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

cheater_overlapDear Chump Lady,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Strong

Dear Staying Strong,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not All About YOU.

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

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

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

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

That’s my hope anyway.

This column ran previously.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I believe the common cheater language thing points to the spiritual realm…it’s demonic. That makes sense in so much as how verbatim the responses are and how evillage plus destructive cheating is.

      • Regarding the sin/demonic aspect of adultery, I don’t think any “emotions” generated by affairs are ” love ” for the adultery partner, I think they are actually love for the sin itself.

        The cheaters become delusional in their own minds. I didn’t realize how delusional the ex had become until he said his co cheater girlfriend had ” the highest morals of anyone I know. “. That was truly the craziest thing I’d ever heard anyone say. I realized at that point he was not defending her, he was defending himself and his sinful ways.

        • I refuse to see any of the feelings he had towards his AP as “love”. Love comes from God, it is pure and clean and edifying. Love does not require betrayal and destruction to grow. I know he felt something and it was real to him, but I will never ever see it as “love”.

          • “I refuse to see any of the feelings he had towards his AP as “love”. Love comes from God, it is pure and clean and edifying”

            Narkles the Clown felt something real to him too, in his pants, that’s what he called love. Sadly I don’t think he knows there is a difference.

            And yes, Kay, the dead eyes. I’ll never forget that look.

            • AllOut….”Narkles the Clown felt something real to him too, in his pants, that’s what he called love”.
              SO TRUE!! Many out there, Women are not excluded (don’t want to get called out for being biased).

          • “Love does not require betrayal and destruction to grow”.
            I love that! Thank you!

          • Exactly, Unicorn. My notdeadhusband now says of the person he ‘couldn’t decide’ about, preferred over everything and destroyed himself and his family for …

            ‘she meant absolutely nothing’.

            Now that it is over. Wow, hope she never gets to find out she was used as a blank canvas.

        • Anita – Your ex was defending his sex supply. It was his way of justifying that he was porking a noble person. This reminds me of my cousin got involved with this girl on welfare who had 2 kids out of wedlock and had abandoned one of her kids and shipped him off to live with her mom. She couldn’t be bothered raising 2 kids, as it was too much for her. And my cousin kept telling us how this girl was so noble, kind and such a quality person. I laughed in his face and told him that he was the one having sex with her, and therefore, he wasn’t seeing her for who she was, total trash and a burden on society, who couldn’t even raise her own child (it was all his dick talking).

          • Yes, Kellia, they think calling their horniness for strange ass makes it more noble, some how. Not !!

          • Anita and Kellia – I would argue that nothing gets Narcissist off more than debasing and devaluing a person with Christian values. Ergo – Mr. Sparkles told this church-going woman that he was already separated, she buys the lie, oops turn out she was committing adultery… he wins for getting to her “sin” with him.

            It is never about love. It is always about control and manipulation.

            • I had very complicated and spotty religious experiences growing up. Regardless of my beliefs, I’ve think I’ve always respected different opinions and faiths as long as they hurt no one.

              I took a History of Christianity class. I was so excited for this and I love, absolutely love, discussing history. Looking back I suspect Fucktard was cheating or at least on the path at this time. I came home and was having a discussion with the kids about some of the more interesting aspects. My youngest was intent as we share common learning interests. Fucktard stood up and stormed from the room. I didn’t know what happened. He came back in and I won’t repeat what he said because I don’t want to offend anyone, but I couldn’t understand the anger. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that although his reaction was more over the top than normal, it was pretty normal for him. When he didn’t agree with an opinion or can’t get someone to renounce their faith because HE thinks it’s stupid, or hell, if someone watches a movie with subtitles, he is genuinely insulted. How narcissistic is that?

            • “It’s never about love. It’s always about control and manipulation.”

              Exactly this.

              They cannot love. They can only control and manipulate. That’s all they know. My STBX left his journal from AA/NA from 15 years ago. I opened it up. To have access to the inside of their mind straight from the source. I am so glad I saw that and read it. It was a reality check that I couldn’t deny and spackle. He says he cannot love. He can only control and manipulate. If his object does not comply, then intimidation and bullying are used. He was a serial cheater. It was all about being cool (having a harem) and catering to his feelings. That’s all that matters. HIM. He cannot care about anyone. Not even his mother and father and sister and brother. Not really. The narc has no empathy. No ability to care. The coworker who is 25 years younger than him that he moved in with…. he doesn’t love her. She’s a means to an end. She is a thing. An object. Because he says in his journal – women are objects. To make him feel good. But all the toys, the young girl, the working like crazy, the money, the new rented house in expensive neighborhood…. It all leaves them feeling empty… None of it satisfies. Because they are empty shells. He has been using intimidation and bullying to get me to accept a meager settlement. He told he since I won’t accept his ‘offer’ he will make me pay my attorney out the nose. Whatever. He told our daughter since I won’t accept his ‘generous’ offer that he will sell the house we live in and she will have to move. And oh how he tells her how greedy I am – out to destroy him!!!! My atty sent a letter for him to stop that asap. He doesn’t seem to have a clue that manipulating a little girl with the loss of her home is a bad thing. Because bullying and intimidation is done with no one in mind but themselves. It’s about winning. It’s about things. People cannot matter to them. They do not have the capacity. That is why reasoning with them gets you nowhere. They do not understand plain simple reasoning. They cannot. It’s like reasoning with a brick wall. It would actually be better to reason with a brick wall because the brick wall won’t gaslight and crazymake mindfuck blameshift you. Ah yes, the victim he is. The poor hapless victim who was driven to destroy a family – because he was unhappy. Ugh The insanity. What’s funny is to hear him say how this house is half his!! Ummm he abandoned this house 8 months ago and now I am paying the mortgage and all the bills, which he doesn’t want to help with… but it’s half his. It’s half his but makes me pay. While he rents expensive house and OW who pays half of their bills. But I’m here by myself because I will not have any other man help me – except my STBX – he is the one married to me and has obligations. But to them, they can skip out and everything should be OK – because he wants to be happy!
              All because he wants to be happy. Destruction in the name of his happiness!
              Disordered fuckwit. Yes.

        • Mine said that his gf was “the most honest person” he knew and that he would never lie to her. Uh, but: (a) if she was so honest, why was she fucking a married man; (b) it’s okay to lie to me?

          • Ha! Mine told me that under different circumstances, his mistresses and I would have been friends and that they were good people.
            I told him that I obviously have better taste and higher standards than he does, and that the “different circumstancs” would have to be my lobotomy.

            • I got a version of that too: “She’s actually your best friend, Muse!” … to which I asked “why is that?” Reply: “She wanted me to tell you about us.” OW was a total stranger to me and everyone in our family and friend circles… so NOT a friend, and she was fucking my boyfriend behind my back and in my house while I was at work, so again, NOT my friend. And seriously? He wasn’t going to tell me because he was enjoying cake, but she wanted him to dump me, so again… exactly how was she my friend in any sense of the word?

            • “Ha! Mine told me that under different circumstances, his mistresses and I would have been friends and that they were good people.
              I told him that I obviously have better taste and higher standards than he does, and that the “different circumstancs” would have to be my lobotomy.”

              Now I love this ^^^^ Amy Hunt !

              I was told the same thing but I didn’t have your sassy reply at the time !

            • Exactly. More of the script. Only mine wanted to bring this amazingly moral GOOD person home to live with us, not only because WE had so much in common, but because he loved us both and couldn’t decide. And he got in a RAGE and indignant when I said no and filed for divorce. How could he compare LOVE for someone he knew for 2 weeks and a wife and family he had for 25 years?????!!! Oh, and she’s spiritual and prayed for me. Don’t even get me started on THAT hypocrisy.

