 years into our relationship and planning our future together and I was already ‘hooked’ on her charm, beauty and thought she was lovely and had been young to do all these things she’d done. She seemed ‘Normal’ and seemed to share my beliefs and hopes for the future – the ‘Mirroring’. Her family all said she’d changed since she met me and that she’d calmed down, seemed happier than she ever had before…all was good.

        Fast forward 20 years and what I know now was the gradual manipulation, passive aggressive behaviour and gas-lighting and me slowly thinking I was useless and there was something wrong with me psychologically. These are typical tactics of someone who displays covert Narcissistic traits, again my friend doesn’t practice therapy but he knows what he’s talking about and explained that theses ‘Covert Narcs’ tend to women, usually attractive, crave praise, attention etc and appear wonderful to the outside world but behind close doors can be a different person. None the less they still have the same ‘cake craving’ tendencies as your stereotypical, loud, all about me Narc.

        However when I discovered her affair her mask slipped, the rage and anger came out. I told both our families all the details about what she did, unprotected sex etc…all the lies, everything. People couldn’t believe she was capable of what she’d done and she HATED that, her rage was ferocious…her fake persona had been exposed.

        Specific mirroring that I’ve witnessed since I left her include:-

        Boyfriend number 1 (AP) – He was a vegan, loved mountain climbing and loved cats. Before I discovered her affair she suddenly started mountain climbing, became vegetarian and wanted a cat (Despite our son being allergic!). He (AP) was killed in a plane crash…5 days later and despite him being her soul mate, love of her life etc she was back on-line dating.

        4 weeks after AP died…

        Boyfriend number 2 (Current partner) Loves football, cycling and Coldplay. She hated all 3 of these things when were were together, especially football. Yep you’ve guessed it she loves all 3 of these things now! It’s quite hilarious to witness…the other day I rang her to arrange collection of my kids for my days I have with them and she apologised she didn’t answer my call as she was ‘Watching the Game!’ She’s been to see coldplay in concert, despite never owning one of there CD’s and is now one of there greatest fans! She’s also the worlds greatest cyclist and attends and participates in cycling competitions.

        She’s mirroring boyfriends interests to gain acceptance, show him she’s the ideal partner and his soul mate. Like a typical man he’s probably falling for her beauty and charm and it seems to be working…he’s taking her on nice vacations, nice car, designer clothes, bags etc…I know what he’s going through and will feel like he’s met the most perfect woman in the world.

        Crazy, crazy and crazy!

    • I agree on the mirroring. not only in the moment but also of your beliefs. Suggest something in a non threatening way and a day or so later they are suggesting the same thing as though it was their own idea. Saddam was a racist, I did not know this for 17 years, he mirrored my beliefs very, very well until I insisted on divorce. Suddenly he didn’t filter his true beliefs, it is horrible for me to see that I lived with someone for so many years who could hide their true self so completely. It wasn’t spackle, he truly never once in all those years said or did anything that would clue me to this. He often put down people who acted racist. He acted like an ally, a champion until he didn’t care what I thought anymore.

      • OMG. My cheater definitely did this for 30 years and i truly never picked up on it until i read these posts. He would check with me before voting and would ask “what is OUR position on x?” Because he didnt have his own positions! He would just acopt my views on everything and would seem to adopt quite different views if he was with someone different. I always chalked it up to him being nonconfrontational, not smart enough to formulate his own ideas, and just sort of fake charming. It was all of those things but mirroring in order to ingratiate himself for his own advantage exp!ains it so much better. When he needed a new car, he only only considered two cars … One i mentioned and one his boyfriend suggested. A grown man and he doesnt even know what car he might like. It is as if he is a completely empty shell just waiting for someone to tell him what to do about every last thing. This allowed me to basically have my way for 30 years, which i confess i liked, but it also bugged me. I didnt have a partner, i had a large special needs child … Who cheated on me constantly. So glad he is gone.

        • Dixie, I got that type of mirroring a ton in the beginning; he seemed to be on the same wavelength as me for a lot of stuff, but I later realized he would wait to hear what I thought about things, then that would become his position (and often I wouldn’t know about ‘his’ position until I heard him talking to others).

