Why does he suck at showing remorse? I know what you’re going to say… “HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY,” and maybe that’s true, but he understands that his behavior was wrong and SAYS he wants to be empathetic. It’s almost like he just doesn’t know how. Maybe I’m just injecting “hopium” and I need you to knock me over the head with a 2×4 so that I can trust that he will always have the emotional intelligence of a newborn banana slug.
My ex cheated while I was pregnant. Wait, hold up, it wasn’t “technically” cheating because I broke up with him a few hours before and we got back together the day after. See, when I was 8 weeks pregnant (with a wanted and planned-for child), he decided to take a couple weekend trips to L.A. with his “buddies”… guys that he hadn’t hung out with for years. I had been trying for weeks to get him to talk about why he was pulling away, which was always met with “I’m not, you’re just being crazy” statements.
By the second weekend of these trips I told him I couldn’t be with someone who wasn’t going to be a partner or father. We fought. We text-fought (UGH). He told me he’d rather play video-games than be a dad, I broke-up with him, he shut off his phone pretending it ran out of batteries, and cheated that night.
Now to me, that’s worse than cheating. That’s gas-lighting and manipulating, followed by cheating-with-a-side-of-plausible-deniability (to maintain his self-image).
As bad as that night felt — him gone and me wondering what the hell I could have done differently — the rest of the pregnancy was worse. He returned but the gas-lighting never stopped. After our daughter was born he fell instantly in love with her and admitted that he had, indeed, been pulling away the entire time and was “so sorry” and would do anything to make it right and keep his family. From now on, there would be total honesty, therapy, etc. We all know how empty those promises are. I didn’t learn about the cheating until my daughter was 8 months old, and only after playing detective and repeatedly pushing him for the truth.
There is so much more to the story and as I type this I realize it’s textbook narcissism and entitlement. He says he wants to fix things, but gets angry when I point out that he’s not really doing anything — no consistent therapy, no initiating difficult discussions, no reflection.
Every time I point out that he talks only about his feelings and isn’t showing understanding or empathy, he is furious! I should “KNOW” he feels terrible and that he is “ALWAYS” reflecting on how badly he treated me. Except, there’s nothing to show for it. Just now he told me “if we’re never going to be together I need to stop therapy so I have time to mourn.”
He’s full of it, right? He’s only feeling sorry for himself, isn’t he? He seems different when I talk to him and he’s willing to admit where he’s wrong, but his actions show me that he’s still not getting it. Does he not have the capacity to learn empathy? Both he and his mom lived with his narcissistic, abusive father. They lied “to survive,” and now he can’t seem to break the habit. Oh wait… these are classic FOO issues and I’m untangling, aren’t I? SAVE ME!
Yes, you’re untangling the skein of fuckupedness. This entire letter is Why Is He Like This? Why isn’t he sorry? Why isn’t his remorse convincing? How did he get this way?
You could spend the rest of your life trying to solve the mystery of Naugahyde remorse. I file these sorts of queries under How Many Fuckwits Can Dance on the Head of a Pin. Wither art thou sociopath? We could devise many reasons why he can’t do sorry. Maybe he has cancer of the empathy glands. I don’t know.
The real mystery here, Armchair, is YOU. Why are you with a man who would rather play video games than be a father? Whatever it is you need from him (remorse, accountability, investment in the relationship), he’s not providing it. His crap is either okay with you, or it’s not. This relationship is acceptable to you, or it isn’t. You call the shots here, NOT him.
As chumps we often get tripped up on the “sorry” thing. Well gosh, he says he’s sorry. I don’t see it, but maybe I’m missing something here. Maybe I’m being a hard-ass? Maybe I’m asking too much?
Sorry is as sorry DOES. It’s not that you have a failure to understand his remorse — it’s that it DOES NOT EXIST.
Look, it’s not enough to say “so sorry” and [I] would do anything to make it right and keep his family. From now on, there would be total honesty, therapy, etc.
You have to actually DO IT. Make amends. Initiate the therapy. Tell the truth however ugly. And treat the person you harmed with humility, not continued entitlement.
He’s not ENTITLED to your forgive and forget. He’s not ENTITLED to be there. But hey, Armchair, you’re letting him be there. You’re listening to his bullshit. Your words might say “I don’t buy it,” but your ACTIONS say you do. He’s still in your orbit.
Every time I point out that he talks only about his feelings and isn’t showing understanding or empathy, he is furious! I should “KNOW” he feels terrible and that he is “ALWAYS” reflecting on how badly he treated me. Except, there’s nothing to show for it.
I had these exact stick-your-head-in-the-blender mindfucks with my cheating ex. He also said he always felt bad. (Evidence that he did not? Four D-days.) The fury? That’s the manipulation set to the rage channel.
What was revealing was when I would ask him what exactly he felt sorry about. Think about it — if you really felt terrible for doing something, it would be right there at the tip of your consciousness. It would haunt you. You wouldn’t have to sputter to come up with particulars. Cheaters? They sputter to come up with the particulars. It’s always this nebulous, undefined faux regret.
Just now he told me “if we’re never going to be together I need to stop therapy so I have time to mourn.”
I’m sure the wake will include beer and strippers.
This is just garbled mindfuckery. Who quits therapy to give themselves more time to mourn? Boy, those 45 minute sessions really cut into sad sausage time.
Armchair — get out of the armchair and stop analyzing this loser. He cheated on you and he isn’t sorry. Stick around and expect more of the same, or get the hell away and start a new life for you and your daughter. Please don’t model this crap to her.
If your cheater loves his child he can show it by treating her mother with respect. He can demonstrate his love with child support and sane parenting. I’m afraid his “I love you’s” will be as empty as his apologies.
Doesn’t matter — your daughter has you. Start being mighty and gain that new life today. Dump him.