              • OMFG!!
                This does not compare (really, nothing compares to that ^^^) but my ex, when talking about his mistress told me “I think she is my soul mate.” Puh-lease. As soon as I kicked him out, he broke it off with her. His soul mates are a dime a dozen.

              • I just laugh whenever I hear “soul mate” now because I’ve heard it so often it has no meaning to me anymore.

                I picture some giant warehouse where these a-holes pick over a basket full of plastic-looking men and women with nothing to offer but blank stares and a willingness to say or do anything to make themselves seem special to these fuckwits. When one gets selected, he or she gets plopped into a shopping cart and taken home to be played with non-stop until his or her newness starts to fade and the sparkly bits flake off causing the fuckwit to get bored and begin the search for a newer, more sparkly soul mate.

              • Let me guess, he wore black when when Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life.

            • My cheater says I would like OW and we could be friends too! Amazing, must be another handbook chapter.

              I think it is so weird. I told him I don’t see that ever happening but I can’t predict the future, so who knows?! I am being as agreeable as possible and resisting the urge to editorialize anything I say – but seriously? Just why?

              • My Ex always trumpets what a good man HE is, as well as what exemplary qualities his mistresses have possessed. Maybe he is trying to convince himself…
                I shoot my mouth off too much, but only in person (not in text or email).
                One time he said “good people make mistakes.” I told him that is absolutely true, but does not apply in his case. He is not a good person and multiple affairs are not mistakes (nor is a single affair, in my opinion). He is not nearly as quick witted as I am and does not like the empowered, take no bullshit version of me he now has to contend with. He gets flustered and resorts to name calling. He called me an “ice cold bitch” which made me laugh out loud. Sticks and stones, buddy…

        • When I told my cheater about the lies the OW said to me about him (she was trying to manipulate me to leave him after he broke it off with her), he said “that’s how much she loves me. She’s willing to lie to get me”. I knew then and there that he was delusional and this circus had to end.

            • Since an obvious lack of morals didn’t concern him, I told STBX it was obvious I loved him more than his AP did because I wasn’t willing to share him with anyone. Whereas, she knew about me and didn’t care. (I confronted them.)

              It didn’t make any difference anyway because HE was the problem. He wanted something sparkly and new but without any consequences like losing his wife and family. He risked and lost it all for some drunk whore, the lousy cake eater.

              When he cried in the lawyer’s office and claimed he never thought it’d come to this, I shouted incredulously, “Really?! What exactly did you think would happen when you continued to two-time your wife?” He response was a pathetic, “I wasn’t thinking.”

              They suck.

              • I Wasn’t thinking.

                That was the best he could come up with?

                My STBX told me one time his dad had said, “He’s fast (On the motorcycle), but not too bright.”

                I’ll never forget it – because they are not too bright. Really. Not too bright. They can go fast. But they are not too bright. When I bring up facts all I get is name calling and threats. It’s so old. It’s like, really – that’s the best you can come up with? Yes, pathetic.

        • Anita, my ex said something very similar to that about ow, in addition to telling me what a good/wonderful mother she was….much better than I was….this ..the woman who left her own sons with her ex husband to live with my ex. And didn’t have a relationship with them for years (I dont know if they do now).

        • My ex’s smoopie who divorced her husband and moved in with ex, send me a email saying she is a good person!! Lol?
          You cheated on your husband for 2 years, ruined 2 families and you really think you are a good person !! Delusional much?

      • DM,

        I could not agree more. Cheating, imo IS demonic. Your link to the subject was excellent thank you.

      • Divorce Minister – Was glad to read on your blog that “the devil made me do it” is not an excuse in your eyes. Sadly, though, I think it is a convenient excuse for many cheaters who go to their pastors ONLY after D-Day. You’ve experienced being chumped first hand, but many of your colleagues have not and they rally around the battle cry that the cheater was somehow was overcome by satan. Cheaters are desperate to keep their image clean so the thought that satan was steering the boat absolves them of their wrong doing.

        I saw a man on Dr. Phil who molested his own six-year-old granddaughter. His explaination? Old Scratch got ahold of him. And now he’s turned back to god so it really wasn’t his fault. I think there is nothing more evil than someone who says they are a believer in god and then uses him to excuse their own disgusting behavior. I think god and satan are convenient excuses for people not to take responsiblility for their own actions. I also think that the majority of ministers give cheaters this get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s disgusting.

        • Uneffing; Saw this Dr. Phil too! His wife was trying to stick by him despite blowing up the whole family. Her pain and confusion was palpable, just awful.
          The Devil made him do it! That makes it OK, right? He is still a good guy, right?

          • Why do spouses stand by known pedophiles? If there is one thing that should be sacred in this world, it is a child’s sexual innocence. Knowing your husband sexually assaulted your granddaughter would, of course, cause pain. But confusion? No. If you can’t recognize that boundary as a hard & fast one, Dr. Phil is not going to save you.

            • I certainly would not be standing by him, over his limp lifeless body most likely, but not by him. I also can’t imagine the shock someone feels when they discover that they are married to a pedophile. The shock of Fucktard’s infidelity was staggering. Married to someone who did that, unimaginable.

            • Tempest – I could not believe that the wife thought the proper response was to never let “Grandpa” be alone with the granddaughter instead of outing him to the parents so that little girl could get help immediately. Saving face was of the utmost importance. I will never understand people who fell (like cheaters) that if others don’t know, it didn’t happen. If a tree falls in the forest . . . Pathetic.

        • Yes, this is true. Too many pastors are shy to teach basic Christianity where God holds us responsible for our choices and actions (see Mark 7:21-23 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). James 1 is clear about how we are led into sin by the wickedness already in one’s heart. The “devil made me do it” is not true. YOU FOLLOWED the Devil because YOU wanted to do that sin is more biblically accurate.

          Blame-shifting (even to the Devil) regarding pedophilia is a spiritually perilous “game” that a wise pastor would not be party to. We are stand with the vulnerable and few are more vulnerable then children.

      • That is an excellent post. It is a rare cheater who recognizes and accepts what you wrote.

          • DM – how do you counsel an adulterous family?

            I do get that piling in to the adulterer will simply cause him to feel picked on and not come back, so how do you handle this?

      • DM

        Thank you for this. Repeatedly throughout out marriage he wrote about his dark side. It was everpresent. There was always a line or two at the end about how I saved him from that darkness. He is pure evil. The last time I saw it with my own eyes and heard it’s ugly voice. The special one he found is just as evil and states she is a good Christian. Um, I don’t know any good Christians who taunt, belittle, and call the cheaters ex wife and mother of his children a frigid old c**t. He is evil. I see it clearly.

      • DM! Demonic for sure! (Love all the responses and comments to your statement of Truth!)

        The ‘fallen angels’ in Noah’s day are proof positive. Since they can no longer materialize & engage in such behavior themselves, they have to resort to driving others to perform the ‘acts’ so they can derive perverse pleasure at viewing the performance.

        I have read comments from people who do not even consider themselves to be spiritual or religious revealing that they saw nothing but demonic evil in the eyes and actions of a cheater.

        Know that is true of cheaterpants…..Evil, dark empty orbs where his eyes once were……Sick!

        Love to all as we all ForgeOn!

        • And just to clarify, I DO NOT believe satan can ‘make’ anyone do anything! My comment about the demons ‘driving others to perform’ is not to be taken literally! Please……

          A person who engages in such hurtful behavior has made a free-will choice. They have purposefully chosen to act in a foul, disgusting, demonic way. They have freely turned to the dark side.

          The “Devil Made Me Do It” is sooooo totally not a Bible teaching!

      • Divorce Minister, I agree with you.