          Then he started to mix it up a bit; if I liked something, he despised it. Didn’t matter what it was, radio stations, Coca-Cola, my friends…. Soon everything was criticized, nothing was good enough. He became Mr. Negative, so critical and judgemental, such a pain in the ass. And of course he was so totally right about all this.

          Now he’s trying to show our kids he’s a ‘changed man’, and likes everything he despised before! And he’s telling his mom (practically a Pollyanna) that she needs to stop being so negative! Sooooooo shallow and fake, all the way!

      • I knew Jackass was not of the same mind politically as I am but I was stunned to see lots of ultra-right wing websites as “like” on his FB page. Just dozens of extremist stuff and not much else. Not one word about any of that over the 30 years I knew him.

    • mickeyblueeyes,

      Thanks, man.

      You said: “One thing I’ve witnessed with my stbxw is the ‘mirroring’ she does with her new partners. Like your story my ex was exactly the same…she became unrecognisable once I discovered her affair.”

      Telling my story. Unrecognizable she is, now that she’s found another victim.

    • Mickeyblueeyes, THIS! My Ex became the personality of the OW! I also realized in retrospect that he would never initiate appropriate statements first. Such as “I love you.” But if you tell him first “I love you or I miss you”, then he will parrot that phrase back! So I’ve decided to go buy a parrot!!! His OW was one of these breathy speaking, calm types. Nothing seemed to ruffle her feathers. When I burst into a hotel room they were in, this bitch was cool as a cucumber. I told my Ex that she had all the signs of a sociopath. Any other “normal” person would have tried to escape from that room long before I entered. My Ex then became exactly like her! Talking very quietly, breathy like a male Marilyn Monroe! It was freaky! Let’s face it, our Exes and STBXes are fucked up people. I echo the advice that we give them the gate and work on our new cheater free lives. Thier lives will always be shitty because they lack the skills or will to change. Karma will eventually roll over them. I don’t care to see the train wreck that ensues. Who cares!

  • First impressions are lasting and the impression made by the NPD individual during the initial love-bombing phase of Idealization is one of a good, noble moral person who would never engage in infidelity. This is also the image projected to the community at large, so that when the NPD individual commits treacherous, immoral acts no one can believe that they are capable of such behavior. NPD individuals also target people who have been previously abused by other NPD individuals. These targets, which include teenagers and adult children who have grown up as scapegoats of narcissistic parents, have been conditioned to put their needs last and not challenge the narcissistic individual on their abusive behavior as a means of keeping the peace.

    Last year, my divorce was final 6 months before what would have been my 30th year wedding anniversary. At first, I thought XH had waited nearly 30 years to blow up my life. Now I believe that he was cheating all along. I got wiser, and at the end of the day, he just wasn’t careful enough not to get caught. Maybe getting away with it for a long time makes an experienced cheater take chances a novice might not take.

    The first summer we were together, it was very romantic. I would not have even considered having sex with him unless I thought that I would be marrying him. I remember the moment that Devaluation set in. It was toward the end of the summer when he told me that he was tired of having sex with the “same old girl.” To this day, I remember my shock. I thought we were in love and planning marriage. He just couldn’t have meant what he said. The next summer, there were many disappearing acts. He just was not capable of cheating. He loved me. On the nights I was able to track him down, he told me so. He just couldn’t say “no” to “the boys” when they wanted to go out drinking. And after I went to college and he came to visit me and gave me the crabs? Well, he had to have gotten them from a toilet seat. He loves me and we are getting married. I even asked a doctor about different ways of getting crabs. They aren’t always sexually transmitted; sometimes you get them from sharing a towel.

    Then 5 years into marriage, I wake up in the middle of the night and he is not home. When he gets home, he says he “just went for a ride.” Well, if he said it, it must be true. Not long after that, we go out to have a few drinks with a friend and when we come home he ambushes me from behind with a violent physical assault for no apparent reason. Around that time, it is on my radar screen that there is a female in the apartment complex that he has his eye on. Could all these things be related – cheating with the female on the night he “went for a ride” and then battering me as a part of the Devaluation process? Maybe even trying to Discard me?