        Fr Sparkles McFondle is very big on the devil and his influence in the modern world. He is an enthusiastic – almost comically enthusiastic – follower of the strangest apparitions, prophecies and warnings you can come up with. The more fringe, the better. We have argued over this and he actually told me, ‘I like to be at the edge’. I thought, mmmm OK …

        But you see, his (admitted, proven, bona fide, demonstrable) sexual affair with a parishioner – which follows an earlier emotional affair with another lady parishioner, in another parish, several years earlier – is the work of the devil. He told me this himself. He believes that he is the focus of a special diabolical attack because he is such a good priest.

        This is all part of the ‘end times’ narrative in which he is trying to hide – I think he secretly hopes the end of the world will come before the local bishop has a chance to settle his hash!

        And the awful thing is – and I told them this in the investigation – that given our church’s track record, he is very likely to be left in his parish with minimal consequences.

        If this happens, he will believe utterly and completely that he has been specially protected by God, and has ‘won’ against the wicked machinations of the devil, the weak bishop, and of course the Wicked Women who have lured him off the straight and narrow with their home-baked dinners.

        How’s that for managing the narrative? God’s been conscripted into this as the supporting cast for Fr Sparkles’ personal passion play.

        It would be comical if it weren’t so heartbreaking.

        And of course in our last argument, he told me that the reason I struggled to forgive him is because I was in love with him, and he had ‘realised’ that recently. The guy’s vanity and idiocy know no bounds. He cannot be argued with, reasoned with, or even spoken to.

        I do believe in the devil, and I do believe Fr Sparkles has had a bad encounter with the devil, but that’s because he allowed himself to be tempted beyond his strength, and enjoyed every minute of it. Now he’s been caught, he doesn’t like the consequences.

        He told me that I was trying to destroy him by being involved in the investigation. I told him ‘You did this to yourself’. But any mention of his role in the matter, his poor choices, and the multiple warnings he received about the lady in question, are all met with rage, denial and blaming.

        Personally I think he is a sociopath. He has blamed everyone for his fall except himself, he shows no remorse, and he has very grandiose ideas about his role in the scheme of things. But he was ordained at a time when our diocese didn’t screen candidates very closely, so them’s the breaks.

        Hey ho. Moving on …

    • I am sure this is true. I come from a Catholic tradition where we believe that some sin (venial) is ill-advised and a weight to your soul but you remain in Communion with God…some sin (mortal) is so severe that when you freely and knowingly choose it, you break your bond with God and the Holy Spirit leaves you. So when you invite this evil by your own actions you then leave yourself open for the continued influence of evil.

      During the worst parts of his monster phase, my late husband was evil and resented any goodness that came close to him…it was as if he invited evil to set a bonfire in our house.

      I have observed that the same people who claim they would die to protect their families…if told just the right lies at the right time…will destroy their families themselves from the inside and be rather thorough about it.

      I was strong in my prayerful defense of my family at the time, but I stayed and submitted to too much abuse. You can pray for their soul from afar while you rebuild your life.

      • THIS
        I have observed that the same people who claim they would die to protect their families…if told just the right lies at the right time…will destroy their families themselves from the inside and be rather thorough about it.

        I think for many that claim (willing to die) is more egotistical than loving (or even biological). Nobody is allowed to hurt “their” family, “their kids”, “their” spouse…(except for maybe them, of course).

      • “You can pray for their soul from afar while you rebuild your life.”

        This +1000.

      • Bingo. They all do and say the same stuff because it’s all the same source.

    • I believe there is something demonic to it as well. The black holes for eyes. The rotting smell. The depths of his anger and abuse.

      My X is a Minister. I believe he is a narc or at least has some sort of cluster B issue. But some of the stuff he did was inhuman.

      And yes – word for word out of the hand book. Even the speech on BD.

      4 years out last week and divorced one year ago. Yipee!!!

      • So glad you are out of that, Lucky. I think the RIC is so popular because it fails to address the real issues, and all of their solutions are in the Physical realm, not the Spiritual realm where they should be. Almost any cheater who has been through their superficial Reform programs have never addressed the true nature of what they have done. They will pretend they are different, but when pushed will become defensive, angry that you haven’t “forgiven”, still basically doing the same shit on the down low, and waiting for the next time you give them a Reason to Cheat. Ie, you don’t give sex on demand anymore, you pay Too Much Attention to the children, you get tired of dressing like a porn star to hold their attention, gain a few pounds, etc.

        • Or you simply don’t happen to be at the same location as they are for 15 minutes or more. Sometimes that is the only “reason” needed.

          • No shit, Dixie! That was my JAMF’s excuse. Fucking niwits, the lot of them.

      • Black holes for eyes. Rotting smell. Inhuman.

        Reading these comments kind of scared the crap out of me! The smell of my STBX before he moved out was so pungent and nauseating, I couldn’t get rid of it in the guest bathroom after he moved out. I always loved his natural smell, but this odor was weird, toxic.

    • Divorce Minister, what you said struck such a chord with me. My XH was studying to be a Pastor himself when I finally discovered what was going on.

      He seemed to really believe that he had kicked the evil one out of his life during a dream and that he then had the Holy Spirit in him. He had me, our Methodist Pastor and our whole, albeit small, congregation fooled.

      I was confused when instead of our married getting better as time went on, he started to become more secretive, moody, angry and mean to me. He would play the God Loving, happy-go-lucky church guy in front of everyone else but at home he was distant and seemed to start arguments with me on purpose. I started to suspect what was going on and started spying. I not only learned about his current sexcapades with his howorkers at the nursing home where he was the janitor, but learned he had been messing around during our entire previous 18 years of marriage.

      What drove the knife in even deeper was learning that his weekly private “Bible Studies” with our Pastor were really their gossip sessions where he told our Pastor terrible lies about me and our Pastor really seemed to get off on hearing all about what XH was doing with the howorkers. It was pathetic and sickening. Then the kicker… Pastor tells XH that it’s ok to divorce me because “God wants you to be happy” and tells the rest of the congregation that I am mentally imbalanced and lying about the infidelities.

      I KNOW that Satan had a huge laugh over it all. They were right where he wanted them and he didn’t even have to lift a finger.

      • This is treacherous. I cannot fathom how messed up you must have felt. I’m so sorry.

      • Now I Know . . . – The ministry is like a sirens sigh to narcissists. Think about it – every Sunday they have the rapt attention of their “flock”. People go to them with problems in their lives and believe that the wisdom imparted to them is somehow divine. They have the perfect cover to be awful human beings because they believe (and sadly, for the most part it’s true) that they are beyond reproach in the eyes of the congregation. As if god vets them prior to them becoming a minister.

        They somehow think they are bullet-proof. I’ve read about ministers who kill their spouse because they are having affairs and they somehow think killing another human being is better than being known as a cheater. There is nothing more narcissistic than that.

        I think it’s amazing that people like your ex and his minster friend don’t think their god is watching them. I don’t know how they rationalize that they are “men of god” and then behave like in such evil ways.

        • My ex is a former pastor, too. I think you are so right about the ministry being so attractive to narcs for the reasons you said. Happens all the time. It’s terrible!

        • Yes, the glow of the Sunday morning lights and the platform to hear one’s voice does tend to attract Narcs. But not all of us are Narcs 😉

          • Of course not, DM. I just find it fascinating that those two diametrically opposed worlds collide so often.

      • Scripture teaches that God gives us over to our sin eventually. Romans 1. This is something I observed in my ex-wife as time went on regarding the infidelity and her lack of repentance. It was as if God handed her over to her lies to the point where I doubt she had the capacity to discern between the truth and a lie. The conscience slowly dies like limbs numbed by cold water.