    About a year later, my father bought me a new car. My then-husband drives the car one day when I am at work and when I come home from work the seat is badly stained. I ask him what happened to the seat. He tells me “I threw up on it” although he looks very healthy. I am amazed that he recovered so quickly from whatever sickness he had. He’s my husband and if he said it, it must be true. It never crossed my mind that he could have had sex with another woman in the new car my father bought me.

    Fast forward nearly a decade, and it is a struggle to keep him employed. I work diligently with him to find and maintain employment. At one particular job, he talks incessantly about a female co-worker and even invites her and her boyfriend to our apartment to meet me. After watching him and his female co-worker not being able to take their eyes off of each other for about a half-hour, I kick her and her boyfriend out and tell him that it is her or me. It is now obvious to me that he is having an Emotional Affair but I do not believe that it is physical. He quits the job the next day and I never help him find work again.

    Fast forward 14 years, and I ask him to have a talk with me about our marriage. At this point, I am supporting him financially and he is behaving toward me in an abusive manner. I am not feeling the love I should feel from him. He refuses to have the talk and physically attacks me. He then tells me he hates me, he is just using me for my money and that he doesn’t want to have sex with me. I never even think that he could be having an affair. I just try harder to make him love me.

    A few months later, he starts a smear campaign against his sister-in-law. His sister-in-law has said that she saw our truck parked at his mother’s house one day when his mother was not home because his mother was confined to a nursing home for a fall. Sister-in-law has said that when she saw our truck there, she stopped and knocked at the door but we didn’t answer her. Then-husband was very angry with sister-in-law for saying this, calling her a liar, a troublemaker and saying that she said this because she was jealous of us.
    I never even considered the possibility that he was with another woman at his mother’s house; I was just relieved that for once I wasn’t Number 1 on his “Shit List” but that his sister-in-law was.

    A few months after this, I buy us a new car. I thought this new car would help things between us, but it doesn’t. I search for “how to deal with difficult people” on the internet and “narcissism” pops up. The rest is history. Six months later, I notice the new car seat is damaged. I think about the car seat that was damaged decades earlier; that car seat was damaged by vomit, but this doesn’t look like vomit…it looks like sex… and light bulb moment, it was sex decades earlier as well. I confront my then-husband and the gaslighting ensues but I have educated myself about narcissism and my gut feeling that sex caused the damage is just too strong. There is just nothing else but sex that can cause that type of damage. He came up with many implausible excuses that I shot down, one by one, because they made no rational sense. When he ran out of excuses, he said he didn’t know what happened to the seat but that it wasn’t sex. I think about the smear campaign against his sister-in-law and realize that he did have a woman at his mother’s house. I now realize that he did not blow up my marriage with a one-night-stand, but a long-term affair. I also realize that he was my worst nightmare, a serial cheater, and that he had been cheating all along, when we were dating, way before we even got married.

  • I would say that anyone who can watch a person cry, and not respond at all, walk over them to get to the cheese doodles, or even say “It upsets ME to see you this way” has crossed the boundary of abuse, abandonment, neglect. I don’t care what their reason is for leaving, how many times they’ve fucked around, what their particular crisis is, anyone who cannot respond in a loving, caring way to someone who is visibly distraught and in dire need of attention is either intentionally cruel or has a disorder which deprives them of empathy. Whether their “fling” was just a “mistake”, or a one-night stand, or an exit affair, or a cry for help, or their destiny, if they can’t muster up genuine compassion for someone hurting so badly, then there is something seriously wrong with them, and the degree and impact and intention of their affair no longer has anything to do with it.

    • This has really smacked in the face with how disgusting he was? He stepped over me when I was in a foetal position on the floor(distraught AND having a miscarriage) to make his dinner with food I’d bought. Doesn’t really matter about all the skanks. Anyone who can do that has something wrong with them. A stranger would have helped me?