        • Yeppers…..Or the illustration the scriptures use: ‘Seared in their conscience as with a branding iron’. Same end result……No feeling

          And they choose this willingly!

          However, IMHO, I believe they do still know the difference between truth and lie. They just choose to ignore the difference…..They love the lie way better!

    • D M, this makes a lot of sense. There were times in my marriage to my narc-ex that I felt that I was speaking to a demon. I have seen evil. I was married to it.

  • Excellent advise. I lived separately from my abusive husband for 6 years after he walked out on us one evening and i didnt allow him back. We continued as a family the only difference being that we slept in different homes. My boys and myself had the sanctuary of our own home (which was purchased with my inheritance incidently) after my oldest son bought him out and i repaid him later. Slightly bitter about that one as i had suffered so much financial abuse over the 27 years we were together and he walked away with my parents money. I am so thankful that I made the decision to do this at the time, as my children were their most impressionable age at this point. Them being the first and most important people in my life. He done so much appearing and disappearing, in and out of their lives his influence was almost zilch (he is only interested in them as a tool to manipulate and suck me back in) he also never allowed me to move forward always controlling everything I done and constantly checking up. I accept full responsibility for that, I know I made mistakes and never felt strong enough to lawyer up and let go. I think that was because I wanted my marriage that I signed up for. I can now reflect on those years and understand how much it protected them from the pain and issues I have due to it all. I have four well grounded, compassionate, beautiful children who will hopefully go on to be successful adults. My oldest is already there. My point to this is…the outcome could have been so very very different if I hadn’t changed the circumstances at the time. Hope this makes sense to you all, I’m not the best writer in the world.
    Love to you all xx

  • “It’s not all about you” – thanks CL, I will add that to my stock of parenting phrases! I just hope the narc genes that seem to express themselves strongly in my ex and all his male relatives can be modified with good-enough parenting and the removal of the role model.

    • I give my kids the ‘it’s not all about you’ message, but never use those words, as they can make people (especially over-sensitive teenagers!) feel attacked. I point out other people’s concerns in a situation (ie, now there are no dry towels and hot water for my shower), I ask them how they think the other person feels, I remind them of how good they feel when they take others into consideration or act in an altruistic manner. Our daughter seems to have gotten the narc genes, but so far seems to have a decent balance, although she needs reminding!

      I also struggle with encouraging our son to be assertive, as he has a softer temperament, and can give in too easily, or resort to passive resistance. Learned when trying to deal with an over-critical narc father. Sigh.

      It’s not easy to raise kids who have the narc genes and/or who observed so much narc behaviour over the years, and so many years of the other partner accepting poor treatment. It’s the main reason I wish I had left my ex long before I did. Around the time of Affair #1 would have been good …. Ah well, when we know better we do better.

  • I think the ONE fear I have after this, is that my kids will turn out the same as my STBX. But, I can only lead by setting a good example. And getting a divorce from the low life is the first step. Showing them that it’s not ok to be treated this way, and showing them that I have morals.

    • With a mixed result, my kids are more like their father than Im comfortable with. I thought they would respond more to my positivity and nurturing and I would save them from his influence (while still in the same house). I thought the benefits of them living with their dad outweighed the drawbacks, but I may have been wrong.

    • I’ve said before in posts here that I don’t know if my D is a narcissist like her dad or just a typical entitled teen/young adult. She displays a lot of the characteristics – kind when it’s to her advantage to be, says the right things but doesn’t always do what she says, manipulative, etc. She’s had issues with her college roommates but it’s always their fault (according to her). I worry but I have to take care of me and make sure I stand my ground with her and not be used by her.

        • Yep, it also really hard to sort out the traumatized kid from the teenaged asshole for me.

          I use ‘soft’ consequences. Example-she wants to learn to drive, and keeps asking when I will teach her. I keep replying that will be after she has a permit, which means getting the book, learning, and passing a test. I don’t there’s anything Narcy about it, apart from her harping on the step she wants to be at, not the steps it will take her to get there.

    • I have one son and he is now grown. He is a really good person but emotionally distant. I worry that he will be like his father, although I already know that he has strong morals, is honest and is a good person.

    • For the past two years, I have very much feared that my kiddo might turn into a similar kind of self-absorbed liar that her dad turned out to be… I keep forging on, doing my best to be the sane parent, to model integrity and open communication. Once my kiddo is a grown woman, I hope to never have to face situations in which she chooses lies and deceit over a life of honesty.

      If I have to though, I know that I have and can use my hard-earned chump wisdom and resilience to overcome that new reality and forge on to a self-respecting and integrity-filled state of Meh.

  • My ex was in cheater chatrooms before he – or parts of his anatomy – “took the plunge.” I can’t help but think that these places are depraved support groups and primers for the morally underserved. My chump self didn’t even know such places existed until I found the emails from his (all female) buddies. One correspondence was basically him and his pal rationalizing for each other all of the horrible stuff they were doing by cheating on their spouses. They both “deserved” more passion and new experiences. They both claimed to “love” their spouse, but c’mon! And they offered suggestions for each other on how best to deceive and get away with it. It made me sick to my stomach, not only for myself, but for all the other chumps out there.

    As for the origins of heinous, cheating beasts, I do think my ex’s upbringing has a lot to do with it. His parents, especially his mother, think he can do no wrong – even when faced with incontrovertible evidence. They blame me for the breakup of the marriage and the crappy relationship their son – and by extension themselves – have with my kids.

    As for how not to raise a narcissist – I use my in-laws as stellar examples of what not to do.

    • I think the people they hang out with (in real life or chat rooms or FB) absolutely are a part of it. That’s probably one way the verbatim rationalizations get spread around. Cheese Fries picked up a group of new friends in the last years of our marriage that I was always uncomfortable around. Which is unusual for me because I tend to get along with everyone. Now I know why they gave me the creeps … pack of self-centered, entitled assholes.

      Your description of your ex’s upbringing matches my ex to a T.

      • Yes – the ‘new friends!’ With my X – he started hanging out with ‘kids’ that were 15 years younger. We also had an annual camping trip with friends every year and everyone was welcome. Well the past 3 years we had gone, these low-life trailer trash losers would come camping “with us.” More alcoholics and assholes (yea!) What was always a lot of fun for 15+ years ended up to be a place I hated going the last 3 years because of the company asswipe started keeping.

        I also agree with Staying Strong.
        “There seems to be a rise in entitled, non-empathic, self serving, self-promoting, lazy humans.”
        TOTALLY! Me and Over and Out were talking about that a few days ago. I’m trying to figure out what the hell has happened myself! I can tell you my parents generation had a lot more respect for people than my kids’ generation. Pretty sad!

    • Absolutely true, thinking your children hung the moon, and conveying that to them, with no/few actual consequences for bad behavior creates narcissism:

      I’m not sure if was the study described in the article or not, but one research project asked parents to check off the books their children had read. It included many classics, but also one or two nonexistent books; parents who checked off that their child had read the made-up book/s were more likely to have narcissistic children.

      • Tempest, thanks for posting the WP article. I, too struggled with doing my damnedest to make sure my kids did not turn out like their narcopath dad. There is definitely a genetic component that can somewhat be mitigated by environmental influences (like strong parenting).

        My son is the spitting image of his dad. When he was young and began to verbalize things like “boys are smarter than girls” and “I’m the smartest person in my class” and I had to call him on his bullshit. He was a difficult child who did not want to be “controlled”, so he was a constant challenge to parent. I gave him the same opportunity as his sister to go to college, and he pissed it away. He lived free (on me and his dad) in another town supposedly going to community college and partied his life away with no transcripts to show for it. After 2 years of that (I know, too long–but remember I’m a recovering Chump) I cut off the funds. He was evicted from his lodgings and had to become a responsible adult because nobody was going to enable him anymore.

        I didn’t hear from him for a long time. At first I’m sure it was because he was pissed, but later he verbalized to his sister that the continued lack of contact was because he was ashamed of his behavior and wanted me to be proud of him.

        Fast forward, he is now gainfully employed, recently promoted, in a committed relationship and the father of twin babies. We are closer than ever. Funny how having children of your own makes you understand the sacrifices your parents made for you.

        I have not spoken to either of my kids about the details of my narc abuse. Recently I have made a promise to myself to no longer hold back on what happened to me in my marriage to his dad or to my most recent narc-ex (yes, I’m a serial chump working hard on fixing my picker) when it is relevant to the current situation. I don’t want to be a whiner or seem bitter, but want the kids and the rest of the world to know the truth, so as to hopefully provide insight and prevent them from repeating my mistakes.

        In a recent heart to heart talk, my son revealed how he struggles with a lack of empathy. He knows it’s abnormal, and it bothers him. I had the empathy talk with his dad once, and he said to me that he simply did not have the capacity to put himself in someone else’s shoes. In hindsight I now know he was being truthful with me. I told my son that he may indeed have the genetic predisposition for psychopathy, but he IS NOT HIS DAD! Unlike his dad, he has insight and furthermore has the free will to choose to do the right thing. He is choosing to be a good employee, a good partner, and a good daddy and I could not be prouder of him!

        • Peaceatlast–you’re a great mother, and your son is striving to live up to your expectations. It’s unfortunate that quality parenting often means doing what most pains us (letting our children suffer, albeit from their own actions), but great to hear that it pays off. Very sweet that he’s trying to be more empathetic, too.

          • I dunno if empathy in true sense can ever be taught, but the next best thing is critical thinking.

            • If he is genetically missing that part of his brain, you’re right I don’t know if it can truly be taught. But like someone who cannot walk who uses a wheelchair for mobility, I’m hoping there is some work around if there is truly the desire and insight.

            • Although there is a genetic component, empathy absolutely can be taught, at least in early childhood. These excerpts are from an excellent research synopsis (link below; plus one additional link for people who are interested):

              –MOTHERS whose behavior toward their preschool children is RESPONSIVE,
              NONPUNITIVE, AND NONAUTHORITARIAN have children who have higher levels
              of affective and cognitive empathy and prosocial behavior (Eisenberg, Lennon, and Roth
              1983; EisenbergBerg and Mussen 1978; Kestenbaum, Farber, and Sroufe 1989; and
              Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King 1979).

              –REASONING WITH CHILDREN, even quite small ones, about the effects of their
              behavior on others and the importance of sharing and being kind is effective in promoting
              empathy and prosocial behavior (Clarke 1984; Kohn 1991; Ladd, Lange, and Stremmel
              1983; and Zahn-Waxler, RadkeYarrow, and King 1979).

              and toward others in the children’s presence–is strongly related to children’s development
              of prosocial attitudes and behavior (Eisenberg-Berg and Mussen 1978; Kohn 1991;
              McDevitt, Lennon, and Kopriva 1991; and Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King
              –WHEN CHILDREN HAVE HURT OTHERS or otherwise caused them distress, research
              supports the practice of giving explanations as to why the behavior is harmful and
              suggestions for how to make amends (Kohn 1991; and Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and
              King 1979).


            • Although there is a genetic component, empathy absolutely can be taught if you start in early childhood. This is an excerpt from the first link below (an excellent research synopsis); additional link included:

              –MOTHERS whose behavior toward their preschool children is RESPONSIVE,
              NONPUNITIVE, AND NONAUTHORITARIAN have children who have higher levels of affective and cognitive empathy and prosocial behavior (Eisenberg, Lennon, and Roth 1983; EisenbergBerg and Mussen 1978; Kestenbaum, Farber, and Sroufe 1989; and Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King 1979).

              –REASONING WITH CHILDREN, even quite small ones, about the effects of their behavior on others and the importance of sharing and being kind is effective in promoting empathy and prosocial behavior (Clarke 1984; Kohn 1991; Ladd, Lange, and Stremmel 1983; and Zahn-Waxler, RadkeYarrow, and King 1979).

              –PARENTAL MODELING OF EMPATHETIC, CARING BEHAVIOR toward children–and toward others in the children’s presence–is strongly related to children’s development of prosocial attitudes and behavior (Eisenberg-Berg and Mussen 1978; Kohn 1991; McDevitt, Lennon, and Kopriva 1991; and Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King 1979).

              –WHEN CHILDREN HAVE HURT OTHERS or otherwise caused them distress, research supports the practice of giving explanations as to why the behavior is harmful and suggestions for how to make amends (Kohn 1991; and Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King 1979).

              –PARENTS ENCOURAGING SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN TO DISCUSS THEIR FEELINGS AND PROBLEMS is positively related to the development of empathy in those children (Clarke 1984).


              • Tempest, you rock! Thanks for your reply and the link. I definitely worked hard with him as a child and also moved him far away from his dad, so limited that negative influence.

                After thinking about my conversation about empathy with my son, I think he may be comparing himself to me (an empath).

      • Thanks for the link — great article!

        Question is, what ever happened to shame? Why is this so out of favour with parents? When it’s deployed appropriately (such as feeling deep shame for one’s terrible actions that have harmed something or someone, as opposed to something un-shameable like one’s gender, skin colour, appearance, etc) it’s the one useful and powerful emotion that keeps children and adults from doing horrible things to others. Good parents need to teach their children shame in a healthy way, not spend the rest of their lives tripping all over themselves to defend and excuse their children from ever feeling the searing hot pain of shame after they’ve done something hideous.

      • Tempest, thank you! It’s a great article. Just my opinion, but it’s working on all of the article’s links.

    • I really do not know “why” re the FOO issues so I try not to go there mentally– the bottom line is that whatever the reasons, I know the outcome: STBX cheated for years, lied for years, betrayed and abused and blamed and devalued and then discarded me and our kids and our pets and our community. I focus today on what I can do: make a new life free of him!

      But, my STBX’s mother is a hateful narc hypochondriac who blames everyone for everything — she’s the most selfish person I’ve ever known. She says STBX was a horrible brat as a little kid and she says she used to lock him in his room, hit him with wooden spoons, etc. she seems to intensely dislike STBX to this day, but then again, she finds fault in everyone! She hates her own grandkids, even the little ones. STBX’s father adored him but he fished in AK and was gone 9 mos out of every year. MIL is and was super jealous of the love FIL has for STBX. FIL is the most co-dependent person I’ve ever known. He can’t even go to the bathroom without MIL’s permission. Sickening! Good riddance!

      • Wow, that gives me a lot of insight into my former in laws. FIL is blindly devoted to MIl. She is all about herself, and claims her kids’ successes as her own – she raised them SO well. FIL is a recovering alcoholic – sober 40+ years. Maybe she became what he transferred his dependence to.
        In any case, they have not reached out to me since ex told them I wanted a divorce. Possibly because I told him that I was glad to be getting free of his entire fucked up family. I am sure he gleefully shared that with them to illustrate what a horrible person I am.
        Their loss. Since kids are with me 95% of the time, and I no longer facilitate the relationships (which is not to say I prohibit or discourage them, I just don’t do the work of sending updates, school pics, gifts, etc) they have pretty much dumped my kids too. The whole family sucks. Thank god the kids take after my side…
        Thanks for the insight!

      • I told Fucktard early on in our marriage that if I had met his family before I married him, we never would have married. I thought it was a mean comment for me to make. He said that is why he didn’t bring me to New York sooner.