  • I was married to a mean plain ol’ ordinary cheater who I don’t care to diagnose. At first I thought counseling could help,but he just manipulated the counselor. Then I tried prayer.
    God doesn’t intervene where he’s not wanted.

    He was cruel bastard that enjoyed mentally torturing me and chipping away at myself esteem. My journal helped me to keep track of his lies. I eventually outed him. Imagine his surprise when I divorced his old ass.

    On the occasion when we do talk, I don’t play nice and I find myself unconsciously poking at his weak spots. In some ways the roles have reversed.

    I am so happy to be free of him. His new wife, OW, girlfriend etc can have him.

    • I’m sorry, Renewed. That kind of cruelty has a long half-life, and invades our persona much more deeply than we would like. I hope you’re surrounded with positive, supporting people now.

      • Yes I’ve surrounded myself with supportive friends and family. I am taking my time getting back to me enjoying old hobbies and exploring new ones. He never managed to extinguish my spirit. In fact there was a bit of jealousy of me on his part. He is a sad man.

  • I must be rounding the corner to “meh”. I never thought it would happen, but I find it a waste of my time to give my Ex any space in my head at all! I do, however, take a delight in the fact that he and Schmoopie crashed and burned in four short months after our divorce. Seems this OW who just couldn’t wait to possess my husband couldn’t wait to offload him once she found out what he was really like and of course his failing health problems were quite inconvenient for her. Anyways, they got exactly what they wanted and deserved as far as I’m concerned. Me? I have a very peaceful, pleasant life now.

      • Mine promised her marriage, but once the divorce was final he made it clear to her and his family that he had no intention of ever marrying her! So much for that fantasy!

  • This was my situation. Apparently I married a cowardly loser. As the months and years are moving along, he is less and less attentive to our son. He lacks motivation to be a part of his life and then acts kinda sad sausage for not knowing what’s going on. My son sees already the change in their relationship. He told his friend the other day, “My mom is all I’ve got!” I loved and hated hearing that at the same time.

    It IS by God’s grace that he is not a NPD, Cluster B crazy person. I see that now. I have been given a great blessing in that. I was discarded and abandoned. He tried to tell everyone, including our 7 yo son (at the time) that “we grew apart”. No we didn’t. He cheated. He hated I told our son the truth. He hated anyone knowing the truth. Now, he and that OW live together. They moved in together before we were divorced.

    I am pretty close to Meh. I am now focusing on being a great single mom. Dating when I can but I know that is no longer a priority for me. I feel confident in who I am again. I know my strength and my mightiness. I know I love for real and I have some very healthy relationships with family and friends.

  • Mine waited about 20 years to rip to shreds our marriage. I think, that having kids and the limelight of being number one mom kept her fed for years. Once their need for her slipped and no one was particularly impressed with grown up kid pics, she showed her true self. Self absorbed self centered and went and did what she always wanted to do! Disordered in some way….. I should have realized it a bit more along the way but as usual I had my blinders on.

  • Exit affairs exist. It seems, however, these are mostly typical for female cheater. It goes like this: she turns 27 (the normal age is late 20-s to early 30-s), her (much older) boss who is more “successful” than her much younger hubby makes a move. She responds,
    then discards and “upgrades”.

    As a victim to one of these exit affairs, I disagree with CL that these abandoning I ice cold
    cheaters are more decent human beings than serial cheaters. Hurt1, it seems u got a male
    version. Probably “the boss” who made the move. I am sorry. He left because you aged, and he wants a new model to fuck. As simple as that. I am pretty disgusted for my gender.

  • See hurt1, it is not your fault you aged. These assswipes are just entitled to what they perceive as an upgrade even when they made a lifetime promise. They never truly stop looking for 1. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with such a person?

  • Long-time lurker, first time poster.
    Came here to say this: uncanny for CL to hit it on the nose about the difference between an NPD and garden-variety cheating scum.
    My narc did the same thing: wound me up until I was so upset I was dry-heaving on the floor of the bathroom, then opened the door to cheerfully ask if I wanted to watch some telly with him.
    Mission accomplished . . . in a day in the life of a sociopath, I guess.