  • I agree, Divorce Minister. I had never seen ex act like he did when he was in the midst of his adultery, or defending it. He even looked like a different person, extremely ugly. I hope his girlfriend got to experience that a couple of times but I doubt it. It’s different than anything else you can experience.

    • @Anita, I also saw exH’s face change a couple of times during wreckonciliation. Pure evil. I am absolutely convinced how dark and demonic adultery is.

  • “It’s not all about you.” That pretty much sums up the lecture I gave my teenage daughter last week. Hopefully it will sink in …

    However, I diverge on one point – that not all cheaters “benefitted” from entitlement as children. My ex lived a very “suppressed” childhood because his father and stepmother were (and still are – so glad to be out of that screwed up family) so entitled that the kids couldn’t do anything, had no say in their own lives …

    As an adult my ex slowly but surely followed the parental schema. He was entitled to a huge car. He was entitled to a 25,000$ motorcycle with his bonus while all of my bonuses went to shared expenses (the house, vacation …) or to paying off his purchases. He was entitled to go on fishing trips with the guys while I stayed at home with our daughter and never went away on my own. He was entitled to not be blamed for hooking up with his HS GF.

    Now he is entitled to be divorced and dealing with the consequences.

    I just hope that my daughter doesn’t turn into that sort of adult herself as her dad often puts her on the back burner to his entitlement.

  • Amy Hunt, I lay a lot of cheater ex’s lack of character with his parents, just due to the fact that they didn’t bring him up properly. But I don’t really believe it was that they thought he was that great. I think it was their own basic selfishness and lazyness.

    His mother, especially, wasn’t going to correct this guy in any of his misbehavior because of the consequences it would have for HER. She’s a passive-aggressive old bat who wants to be seen as a victim all the time. She’s not going to jeopardize her place in Sonny boy’s life by doing anything that would put her in a bad light with him. She is a sorry excuse for a parent.

    • You nailed it Anita with the old bat thing! My ex MIL had always “bragged” that my ex was a handful, troubled, etc. She even defended my ex’s affair by saying it wasn’t “sleazy”, that the her son had “a spark back in his eyes” etc. Garbage, all of it.

      What I see clearly now is a woman desperate to maintain some sort of relationship with her son (he couldn’t be bothered when we were together) that she is willing to ignore his immoral, disgusting behavior. Behaviors she has judged brutally in anyone else are perfectly acceptable in her sons case.

      Delusional. It’s clear where my ex gets it now….

      • Pondscumbegone, ex mil told me I “imagining” things, even though he had admitted cheating (although didn’t admit sex) and I had proof he was dating a whore. I’m just glad she showed me what she really was, and was able to wash my hands of her at that point.

  • Love seeing this post today. This is exactly how Cheese Fries was brought up: “I do think that many cheaters have huge senses of entitlement that were fed as children. You’re a very special golden child, better than all the other children. They weren’t called out on their selfishness, instead their “superiority” was celebrated and encouraged.”

    Since the separation, I’ve been wondering how to make sure my two boys don’t grow up to be like their father.

    This weekend it dawned on me that I also want to make sure they don’t grow up to be chumps.

    Any ideas on that?

    • It was different for mine. The other way they can become narcissistic is neglect. I believe mine was neglected because his narcissistic father didn’t want to work leaving his mom to slave away to work and pay for 7 kids along with picking their favorite son to put on a pedestal… he was totally neglected and treated like they didn’t even like him once he became an adult. He was basically discarded by his’s sad but I don’t think an excuse for choosing to behave the way he did.

      • My ex husband was a middle child and treated horribly by his mother, who was always angry. His father was agreeable but distant and uninvolved. Even when we were very young, he was always trying to make his parents love him. But, you know what? I also had a shitty childhood, with a very angry dad and a mother who was cold and unloving. I didn’t turn out to be a cheating lying angry sack of shit, but I did turn out to be co-dependent and an enabler. I guess we found our way to each other because we were both looking to be loved. I wanted one person to love and cherish me. He wanted many people to love and cherish him, and when I got older and fatter- replaced me! He would always tell me that it wasn’t about me. So I would wonder, when would my life actually be about me?

      • I agree that neglect and parents putting their needs consistently over those of their children can also create narcicistic, entitlement behavior. That was the case with my ex as I said above. His father and stepmother were only concerned with their lives, what they wanted to do and the kids never had their say. They are very “entitled” people.
        I think that his growing sense of entitlement through our marriage was partially from seeing his parents indulge in all their desires and his need to fill a void (financially and emotionally).
        But it definitely doesn’t excuse the shitty behavior.

    • I think that besides loving them, the best thing you can do is get to know them and their friends. It’s hard to imagine that kids raised in the same house can be so different, but they are. I also recommend a mix between kind honesty, brutal truth and humor, whatever is called for at the time. Here are some of my common themes to raising two boys.

      1. Yes, I do like your brother better than you. He hasn’t come to me today with ridiculous assertions. That was yesterday. Then I liked you better than him.
      2. I’m proud that you stood up for that kid that was getting bullied. But next time, try to negotiate in school suspension.
      3. You’re bored because you’re boring. Now go entertain yourself with something non lethal while I finish this project.
      4. I can’t believe you threw a rock at your brother. Look at the bump on his forehead. Now go in the woods and find me a bigger rock so I can throw it at you. Yes, it will hurt, but much less than saying you’re sorry and thinking about it while you weed my garden for the next hour. And take your brother with you so he can laugh at you.
      5. You decapitated the wooden rocking horse your grandfather made you? Well, get your coat on, we’re going over to his house and you are going to tell him. About 15 years later….you backed my car into a pole, well, it’s just a scratch, but start saving for the repair.
      6. Yes I got rid of the van and bought a much smaller car. You’re starting to drive and you’re dating. Do I look stupid?
      7. Quit using all the towels and spending an hour in the shower. What are you doing in there for God’s sake. No, never mind. I don’t want to know.

      • lmao, Annie–you’re my kind of mother!

        Don’t forget:

        1-Yes, DD, I did just call you an asshole, because you’re behaving like an asshole.

        2-Making you a moral person, having you graduate high school and get into college, turning you into a responsible citizen–all in my job description. Making you like me? Nope, not in my job description.

        3-DD: “Mom, all my friends can do___X___!!”
        Mom: “They don’t live here.”

        • 1-3 word for word. And let’s not forget, “I’m being mean, unreasonable, and punishing you because I love your company. I’d much rather have you mope around the house in despair and agony then be with your friends. It’s fun for me.”

      • I like to remind my teen that I’m contractually obligated to feed, clothe, house, and educate him, but that’s about it.

        • I always tell my kids that. I think I use the words “legally obligated” in place of “contractually”. I also tell them they have to go to school because it is against the law to stay home when they don’t have a good reason.

    • Yes, really good question that I’ve given a lot of thought. Besides divorcing the asshat, the next most important thing I felt I could do for my kids was to raise my standards and take better care of myself. I’m working on improving my relationship skills. One example is how I used to actively refuse reciprocity from my kids. Of course I accepted their hand-drawn pictures and things like that, but I was too far in the direction of martyrdom than most other people. I realized I was modeling unhealthy behavior when I refused to let them show me their love and appreciation in different ways. I think that if you want them to enjoy better relationships and not turn into little narcissists, you have to practice the necessary skills that make healthy relationships work. To me, that includes reciprocity, empathy, mutuality and compromise…all things that were missing from my marriage to an asshat.

  • Reminding our kids that “it’s not all about you” helps! I’m also trying to look out for these kinds of moral stories in everyday situations and in the movies/TV shows they watch so that we can discuss them (the good and the bad).

  • My ex s entitlement didn’t come from his parents exactly …. they had 2 golden girls whom my ex was always pointing out ….”oh they got whatever they wanted” ….When he became a wage earner ….he began treating himself and always had to have better than anyone else…..With his desire to have the best ….he himself raced to the bottom by over indulging himself in any way he could.

    5 years ago yesterday was our D day….since then…..he married and bought himself a display home….a suv and a sports car…..complaining to his dad that he couldn’t afford to pay his child support. He has already cheated on his new wife (whom I call Lola. …kinks song) don’t feel sorry for her though ….she did exactly the same to her husband and kids as he did. They have just sold their dream home…..and are going to rent ….I m not sure which one will take the money and run first ….but I m sure it’s on the cards…..ands he is trying to cheat again…..and she is as stable as a house built on quicksand….drinking problems thrown in for good measure….. I have my popcorn for the show

  • Regarding the Playbook, alcoholic and abusers have one of their own as well. My first husband was both of these, and I researched it all very thoroughly, just like I did latest ex’s adultery. I was just shocked and amazed that nothing any of these groups of people do is original, in any way. It’s all laid out there in the books for you, action by action, word for word.

  • These narcissistic entitled brats really are so much the same. I agree that a large portion of not raising narcissistic little brats is making them take responsibility for their actions. Also, not remaining a chump. I’ll never forget a few weeks after DDay happened, my 4 year old daughter came to me and said:

    “Mommy, Daddy doesn’t have his own bed.” The ex was sleeping on the couch.
    I realized that in house separation was hurting my children also, but as it was just before Christmas, I decided that I would wait till right after the holidays. I put him out January 8. I realized that I wanted to show my children that actions have consequences. And although I never told them exactly the reason why their father am I divorced, they know that their father did some bad things to me and this is the result.

    We have no guarantees where our children are concerned, but we can teach them the correct values and pray that they follow them in their lives.

    • Amen. Without knowing particulars, kids should be taught that some behaviors destroy relationships, and that some things are unforgivable, and that you deserve to be treated well and respected.

  • I think there are really very few options for people who want to justify what they are doing, either when they know what they are doing is wrong or they can’t admit to themselves…and that it isn’t limited to cheating. So, there is denial or minimization or (which is a form of denial, IMHO) and gaslighting (the Chumps must be crazy!) and then there is blaming Chumps (if Chumps did/didn’t do these things or those things they wouldn’t have “had” to do what they did…Chumps must take responsibility for what Chumps did to contribute to Cheaters making the choices they made). It’s all really all a bunch of bullshit, IMHO, and, in retrospect, I can’t believe I fell for any of it (especially since I’m such an advocate of personal responsibility and I don’t let myself off the hook for my choices!). If Cheaters had any integrity, they would either not cheat in the first place and work on the marriages that are so intolerable to them or they would end the marriages and then start pursing other relationships.
    This whole experience has been an insight into human nature for me…were it not for CN, I think I would lose hope that there are indeed people in the world with loyalty and integrity.

  • I was amazed when I first came here and started to read. So many things started to make sense about cheater ex and our marriage. So many things I had blamed myself for turned out to be straight out of the crazy narc playbook.

    Even though it had been quite a while since I had to deal with cheater ex and his toxicity, I was and am still healing and learning. Figuring out what was really going on back then, by coming to Chumplady and learning, has given me a measure of peace that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere.

    Another wonderful side effect of this site is being able to fix my picker. I can spot a narc by their behavior, and I am gone, baby, gone. So knowing a bit about the playbook and connecting the dots is a very good thing.

    Plus the support here is priceless. You all understand what it is like to walk through this hellish journey, and the damage it leaves behind. And you also understand what it is to have the courage to pick yourself up and get on with life, doing the best that you can with less than great circumstances. The optimistic and plucky chumps here are lifesavers, and I absolutely love the fact that we are willing to tell the brutal truth to help other chumps see their situation more clearly. Guess what I am saying is that each one of you is precious in your own special way, and have enriched my life on so many ways. I thank you all for being here.

  • It is so validating to come to this website and realize how these cheaters operate the same way. It’s the same crap of gaslighting, invalidating, verbal abuse. It’s so nice to have the internet where we can validate each other with our experiences. And yes, these cheaters are disordered and the more we arm ourselves with knowledge of how they operate, the less they stand a chance at using us. Finding these boards, has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. The advise and wisdom on these boards is invaluable and a life saver. Thank you Chumplady!

    • Yes!!
      I was very ashamed for a long time. That kept me quiet, except for telling a few friends and my family.
      Shame is a terrible thing and I think it is especially damaging to chumps. I was ashamed that my ex cheated, ashamed that I wasn’t enough, that I was so clueless, that I tried so hard and for so long to make a fucked up marriage “work” when it never actually had. Sites and boards like this remind me that there are, unfortunately, tons of kind, loving, funny, intelligent, attractive people who share a lot of my experiences. I am not alone. And I am working hard on abandoning my shame.

      • THIS by thousands!!
        But once you finally realize that the shame is not yours to bear-it is like having the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders!!!!

  • The common playbook thing really is fascinating. Once you do reach the level of enlightened chump, you see this pattern . It is baked into the human genome.

    You see dead people little boy in that M.Night Shyamalan movie? Well I see narcissists, the veil has been lifted. Politicians (both parties, but Trump deserves special platinum attention, he’s the best, believe me), my ex, business associates, bosses, plumbers, surgeons, relatives, etc.

    The veil has been lifted to such an uncomfortable point that I see it myself at times (i.e. me from age 12 – 23) . Can’t say I would ever cheat on someone, but I understand the morally lazy lure of blaming others, taking credit, wanting accolades, thinking I am special, etc. These thoughts are stopped dead most of the time, but I think all of us need to keep that shitty side in check.

    I think this is what we fall into if we have not been taught the basics of empathy, and my fear is that when inertia wins, we fall into these narcissist ruts. It actually takes thought to put yourself in the shoes of others and to think about the big picture consequences of your actions. People who have fought for rights have always had an uphill battle, that is why we should be ever vigilant against these people who would drag our culture down if they have their way.

    • :You see dead people little boy in that M.Night Shyamalan movie? Well I see narcissists, the veil has been lifted. Politicians (both parties, but Trump deserves special platinum attention, he’s the best, believe me), my ex, business associates, bosses, plumbers, surgeons, relatives, etc.”

      THIS! Yes it is all crystal clear now!

    • My cheater is the poor sausage type like Mark Sanford…looks for sympathy like he’s been wronged, but entitled enough to leave the country and lie about it (geez…he was Governor – what if there had been a state emergency?) My cheater said he was with his sick father while actually vacationing with the OW. My antenna is up now for those who manipulate others to think they’ve been mistreated. I admired how Jenny handled that.

    • You’re killing it the last couple days Chumpion.

      I too see narcissists everywhere. It’s almost paralyzing at only 9 months out from D-Day. The pain and longing have subsided, but I am still a walking raw nerve.

      The very first thing that hooked me at Chump Lady was the words that came out of other cheater’s mouths. And then the shared feelings that other chumps described.

      I get waves of gratitude when I come here. I dodged the breed-with-a-cheater bullet. But everywhere I go I see toddlers and in their faces I see Match Girl. These strategies and tactics cheaters employ are learned very very early. We all have to be trained out of this helpless greedy behavior.

      Cheaters ramped up delusion makes them certain they are invincible. Add in Jedi-level projection skills and you are really dealing with a lethal weapon.

      And the scariest part for me is that I still am not sure I’d spot an oncoming attack from a future lover. It’s easier just to sport fuck and never expose my heart or wallet again. That’s my meh today.

      • You would spot it, but it might appear a familiarity rather than red flags. You have to condition yourself that love bombing is not the norm. Good relationships are built, not fallen into.
        If you are dating someone and it feels like things are moving really slowly, that is a good thing!

        • such a good point. ahhhh. that old familiar velvet glove. comfy. just rest for a moment….

  • This question has long been on my mind, and CL’s insight that there are only so many ways oppressors can gain advantage over others makes sense. But what about the love-bombing, how do they all learn to do that? I’m particularly intrigued by this question since my X is gay and I was his first girlfriend, yet he’d still managed to learn all the love-bombing tricks to lure me in, and after the separation he instantly applied the same playbook in an attempt to secure himself a new beard.

    I suppose the same principle applies but still, it’s always puzzled me, especially since love-bombing often borders on, or outright is, stalking and could easily backfire on them. I know, that’s where targeting the vulnerable and the chumpy comes in . . . then how do they learn that?! Ok, too much unraveling the skein here, but it is striking how similar the patterns are, ugh!

    • I think it is trial and error on their part. They love-bomb someone and if that someone responds then they know they have a live one. If not, they just try it on the next available potential victim. My STBX was a “groomer” … he flirted with absolutely every women he ever encountered in any situation. Because if you put out feelers to 100 women and 1 responds … yay! Have 3 women (and 1 man, of course!) in the harem? Well, always keep looking for more because it can take time, you know. So the lesson we are learning in fixing our picker is to detect the difference between genuine interest in US as a person versus an all-out carpet bombing assault to determine if we are foolishly blinded to what should be obviously creepy and stalker-like behavior.

      • That’s a good point, Dixie, who knows how many people they practice their manipulation on before they find a live one. Now that I’m thinking about it, my X used the exact same tactics that once worked for me on his next (known) target (the creepiest one was leaving little gifts outside on the doorstep at the crack of dawn, or slipping a single flower under the door, each morning for days in a row). Only I was a naive 20-something on the rebound from another narcissist (I’m a slow learner) when he zeroed in on me, while his first target post-separation was a 50-something woman who recognized stalking when she saw it and told him to leave her the hell alone (we have friends in common so I heard the whole story). He’s probably practicing on someone else as I type this . . . what a relief to no longer care or even want to know.

    • Other Kat,

      The lovebombing is instructive to focus on too. I was reading the scorpion and the frog allegory again. The scorpion has to use some way to hide its true nature. That’s the cheater’s lovebombing skills. Again, learned at a very early age in my opinion.

      The sex vibes lovebombing were fucking strong from MG. Overwhelming. That’s probably why people counsel to find someone who doesn’t overpopulate your senses if you’re interested in a real relationship. Someone “boring.” While that sounds awful, it’s better than drowning from another scorpion bite.

      Socrates taught that bad actors did evil things because they were ignorant. Apparently even Aristotle was dubious of this claim. I don’t want to be in the business of trying to teach a scorpion how not to be evil and kill me. At least I’m not as ignorant as I once was.

      • Ian-If CL has taught us anything it’s that we shouldn’t be bothered by the nature of the scorpion (untangling the skein)-it is our own nature that should be our focus.

        Why-when the Frog’s first instinct was to say no to the Scorpion- did he change his mind? Why didn’t he trust himself to know that his instinct should trump the logic of the charming scorpion? Those are the real issues we should tackle in my humble opinion. How many of us here saw the red flags or had them hit us upside the head? We bought the logic (love bombing) and hoped we could spackle over our instinct.

        That is the true problem.

  • “It’s not all about you.”

    Got that one day. My USTBX feels that I spend too much money on myself. I would occasionally (once a week, maybe) go out for lunch. I like to have a decent computer. (My last video card/motherboard/RAM upgrade was in 2010.) That’s about it.

    In the meantime, s/he hasn’t worked a steady job for the past 19 years. S/he has had seasonal jobs demonstrating products, but nothing for longer than 4 months. I bought the houses and cars s/he wanted. I go to work every day. In a car that’s literally falling apart. Learned how to do very basic car repair so that we spend less at shops. When s/he wants to go to a concert with friends or on an overnight trip with the kids, I don’t say “no”. When s/he wanted to stay home with the kids until they went to school, I was fine with the plan.

    By no means am I perfect. I am a gamer and I can sit and play for hours a day. But I get the lawn mowed. When s/he makes a salad and drops lettuce and tomato on the floor, I clean it up so it doesn’t just rot there. I clean the bathrooms because s/he just cannot be arsed. I keep the room I spend most of my time in clean enough that I don’t have to spend hours cleaning before I let someone else enter.

    S/he did a great job raising the kids. Oldest is on a full tuition scholarship and gets enough in the way of other scholarships to pay room and board. S/he pretty much did all of the chauffeuring to after school events and practices. I wasn’t an absentee parent but

    tldr: Yeah, I’m typing this out and realizing that if I told the whole story (no cheating that I am aware of, thankfully) no one would believe me. Sometimes the person offering up “It’s not all about you” is the one who needs to hear it.

  • Thanks for repeating this column. It’s amazing how much I learn from going back to things I wasn’t ready to read (and work on) before.

    This is what hit me today: “Once you understand cheating as a toxic power dynamic, you understand why all the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is so universal.”

    What that means for chumps is that you can’t save your marriage until you change the “toxic power dynamic.” That means putting down the spackle and the hopium pipe, standing up for yourself, and levying some consequences that are true consequences. That means some cheaters will then exit stage right, thinking they are “pursued by a bear,” to quote the Bard, because they won’t live in a situation that is equal, mutual and reciprocal. If you understand relationships as involving a power dynamic, instead of something you can control with massive effort and will power, then you can avoid spending years trying to change the wrong thing.

    • “they won’t live in a situation that is equal, mutual and reciprocal. If you understand relationships as involving a power dynamic, instead of something you can control with massive effort and will power, then you can avoid spending years trying to change the wrong thing.”

      ^^^ this really nails it, Loved a Jackass.

      I spent years working at that marriage to no avail, and the very minute I stood up and asked for a fair deal he started cheating, saying that I’d been “reading too many of those Women’s Lib books”.

      Now Shnoopie has the unenviable position as a sexual housekeeper, and I wish her joy of it !

  • It doesn’t seem to matter if they were neglected, or pampered, or beaten, or coddled or rich or poor, . The only thing they really have in common is a black hole inside them where empathy should be. It draws love in but gives back nothing.

  • They learn by example. The one thing that Narcula shows the much younger, younger than our own kids, women and their husbands, yes Narcula prefers young married women, is that he is teaching the younger husbands how to cheat and disrespect their wives by the example of how he treats his spouse. Its passed down from cheating generation to cheating generation like a cherished farming tool handed from father to son. Irony? The younger women usually hates the spouse of the older cheater until it happens to her then is too ashamed to say anything so the shit storm gets another boost and rolls through another family.

    Also ironically, if you can just wait it out which is really hard to do since most of us want to help and fix the situation, the Narcs attention to the younger or other women, or if you can get out and watch from a safe distance, you get to watch the glorious crash and burn of the Narc. Its epic. And cleanses your soul.

  • “It’s not all about you.”

    It wouldn’t have changed my ex’s behavior, but I wish I was articulate enough to come up with this at the time.

    Our entire marriage was built around her wishes, and when it came time to reconstruct, as previously agreed upon, she branch-swung to the next sucker…all while insisting she wanted to work it out with me.

    Self-centered Ho. (And, yes, she was spoiled and rarely corrected by her parents.)

  • X’s family nickname since childhood was golden boy, they still call him that today. enough said. And his mother is the female version who cheated on their father, two peas in a pod.

    • They have the picture version too. I think that one made it to the Best sellers list. Then there’s the pop up book. That was the most popular with skank whores.

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